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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow predicted that June’s jobs report would be ‘absolutely terrible’

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow may have read the tea leaves wrong as she boldly predicted that June’s jobs report would be “absolutely terrible.” Ahead of the release of the latest jobs report, which showed that 4.8 million jobs were added to the U.S. economy last month, the liberal icon offered a dire warning at the end of her show Wednesday night. “Because Friday is the federal holiday honoring the Fourth of July, we’re actually gonna get the jobless numbers, the unemployment for the month of June a day earlier than we would otherwise expect them,” Maddow told her viewers. “Brace yourself. It’s going to be absolutely terrible, but we should have those as of tomorrow morning.” Well, the jobs report wasn’t “absolutely terrible” after all. The nearly 5 million jobs that were added resulted in the unemployment rate dropping to 11.1 percent from the previous 13.3 percent. Economists expected the rate would be 12.3 percent with an increase of just 3 million jobs amid the recovery from the shutdowns brought upon by the coronavirus outbreak. Maddow emerged as MSNBC’s biggest star amid the Russia investigation, almost exclusively dedicating her primetime show on the latest developments she suggested would lead to evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. However, ever since Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation, Maddow’s ratings have plummeted.“The Rachel Maddow Show,” which is MSNBC’s most-watched program, finished the month of May behind five different Fox News programs in total viewership, including non-primetime shows “The Five” and “Special Report with Bret Baier.” Maddow’s performance in May was even more alarming among the key demographic of adults age 25-54, where she averaged 455,000 viewers to finish tied for No. 7 in cable news, behind five different Fox News shows and even one program on MSNBC’s fellow liberal network CNN. Maddow has been outside the top five cable news programs among total viewers and outside the top six in the demo for four consecutive months. Maddow has shed demo viewers for three straight months at the same time America has seen an unprecedented news cycle filled with everything from a global pandemic to rampant joblessness to the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody.

It’s truly amazing Rachel Maddow has even one viewer.  She comes across as this erudite, smarter than everyone else, arrogant, liberal elitist…and the thing is..  She is spectacularly stupid, and wrong about almost everything.  This is just the latest example of her being oh so wrong, that we’re very happy to document here for you.  You’re welcome.       🙂

Stocks Rise At End of Best Quarter in Decades

Stocks ended June with another move higher, capping the best quarter for the major indexes in decades. The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 217 points, 0.85 percent higher. The S&P 500 jumped 1.5 percent. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.87 percent. The Dow ended the second quarter with a 17.8 percent gain, the biggest quarterly gain since 1987. The S&P 500 is up nearly 20 percent, the best quarter since 1998. Nasdaq Composite is up 30.6 percent, the best quarter since 1999. The yield on the 10-year ticked up slightly to 0.658 percent, 0.022 points higher. Oil slipped slightly lower, with West Texas Intermediate crude closing at $39.38 a gallon, 0.86 percent lower, and the global standard Brent Crude falling 1.37 percent. All 11 sectors of the S&P were up for the day. Energy was the best performing sector, followed by health care and consumer discretionary. Utilities, industrials, and consumer staples–sectors that tend to outperform when investors seek to reduce risk–were the laggards.

Definitely some much-needed good news!     🙂

Opinion/Analysis: Carbon tax is a bad idea that would hurt our economy and destroy jobs

