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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day Reading -- Chill Out Edition

Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I spent much of the day wrestling with a magnum-opus, way-the-heck too-long Money and Markets column, which I have since dumped on my long-suffering editor's lap. The best way to cut it would be with a straight razor and a bottle of whiskey. Better him than me.

Anyway, it's election day. Tally the votes. It took me half an hour to get into a voting booth today; longer than last time but still shorter than my wife's wait time of an hour and a half last week for early voting.

I doubt the votes will be tallied before charges of cheating or electioneering (whatever that is) fly from one side or the other. I think we should take the advice of the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica which, when the world was running around in circles in full-scale panic mode during the credit crisis meltdown, issued a statement that "everyone should just chill out."

Here's the news that I'm reading today ...

Credit Suisse Cuts Oil Forecasts
The broker now sees global demand for oil in 2009 down by 300,000 barrels a day year over year, the sharpest drop since 1982, as demand growth from China slows.
Meanwhile, Financial Sense Online says oil prices are being manipulated around the voting cycle.

From the story:

Just think of it; two price collapses in Crude Oil, each of them commencing – almost to the day – the same amount of time prior to November Elections in the U.S.A.
With U.S. elections out of the way tomorrow, it seems we can all look forward to a new Administration, a jolly holiday season and the likelihood of increased heating costs to keep us warm through the upcoming winter months.

Robert Rapier disagrees. In "The Myth of Election Year Price Manipulation," he says:
The biggest price drop happened in a non-election year, albeit it was an anomaly caused by 9/11. Of the thirteen years recorded, gasoline prices fell between Memorial Day and November during nine of the years. This is what I generally tell people: Prices fall for seasonal reasons, and do so even when there are no elections. The reason prices fall is that demand for gasoline falls after the summer.
In other news, USA Today asks: "Is Today's Economic Crisis Another Great Depression?"
Few people deny, however, that the current economic climate bears disturbing similarities to the start of the Great Depression:
1) Big declines in the stock market reduced people's wealth and decreased spending.
2) The Dow fell 42% from its Oct. 9, 2007, high to its Oct. 27, 2008, low, roughly equal to the market's initial tumble in 1929.
3) The banking system was crippled by bad loans and speculation.
The Automatic Earth offers unsolicited advice to President Obama on how to handle the economic shitstorm that is George W. Bush's legacy. Just part of this cheery note from TAE...

Your task will be far more formidable than I think you realize. It's not Franklin D. Roosevelt that you should look at for an example, it's not about turning the economy around, this is not the 1930's. The problems you will soon face are much worse than the ones he dealt with.

If you're looking to find a presidential role model for what you are about to face, you need to go back much further in history. You have to look at Abraham Lincoln for guidance. Your most daunting task is not turning the economy around. You will be remembered in history as the man who either did or did not save the Republic.

China Slowdown May Delay Metals Recovery The consensus view in the market has been that China's consumption of metals would offset the weakness in export-sector demand, but that now seems optimistic. Demand growth isn't expected to recover until mid- to late 2009 at the earliest and possibly will recover only once there is a global economic recovery, even if China introduces a fiscal-stimulus package as many expect.

A much anticipated report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), World Energy Outlook, has been obtained in draft by Financial Times. The headline says it all:World will struggle to meet oil demand
Check out my new gold and energy blog at