A significant magnitude 5.3 earthquake has struck Oklahoma, shattering windows, cracking foundations, collapsing some roads and cutting electrical power to some areas. The quake struck at 8:44 PM eastern Standard Time at an extremely shallow depth of only 6.1 km. The shallowness of the quake means the shaking was felt very strongly at the surface.
According to the US Geological Survey, the quake measured a 7 on the Mercali Shake Scale. This means the "perceived" shaking was "very strong" and the potential damage is "moderate."
UPDATE 9:40 PM EST --
Reports coming in from Missouri and Arkansas that the quake was felt in those states as well; with Kansas City, MO reporting "very significant swaying back and forth."
UPDATE 10:46 PM EDT --
Shortly after 1945 local time, a strong 5.0 magnitude earthquake struck some 50 mile northeast of Oklahoma City. The nearby town of Cushing, home of America's largest oil storage facility, experienced structural damage and lost power.
This was Oklahoma's 5th largest quake in history!
Damage photos are now coming in . . .
Cushing is location of largest oil storage site in U.S. where benchmark WTI crude futures are delivered.
Cushing fire officials haven’t yet received any calls for damage at the oil tank yard, and no injuries have been reported, News9 Oklahoma’s Justin Dougherty says in posting on Twitter.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.
Whenever something bad is going to happen in financial markets, smart money puts chunks of cash into BitCoin, precious metals and such. Today, Saturday, October 29, cash is plowing into BitCoin, which is now rising suddenly and steeply.
A link to the LIVE BitCoin bidding is HERE
Stay tuned . . . .
US gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annualized rate of 2.9% in the third quarter, the fastest in two years, according to the advance estimate released on Friday.
Economists had forecast that the value of everything the US produced and provided a service for rose by 2.6%.
The boost to US growth came from a jump in exports — mostly of soybeans — and inventories. Business investment in equipment, however, contracted for a fourth straight quarter.
Personal consumption, the key driver of growth, slowed to a growth rate of 2.1%, worse than the estimate for a slump by 2.6%. Some economists expect consumption growth to slow even more if inflation rises and eats into real income.
Core personal consumption expenditures, a measure of inflation that tracks prices paid without the volatility of food and energy costs, grew 1.7% (1.6% expected).
Because this is an advance estimate based on incomplete data, it will be revised two more times this year, and could still be adjusted in annual revisions next year.
After traders saw the data, they increased bets that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its December meeting. Fed fund futures, which reflect their wagers, priced in around 85% odds.
The Fed's policy-setting committee will meet from November 1 -2, but traders don't think it will raise rates because the presidential election is the following week.
Money runs politics, and the charts below show just how much of it has been raised and spent on the 2016 presidential election.
New research by payment service provider WePay provides some amazing revelations about the election’s finances. First and foremost, Republican nominee Donald Trump — despite investing millions of his own money in his campaign — is sorely behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton when it comes to cold, hard cash.
Clinton has more than doubled the amount of money raised and spent by Trump. These numbers do not include tens of millions raised for each candidate outside of their committees. Clinton has raisedapproximately $143.5 million in outside money, while Trump has collected only around $40 million.
Unlike Clinton, the Trump campaign has at taken on at least $47.5 million in loans. The important factor is that those loans came from Trump himself, though he eventually forgave the loans in July.
Trump’s average contributor gave just under $10 more than Clinton’s average contributor, but Clinton’s donors gave well over twice as often as Trump’s. This figure undoubtedly had a major impact on the massive trove that Clinton’s campaign has raised.
The number of contributions by state for each candidate offers a telling example of potential voting behavior. The graphic above shows that two candidates are surprisingly close in states like California, but disparate in others. Additionally, Trump appears to have an edge in some key electoral states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.
Contributions by gender are probably the least surprising figures regarding this year’s elections spending. Trump has a strong lead on male contributions, while women make up more than 60 percent of Clinton’s contributions.
With less than 19 days left until the election, both candidates are likely going to spend as much as they can in a last ditch effort to secure votes across the country. While Clinton has drastically outspent Trump, their cash on hand is somewhat closer in number.
Earlier this week, we pointed out that we have now anniversaried the low print of oil and gas pricesfrom 2015, and going forward the "base effect" will kick in, sending headline inflation higher, and maybe even sharply higher if oil continues its ascent into the Vienna OPEC meeting. Perhaps an even more interesting base effect was pointed out earlier today by Goldman, which points out that after climbing in virtually linear fashion all year, corporate defaults - particularly in the energy sector - have started to decline for the first time.
As readers will recall, going into the year, many market participants expressed concerns about the outlook for defaults and downgrades. The fear was that the weak state of corporate balance sheets could cause defaults and downgrades in the Energy and Metals and Mining sectors to spill over into the broader market, especially if corporations continue to struggle to generate organic growth. And while this story is certainly not over yet, it appears that at lest for the time being between the latest - and biggest yet - burst in global central bank liquidity, and rising oil prices, even the most inefficient and leveraged companies appear to have gotten a reprieve for the moment, or as Goldman puts it, "beyond the limited contagion to the broader market, there is also mounting evidence that a gradual recovery in HY defaults and downgrades within commodities-exposed sectors is underway."
What this means is that as the chart below shows, for the first time this year, HY defaults have decelerated, especially amongst Metals and Mining and Energy issuers where default risk has been heavily concentrated.
