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Oil markets eye Russia-Ukraine tensions
Feb 14, 2022
Episode 600

Oil markets eye Russia-Ukraine tensions

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Things could get weird in the world of oil if Russia follows through on an invasion of Ukraine, analysts warn. Our hosts discuss how the market might react. Plus, we’ve got updates on the Winter Olympics and the Freedom Convoy at the Canadian border, and we’ll check into the rocket headed for the moon. Stay to the end to catch our Make Me Smiles.

Here’s everything we talked about on the show today:

Got a question for Whaddya Wanna Know Wednesday? You can email a note or send a voice memo to makemesmart@marketplace.org. Or, you can call and leave a voice message at (508)-827-6278 (508-UB-SMART)!

Make Me Smart February 14, 2022 transcript

Note: Marketplace podcasts are meant to be heard, with emphasis, tone and audio elements a transcript can’t capture. Transcripts are generated using a combination of automated software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting it.

Kai Ryssdal: Hey ho everybody, anybody home? Anybody?

Samantha Fields: Hey, Kai.

Kai Ryssdal: There we go. You’re killing me, killing me. Ah, Drew freakin’ Jostad. Hey, everybody, welcome back to Make Me Smart, where as soon as we’re ready, we make today make sense.

Samantha Fields: And I’m Samantha Fields, it’s What’d We Miss Monday where we catch you up on some stories you might have missed over the weekend, then get to a few make me smiles that you our listeners have sent in.

Kai Ryssdal: Alright, so first of all, I’m back after knee surgery. I’d just like let everybody know it went fine. It’s all good.

Samantha Fields: I’m glad to hear, welcome back, Kai. We missed you.

Kai Ryssdal: Got my got my physical therapy going. So it’s all said going to see the surgeon on Thursday. Anyway, just because I know everybody’s been waiting with bated breath to find out how I’m doing because I’ve been gone all the time. Anyway. So here’s the way this goes on a Monday and most other days, actually, Mondays are different. So we’re gonna do one big news item. And then we’ll do a couple of what did we miss over the weekend or early this morning? And then we’ll do a couple of make me smiles by you, our faithful listeners. And then we will get out the way. And I think the the big news of the day and of frankly, who knows how much longer this is going to be going on is the whole isn’t the whole Ukraine thing. Obviously. Lots of back and forth Zelensky the president. Yeah, the President of Ukraine invited Biden to Kiev this week, I don’t know if Biden’s gonna go. My guess would be not. But just to frame it in Marketplace’s terms. All the agita over there has sent the US benchmark oil index, which is of course, West Texas Intermediate priced at Cushing, Oklahoma, sorry, I’m popping my p’s a lot priced out of Cushing, Oklahoma, to $94 and change today, which is, which is a bunch and I saw actually at my corner gas station, five American dollars a gallon. So the longer this goes on, and the longer that energy is used as a pawn in this thing, which it is with the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and all of that stuff. It’s going to be messy for the global economy. And I just want to get that out there.

Samantha Fields: Absolutely. And, you know, I saw something that I read today that really sort of struck me was, you know, you’re talking about the gas prices that you’re seeing when you go to fill up. For every penny of gas, that gas rises a gallon, it costs American consumers $4 million a day, which is kind of wild.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, yeah, totally believe that. Totally, totally believe that. And here’s the other part of that. It factors, obviously into inflation. And as inflation rises and becomes a political issue for the president and for Democrats, it becomes all that much more substantive for them. And it’s not an easy challenge for them to solve when geopolitics is saying, “Oh, no, no, no, hold my beer.” So, you know, that’s what I got. That’s what I got.

Samantha Fields: Curious, you know, Kai, Russia produces about 10% of the world’s oil I was reading but only about 3% of US oil. So I mean, how significant is this, specifically for us here in the US? Would you say?

