The European Union (EU) has announced a partial embargo on Russian oil in response to the invasion of Ukraine. By yearend, about 90% of Russian oil import volumes could be affected. It's a major blow to Moscow, which relies on oil and natural gas sales for economic sustainability.
The US Census Bureau recently released the 2020 Census estimated undercount and overcount rates from its Post-Enumeration Survey. While we feared an undercount for Texas, it was even worse than expected.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health ("ARPA-H") was recently established as a new federal agency with the mission of transforming health research and innovation. The concept is similar to that of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which has fostered countless breakthrough discoveries (and is about the coolest place on earth). ARPA-H is charged with finding solutions to society's most challenging health crises, including cancer, Alzheimer's, and AIDS. Moreover, treatments are to be broadly accessible to improve outcomes across the globe while simultaneously containing medical costs.
Things are tough for anyone trying to purchase a house, with a double whammy of rising prices and increasing interest rates. Inventories are very low, and supply chain issues and labor shortages continue to complicate construction.
Job openings in Texas reached an all-time high in February at 932,000, far exceeding unemployment (about 635,000 at present). While that's beneficial for those looking for work, it's presenting notable challenges. Businesses unable to fill positions are often forced to respond by reducing operating hours or even closing locations, and the economy is functioning at less-than-optimal efficiency.
The number of oil and natural gas drilling permits issued by the Texas Railroad Commission reached an all-time high in March, at over 1,100. Hundreds of companies of all sizes are jumping into the fray. Activity is picking up across the state, with the Permian Basin reportedly seeing over 900 horizontal permits.
The recent invasion of Ukraine by Russia is generating questions regarding how important Russia is to the Texas economy, particularly as policies restricting trade and investment interactions are contemplated. The short answer: not very.
The past two years have been difficult, but the path forward is encouraging! Many parts of Texas have now reached or exceeded pre-pandemic employment levels, and unless a new and dangerous variant emerges, we may finally be able to put the worst of COVID-19 behind us. In fact, Texas is now more than 200,000 jobs ahead of its pre-pandemic peak. Supply-chain issues, worker shortages, and other challenges are likely to linger over the coming months, slowing the rate of expansion to some extent in the short term. Nevertheless, the outlook for the state remains highly favorable, and the momentum is palpable.
Since the beginnings of people living in social groups millennia ago, goods have been exchanged in some form. Through imports and exports, consumer choice improves, prices are reduced, business opportunities escalate, and economies grow. The essential mathematics explaining the process were worked out in the early 1800s. Pandemic-induced supply chain snarls have illustrated the interconnectedness of the contemporary world and just how much consumers rely on a steady stream of imports.
Recently, there has been much focus on the "petrodollar" and whether it will continue as the currency of choice in the oil market. China and Saudi Arabia have discussed shifting away from it, a move that some worry will end the dollar's dominance in world markets; others seem to think it would be the end of life as know it. Let me put your mind at ease.