Thursday, December 24, 2015
US jobless claims at 42-year low; Saudis versus frackers leads to flood of oil; What millennials want
1 US jobless claims at 42-year low (Khaleej Times) The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, nearing a 42-year low as labour market conditions continued to tighten. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 for the week ended on December 19, not far from levels last seen in late 1973, the Labour Department said.
The prior week's claims were revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported. Economists had forecast claims dipping to 270,000 in the latest week. Claims have been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a buoyant labour market, for 42 consecutive weeks, the longest stretch since the early 1970s.
The unemployment rate is in a range many Federal Reserve officials see as consistent with full employment. It has dropped seven-tenths of a percentage point this year.
2 Saudis versus frackers leads to flood of oil (Nils Pratley in The Guardian) Opec’s annual tour of the horizon, a publication called World Oil Outlook, is not about predictions, says the group’s secretary general Abdalla Salem el-Badri in the introduction to this year’s edition. This is just as well since last year’s failed to inform us that the price of oil was about to halve.
The arrival of sub-$40-a-barrel oil has caused more than a few members of the cartel to splutter about the need to cut production to force prices higher. So far, Saudi Arabia isn’t listening. The strategy is to keep pumping, apparently in the hope of forcing the US shale industry – whose impact Opec underestimated as late as 2011 – to curb production.
Non-Saudi members may therefore be alarmed that even the organisation’s own economists don’t exactly envisage US shale producers being forced to their knees. On one hand, they note that production growth for so-called tight crude in the US and Canada has started to slow with cuts in investment. On the other, they say “the most prolific zones within some plays can break even at levels below 2015 prices”.
Indeed, the projections show North American tight oil volumes increasing from 4.4m barrels a day at present to 5.2m barrels in 2020. From a Saudi perspective, that forecast could be taken as yet another reason to keep pumping to protect Opec’s share of the market.
One of these years, lower levels of investment, which always follow lower prices, could produce a spike in prices and the report, rightly, warns of the danger. It suggests $10tn (£6.7tn) of investment will be needed between now and 2040 and that the “right signals” – meaning higher prices – will be required.
But a spike in 2016? That is hard to imagine while Opec’s members squabble before the Saudis get their way.
3 What millennials want (Financial Times/Gulf News) House prices, ambition and over-involved parents. These are a few of the reasons that millennials, born after the early 1980s, are seeking advice from coaches of their own generation, who have had the same experiences.
London-based Alice Stapleton, 33, says many clients cite her youth as one reason they want to work with her. “I know what it’s like to be part of their generation and understand the pressures and challenges,” she says.
Sarah Vermunt in Toronto is an organisational psychologist turned careers coach. She offers the “careergasm” — through online courses and traditional one-to-one coaching — which promises to give her clients a “warm hug and a kick in the [rear]”. She sees her clients’ frustrations rooted in their high expectations. “This group have grown up being told the world is their oyster and they can have pretty much anything if they put their mind to it.”
What makes this generation different, say the coaches, is that clients’ employers are less willing to invest in their long-term development, which puts the onus on the individual. At the same time, many young people feel uncertain about making decisions for themselves, because their parents have been very involved in their lives.
Clients can also feel in the shadow of their parents, particularly if unable to get a toe on the housing ladder while also swamped by debt from their university education. Stapleton puts it like this: “We think we should be achieving what our parents did by that age — married with kids and a house by the age of 30. We set these goals and feel disappointed when we realise we’re nowhere near those milestones.”
Ashley Stahl, a “Gen Y” (another term for millennial) coach who worked at the Pentagon before switching to coaching, says the recession brought home to those entering the workforce that there was no such thing as company loyalty. She believes those in their 20s and 30s yearn for work that expresses their personality or creativity, rather than merely providing a means to an end.
London-based millennial coach Laura Ahnemann, originally from Germany, says it also compounds loneliness. “They have 500 Facebook friends but still feel isolated. They are on Snapchat and Instant Messenger but they don’t talk properly. They miss the human connection.”