February 2017

Since the beginning of the year, oil has been stuck in a very tight trading range.

Defying everyone’s expectations, OPEC has successfully gotten members to follow through on production cuts. It has put a floor under oil prices, but the ability of American shale producers to boost production quickly has countered to keep a lid on prices.

It has been painful, but American shale producers have found ways to bring down the cost of exploration and are typically profitable even at the current levels and are showing staying power.

Prices are projected all the way through 2021 that are either flat or slightly lower. While I feel for my friends in Alaska, overall this is great for America. Consumers get a break at the pump and factories have an advantage over their competitors overseas.

Subdued energy costs are a huge tool in process of developing the next economic boom.

The IMF, Germany & Greece continue to disagree over the next steps relating to the Greek bailout.

For Memos, Anthony, your churches and our friends in Greece, we encourage our followers to pray for you.

While there have been numerous (and legitimate) concerns on all sides, the bottom line is that the situation is unsustainable.

The middle ground seems to be that as Greece “proves faithful”, then some level of their debt would be forgiven. Unfortunately Germany is strenuously fighting under the belief of fiscal austerity.

You may think you are facing challenges, those under 30 are facing over 50% unemployment.

BUT, in Memos’ church when someone loses a job…the church prays. And they get a better job!

One of the results of the great recession, as it has become known as, is a trend towards a healthier financial state for the American middle class.

At the beginning of the recession it was obvious that American’s were saving more and putting a greater emphasis paying down their debt.

For quite some time we were unsure of whether this was a trend or a temporary emotional reaction. Eight years after the initial meltdown, the evidence continues to indicate a significant cultural shift.

American’s continue to save more, strive to eliminate their debt and are more judicious in their spending.

As a side note, a recent survey found that 25% of families say they are now debt free. That is up from 14% just a few years ago.