At a time when America’s economy has been crippled by shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic and 45 million Americans have lost their jobs, we need major economic stimulus and employment programs to put Americans back to work. The absolute last thing our country needs is a new tax that would slow our economic recovery and hiring. But environmental zealots have never let facts get in the way of their radical policies to restructure our entire economy to be “green” – so why start now? Disregarding America’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the green crusaders are pressing on with their dream of taxing carbon dioxide emissions, ostensibly to slow climate change. Lately, environmentalists have taken to calling their carbon tax a “fee” – as if changing the name means it won’t be taking money out of the pockets of individuals and businesses. This is absurd. It makes as much sense as calling robbery “income redistribution.” For decades, the environmental movement has sought to make America green. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden tried to regulate a green America into being by offering billions of taxpayer dollars to green companies. And the two used the Environmental Protection Agency to impose costly and unnecessary regulations on American oil, natural gas and coal companies – forcing up the price of the energy we all rely on. Growing up in the 1980s during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, I have imprinted in my soul the belief that taxes and government programs are never a solution. Reagan taught us the nine most frightening words in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Government proposals aimed at improving life will usually make it worse. An organization seeking creation of a carbon tax called the Climate Leadership Council has even enlisted prominent Republicans in its ranks, including former Secretaries of State and Treasury James Baker III and George Schultz. While both these man are prominent figures who command respect and gratitude for their service to our nation, neither is an environmental or energy expert. They are simply wrong in seeking approval of a destructive carbon tax. I also criticized former New York City Mayor Michael Blomberg during his short-lived campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination for his belief that taxes should be used to dictate behavior. Whether this idea – and the carbon dioxide emissions tax it supports – is backed by a Republican or Democrat, it is bad policy on many counts. Keep in mind that all of us (and all animals) emit carbon dioxide every time we exhale. So we are not talking about toxic fumes coming out of factory smokestacks here – carbon dioxide has been part of our natural world since before human beings inhabited Earth. A tax on carbon dioxide emissions presumably wouldn’t be levied on all us whenever we exhale. Even the most fanatical environmentalist isn’t crazy enough to try that. But it would apply to everything that uses fossil fuels for energy – cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, most electric power plants, factories and more. That would translate into higher costs to fill up your vehicle’s fuel tank, heat and cool your home and keep the lights on, and for purchases of just about everything you buy. Factories, farmers and stores would all have to pass the carbon tax on to consumers. Beef prices have doubled in the past month because of the coronavirus pandemic. If they had doubled to pay for a carbon tax would Americans rejoice in a moral victory or just be burdened by the higher costs? The Climate Leadership Council claims the money that these taxes generate will be returned to the American people through dividend checks. The group claims we’ll pay more upfront, but we’ll get the money back from the Internal Revenue Service in the end. This proposal is a joke. This is the U.S. government after all, and we all know how well it manages money. It does a great job taking our money – but not in wisely spending it. President Reagan knew this. At the end of his presidency he warned us: “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.” I watched that speech live on TV. I was 13. Carbon dioxide emissions are a global issue. The Paris Climate Accord – the international agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions – recognizes this. But China emits twice as much carbon dioxide as the United States, yet has no plans to reduce emissions – let alone adopt a carbon tax for some global benefit. China doesn’t care about the rest of the world; we are still in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic because the communist country withheld the truth of the outbreak. In addition to China, most other countries are also not meeting the Paris Climate Accord mandates – among them major carbon dioxide emitters like India, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia Russia, the world’s fourth-largest carbon dioxide emitter, made no commitment at all. We can safely assume that nation will not impose a carbon tax on itself. The very reason President Trump abandoned the Paris Climate Accord was because he wisely understood it makes no sense to punish Americans with a costly new tax while some of the world’s biggest emitters take no action. China would certainly applaud America for imposing a carbon tax on ourselves. Since 2000, almost 4 million American jobs have been lost to China. Why? U.S. policies made China more competitive and more attractive to businesses. Corporations seek only to increase their profit margins. A carbon tax would send businesses a signal: ship even more American jobs to foreign countries. Corporations would go elsewhere and do so without any second thoughts. They’ve done it before. It took 28 years for the White House to have an occupant as skeptical of big government and as aggressive in cutting taxes and keeping jobs in America as Reagan, but we have one now. Will that continue? Biden – the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee – is ahead in the polls. As president, he would punish the use of oil, natural gas and coal. This would not spur innovation nor would it reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It would just make life more expensive and throw even more Americans out of work. As President Trump pointed out in his speech to his rally in Tulsa Saturday night, Biden is relying on socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York – the sponsor of the extremist Green New Deal – to advise him on energy policy, naming her as co-chair of his energy task force. This is like appointing a pacifist to head a task force on national defense, or a vegan to head a task force on policy toward the meat industry. It spells disaster for the energy we all need. A carbon tax is anti-freedom, anti-growth, and thoroughly anti-Reagan. In his 1981 inaugural address, President Reagan told us “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” He was right then and his view remains right today.

