The flu can be a big deal for children. Here’s why

Laura Tejeda had been up watching her 7-month-old daughter Zoelis’ breathing all night this past November. She had been to a local hospital near the family’s home earlier in the day, concerned about a fever and Zoelis’ breathing being off, but had been sent home. In the middle of the night, Tejeda watched Zoelis’ chest tighten, and she knew she had to act. She got in a taxi from the Bronx to New York Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan, where a nurse took one look at Zoelis and brought her straight to the back.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/08/health/flu-children-wellness/index.html

Gas Prices Fall Below Last Year’s Average

The U.S. average for regular unleaded gasoline has declined to $3.32 a gallon, down about 35% from its peak of about $5 earlier in the year.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/gas-prices-fall-below-last-years-average-11670508194?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f

Exxon Slaps Biden In Face, Redlines Share Buybacks To $50 Billion Through 2024

Exxon Slaps Biden In Face, Redlines Share Buybacks To $50 Billion Through 2024

The only thing the left hates more than stock buybacks and billionaires is the fossil fuel industry. On that note, we can picture Senator Elizabeth Warren spitting out her coffee as we speak…and we love it.

That’s because oil supermajor – and one of the best performing, cash gushing stocks over the last several years – Exxon, announced today it is expanding its share buyback program to $50 billion through 2024. 

The company outlined the statement on Thursday morning in an investor presentation, Bloomberg reported, citing the company’s “higher oil and natural gas prices” boosting the company’s earnings for the year. 

The addition tacks another $20 billion onto the company’s previous $30 billion plan for buybacks through 2023. The plan will now include $15 billion of repurchases this year, which would be the highest annual total since 2013, according to Bloomberg’s data. 

The company also set its capital budget for next year at about $24 billion, which comes in “near the top end” of the $20 billion to $25 billion range that was estimated. Bloomberg wrote in a wrapup this morning that “the plan is expected to help the company double earnings and cash flow potential by 2027 as compared with 2019” and laid out other key points from Exxon’s presentation, including the whopper that earnings and cash flow growth are expected to double by 2027:

  • Growing lower-emissions investments to ~$17b through 2027

  • Share-repurchase program expanded up to $50b through 2024

  • Expects to distribute about $30b to shareholders by year-end 2022

  • Earnings and cash flow growth expected to double by 2027 vs 2019

  • Investments in 2023 are expected to be in the range of $23b to $25b to help increase supply to meet global demand

  • Remains on track to deliver a total of ~$9b in structural cost reductions by year-end 2023 vs 2019

  • Upstream earnings potential is expected to double by 2027 vs 2019

  • Sees near-term upstream investments to keep production at ~3.7 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2023, assuming a $60 per barrel Brent price, offsetting the impact of strategic portfolio divestments and the expropriation of Sakhalin-1 in Russia

  • Sees production to increase by 500,000 OEBD by 2027 to about 4.2 million OEBD, playing a critical role in meeting anticipated increases in global demand

  • Working to consolidate supply chain in one organization

The buyback can only be described as a massive slap in the face to the Biden administration who, in the midst of a global energy crisis, has taken the stance to demonize fossil fuel companies in the U.S. Most recently, Biden said he was seeking to impose higher taxes on oil firms who do not boost their US production and refining capacity. He called oil companies “war profiteers” in October:

“It’s time for these companies to stop war profiteering, meet their responsibilities in this country and give the American people a break and still do very well,” Biden said during a brief speech at the White House.

“If they don’t, they’re going to pay a higher tax on their excess profits and face other restrictions. My team will work with Congress to look at these options that are available to us and others,” Biden added.

But we’re sure what the Biden administration and his union, laborer-supporting pals are not going to talk about is how workers at Exxon are some of the only few in the nation to get a pay hike that has been higher than the nation’s out of control inflation. 

“Workers will receive an average salary bump of 9%, and those who got promoted will see a further 5% increase, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not be identified discussing non-public information,” Bloomberg reported yesterday. It marks Exxon’s biggest salary award in 15 years, the report says. 

So while the left hand of the Democratic party bitches and whines about workers being mistreated across the country, the right hand is trying to shut down the “war profiteering” (pause for laughter) that is allowing some of the nation’s energy workers to see an actual real rise in income. 

