Bitcoin’s Value Doubled in August

Bitcoin reached its highest price in its short history when it doubled in value in just one month.

During the month of August Bitcoin went from a price of $2788 on August 1st, 2017 to $4564 on August 31st, and it wasn’t finished heading for the stars quite yet. On September 2 bitcoin reached a high of $4780, before it started to crash, losing about 15% in just a bit over a week. As of September 11th, one bitcoin costs $4106.

Overall this year bitcoin has grown by 358%, starting slowly in January, but then really taking off in March this year, when it began climbing from just under $1000 on March 24th, and just kept going.

Listen to one commentator’s analysis of this investing phenomenon. Is it a bubble, or isn’t it?

 

Houston Mayor Says Flooded City Ready for Business

Saying Labor Day is the deadline, Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner says his city, America’s fourth-most populated, will be “open for business” despite mandatory evacuations of flooded homes, billions of dollars in damage, and many parts of town still under water due to Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in south east Texas on August 25th, 2017.

“Anyone who was planning on a conference or a convention or a sporting event or a concert coming to this city, you can still come,” the mayor said to CBS. “We can do multiple things at the same time.”

Officials are still worried about explosions at a chemical plant damaged by the hurricane, the country’s most devastating in ten years. To ease the danger of further explosions experts performed a controlled burn last Sunday of extremely volatile compounds at the Arkema facility in Crosby. After Harvey’s flooding knocked out generators three trailers caught fire.

The authorities stated that they are continuing to monitor the air quality within a mile and a half radius of the plant, which is outside Houston. People within the vicinity of the chemical plant have still not returned to their homes.

In addition, floodwaters have overcome at least five toxic waste Superfund locations close to Houston, with the possibility that some may have sustained damage. The Environmental Protection Agency has not yet assessed the full extent of the damage.

Hurricane Harvey Forces Closure of Largest US Oil Refinery

The devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey and its unprecedented flooding has forced several oil refineries to partially or completely close, including America’s largest. Harvey’s ferocious winds and rain forced the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur to close. The plant has the capacity for 603,000 barrels/day. According to the Wall Street Journal the refinery began closing operations at about 5am central time on Wednesday “in response to increasing local flood conditions.” The giant Saudi Arabian oil company Saudi Aramco is the owner of Motiva. Production of oil had already slowed to 60% of capacity on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday morning, about 18 refineries were at least partly closed in Texas, including those located at Port Arthur in Houston.

“The largest impact to energy markets is severe flooding, which has resulted in the closure or part-closure of nearly 25% of the United States’ refinery capacity,” analysts wrote.
“As Harvey heads inland once again, we note a number of refineries in its current trajectory will be under threat,” they added. “This could close up to another 824,000 barrels per day (b/d) of capacity, giving an additional lift to fuel prices, while further depressing crude.”

The hurricane has had more of an impact on refining than on production, which has caused a strange fluctuation in oil prices compared to gasoline prices, which have gone up compared to oil.

Usually oil prices climb in response to extreme weather that hits areas with high concentrations of oil businesses. But prices of oil have fallen recently: West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 1.1%, at $45.94/barrel. But US gasoline futures went up to their highest level since July 2015.

As refineries close due to damage, or workers are unable to reach their jobs; or it becomes difficult or impossible to move the gasoline out, a lack of demand for oil is created. This leads to more oil in storage, waiting to be refined, thereby forcing prices down. At the same time refiners can’t produce and distribute gasoline and other refined oil products, lowering supply and forcing prices up.

This explains why, when usually the price of oil and gas go up and down together, the unique circumstances caused by Hurricane Harvey has caused oil and gasoline prices to travel independently and in opposite directions.

Inventories Up: Economy Moving Forward

June’s data show that US business inventories realized their largest increase in seven months as retailers continue to re-stock at an accelerated pace in reaction to an increase in demand for goods at home.

According to the Commerce Department business inventories climbed by 0.5 percent after an unrevised increase of 0.3 percent in May.

Inventories are considered an important component of the country’s gross domestic product. Retail inventories did even better, rising by 0.6 percent in June and the same percentage in May.

Stock of motor vehicles surged by 0.7 percent after an even higher rise of 1.2 percent in May.

Retail inventories, not including cars, which are included in the calculation for GDP, went up 0.5 percent, up from 0.2 percent in May.

Inventory investment did not have an impact on the 2.6 percent annualized growth rate of the second quarter of this year, after severing off 1.46 percentage points at the beginning of the year.

Stay Financially Healthy With Professional Financial Advisors

Individuals and families should consider taking charge of their financial situations to reach their material goals in life. Most people would like to save for retirement, many would like to secure the ability to pay, at least partly, for their children’s college educations. Others plan and save for vacations, purchasing a home, or a host of other things which can take a substantial bite out of their monthly incomes.

Financial service companies, such as Essex Financial in Essex, Connecticut, can help people clarify their goals and set up savings plans that will help them reach them.

Saving for retirement is something highly recommended, and which many people take responsibility for. Although some people choose to handle their own retirement plans, many others turn to professionals like Essex Financial to help them manage investments, understand new tax laws which can affect their bottom lines, and other complex issues that most working people simply don’t have the time or expertise to focus on successfully.

Financial planners are trained professionals that have at their fingertips large amounts of information that a layman would need hours of research to discover. Once financial goals are clarified, then the advisor can recommend actions on how families or individuals can meet those goals. He or she will know how investments should be allocated, how much and what kind of insurance is needed, and how certain actions affect the individual’s tax bill or estate.

Just as someone would not diagnose or try and treat an illness without the help and advice of a qualified medical professional, so too people should seek the help of a financial professional to help them maintain excellent financial health, all throughout life.