Bubblenomics. The Energy Report 12/15/17
Santa baby, slip a little bitcoin under the tree for me. Bitcoin futures debuts at the CME Group on Sunday night just as one report suggests that the cryptocurrency may be the biggest bubble of all time. According to a story on MarketWatch, the co-founder of Convoy Investments, Howard Wang said that the speculative gains in bitcoin exceeds the Dutch tulip mania in Holland in the 1630’s. Wang says that the price of bitcoin “has now gone up over 17 times this year, 64 times over the last three years and superseded that of the Dutch Tulip’s climb over the same time frame.”
Some of you might not be aware of the Dutch Tulip bubble that economists always use as an example of speculation that has gone wild. So, to get an idea of just how high those Tulip bulbs went I spoke to legendary trader, and amateur historian Marc Nemenoff. Mr. Nemenoff reminded me that it was not just any type of tulip bulb that acted like a currency but the coveted Viceroy Tulip bulb. As prices soared just one of those bulbs reached incredible heights. Marc says to give you an idea of the purchasing power of just one bulb at the bubble peak, you must look at what you could buy with it. One bulb could buy you either 4 fatten oxen, or 8 fatten sheep, 2 tons of butter or my favorite 4 tons of beer.
So that got me thinking, what can you buy based in relative value for a bitcoin today. Bitcoin opened as of this writing at 17,697.50 this morning and is surging higher. That means at that price it would take 2 bitcoins to buy all the gifts in the song the Twelve days of Christmas. PNC Financial Services Group put out its yearly total cost for the “12 Days of Christmas” gifts in 2017 would be $34,558.65. You would even have money left over for an extra Lord a leaping or maybe another maid a milking.
With just one bitcoin at current levels you could buy a new car! They are many new cars that you can get under 17k such as a Chevy Cruz, Dodge Dart. Nissan Sentra, Fiat and the list goes on. Heck at that price one bitcoin you could even buy the same Hermès Birkin purse that Kanye West bought for Kim Kardashian.
But let’s look at comparable markets. At the CME, Group Butter prices closed at $2.50 a pound. So, one bitcoin could buy you like 7,078.8 pounds of butter or 3.5 tons versus two tons during the Tulip bubble. I could go on, but we must talk oil.
Oil traders are getting very different views on U.S. shale oil production from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and OPEC. and once again I think the IEA is showing a bearish bias as they represent the consuming nations. The IEA has consistently under estimated demand and has over estimated production.
OPEC in its monthly oil-market report put oil demand growth at 1.5m barrels a day and it put Non-Opec supply growth, including shale, below demand at 1 million barrels of oil a day. OPEC said the demand for their oil will increase by 300,000 b/d in 2018 to an average of 33.2 million barrel a day. OPEC production in November was pegged at 32.5 million barrel a day. OPEC says that the market over average supply was at 300 million barrels, but that is now down to 137 million barrels in October meaning we will see a balance in 2018.
On the other hand The International Energy Agency (IEA) says that U.S. shale production will cause non-OPEC oil production to rise by 1.6 million barrels per day next year, up from the 600,000 barrels per day supply in 2017. The IEA says that “Just as the OPEC oil ministers were sitting down in Vienna, our colleagues at the U.S. Energy Information Administration released data showing that for September U.S. crude oil output increased month-on-month by 290,000 b/d to reach 9.48 million barrels a day, the highest monthly average since April 2015 and 928,000 b/d above a year ago,” the IEA said.
The problem with that is that the EIA has already acknowledged that a study from MIT has raised some valid points about the fact that the EIA is overestimating shale output by 10%. So, in other words the IEA is using flawed data to come to their conclusion.
Nat gas had a bigger withdrawal than expected but not big enough. The EIA reported that gas fell by 69 bcf. Yet production rose to 82.0 keeping this oversold market oversold. Maybe we can get a technical bounce going into the weekend .
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