Color us not surprised. Idiotic, circular illogical thinking has been a running theme as oil prices have risen, while at the same time Biden employs the one dimensional solution of draining the nation’s only oil reserves to try and claw back a meaningless, temporary respite at the pump:

We have discussed in detail what a crock of shit Biden’s claims are:

And there’s a way to solve it:

And this is not the way…

Tyler Durden
Thu, 12/08/2022 – 09:05

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/exxon-cranks-its-share-buyback-plan-50-billion-through-2024

Disney+ just overhauled its subscription options. Everything you need to know

Disney+ is getting more expensive, unless you want ads.

https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/08/media/disney-plus-ad-prices/index.html

Peter Schiff: The Markets Are Worried About The Wrong Fed Mistake

Peter Schiff: The Markets Are Worried About The Wrong Fed Mistake

Via SchiffGold.com,

Stocks have struggled in recent days due to some better-than-expected economic data and more hawkish talk from Fed officials. This has revived fears that the Federal Reserve could make a mistake and raise rates too high and keep them there too long, sparking a recession. In his podcast, Peter Schiff said the markets are worried about the wrong mistake.

Peter said he thinks there is still a chance that St. Nick will show up with a Santa Clause rally in stocks.

I don’t expect this rally to have too much behind it, meaning I don’t look for much in the way of upside. But I do think there’s a good chance we’re going to do another short squeeze before the next leg lower, which I think will happen in January, if not even before the end of December. So, to the extent that we get the Santa Claus rally, you don’t want to buy it. In fact, you don’t even want to buy in anticipation of the rally, because it may not even happen, and you’re going to be left with coal in your stockings.”

Peter said the market reaction to Jerome Powell’s recent speech got him thinking about the possibility of a Santa Claus rally. The markets ignored Powell’s hawkish talk about interest rates going higher and staying there longer and focused totally on the prospect of a smaller rate hike in December. But in the last few days, several Fed members have repeated Powell’s messaging about having to go higher for longer.

Also, there was some better-than-expected economic news. The ISM services index came in higher than expected along with factory orders in October. It was something of a one-two punch. As soon as the data came out, the S&P Futures sold off sharply. Gold also charted a big drop.

The market perception is that this stronger-than-expected economic data will prevent the Fed from recognizing that the inflation threat has subsided. That will lead to the Fed making a mistake and raising rates too much and leaving them too high for too long, causing an unnecessary recession.

All of this is scaring the stock market. But the reality is we’re already in recession, and we don’t have a strong economy.”

Peter said of course we’ll occasionally get data that is stronger than expected. But most of the data has been weaker than expected. And a lot of the strong data — for instance, the non-farm payroll report — is only superficially strong. When you dig beneath the surface, you find a different story.

Don’t accept the numbers at face value. Dig a little deeper and look at what’s actually happening. Because if you do that with the jobs numbers as I’ve been doing on this podcast, the jobs market isn’t strong. The jobs market is weak.”

Peter emphasized that the risk everybody is worried about is the wrong risk.

It’s not that the Fed is going to raise rates too much. It’s that they’re not going to raise them enough. It’s that they’re going to pivot too quickly. It’s not that the Fed is going to mistakenly believe that the economy is strong and then overestimate how high inflation will be. It’s the weak economy that’s going to cause inflation to be higher. Because as the economy weakens, production will decline, but money printing will expand. In fact, at some point, the Fed will pivot in response to a much weaker economy than it expected, and that’s when the dollar is really going to tank, and that’s when consumer prices are really going to take off.”

Peter said the inflation that we’re experiencing now will kick into a much higher gear during the next economic downturn.

Everybody just assumes that when the economy weakens, so too will inflation. No. The weakening economy is going to strengthen inflation because inflation is the expansion of the money supply. And the weaker the economy gets, the more the Fed is going to expand the money supply to try to stimulate it. And as the return of quantitative easing causes a mass exodus out of the US dollar from foreign central banks and private holders, then the falling dollar is going to push consumer prices up dramatically.”