Kai Ryssdal: Well, so look, I would say it is perhaps not significant on an instantaneously tangible basis. But as you know, prices of a lot of commodities oil first among them are sensitive  to consumer expectations and consumer mood. And the more we see gas going up, the more of an issue it becomes for us and look, it factors into into inflation, because gas prices are the thing you see in eight inch two high letters every single damn day. And there are people out there who probably cannot tell you how much a gallon of milk costs but can tell you to the penny to the nine tenths of a penny, how much gas costs, and that’s why it influences the politics in this country. And that’s it’s a big challenge for the Dems. Big challenge.

Samantha Fields: Yeah, it’s huge.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s what I got. Alright, I’m going to fix my pop filter. And while I do that, you start on your news stuff. How about that?

Samantha Fields: Yeah. So the other big story certainly of the day, and just of the weekend, that I’ve really been sort of increasingly sucked into is everything that’s going on in Canada with the Freedom Convoy over the weekend, Sunday, they cleared the Ambassador Bridge, which is that bridge between Windsor and Detroit, that I just sort of find stunning, carries 25% of the trade between the US and Canada. Huge, huge number, of course, traffic’s moving there. Again, it seems like a lot of the sort of the biggest economic consequences of this are starting to clear up. But you know, today Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time ever in Canada’s history, which will give him sweeping federal powers to do all sorts of things, sort of including potentially, although he’s saying he won’t do this, you know, restricting people from gathering prohibiting people from assembling, restricting, restricting travel. And you know, he’s planning to use this assuming Parliament approves it to clear the protesters that still remain at other border crossings and in Ottawa, they’ve been there for weeks now. It’s a huge story.

Kai Ryssdal: Oh, huge story longest undefended border in the world 1.4 ish billion dollars as US dollars, not Canadian dollars $1.4 billion of trade crosses that border every single day. As Sam said, some huge portion of it across the Ambassador Bridge. This is this is a don’t mess around story at all. I mean, car plants in the United States having to shut down because of this. Do not sleep on this story.

Samantha Fields: Yeah, hundreds of millions in losses for the car plants in the auto industry in the US. And in Canada, of course, you know, it’s going back and forth. It goes both ways. And I saw you were saying the over one over a billion dollars a day, they were saying something like 360 million in cargo just on that one bridge, which you know, all of this is just so incredible to me.

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, totally. Totally. All right, what else you got?

Samantha Fields: You know, the other thing I know, you guys have talked on the show about all the quarantining, of course, that athletes going to the Olympics in Beijing have had to do for weeks to go to not get sick. But you know, I was reading an article about the workers, the 50,000, the more than 50,000 Chinese workers who are working the Olympics, doing all sorts of jobs, and they had to arrive an early January, and they’re going to be there, you know, for another week or two after the Olympics ends. This is weeks away from their families from their other work in this COVID bubble. And I just found that kind of extraordinary to think about too.

Kai Ryssdal:  It is amazing. Let me commend everybody’s attention to story that Jennifer Pak our correspondent in Shanghai did about getting back into China from going to see her parents in Canada for the first time in two years, she did a lovely little piece on Marketplace about a week ago. And that honestly the nightmare that it was and that’s what folks over there are dealing with every single day. It’s man, we’re watching it on TV, but the behind the scenes story is kind of wild.

Samantha Fields: Yeah, following Jennifer’s Instagram stories about quarantining each way. It was incredible. Yeah. It was all of her stuff just soaked in, in disinfectant, all the the PCR tests everyday, I read something in that same piece that I was reading from the AP, that will link for you guys, of course, but there have been more than 1.3 million COVID tests administered during the Olympics so far. So kind of wild. I think like just over 400 positive, so.

Kai Ryssdal: That’s a lot of nose swabs. That’s a lot of nose swabs.

Samantha Fields: Yes, it is.

Kai Ryssdal: Right, you got one, you got one more? OR we’re gonna we’re gonna turn the page?

