Good Friday Report

Because markets are closed I assumed Brent would be on sabbatical for one day.  So here is some financial news of the day, in capsules.

From the NYT:

Owners were supposed to be able to get up to $2 million. Now they’re being told the cap is $15,000 — if they can get any answers at all.

From the WSJ, a Q&A session at noon EDT:

https://www.wsj.com/live-qa/ask-wsj-what-to-know-about-small-business-relief-and-unemployment/4AD53F8C-85FC-4125-9494-A29B8F561CBF?mod=article_inline

Also from the WSJ:

Saudis, Russians Bury Differences, but Mexico Threatens Oil Deal

Mexico exits talks, putting oil truce at risk; negotiations to continue Friday

From The Economist, an article explaining a Russian “dump” of Venezuela enriching a Putin ally at the expense of the Russian people:

ROSNEFT is responsible for 40% of Russia’s oil output, but it is much more than just another oil firm. A large chunk of its shares are owned by the Russian state. Its boss, Igor Sechin, is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest henchmen. …

Bear this in mind when trying to make sense of the announcement, on March 28th, that it has sold all its Venezuelan assets to an unnamed Russian government entity.

Thanks to a low oil price, sanctions and the Maduro regime’s spectacular corruption and ineptitude, Venezuela is in no position to repay all its debts. But this is not too much of a problem for Rosneft, since it can dump its Venezuelan assets on to Russian taxpayers. They will no doubt be delighted to hear that they have paid for this with 9.6% of Rosneft’s own shares (worth more than $4bn), thus reducing their stake to just over 40%. The deal gives Mr Sechin ever tighter control of the firm.

The main aim of the deal, it seems, is to help Rosneft escape the consequences of doing business with a pariah. Over the past two months America has penalised the company’s trading arms for handling Venezuelan oil. These sanctions are global in scope and affect its customers, too. Sinochem International, the trading arm of a Chinese state-owned refinery, has rejected Rosneft’s oil. The Kremlin’s solution is to distance Rosneft from Venezuela while reassuring the Venezuelan kleptocracy that it still has Russia’s backing. “I received a message from brother president Vladimir Putin who ratified his comprehensive strategic support for all areas of our [relationship],” tweeted Mr Maduro.

 The Kremlin would like cheap oil to drive American shale producers, whose costs are higher, out of business. This is a risky game. Russia has alienated the Saudis, who might draw closer to America as a result. Rosneft can survive oil at $25 a barrel. But under Russian law the royalties it pays to the Russian state fall sharply as the oil price slides. As covid-19 spreads in Russia, Mr Putin will have to draw on the country’s reserves to help ordinary people cope. Mr Sechin’s sleight of hand has solved a problem for Rosneft, but not for Russia. ■

 

[copied right, 2020]

 

 

Posting This Because I Thought no one Would See It – Quoting Somin

Volokh Conspiracy readers may be interested to see videos of two panels I participated in at this year’s recently concluded Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention: “The Wisdom and Legality of Sanctuary Cities” and “Originalism and Constitutional Property Rights.”

In the sanctuary cities panel, I crossed swords with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, among others, and explained why the Trump administration’s attacks on sanctuary cities violate constitutional limits on federal power, and have—fortunately—led to a long series of defeats in court, at the hands of both liberal and conservative judges. I also described why sanctuary jurisdictions have good policy and moral reasons for refusing to cooperate with some aspects of federal immigration enforcement, including the fact that involving local police in immigration enforcement undercuts ordinary law enforcement. Sanctuary jurisdictions are also justified in rejecting cooperation with federal deportation efforts, given the horrific abuses in its immigration detention facilities, and the government’s history of wrongfully detaining and deporting even US citizens.

At the property rights panel, I discussed and debated the original meaning of constitutional protections for property rights with distinguished takings scholars Tom Merrill (Columbia), Richard Lazarus (Harvard), and my George Mason University colleague Eric Claeys.  I argued that the original meaning of the Takings Clause requires judicial enforcement of tight limits on government power to take property for “public use,” a concept which should be given a narrow construction encompassing only publicly owned projects, while excluding most condemnations that transfer property to private parties. My talk was in large part based on my book The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain.

On the property rights panel, I advocated what might be seen as a right-wing position (defending strong constitutional protection for property rights). On the sanctuary cities panel, I defended what is usually considered a  “left-wing” perspective on sanctuary cities. But, despite the seeming contradiction, I think there is actually an underlying coherence between the two positions: both advocate strong judicial enforcement of constitutional limits on government power, and both protect poor and vulnerable populations against the sometimes overwhelming power of the state.

Of course this year’s Federalist Society Convention will probably be best remembered for Attorney General William Barr’s seriously flawed speech extolling an extraordinarily broad theory of executive power. Among other things, he ignores the many ways in which executive power has grown far beyond the Founders’ design and argues for near-total judicial (and often also congressional) deference to the president on anything involving “foreign relations” and “exigent circumstances.” This is a misreading of the Constitution, and such deference has historically led to grave abuses of power. If time permits, I may have more to say on Barr’s speech later.

That Sinking Feeling – copied right [from The Economist]

Making do: American manufacturers have it tough
Data published today may offer comfort to those frightened by August’s Institute for Supply Management survey of manufacturers. That survey suggested that new orders, production and employment were all contracting. Businesses were concerned about the Sino-American trade war, but said that falling trade in general was their most significant concern. It is possible that the numbers will improve this time. The Federal Reserve’s most recent data on manufacturing production suggest that output has not sagged as much as the survey data suggest. Economists at Deutsche Bank expect the ISM measure to improve slightly relative to the previous month. But this says more about the volatility of the indicator than the underlying health of the sector. Because the trade war shows few signs of abating, the dollar is strong and global demand remains weak, the environment for American manufacturers looks likely to remain difficult for a while yet.

Timing when you die and the Will to Live for a Special Moment

Last night in my Monday night group Dave Heath, who is 80, reported on his weekend in Houston for NASA’s 50th fete for Apollo 11.  Dave was a control room guy back then; a re-entry engineering specialist.  One of his remarks was about how Chris Kraft, at 95, was eagerly greeting everyone and having a great time.  Only about a third of that control room crew live, but there was Chris, their leader, hearty if not hale.
Chris died Monday.  News broke this morning.
Spell ck H/T to JNC!

Open Thread 6/14

I have added this thread in lieu of a recent Morning Report.

Partial Shutdown – “unintended” security consequence (from WaPo)

Dozens of government websites have been rendered insecure or inactive.

Some NASA, Justice Department and other government agency websites were insecure or not working as of today because important security certificates had expired, according to a report from Internet security company Netcraft. With so many federal employees out, the agencies probably do not have the IT resources to renew the certificate.

Check out the link.

I Think Everyone but Thomas Piled on the Poor Guy

https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2018/17-1091_1bn2.pdf

 

This is 70+ pages of a good lawyer trying convince the Court to incorporate the federal right to claim a fine is excessive (as applied to a civil forfeiture).  The Indiana trial court and appellate intermediate court thought the fine [forfeiture] was excessive and ruled with the defendant, explicitly having decided under the US Constitution.  Indiana Supremes said that was not clearly laid out in any US Supreme Court case, and reversed.

 

So here we are, with a plausible argument before the Supreme Court and nobody even beginning to buy it.  Not RBG, nor Wise Latina, nor Roberts nor Alito.  Not Breyer, who was pretty funny.

 

Click, download, read, and enjoy.

 

And the entire Court, save for CT who was silent, just jumped all over the guy and made his life miserable.

And then the entire Court jumped all over the attorney general for Indiana.  All of them.  Except CT.

 

It is an entertaining read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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