Month: September 2019

US Migration, US Crude Oil Production (Select States), and How Singapore Deals with Traffic

Bloomberg – More People Are Leaving NYC Daily Than Any Other U.S. City – Wei Lu and Alexandre Tanzi 8/29/19

New York leads all U.S. metro areas as the largest net loser with 277 people moving every day — more than double the exodus of 132 just one year ago. Los Angeles and Chicago were next with triple digit daily losses of 201 and 161 residents, respectively.

This is according to 2018 Census data on migration flows to the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas compiled by Bloomberg News.

At the other end of the spectrum, seven cities had on average more than 100 new arrivals every day. Dallas, Phoenix, Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Austin saw substantial inflows from both domestic and international migration. Sun Belt cities Houston and Miami claimed the 8th and 9th spots in the ranking. Seattle was the only cold-weather destination among the top 10.

The migration figures exclude the natural increase in population, which is the difference between the number of live births and the number of deaths.

In 10 of the top 100 metros, deaths exceed births. Thus, without migration these cities would be shrinking. Half of the 10 are located in Florida. In 11 more cities, mostly in Utah and Texas, there are more than twice as many births as deaths. Provo, which ranks first in births and last in deaths, had a 5-1 ratio.

While New York is experiencing the biggest net exodus, the blow is being softened by international migrant inflows. From July 2017 to July 2018, a net of close to 200,000 New Yorkers sought a new life outside the Big Apple while the area welcomed almost 100,000 net international migrants.

The second most attractive locale for international migrants was Miami with an addition of 93,000, followed by Los Angeles, Houston, Boston and the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.

Phoenix passed Dallas as the greatest beneficiary of domestic migration, adding more than 62,000 residents between July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018. Dallas got an influx of 46,000, while Las Vegas, Tampa and Austin rounded out the top five metro areas.

Some areas are affected by high home prices and local taxes, which are pushing residents out and deterring potential movers from other parts of the country. About 200,000 residents left New York last year. Los Angeles had a decline of nearly 120,000 and Chicago fell by 84,000. Miami, Washington D.C., San Francisco and San Jose experienced similar trends.

WSJ – Daily Shot: US Crude Oil Production (Select States) 8/30/19

Note that BP just sold out of all its Alaska operations this last week after having been in business in the State for 60 years

Bloomberg – Tesla Unplugged: In Singapore, It’s Just Another Unwelcome Car – Adam Minter 8/27/19

An interesting way to do things.

Few places on Earth feel the impact of the automobile quite so keenly as Singapore. Car ownership rates are low — around 11%, compared to 80% in the United States — but that still amounts to nearly 1 million vehicles (600,000 of which are private and rental cars) packed into an island city-state half the size of Los Angeles. Roads account for at least 12% of the total land mass.

To manage the traffic and other impacts on urban livability, Singapore imposed the world’s first congestion pricing scheme in 1975. Initially, it applied only to morning rush hour in the central business district. But as the numbers of humans and cars expanded, so too did efforts to control the impacts via such schemes. They were effective in controlling traffic, but did little to crimp the appetite of upwardly mobile Singaporeans for new cars that would contribute to traffic. Indeed, between 1975 and 1989, the annual rate of automotive growth averaged 4.4% (it peaked at 9.6% in 1980).

So in 1990, Singapore established a quota for the number of new vehicles annually allowed on its roads. Aspiring car owners bid for 10-year ownership permits. The cost of these permits, combined with other taxes, have made Singapore the most expensive place in the world to own a car, forcing buyers to regularly pay three or four times more for a model than they would elsewhere. And ownership is only going to become more expensive: in 2018, Singapore cut the annual growth rate of new vehicles to 0% (commercial vehicles are excluded from the policy until 2021). The government justified the cut “in view of Singapore’s land constraints and our commitment to continually improve our public transport system.”

They aren’t joking. In 2014, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled his commitment to a “car-lite Singapore” and a 15-year, $1.5 billion program to boost public transportation. Among other initiatives, the subway system will double by 2030, to 224 miles (at a cost of more than $21 billion). The goal is to boost the number of commuters using public transit at rush hour to 75% and to ensure that 90% of journeys to the city center can reach there within 45 minutes.

Singapore’s government hasn’t been nearly as aggressive when it comes to aiding the deployment of personalized electrified automobiles. Just ask Elon Musk: in 2018, he tweeted that “Singapore govt is not supportive of electric vehicles.”

His grudge, it appears, dates back to 2016, when Singapore imposed a $10,850 carbon emissions surcharge on a Tesla Model S to account for carbon emitted during the electricity generation process (Singapore is heavily reliant on fossil fuels). There is also Singapore’s slow deployment of battery-charging infrastructure compared to other countries.

Masagos Zulkifli’s repudiation of Tesla as a lifestyle is easier to understand. Thanks to Tesla’s premium pricing (and Singapore’s taxes), a used model S can exceed $250,000 in the city-state (a new one can be double). In fairness, other electric vehicles also have eye-popping prices in Singapore — the Kia Niro is one of the cheapest at $132,600. But from the perspective of policymakers seeking to electrify transport for as many people as possible, a car that exceeds the price of some homes isn’t a climate change solution — it’s a bauble.

Capital Controls in Argentina & Further Down the Negative Debt Rabbit Hole

Economist – Argentina’s beleaguered government imposes capital controls 9/2/19

When Mauricio Macri was elected president of Argentina in 2015, one of his first acts was to abolish capital controls that restricted buying and selling of the peso. The move symbolized Argentina’s pivot back to open markets and liberal economic reforms under his rule. On September 1st, after weeks of market turmoil, Mr Macri was forced to issue a decree re-imposing controls in an attempt to shore up the currency. From now on ordinary Argentines’ purchases of dollars will be capped at $10,000 a month. Companies will face restrictions on their ability to purchase dollars in the foreign-exchange market and to pay dividends to investors abroad.

FT – Argentina: how IMF’s biggest ever bailout crumbled under Macri – Michael Stott and Benedict Mander 9/1/19

Following days of market chaos in the wake of the vote (the August 11 primary vote that went to Peronist rival Alberto Fernandez (no relation to former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner)), Mr Macri’s government bowed to the inevitable last week and asked creditors for more time to pay back Argentina’s $101bn of foreign debt, including the IMF money, as Buenos Aires struggled to avoid the country’s ninth sovereign default — and the third this century. Currency controls were imposed on businesses on Sunday after it lost an estimated $3bn in reserves in just two days last week.

Bloomberg – The Unstoppable Surge in Negative Yields Reaches $17 Trillion – John Ainger 8/30/19

Thirty percent of all investment-grade securities now bear sub-zero yields, meaning that investors who acquire the debt and hold it to maturity are guaranteed to make a loss. Yet buyers are still piling in, seeking to benefit from further increases in bond prices and favorable cross-currency hedging rates—or at least to avoid greater losses elsewhere.