Exactly right!  Thanks to Daniel Turner for that excellent piece.  Daniel is the executive director of Power The Future, a national nonprofit organization that advocates for American energy jobs. Follow him on Twitter @DanielTurnerPTF

A second coronavirus stimulus check may be coming. Here’s how much money you could get

Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested the Trump administration was considering sending Americans another round of stimulus checks to offset the financial pain caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the related economic lockdown. “I think we’re going to seriously look at whether we want to do more direct money to stimulate the economy,” Mnuchin said Wednesday while testifying before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. It’s unclear what specific policies the White House is exploring, but there are several proposals — from Democrats and Republicans alike — on the table that would get money directly into the hands of a significant chunk of Americans. One such package, the $3 trillion HEROES Act passed by House Democrats in May, would send another round of $1,200 checks to American adults and children and expand the number of people who are eligible to receive the government aid. One criticism of the CARES Act, which sent up to $1,200 to Americans earning less than $75,000, was that it did not include older teens and college students. But the HEROES Act broadens the scope of the money to include those individuals. The payments would be capped at $6,000 per household. To see how much money you would receive through the HEROES Act, you can use this online calculator provided by Omni. Some Democrats have proposed a more aggressive approach to stimulus measures. At the beginning of May, Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., unveiled a bill that would give most Americans a monthly payment of $2,000 until the virus begins to fade — a nod to universal base income championed by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang. Similar to a House bill proposed in mid-April, the senators called for $2,000 cash payments to every American who earns less than $120,000. It would expand to $4,000 for married couples and also provided an extra $2,000 for each child up to three. That means families with three children could theoretically receive $10,000 per month. Republicans, meanwhile, have pitched a back-to-work bonus for unemployed Americans returning to their jobs. More than 44 million Americans have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown, a rate unseen since the Great Depression. But Republicans have voiced concern that extra unemployment benefits of $600 a week are actually discouraging some workers from returning to their jobs. The sweetened benefits are set to expire at the end of June. Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, proposed a bill to give recipients of unemployment benefits who go back to their jobs a one-time lump payment of $1,200, or two weekly payments of $600. Another proposal from Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would provide $450 weekly to laid-off Americans returning to work, in addition to their wages. In both cases, the money would last through July 31, the same date on which the extra $600-a-week unemployment benefit expires. The idea of a back-to-work bonus has also gained traction among some White House officials, who have voiced support for reforming unemployment benefits in the next aid package. “We’ve got to reward individuals for coming back to work,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said during a recent interview on “Fox & Friends.” “There will be some kind of re-employment bonus. We’re not going to go to the $600, that’s a disincentive to work.” Americans eager for a second cash check may have to wait a while, however. White House officials have said they do not intend to pass more relief measures until at least the beginning of July. The Senate is not scheduled to return from its two-week summer recess until July 20, making it unlikely that a fourth round of aid is passed before then. Kevin Hassett, another White House economic adviser, told “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning that another stimulus package — and what’s included in it — will depend on what the economy looks like in July. So far, Congress has passed three massive stimulus packages totaling nearly $3 trillion to blunt the economic pain from the virus outbreak, raising concerns among some Republicans about a ballooning deficit. Money from the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, signed into law at the end of March, is still trickling its way through the economy. There remains $130 billion in the Paycheck Protection Program, a fund that provides forgivable loans of up to $10 million to small businesses. There are also an estimated 35 million individuals waiting to receive their payment of up to $1,200 from the Internal Revenue Service, according to recent data published by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Again, if you want to see how much you might receive, click on the text above.

