Schork Oil Outlook: Do You Want Fries with This Economy?

The Associated Press, Monday April 4, 2011:

Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday that it's inevitable the company will be forced to shut down all of its North American factories because of parts shortages due to the earthquake that hit Japan.

The temporary shutdowns are likely to take place later this month, affecting 25,000 workers, but no layoffs are expected, spokesman Mike Goss said.

That is not good, but do not fret, McDonalds is ready to step in to fill the void:

The Associated Press, Monday April 4, 2011:

McDonald's Corp. will hold its first national hiring day April 19 to fill 50,000 openings at its restaurants nationwide.

The company, based in Oak Brook, Ill., says it is making a concerted effort to add staff as its business improves and as more of its restaurants stay open 24 hours a day.

Wonderful, that is just what the U.S. needs: 50,000 more fry cooks. Ha, take that China.

Call us cynical, but we are of the mindset that 1 temporarily displaced worker at a Toyota factory is worth more than 2 gainfully employed hamburger flippers.

As noted in today’s issue of The Schork Report, retail gasoline jumped 2.4% last week to $3.684 a gallon. Now consider that the median price for an existing home sale in the U.S. was $156,100 in February. That was the lowest price since February 2002 and more importantly, it was 32% (!) off the high value from July 2006.

To add insult to injury, in 2002 your house price, $155,500, could purchase 139,000 gallons of gasoline at the pump and 63,000 Big Macs at McDonalds. Today, your house is worth only 42,000 gallons of unleaded and 44,000 Big Macs.

This unfortunate fact brings to mind a recent quote from one of our favorite economists, Thomas Sowell:

When the Federal Reserve cites statistics to claim that there is not much evidence of inflation, we need to keep in mind that the statistics they rely on exclude food and energy prices. The cost of living is no sweat if you can do without electricity and food.

Indeed, but Wall Street shrugged.


Stephen Schork is the Editor of The Schork Reportand has more than 17 years experience in physical commodity and derivatives trading, risk systems modeling and structured commodity finance.