Oil Prices May Stay Low ‘Forever’

Five big ideas that made the week and the stories behind them.
From
Five Things We Learned This Week (07/27)

1) Even Oil Executives See an Electric Future

Imagine a Detroit auto executive driving a Japanese car. That’s kind of what it felt like when the chief executive officer of one of the world’s biggest oil companies said in a Bloomberg TV interview that his next car would be electric. Ben Van Beurden, head of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, will drive a plug-in Mercedes-Benz S500e in September, giving up his diesel, Bloomberg reports. It reflects the many changes Shell and its competitors have made in response to dramatic shifts in markets over the past few years. Oil boomed, peaking near $150 a barrel, then within two years went bust, down to the $30s, and is now hovering around $50. “We are getting fit for the $40s, with the way we are going,” Van Beurden said, referring to oil prices. Shell is operating under the assumption that crude will be “lower forever,” he said.

A Mercedes-Benz S500e Plug-in Hybrid vehicle.
Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

2) The World Had a New Richest Man

Jeff Bezos. It all started in a garage with a dream of selling books online. Seems obvious now. Amazon shares surged this week to give the 53-year-old CEO a higher net worth than the previous title holder, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, 61. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index on Thursday afternoon listed Bezos with a net worth of $90.9 billion, $200 million more than Gates. But then Amazon shares fell, and Bezos gave back the crown. Temporarily, perhaps?

Jeff Bezos
Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg

3) There Really Are Consequences for Bankers Misbehaving

Ok, not many. But here’s one: Deutsche Bank is forcing 11 current and former executive board members to forfeit nearly €38.4 million ($45 million) in bonuses. The bank was fined billions for misconduct during their tenure. In exchange, the bank agreed not to sue them for more, Bloomberg’s Steven Arons and Ambereen Choudhury report. But they still get to keep 31.4 million of their outstanding haul.

4) It’s the Week of the Phase Out

We all have to move on sometime. London banking regulators say they’re finally going to ditch the benchmark interest rate Libor, which is used globally as a starting point for interest rates on loans such as mortgages. The rate was supposed to reflect the interest rate banks were charging one another, but traders got in varying degrees of trouble for manipulating it to make money. Also in London, the government has decided it’s had enough of wheezing on city air and said it would ban the sale of gas and diesel cars in 2040. But that’s more than 20 years from now. The market may have made them obsolete by then anyway.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

5) NASA Can Cut Your Flight Time in Half

Yes, yours. The space agency is asking for bids to build a plane that wouldn’t create that nasty sonic boom that accompanies flying faster than 660 miles per hour, at which speed many planes break the sound barrier. The Federal Aviation Administration mostly banned supersonic travel over land in 1973. NASA could test planes as soon as 2022, but it needs Congress to lift that pesky ban first.

Artist’s concept of a possible Low Boom Flight Demonstration Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) X-plane design.
SOURCE: LOCKHEED MARTIN

 

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