July 13, 2012

NATURAL GAS

  • The Sierra Club is addressing the environmental issues around natural gas fracking. They have had success in lobbying the US government to deny drilling permits offshore and on Federal lands.
  • Currently there is 3.1 trillion cubic feet of gas in US storage. Theoretical maximum capacity is 4 trillion cubic feet.
  • April 2012 electricity generated in the US was equally powered by coal and gas at 32% each. In April 2011, coal was at 41% while gas was 23%.
  • UK oil and gas output dropped by 19% in 2011 to 656 million boe –half the rate of production in 2005. The production decline was blamed on maintenance and a slowdown in bringing new fields on stream. This has been a blow to the UK government finances.

UNITED STATES

  • Moderate to extreme drought now covers 1,016 counties, about 53% of the US Midwest.
  • 40% of the US corn crop was in good or excellent condition as of July 8th, the lowest for this time of year since 1998.
  • San Bernardino became the 3rd California city to choose bankruptcy.
  • President Obama is calling for a 1 year extension of the Bush Tax cuts for families earning less than $250,000 but would reject an extension of tax cuts to wealthier Americans.
  • A surtax on Investment Income (effective January 2013) will increase tax rates to 23.8% from 15% for capital gains, 43.4% from 15% for dividends and 43.4% from 35% for other income.

TIDBITS

  • Ford warned the CAW that there will be no reversal of the concessions they made during the auto crisis. Ford says total labour costs are $79/hour in Canada vs $64 /hour in the US.
  • German tax authorities have launched raids into Credit Suisse clients and searched homes of UBS employees as part of crackdowns on foreigners suspected of evading taxes through the 2 banks.
  • China’s car sales rose 16% in June to 1.28 million units, the fourth consecutive monthly increase.
  • According to the Japan Pensions Industry Database, Japanese pension assets fell 4.5% to 79 trillion yen last fiscal year. Japan is the first country to disclose that pension payouts exceed contributions.