Category Archives: Energy

12 US States Boosted Their Gasoline Tax Today, But Illinois’ Is The Biggest

Today, gasoline taxes are rising in a dozen U.S. states. The following infographic shows where gasoline taxes are going up today and it’s based on data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

https://infographic.statista.com/normal/chartoftheday_18564_increase_in_gasoline_taxes_in_us_states_n.jpg(source)

California is among the states with increases and taxes in the Golden State are going up by 5.6 cents. That now equates to 47.3 cents per gallon, meaning California once again has the highest gasoline prices in the country.

But, the increase is particularly notable in Illinois given, as Statista’s Niall McCarthy notes, that the state hasn’t altered its gas tax since 1990. It’s bumping its gas tax by 19 cents to 38 cents a gallon.

As IllinoisPolicy.org’s Vincent Carudo and Joe Barnas detail below, Illinoisans will shoulder one of the nation’s heaviest tax burdens at the pump – and the DMV.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/AP_19156774480694-1024x707.jpg?itok=v-VOIlPd

On June 28, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a $45 billion infrastructure plan that will bring Illinois drivers a record gas tax hike and higher vehicle registration costs.

Those tax and fee increases will come in addition to tax hikes on cigarettes, e-cigarettes, parking and real-estate transfers, on top of new revenue from a massive gambling expansion that includes new casinos and legalized sport betting – all of which the Illinois General Assembly introduced and passed in a single day.

The gas tax hike is the most painful increase to come, doubling to 38 cents from 19 cents per gallon.

This will bump Illinois’ total gas tax burden to the third-highest in the nation, and possibly higher if local governments exercise their increased taxing authority under the plan. An Illinois Policy Institute analysis found the typical Illinois driver will pay at least $100 more on gasoline each year under a doubled gas tax.

Illinois is one of just seven states where drivers pay layers of both general sales taxes and special excise taxes on gasoline at the state and local levels. Those multiple layers mean drivers filling up in Chicago, for example, will pay 96 cents in taxes and fees on a $2.46 gallon of gasoline – an effective tax burden of 39%.

The infrastructure plan also hikes Illinois’ vehicle registration fees to among the highest in the nation. Illinois drivers of standard vehicles weighing 8,000 pounds or less will see registration fees jump to $148 from $98.

The gas tax hike kicks in July 1, and motorists will pay more for license plate stickers starting in 2020.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/illinois-raising-fees-01.png?itok=jie0CeR0

Taken together, increases in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees alone erase any promised income tax savings included in Pritzker’s progressive income tax plan, which Illinoisans will vote on in November 2020.

Under Pritzker’s proposed progressive tax system, a married couple in Illinois with two kids earning the $79,168 median annual income and paying the average property tax bill of $4,157 would see $195 in total tax relief, according to the Pritzker administration’s online “fair tax calculator.”

But if that same family uses two cars on a regular basis, their budget will take a $300 hit – a $200 gas tax increase and a $100 vehicle registration fee hike.

Notably, the gas tax will be tied to inflation, meaning it will automatically rise annually. This allows state lawmakers in future years to avoid blame from frustrated motorists.

Based on current inflation projections, the gas tax will rise almost a penny a year. Lawmakers’ inflation mechanism could drive the gas tax to 43.5 cents by 2025, nearly 25 cents per gallon more than it is now.

Using the most recent inflation forecasts for the United States, the gas tax will grow just short of a penny each year until 2025 – a 130% increase.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/gas-taxes-projected-01.png?itok=9gVllt2Y

The new law lets Chicago raise its local gas tax by an extra 3 cents, which would put it at 8 cents. It allows Lake County and Will County to impose a gas tax of up to 8 cents per gallon. DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties would be able to double their 4-cent-per-gallon gas taxes to 8 cents.

According to state projections, the doubled gas tax alone will raise $1.2 billion, with $560 million going to the state and $650 million to local governments.

If Chicago and the collar counties increase their motor fuel taxes – along with automatic yearly inflation-tied increases at the state level – residents could soon be looking at the highest average gas tax burden in the country.

The Illinois Policy Institute outlined a plan in May showing how Illinois could finance $10 billion in new capital spending without tax hikes.

