Market Morning: Iran Seizes Tanker, Icahn Rages, Equifax Nears Settlement, No-Deal Chances Inch Up

Market Morning: Iran Seizes Tanker, Icahn Rages, Equifax Nears Settlement, No-Deal Chances Inch Up

Iran Seizes Tanker, Oil Prices Yawn

As trading was coming to a close on Friday last week, in the waning hours of the afternoon, Iran announced to the world that its commandos rappelled aboard and seized a British-flagged oil tanker called the Stena Impero. Great Britain has called this a “hostile act” which makes a bit of sense. Iran had initially claimed that the ship was seized because it was “involved in an accident” which seems rather unlikely. Meanwhile oil prices didn’t move much on the news, apparently unimpressed with the possibility of war breaking out between Iran and some Western army, though the United Kingdom has clarified that military options are off the table for now. The Iranians have not harmed any of the crew of 23. London said that it was preparing a plan for sanctions against Iran, which is already suffering heavily from international sanctions spearheaded by the Trump Administration.

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Icahn Rages Against The Oil Deal Machine

Remember that deal between Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) and Anadarko Petroleum (NYSE:APC) back in May for $57 billion? Well, Carl Icahn doesn’t like it, so he’s moving to fire four board members of Occidental for voting for what he thinks is an overpriced purchase. Icahn has filed the paperwork necessary to vacate the positions of those four Occidental board members and replace them with his own executives. “The company’s current directors have made a number of mistakes in how and at what cost they pursued the acquisition,” Icahn wrote in a filing. Occidental beat out Chevron (NYSE:CVX), which, at the time, was also pursuing Anadarko but folded at $48 billion, not willing to call. Occidental is getting a little nervous about Icahn’s maneuvering here, warning all its shareholder in ALL CAPS not to respond to any written requests from Icahn. Icahn’s rationale for opposing the deal is the volatility of oil prices. He’s been burned by oil before, most recently with his position in Chesapeake (NYSE:CHK) which is trading near all time lows. Icahn has a 4.4% stake in Occidental worth about $1.7 billion.

Equifax Nears Settlement on Data Breach

Remember that huge data breach from Equifax (NYSE:EFX) two years ago that leaked credit card information from about half the population of the United States? Well, it looks like Equifax might only have to pay $4.82 ($700M in total) for every person whose data was exposed. Equifax may even be generous and send $5 bills to all those affected, and let them keep the change. Or, since you can’t send cash in the mail, maybe a $5 gift card to the nearest Equifax gift shop, where you can get toy credit cards and stuffed giraffes with the Equifax logo for your kids. Or yourself. Except not even that, because the money will go to the Federal Trade Commission, who will spend it on Federal Trade Commission stuff, like coffee for its workers. Or raises. Perhaps the national debt will go down by $700M now that it is being paid into a Federal bureaucracy, but who are we kidding?

Most Millennials 18-34 Still Need Support From Their Parents  

In a sign of how bad things may end up getting during the next recession, a study conducted by TD Ameritrade (NYSE:AMTD) shows that between 60% and 70% of millennials age 18-34 rely on their parents for financial assistance. This is despite the longest economic expansion in US history and record low unemployment. Clearly people are either spending too much or not making enough or both, which might have something to do with persistently low interest rates that keep falling, spurred by central banks that are trying to keep the current economic expansion going. So we have a cycle of debt here, where, in order to keep the economy “going,” central banks encourage more debt which keeps drowning millennials and the economy in liabilities, which on the other side are assets, that eventually will not be paid, which means all those assets will be wiped off of balance sheets. In any case, the survey totaled about 3,000 people, including millennials proper, Generation Z’ers, and their parents. The good news is, most millennials pay for their own Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) accounts. So that’s progress, maybe.

No-Deal Brexit Possibility Increasing as Anti-No-Deal Chancellor Threatens to Resign

Likely soon-to-be UK Prime Minister Alexander “Boris” Johnson has demanded that his government should accept the possibility of a no-deal Brexit on October 31st, the day that the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, who basically is in charge of spending and raising money for the government, and who is very against a no-deal Brexit because he thinks it will cause severe money problems (he’s probably right in the short term), had previously taken a pugnacious stance against such a possibility, vowing to fight it with all his power. But now he has said he will simply resign from his position, which would clear the way that much more for a no-deal Brexit to actually happen. Why resign rather than fight? Perhaps he thinks he may get fired, if he insists on another extension to the Brexit deadline.