Dow reclaims 27K, Nasdaq nears record as jobs, economy recover

Investors piled into U.S. equities after a surprise jobs report showed the U.S. economy is seeing a faster than expected rebound from its COVID-19 lockdowns. The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 829 points or 3.15 percent, while the S&P 500 jumped 2.62 percent. New economy stocks helped the tech-heavy Nasdaq touch an intraday all-time high of 9,842, but the index closed just under that level with a gain of 2.06 percent. Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, which hit a fresh record, all contributed to the gains lifting the Nasdaq 100 Index. The U.S. economy added 2.51 million jobs in May as the unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent, according to a report released Friday morning by the Labor Department. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refinitv were expecting the economy to lose 8 million jobs as the unemployment rate spiked to 19.8 percent. President Trump, who posted an enthusiastic tweet afterward, praised the strength of the U.S. economy in a Rose Garden news conference and said 2021 would be its best year yet. That would also be the first year of Trump’s second term, should he fend off Democratic challenger and former Vice President Joe Biden to win re-election in November. “We’ll go back to having the greatest economy anywhere in the world, nowhere close,” Trump promised. The labor market may see further gains in the month of June after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said New York City will begin its Phase 1 reopening on Monday, allowing construction, manufacturing and limited retail services to restart. Looking at stocks, Dow components Goldman Sachs and Home Depot helped drive the gains. Air carriers continued to soar after United Airlines announced plans to reinstate flights to 150 destinations beginning in July. Rival American Airlines announced on Thursday it would increase its flight schedule to 55 percent capacity. Hertz shares surged on the heels of the positive travel updates. The car-rental company filed for bankruptcy on May 22. Other travel-related names, including cruise operators, hotels and booking sites, also outperformed. In retail, embattled department store J.C. Penney is closing 154 sites in 38 states as it reorganizes its business after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. On the earnings front, Gap lost nearly $1 billion during the three months through March as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to shutter stores. The retailer said 55 percent of its locations have reopened and online sales are strong. Messaging platform Slack, meanwhile, was under pressure as first-quarter revenue growth was little changed despite the majority of Americans working from home. West Texas Intermediate crude oil jumped 5.72 percent to $39.55 per barrel after OPEC and its allies neared a deal to extend production cuts through July. The energy component surged 11 percent this week. Gold fell 2.48 percent to $1,676.20 an ounce on Friday and lost 3.49 percent for the week. U.S. Treasurys remained under pressure, with selling driving the yield on the 10-year note up to 0.903 percent. In Europe, France’s CAC advanced 3.71 percent, Germany’s DAX climbed 3.36 percent and Britain’s FTSE rose 2.25 percent. Asian markets rallied across the board, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 1.66 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei and China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.74 percent and 0.39 percent, respectively.

Incredibly great news!!  Let’s pray this continues!!       🙂

Hidden Figures: Black Employment Expanded in May

What’s the best-kept secret about the labor market in May? Probably the expansion of black employment. The number of African Americans holding jobs expanded to 16,523,000 from 16,240,000 in May. That 283,000 rise was more than ten time the rise of the population, so it involves a real expansion of employment among African Americans. Both black men and black women gained jobs. Black male jobholders increased by 170,000 to 8.97 million. Black female jobholders rose by 102,000 to 10.97 million. Those are record-high gains for each category. So why did Bloomberg and others report these record-high job gains as if they were losses? “Trump Invokes Floyd on Job Data Even as Black Unemployment Soars,” a Bloomberg headline proclaimed. The black unemployment rate did rise slightly in May, ticking up from 16.7 to 16.8. But that was because the reopening of the American economy drew more African Americans into the workforce, increasing it by 377,000 workers. That raised the workforce participation rate from 58.6 percent to 59.6 percent. The unemployment rate is the percentage of workers who say they want work but cannot find it. Even with no change in employment, it can fall if people stop looking for jobs, becoming what economists call “discouraged workers.” And it can rise if more people look for work, which is what happened in May for African Americans. In other words, the black unemployment rate rose for the best possible reason: because more African Americans were finding jobs, drawing even more into the workforce. That is how President Donald Trump could have explained to PBS Newshour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor that this is “a victory” It’s also notable that even with the expansion of the workforce, African American unemployment dropped to 15.5 from 16.1. It rose among black women from 16.4 to 16.5 and black teenagers from 28 percent to 34 percent. Of course, African American employment has still suffered horrendously under the coronavirus shutdowns. Back in February, the participation rate had risen all the way to 63.1 percent. The unemployment rate had fallen 5.8 percent. A total of 19.73 million African Americans held jobs. So the economy has a long way to go to rebuild black employment. But May was a good month for black employment and the beginning of the recovery rather than another step-down.

Indeed..  Definitely good news!

