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What We Read Today 09 April 2015

Econintersect: Every day our editors collect the most interesting things they find from around the internet and present a summary "reading list" which will include very brief summaries (and sometimes longer ones) of why each item has gotten our attention. Suggestions from readers for "reading list" items are gratefully reviewed, although sometimes space limits the number included.

This feature is published every day late afternoon New York time. For early morning review of headlines see "The Early Bird" published every day in the early am at GEI News (membership not required for access to "The Early Bird".).


Every day most of this column ("What We Read Today") is available only to GEI members.

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MLPs in the Days of Cheap Oil (Wealth Management)  As oil prices plummeted, master limited partnerships were among the investments caught in the crossfire. Now are MLPs bargains—or value traps?  The answer is "Yes"!  Read to find out why.  More discussion on oil in the members' only section today.

Articles about events, conflicts and disease around the world









Allan critiques three main targets: intense centralisation of decision-making to senior bureaucratic management; counting research grants as a far more important arbiter of academic quality than publishing academic papers; and students working while doing their degrees. I've seen these problems develop over a long timeframe.

"Of all the law schools I have worked at in my career I have never been at one that leaves less decision-making power in the hands of the law school itself than here in Australia. Top university administrators who know nothing about law end up making the most important decisions for the law school."

Post Royal Dutch Shell $70 Billion Deal: Here's Where Investors Should Look To Find The Stock Market's Next Buyout Bonanza (Trang Ho, Forbes)  M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activity has reached a level in 1Q 2015 which is larger in dollar value than any first quarter since 2007.
From Dealogic - M&A Statshot 07 April 2015.

U.S. Oil Prices Rise to 2015 High (Nicole Friedman, The Wall Street Journal

The benchmark U.S. oil price jumped to a 2015 high on Tuesday, on fresh signs the nation’s production is on the brink of a decline.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude-oil output, which hit a 42-year high in March, would peak in April and May before falling from June to September.  Although the number of active drilling rigs has declined by 45% in 2015, both the EIA and Goldman Sachs expect U.S. crude-oil production to recover somewhat in the fourth quarter of the year, as oil companies continue to reap efficiency gains. The EIA expects U.S. output to average 9.2 million barrels a day this year, up from 8.7 million barrels a day in 2014, a 6% gain.  See following articles.

Exxon Mobil Should Be On Your Radar As A Dividend Growth Investor (Alan Lee, Regarded Solutions, Seeking Alpha)  The price strength in crude futures (previous article) is not reflected in the spot price (up 9% for Brent and unchanged for WTI vs. 01 January, first graph below).  And it is also not reflected in the share price of the largest publicly traded oil giant, Exxon Mobil (down more than 7% in 2015, second graph below).  Lee says NYSE:XOM is still a good dividend growth play as the company has had consistently increasing dividends and a declining payout ratio trend over the past 25 years.


Oil dives 6 percent from 2015 high as stocks swell, Saudis pump (Robert Gibbons, Reuters)  The articles above were published Tuesday.  This was Wednesday's news.  See next article for Thursday's (today) oil news.

U.S. crude oil inventories surged 10.95 million barrels - three times more than expected - to a modern-day record 482.39 million last week, U.S. government data showed, the biggest one-week increase since 2001. Stockpiles in Cushing, Oklahoma, rose by 1.2 million barrels, much more than expected.

The data added to earlier losses triggered by comments that Saudi oil production rose to 10.3 million barrels per day (bpd) in March, the highest monthly total on record.

Oil up on Iran, German data, but strong dollar curbs rise (Reuters)  This year oil prices are more changeable than the weather.  Here is today's oil news:

Oil prices rose on Thursday on strong German economic data and uncertainty about negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, even as a strong dollar curbed oil's bounce a day after futures tumbled 6 percent.

Brent crude rallied 4 percent intraday as European equities strengthened on German industrial output and trade data and Greece's repayment of a loan to the International Monetary Fund. [MKTS/GLOB]

Also supportive was Iran saying it will only sign a final nuclear accord if all sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear program are lifted the same day.

Crude Oil Futures - May 15 (  Data is for the May WTI Futures contract:  One month (first chart), three months (second chart) and one year (third chart).


Other Economics and Business Items of Note and Miscellanea

For Americans, Science and Religion Are Largely Compatible (Boston Review)

Most Important Metric for Dividend Seekers (Financial Planning)  Actually this characteristic is also very important for growth, but many people don't pay attention to it.

Scontras: The Laws of Economics Apply to Healthcare Too (Maine Wire)  The argument is that healthcare is no different than any other resource that is limited by the finite nature of the universe and the laws of economics that govern scarce resources.  Econintersect:  This is a fallacious:  There is nothing about the universe that limits the amount of health care in the same way that minerals, oil or land is limited.  Yet many economists make the error of thinking of it in the same way.    

Why Your Wages Could Be Depressed for a Lot Longer Than You Think (Bloomberg)  Even with a pickup in economic growth, weak productivity and other forces may hold down wage gains in the future.  We will discuss this more ion days to come.

U.S. jobless claims data point to strengthening labor market (Reuters)  See several articles on GEI blogs about the employment situation.

1 in 3 Older Workers Likely toBe Poor or Near Poor in Retirement (Time Money)  One underlying cause of the larger number of impoverished retirees is a sharp decline in employer-sponsored retirement plans over the past 15 years.

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