HY ex-Energy default rate at post-crisis lows, limited spillover
12-month trailing issuer-weighted HY ex-Energy and Metals and Mining default rate
The 12-month trailing default rate declined to 5.40% in September after climbing through most of 2016 and peaking at 5.71% in August, according to issuer-weighted data collected from Moody’s. And with commodities sectors accounting for nearly three quarters of the total defaulted debt over the past year, the improvement in the Energy and Metals and Mining default trend remains central to the gradual recovery for the HY market overall. In fact, not a single Metals and Mining issuer has defaulted since May, while the monthly default frequency has also slowed down meaningfully for Energy issuers since July, as shown in the next chart below.
As Goldman puts it, "this is a welcome change after defaults amongst Energy producers escalated with rapid intensity from 1.27% at the beginning of 2015 to all-time highs at 29% in August, when using monthly-refreshed cohorts." And now, the default cycle is shifting back into reverse, at least until the next and perhaps bigger oil price shock.
It is, however, very bad news for Saudi Arabia and OPEC, as it means that the peak balance sheet pressure facing US shale companies has now passed, and together with those companies which have restructured, and come out of bankrupty without a debt overhang, there is now a smooth runway for much more crude production in the coming months, something which will lead to even greater record output in the near future and ultimately - once supply and demand again matter - far lower prices and the cycle can begin afresh.
Venezuela has deteriorated to the point where a significant chunk of the population has to eat garbage to survive. A recent study found a stunning 15 percent of Venezuelans say they can feed themselves only with “food waste discarded by commercial establishments.”
What’s more, the study found three-fourths of all Venezuelans were unable to eat an optimal diet of breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Just over half (54 percent) said they had gone to bed hungry, while 52 percent said they buy their food through the black market. Almost half (48 percent) said they had been forced to take time off work to search for food.
The severe food shortage can be pinned squarely on Venezuela’s socialist economy, according to William J. Murray, author of “Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World with Central Planning.”
“The difficulty in Venezuela is the key element of central planning, and that’s price fixing,” Murray told WND. “Price fixing causes shortages, regardless of what price is fixed. In Venezuela, it’s food. In the United States, we have a shortage of certain medical care because the government sets prices on it.”
Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, noted that when prices are allowed to rise in accordance with market forces, as in a free enterprise system, demand is reduced to a manageable level. Also, when the cost of production increases in a free market system, producers raise their prices, which allows them to produce enough to meet demand.
But in a centrally planned economy like Venezuela’s, the government does not allow producers to raise prices on their goods to keep up with increases in the cost of production. Therefore, producers cannot afford to produce as much and shortages result.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro implemented a rationing system in April 2014, prohibiting Venezuelans from buying more than their ration books allow. In fact, Maduro has ordered police and the military to crack down on anyone trying to buy more than their allotted ration, hoarding food or waiting outside a supermarket when the store is not open.
The president also created Socialist Party committees known as Local Committees for Supply and Production to determine who in each neighborhood receives food.
Murray said socialist rationing is simply a necessary outgrowth of price fixing. But he pointed out everything is rationed in America, too – it’s just rationed by the free market instead of the government.
“If the price is allowed to rise, as it is in a free marketplace, that is the rationing; the increasing price is the rationing,” Murray said. “We ration here; everything sold in the United States is rationed, but it’s rationed by price. We make it unaffordable through scarcity, and that causes more to be produced. In Venezuela, they don’t have that opportunity. The price can’t be raised, and as a result, greater amounts cannot be produced.”
When American leftists try to make their case for socialism, they point not to the dumpster fire of Venezuela, but to the Nordic countries of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Those peaceful nations up north have flourished under “democratic socialism,” they argue.
But Nima Sanandaji, an author and researcher who lives in Sweden, argues it is not socialism that is responsible for the success of the Nordics.
“Quite simply, the Nordic countries base their wealth on capitalism,” said Sanandaji, author of“Debunking Utopia: Exposing the Myth of Nordic Socialism.” “These countries have all for a long time, except a short period when Sweden made a failed experiment with socialism during the 1970s and 1980s, had strong respect for private property and business freedom. During the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, Nordic countries had low taxes and a free-market model. As I show in ‘Debunking Utopia,’ while the U.S. turned to the New Deal socialism following the Great Depression, the Nordics retained their faith in the free market – and thus the depression rapidly turned to job growth in the Nordics.
“After the second half of the 20th century, large welfare states have grown up in the Nordics. However, these nations have compensated for the detrimental effects of high taxes and large public sectors by introducing wide-ranging market reforms. This explains why Denmark, the country with the highest tax rate in the world, has the same economic freedom score as the U.S.
“Comparing the Nordics to Venezuela is comparing a free-market model to a socialist one. The differences are huge.”
Murray, for his part, sees no way Venezuela emerges from its food crisis while the socialists retain power over the country.
“Wheat crops cannot be the same year after year; corn crops cannot be the same year after year; the number of cattle produced cannot be the same year after year. And this is the problem with price fixing, which is a central element of centrally planned socialist governments. They have this idea: this is what the people should pay. And with no consequence, no conception of the idea of how much it cost to produce. As long as the socialists are in charge in Venezuela, this will continue to deteriorate.”
Murray pointed out in the years just before socialist Hugo Chavez took power, Venezuela was one of the most prosperous free enterprise nations in the world. A higher percentage of Venezuelans owned credit cards than in any other Latin American nation. The overwhelming majority of Venezuelans had enough to eat. But now times have changed.
“This was an overwhelmingly middle class nation that bordered on being a First World nation,” Murray declared.
“Socialism has brought the nation to its knees and is causing people to go through trash to survive. That would never have happened one year before Chavez took power; one year before Chavez took power, there was nobody eating out of the trash.”