Category Archives: Energy markets

Why Putin Doesn’t Need To Pander To The West

When sanctions were imposed and tightened against Russia, and oil prices plunged, conventional wisdom in the US press was that the Russian people would not tolerate a decline in living standards and therefore Putin’s days were numbered. In fact, Putin’s approval ratings rose and even most of his opponents in the Moscow intelligensia fell in behind him. Some analysts pointed out that sanctions seldom succeed and were unlikely to work on Russia. That view has become more prevalent as Russia has proven to be less dependent on oil revenues than widely assumed and Russia’s foreign currency reserves have stabilized.

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Why Did Commodity Prices Move Together?

As strange as it may seem, most economists loudly disputed the notion that the rise in commodity prices, particularly in the first half of 2008, was in large measure due to financial speculation. More and more analytical work (such as comparisons of price action in commodities trades on futures exchanges with ones that have large markets but are not exchange-traded, like eggplant, a staple in India, and cooking oil) have dented the orthodox view.

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Shale Gas: “An Orgy of Over-Production”

As we pointed out early on in the oil price bust, following the argument of John Dizard of the Financial Times, shale gas operators, aka frackers, were often carrying so much debt that they simply could not afford to cut production. They’d keep pumping, even at a loss, to generate cash flow to keep servicing their obligations. Over-production would tail off only when the money sources dried up.

As we’ve since chronicled, even though rig counts have fallen, shale gas production has actually increases. Arthur Berman provides a detailed look at tight oil and shale gas output, and confirms that the rig count cuts for shale gas have not been deep enough.

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Gail Tverberg: The Oil Glut and Low Prices Reflect an Affordability Problem

Tverberg argues that low oil prices likely to be with us for a long time, due to the fact that demand will remain relatively weak. Given the reluctance of governments to engage in aggressive enough spending measures, the idea of that more economies will become mired in a Japan-like slump or weak demand is entirely plausible. And that’s before you get to the wild card of a Eurozone unraveling.

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