Stimulus Check Up | Apr 8, 2022 | 0
OPEC and Russia will discuss oil output, amid concerns about lagging production.
Officials from OPEC, Russia and other oil producers are expected to agree to continue their program of gradual monthly output increases when they meet by teleconference on Tuesday, but there are growing doubts about whether they can deliver on the additional barrels.
A persistent failure to step up production by the amounts agreed on in July is helping to keep oil prices relatively high even though a surge in coronavirus cases from the Omicron variant threatens to dampen economic activity and oil demand.
The slow ramp up in production also could lead to tension with the Biden administration, which wants the producers to pump more oil in an effort to lower gasoline prices in the United States. Gas prices, nationally at $3.28 a gallon, are now about one-third higher than they were a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration, a government agency, and contributing to rising inflation.
What Saudi Arabia decides to do is crucial. The only route to meeting the scheduled increases in output would be for Saudi Arabia, which now has most of the world’s extra capacity, to agree to produce more than its quota.
From an oil industry perspective, Saudi Arabia, the leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has weathered the pandemic better than might have been expected. Saudi production is back around the 10-million-barrel-a-day level that the kingdom prefers, prices are relatively high, and Riyadh’s influence over oil policy is strong.
In November, the White House coordinated a planned release of strategic oil reserves with other nations in an effort to dampen the market, but prices have since edged up to more than $79 a barrel for Brent crude, the international benchmark, and $76 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate, the American standard.
In the spring of 2020, the early days of the pandemic, the oil producers group known as OPEC Plus sharply curbed production by almost 10 million barrels a day, or almost 10 percent of world supply at the time.
Building output back up again has not been easy for several countries, including Nigeria and Angola.
In its December Monthly Oil Report, the International Energy Agency estimated that OPEC Plus fell short of its November target by 650,000 barrels a day, substantially more than the 400,000 barrels a day the group had planned to increase each month.
S few producers, including Saudi Arabia and Iraq, are increasing output handily, but others in the 23-member group are lagging. A range of issues, including political strife and underinvestment in drilling, are holding them back.
Even Russia, the group’s second-largest exporter after Saudi Arabia, appears to have hit a wall at about 9.9 million barrels a day, about 600,000 less than it pumped in April 2020 before the big cuts. For Russia to increase substantially from here will require improved tax policies and the development of new fields, analysts say.
“Russia is temporarily near its limits,” said Bhushan Bahree, an executive director at IHS Markit, a research firm.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer, in November pumped 360,000 barrels a day below its quota — almost enough on its own to wipe out the agreed 400,000-barrel-a-day monthly increase for the overall group. “A poor regulatory framework, sabotage and vandalization of oil facilities” are deterring needed spending in Nigeria, the International Energy Agency said in its report.
Angola, another African country, is also pumping well under its quota, while Libyan production has recently fallen off rapidly because of political turmoil.
Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the failed blood testing start-up Theranos, was found guilty of four of 11 charges of fraud on Monday.
Ms. Holmes, 37, was the most prominent tech executive to field fraud accusations in a generation of high-flying, money-losing start-ups. A jury of eight men and four women took 50 hours to reach a verdict, convicting her of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, The New York Times’s Erin Griffiths and Erin Woo report.
She was found not guilty on four other counts. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on three counts, which were set aside for later. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, terms that are likely to be served concurrently. Ms. Holmes is expected to appeal.
After the verdict was read, defense and prosecution lawyers discussed plans for Ms. Holmes’s sentencing, the status of her probation and the fate of the three hung charges. Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California, who oversaw the case, said he planned to declare a mistrial on those charges, which the government could choose to retry.
The parties agreed that Ms. Holmes would not be taken into custody on Monday and Ms. Holmes left the San Jose, Calif. courtroom through a side door.
The verdict stands out for its rarity. Few technology executives are charged with fraud and even fewer are convicted. If sentenced to prison, Ms. Holmes would be the most notable female executive to serve time since Martha Stewart did in 2004 after lying to investigators about a stock sale.