Dow jumps 527 points with economic rebound in focus

U.S. equity markets secured a fourth straight day of gains Wednesday as investors received better-than-expected news on the jobs front and as the riots and looting that gripped America over the past week showed signs of abating. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 527 points, or 2.05 percent closing above 26,000, a key psychological level. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.36 percent and 0.78 percent, respectively. Financials, industrials and energy stocks helped drive the gains. West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained 1.3 percent to $37.29 a barrel. Protests following the death of George Floyd continued across the country on Tuesday evening, but there were fewer reports of violence than on previous nights. Meanwhile, the ADP Employment Report released Wednesday morning showed the private sector lost 2.7 million workers in May versus the 9 million job losses that analysts surveyed by Refinitiv were expecting. The report showed 20 million job losses in April. On Friday, the May jobs report will be released. Looking at stocks, gun-related names that had seen big gains over the past few sessions cooled off. Heavily beaten-down airline stocks continued their recent grind higher while cruise operators turned lower. Elsewhere, Tiffany & Co. shares were in focus after fashion trade publication Women’s Wear Daily reported board members of French luxury-goods maker LVMH expressed concerns about its acquisition of the jeweler. Coty and Kim Kardashian West are in talks to collaborate on certain beauty products. The company paid $600 million for a 51 percent stake Kylie Cosmetics, owned by Kardashian West’s half-sister Kylie Jenner, in November. On the earnings front, Zoom Video Communications reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue as the company benefitted from the increase in telecommuting caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The company raised its full-year revenue outlook to between $1.78 billion and $1.8 billion, nearly double its previous forecast of $915 million. Campbell Soup saw first-quarter earnings surge 31 percent as consumers stocked up on canned soup and other non-perishable items to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic from home. Canada Goose warned it expects “negligible” revenue in its fiscal first quarter, a time when online sales reach a low point for the year, due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. The company’s fourth-quarter revenue outpaced Wall Street estimates. Looking at metals, gold fell 1.59 percent to $1,697.80 an ounce and U.S. Treasurys were under pressure, pushing the yield on the 10-year note up to 0.679 percent. Germany’s DAX led the advance in Europe, up 3.88 percent, while Britain’s FTSE and France’s CAC were higher by 2.61 percent and 3.36 percent, respectively. Markets gained across Asia with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 1.37 percent, Japan’s Nikkei higher by 1.29 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite edging up 0.07 percent.

Much needed good news!  Let’s pray it continues…

Texas fears losing oil-rich lands in Chinese takeover of weakened energy companies

