Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Energy And Market Page, Part III, T+186 -- July 25, 2017

Market: smashes through to new records --
Economy, via Bloomberg --
  • unemployment near a 16-year low (after two lost decades)
  • US stocks reaching record highs
  • consumers remain upbeat
  • consumer confidence rises to 147.8, a 16-year high, from 143.9
  • consumer expectations for the next six months gained to 103.3 from 99.6
Bloomberg tried to downplay these statistics, suggesting beneath these numbers are darkening clouds; and, of course they would. So anti-Trump, how else could they spin the story?

So, if you're a Hillary apologist, and have bought into the mainstream media story, and invested accordingly, you have missed one of the most spectacular equity rallies in history.

Other details from the economic report released today:
  • respondents citing "good" business conditions rose to highest level since early 2001
  • the labor differential widened to 16.1 percentage points, the highest since August, 2001 (very, very good)
Making America Great Again

From the EIA today:
In EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), total U.S. crude oil production is forecast to average 9.3 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2017, up 0.5 million b/d from 2016.
In 2018, EIA expects crude oil production to reach an average of 9.9 million b/d, which would surpass the previous record of 9.6 million b/d set in 1970.
EIA forecasts that most of the growth in U.S. crude oil production through the end of 2018 will come from tight rock formations within the Permian region in Texas and from the Federal Gulf of Mexico. In the July STEO, the Permian region is expected to produce 2.9 million b/d of crude oil by the end of 2018, about 0.5 million b/d more than the estimated June 2017 production level, representing nearly 30% of total U.S. crude oil production in 2018. The Permian region covers 53 million acres in the Permian Basin of western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. --- EIA
How Amazon Has Raised The Bar

Every so often Lego introduces a high-demand set that quickly sells out. When that happens, one can then find the same item on eBay selling for about 2x Lego's advertised price. Lego will eventually catch up with demand -- it usually takes about two months -- and Lego keeps its same original price. [As a rule of thumb: each piece averages out to 10 cents/piece; is a set has 1,000 pieces, it will cost $100.]

Lego recently came out with such an item; high demand and Lego quickly sold out. I bookmarked the site and checked periodically.

Yesterday, the item was available. I immediately ordered one set for my daughter (Lego set limit to two sets per order; we sometimes buy two sets on these special items, but for now, in this case, we just ordered one).

After placing my order, I called Lego to confirm that the order had gone through (it's a long story; unimportant).

"Josh" took my phone call. Great conversation. He, too, had been waiting for the Apollo Saturn 5 to become available again; he also noted that it had just come available but by company rules he is not allowed to order on the company computer; he said he will have to wait until he got home.

He said he was 42 years old and still loved Lego products. I no longer have any Lego collection; it's all gone to our younger daughter.

But I digress.

As noted, I ordered about 4:30 p.m. Central Time, Monday afternoon. Today, a robotic e-mail alerted me that the product had already shipped. It would be coming by FedEx -- historically a high-cost mailing option -- and would arrive at our daughter's address on Thursday -- with free shipping.

Without Amazon pushing retailers, I seriously doubt we would see retailers expediting these orders -- for all practical purposes, the Lego shipment is a two-day affair. And free. Even Amazon requires a $99 annual Prime membership for 2-day, "free" shipping.

The on-line price was identical to what I would pay in a local Lego store (if available) and half what it would have cost on eBay had I been too impatient to wait.

The "limit 2 per order" will disappear over time, I believe. Regardless, these high-demand sets are available for a year or so and then production ceases, I believe. It probably varies.

[I just checked Amazon and eBay: the Apollo Saturn V is available about twice the advertised Lego price. It will be interesting to see how fast these prices come down, especially over at eBay.]

Update, 2:49 p.m. Central Time, July 27, 2017:

This was ordered late Monday afternoon, US Central Time; it arrived about noon, US Central Time, Thursday, by FedEx -- free shipping. With free shipping and a free gift worth about $25, Lego is practically giving this item away. LOL.

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