The weakening dollar will also cause the trade deficit to widen, putting downward pressure on GDP, and creating a self-perpetuating spiral of inflation and economic weakness.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 12/08/2022 – 09:25

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/peter-schiff-markets-are-worried-about-wrong-fed-mistake

Jobless Claims Rise Slightly in Tight Labor Market

Initial jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 230,000 last week, near the 2019 weekly average when the labor market was also robust.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-jobless-claims-rise-slightly-in-tight-labor-market-11670507772?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f

Can You Tell a Real Tweet From One Written By an AI Chatbot?

Take the quiz to see how much artificial intelligence resembles the real thing

https://www.wsj.com/articles/chatgpt-twitter-quiz-ai-openai-11670511559?mod=rss_Technology

The Russian Oil Price Cap Isn’t As Simple As It Seems

The Russian Oil Price Cap Isn’t As Simple As It Seems

Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via OilPrice.com,

  • While a $60-per-barrel oil price cap may sound straightforward, implementing it in what is a complex market could get very messy.

  • Physical oil is nearly never traded at fixed prices, instead being sold at a premium or discount to the forward prices of major benchmarks.

  • Traders are now worried they might inadvertently violate the cap while banks are increasingly worried about the high compliance risk. 

The $ 60-per-barrel price cap on Russian crude oil, which came into effect on Monday, looks pretty straightforward. Buyers paying $60 or less per barrel of Russia’s crude will have full access to all EU and G7 insurance and financing services associated with transporting Russian crude to non-EU countries.

However, the physical oil market doesn’t usually see trades with fixed prices of crude – oil is being sold at a price premium or discount against the forward prices of the major international benchmarks such as Brent or the Oman/Dubai average.  

So, the price cap is much more complicated than a straightforward $60 per barrel ceiling.  

As a result, traders of physical oil cargoes are confused by the price cap on Russian crude, wondering how a fixed price would work in a market that trades oil on a forward floating basis against international benchmarks. Physical oil traders, those who are willing to trade crude in compliance with the price cap, are also concerned that they could end up inadvertently violating the cap if, for example, the price of Russia’s flagship grade, Urals, with a discount to Brent, is higher than $60 per barrel weeks after the oil trade has been made. 

In such cases, traders would be stuck with above-$60 Russian crude that violates the price cap and would significantly limit access to EU/G7 tankers and maritime transportation services such as insurance and financing, oil traders tell Bloomberg. This could complicate the physical handling of Russian crude oil cargoes and hedging, they say. 

“Physical traders rarely trade on a fixed price,” John Driscoll, chief strategist at JTD Energy Services Pte Ltd, told Bloomberg. 

“It’s a much more complex space where they trade on formulas and spot differentials to a benchmark crude for the trading of actual cargoes as well as for hedging that follows,” said Driscoll, who has more than 30 years of trading oil in Singapore. 

The price cap is not set in stone – it “is fixed for now but adjustable over time,” the EU said last week.  

A price revision would “take into account a variety of factors, which can include the effectiveness of the measure, its implementation, international adherence and alignment, the potential impact on coalition members and partners, and market developments,” the EU says. 

Even within the price cap, banks are generally wary of providing financing, industry officials told Global Trade Review this week. Banks are concerned by the high compliance risk and fear they will have to increase scrutiny and due diligence to avoid being caught in a trade or deceptive shipping practices.  

Adding further confusion for physical oil traders is Russia’s position on the matter. Moscow says it will not trade its oil with countries that have joined the price cap.

The EU says that “With the price cap, there are clear incentives for Russia, oil importing countries and market participants to maintain the flow of Russian oil. This will achieve both objectives at the same time.” 

But Russia says the price cap artificially limits prices—a mechanism Moscow will not accept. 

By the end of this year, Russia expects to have legislation prepared that will ban Russian companies from selling oil to countries part of the Price Cap Coalition, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Tuesday. 

Russia is also preparing a response to the EU embargo and the price cap, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday. 

“One thing is obvious – we will not recognize any price caps,” Peskov added. 

There are signs on the market that Russia and less scrupulous tanker owners have been amassing a large ‘dark fleet’ of tankers to ship Russian crude outside the price cap and any EU/G7 insurance and financing provisions. The tankers may not be enough to ship all the Russian oil previously sold in Europe, and Russia could struggle to place all its previously Europe-bound oil to other markets, such as its now biggest customers, China, India, and Turkey, analysts say.