State lawmakers could have achieved a more responsible plan by focusing on maintenance infrastructure, reforming costly prevailing wage mandates and using an objective project selection process, while dedicating revenue from legalized sports betting and sales taxes on gasoline to transportation infrastructure.

Instead, state leaders once again chose to demand more of already-overburdened Illinois taxpayers.

Source: ZeroHedge

 

Advertisements

Gasoline Futures Soar As Largest East Coast Refinery Set To Permanently Close

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/Screen%20Shot%202019-06-21%20at%205.56.23%20AM.png?itok=CxFQLscR

RBOB Gasoline futures jumped overnight, accelerating their recent ascent ever since the explosion and massive inferon at the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) plant, following a Reuters report that the largest east coast refinery is expected to seek to permanently shut its oil refinery in the city after a massive fire caused substantial damage to the complex.

Shutting the refinery, the largest and oldest on the U.S. East Coast, would result in not only hundreds of lost jobs but also sharply higher gasoline prices as gasoline supplies are squeezed in the busiest, most densely populated corridor of the United States.

PES is expected to file a notice of intent with state and federal regulators as early as Wednesday, setting in motion the process of closing the refinery, the sources said.

The refinery, which could still change its plans, is also expected to begin layoffs of the 700 union workers at the plant as early as Wednesday, Reuters reported. The layoffs could include about half of the union workforce, with the remaining staff staying at the site until the investigation into the blast concludes.

As reported previously, the 335,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) complex, located in a densely populated area in the southern part of the city, erupted in flames in the early hours on Friday, in a series of explosions that could be heard miles away and which some compared to a meteor strike or a nuclear bomb going off.

The cause of the fire was still unknown as of Tuesday, though city fire officials said it started in a butane vat around 4 a.m. (0800 GMT). It destroyed a 30,000-bpd alkylation unit that uses hydrofluoric acid to process refined products. Had the acid caught fire, it could have resulted in a vapor cloud that can damage the skin, eyes and lungs of nearby residents.

Prior to the massive inferno, the refinery had suffered from years of financial struggles, forcing it to slash worker benefits and scale back capital projects to save cash. It went through a bankruptcy process last year to reduce its debt, but its difficulties continued as its cash on hand dwindled even after emerging from bankruptcy in August; some have speculated that cost cutting resulted in the structure becoming fragile and susceptible to accident.

After bankruptcy, Credit Suisse Asset Management and Bardin Hill became the controlling owners, with former primary owners Carlyle Group and Sunoco Logistics, an Energy Transfer subsidiary, holding a minority stake.

Last Friday’s blaze was the second in two weeks at the complex, spurring calls from Philadelphia’s mayor for a task force to look into both the cause and community outreach in the wake of the incidents. A spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney declined to comment on the potential closure of the plant.

That may be difficult as investigators on the scene are said to be dealing with unstable structures that need to be certified by engineers, slowing down the inquiry, city officials said. The investigation could ultimately take months or perhaps years. Additionally, the state Department of Environmental Protection said they have concerns about the integrity of storage tanks on site, the agency said on Tuesday. The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is also investigating the incident, according to Reuters.

While none of this will make much news outside of Philly, what will impact all East Coast drivers is that gasoline futures rose as much as 5.4% on Wednesday to $1.9787 a gallon, the highest since May 23. The front month price was at $1.945 early on Wednesday.

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/rbob%206.26.jpg?itok=BBoPCgse

Futures are up 8.9% since Thursday’s close.

NY Gasoline prices have surged back into a premium over US Gulf Gasoline…

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/bfmA71.jpg?itok=TodQJMF0

All of which will drag, as always with a lag, the price of gas at the pump notably higher…

https://www.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/2019-06-26%20%281%29.jpg?itok=ICMW9MAG

The rally in U.S. gasoline futures has pushed U.S. gasoline prices above European and Asian markets, raising the prospects for US imports. According to Matthew Chew, oil analyst at IHS Markit, “chances are that (the wider price spread) could open up the arbs between U.S. Gulf/Europe and [the East Coast] PADD 1.”

