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John Oliver Does North Dakota

This Last Week Tonight piece on North Dakota covers a lot of ground – from Midwestern culture vs. New York manners to the unintentionally comic Blood & Oil TV series and, of course, the shale oil boom that is, for the moment at least, transforming the area.

Don’t forget, season two of Fargo debuts tonight! Ted Danson?!? Murder at a Waffle Hut?!?

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This Bloomberg story details the boom-turned-bust known as the surrounding communities to the shale oil fields in North Dakota, the “empty campers everywhere” comment above coming from one Tom Novak of TJ’s Autobody & Salvage who wakes up “and RVs are in my driveway”, that is, along with souped-up pickup trucks, presumably purchased by young men fresh out of high school who once drove a truck and made $100,000 a year.

There’s lots of fascinating (if unsurprising) detail in the report about the impact the boom-bust has had on the local economy (man-camp vacancy rates now as high as 70 percent) and the local government struggling to cope with it all (two-thirds of the $226 million of new debt issued by shale boom epicenter Williston, ND is outstanding).

Adding insult to injury, you have the recent debut of ABC’s “Blood and Oil”, set in North Dakota, that prompted this comment at IMDB:


27 September 2015 | by rickmtbslag

Who ever wrote and produced this horrid show has never, ever been to North Dakota, spoke to a person from North Dakota or looked at a map to find out where North Dakota is located. They could have watched the movie “Fargo”, at the very least, in order to get an idea of the landscape and dialect of the region if they did not want to travel to find out for themselves. Here is a hint; There are no snow capped mountains in North Dakota. Its highest point is White Butte at 3508 feet. Not a single jagged peaked mountain in sight. A white moose? Really? All they had to do is a web search to find out that North Dakota is not part of the moose habitat. Takes less than a second.The producers should be embarrassed that this show made it to air. And fired.

Gold, Commodities Routed

Bloomberg puts together lots of opinions (none of them positive) about the recent plunge in the gold price and broader weakness in the natural resource sector.

One Gina Rinehart, Australia’s commodity queen and richest woman, has been smarting, losing nearly $20 billion in net worth recently, according to this story at the Telegraph.

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Crude Oil Inventories, Prices

Not having looked at the graphic below that is updated weekly by the Department of Energy as part of their This Week in Petroleum publication, I was kind of shocked (for pretty obvious reasons) to have stumbled across it this morning.

Markets did a good job of signalling what was to come late last year as shown below.

Of course, that’s pretty much the end of the story…

Let’s all now watch the Nasdaq eclipse its internet bubble high from early-2000 as some foreign stock markets also notch fresh records in what can only be described as a “job well done” by the world’s central banks…

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Waiting to Exhale in Houston

Office construction data has never been anything that I’ve had any interest in, however, in light of the recent oil bust and the slow-motion reaction to the 50 percent drop in energy prices, charts like the one below from this Wall Street Journal story are hard to ignore.

A few more related charts appear in this offering from the WSJ Economics Blog and added context on the subject can be found in Oil Bust Hits Office Construction Boom, Banks, Suppliers – But Hey, “So Far” No Apocalypse.

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