Kate Mackenzie at the Financial Times reports that the IEA's chief economist, Fatih Birol, told the newspaper in an interview that oil prices above $70/b would likely undermine any economic recovery.
"'If we go one step further, if we see prices go much higher than that, we may see it slow down and strangle economic recovery,' he said of oil prices on Friday, when the European benchmark was around $70."2. CHINA MAY CHANGE RULES TO MAKE SUBORDINATED BONDS INELIGIBLE AS CAPITAL, WHICH SHOULD REDUCE THE VOLUME OF CREDIT
Wang Ming and Rose Yu at the Wall Street Journal report that the China Banking Regulatory Commission
"may deem subordinated bonds issued by a bank ineligible as capital if those bonds are held by another bank, the person said. The banking regulator estimates about half the subordinated bonds in circulation are held by other banks.
The amount that banks in China can lend is governed by technical capital ratios -- the more capital, the more room to lend. A big way banks have raised capital is by selling yuan-denominated subordinated bonds, or debt instruments that offer investors less protection in the event an issuer can't repay but also a higher yield than regular bonds."
"Analysts said any curb on how subordinated debt can be used would likely slow lending, because it would limit the appetite of the market's biggest investors, which are banks.3. CHINESE SEABORNE OIL IMPORTS UP 26% IN JULY YOY
'If the regulator excludes cross-held subordinated bonds from being classified as part of banks' capital, banks will have to try to sell their bonds to nonbanking investors,' said Guo Tianyong, the director of the Finance Research Center at Beijing's Central University of Finance and Economics. That will be difficult, Mr Guo said, and 'as a result, banks will slow the pace of subordinated-bond issues, which would eventually lead to a slowdown in credit growth.'
She Minhua, an analyst at Haitong Securities, said, 'Changing the rules would effectively cause a further decline in banks' capital adequacy ratios, so the fastest way for them to maintain a healthy ratio would be to cut loans.'"
Bloomberg reports that preliminary data from the Chinese Ministry of Transportation indicates that Chinese seaborne imports grew by 26% in July from a year previous.
"Chinese ports unloaded about 16.27 million metric tons, or 3.8 million barrels a day, of imported crude last month ... ."4. NORTH KOREA RELEASES US JOURNALISTS DURING FORMER POTUS VISIT
Heejin Koo at Bloomberg reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il pardoned and ordered the release of two American journalists who had been arrested after allegedly crossing into North Korean territory.
"By seeking an amnesty, the US appears to be conceding that the two reporters broke North Korea’s laws, Paik [Hak Soon, a researcher on North Korean issues at Sejong Institute] said.
'The visit indicates that the US and North Korea are willing to resolve this matter through dialogue,' he said. 'We’ll have to see if this expands to the nuclear issue.'"
"The former president and the North Korean leader 'had an exhaustive conversation' and a 'wide-ranging exchange of views on the matters of common concern,' [the] Korean Central News Agency said without giving further details. The country’s National Defense Commission hosted Clinton at a dinner in his honor, the agency said."Pyongyang has been long seeking direct bilateral talks with the US regarding its disputes with the international community.
5. AUSTRALIAN CENTRAL BANK LEAVES BENCHMARK INTEREST RATE UNCHANGED AT 3%, RETAIL SALES ARE DOWN 1.4% IN JUNE FROM MAY
EcPulse reports that the Reserve Bank of Australia decided today to maintain their benchmark interest rate at 3%.
"[Reserve Bank Governor] Stevens said in his statement that the world economy started to show clear signs of stability, thanks for the global stimulus plans set by governments around the world that led to an improving outlook for the world economy. He added that the US economy reached a turning point, while the economy in the euro zone is still weak."Meanwhile, Jacob Greber at Bloomberg reports that Australian retail sales fell by 1.4% in June from May.
"Today’s report suggests the impact from A$12 billion ($10 billion) in government cash handouts to households is waning after consumer spending helped Australia avoid a recession in the first quarter. Still, the economy may expand in the second quarter after retail sales rose 2% in the three months through June. Economists forecast a 1.3% gain.6. RUSSIA AND TURKEY TO SIGN PACT TO BUILD OIL PIPELINE WHICH WOULD BYPASS THE BOSPHORUS
'We still have retail sales at a very strong levels,' said Ben Dinte, an economist at Macquarie Group Ltd. in Sydney. 'With the strengthening consumer sentiment, we should see retail sales hold up.'
The quarterly retail sales figure accounts for as much as 25% of Australia’s gross domestic product, Dinte added."
Ali Berat Meric and Stephen Bierman at Bloomberg report that Russia and Turkey will sign an accord to build a pipeline to send oil to the Mediterranean bypassing the Strait of Bosphorus.
"OAO Gazprom, Russia’s largest company, and Turkey’s Calik Holding AS will sign an accord to build a pipeline between the northeastern port of Samsun and a terminal at Ceyhan on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko told reporters in Ankara today before a visit by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin later this week."7. GERMAN BIRTH RATE MAY HAVE DECLINED
Der Spiegel reports that a report released yesterday by Eurostat indicates that
"for every thousand inhabitants in Germany, only 8.2 children were born in 2008. Which indicates a decrease of 0.1% in the German birth rate and makes Germany the only EU member in which the crude birth rate did not increase between 2007 and 2008."8. HILLARY CLINTON EXPRESSES CONCERN REGARDING HIKERS ARRESTED NEAR IRANIAN BORDER
Nada Bakri at the Washington Post reports that yesterday Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern about the welfare of three American hikers who were arrested after entering an area near the Iranian border. Of course, the incident will be used by elements in Tehran as evidence that the recent elections unrest is the result of foreign meddling.