Source: ZeroHedge

Labor Day 2018

The Uncomfortable Hiatus

And so the sun seems to stand still this last day before the resumption of business-as-usual, and whatever remains of labor in this sclerotic republic takes its ease in the ominous late summer heat, and the people across this land marinate in anxious uncertainty. What can be done?

Some kind of epic national restructuring is in the works. It will either happen consciously and deliberately or it will be forced on us by circumstance. One side wants to magically reenact the 1950s; the other wants a Gnostic transhuman utopia. Neither of these is a plausible outcome. Most of the arguments ranging around them are what Jordan Peterson calls “pseudo issues.” Let’s try to take stock of what the real issues might be.

Energy: The shale oil “miracle” was a stunt enabled by supernaturally low interest rates, i.e. Federal Reserve policy. Even The New York Times said so yesterday (The Next Financial Crisis Lurks Underground). For all that, the shale oil producers still couldn’t make money at it. If interest rates go up, the industry will choke on the debt it has already accumulated and lose access to new loans. If the Fed reverses its current course — say, to rescue the stock and bond markets — then the shale oil industry has perhaps three more years before it collapses on a geological basis, maybe less. After that, we’re out of tricks. It will affect everything.

The perceived solution is to run all our stuff on electricity, with the electricity produced by other means than fossil fuels, so-called alt energy. This will only happen on the most limited basis and perhaps not at all. (And it is apart from the question of the decrepit electric grid itself.) What’s required is a political conversation about how we inhabit the landscape, how we do business, and what kind of business we do. The prospect of dismantling suburbia — or at least moving out of it — is evidently unthinkable. But it’s going to happen whether we make plans and policies, or we’re dragged kicking and screaming away from it.

Corporate tyranny: The nation is groaning under despotic corporate rule. The fragility of these operations is moving toward criticality. As with shale oil, they depend largely on dishonest financial legerdemain. They are also threatened by the crack-up of globalism, and its 12,000-mile supply lines, now well underway. Get ready for business at a much smaller scale.

Hard as this sounds, it presents great opportunities for making Americans useful again, that is, giving them something to do, a meaningful place in society, and livelihoods. The implosion of national chain retail is already underway. Amazon is not the answer, because each Amazon sales item requires a separate truck trip to its destination, and that just doesn’t square with our energy predicament. We’ve got to rebuild main street economies and the layers of local and regional distribution that support them. That’s where many jobs and careers are.

Climate change is most immediately affecting farming. 2018 will be a year of bad harvests in many parts of the world. Agri-biz style farming, based on oil-and-gas plus bank loans is a ruinous practice, and will not continue in any case. Can we make choices and policies to promote a return to smaller scale farming with intelligent methods rather than just brute industrial force plus debt? If we don’t, a lot of people will starve to death. By the way, here is the useful work for a large number of citizens currently regarded as unemployable for one reason or another.

Pervasive racketeering rules because we allow it to, especially in education and medicine. Both are self-destructing under the weight of their own money-grubbing schemes. Both are destined to be severely downscaled. A lot of colleges will go out of business. Most college loans will never be paid back (and the derivatives based on them will blow up). We need millions of small farmers more than we need millions of communications majors with a public relations minor. It may be too late for a single-payer medical system. A collapsing oil-based industrial economy means a lack of capital, and fiscal hocus-pocus is just another form of racketeering. Medicine will have to get smaller and less complex and that means local clinic-based health care. Lots of careers there, and that is where things are going, so get ready.

Government over-reach: the leviathan state is too large, too reckless, and too corrupt. Insolvency will eventually reduce its scope and scale. Most immediately, the giant matrix of domestic spying agencies has turned on American citizens. It will resist at all costs being dismantled or even reined in. One task at hand is to prosecute the people in the Department of Justice and the FBI who ran illegal political operations in and around the 2016 election. These are agencies which use their considerable power to destroy the lives of individual citizens. Their officers must answer to grand juries.

