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We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the category “Economics”

Suffering gets worse in Venezuela

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Still more indications the humanitarian crisis continues to deepen:

  • People killing wild animals just to get a little meat on the table
  • Government can’t even issue passports
  • Use the “Maduro diet”, lose 19 pounds in a year

2/10 – Fox News – Venezuelans killing flamingos and anteaters to stave off hunger amid mounting food crisis – Researchers for a university have found 20 flamingo carcasses, each with the breast meat and torso removed. Carcasses of dogs, cats, donkeys, and giant anteaters have been discovered at city dumps. That illustrates the desperation so many people experience in trying to find meet for their diet.

Experts point out those wild animals can carry lots of little nasties that can hurt humans.

Article explains the severity of inflation by providing some data points. Here is what you can buy for half of the minimum wage for an entire month:

Read more…

Updates on continuing suffering in Venezuela – #20

Venezuela doesn't have enough money to get tankers out to international waters. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Venezuela doesn’t have enough money to scrub down hulls of tankers so they can enter international waters. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The suffering continues without a break. One of the more ominous articles describes that Venezuela is so short of currency that the national oil company cannot afford to scrub down the hull of oil tankers, which is required before they enter international waters – the country cannot even get the oil in those loaded tankers to market.

1/6 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Tees Up Its Next Dictator – The Venezuelan president faces a recall election this year. It looks like in anticipation of losing the election, a new vice president has been appointed. Under the country’s rules, if the president lost a recall before the end of 2016, there would have been a new election. If he is voted out after the first of 2017, the VP will take over.

The editorial points out the new VP will likely continue the present policies. He was previously a follower of the previous president. WSJ reporting indicates while the new VP was governor of a state, there were two Iranian companies (owned by the Iranian military) who had joint ventures with military in that state. More info in the editorial pointing to the new guy won’t be a change in direction.

Thus the opposition needs to decide which dictator they wish to rule them.

1/9 – International Business Times – Nicolas Maduro raises minimum wage in Venezuela by 50%Read more…

Higher denomination bills still not available in Venezuela. Oh, by the way, socialism kills.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Well, never mind about turning in those worthless bills.

12/17 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Extends Use of 100-Bolivar Note to Jan. 2 – Since the large denomination replacement bills are not ready, the government graciously and on spur-of-the-moment decided to let people have until January 2 to turn in all their 100 Bolivar notes, each of which is worth about three US cents. By government dictat, the 100 bills will be valid until 1/2/17.

12/19 – Wall Street Journal – Venezuela Deploys Troops After Weekend Riots – Looting is spreading. Government sent 3,000 soldiers to the state of Bolivar after looting there.

12/30 – Associated Press at Wall Street Journal Venezuela’s President Once Again Extends 100-Bolivar Note’s Deadline – Deadline to turn in all 100 Bolivar bills before they become null and void has been extended a second time. Venezuelan citizens have until January 20 to turn in all the old bills.

The problem? The higher denomination bills are still not ready for distribution.

12/25 – New York Times – No Food, No Medicine, No Respite: A Starving Boy’s Death in Venezuela Focus of the article is not on surgeons who operate on bloodied tables because there is not enough water to wash it off, let alone enough sterilizing solution to make it clean. Neither is the focus on psychiatric hospitals where the lack of medicine’s forces the staff to tie psychiatric patients to their chairs.

That’s the state of medicine in Venezuela, but instead the article focuses on the death of one 16-year-old young man.

Read more…

If you like having gas for your car, food in the stores, and turning lights on after dark, here’s good news: Outlook for energy looking brighter.

Gonna' be seeing more of those in North Dakota soon. Photo by James Ulvog.

Gonna’ be seeing more of those in North Dakota soon. Photo by James Ulvog.

Outlook for energy production in the US is getting better and better. Might want to get out your sunglasses.

  • Low oil prices have spurred innovation amongst US drillers; file this under unintended consequences for OPEC.
  • Breakeven prices in US shale approaching that of OPEC producers; ponder that the breakeven price for Saudi Aramco is not the same as breakeven price for the Saudi government.
  • Overview of news in 2016 for oil & gas; good news for companies that survived the year.

12/2 – Tyler Morning Telegraph – Saudis awakened a sleeping giant when they declared war on fracking – Editorial says the Saudis made a serious mistake waking up the slumbering giant of fracking land. The artificially high prices allowed the frackers to get started. The artificially low prices forced them to innovate, cut costs, and start producing at breakeven points competitive to the OPEC giants. Not a good move.

Wouldn’t it be grand if that paragraph was the four-sentence history of fracking?

Production costs are half what they were two years ago.