Plunging prices have wreaked havoc on Texas oil companies struggling to avoid a wave of bankruptcies that has ravished the industry during the past five years, leaving them ripe takeover targets for rivals from China and elsewhere. Ninety-eight exploration and production companies in Texas with $75.7 billion of debt filed for bankruptcy from 2015 through 2020, according to the international law firm Haynes and Boone. That number is expected to grow even larger after West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices plunged 52 percent this year as stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 wiped out 30 million barrels per day of demand while Saudi Arabia and Russia ramped up production amid a price war. The companies’ vulnerability to foreign buyers raises the risk that the U.S. might lose control over valuable oil-producing lands in the Permian Basin, a swath of land in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico that helped the country become the world’s largest crude producer amid a shale boom. “We have discovered this volume of natural gas and oil that is more than any time in history,” said Wayne Christian, commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission — the agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industries. “I believe it’s a national security concern to allow unfriendly foreign countries to come in and buy land and oil in Texas and the United States,” he told FOX Business. A 2018 oil discovery in the Permian uncovered 46.3 billion barrels of crude, 281 trillion cubic feet of gas, and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, according to an assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey. The discovery effectively doubled America’s oil and gas reserves and puts the country on a path for years of energy independence. A separate estimate from RS Energy Group found the discovery could be as large as 230 billion barrels. The oil industry is critical for the Texas economy, accounting for $16.3 billion of revenue in 2019 and about 10 percent of the state’s labor force. An oil worker makes about $132,000 a year, 1.6 times the state’s average wage. Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and BP are the major players in the industry, but there are also hundreds of companies that produce less than 1,000 barrels of oil per day. The scope of the industry reaches far beyond the oil and gas producers, also including midstream companies that operate pipelines, service rigs and more. To help smaller companies navigate the industry’s crisis, Christian said Texas is working on measures that include cutting regulations and permit costs. When the industry is prospering, such firms get bought out at a premium by the big international companies such as Exxon Mobil, leaving money in Texas and giving workers bonuses, Christian said. When markets sour, however, the firms can be snapped up at fire-sale prices. “The federal government should watch very carefully and raise their standards on who can buy,” Christian said. China and other countries are already “starting to look for deals,” said Malcolm McNeil, international practice co-leader at the law firm Arent Fox. He said that while recent volatility in oil prices has left some Chinese companies “cash poor,” those that have money are “going to be seeking bargains.” The uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the 2020 election will cause Chinese firms to “explore deals now, but wait to bargain-hunt until companies are really hurting” and there is more clarity on the political front, he added. Should President Trump win re-election, prospective acquisitions might be less appealing to Chinese buyers, given his administration’s prickly relationship with Beijing and efforts to limit Chinese control of vital U.S. resources. Any oil deal, unless it’s rudimentary, will likely involve the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which would require arduous reviews. U.S. law prohibits foreign companies from directly holding many oil, gas and mineral leases, but does allow them to form U.S. corporations to make purchases. Chinese acquisitions of U.S. oil and gas companies have faced increased scrutiny since China National Offshore Oil Corporation in 2005 attempted a takeover of the El Segundo, California-based explorer Unocal, now a subsidiary of Chevron, causing public uproar. While that deal was blocked, the Chinese firm Yantai Xinchao Industry Co. in 2015 received CFIUS approval to forge ahead with a $1.3 billion purchase of oil assets in the Permian Basin owned by Tall City Exploration and Plymouth Petroleum. Stewart Glickman, an energy analyst at New York-based CFRA Research, told FOX Business that barring a “rapid V-shaped recovery in oil prices,” there are going to be a “fair number of new Chapter 11 filings.” While Texas is an attractive investment destination for companies from China and elsewhere, it’s difficult for them to “swoop in” and start acquiring acreage “like a vulture feasting on a carcass,” he said. Though companies from China, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere may have experience in oil and gas, shale is a “U.S. phenomenon,” Glickman noted. A more plausible way for foreign companies to gain access to the rock, according to Glickman, is to enter a joint venture that gives them financial exposure but not operational exposure. He added that such a route would also be the way to go for those seeking to gain access through midstream and downstream businesses. But while the tactic might help eager overseas buyers reach lucrative deals, such developments are precisely what Christian, the Texas railroad commissioner, hopes to avoid. “I don’t want to wind up five years from now with, all of a sudden, some foreign country shutting down production in Texas because they own it, and prefer buying from their own reserves overseas,” Christian said. “I think that would be inefficient use, and I would think it would threaten national security.”

