Friday, October 17, 2014

EBOLA AND THE FLU

The news media is trying their best to whip the public into hysteria over the two nurses who apparently have come down with Ebola.  I listen to the Ebola news just long enough to hear if there is anything new.  There isn't except that the first nurse is now in good condition.  No one outside the medical profession in the U.S. has come down with Ebola, though I guess we await developments on the journey to Cleveland by the second nurse.  We may yet close all air traffic to the infected African countries.

In the meantime many hundreds of children have come down with envirovirus and one child has died, which is as many as have died from Ebola in the U.S., yet the new media seems immune to this development.  If you Google envirovirus, you only get reports up front from last September.  So far as I am concerned, Ebola in this country is a non-issue, as of now.

There is also the little matter of this year's flu epidemic, something I feel is far more important than Ebola (http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/flu-season-coming-early-and-hitting-hard/37803/):

"The H3N2 strain tends to affect the elderly population more severely and a season with predominant H3N2 activity typically leads to more hospitalization and deaths.
..........................................................
Another difficulty with the flu vaccine is the time required for its mass production. Vaccine strains are chosen in advance, sometimes as early as February. While experts do their best to predict the pattern of the viral strains, often the strains contained in the vaccines end up having an almost insignificant effect on the flu season.
"


So, although I did get a flu shot, I and many others, particularly at continuing care facilities, may still be exposed.  All it would take is someone in the kitchen handling food to come to work or a visitor with the flu and have it run rampant through the membership.  Time will tell what happens.  Symptoms of seasonal flu are:  fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and muscle aches.
The following is excerpted from a CDC report (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2014-2015.htm):

Is there treatment for the flu?

Yes. If you get sick, there are drugs that can treat flu illness. They are called antiviral drugs and they can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They also can prevent serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia. For more information about antiviral drugs, visit Treatment (Antiviral Drugs).

What is antiviral resistance?

Antiviral resistance means that a flu virus has changed in such a way that antiviral drugs are less effective. Samples of flu viruses collected from around the United States and worldwide are studied at CDC to determine if they are becoming resistant to any of the FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs.):

EMPLOYMENT AND CONSUMER SENTIMENT PICTURE

New applications for unemployment are at a 14-yr low, lowest since 2000.*  This does not necessarily say that the employment picture is equally as good.  What it may be saying is that layoffs are down, but hiring is not necessarily up.  Consumer sentiment is the highest since 2007.**  All signs are of an improving economy and optimism:  optimists now edge pessimists (though a plurality of those who don't know still dominates), wages and job openings doing well, the U-6 (unemployed plus underemployed) is decreasing nicely, though still above the "all time low" set in April of 2006.***

Yet, many people feel that the recovery has not reached them.  A reason for this may have been shown on Meet The Press (October 5, 2014), communities along the north-south interstate highways are doing well and those farther away are either doing less well or are even falling behind.  I have been unable to locate the figure so I'll quote a bit of the text that gives an example:

"Well, because the road to recovery is taking different routes. And that could mean trouble for Democrats in November. Let me show you another graphic and a map. Along the major interstates running north to south in the U.S., the fives, communities close to those highways are in the economic fast lane. These are the mostly urban areas that do favor Democrats, where economies are thriving and people are actually heading back into the job market at a rapid pace.
Much more rapidly than in rural America, farther away from those interstates. In fact, take a look right here in Washington D.C., along the I-95 corridor. From July 2010 to July 2014, the unemployment rate dropped nearly two points. And 35,000 more people felt encouraged enough to actually go into the job market.
150 miles to the southeast though, in rural Gloucester County, Virginia, the unemployment rate also dropped less than a point. But that was simply because nearly 1,200 fewer people are actually out there looking for work. Let's go to I-35 in Iowa, in Polk County, home to Des Moines. Not only was there a drop in the unemployment rate of two points, but 4,700 more people actually are in the job market."****


* http://www.cnbc.com/id/102092928?trknav=homestack:topnews:15
  http://www.cnbc.com/id/102096833?trknav=homestack:topnews:1
*** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/consumers-are-better-off-finally.html; http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/economy-job-openings-doing-well.html; http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/unemployment-underemployment-rate-u-6.html
**** http://www.nbcnews.com/meet-the-press/meet-press-transcript-october-5-2014-n218796

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

CONSUMERS ARE BETTER OFF - FINALLY!

More good news, consumers say they are financially better off now than a year ago has finally turned positive.*
For the first time in this upturn [i.e. since 2009], more consumers say they are better off financially now than a year ago compared with the share saying they are worse off. Plus, a high 83% of workers feel very or fairly secure in their current jobs.

Like reports done by the Conference Board, Thomson-Reuters and the University of Michigan, the most encouraging facet is the optimism about the future. According to the ASR poll, 35% of consumers think they will be better off financially a year from now, outnumbering the 12% who expect to be worse off. Driving that hope is expectations about pay: 31% think their personal income will be higher over the next 12 months versus 14% who expect a pay cut.


  This finding goes along with increased wage growth and job openings.**  But before we get too excited note that nearly half of the participants must have said that they don't know.