Samantha Fields: I got one more. And that is, you know, I read a really interesting story in the Boston Globe, my hometown paper over the weekend about states trying to get people to repay unemployment benefits that they got in 2020 and 2021. I did a lot of reporting on this sort of over a year ago about how a lot of people, surprising numbers of people were getting notices from the state months after they had gotten unemployment benefits saying, whoops, we made a mistake, you have to pay it all back, in some cases, you know, 10, or $20,000, with the benefits that people had spent, in many cases, most cases on rent, on gas on food on, you know, on all sorts of essentials, and then being told, either we made a mistake, or you made a mistake, and we sent these benefits out, and now you owe them back. And this is still happening. There are still lots of people who have appealed these decisions are getting no answers, and are still potentially on the hook for thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits.

Kai Ryssdal:  Yeah, they’re gonna have to, like chase people down and get this back. Right. I mean, I don’t understand…

Samantha Fields: Well, and states have the ability to claw back and that means literally take it out of their tax refunds or other or other, you know, kinds of ways. So.

Kai Ryssdal: But you can see the headlines, right? There’s gonna be one article in the Washington Post about some 94 year old grandmother or well, maybe not, because she’s not working, but you know, some 62 year old woman with four kids who’s having your unemployment clawed back, and it’s all gonna be over with, you know. I think.

Samantha Fields: It hasn’t been though there have been those stories and they’re still doing it. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen with all these people. Yeah.

Kai Ryssdal: All right. I got a couple. One of which is this the story of this ice skater, the Russian ice skater in the Olympics, 15 year old girl named Kamila Valieva, who, at Christmas time ish, tested positive for a banned substance. It only came out about four or five days ago. In other words, while she was at the Olympics, they got, they medalled in the team competition the Russians did. And now the ruling has come down today that an arbitration panel has said she gets to keep competing. But if she and the Russians win, there’s not going to be a medal ceremony until everything is resolved. And that of course, is going to take months. And this just seems to me to be a horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible, horrible administrative nightmare. I mean, first of all, she’s 15 right. So she’s a minor she’s not in theory responsible for her actions. You know, adult Russian doctors said “Here, take this,” and she said, “Okay, fine.” But on the other hand, it’s I heard  Tom Goldman this morning on Morning Edition, it’s  the fourth Olympics in a row in which Russian athletes have been involved in a doping scandal. And with not much more than a slap on the wrist. And, and look, nobody wants to make an example of a 15-year-old girl who is doing literally what she’s trained her whole life to do. But holy cow, there’s got to be a better way. There’s got to be a better way.

Samantha Fields:  And there’s of course, always issues like this at the Olympics or often but I have never heard of anything like this with an athlete being allowed to compete.

Kai Ryssdal: Right, right.

Samantha Fields: I mean, I don’t know maybe the precedent but I haven’t. I can’t think of it. Yeah, totally. I was just gonna say it’s a tweet from from the American runner Sha’Carri Richardson saying, you know, she tested positive for marijuana wasn’t allowed to compete in Tokyo. And here we are…

Kai Ryssdal: Yeah, her tweet actually said, let’s, um, this is pretty close to a quote. She said, “the difference is in the skin.”

Samantha Fields: Yep. Yeah. She said, “I’m a Black woman.”

Kai Ryssdal: And Valievea obviously a white woman. So yeah, it’s it’s a mess in a very big way. Alright, quick update on a story. I chimed in on about a week, 10 days ago, I think it was Marielle about this, what everybody thought was a SpaceX rocket that was gonna crash into the moon on March the fourth, it turns out, it’s not actually SpaceX rocket. So let’s all get off Elon Musk’s back about this. Let’s, you know, keep pounding on him for all bunch of other things. But about this one, it’s not him. It’s a Chinese rocket. That, probably, that everybody lost track of and is now going to smash into the moon at like 9000 miles an hour on the fourth of March and I just want to correct the record. It’s not Elon, it’s the Chinese. Crazy story.

Samantha Fields: There is so much space garbage. It’s incredible.

Kai Ryssdal: So much space garbage. So, so much.

Samantha Fields: I want to know how they figured out or how they think they figured out that it was a Chinese rocket.

