Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oil companies look at permanent refinery cutbacks

Some of the nation's biggest oil companies are looking at permanently reducing how much gasoline and diesel fuel they make, a move that analysts say would almost certainly trigger higher prices for drivers.

Energy companies are suffering huge losses from refining because of slumping gasoline use -- a product of the economic downturn and changing consumer habits and preferences. Energy experts say refining cutbacks have begun and will accelerate as corporations strive for profits. (more)

The bear: Dead or just sleeping?

David Rosenberg is, once again, a bear in the wilderness. He actually feels pretty good about it.

"I've been through this before," says the chief economist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates, who once again finds himself where he was a few years ago - the unpopular bearish voice in the midst of a bullish market. Stocks have gone up 60 per cent since hitting a bottom a year ago, yet that has only added to Mr. Rosenberg's conviction that the markets are running on hot air and wishful thinking.

"If you are actually in the wilderness or alone, it says quite a bit about what's probably priced into the market," he says. "I think it's overvalued. I think we're still in the midst of a post-bubble credit collapse in the world's largest economy, at a time when there are ongoing concerns about fiscal finances, particularly in Europe. And I think there are legitimate question marks over an economic recovery that has so far been predicated largely by very aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus." (more)

Jay Taylor: Turning Hard Times Into Good Times

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Gold Supported by Geopolitical and Sovereign Risk as S&P and Moodys Warn US

Gold fell in US trading on Friday from $1,119/oz to $1,098/oz to close with a loss of 0.54% and a loss of nearly 3% for the week. Silver was again more resilient and fell less than 2% last week. Gold has range traded from $1,102/oz to $1,106/oz so far in Asian and European trading this morning. Gold is currently trading at $1,103.00/oz and in euro and GBP terms, gold is trading at €804/oz and £732/oz respectively. (more)

Junk Bonds Threaten to Crash Credit Markets

While the worry of the moment is sovereign debt default, that may soon shift to corporate debt default.

Starting in 2012, more than $700 billion in high-yield (junk) corporate debt will come due, and experts are concerned that a lot of that debt could turn sour.

Defaults and bankruptcies reportedly could be the result.

Even Moody’s Investors Service, which like the other major credit ratings agencies blessed almost any deal with a pulse as triple-A in the run-up to the financial crisis, has sounded the alarm. (more)

Debt Dynamite Dominoes: The Coming Financial Catastrophe

The people have been lulled into a false sense of safety under the ruse of a perceived “economic recovery.” Unfortunately, what the majority of people think does not make it so, especially when the people making the key decisions think and act to the contrary. The sovereign debt crises that have been unfolding in the past couple years and more recently in Greece, are canaries in the coal mine for the rest of Western “civilization.” The crisis threatens to spread to Spain, Portugal and Ireland; like dominoes, one country after another will collapse into a debt and currency crisis, all the way to America. (more)

Competition for the IMF’s Gold?

On February 24, Reuters reported that the Reserve Bank of India was “set to be a buyer” of the 191.3 tonnes (6.74 million ounces) of gold the IMF is selling. Although the bank wouldn’t comment directly on the possibility, they did say, “We are closely looking at the gold market… gold is a safe bet.”

The article then quoted an unidentified official from the China Gold Association as saying, “It is not feasible for China to buy the IMF bullion, as any purchase or even intent to do so would trigger market speculation and volatility.”

But the next day, Finmarket news agency in Russia reported that China “confirmed its intention” to buy the IMF gold. “Chinese officials have confirmed previous announcements from IMF experts and said that the purchasing of 191 tons of gold would not exert negative influence on the world market.” (more)

Celente on 2010: Wave of Terror, Internet revolt & War on migration

China Premier Wen Jiabao says world risks double-dip recession

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Premier, closed the National People’s Congress session today with grim warnings that the global economy risked plunging into double-dip recession and that China itself faced a “complicated” year.

Mr Wen’s note of alarm for the global economy was based on the still high state of unemployment in many of the markets that buy Chinese exports. Sovereign debt problems and exchange rate instability, he said, created the risk that the world economy could tumble back into a second recessionary downturn.

His speech included an aggressive defence of Beijing’s currency policy – the emergency decision made at the height of the financial crisis to re-peg the yuan and stop the steady appreciation against the dollar which began in 2005. (more)

Chart of the Day: Housing Starts