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Oil Prices Collapse Again After Worst Week Since 1991

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Oil Prices Collapse Again After Worst Week Since 1991

Coming off its worst week since 1991, oil prices collapsed as much as 8% again last night before making a modest recovery. The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell settled at $22.37/barrel, down a modest 1.15% overall. Brent crude also traded lower, down 4.6% to $25.73 per barrel.

The energy sector continues to be roiled by a downturn in demand as travel slows and business activity drops due to the coronavirus outbreak and the looming supply increase scheduled for April 1 as Saudi Arabia and Russia both intend to ramp up production after the current OPEC+ agreement ends.

Giovanni Serio, head of research at Vitol, the world’s biggest oil trader, says demand is expected to fall by more than 10 million barrels per day (bpd) or roughly 10%. 

Even in the face of this sizable drop in demand, Saudi Arabia said it plans to increase daily production roughly 25% from 9.7 million/bpd to 12.3 million/bpd starting April 1. Russia has announced it will increase production as well, although the exact amount remains unknown.

With the April 1 production increase fast approaching, it appears the likelihood of a settlement between Saudi Arabia and Russia dwindles.

According to those with knowledge of the situation in the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin views what Saudi Arabia is doing as “blackmail” and won’t likely agree to a resolution.

Joseph McMonigle, senior energy policy analyst at Hedgeye Potomac Research said in a recent note: “We believe oil prices will continue to fall into the teens in the short term amid disaster demand destruction, building global stocks and no production limits after April 1.”

Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist at Axicorp Ltd. added “Oil could head to $10 to $15 a barrel very quickly” if OPEC and Texas can’t reach an agreement on cutting production. Any traders with the capacity to store oil are probably putting their hands up, looking at the contango.”

Prices have swung wildly in the last week as traders try to understand the impact the quarantine orders and increased production come April 1 will have on the oil markets in the short-term.

On Wednesday prices fell 24.4% to an 18-year low, the third-worst decline in history. On Thursday, just one day later, prices climbed 23.8% for the largest single-day percentage gain ever.

“With each day there seems to be yet another trapdoor lying beneath oil prices, and we expect to see prices continue to roil until a cost equilibrium is reached and production is shut in,” said Louise Dickson, and analyst at Rystad Energy.

“This is the most dismal oil demand picture we have witnessed in a long time with a simultaneous collapse in jet fuel, gasoline, shipping fuel, petrochemicals, and oil used for power generation,” she added.

The price of WTI has decline 60% this year, and 43.9% in March alone, putting it on pace for it’s worst month on record since the contract was first offered in 1983.

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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62

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Why You Should Consider Filing For Social Security At Age 62

Earlier this week we discussed four common regrets that retirees have when they look back at their golden years. One of the most common regrets was filing for Social Security benefits at 62, the earliest possible age. According to the Social Security Administration, about 1 out of 3 people apply for benefits at that age.

The regret is that if they had waited longer to file for their benefits, their monthly check would be much larger. For example, by delaying filing for Social Security until age 70, your monthly benefits can be as much as 75% larger than someone who filed at age 62. That’s because benefits grow by a guaranteed 5% to 8% each year that you delay your claim.

But there are always two sides to a coin. Today we wanted to discuss the benefits of filing for Social Security as soon as possible. With this, you can decide which approach you believe will benefit you the most.

The Case For Filing Social Security Early

The earliest you can file for Social Security benefits is age 62, but each month you file before reaching your full retirement age (FRA) cuts your monthly benefit amount. As an example, if your full retirement age is 67 and you start your claim at age 62, your monthly check will be reduced by approximately 30%.

Despite the reduced monthly benefit that comes with filing early, tens of millions of Americans make that decision every year. And it boils down to one line:

We have no idea what the future holds.

The financial benefits of waiting until age 70 to claim Social Security make complete sense. But we don’t know how long we will live, so we don’t know if the trade-off is worth it. If we knew we would live a long, healthy life until age 100, we would all delay filing until age 70 and reap the maximum reward.

But if you decided to wait until age 70 to claim, and unfortunately passed away before that, you would have foregone all the retirement income from age 62 on.

Waiting to file is a gamble, but so is giving up guaranteed monthly income starting at age 62.

Deciding when to claim your benefits requires serious thought and shouldn’t be a hastily made decision. And we aren’t saying that filing Social Security immediately at 62 or waiting until age 70 is the right choice. Every situation is different. If you are still healthy and working, waiting a few years passed 62 to claim but not all the way to 70 might be a good compromise. You’ll get a larger check than had you claimed right away, and your regular working income can make up for some of the reduced benefit amount since you didn’t wait until age 70.

The most important thing, whether you file at 62 or 70, is to find enjoyment in your golden years.

