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Petrochemical warfare: Syria and $150 oil

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Recapping the day's news and newsmakers through the lens of CNBC.

Syria's widening economic impact and $150 oil

Notes:

Among the growing concerns about economic fallout from the Syrian conflict: An Iraqi oil pipeline to Turkey has been repeatedly attacked, and Brent crude oil, now about $116 a barrel, could go as high as $150 in a worst-case scenario, according to one analysis.

Sen. John McCain ruled out extreme reactions like a closing of the Suez Canal but insisted that any reprisal over the Syrian government's use of poison gas would have economic impacts in the Middle East and beyond.

Others note that gasoline prices are already higher in the U.S. than a year ago; that trouble in the Mideast could prevent the usual drop in gas prices after Labor Day; and that economic slowdown due to the Syria crisis could make the Federal Reserve postpone its tapering plan.

Quotes:

"There are economic impacts if this conflict continues to spiral out beyond the borders of Syria. Those who think we can contain this within Syria, frankly that's just not what's happening in that part of the world."
—Republican Sen. John McCain

"If this Syrian action doesn't end after 48 hours [of bombing], it could hamper global growth. It could even have an impact on the Fed's taper calculus."
—CNBC's Bob Pisani

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner being built in Everett, Wash.
Source: Boeing Co.
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner being built in Everett, Wash.

Low cost manufacturing global upstart: the U.S.

Notes:

America doesn't make anything anymore, right? Look again: Manufacturing is coming back. According to the Boston Consulting Group, U.S. manufacturing is becoming a low-cost competitor to other developed economies, thanks to high worker productivity and low costs of natural gas and electricity.

Quotes:

"The pendulum is finally starting to swing back. In the years ahead, it could be America's turn to be on the receiving end of production shifts, as more companies use the U.S. as a low-cost export platform."
—Harold L. Sirkin, co-author of the BCG report

Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank
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Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank

Skin in the game to prevent subprime repeat

Notes:

How do you prevent another subprime crisis? Simple: Force lenders to keep "skin in the game" with a long-term stake in the performance of mortgages they bundle into securities and sell to investors. At least, that was the idea in the Dodd-Frank reform after the collapse in home prices and mortgage securities.

Regulators' first efforts to write rules were withdrawn amid fears that a high down payment requirement would hamper mortgage availability for low-income homebuyers. Now a reworked proposal is to be put up for public comment.

Quote:

"I think it's a reflection of the fact that there was a very, very broad range of unified comment on the difficulties the [previously] proposed rule might create."
—Barry Zigas, director of housing policy for the Consumer Federation of America

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Housing prices: Too fast, too soon

Notes:

The latest housing worry: Prices may be rising too fast in some places, making affordability a bigger issue. In San Francisco, for instance, prices are soaring, largely because of lean inventory. The number of listings was down 29 percent in July from a year earlier.

The problem there and in many hot markets is that home construction is not growing fast enough to boost supplies and moderate price increases. New data from the National Association of Realtors suggest that August and September sales will be slower.

Quote:

"More homes clearly need to be built in the West to relieve price pressure, or the region could soon face pronounced affordability problems."
—NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun

—By Jeff Brown, Special to CNBC.com

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