Countdown to $100 Oil ?!? (part 5) - Final Post

This is it. Forward month WTI has closed below $100, at $95.71. The Series is officially over.

When I began this series on May 29, Oil was over $130, having gone up 30% in only 4 months! It seemed everybody was convinced that we would have $150 Oil by July 4 and $200 Oil by the end of 2008. Here's what the Oil chart looked like on the very day that I said "The Countdown to $100 Oil is on":

05/08 oil

click graph to enlarge

Courtesy bonddad

Sign of the times: $.99 says they can't sell for under a buck!

While Larry Kudlow and the rest of the neo-con Kudlowites are telling you the economy is Goldilocks, reality is trying to remind us that things aren't so golden.

Sure oil is now almost at under $100, and that gas in some places now cost less than a discounted haircut. The grain complex has come off its seasonal highs, with the talk of a "crash." Hell, even the price of homes has come down to the point where folks are beginning to say the end of this deflation could end soon!

Yet, in light of all this, the general consensus is that prices in general are still on the upside. Costs across the board are still going up. And today, one of the hallmarks of cheap goods is now saying they can't even live up to their name's sake!

Manufacturing Monday: Gustave's effect on energy & manufacturers

By now, Hurricane Gustav is ravaging the great city of New Orleans and the surrounding Gulf Coast. Our hopes and prayers goes out to the good folks of the area. Well you probably have guessed, that Johnny Venom would've found the economic angle on all this. Rest assured, fellow Kossacks, I won't let you down! But once again, I do hope for the best for the folks aflicted by Gustave.

Gustave could raise the price at the pump, among other things

Manufacturing Tuesday or Monday part deux!

Yesterday I had hit on the situation going on with the automakers. Originally, I had intended to include some other stories, but the first piece was large enough (perhaps too large?) that I realized that I had to push the other pieces. Well, as promised, we got some interesting stuff. First on the auto front a cool piece on zero emission cars. Next we got fallout from biofuels and water preservation. Third, it seems the Chinese aren't so thirsty for the black stuff right now. Lastly could the current woes Australia's mining sector tell us something?

Hydrogen cars reach a really..literally!

Despite recent grain crash, long term food $$ is on the rise

The contrarian in me is screaming that Reuters' recent piece on food prices is the food inflation equivalent to Businessweek's famous "Stocks are dead" headline from a 1982 issue. Yet another piece is whispering in my hear "baby, it ain't over yet!"

Perhaps it's a little from column A and a little from column B. Food prices have been going up for decades, so how is this any news that we've reached a 20 year high? The rate of inflation (the official BS one and the much higher one using the original formula) has essentially been depreciating peoples' buying power since the end of the Great Depression. Yet, it seems to me, since the latter third of the last century, the rate of growth for the price of food has been growing ever faster.

Manufacturing Monday: Price fixing, the big grain crash of '08 and speculators for hire?

Greetings ladies and gentlemen to the latest episode of Manufacturing Monday. Couple of interesting things to discus today, and some interesting numbers to watch this week. First we have what appears to be a new take on price fixing by manufacturers. Next we explore the recent collapse in the price of grains. Our last piece is a story from the Financial Times where companies and groups are hiring the very element that help drive up their costs, speculators, to well...sorta fight speculators. Kinda reminds me of those old westerns where they hire a gunfighter to take on the baddie. Finally, as mentioned, there are numbers we're watching, the Producer Price Index being released tomorrow, Jobless claims and the Philadelphia Fed Survey on Thursday.

Woe be the retailer who wants to mark down a product!

A fundamental look at the future

By now readers of my blog posts know that I tend to have a "muddle-through" point of view. Times may be good, or times may be bad, but rarely does Armageddon happen. In the last 100 years, it only happened 1 time -- in the 1929-39 Great Depression. There may have been inflation, there may have been recessions, but always people adapted and an equilibrium was struck, and growth resumed.
Even World Wars 1 and 2 (and 2 had a lot to do with the oppressive settlement of 1) occurred after 100 years of near universal international peace in Europe.

Over the last 25+ years the entire globe has been undergoing a disinflationary period of growth. Interest rates have declined; consumers in advanced countries who haven't made much progress in wages could at least refinance their debt, or perhaps cash in the value of booming stock or real estate assets.
All of that appears to be coming to an end.

Yet Another Bubble on the Horizon: Commodities

We live in an age of bubbles. I suppose that this should come as no surprise.

The Greek roots of the word "economy" are oikos and nomia. The former meaning household, and the latter its management. For most of human history, this has been the purpose of the economy, to provide the means of subsistence by which a people survive. Karl Polanyi, the author of The Great Transformation wrote in the midst of the Second World War about how the market may behave like a type of cancer. Economic activity and the production of profit is seen as an end unto itself, rather than simply the means by which societies produce the means by which they exist. And in doing so it unleashes what Polanyi called the "double movement."

The Enron Loophole

You hear a lot of buzz words these days about shady deals and speculation on oil futures. So, what exactly is this Enron Loophole so many refer to which allows all of this trading on energy to go on with no accountability or regulation?

From Professor Greenburger:

it has been widely understood that, unless properly regulated, futures markets are easily subject to distorting the economic fundamentals of price discovery (i.e., cause the paying of unnecessarily higher or lower prices) through excessive speculation, fraud, or manipulation.

Peak Everything?!?

Are we...

In my last couple of blog entries I have suggested that data from past commodity driven recessions, as well as strongly supported evidence from the yield curve indicate that we may be near an inflation peak, and that as a result there might be a respite from this recession by the end of the year.

In a number of places on the econoblogosphere this position has been criticized, and in general the criticism comes down to two words: "Peak Oil!". I put that in caps and with an exclamation point because the argument is that "Peak Oil!" explains everything.