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Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money

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Mnuchin: Next Stimulus Coming By End of Month, No More Extra Unemployment Money

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the next stimulus bill will be much more targeted than previous bills. He also said the goal is to get the next bill approved between July 20 and the end of this month. That time is when Congress will return from their holiday break and before they leave for August recess.

On Broad Stimulus Measures

It appears the White House will not support the type of broad stimulus measures of the previous bills. Instead, it will focus on direct payments to Americans. In an interview with CNBC yesterday, Mnuchin said “we do support another round” of stimulus checks to individuals. This mirrors the $1,200 payments that the government sent out as part of the $2 trillion rescue legislation passed in March.

Mnuchin didn’t mention whether he supported the idea of a $40,000 income cap to receive a check that has been floated by GOP lawmakers. The income cap for the first stimulus check was $75,000. He did say that he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also mentioned the “level and criteria” for checks would be discussed when lawmakers return to Washington.

Any new stimulus bill would likely not include proposals from the Democrats that include hazard pay for essential workers. It likely won’t include a longer extension of strengthened unemployment benefits, mortgage and rent relief, and support for state and local governments, too.

Mnuchin reiterated that the White House isn’t in favor of more relief money for states and municipalities to make up for lost revenue. Some state and local governments are considering trimming essential services as costs balloon and revenues drop. He said the administration does not want to “bail out” states that were “mismanaged” before the virus hit.

On Unemployment Benefits

Another critical topic the lawmakers will tackle the end of the enhanced unemployment benefits on July 30. They will do so when they return to Washington D.C.

Mnuchin said the White House has no interest in extending the enhanced benefits any further. Instead, he said it wants to change how they pay benefits. He did not give details. However, he did hint that unemployed workers shouldn’t be able to earn more money compared to full-time employees

“You can assume that it will be no more than 100%” of a worker’s usual pay, Mnuchin said. This echoes many Republicans who argue the additional benefits are preventing some from returning to work. These workers do this so that they make more at home than they would at their jobs.

While Mnuchin says the White House isn’t in favor of extending unemployment benefits, it is extending the Paycheck Protection Program that provides loans for small businesses. Earlier this week the Trump administration released a list of companies that received loans from the government. With that, backlash ensued as numerous businesses tied to wealthy individuals were found to have requested funds. Of the $130 billion remaining in the program, Mnuchin said he wants new relief to be “much, much more targeted” than past rounds of funding.

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Kudlow: Economy Doing Great, Second Shutdown ‘Really Big Mistake’

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Kudlow: Economy Doing Great, Second Shutdown ‘Really Big Mistake’

White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow says that the country is squarely in the middle of the “v-shaped” recovery that everyone had hoped for, and despite reports of coronavirus hotspots popping up, shutting down the economy for a second time would make the “solution worse than the disease.”

Kudlow spoke on “Fox and Friends” yesterday and said that the White House is monitoring the jump in new coronavirus cases in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida, but added that as a country we now know what works to stop the spread, and just need to work together.

“We know the right mitigation, which has worked, and if we use that wholeheartedly and respect each other, I think we’ll get out of this pretty well and it will not stop the V-shaped recovery.”

On A Second Shutdown

He added that a second shut down would be a “really big mistake.”

“Another shutdown, in itself is controversial,” and would “do more harm than good,” said Kudlow before adding, “It would harm everyone. Not just businesses — the V-shaped recovery would give way. It would harm kids, we saw numbers on depression, drinking and so on… that solution would be worse than the disease.”

Kudlow highlighted the job growth in the last two months, and pointed out that jobs are being added back so quickly, workers are now quitting jobs to search for new, higher-paying ones.

He said there existed a “tremendous burst of jobs in May and June” and “tremendous record hiring rates. People are starting to quit their jobs again, which is extraordinary, in order to shop around for better jobs and wages.”

All those workers looking for jobs should bring down the unemployment rate to as low as 7% iby the end of the year, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard.

That would be quite a rollercoaster ride for the job market, which has swung from a 50-year low unemployment rate of 3.5% earlier this year, to a post-WWII high of 14.7% in April.

U.S. Economy Doing “Very Well”

Appearing on “Closing Bell” yesterday, Bullard said “I think we’re tracking very well right now. Seems to me like by the end of the year you can get down certainly to single digits, probably even below 8%, maybe 7% by the end of the year.”

A surge in new cases could slow the re-hiring of workers across the country, but Bullard believes that wearing a mask will become standard and that will help bring back jobs and boost the economy.

“If we get to that situation, we’ll have the disease under control,” he said. “What I like about that scenario is it does not rely on a vaccine coming or a therapeutic coming. We can use simple, easy technology that we have today, get a good situation, get most of the production back to normal.”

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