As with everything else on the table for debate, the reach and scope of US imperial arrangements has to be reduced. It’s happening already, whether we like it or not, as geopolitical relations shift drastically and the other nations on the planet scramble for survival in a post-industrial world that will be a good deal harsher than the robotic paradise of digitally “creative” economies that the credulous expect. This country has enough to do within its own boundaries to prepare for survival without making extra trouble for itself and other people around the world. As a practical matter, this means close as many overseas bases as possible, as soon as possible.

As we get back to business tomorrow, ask yourself where you stand in the blather-storm of false issues and foolish ideas, in contrast to the things that actually matter.

Source: James Howard Kunstler

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Launches Yet Another Financial Campaign Against U.S. Workers and Main Street…

Today U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue announced another campaign to protect and defend his Wall Street contributors against initiatives that benefit Main Street U.S.A. This is not the first time, and unfortunately it will likely not be the last time.

For a great historic reference consider THIS ARTICLE from 2014; when the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced their direct attack against the Tea Party backed candidates that threatened to remove the massive lobbying power of Tom Donohue’s corrupt officials. That 2014 reference point has two parts. I strongly urge anyone who would defend the U.S. CoC approach to read both.

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/shameful-seven-with-donohue.jpg

The overwhelming majority of economic punditry and opinion come from salespeople on the purchased payroll, direct and indirect, of the chamber. It is one of the most, check that, it is the most corrupt and abusive enterprise in the history of our nation. They are pulling out a very familiar playbook.

(Reuters) – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday denounced President Donald Trump’s handling of a global trade dispute, issuing a report that argued the tariffs imposed by Washington and retaliation by its partners would boomerang badly on the American economy.

The Chamber, the nation’s largest business lobby group and a traditional ally of Trump’s Republican Party, argued the White House is risking a global trade war with the push to protect U.S. industry and workers with tariffs.The group’s analysis of the potential hit each U.S. state may take from retaliation by U.S. trading partners painted a gloomy picture that could increase pressure on the White House from Republicans ahead of congressional elections in November.[…] The Chamber is expected to spend millions of dollars ahead of the November elections to help candidates who back free trade, immigration and lower taxes. It has already backed candidates who share those goals in Republican primaries. (read more)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce consists of a massive multinational DC lobbying group that four consecutive administrations’ have allowed to write the actual language in U.S. trade deals and trade negotiations.  Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama, Obama all gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce the keys to the U.S. economy, and walked away.  The U.S. middle-class was nearly destroyed in the process.

CTH has stood alone, for years, against the insufferable horde of CoC political mouthpieces and their media conscripts.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is at the corrupt center of almost every scheme that fund the Deep Swamp to the detriment of our nation. They are the most vile and insidious UniParty group of lobbyists in Washington DC.

Until Donald Trump came along, they held virtually unlimited power over the U.S. economy.  The Chamber is a cancer; and any politician who associates with that abhorrent group should be excised from existence with extreme prejudice.

https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/the-big-club-4-e1500321906624.jpg

Source: By Sundance | The Conservative Tree House

WSJ Sounds The Alarm: “There’s No Getting Over” Gas at $4 a Gallon

Consumers, who are already being squeezed by rising interest rates (even as the return on their cash deposits remains anchored near zero), are facing another potential constraint on their already limited purchasing power. And that constraint is  rising gasoline prices, which, as we pointed out last month, could erode the stimulative impact of President Trump’s tax plan as rising prices sop up what little money the middle class is saving.

As prices rise and banks scramble to update their forecasts, the Wall Street Journal has become the latest publication to sound the alarm over what is, in our view, one of the biggest threats facing the US economy in the ninth year of its post-crisis expansion. 

In its story warning about $3 a gallon gas (of course, we’re already seeing $4 a gallon in parts of California and other high-tax states), WSJ cited Morgan Stanley’s latest projection that rising gas prices could wipe out about a third of the annual take-home pay generated by the tax cuts.

Rising fuel costs can also feed inflation and pressure interest rates. Even though the Federal Reserve typically looks past volatile energy prices in the short term, higher energy costs help shape consumer confidence. And with the central bank poised to be more active this year, rising energy costs pose an additional risk to the economy.

Morgan Stanley estimates that if gas averages $2.96 this year, it would take an annualized $38 billion from spending elsewhere, an upward revision from the bank’s $20 billion estimate in January. That would wipe out about a third of the additional take-home pay coming from tax cuts this year, the analysts said.

