Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Update On Bakken -- Helms; Housing Starts Plunge; The Cheese Fell Off His Cracker A Long Time Ago -- March 16, 2015

The Bismarck Tribune is reporting:
“I think we’ve seen the worst of it,” Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said of layoffs.
As stockpiles of cheap oil -- waiting for better prices -- grow at storage facilities around the U.S., a storage shortage is mounting. North Dakota oil industry representatives predict the oversupply will have substantial affects on the workforce and the economy in the state.
Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, maintains that the financial strength of every company is going to be tested in the coming months.
State oil production declined 3 percent in January to about 1.2 million barrels per day, Helms reported Thursday. He said the production decline is coming as wells age and new wells are not replacing them.
Ness said it won’t be a freefall but production declines likely will persist. Companies need to complete 115 wells a month to hold production steady, according to Helms, who expects production to decline and rise in a cycle – three months of decline followed by a surge as unfinished wells are brought online.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting:
As millions of private employees lost their pension benefits in recent years, government workers rested easy, believing that their promised retirements couldn't be touched.
Now the safety of a government pension in California may be fading fast.
Feeling the heat is the state's huge public pension fund, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, known as CalPERS.
The fund spent millions of dollars to defend itself and public employee pensions in the bankruptcy cases of two California cities — only to lose the legal protections that it had spent years building through legislation.
The agency's most significant setback came in Stockton's bankruptcy case. The judge approved the city's recovery plan, including maintaining employees' pensions, but ruled that Stockton could have legally chosen to cut workers' retirements.
As the focus now shifts 400 miles south — to the city of San Bernardino's bankruptcy case — the pension fund faces a new legal challenge from two companies owed $50 million. The companies say it's illegal for the city to continue paying CalPERS to fund workers' pensions while they get nothing.
"This is significant," Tatum said. "It has put a chink in CalPERS' armor."
San Bernardino could be the first city in California to consider cutting worker pensions in a bankruptcy.
Housing Starts Plunged
 But It's Just Temporary

One word you don't want to hear when talking about housing starts: plunge.

The spin never quits -- bad news is always "temporary." CNBC is reporting:
U.S. housing starts plunged to their lowest level in a year in February likely as harsh weather kept building crews at home, in the latest indication that the economy hit a soft patch in the first quarter.
Groundbreaking tumbled 17 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 897,000 units, the lowest level since January 2014, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.
January's starts were revised up to a 1.08 million-unit pace from the previously reported 1.07 million-unit rate. February's decline was likely a temporary setback for housing as permits for future construction rose 3 percent last month.
The Cheese Fell Off His Cracker A Long Time Ago

George Carlin on Johnny Carson

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