‘TIS THE SEASON, FOR CHINA BASHING

DAILY BASKET OF COMMENTARIES

‘TIS THE SEASON, FOR CHINA BASHING

While the Russian hunting season continues separately, China bashing has increased pari passu with the rise in military tensions in the South China Sea.

So far, the bashing has concentrated on media assassination by a continuous stream of news highlighting the negative or weak side of China – regardless whether it is true or not. This stream of false or biased news is passed from one news media to the other, as in a relay race, so as to ensure it is nonstop.

ECONOMIC DOLDRUMS?

One mass media organization recently wailed the deepening of China’s economic slowdown describing it as being in the “doldrums”. All this, because industrial output and retail sales were below expectations for July 2016. It attributed the poor showing to the difficulties China is facing in transforming its economy away from pure production. It then went on to name a number of other woeful results including Chinese cinema ticket sales. Continue reading “‘TIS THE SEASON, FOR CHINA BASHING”

Share

E-COMMERCE IMPACTS TRADITIONAL RETAIL BUSINESS

DAILY BASKET OF COMMENTARIES

E-COMMERCE IMPACTS TRADITIONAL RETAIL BUSINESS

The war of attrition between e-commerce and traditional retailing business just got bloodier.

Macy’s, the famous US department store chain is closing down 100 stores, which represents 15% of its total stores. Other US retailers are also closing stores by the hundreds. Walmart, the biggest, will shut down 450 stores. So far this year, some 44,000 retail employees have been laid off. A good part of this is due to heavy competition from the Amazon e-commerce machine.

Walmart just paid US$ 3.3 Billion to buy jet.com, an aggressive e-commerce retailer, to counter Amazon and expand its e-commerce market share, which is presently at the US$ 12.5 Billion compared to Amazon’s US$ 80 Billion. (Walmart’s total sales are US$ 482 Billion).

This represents a structural change in the US market, which will, sooner or later, impact commercial real estate and pull it down. Ergo, don’t expect US commercial real estate booms in the foreseeable future.

However, real estate is a long-term investment and, as long as landlords curb their enthusiasm and greed, to accept a theoretically realistic return of 5%, they should weather the coming storm – provided they had bought their properties prudently, i.e. not paid top Dollar at the cycle peaks and with borrowed money.

As all US trends eventually spread throughout the world (usually over a 5 – 15 years’ span), it would be wise for the rest of the world to prepare for the conquest of e-commerce over traditional retail space.

Share

OPEC not very optimistic for 2017?

DAILY BASKET OF COMMENTARIES

OPEC not very optimistic for 2017?

Summary:
OPEC doesn’t seem overly optimistic on oil prices in 2017. While it sees demand rising slightly, but to a record of 95.41 million barrels per day (MBPD), it is worried that this Summer’s expected demand didn’t materialize and that refineries are overstocked and may not increase their demand for the rest of 2016.

Likely Beneficiaries:
Oil Refineries: theoretically, they can continue to get cheap crude and sell refined products at relatively much higher prices.
General Consumers: They will not see rise in driving cost or utilities costs, at least for some time.
Oil Importing Countries: Such as China, India, Europe and other countries dependent of imported oil.

Likely losers:
Oil Producers: Especially to whom oil export is their bread & Butter. The oil companies in general as well as countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Nigeria and Iraq would be biggest losers. To a lesser extent, Iran and Russia would be hurt. As for the Gulf oil countries, they are still flush with cash and need a longer period of low oil prices to really feel the pain.

Timing:
Announcing a semi pessimistic forecast would not normally have been expected from OPEC. One would have expected them to try and talk-up the price through bullish forecasts. But, if they really wanted to raise prices, they would have cut back a little on their production, or announced that they intend to do so.

So what is a possible reason for such an announcement?

Around now is the time when the oil hedging for future 2017 prices takes place. Such announcements could have a dampening effect on the hedged prices, which would be negative to such countries, as Mexico, that rely substantially on hedging a big chunk of their annual oil production. Also, it would have a dampening effect on the Shale Oil producers who have used hedging to stay alive during the past two years.

Share

OIL WARS – The Coming New Disaster?

OIL WARS – The Coming New Disaster?
By: Marwan Salamah*
Dec 25, 2014

If protecting market share is OPEC’s primary objective in not reducing oil production, and if oil prices remain depressed or continue their downward journey over the next few months, then it becomes only a matter of time before OPEC members begin to pounce on each other’s market shares and on non-OPEC shares.

In such a scenario, the outcome is likely to be in favor of whoever has the lowest cash production costs and the highest surplus funds to weather the oil revenues squeeze. Of the big producers, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are the best positioned to win such a price war and Venezuela and Nigeria are likely to be the biggest losers followed at some distance by Iran, Iraq and then Russia.

There are many possible outcomes. One is where Venezuela goes bankrupt and implodes politically. This could lead to government change, which probably is not an unwelcome outcome for the USA. Continue reading “OIL WARS – The Coming New Disaster?”

Share