Good morning

Note: to subscribe and receive these daily posts in your inbox, you can sign up at the top of the sidebar on the home page.

The headlines:

  1. BP penalties.

    Link: the cost of an oil spill.

    BP has agreed to pay $4.5 billion to put the criminal and SEC charges to rest for the Deepwater oil spill ($4 billion to the US government, $0.5 billion to the SEC).

    When you add this to the $7.8 billion settlement with non-governmental plaintiffs in March, that’s $12.3 billion. And the estimate is that about 4 million barrels of oil were spilled, which is worth about $0.4 billion (at today’s prices of around $85 per barrel). So $12.7 billion, which is about half of last year’s profits.

    And then when you adjust for insurance payouts… Maybe not so bad?

    Although the rumour is that BP was self-insured – which isn’t really insurance at all.

  2. The awkwardness of the Middle East.

    Link: chickens and eggs.

    There is a lot of complaint on facebook and twitter about the great evilness of Israel (from the pro-Palestinians) and the great self-blindedness of the pro-Palestinians (from the Zionists).

    The attack on the Hamas leader was not unprovoked. There have been more than 100 rocket attacks this month on Israel, and Hamas had recently started participating with those operations. Are people seriously suggesting that Israel should just have accepted it as their due?

    It’s naturally escalating, as these things will when there are religious fundamentalist forces at work. Because Israel’s targeting of a Hamas leader resulted in the untargeted Hamas reaction against Tel Aviv. And then, well, Israel reacted.

    In economic terms, we can expect oil prices to rise – because it’s the Middle East and all-things-Middle-East-related must relate to the black gold.

    And, possibly, a rise in the value of Twitter. Not all the aggression is physical (see here). The freshest news is tweeted as it happens.

  3. Japanese elections.

    Link: the calls for stimulus.

    Prime Minister Noda has called for a December election. There are concerns that this will slow the stimulus response to the Japanese economy’s apparent third recession in four years.

    Firstly, I didn’t realise that the Japanese economy had ever left its recessive state. And secondly – can we not all agree that the stimulus response doesn’t seem to be working? You can’t go into a triple dip recession and continue arguing that the stimulative measures that you employed the last two dips are going to work again this dip…

    Nevertheless, there are calls for unlimited easing until after the December 16 elections. Just so long as third time’s not the harm.

  4. Wal-mart.

    Link: slow Christmas.

    Wal-mart’s third quarter was “disappointing” and caused the US stock market to “stumble”. And there’s now a forecast of a “tough Christmas”.

    It’s all a bit gloomy. And sorry to end on a pessimistic note.

    Although rather a tough Christmas than being caught in Gaza last night.

That’s all for now.

Have a good day.