House Financial Services Committee hearing delved into why the Federal Reserve is showering Wall Street’s trading houses with super cheap loans on the pretext that it’s simply part of the Fed’s routine monetary operations.
Oil Jumps After OPEC Agrees To 500,000 bpd Production Cut
One day after the latest OPEC summit in Vienna ended in chaos and disarray, with the cartel unable to decide whether it will cut output further or instead punish violators of the current quote, leaving oil journalists asking questions and begging for pizza, on Friday Saudi Arabia and Russia surprised markets when they spearheaded a deal in which OPEC and non-OPEC nations committed to some of the deepest oil output cuts this decade aiming to avert oversupply and support prices amid declining global demand.
The group of more than 20 producers agreed to an extra 500,000 barrels per day in cuts for the first quarter of 2020, taking the total to 1.7 million bpd, or 1.7% of global demand, in hopes of boosting sagging oil prices in an environment where Saudi Arabia has been increasingly vocal in accusing cartel members and other producers of not sticking to pre-agreed quota levels.
Under the new deal, OPEC will agree to 372,000 bpd in fresh cuts and non-OPEC producers — mostly Russia — an extra 131,000 bpd.
Brent jumped more than 2%, rising above $64 a barrel after Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said effective cuts could be as much as 2.1 million bpd as Saudi would carry on cutting more than its quota.
The impetus behind the cut was all Saudi Arabia, which has been eager to provide a floor for oil in the aftermath of the Aramco IPO which priced yesterday at the top of its range, yet some $300BN below the $2 trillion target previously revealed by Crown Prince MbS.
“The Saudi goal was not necessarily to push oil prices significantly higher, but rather — fresh on the heels of the Aramco IPO — to put a firm floor under them during the first quarter to temper any seasonal weakness,” said Amrita Sen, co-founder of Energy Aspects, quoted by Reuters.
“Best outcome you could have expected. Puts floor under prices at $60 Brent but (we’re) still likely in $60 – 65 Brent market until the global economy improves and then we could see $65 to $70 Brent in Q2,” said Gary Ross, founder of Black Gold Investors
As Reuters notes, OPEC+ will deepen cuts for the first three months of 2020, shorter than the six– or 12-month scenarios some OPEC members wanted. That said, the net impact of today’s auction may be a wash as the new cuts merely offset expected increases from non-OPEC nations, including top producer the United States, where shale producers are pumping oil at a furious, record pace — yet unprofitably- in order to stave of defaults.
Eleven of OPEC’s 14 member states are participating while embargo-targets Iran, Libya and Venezuela are exempt. OPEC adds Russia and nine others — Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, South Sudan and Sudan.
Compliance has been a sticking point since the coordinated cuts began in 2017 with Saudi Arabia cutting more than required in order to offset overproduction from Iraq and Nigeria.
Saudi Prince Abdulaziz said he would continue cutting 400,000 bpd below target and its new ceiling would be 9.744 million bpd. It makes sense that Riyadh would should the bulk of the cuts: Saudi Arabia needs prices of at least $80 per barrel — some $15 higher — to balance its budget, much higher than most other producers, and also needs to support the share flotation of its national oil company Saudi Aramco, whose shares are expected to begin trading next Wednesday.
Prince Abdulaziz told reporters he expected the company to be worth more than $2 trillion in a few months, taking a page out of the Trump playbook in that all officials care about is the affirmation of the market.
Despite oil’s kneejerk jump, the question remains: with OPEC’s share of global oil supply now the lowest on record…
… thanks to US shale and Russian production, will today’s deal amount to much if global demands continues to shrink?
The retail price of one pound of bananas in the United States was 58 cents in 2018. Right now, you can order one banana on Walmart’s website for 18 cents. You can also order one roll of 3M Multi-Use Duct Tape for $4.99 on Amazon. Why the hell would you want a banana and duct tape?
Apparently, because duct-taping a banana to a wall is all the rage in the world of high-end art. This may sound like something out of The Onion, but this week at Art Basel Miami Beach, a banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000. Even worse, a second banana duct-taped to a wall sold for $120,000. Yet even worse than that, a third banana duct-taped to a wall is expected to sell for $150,000 because…art.
Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan is the artist behind the banana, which was “sourced from a local Miami supermarket,” that is aptly named “Comedian.” The first two “editions” of the banana duct-taped to a wall reportedly sold to two different French buyers. A third “edition” of the banana duct-taped to a wall already had two institutions express interest, according to the gallery handling the sale, Perrotin.
Despite Cattelan being known as an “art world prankster,” the gallery said the piece is not a joke. “Every aspect of the work was carefully considered, from the shape of the fruit, to the angle its been affixed with duct tape to the wall,” said Perrotin. In a sign of how those who are privy to the world of fine art will say anything to sound sophisticated, one attendee said “It’s best of show!”
Cattelan worked on the idea for “Comedian” for about a year, creating versions in both bronze and resin. “Wherever I was traveling I had this banana on the wall. I couldn’t figure out how to finish it,” Cattelan said. Finally, Cattelan had an epiphany, saying “In the end, one day I woke up and I said ‘the banana is supposed to be a banana.’”
The price was determined by coming up with an “insignificant number that would trivialize the work, and an outlandish one that would be completely ridiculous.” So what’s stopping everyone from selling a duct-taped banana to a wall for $120,000? Perrotin said “Without the artist’s certificate of authenticity, it reverts to being just a banana.”
So while this could be an actual sale, money laundering, a prank, PR move or anything else, it’s a reminder of how some people have more money than brains. Either way, it provided a good laugh for those who are not fortunate enough to drop $120,000 on a banana duct-taped to a wall.
Allstate Lawyers Fear For Safety After Opposing Counsel Threatens To Unleash “Long D*ck Of The Law“
A dispute between lawyers turned ugly when attorney Christopher Hook of Culver City, California sent a series of vulgar, threatening emails to attorneys for Allstate, after the insurance company rebuffed his attempt to collect over $300 million on a $200,000 water damage dispute.
Not only did Hook threaten to “let the long dick of the law fuck Allstate for all of us,” he threatened :shit for brains” Klee to “pay up fucktard or you will be lucky to work as a notary public in El Cajon.”
“Karma is a bitch mother fucker,” Hook continued, adding “You are going to learn that in spades.I know where you live pete.”
On November 26, Allstate asked the court to throw out the lawsuit, disqualify Hook as the plaintiffs’ attorney, slap Hook with a restraining order, and halt all depositions.
Hook responded to Klee’s filing by claiming he was using a “confidential negotiating tactic” and he admitted that his language may have “crossed the line” out of “frustration and anger.”
In response, Judge Otis D. Wright ordered both plaintiffs — an elderly California couple — and attorneys for both sides,to appear in court on December 16 and explain why “Mr. Hook should not be disqualified as Plaintiffs’ Counsel,” as well as “why this Court should not issue a restraining order” or sanction Hook.