The case against Ms. Holmes came to symbolize the pitfalls of Silicon Valley’s culture of hustle and hype. READ MORE
Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the blood testing start-up Theranos, faced 11 counts of fraud for lying to investors, patients and others to raise money and the profile for her company. (An additional charge of wire fraud against a patient was dropped during the trial.)
Here’s what jurors decided:
Count one of conspiring to commit wire fraud against investors in Theranos between 2010 and 2015: Guilty.
Count two of conspiring to commit wire fraud against patients who paid for Theranos’s blood testing services between 2013 and 2016: Not guilty.
Count three of wire fraud in connection with a wire transfer of $99,990 on or about Dec. 30, 2013: No verdict.
Count four of wire fraud in connection with a wire transfer of $5,349,900 on or about Dec. 31, 2013: No verdict.
Count five of wire fraud in connection with a wire transfer of $4,875,000 on or about Dec. 31, 2013: No verdict.
Count six of wire fraud in connection with a wire transfer of $38,336,632 on or about Feb. 6, 2014: Guilty.
Count seven of wire fraud in connection with a wire transfer of $99,999,984 on or about Oct. 31, 2014:Guilty.
Count eight of wire fraud in connection with a wire transfer of $5,999,997 on or about Oct. 31, 2014: Guilty.
Count nine was dropped.
Count 10 of wire fraud in connection with a patient’s laboratory blood test results on or about May 11, 2015: Not guilty.
Count 11 of wire fraud in connection with a patient’s laboratory blood test results on or about May 16, 2015: Not guilty.
Count 12 of wire fraud in connection with a wire transfer of $1,126,661 on or about Aug. 3, 2015: Not guilty.
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Credit Suisse will lay off 69 employees in New York in the wake of $5.5 billion in losses from the collapse of Archegos Capital Management, the family office of the former Tiger Management trader Bill Hwang.
The Swiss bank is cutting jobs because it will close its U.S. prime services division by Aug. 1, according to a filing with the state’s Department of Labor. The layoffs will be effective March 6, just under a year after the sudden collapse of Archegos reverberated through some of Wall Street’s biggest banks. Credit Suisse announced in November that it would shutter most of its prime brokerage businesses, in which it acts as a large lender to trading firms including hedge funds like Archegos.
A spokeswoman for the bank declined to comment.
The collapse of Archegos caused losses at a number of big banks but was particularly painful for Credit Suisse, which was slower than other creditors to liquidate the fund’s positions. Credit Suisse undertook a major management shake-up in the immediate aftermath, and a report by a law firm hired by the bank’s board faulted a “fundamental failure of management and controls.”
Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting.
Apple’s market value touched the $3 trillion level on Monday, making the tech giant the first publicly traded company ever to reach that milepost. Apple now accounts for nearly 7 percent of the total value of the S&P 500. The shares fell off that level later in the day.
Verizon and AT&T said late Monday that they had agreed to delay their deployment of new wireless technology for two weeks, giving in to the demands of federal aviation regulators who have raised concerns that the signals could create an airline safety hazard. The companies made the decision after initially rebuffing a request for a delay made last week by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Steve Dickson, the head of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Facebook on Monday suspended for 24 hours the account of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus, a day after Twitter permanently banned one of her accounts for posting a similar message. Ms. Greene, a Georgia Republican, had posted falsely about “extremely high amounts of Covid vaccine deaths.”
Airlines canceled more than 8,000 flights in the United States were canceled from Saturday through Monday, affecting more than one in 10 scheduled flights, according to FlightAware, a tracking service. The recent cancellations were caused by storms that produced heavy snowfall in the Midwest over the weekend and over the eastern United States on Monday, the worst day of the holiday season with more than 3,000 canceled flights. Southwest Airlines and SkyWest Airlines, which operates regional flights for several major carriers, were responsible for about a third of all cancellations over the weekend and Monday.