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The United States Isn’t A Top-tier Creditor, In One Map

United States Oil Production Beats Saudia Arabia Via Fracking, Why Are Gas Prices High?

United States Oil Production Beats Saudia Arabia Via Fracking, Why Are Gas Prices High

Cowen writes: The U.S. is experiencing ever greater economic inequality and the thinning of its middle class; Texas is already one of our most unequal states. Americas safety net is fraying under the weight of ballooning Social Security and Medicare costs; Texas safety net was built frayed. Americans are seeking a cheaper cost of living and a less regulated climate in which to do business; Texas has those in spades. And did we mention theres no state income tax? Cheap living is luring people to Texas along with jobs, he writes, saying Texas added 12 percent of all jobs nationwide with 274,700. The Americans heading to Texas and other cheap-living states are a bit like the mythical cowboys of our pastself-reliant, for better or worse, he writes. He acknowledges major downsides: Many Americans will have to downsize their living quarters involuntarily. People in the shrinking middle class who want to have more than one child may find the costs too high. There is no longer the expectation, much less the guarantee, that living standards double or even increase much with each generation. But its not all bad newsespecially if we take the right steps to prepare. The flood of Americans moving to Texas shows us where we need to focus our attention; what these migrants have found in Texas shows us ways many of our cities and states can improve. He says the public education system must be more rigorous, and other states also can incorporate some of the lessons Texas has to teach. He says states could deregulate building in order to lower costs (San Francisco needs to become more like Houston when it comes to zoning) and cut down on occupational licensing. A little more freedom in strategically targeted areasthat is, a little more Texascould go a long way, Cowen writes.


But how does the United States stack up internationally? For that we turn to the BlackRock Investment Institute, the research arm of the giant money manager. It has created the “BlackRock Sovereign Risk Index” which aims to combine key aspects of creditworthiness of 48 countries around the world. It factors in plenty of things that have to do with the substance of different countries’ finances, such as their current debt and deficit levels, banking system strength, and exposure to debt denominated in foreign currencies. But it also adds an important layer that it calls “Willingness to Pay.” It measures the effectiveness and efficiency of governments to meet their obligations, and counts for 30 percent of the total index. Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising after the last couple of weeks of government shutdown and debt ceiling chicanery in Washington, but by BlackRock’s reckoning, the United States is not among the top-tier credit risks by this ranking. Here’s a complete map: You can check the detailed analysis for each country in an interactive graphic here . By BlackRock’s reckoning, the world’s most creditworthy nations–those with both solid finances and solid political systems that ensure bonds will be repaid–are the likes of Norway, Singapore, and Switzerland. The United States, as the map shows, is in the second tier, more similar to South Korea and Austria and Malaysia in its creditworthiness. For anyone who follows the news, it is hard to disagree. Neil Irwin is a Washington Post columnist and the economics editor of Wonkblog. Each weekday morning his Econ Agenda column reports and explains the latest trends in economics, finance, and the policies that shape both.

United States Steel Corp. Now Covered by Credit Suisse (X)

The stock had a trading volume of 4,871,236 shares. United States Steel Corp. has a 52 week low of $15.80 and a 52 week high of $26.29. The stocks 50-day moving average is $20.50 and its 200-day moving average is $18.56. The companys market cap is $3.462 billion. United States Steel Corp. also saw some unusual options trading on Tuesday. Stock investors acquired 25,917 call options on the stock. This represents an increase of 112% compared to the typical volume of 12,209 call options. United States Steel Corp. (NYSE:X) last posted its quarterly earnings results on Tuesday, July 30th. The company reported ($0.54) EPS for the quarter, beating the Thomson Reuters consensus estimate of ($0.77) by $0.23. The company had revenue of $4.43 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $4.61 billion. During the same quarter in the prior year, the company posted $0.69 earnings per share. The companys quarterly revenue was down 11.7% on a year-over-year basis.

TIME: ‘New Cowboys’ in the United States of Texas

(Photo-illustration/ Sarah Illenberger for TIME)

Part of the reason fracking is cost effective is because the oil futures markets have pushed the price of crude oil over $100 per barrel on the open market. Plus, only some of the fracking equipment has been shifted over from hunting for natural gas. High Gas Prices: A US Political Problem But you would assume since the United States now exports more oil than it imports that the economic rules of supply and demand should cause US gas prices to drop, right? Unfortunately, thats where localized markets and politics have kept gas prices high. Most of the surge in United States oil product has occurred in North Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Oil producers are fighting over limited oil pipeline capacity and are forced to use barges and trains, which increases the cost of domestic US oil by around $17 per barrel. But projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline have been delayed by years due to politics. While the majority of countries have been greatly expanding their oil refining capabilities the United States has lagged behind. The last US oil refinery was built in 2008 , with the previous refinery going back to 1998. Fortunately, oil refining capacity has increased in existing refineries through upgrades or new construction but the United States still has to have a good percentage of its domestic oil refined in other countries . US refineries were also modified to take more heavy and sour crude from the Middle East and Canada, while our domestic oil requires refineries designed for light and sweet oil (meaning, lower density and sulphur content).