Politics, Policy, Economics - Since 2010

Brent: The upward trend in Brent Crude Oil prices that started in mid-2017 remained intact at the outset of 2018, driven by strong fu...

Oil Benchmarks Outlook



Brent:
The upward trend in Brent Crude Oil prices that started in mid-2017 remained intact at the outset of 2018, driven by strong fundamentals. Oil prices hit an over three-year high on 11 January. On 12 January, prices traded at USD 70.3 per barrel, which was up 8.3% from the same day in December. The benchmark price for global crude oil markets was 5.4% higher on a year-to-date basis and was up 27.8% from the same day last year. Oil supply remains limited by the successful agreement between OPEC and key non-OPEC countries to reduce oil production. In November, the latest month for which data is available, the conformity level reached 122%, the highest on record. Supply constraints in other oil-producing countries such as Venezuela are also putting a dent in global output. Strong global economic activity is propelling demand for oil, adding upward pressure on prices. On top of economic fundamentals, political developments have also played a role in the recent rally in oil prices. The anti-government protests in Iran that erupted on 28 December and renewed political tensions between Iran and the United States over economic sanctions helped push up oil prices in recent weeks. While oil prices are expected to remain at relatively high levels throughout this year, our analysts believe that they will decline slightly by the end of 2018. As a result, FocusEconomics panelists see prices averaging USD 62.0 per barrel in Q4 2018. For Q4 2019, they expect prices to average USD 64.8 per barrel. The current upward trend in oil prices translated into 8 panelists revising up their estimates for Q4 2018 from the previous month. 16 forecasters kept their projections unchanged, while no panelists cut their forecast. Although our panel largely believes that oil prices will remain at high levels towards the end of this year, on an individual basis they foresee some volatility going forward. The panelist forecast range for Q4 2018 runs from a maximum of USD 87.6 per barrel to a minimum of USD 52.0 per barrel.

WTI:
Oil markets remain in a sweet spot due to a combination of tighter global supply and resilient global economic growth. On 12 January, WTI Crude Oil prices traded at USD 64.2 per barrel, the highest level since December 2014. The print was 12.4% higher than on the same day last month and was up 6.2% on a year-to-date basis. The price was 21.1% higher than on the same day in January of last year. WTI Crude Oil prices continue to benefi t from a tighter global oil market. The successful implementation of OPEC’s oil cut deal and low production in some countries, such as Venezuela, are curbing global oil supply, exerting upward pressure on prices. The agreement by OPEC and key non-OPEC producers to the end of 2018 will help keep global oil supply limited this year. Moreover, resilient global growth is translating into stronger demand for the black oil. U.S. stockpiles declined by 4.9 million barrels in the week ending 5 January, the eighth consecutive weekly drop. Therefore, U.S. inventories reached 420 million barrels, sitting in the middle of the average range for this time of year according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The price spread between Brent and WTI Oil prices widened considerably in 2017 due to relatively lower crude oil prices in the United States, and this trend is expected to persist in 2018. WTI Oil prices have been rallying to three-year highs as reduced production and rosy demand buoy the market. That said, analysts are skeptical that oil prices can remain at this level to the end of 2018 as U.S. shale oil producers are ramping up output. For Q4 2018, analysts expect prices to average USD 58.7 per barrel. They see prices increasing to USD 61.4 per barrel in Q4 2019. In light of recent developments, 8 panelists upgraded their projections for Q4 2018 from last month, whereas 2 cut their forecasts. 11 forecasters left their projections unchanged. Despite the strength of the current upward trend in consumer prices, our panelists still foresee WTI Oil prices experiencing some volatility this year. For Q4 2018, the maximum price forecast is USD 78.4 per barrel, while the minimum is USD 48.0 per barrel.
Read more at Focus Economics.

Opioid Overdose Death Rates and All Drug Overdose Death Rates per 100,000 Population

Opioid Overdose Death Rates and All Drug Overdose Death Rates per 100,000 Population





Opioid Overdose Death Rates and All Drug Overdose Death Rates per 100,000 Population


I am not socially conservative, but watching the Grammys last night made me feel wildly prudish.  The production seemed unplanned, ...

2018 Grammy Awards Sh*tshow





I am not socially conservative, but watching the Grammys last night made me feel wildly prudish. The production seemed unplanned,  a tad scary, bloated and over budget simply for the sake of being over budget. Hillary Clinton's cameo...that was the best part of the 3.5 hour sh*tshow. 

I feel this is representative of the music industry as a whole. While historically  corporations have had a hand in music and distribution (think>Parlophone>EMI>Universal>Warner), it is my not so humble opinion that since the Napster and iTunes days music has become dominated by the mega-corporation, and has totally evaporated into the hands of three giants (Universal, Warner and Sony). All the labels are housed here and the publishers too. All the money making producers and performers want to go with these labels. Artists who are usually gun-shy and timid to sign contracts will give away newborn children to join the (perceived) cult-club of greatness, but all they really want is cash flow. That cash flow is leveraged against future royalties and subject to nixing over the next M&A deal. Artists don’t notice that. They fail to see they are line items in a budget to a degree, hoodwinked by cool executives moving the goods like a short order cook. Since these leveraged payments need to create revenue, the machine of Warner, Universal-Vivendi and Sony mass market and feed the machines of AEG and Live Nation - both of whom own a staggering amount of production rights and performance venues. This is turn creates a quasi-anti-trust type of activity surrounding broadcast events, in regards to the entertainment spoon fed through those channels. It is licensed by one end and sold to another. If you are ever curious about these claims, just look at the stock exchanges Liberty Media trades on. Any corporate competition deal you want will be cleared in Turkish courts (tounge in cheek Turkey, no hard feelings). Regardless, the leveraged payments are recouped, many times over, and replayed at a loss and resold at discounts, repackaged and sold down the line. The artist gets one lump of money, and then perhaps royalties which will secure payments on the back end. It is as if the Grammy Awards stand for nothing more than that...an assurance to the artists on the rosters of the big corporate labels that there is money to blow, money to spend, and special feelings all around. In reality that money is nothing more than a charade. Music is a becoming a corporate beverage and the big labels are cult destinations for authenticity stripped artists how want cash flow in lew of what used to be record sales. Why should I even add the fact that Apple, Google, Amazon and other  streaming and music tech companies are clogging up the distribution channels to such a degree that we don’t even know where we will be in five - ten years time. 

