Thursday, September 21, 2023

Thursday Night Links

  • ONEOK and Magellan will each disclose the final vote results of their respective Special Meetings on Form 8-Ks filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The merger remains subject to satisfaction of other customary closing conditions and is anticipated to close before market on Monday, September 25, 2023, with Magellan common units expected to cease trading on the New York Stock Exchange at the close of business on Friday, September 22. As previously announced, upon completion of the transaction, Magellan unitholders will receive $25.00 in cash and 0.667 shares of ONEOK common stock for each outstanding Magellan common unit they own immediately prior to the effective time of the transaction. [Magellan Midstream Partners]
  • Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that; At least no one ever has done it;” But he took off his coat and he took off his hat And the first thing we knew he’d begun it. With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin, Without any doubting or quiddit, He started to sing as he tackled the thing That couldn’t be done, and he did it. [Edgar Albert Guest]
  • If you’re willing to live outside of the major metros, a much more reliable way to become a “Top G” is to enter a licensed profession. An established dentist in a mid-size city can pull $300,000 a year working three and half days a week. That’s plenty of time and money to work out and drive an exotic car, without the lottery-ticket-type payoffs and hassle of Internet fame. Dentists and other professionals do well because they control the accreditation and licensing boards, protecting the public, but also limiting competition and protecting their margins. If anyone outside of their “cartel” tries to compete with them, the state will send men with guns to arrest their unlicensed competitor. The upper middle class is much more gangsta than an Internet clown like Tate when you think about it. [The Tom File]
  • One way to think of the future, in a world of declining population, is as a reopening of the frontier. God has so arranged things that a fully developed economic cornucopia relative to ancient poverty is waiting to be claimed by those who will simply show up for the future by welcoming their own children into the world. The Culture of Death centered on hedonism, self-sterilization, and abortion is erasing secular populations. The Culture of Life will triumph of simple necessity. All of the above-replacement populations are highly religious; none are secular. It seems that only transcendent religious convictions enable mankind to fulfill our most basic duties and escape hedonism when given the choice. [The Tom File]
  • Both Christianity and paganism are imperfect. The Christian world has been dissolved in misguided pacifism and wrinkled khaki aesthetics, to say nothing of the fact that wokeness is probably a Protestant heresy. Norse paganism addresses pacifism and weak aesthetics, but I have yet to hear a compelling answer for why Christianity conquered it (as Christianity the first time, as wokeness recently). These are worthy of debate, but we should not lose sight of advancing the common cause against evil. What is that common cause? I have three core beliefs that led me back to church. I believe that many of the the newly religious share these beliefs. [Tree of Woe]
  • There’s a lot to work with here, but it doesn’t make reading this book any easier. Isaacson comes from the “his eyes lit up” school of cliched writing, the rest of his prose workmanlike bordering on AI. I drove my espresso machine hard into the night to survive both craft and subject matter. It feels as though, for instance, there are hundreds of pages from start to finish relaying the same scene: Musk trying to reduce the cost of various mundane objects so that he can make more money and fulfil his dream of moving himself (and possibly the lot of us) to Mars, where one or two examples would have been enough. To his credit, Isaacson is a master at chapter breaks, pausing the narrative when one of Musk’s rockets explodes or he gets someone pregnant, and then rewarding the reader with a series of photographs that assuages the boredom until the next descent into his protagonist’s wild but oddly predictable life. Again, it’s not all the author’s fault. To go from Einstein to Musk in only five volumes is surely an indication that humanity isn’t sending Isaacson its best. [The Guardian]
  • For hundreds of thousands of years, people lived in circumstances where starvation and malnutrition were very real threats to survival and the ability to reproduce. So the fit and healthy way to live was to be like me — broadly omnivorous, curious about trying new foods, and generally inclined to eat plenty of food when food is available. Storing and preserving food is challenging, but most humans are very good at storing extra food on the body to give you a buffer in lean times. But in modern society, people very rarely face genuine lean times — contemporary Americans spend a dramatically lower share of our income on food than we did a couple of generations ago, to say nothing of pre-industrial or pre-agricultural people. If you eat extra in times of plenty to balance out weight loss during times of scarcity, but the scarcity never really comes, you will get fat. Food becomes just one more thing on a long list of human behaviors — alcohol, gambling, cocaine — that are good fun enjoyed in moderation by many people but pathologically overconsumed by others. Except with the wrinkle that you can’t just quit food cold turkey. [Matt Yglesias]
  • But there's one report that we read that's suggesting something else entirely. What is the risk that Russia increases its voluntary cut in 2024 to undermine the Biden administration? BCA Research, known for its non-consensus calls, is saying that there is a real possibility that Russia further reduce oil production by April next year. Geopolitically speaking, you can easily make that argument as Putin would want to undermine Biden's re-election efforts. But what about fundamentally? This is where things get interesting... Looking at Russian crude exports, they are still averaging above 2021 and around the same level as pre-invasion (Ukraine). So from a supply standpoint, Russian barrels have not decreased. If they decreased production to match 2020 levels, this would result in a drop of over ~1 million b/d to the market. This is in line with what BCA is calling for. Coinciding with the timing, we believe that the Saudi voluntary cut will last at least until April 2024. Q1 2024 is expected to show builds, so Saudis will want to prevent that from happening. If so, this implies that by April next year, global oil inventories will be at multi-decade lows. Looking at the latest global observable crude oil and oil product inventories, you can see that we are hurtling towards a new low. This means that the timing of that extra voluntary cut from Russia would not only have the most meaningful impact on the oil market but also the most devastating. [HFI Research]

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