Monday, October 18, 2010

Key Statistics - Don't Take Your Eye Off The Ball!

10/18/2010 Portland, Oregon - Pop in your mints...

After what seems an insufferable amount of bad news it is refreshing to see that the rescue of the 33 miners in Chile was an overwhelming success!

Photo courtesy of the
 You may ask yourself, given how dangerous and seemingly costly mining is, why do it?  Many asked the same questions regarding the extraction of oil after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico this past summer.  While no one can fully answer this question and I believe that the full answer, like that of the reasoning of all human actions, is unknowable in that most who pause to even consider these matters limit the answer to their personal value judgments.

Instead of trying to understand a complete reasoning, I will simply attempt to explain the economic part.  I hope you will see that the men and women who mine, extract oil and other resources are larger heroes to humanity than firefighters or men and women in the world's militaries.  Not to minimize the heroics of public servants and soldiers, but I believe that the miners and oilfield workers do more on a daily basis to add to the day to day comfort that the West now enjoys and that 4 billion persons in the East are striving to, and will, enjoy.

In these chronicles we will look often at a set of data that I call "Key Statistics" as their price and/or percentage, as the data point may be expressed, have an impact of anyone who lives inside the world's financial system (i.e. anyone with a bank account).  These statistics are, at their current reported levels as of this writing:

Key Indicators for Monday, October 18, 2010

Copper Price per Lb:  $3.77

Oil Price per Barrel:  $80.80
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.58%
FED Target Rate:  0.19%
Gold Price per Oz:  $1,358
Unemployment Rate: 9.6%
Inflation Rate (CPI): 0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 11,062
M1 Monetary Base:  $1,460,900,000,000

Sources for these indicators, if you want to check them regularly, are available by clicking on each to reach its linked source:

Copper Price per Lb:  Kitco

Oil Price per Barrel:  Yahoo Finance
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  Yahoo Finance
FED Target Rate :  Federal Reserve
Gold Price per Oz:  Kitco
Unemployment Rate: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Inflation Rate (CPI): Bureau of Labor Statistics
Dow Jones Industrial Average: Yahoo Finance
M1 Monetary Base:  Federal Reserve

While we all watch in amazement at the exploits of firefighters and soldiers, the daily toil of the copper miner, until recently, goes largely unnoticed.  However, the copper miner and oilfield worker are in constant physical danger and their work is literally on the front lines of supplying the post-modern world with what it demands.  While the firefighter and soldier would literally be out of work without the support of your friendly taxing authority, the copper miner and oilfield work openly compete to ultimately serve persons and governments literally throughout the globe and are paid, not through compulsion as taxes are, but by willing customers for their services.  Needless to say, without the materials that are in some way, shape or form are supplied by the miner or oilfield worker, the firefighter and soldier would not have the tools necessary to perform their tasks.

Can you see now how copper miners and oilfield workers have a profound impact on society as we know it?  For they not only provide the building blocks for modern life, they also help to determine the price of these building blocks and, by extension, a component of the price of nearly everything purchased on this planet.  Ah, the wonder of it all.  These men and women deserve, if not medals and accolades for their daily sacrifices, at least a healthy amount of respect.  A toast to you, the miners and oilfield workers of the world!  Your contribution to mankind each and every day is subtle, yet awesome!

Stay Fresh!

David Mint