Patrick DeHaan, petroleum analyst at GasBuddy”Three dollars is like a small fence. You can get through it, you can get over it,” said Patrick DeHaan, petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, a fuel-tracking app. “But $4 is like the electric fence in Jurassic Park. There’s no getting over that.”

Of course, MS’s take appears downright pollyannaish when compared with a Brookings Center report that we highlighted last month.

The left-of-center think tank, which of course has every reason to hope that the next recession will materialize on President Trump’s watch, projected that consumers would soon spend about half of the money saved from tax cuts on fuel costs.

And in a report published in April, Deutsche Bank illustrated how rising fuel costs will disproportionately squeeze the most vulnerable among us – a cohort of consumers who already shoulder an outsize share of the country’s household debt.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018.05.15db.jpg?itok=H0g5_RQa

The FT put it another way…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018.05.15ft.jpg?itok=HdnzBFje

As the chart above shows, middle-income families – aka the engine of consumption – will be the hardest hit by rising gas prices.

Indeed, small business owners in California, where gas prices are the fifth highest in the nation thanks to taxes and stringent emissions standards, say they’ve seen their energy bills shoot higher in the past few months. Car salesmen say consumers are asking more questions about mileage, according to WSJ.

Robert Lozano, a car salesman in Los Angeles where some gas prices are already above $4, said the dealership’s gas bill has climbed from about $9,000 to about $12,000 a month recently.

Customers are inquiring more about electric vehicles, he said.

“It’s more in the consumer’s mind as to what the most efficient vehicle is.”

With oil already at $70 a barrel, early indicators imply that the summer driving season could see an unusually large spike in demand for gas…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018.05.15vacations.png?itok=oOyR1nG8

…As the number of Americans intending to take vacations in the next six months climbs to its highest level in decades.

Heightened vacation intentions suggest the number of vehicle miles driven will also climb (because people tend to travel greater distances when they go on vacation). As the chart below shows, fluctuations in miles driven – a close proxy for gas demand – are quickly reflected in prices at the pump.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018.05.14gascorrelation.png?itok=Q3j2fPOJ

While the US’s increasing prominence in the oil-export market could soften some of the economic blow as the energy business booms, other large business from airlines to shipping companies would feel the pinch at a time when costs are already rising.

But some economists say the growing importance of energy to the U.S. economy could blunt some of the impact from rising oil prices.

The country has become a more prominent supplier of crude oil and fuel. Domestic production has reached record weekly levels of 10.7 million barrels per day and a lot of it is being exported.

[…]

“People don’t understand how we could double crude oil production” and see higher gas prices, said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service. “The answer lies in the balance of payment. We are an exporting power right now.”

[…]

Airlines and shipping companies will also be paying more for jet fuel and diesel – costs that may be passed along to consumers. Even companies such as Whirlpool Corp. have noted that higher oil prices have boosted the cost of materials.

Refiner Valero Energy Corp. said it wouldn’t expect consumer demand to drop off until oil prices are at $80 to $100.

But demand is only one factor driving up oil prices. Supply issues have also weighed on oil traders’ minds. Traders pushed oil prices higher as the US pulled out of the Iran deal as some worried that it could impact global supplies (though, as we’ve pointed out, there are plenty of other buyers waiting to step in and buy Iranian crude). Even if the Iranian crude trade isn’t impacted by sanctions, plummeting production capacity in Venezuela could ultimately have a bigger impact on global supply.

Conflicts in other oil producing regions could also impact supplies, pushing prices higher.

Last week, Bank of America became the first Wall Street bank to call $100/bbl for Brent crude (at the time, it was trading around $77/bbl) in 2019. That could send prices to highs not seen since 2008. Other banks have been scrambling to raise their forecasts as well. 

With the Fed changing its language in its latest policy statement to reflect rising inflation expectations, rising oil prices could also inspire the Fed to hike interest rates more quickly for fear that the economy might overheat. That could result in four – or perhaps five – rate hikes this year.