US bankruptcy court allows J.C. Penney to keep paying staff and vendors

.C. Penney Co Inc needs to exit bankruptcy proceedings in just a matter of months to survive the unprecedented financial strain of prolonged store closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lawyer for the iconic U.S. department store chain said during a court hearing on Saturday. “This company needs to move incredibly quickly through this restructuring. If we don’t, the results could be disastrous,” said Joshua Sussberg, a Kirkland & Ellis LLP lawyer representing the retailer. He unveiled a timeline that foresees the company agreeing to a business plan with lenders by July 15 or else putting itself up for sale. J.C. Penney, which filed for bankruptcy on Friday, has started reopening some of its more than 800 stores in stages, but concerns remain that customers might be slow to return amid health concerns and job losses not seen since the Great Depression. It plans to close many stores permanently in the weeks ahead. Even during less-fraught times, many retailers, including Barneys New York Inc and Toys ‘R’ Us, have failed to reorganize under bankruptcy protection and gone out of business for good. The concern for J.C. Penney’s precarious position was echoed by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Jones, who approved the company’s requests to continue paying workers and vendors delivering merchandise to stores during a hearing following the retailer’s bankruptcy filing in a federal court in Corpus Christi, Texas. “You said it’s fast, but fair. I want you to know that at least my looking at it says it’s not fast enough,” Jones said of J.C. Penney’s plan, encouraging the company to beat its own deadlines. “I am very worried about this. It’s why I’m having a hearing on a Saturday,” the judge said later. He also approved the company using $500 million of its cash on hand. The judge and a parade of lawyers conducted J.C. Penney’s Saturday hearing remotely in proceedings that were live-streamed through video-conference technology as courthouses avoid in-person gatherings. J.C. Penney, which employs roughly 85,000 people, envisions handing control to lenders and reducing a significant portion of its nearly $5 billion of debt after reorganizing into two companies. One would be a company operating its business while the other would be a real estate investment trust holding some of the company’s property, plans previously reported by Reuters. The Plano, Texas-based company reached agreement before its Chapter 11 filing for $450 million of fresh financing from existing lenders. Another $450 million of current debt is to be “rolled up” and given the same legal status as that funding. J.C. Penney’s negotiations are set to continue with investment firms holding its senior debt, which include H/2 Capital Partners LLC, Sixth Street Partners, Ares Management Corp (ARES.N), KKR & Co (KKR.N) and Apollo Global Management Inc (APO.N) , among others, Sussberg said. Sussberg said the company hopes to persuade lenders to support its reorganization, which will require significant funding. “A lot of that’s dependent on performance and unknowns,” he said. Should the company and its lenders fail to agree on a standalone reorganization, J.C. Penney will pursue a sale. It is already in talks with possible buyers, Sussberg said. The company had hoped to give new Chief Executive Jill Soltau, who arrived in late 2018, more time to forge a turnaround by negotiating with creditors for some financial breathing room but those talks did not bear fruit. J.C. Penney was struggling before the pandemic with declining sales and profits amid a consumer shift to online shopping, but Sussberg insisted the company had a turnaround plan in place. Critics pointing to other reasons for the company’s bankruptcy filing are “dead wrong,” he said. “This is absolutely about the coronavirus.” Jones said the company’s 85,000 employees were counting on lawyers at the hearing. “Retail cases have to move, and they have to move quickly,” the judge said. “I want to keep everybody’s eyes focused on saving the business. This is middle America, at least in my view.”

Core Inflation Falls to Lowest Level Ever While Food Prices Soar Most Since 1974

Deflation picked up in the U.S. in April, pushing consumer prices down 0.8 percent compared with a month earlier, even while food prices soared. The price of gasoline dropped 20.6 percent for the month, the Department of Labor said Tuesday. The prices for clothing, airline travel, cars, recreation, and hotels all plunged while the price of groceries saw its biggest monthly increase since 1974. Compared with a year ago, prices were up 0.3 percent, Core inflation, a measure which subtracts changes in the prices of the volatile food and energy categories, fell 0.4 percent, the steepest decline ever in records of the Consumer Price Index going back to 1957. The Federal Reserve says it aims for 2 percent annual inflation, based on a different measure of prices called personal consumption price index. It tends to run a half a percentage point or so below the more familiar Consumer Price Index. In March, the Fed cut its target to a range of 0 to 0.25 percent and has announced a number of new programs aimed at bolstering the economy and supporting prices. As well, Congress has authorized trillions of new spending programs aimed at supporting employment and businesses hit by the virus and lockdowns. Prices for medical care, rent, and household furnishings all increased in April. The Department of Labor’s gauge of food prices increased 1.5 percent in April following a 0.3-percent increase in March. The food at home index increased 2.6 percent. The increase was broad-based, with all six major grocery store food groups increasing at least 1.5 percent over the month, the government said. Food prices reflect the periodic shortages many Americans have experienced at the grocery store. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs increased the most, rising 4.3 percent. The index for cereals and bakery products rose 2.9 percent in April, its largest monthly increase ever. Dairy products, fruits, and vegetables all saw rising prices. Pork prices skyrocketed. The price of pork chops rose 7.4 percent. Other pork prices, such as roasts and ribs, rose 10 percent. Egg prices jumped 16 percent. With many people working from home, the prices of men’s suits dropped 11.3 percent. Women’s suits fell a milder 5.1 percent but women’s dresses declined 9.6 percent. The prices of women’s underwear, nightwear, swimwear, and accessories fell 5.8 percent. The index for men’s underwear, pajamas, and swimwear fell 2.0 percent. Car and truck rental prices crashed 16.6 percent after falling 6.9 percent in March and 2.2 percent. Airfares fell 15.2 percent in April and 12.6 percent.