Read more…

Largest denomination Venezuelan currency in circulation voided without any larger bills to replace them. #18

The poor living in those houses in Caracas are suffering greatly as a result of intentional government policies. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The poor living in those houses in Caracas are suffering greatly as a result of intentional government policies. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The devastation in Venezuela would be funny if this was a make-believe movie or some hair brained dystopian novel. Sadly, we are watching live as millions of real people suffer from deliberate government policies.

The current 100 Bolivar note has been voided while the higher denomination bills have not been put into circulation. Sounds like a good plan to make hungry people hungrier.

12/13 – Fusion – Venezuelans fight to protect their savings as government pulls bills from circulation – After the government gave short notice that the largest bill, the 100 Bolivar note, will be pulled from circulation, people across the country have gone into panic mode to get their currency deposited in a bank.

Anyone who can’t get their money deposited by today, Wednesday, has 10 days to exchange the bills at a government location.

Only problem with that concept?

The government hasn’t announced any authorized exchange locations.

12/16 – Bloomberg – Venezuelan Odyssey for Cash Endures With Delay of New Bills – Surprise, surprise! The new bills, up to a 20,000 Bolivar note, weren’t available on Thursday.

Read more…

Another round of intentionally caused suffering in Venezuela as government makes largest denomination bill illegal- #17

One graph illustrates the inflation rate in Venezuela and the other represents economic performance. Image courtesy of Adobe stock.

One graph illustrates the inflation rate in Venezuela and the other represents economic performance. Image courtesy of Adobe stock.

Government will withdraw all 100 Bolivar notes from circulation after Wednesday, tomorrow. The level of suffering will increase even further.

12/4 – AP – Venezuela to issue larger bill as currency continues to melt – Article says the central bank has announced they will issue bills in the 500 to 20,000 Bolivar range. This follows up on previous reports saying they were planning to do so.

The exchange rate is now 4,587 Bolivars to the dollar.

Article says that is a deterioration by a factor of five in the last year.

The official exchange rates are 10 and 663 to the dollar.

12/10 – BBC News – Venezuela seizes Christmas toys to distribute to poorRead more…

Continuing devastation in Venezuela – #16

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

You know things are horribly bad when the New York Times and Washington Post are frequently reporting on the economic devastation in the socialist paradise of Venezuela.

11/25 – New York Times – Venezuelans Flee in Boats to Escape Economic Collapse – Mass numbers of people are fleeing Venezuela by foot, air, and now on rickety boats. The lack of food, water, electricity, and medical care is driving  people away, reminiscent of the flood of people paddling away from Cuba on tied-together inner tubes.

Read more…

Musing on oil prices and the oil industry; future for shale is looking good

Out of focus picture by James Ulvog.

Out of focus photo by James Ulvog. (Yeah, yeah, I know – don’t give up my day job.)

First article below says that predicting oil prices is a fool’s errand. The payoff of trying to do so, it seems to me, is it requires diving into the dynamics and trying to understand the production and demand aspects underlying the price of oil. Second article below delves into the dynamics.

11/28 – The Million Dollar Way – Musings on Shale as We Anticipate the “OPEC Meeting” – Discussion points me to the next article, which I would have missed otherwise.

Mr. Oksol agrees with the major points: OPEC’s effort (meaning Saudi Arabia) to shut down shale producers has been unsuccessful. They tried this once before back in the 1980s.

On the second point, he agrees shale producers will respond fast to any rise in prices.

Author agrees that the phrase “big bet” is an acceptable way to describe the Saudi strategy to take out shale producers but thinks a more accurate description would be “trillion dollar mistake.” As for me, either description works well.

11/28 – Mark Mills at Forbes – Shale Wars: Whither Oil Prices As Saudi Arabia Lets The Big Bet Play Out? – The author, to whom you need to pay serious attention if you are otherwise reading my blog, asks two questions on his way to sort out where oil prices are going:

  • How much damage has Saudi Arabia caused the shale drillers? In other words will they be able to respond to any change in prices are they out of the game.
  • If the answer is yes, how fast will shale drillers be able to respond?

Read more…

“Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire” infographic

Silver Roman denarius. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Silver Roman denarius. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Telling the tale of the collapse of the Roman Empire is a challenge even in a full length book. Presenting one slice of the story in an easily read and understood infographic is even more of a challenge.

The Money Project is a blog run by Visual Capitalist which focuses on illustrating complex ideas. Their infographic Currency and the Collapse of the Roman Empire does a great job of describing how debasement of the currency and the resulting inflation made trade more difficult which in turn contributed to the collapse.

Oh, used with permission of Visual Capitalist.

