Oil, War, & Drastic Global Change | Zero Hedge
Banks Brace for Bigger Losses After Oil Drops Below $30 - Bloomberg Business
The consequences of all this will be felt all over the world, and for a long time to come. All of our economic systems run on oil, so many jobs are related to it, so many ‘fields’ in the economy, and no, things won’t get easier when oil is at $20 or $10, it’ll be a disaster of biblical proportions, like a swarm of locusts that leaves precious little behind. Squeeze oil and you squeeze the entire economic system. That’s what all the ‘low oil prices are great for the economy’ analysts missed (many still do). Entire nations will undergo drastic changes in leadership and prosperity. Norway, Canada, North Dakota, Russia. But more than that, Middle East nations that rely entirely on oil, a dependency that won’t allow for many of their rulers to remain in office. Same goes for all OPEC nations, and many non-OPEC producers. We can argue that a war of some kind or another can be the black swan that sets prices ‘straight’, but black swans are supposed to be the things you can’t see coming, and Middle East warfare for obvious reasons doesn’t even qualify for that definition. The world is full of nations and rulers that are fighting for bare survival. And things like that don’t play out on a short term basis. For that reason alone, though there are many others as well, oil prices will remain under pressure for now. Even a war will be hard put to turn that trend around at this point. Unless production facilities are destroyed on a large scale, war may just lead to even more production as demand keeps falling. The fact that Iran is preparing to ‘come back online’, promising an even steeper glut in world markets, is putting the Saudi’s on edge. Rumors of Libya wanting to return for a piece of the pie won’t exactly soothe emotions either.
The Wall Street banks that financed the U.S. shale boom are facing growing losses as oil falls below $30 a barrel. Losses are spreading from bondholders to banks amid the worst oil crash in a generation. Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc.and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have set aside more than $2 billion combined to cover souring energy loans and will add to that safety net if prices remain low, the companies reported this week. Losses are mounting as more oil and natural gas producers default on debt payments and declare bankruptcy. Wells Fargo lost $118 million on its energy portfolio in the fourth quarter and Citigroup lost $75 million. “It takes time for losses to emerge, and at current levels we would expect to have higher oil and gas losses in 2016,” John Stumpf, Wells Fargo’s chairman and chief executive officer, said during a Friday earnings call. Oil plunged 36 percent in the past year, putting an end to the debt-fueled drilling spree that pushed U.S. oil production to the highest in more than 40 years. After years of spending more than they made, shale companies have parked drilling rigs and fired thousands of workers in an effort to conserve cash. In 2015, 42 oil and and gas producers went bust owing more than $17 billion, according to law firm Haynes & Boone LLP.Dow Tumbles 391 Points Amid Global Rout - WSJ
Worries about slowing global growth have plagued stocks for months, but many analysts have maintained that the U.S. economy is relatively healthy and that recent declines in the stock market should stabilize. U.S. economic data released Friday, however, raised doubts about the economy’s strength. U.S. retail sales fell last month, showing consumers are dialing back spending. A gauge of manufacturing in New York state fell sharply. Worries about the health of the global economy have led all types of investors, from hedge funds to individuals, to sell stocks this year, traders and analysts say. Public pension plans and mutual funds are safeguarding their portfolios by holding more cash than they have in years.
The Titanic we all know as the Global economy appears to be moving along at full speed. But signs of sea ice are dead ahead.
Wal-Mart Makes Rare Retreat on Home Turf - WSJ
Wal-Mart is closing more than 150 stores in the U.S., a rare retreat for the behemoth on its home turf, capping what has been a difficult year for retailers as shoppers slowed their spending pace and accelerated their shift to the Internet.Walmart will close 269 stores this year, affecting 16,000 workers - Jan. 15, 2016
Economic data released on Friday showed the U.S. economy entered 2016 with little momentum from one of its key sectors. U.S. retail sales fell 0.1% in December, and were up just 2.1% for all of 2015, compared with a 3.9% annual gain the previous year, the Commerce Department said on Friday. That was the weakest year for sales growth since the end of the recession in 2009.
“The exceptionally weak December sales figure is a bit of a head scratcher,” J.P. MorganChief U.S. Economist Michael Feroli said. “Job growth was booming last month, gas prices were down, sentiment measures were up, and warmer-than-normal winter temperatures prevailed last month—which historically tends to boost retail sales.”
Walmart closing 269 stores, including 115 in Latin America - Yahoo News
Walmart said it will close 269 stores in 2016, as the mega-retailer tries to revitalize its slumping finances.The company said the stores it plans to close are generally poor performers, and most are within 10 miles of another Walmart. 154 of the locations are in the United States, two-thirds of which are the smaller "Walmart Express" stores. Only 12 U.S. Walmart Supercenters will close, along with four Sam's Club stores.
Of the 16,000 associates -- or employees -- to be affected, 10,000 will be in the United States. The company aims to place those associates in nearby Walmarts.
But when that's not possible, Walmart said it will provide the laid-off associates with 60 days worth of pay as well as resume and interview skills training.
Internationally, 115 stores will be closed, with Brazil the hardest-hit market. The 60 stores already being shut are all loss-making and represent only five percent of the company's Brazil sales.Most of the rest of the international closures are in Latin America as well, the company said without offering details.Walmart did not give figures for job losses associated with the closures. In Brazil, it said it had already been able to move "many" affected employees to other stores.The company, which has 11,600 stores worldwide, said it will continue to open outlets in strategic areas."Closing stores is never an easy decision, but it is necessary to keep the company strong and positioned for the future," said president and chief executive Doug McMillon in a statement.