Tyler Durden
Thu, 12/08/2022 – 10:05

https://www.zerohedge.com/energy/russian-oil-price-cap-isnt-simple-it-seems

Vanguard Quits Climate Alliance In Major Blow To Woke Investing

Vanguard Quits Climate Alliance In Major Blow To Woke Investing

In a mighty blow to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing, Vanguard, the world’s second-largest asset manager, announced it’s withdrawing from a major financial alliance against climate change: the Net Zero Asset Managers (NZAM) initiative.

NZAM, which Vanguard joined in 2021, bills itself as “an international group of asset managers committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner, in line with global efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius; and to supporting investing aligned with net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.”

Last month, Consumers’ Research joined 13 state attorneys general in filing a complaint against Vanguard with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), charging that the firm was violating its agreement to control utility company shares passively.  

“Committing to net zero isn’t an abstract goal,” wrote Will Hild, executive director of Consumers’ Research, in a Dec. 1 Wall Street Journal op-ed. “The Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative requires its members to prescribe specific emissions targets for industry sectors, especially utilities.

“The International Energy Agency’s net-zero road map envisions eliminating fossil fuels from electricity generation by 2050. That would require every American utility to remake its operations radically.”

Vanguard’s exit comes at a time of increased saber-rattling and legal maneuvers by Republicans against investment firms pursuing woke agendas in general and anti-fossil-fuel agendas in particular.

Congressional hearings are in the works, and various state legislatures are readying anti-ESG measures. On Dec. 1, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis announced the state would withdraw $2 billion in assets managed by BlackRock. “Florida’s Treasury Division is divesting from BlackRock because they have openly stated they’ve got other goals than producing returns,” said Patronis. 

Here are two key excerpts from Vanguard’s statement about its withdrawal: 

Industry initiatives [like NZAM] can advance constructive dialogue, but sometimes they can result in confusion about the views of individual investment firms. That has been the case in this instance, particularly regarding the applicability of net-zero approaches to the broadly diversified index funds favored by many Vanguard investors.” 

“We have decided to withdraw from NZAM so that we can provide the clarity our investors desire about the role of index funds and about how we think about material risks, including climate-related risks—and to make clear that Vanguard speaks independently on matters of importance to our investors.”

That’s welcome news. The idea that — of all firms — Vanguard would subordinate its investors’ interests to those of an international climate change consortium was particularly disheartening. 

Founded by the legendary Jack Bogle, the firm stands apart with a unique ownership structure in which Vanguard’s mutual funds own the Vanguard Group. That structure positions the firm to put the interests of its investors first.

Overlaying an ESG agenda on fund management and proxy-voting betrays Bogle’s founding vision, by using investor assets to pursue social goals — at high risk of harming returns in the process.  

It remains to be seen just how far away from the ESG ledge that Vanguard is stepping. The firm said the exit from NZAM “will not affect our commitment to helping our investors navigate the risks that climate change can pose to their long-term returns.”  

Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Vanguard reiterated its commitment to provide specific “products designed to meet net zero objectives.” That’s how it should be — Vanguard and others should provide that warped investment approach only to those who specifically seek it out.     

Meanwhile, NZAM still counts most of the world’s largest asset management firms among its roughly 290 signatories, including BlackRock, State Street, JPMorgan Asset Management and London-based Legal & General. Fidelity, Pimco and now Vanguard are three notable exceptions.   

As of Nov. 9, NZAM firms represented some $66 trillion in assets, according to the group. The loss of Vanguard — the world’s second-largest asset manager — puts a $7 trillion dent in that figure. Here’s hoping other firms follow Vanguard’s lead in charting a new course that puts investors first.  

Tyler Durden
Thu, 12/08/2022 – 10:25

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/vanguard-quits-climate-alliance-major-blow-woke-investing

New York Times Staffers Go on One-Day Strike Amid Stalled Contract Talks

The strike by more than 1,000 New York Times staffers puts the organization in the position of having to cover news for one day without the majority of its reporters.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-times-staffers-strike-for-first-time-in-over-40-years-11670513199?mod=pls_whats_news_us_business_f