The resulting effect would be like economic kudzu strangling the buying power of consumers and possibly forcing a long-overdue debt reckoning as millennials, who are already drowning in debt, are forced to put off home ownership and family formation until they’re in their late 30s or even their 40s.

Source: ZeroHedge

In Unprecedented Move, China Plans To Pay For Oil Imports With Yuan Instead Of Dollars

Just days after Beijing officially launched Yuan-denominated crude oil futures (with a bang, as shown in the chart below, surpassing Brent trading volume) which are expected to quickly become the third global price benchmark along Brent and WTI, China took the next major step in challenging the Dollar’s supremacy as global reserve currency (and internationalizing the Yuan) when on Thursday Reuters reported that China took the first steps to paying for crude oil imports in its own currency instead of US Dollars.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-03-26_5-47-22.jpg

A pilot program for yuan payments could be launched as soon as the second half of the year and regulators have already asked some financial institutions to “prepare for pricing crude imports in the yuan“, Reuters sources reveal.

According to the proposed plan, Beijing would start with purchases from Russia and Angola, two nations which, like China, are keen to break the dollar’s global dominance. They are also two of the top suppliers of crude oil to China, along with Saudi Arabia.

A change in the default crude oil transactional currency – which for decades has been the “Petrodollar“, blessing the US with global reserve currency status – would have monumental consequences for capital allocations and trade flows, not to mention geopolitics: as Reuters notes, a shift in just a small part of global oil trade into the yuan is potentially huge. “Oil is the world’s most traded commodity, with an annual trade value of around $14 trillion, roughly equivalent to China’s gross domestic product last year.” Currently, virtually all global crude oil trading is in dollars, barring an estimated 1 per cent in other currencies. This is the basis of US dominance in the world economy.

However, as shown in the chart below which follows the first few days of Chinese oil futures trading, this status quo may be changing fast.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/china%20oil%20trading.jpg?itok=qPyOsjfZ

Superficially, for China it would be a matter of nationalistic pride to see oil trade transact in Yuan: “Being the biggest buyer of oil, it’s only natural for China to push for the usage of yuan for payment settlement. This will also improve the yuan liquidity in the global market,” said one of the people briefed on the matter by Chinese authorities.

There are other considerations behind the launch of the Yuan-denominated oil contract as Goldman explains:

  • A commercial benchmark and hedging tool. Until now, Chinese oil imports were based on FOB benchmarks, with long-term procurement contracts settling off Platts Oman/Dubai or Dated Brent. The INE contract has therefore the potential to become the pricing reference for CIF China crude oil, enabling corporate financial hedging. Its warehouse structure is however likely to limit its use for physical crude delivery and may in fact at times reduce its hedge efficiency.
  • A new investment vehicle for onshore investors. The majority of China commodity futures trading volumes are from retail investors, yet these had until now little ability to trade oil futures. China’s capital control was the main bottleneck  to trading contracts like Brent as authorities only allow $50,000 outflow a year per person. While several petrochemical and bitumen contracts already trade in China, INE will be the first contract for crude oil, likely drawing significant interest.
  • Direct access to China’s commodity markets for offshore investors. China offers deep and liquid commodity markets to its onshore investors. Due to China’s tight capital controls, however, foreign investors have so far only been able to trade these through qualified onshore subsidiaries. The INE contract opens up the first channel for offshore investors to trade in its onshore commodity market, with both the USD deposit and capital gains transferable back to offshore accounts. The government further announced last week that it would waive income taxes for foreign investors trading these new contracts for the first three years. The obligation to trade in Yuan will also add a currency risk exposure to offshore investors. We illustrate in Exhibit 6 a likely template (amongst others) of how overseas investors will be able to access INE liquidity.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/China%20petrodollar%20gs%201.jpg?itok=9RV49Cj0(Click to enlarge)

The danger, of course, is that such a shift would also boost the value of the Yuan, hardly what China needs considering it was just two a half years ago that Beijing launched a controversial Yuan devaluation to boost its exports and economy.