Despite my irritation with the evaporation of music, I was shocked by the lack of the Grammys authenticity. It turns out I was not the only one...Last nights show was the lowest on record in six years. 

From Variety: Viewership of Sunday’s 60th annual Grammy Awards is down significantly from the 2017 telecast, nabbing the smallest audience in the show’s history in the key demo. In addition, the three and a half hour awards show is averaged a 6.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 19.8 million viewers, according to time zone adjusted numbers. Last year’s show drew a 7.8 and 26.1 million, meaning the 2018 Grammys are currently down nearly 12 percent in the demo and 24 percent in total viewers.
The least-watched Grammys were in 1995, where the 11.25 million viewers tied 1975 for the all-time low.
Read More Here










Sony / ATV represents 22% of the US music market. They bill themselves as:  Sony/ATV is the world's No. 1 music publishing company and ...

Stats In Music

Sony / ATV represents 22% of the US music market. They bill themselves as: Sony/ATV is the world's No. 1 music publishing company and prides itself on housing the greatest collection of songs in the world. On behalf of our family of artists and songwriters we make it our mission to ensure their songs live forever.

Having your music (and royalties) live forever is the ultimate goal here. What about the other core sales and backbones of American music? What are they? Well, I would have to say that "bread and butter" mainstay is pop, rock and hip hop. - Stats to follow.


Country music likes to tell you they make up 10% of  music sales, but that is debatable.
Country has a futile stronghold unless mixed with pop for crossover products. There is however no doubt to the music sales power of country music stars. These acts often ’crossover’ and become the beacon of the industry. Famous crossover country stars include Garth Brooks - who has sold over 134M records and Alan Jackson who has sold over 80M records. On the flip side, folly types who have tried to jump on the country band wagon like Jimmy Buffet (a folk hybrid) has only sold 20M records. Let's jump over to the never ending hat wearing, former CMA darling Zac Brown Band...Just over 7M. Taylor Swift has sold over 30M records. 


Record sales are US only.

From this chart (using 2012-2016 stats) we are able to see just what is being paid to who. All the conference are represent...

College Football Head Coach Salaries













From this chart (using 2012-2016 stats) we are able to see just what is being paid to who. All the conference are represented here, but Alabama (SEC) leads the chart with Nick Saban's illustrious, GOAT salary level.  The trend-line is in light blue, so the pattern seems to be averaging out to $5M.


Sources from 2015:

1) http://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/salaries/
2) https://www.si.com/college-football/2015/10/08/highest-paid-college-football-coaches-salaries-list-nick-saban-jim-harbaugh

The game last night was full of highlights. One must admit though that Georgia in the second half performed at an incredible pace. The...

Rose Bowl 2018 Passing Stats



The game last night was full of highlights. One must admit though that Georgia in the second half performed at an incredible pace. They bewildered the Sooners. The Sooners also blew one heck of a lead. This is what CFB is all about.

I noticed during a Rose Bowl advertisement last night that UGA claimed it was the birth place of American public education. To be ...

Higher Education: Oldest Colleges In America




I noticed during a Rose Bowl advertisement last night that UGA claimed it was the birth place of American public education. To be honest and clear, UGA is the one of the first state charted universities (1785) along with UNC (1789). However UGA was inactive until  1801 and UNC mentioned the university in their states constitution in 1776, but it was not officially chartered until 1789. Clearly a bit of conflict between UGA and UNC. To compound matters William and Mary - which kicked off with a royal charter in 1693 - should be considered the oldest public state institution in America, without argument.  

Higher Education Institutions

Harvard University 
Established: 1636

The College of William and Mary
Established: 1693

Yale University
Established: 1701

University of Pennsylvania
Established: 1740 

Moravian College
Established: 1742

University of Delaware
Established:1743

Princeton University
Established: 1746

Washington and Lee University
Established: 1749

UGA was chartered in 1785 by the state of Georgia, making it the first state-chartered public university in the United States. But as you can see from the list above that UGA is not that old from comparison. The University began admitting students in 1801. Until 1801 little if anything happened. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was charted on December 11, 1789 and was the first public university in the country to admit students in 1795. The first class graduated in 1798, making it the first public university to graduate students in the 18th century. The school was also part of the state’s 1776 Constitution outlining its creation. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill claims the title of oldest public university due to the state’s constitution of 1776 and the first class to graduate in the country from a public university. These are both very strong claims.

The College of William & Mary is in Williamsburg, Virginia, and was founded by royal charter in 1693, making it one of the oldest colleges, public or private, in the United States. The college severed ties with Great Britain after the Revolutionary War, but remained private until it closed after the Civil War due to financial troubles. It re-opened in 1888 and accepted funding from the state of Virginia to become public in 1906. 

Sources: 
(1) https://blog.allentate.com/2012/05/08/who-has-the-oldest-public-university-in-the-united-states/
(2) https://www.topuniversities.com/blog/10-oldest-universities-us
(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_university_in_the_United_States