9. MEXICO MAY INTRODUCE FUEL EFFICIENCY STANDARDS
Robert Campbell at Reuters reported yesterday that the head of the Mexican National Ecology Institute, Adrian Fernandez, said in an interview that Mexico is planning to introduce fuel efficiency standards for all new cars sold in the country.
"The government is currently studying which type of standards to impose but it is leaning towards a plan that would be similar to proposed fuel efficiency rules in California or other parts of the United States, ... Fernandez said in an interview.Imprecise, but it would have a significant effect.
'The standard will cut gasoline imports by as much as a new refinery.'"
10. VENEZUELA TO NATIONALIZE COFFEE COMPANIES, LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO SWEDISH ARMS FOUND IN FARC CAMP
Steven Bodzin and Daniel Cancel at Bloomberg report that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said today on state television that he was considering nationalizing two coffee companies after having seized their processing plants yesterday. He said,
"We’ve intervened in these big companies. Now we are conducting a study to expropriate them. They will become property of the nation."Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Caracas has indicated it has launched a probe into how arms purchased from Sweden ended up in the hands of FARC guerrillas in Colombia.
"Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said authorities had launched 'an internal investigation ... to determine the origin and destination of these weapons,' referring to Swedish-made AT-4 launchers that Colombia says were found in a cache belonging to guerrillas.12. RUSSIA SIGNS ACCORD WITH NICARAGUA TO EXPLORE FOR OIL AND GAS
El Aissami gave no indication, however, that Chavez's administration was easing its stance toward Colombia amid a diplomatic fight that erupted last week after Colombian President Alvaro Uribe complained the weapons had been acquired by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ... ."
Eric Watkins at the Oil & Gas Journal reports that the Nicaraguan government has signed accords with a Russian consortium allowing for oil and gas exploration and production in the country.
"'The concessions include the Caribbean and Pacific, both offshore and on land,' said Francisco Lopez, president of the Nicaraguan Petroleum Enterprise. He said a technical board would be installed to analyze implementation of the agreement.13. ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA NAMES HIGHEST PEAK ON ISLANDS "MOUNT OBAMA"
Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said the proposed exploration in Nicaragua would be carried out by the Russian National Oil Consortium, created on Oct. 8, 2008, and comprising Rosneft, Gazprom, Lukoil, TNK-BP, and Surgutneftegaz."
Nika Kentish at the Associated Press reports that the Antiguan Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, today renamed the highest mountain in Antigua and Barbuda "Mount Obama." He said at the dedication ceremony:
"This great political achievement by Barack Obama resonated with me in a way that I felt compelled to do something symbolic and inspiring. As an emancipated people linked to our common ancestral heritage and a history of dehumanizing enslavement, we need to at all times celebrate our heroes and leaders who through their actions inspire us to do great and noble things."14. HAVIV ARGUES 'SHADOW INVENTORY' LOOMS OVER US HOUSING MARKET
Julie Haviv at Reuters reports that so-called "shadow inventory" is hanging over the US home market.
"'The number of homes listed officially on the market, while still at historically high levels, might be only the tip of the iceberg,' said Stan Humphries, chief economist at real estate website Zillow.com in Seattle, Washington.15. HURRICANE SEASON UNDERWAY IN US, GAO STUDY FINDS REFINERY OUTAGES HAVE VERY SMALL AFFECT UPON PRICE
According to Zillow's latest Homeowner Confidence Survey, 12% of homeowners said they would be 'very likely' to put their home on the market in the next 12 months if they saw signs of a real estate market turnaround, 8% said 'likely,' while 12 percent said 'somewhat likely.'
The survey of 2,123 adults aged 18 and older, of whom 1,357 are homeowners, was conducted online.
Survey results could translate into around 20 million homeowners trying to sell their homes, a startling number given that the Census bureau indicates there are 93 million US houses, condos and co-ops, Humphries said."
Jesse's Café Américain notes that the hurricane season is underway, and that the peak is usually in mid-September. He notes that "Hurricanes offer a tempting opportunity for energy 'investment.'" I would note, however, that insofar as a legitimate reason for hedging goes, hurricanes are certainly one--and those who want to hedge will need counterparties. Meanwhile, Michael Giberson at Knowledge Problem has the fascinating news that the Government Accountability Office has released a report showing that refinery outages generally have a very small affect upon prices. The report, which I have not had time to read, can be found here.
16. WAL-MART LAST WEEK ISSUED $1.1 BILLION IN SAMURAI BONDS
In a story I missed last week, Lisa Twaronite at MarketWatch reported that Wal-Mart issued US$1.1 billion in yen-denominated bonds (¥100 billion).
"The market for samurai bonds--yen-denominated bonds issued by foreign institutions in Japan--evaporated in the global credit storm. But including Wal-Mart's offering, samurai issuances in July are expected to exceed 200 billion yen--the largest amount since June 2008, Japanese business daily Nikkei reported Wednesday."Apparently the market is drowning in dollars. (h/t Chuck Butler's Daily Pfenning.)