Still, in light of the relative global economic stability, Beijing may be willing to take the gamble on a stronger Yuan if it means greater geopolitical clout and further acceptance of the renminbi.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/China%20oil%20imports%20gs.jpg?itok=jERHtMYK

Which is why restructuring oil fund flows may be the best first step: as of this moment, China is the world’s second-largest oil consumer and in 2017 overtook the United States as the biggest importer of crude oil; its demand is a key determinant of global oil prices.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/petroyuan-1024x587_0.png?itok=KbUyMQWr

If China’s plan to push the Petroyuan’s acceptance proves successful, it will result in greater momentum across all commodities, and could trigger the shift of other product payments to the yuan, including metals and mining raw materials.

Besides the potential of giving China more power over global oil prices, “this will help the Chinese government in its efforts to internationalize yuan,” said Sushant Gupta, research director at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. In a Wednesday note, Goldman Sachs said that the success of Shanghai’s crude futures was “indirectly promoting the use of the Chinese currency (which, however as noted above, has negative trade offs as it would also result in a stronger Yuan, something the PBOC may not be too excited about).

Meanwhile, China is wasting no time, and Unipec, the trading arm of Asia’s largest refiner Sinopec already signed a deal to import Middle East crude priced against the newly-launched Shanghai crude futures contract, which incidentally is traded in Yuan.

The bottom line here is whether Beijing is indeed prepared and ready to challenge the US Dollar for the title of global currency hegemon. As Rueters notes, China’s plan to use yuan to pay for oil comes amid a more than year-long gradual strengthening of the currency, which looks set to post a fifth straight quarterly gain, its longest winning streak since 2013.

In a sign that China’s recent Draconian capital control crackdowns have sapped market confidence in a freely-traded Yuan, the currency retained its No.5 ranking as a domestic and global payment currency in January this year, unmoved from a year ago, but its share among other currencies fell to 1.7 percent from 2.5 percent, according to industry tracker SWIFT.

A slew of measures put in place in the last 1-1/2 years to rein in capital flowing out of the country amid a slide in yuan value has taken off some its shine as a global payment currency.

But the yuan has now appreciated 3.4 percent against the dollar so far this year, with solid gains in recent sessions.

“For PBOC and other regulators, internationalization of the yuan is clearly one of the priorities now, and if this plan goes off smoothly then they can start thinking about replicating this model for other commodities purchases,” said a Reuters source.

Still, it will be a long and difficult climb before the Yuan can challenge the dollar and for Beijing to shift the bulk of its commodity purchases to the yuan because of the currency’s illiquidity in forex markets. According to the latest BIS Triennial Survey, nearly 90% of all transactions in the $5 trillion-a-day FX markets involved the dollar on one side of a trade, while only 4% use the yuan.

* * *

Still, not everyone is convinced that the new Yuan-denominated contract will create a “petro-yuan” as the following take from Goldman highlights:

The launch of the INE contract is not just about oil, as it will also be the first Yuan denominated commodity contract tradable by offshore investors. Such a set-up meets the PBOC’s monetary policy committee goal to raise the profile of its currency in the pricing of commodities. It has raised however the question of whether the INE contract is an incremental step in achieving the currency reserve status for the Yuan. We do not believe so.

While the INE launch does represent an additional step in the CNY internationalization, the CNY denomination of the INE contract does not in itself imply CNY investments. The INE contract does not represent an opening of China’s capital accounts since foreign deposits operate in a closed circuit, deposited in designated accounts and not to be used to purchase other domestic assets. In practice, the collateral deposit and any capital gains can be transferred back to offshore accounts. The potential for greater foreign ownership of Chinese assets is therefore not impacted by CNY oil invoicing and would require instead oil exporters to recycle their proceeds in local assets, for example. The incentive to do this has not changed with the introduction of the INE contracts. In particular, most Middle East oil producers still have currencies pegged to the dollar and limited ability to hedge CNY exposure.

Whether or not Goldman is right remains to be seen, however it is undeniable that a monumental change is afoot in global capital flows, where the US – whether Beijing wants to or not – will soon be forced to defend its currency status as oil exporters (and investors in this highly financialized market) will now have a choice: go with US hegemony, or start accepting Yuan in exchange for the world’s most important commodity.

https://www.corbettreport.com/update-china-to-start-paying-yuan-for-oil/

Source: ZeroHedge