Where Do Oil Prices Go Next?

The oil market has been nothing if not volatile this autumn. At the beginning of September, the price of benchmark West Texas Intermediate hovered near $47 per barrel after spending most of the summer trading in the mid-$40s. Then suddenly, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, WTI went on a tear, shooting up to $57 per barrel by early November: A tidy 21% gain at a time when oil demand tends to be low.

Had crude finally begun a sustained rebound after several years of depressed prices? Many oil bulls seemed to think so. Or at least, many did until earlier this week, when WTI dropped sharply after the International Energy Agency issued a prediction that global oil demand will grow more slowly next year than previously expected. Are oil prices just taking a breather before the next leg up? Or did this week’s drop mark the end of the autumn rally? Continue reading “Where Do Oil Prices Go Next?”

Sizing Up The GOP Tax Plans

Congressional Republicans’ push to overhaul the tax code is centered around two basic principles: Providing corporations with a big tax cut while helping average Americans. But like almost every major issue lawmakers tackle, competing House and Senate bills aimed at achieving these goals aren’t as simple or clear-cut as their authors want the public to believe.

Independent analyses of the tax plans undercut the GOP’s rosy predictions for how much middle-income earners would benefit (especially the House version). Although Senate Republicans’ measure is akin to the one House Republicans are preparing to approve this week, they take significantly divergent paths. If both bills pass intact, Republicans will have to broker a compromise among themselves to advance final legislation to President Trump’s desk. Such an endeavor would be messy and contentious, with success far from guaranteed. Continue reading “Sizing Up The GOP Tax Plans”

Assertive Saudi Prince Sets His Sights On Lebanon

As you relax over the holiday weekend, pay close attention to what’s happening in Lebanon. Tensions are rising in this perennial Middle East battleground, with potentially big implications for the stability of an already unstable region.

The trouble began Saturday when Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned during a trip to Saudi Arabia, saying his life was threatened by the Iran-backed militia-cum-political party Hezbollah. Continue reading “Assertive Saudi Prince Sets His Sights On Lebanon”

U.S. Oil Exporters Cash in on Higher Prices, Strong Demand

Here’s something the oil market hasn’t seen lately: A price rally.

After falling as low as $46 per barrel on Aug. 30, when Hurricane Harvey forced Gulf Coast refineries to shut down, benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil has soared to about $57 per barrel. The price run-up reflects several factors: Improving economic growth around the world; hints from OPEC that its current policy of limiting crude exports will continue for longer than first scheduled; and turmoil in Saudi Arabia, where several high-ranking officials and members of the royal family have been arrested on corruption charges. (Anything that threatens the internal stability of OPEC’s largest oil producer is bound to raise concerns about potential interruptions in crude shipments.) Continue reading “U.S. Oil Exporters Cash in on Higher Prices, Strong Demand”

The Driverless Car Race Shifts into High Gear

The race to make driverless car service a reality is revving up. Carmakers are ramping up investment in an array of technologies fundamental to autonomous vehicles. The industry poured more than $80 billion into self-driving technology recently, according to a tally by the Brookings Institution spanning August 2014-June 2017. It’s a full-fledged spending spree on everything from artificial intelligence software to sensors to computer chips.

“Every manufacturer in the world wants to be an early mover—or at least avoid competitive disadvantage,” notes the Brookings report. Investments by car companies, tech giants and venture capitalists will only accelerate. The whole industry is riding on more than a decade of development, steep price drops on sensors and other key hardware and breakthroughs in artificial intelligence software. Carmakers know they are also competing outside of their industry—against Apple, Google and China’s Baidu to name a few—on the technology front. Continue reading “The Driverless Car Race Shifts into High Gear”

Transcript: How to Communicate Like Warren Buffett

As a follow-up to our recent webinar, “How to Communicate Like Warren Buffett,” here is the written transcript of the presentation by communications expert Morey Stettner.

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s presentation. Today we’re very pleased to invite Morey Stettner to our webinar. Morey is a management and communication expert. He’s the author of five business books, including The Art of Winning Conversation and Skills for New Managers. He’s written more than 2000 articles for Investor’s Business Daily and he has led training seminars on sales, customer service, employee motivation, and communications and listening skills. Morey, take it away. Continue reading “Transcript: How to Communicate Like Warren Buffett”

Budget More to Keep Warm This Winter

This past August, I checked in on supply levels for the three main heating fuels: Natural gas, heating oil and propane. The key takeaway: While shortages are unlikely, there’s less of all three fuels in storage this year than last year, which creates the potential for higher prices.

Now that the calendar says October and there’s a chill in the air across much of the country, what should energy users be expecting when it comes to prices and heating costs this winter? Continue reading “Budget More to Keep Warm This Winter”

Trump’s Travel Ban: Third Time Not a Charm

It’s deja vu all over again for President Trump’s travel ban. This week, a federal court in Hawaii blocked the latest version of the president’s controversial executive order from going into effect, only seven months after the same court put a similar hold on Trump’s second travel ban.

Much has happened in those seven months. After multiple unfavorable lower level rulings, the second ban finally reached the Supreme Court this summer. But the justices ultimately declined to hear the case during the court’s fall session, arguing that the issue was moot since the order had already expired.

Continue reading “Trump’s Travel Ban: Third Time Not a Charm”

Employers’ Strategies for Opioid Abuse

The nation’s opioid epidemic is not only making it very difficult for employers to fill job vacancies in a tight labor market, but it’s also costing them billions in health care costs and lost productivity. Unfortunately, there’s still much confusion among employers about these painkillers, how they affect worker safety and recovery and what to do about them.

In some parts of the country, up to one-third of job applicants are failing pre-employment drug screening. Industries that addiction hits hardest include construction, food service, entertainment, hospitality and transportation. Opioid misuse is linked to a 20% decline in workforce participation, despite the booming economy.

Continue reading “Employers’ Strategies for Opioid Abuse”

Apple Brings Facial Recognition to the Masses

Apple’s new facial recognition technology will bring facial biometrics into the mainstream. The tech giant’s new $1,000 iPhone X will let users scan their face for added security when paying at the grocery store or signing into a bank account. The high-end phone is one of three new iPhone models, and the only version with facial recognition. But the top-tier iPhone X could end up netting one-third of all sales of the new iPhone fleet. That would put the new tech in the hands of 70 million or more users around the world within 12 months, barring severe shipping delays or supply shortages. Continue reading “Apple Brings Facial Recognition to the Masses”