Kai Ryssdal: Well, the whole orbital mechanics thing is super cool. I don’t have the actual intellectual power to you know, explain it. But it’s really cool. That whole thing, but um, I’m a big space geek, so that’s neither here nor there. Alright, Drew, hit it. Alright, we’re gonna do a little Make Me Smiles on Mondays. They come from all y’all. And this one, also, Olympic-themed. And it’s, it’s a great story comes from Marque Green one of our great producers. And it’s about a speed skater six years ago, Erin Jackson’s her name. She was an inline skater, you know, with like wheels on dry land and stuff. And I saw this video actually last night on  NBC the first time she stepped on the ice on speed skates. And it was like a little kid getting on ice skates for the first time, she could barely go anywhere. Now, this was yesterday’s news, but it’s really cool. She is the – she won a gold medal in the 500 meters By like four one thousandth of a second. She was the first Black woman to win a speed skating medal at the Winter Olympics. And it was super cool to see and and if that doesn’t make you smile, nothing should because this is a cool moment in athletics and in the Olympics.

Samantha Fields: So cool. Looking back at that video of her getting on skates, for the first time on ice skates for the first time and thinking that you want a gold medal is is unbelievable to me. Yeah, so congratulations to Erin.

Kai Ryssdal: Yep, totally.

Samantha Fields: And our next makes me Make Me Smile comes from a listener who left us this voice message.

Becca: Hi, this is Becca from Norwalk, Connecticut. I have a Make Me Smile for you, which is that today, Wednesday, February 9, it brought me so much joy to hear an amazing episode of marketplace hosted by Rhema featuring reporting from Samantha, Lily, Danielle, Andy, some other people I’ve missed. And then to follow it up with a Make Me Smart hosted by Marielle and Meghan on a day when I really really really really really needed some woman empowerment. So thank you so much for that. Also, can we make hashtag Working Woman Wednesday’s a thing across all the Make Me Smart shows? I think we should. Thanks for all you do.

Samantha Fields: Thank you, Becca. So incredible to hear. Thank you for listening.

Kai Ryssdal: I should be out more often. That’s all I’m saying.

Samantha Fields: I don’t think that’s what anybody is saying, Kai.

Kai Ryssdal: We get everybody on. There are plenty of awesome women at marketplace and I’m so glad every time I turn on the radio – I didn’t use the actually as a true story. I didn’t use the listen when I wasn’t hosting the show because I don’t know I was insecure or something. But now I do and there’s I mean Rhema is awesome, Amy’s great, Kimberly is good to hear and it’s so cool to hear all these women at Marketplace. It’s really great.

Samantha Fields: Yeah, we do have a pretty incredible crew. Honored to be a part of it.

Kai Ryssdal: Alright, so That is it for us today, myself and Miss Fields. Kimberley’s back tomorrow doing a deep dive. We’re talking geoengineering which there are thoughts and hopes and prayers that that is a way out of the climate crisis. And then there are some who say “no, that’s ridiculous. Why are you tinkering with the machinery of the universe” basically. So we’ll see how we’re feeling by the end of the episode. I frankly am curious to hear what our chosen expert has to say.

Samantha Fields: Me too, and if you have a question you want answered for what do you want to know Wednesday you can email a note or a voice memo to makemesmart@marketplace.org Or you can call and leave a voice message 508-UB-SMART. And that’s the letters “u” and “b.”

Kai Ryssdal: That’s actually a good thing to point out I’m not sure we ever did point out to people. We got people doing Y-O-U B-E S-M-A-R-T. Too many numbers. Make Me Smart which is this podcast you’re listening to is produced by Marissa Cabrera, help this week and always Marque Green. Drew Jostad was in charge down in the studios DPLA.

Samantha Fields: Our senior producer is Bridget Bodnar and the director of On Demand is Donna Tam.

Kai Ryssdal:  Boom done. Monday in the can. Monday in the can.

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The team

Marissa Cabrera Producer
Bridget Bodnar Senior producer
Tony Wagner Digital Producer
Marque Greene Associate Producer