* http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/09/29/at-last-more-consumers-say-they-are-better-off-
than-a-year-ago-than-worse-off/?wpisrc=nl-wonkbk&wpmm=1
** http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/10/economy-job-openings-doing-well.html

WAGES-JOB OPENINGS DOING WELL

The number of job openings are the highest in 13 yrs.*


Click to enlarge.

In addition wage gains have picked up.**

Click to enlarge.

"In the third quarter, ADP says, pay rose fastest, about 4.8% over the year, for financial and construction workers. Construction firms have faced a shortage of skilled workers as the housing market has recovered. Pay hikes of at least 4.2.% were broad-based across all major industries, the report says."**

"The number of positions waiting to be filled rose to 4.84 million in August, the most since January 2001, from a revised 4.61 million the prior month, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. Hiring and firings cooled, while fewer people quit their jobs.
.......................................................
Considering the 9.59 million Americans who were employed in August, today's figures indicate there are about 2 people vying for every opening, up from about 1.8 when the last recession began in December 2007. - See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/business/job-openings-in-us-rose-by-230-000-in-august-to-13-year-high-of-4-84-million-1.1103937#sthash.STB5EoaY.dpuf"

* http://www.marketwatch.com/story/job-openings-hit-13-year-high-but-hiring-drops-2014-10-07
** http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/10/08/adp-wage-growth/16880335/



BREAK EVEN PRICE OF FRACKING OIL

With the price of oil falling, I have been wondering what the breakeven price of oil shale oil might be.  Not surprisingly it varies by sedimentary basin and kind of oil, depth and other factors.*  Note Eagle Ford is in the North Dakota - Montana oil shale group as is, of course, the Bakken field.  The information is over a year old, but I presume it is not too out of date.  Apparently only the Delaware Basin shale oil is at hazard of sub-$80/ bbl oil.


Click on the figure to enlarge.

"3) Each basin, operator, and individual well has a different economic value assigned to fracking. As oil prices drop, a few low-value projects will immediately become uneconomical. As prices drop further, more projects stop being worthwhile. There is a lot of diversity in the oil & gas business, so oil production has a very smooth supply curve — each dollar of price reduction will reduce long-term supply by a small amount. Colorado kerogen shale might be economical at $120-200/bbl. Oil shales seem to phase out around the $65-90/bbl range, oil sands cost about $45-80/bbl, deepwater stops being worth it around $35-60/bbl, and Saudi Arabia‘s Ghawar field will keep pumping until oil hits $15/bbl. That’s a vast oversimplification but perhaps it’s what the question asker is looking for."*

I have expressed elsewhere my concern about our exporting oil (except in strategic cases): http://stopcontinentaldrift.blogspot.com/2014/01/frac-oil-and-gas.html.  A recent article in the Economist comes to the conclusion that we should restrict oil imports, a conclusion with which I agree:.**

Click on the figure to enlarge.
* http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2013/01/08/what-would-happen-to-the-current-fracking-activity-and-subsequent-booms-generated-if-oil-bbl-were-to-drop/
** http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2014/10/01/economist-to-protect-frackers-u-s-should-restrict-oil-imports/

Friday, October 3, 2014

UNEMPLOYMENT-UNDEREMPLOYMENT RATE (U-6)

The unemployment-underemployment rate (U-6) dropped below 12% (11.8%) in September of 2014.*  The recent "all time high" was 17.2 in April of 2010 up from 17.1 the month before and the final three months of of 2009.

The recent "all time low" for U-6 was April 2006 at 8.1%.

(Click on the figure to enlarge)

Note that U-6 always seems to be more than double the unemployment rate.  In fact the two measures seem to be converging a bit to my eye.

That things are improving is inescapable though the U-6 may be still unacceptably high.

A report on September employment with lots of figures is at: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/10/03/1333484/-Government-reports-248-000-new-jobs-in-September-Revisions-for-July-and-August-add-69-000-more?detail=email. Note that


(Click on the figure to enlarge)

The August employment numbers were increased 142,000 to 180,000.  July numbers were increased from 212,00 to 243,000.

* http://www.cnbc.com/id/102055126?trknav=homestack:topnews:2

Thursday, October 2, 2014

U.S. NOW EXPORTING OIL NEAR RECORD LEVELS

In July, the U.S. exported 441,000 bbl of oil a day.*  The forecast is for the U.S. to export a million barrels a day, exceeding our 1957 export peak!  Also a forecast is that we will be at record oil exports by the end of the year.

If we are exporting oil, apparently we are now independent of importing significant amounts of oil so we then can get out of the Middle East - Right?  We don't need the Keystone XL Pipeline.  We don't need to explore ANWAR for oil in Alaska.  We don't need to import any oil from Canada.  Heck, most of our exports are TO Canada (93%).*  If we are more than selfsufficent in oil so that we can export it, we can stop the expansion of fracking and polluting our land.

If we are not self sufficient in oil, then we should not be exporting it. I'm finding this to be very depressing.

* http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-30/rising-u-s-crude-exports-move-closer-to-1957-record.html?wpisrc=nl-wonkbk&wpmm=1