Monthly Archives: December 2014

Oil Prices Climb in Wake of Renewed Libyan Unrest

 Progress of the Libya civil war in the Gulf of Sirte region by Rafy

Progress of the Libya civil war in the Gulf of Sirte region by Rafy

Fear of oil supply disruptions as a result of Libyan violence sent the price of US crude oil up by more than one dollar on Monday in Asian trade. In a reverse of the steady fall in oil prices of late, US crude just barely touched $55.74, up $1.01 on Monday after closing down $1.11 in slow trade on Friday.

Fighters loyal to the recognized government of Libya, an OPEC state, retaliated with air strikes on the western city of Misrata on Sunday. The bombing was in response to a missile attack by rebels on the port city of Es Sider, one of the largest export terminals in Libya. The attack set fire to the terminal and destroyed more than 800,000 barrels of oil, about two days of production. The fire also threatened additional storage tanks. The National Oil Corporation of Libya, the source for the information, stated that the total oil production from Libya is about 385,000 barrels per day.

“Libya, and all the other problems, warrants some kind of risk premium,” said Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Sydney’s Ayers Alliance.
“Oil is at a level where people are happy to build in a risk premium,” he added.

Forbes Says US Ranks 18 in Overall Business Climate

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Despite being mostly out of the debilitating recession of recent years and also being the strongest economy in the world, the United States still can’t seem to get its act together when it comes to making life easier and more productive for businessmen and entrepreneurs.

At least that is what Forbes Magazine’s list of Ten Best Countries for Doing Business 2014 seems to demonstrate. The survey ranked 146 countries in 11 categories; property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, personal freedom, trade freedom, monetary freedom, red tape, investor protection and stock market performance. When all the parameters are added together the result is that the US ranks 18th overall.

Forbes still ranks the US as the financial capital of the world, but it’s ranking as a great place to do business has been steadily declining since 2009, when it placed second in the same survey.

Coming in first place in the Forbes survey was Denmark, a country that is not new to this first position on the list. The Scandinavian country located south of Norway and south west of Sweden ranked first in 2008 and 2010, but for the past three years has been struggling with its economy. Those troubles seem to have been nicely surmounted over the past year.

Canadian Dollar Reaches Five-Year Low

Canadian dollar falls to 5.5 year low. Photo by Rick

Canadian dollar falls to 5.5 year low. Photo by Rick

The continuing decline in the price of oil is bringing the value of the Canadian dollar down with it, as a barrel of oil plummeted to below $60 last week. The price of oil has not been this low since 2009, while the loonie has not reached this price in 5 and a half years.

The Canadian dollar fell to 86.72 cents on the US dollar, following the steep drop-off in oil prices since OPEC’s decision two weeks ago to maintain production levels at 30 million barrels per day.

West Texas intermediate crude fell one dollar to close at $59.95 a barrel after crumbling by $2 the day before. Brent crude is not far behind, selling for $63.59, a loss of 37 percent in the past three months.

US Consumers Getting More Gas for their Buck

Gas Prices Have Been Falling Steadily Since May photo by  brownpau

Gas Prices Have Been Falling Steadily Since May photo by brownpau

Since May this year the price of gasoline has been taking a nosedive. During the interim seven months the average price of a gallon of gas as gone down by one dollar. According to the Lundberg survey released on Sunday, gasoline is at the lowest price it has been in four years.

Regular-grade gasoline is going for $2.72 per gallon, down 12 cents since the last survey done two weeks ago. Some analysts compare the severe price drop to the similar price crashes which took place right after the recession of 2008.

Several factors have contributed to the bottoming out of the price of oil in recent months: weakening demand; a large growth in oil supply, especially from North America and Canada; and the strengthening of the dollar has also played a role.

“We may see a few more pennies drop before Christmas,” said the survey’s publisher, Trilby Lundberg. “All this presupposes that crude oil prices don’t bounce up significantly in the near future.”

Prices of gas vary across the lower 48 states. San Francisco is recording the highest gas prices, at $3.04 per gallon; while in Albuquerque, New Mexico, consumers were paying the least- $2.38 per gallon.

FBI Warns US Businesses of Dangerous Virus Threat

FBI warning: Watch out for Malware!

FBI warning: Watch out for Malware! by EFF-Graphics

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation as issued a confidential warning those cyber-hackers could be targeting US businesses with malicious malware that could obliterate data and make it virtually impossible to recover.

The five-page warning comes on the heels of confirmation that the FBI is indeed looking into last week’s break-in to the computer network of Sony Pictures. The hack into Sony caused the entertainment and communications company to close down its corporate office network during the attack. In additions several Sony films not-yet released to the public were leaked on-line.

The FBI warning did not specify exactly which US businesses should be on high alert. They did, however, offer some of the technical details about the destructive software and included advice on how to deal with an attack.

High on the list of usual suspects is North Korea. The totalitarian government’s reaction to the planned release of an upcoming Sony movie on Christmas Day was that it is an “undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war.”

The movie, called “The Interview” is about a plot by the CIA to assassinate the leader of North Korea.

Officials from N. Korea wrote letters to the UN Secretary General and to President Obama requesting that the film be prevented from being released. When asked if N. Korea was involved in the cyber-attack on Sony the reply from the spokesman was only, “wait and see.”