A great story with many lessons to be learned for anyone willing to think for a while:

Read more…

Government decisions helped take down the Roman economy

Roman Colosseum. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Roman Colosseum. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

I’ll have two posts describing how bad decisions by Roman Emperors contributed to the economic deterioration in the Empire by their intentional decisions.

First, check out Richard Ebeling on 10/5/16 at Foundation for Economic Freedom – How Roman Central Planners Destroyed Their Economy.

In 58 B.C. (yes, I know that was shortly before the move from a republic to an empire), the Roman government started giving wheat to citizens of Rome for free. As expected, this resulted in masters letting their slaves go free so the government was responsible for their subsistence. In 45 B.C. Julius Caesar figured out that one-third of Roman citizens were getting their food from the government.

Farmers fled to the city to get food for free instead of breaking their back all year long in order to barely have enough to eat. Slave owners turned their slaves free so the central government could feed them instead.

Move forward a few hundred years to see the destruction from debasing the currency along with price controls.

Read more…

Increasing political danger in Venezuela – #15

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The sinking feeling in my stomach tells me things are going to get far worse in Venezuela in the near future.

10/27 – Reuters at Yahoo news – Venezuela crisis enters dangerous phase as Maduro foes go militant – Article gives a depressing summary of the last few days.

On the same day, four different courts around the country released identical rulings saying the signatures gathered for the recall were invalid. Four courts. Same day. Identical rulings.

The election board said the referendum was off because the signatures were invalid.

Many of the opposition concluded that means they are living in a complete dictatorship.

Read more…

Venezuela slides further into the abyss – #14

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

Photo courtesy of Adobe stock.

More on the ongoing human tragedy that is the result of intentional government policies in Venezuela:

  • Infant mortality is soaring
  • Government starts to let go a bit on the widespread  price controls. Unexpectedly, food reappears on the shelves when priced at realistic prices
  • State owned oil company is losing ability to pump oil
  • Government suspends the recall effort, which leads to…
  • Lawmakers start impeachment effort

This is going to get far worse before the massive suffering ends.

10/17 – Wall Street Journal – Infant Mortality Soars in Venezuela – The infant mortality rate is soaring so far and so fast that doctors and hospitals are under pressure not to release any data because it reveals the depths of the human suffering in play.

Infant mortality is defined as the number of babies that die before their first birthday. Here is the infant morality rate, expressed in infant deaths per 1,000 live births:

Read more…

Still more on the downside of alternative, unreliable energy sources

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A few more updates on the unintended consequences of alternative, unreliable energy sources.

  • Humans want electricity available the instant we want electricity – the challenge of dispatchable energy
  • An overview of the harm from burning corn in our engines

8/9 – Million Dollar Way – Dispatchable Energy – The Demand is Growing

Yet another massive problem with wind and solar energy. You cannot turn it off and on. As in, provide electricity when people decide they want it. That feature is called dispatchable.

Here’s the definition of the term:

Read more…

Still more horrifying news from Venezuela – #13

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island. Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Shipwreck standing on the beach with the sea in the background. Margarita Island, Venezuela. Photo courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

The heartbreaking humanitarian crisis in Venezuela just keeps getting worse.

If only they had massive amounts of energy in the ground that they could sell.

Oh, I wonder what economic system caused this massive suffering?

9/4 – New York Times – Venezuelan President is Chased by Angry Protesters – After walking into a crowd during a political rally, the president was run off by the crowd screaming ‘we’re hungry’ accompanied with lots of banging on pots and kettles.

9/20 – New York Times – How Bad Off is Oil-Rich Venezuela? It’s Buying U.S. Oil – I don’t understand the process, but apparently you need to use light sweet crude in order to get thick sour crude out of the ground. Production in Venezuela has dropped so far that since early in 2016 the country has had to import 50,000 BOPD of light sweet from the US in order to maintain production.

Even with that, production is down to 2.4M bopd now from about 2.75M bopd a year ago. That reflects a 1M bopd drop from when Hugo Chavez took over as president in 1998.

9/26 – Fox News – Venezuelan children fainting in school because they are hungry – One very brave teacher is quoted by name. Last academic year about 10 children were absent from her class every day out of 30 students enrolled.

Read more…

Still falling off a cliff, newspaper edition

newspaper-jobs-7-16

Graph from Carpe Diem used with permission.

If you want a picture of what utter collapse in an industry looks like, check out the graph above from Professor Mark Perry on employment in the newspaper industry.

From a peak of 457,800 in 1990 to 180,100 in July 2016 is a drop of 60.7%.

Advertising dollars are doing the same thing. On 4/30/15, Prof. Perry published the following graph in his post, Creative Destruction: Newspaper ad revenue continued its precipitous free fall in 2014, and it’s likely to continue:

Read more…

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