Saturday, December 14, 2019

US Wins Eighth Consecutive President's Cup -- Whoo-Hoo! -- December 14, 2019

Notes From All Over, Nothing About The Bakken -- December 14, 2019

First things first: on ESPN right now -- NCAA FCS quarterfinal -- #1 NDSU Bison leading unranked Illinois State, 9 - 0 in the second quarter. The Bison scored again just before the half, but they had to settle for their third field goal. Bison struggling. Clear holding call missed by the officials. Amazing. Link here. Late fourth quarter, Illinois will take the ball with the score, 9 - 3. NDSU is playing horribly. NDSU dominance on the line. Illinois starts on their own 20-yard line. Now 3rd and seven. Pass incomplete, 4th and seven. And there it is: NDSU stops Illinois. NDSU has a 35-game win streak -- longest all-time streak in NCAA FCS history. First time NDSU has not scored a touchdown in Fargodome since 2002.This kind of playing won't win them another championship.
  • NDSU: 13 - 0 / 8 -0
  • Illinois State: 10 - 4 / 5 - 3
  • Fargodome, Fargo, ND

The book I will be ordering for Christmas: The Anarchy, William Dalrymple, just released, September 10, 2019.
It's about the East India Company. There's a strong tie between William Shakespeare and the East India Company which makes it, at least for me, a huge find. So, opened a copy at Barnes and Noble to see if Shakespeare was mentioned. Yes, in the introduction (or first chapter, I forget), very first line, along with Hamlet. I checked the index for Sir Henry Neville. Not mentioned, but that's fine. Reading the first few chapters, first impression, excellent. As I got deeper and deeper in to the book I realized it was going to be a hard slog -- India's history is very, very new to me, and the names are difficult. But it's definitely one I need to read slowly.

I'll probably start reading it in earnest in the next couple of weeks. I'll provide updates.
Two clicks on Amazon. "Free." Cash back from purchases on the card throughout the year.

Cardboard boxes: huge problem, they say. I don't know, but there certainly are a lot of Amazon boxes on front porches. In the old days I would have bought the book off the shelf at the local book store and probably not even bothered with a plastic bag. Now, it arrives in a cardboard box. Minimal dollar cost to Amazon or the economy but huge environmental cost, they say.

Last mile, sources: FedEx and UPS are "being killed" by cost of "last mile" delivery. Jeff Bezos willing to spend whatever it takes. Amazon's "last mile" delivery has transformed itself many times in the past few years; seems to be able to turn on a dime (pun intended). USPS, UPS, FedEx seem slow to adapt. Everything from big old diesel trucks to high shipping costs for the consumer.

Politics: when Bernie Sanders is leading the polls in Iowa, one really has to wonder about Iowa. To me it suggests the Iowa economy is really, really hurting. Other than corn, ethanol, and liberal universities does Iowa have anything else? The poster child for the "fly over" states.

The Hill. I only read a bit of this, but it seems "right on."

WWI, redux: a reader sent me the link to this story -- America's longest "war." This is probably one of the very few stories that I will not read the comments. 

Top Stories Of The Week -- The Narrative -- December 14, 2019

The top stories for week 50 of 2019 have been posted; it still needs a little work but for the most part it is done.

Wow, what a week.

For investors: tectonic changes. I apologize for beating a dead horse, but this was huge: the Schwab-Ameritrade story. The story broke two weeks ago but seismic after-shocks continue. I may do a stand-alone post. It's that big a deal.

Politics: at the other end of the spectrum, politicians have "cheapened" the concept of "impeachment."

Texas: more and more "stuff" moving to Texas. Big names to keep in mind: Apple, Ford, Chevron, Schwab, McKesson, European Wax Centers.


Saudi Arabia: The Saudi Aramco story is a non-story. A year from now it will be long forgotten. Remember: most investors around the world were not even allowed to participate. Valuations on this new company range from $1.2 trillion to $2.0 trillion. That's a pretty big spread.

Mexico; AMLO setting the stage for "president for life." Mexico will take the "road to Venezuela." US sanctuary cities will be overrun with immigrants. Story won't be reported.

Canada: really, really closed for business. When Chevron announced it was pulling out of Canada that pretty much said all there was to be said.


Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway -- sitting on $130 billion. Apparently no FOMO. Buffett likes:
  • highly capitalized industries, like railroads; huge tax benefits; write-offs;
  • banks; examples, BofA and Wells Fargo; stuck with Wells Fargo when morally/ethically should have sold;
  • energy companies, especially natural gas production, gathering, and transmission
He has said he is sitting on a huge cash hoard because everything is so overvalued. Looking at the entrails of the Schwab-Ameritrade story, it really, really looks like he missed  a whale:
  • TD-Ameritrade: everybody forgets about "TD" -- one of the biggest banks in the US; unique; innovative; really, really raises the bar that will now be part of Schwab
  • discount brokers were already cheap (under-valued) and then when Schwab announced commission-free trading, Ameritrade shares plummeted and Buffett failed to pounce; even Schwab/Ameritrade employees caught off guard; tells me that Buffett couldn't pivot fast enough; 
Quick: match column A with column B

Total Assets Under Management (AUM): the figures are not correctly aligned. Hint: Merrill Lynch is not #1.

Column A                           Column B
Merrill Lynch                   $1.3 trillion
Schwab                             $1.4 trillion
Ameritrade                       $3.25 trillion

Number of brokerage accounts (active): the figures are not correctly aligned. Hint: Merrill Lynch is not #1.

Column A                           Column B
Merrill Lynch                   $12.1 million
Schwab                             $12.0 million
Ameritrade                       $1.8 million

Asset growth y/y for Merrill Lynch, 2019 data: a negative 2 percent. That really, really surprised me.


Completion of another huge natural gas liquids pipeline was a huge story.

It will be interesting to see if ND regulators approve the DAPL expansion.  Nothing surprises me any more.

Week 50: December 8, 2019 -- December 14, 2019

Memo to self: send note to Art Berman; wow, we haven't heard from him in a long, long time.

Narrative (a new feature): here.

Top international non-energy story:
Top international energy story:
Top national non-energy story:
Top national energy story:
Top North Dakota non-energy story:
  • Cold snap;
Top North Dakota energy story (many of the links are duplicated):
Geoff Simon's top North Dakota energy stories:
  • Oil production tops 1.5 million bopd
  • Elk Creek NGL pipeline now operational; will help reduce flaring;
  • CLR founder Harold Hamm steps down as CEO ("but not going anywhere")
  • No major impacts on Lake Superior from Line 3 pipeline -- AP
  • Hess receives approval for Bakken EOR
  • Watford City to provide law enforcement for City of Arnegard 
  • Watford City water rate going up 01%; had been subsidizing rates
  • America blows past the world in projected oil and natural gas production, 2020 - 2024
  • Ban fracking? Not gonna happen;
  • How Enbridge plans to grow in the age of pipeline opposition -- and connect Canadian oil to world markets; Financial Times;
Carbon capture:
Bakken economy: