A regular, no-lead feature

[a weekly note from Facebook, now here:]

So I’ve followed the price of crude oil since before Rita and Katrina sent things reeling what is now more than a few years ago. I’ve seen all sorts of stupidity in the reporting, but this is the one I’m most amazed by, more amazing than the two weeks where the same reasons the price went up were the exact same reasons the price went down.

I have Yahoo Biz in the bookmark toolbar on Firefox (and if you’re not on Firefox, or on browser not from Microsuck, what is wrong with you???) and I check it every business day, two to three times. On Tuesday, the coverage begins to amp up for the Energy Department’s release of stockpile information, usually late Wednesday morning. Without fail, the genii at the Associated Propagandists, er, Press business section, cite Platts for an estimate of what the report will be. Platts, a self-professed “leading global provider of energy and metals information” and a subsidiary of McGraw-Hill (yes, the textbook people) has been, without fail, wrong. And not just wrong, obscenely wrong.

For five weeks in a row now, Platts has royally screwed up the estimate. Today, from the AP’s Madlen Read’s 11.13 AM report: “The Energy Information Administration, an arm of the U.S. Energy Department, said the nation’s crude inventories rose by a hefty 9.4 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 15. That figure was much higher than the average analyst forecast for a 1.7 million-barrel increase, according to energy information provider Platts.”

1.7 goes into 9.4 over five times. That means that Platts was off by roughly 550%! Last week, when I got so fed up with the absurdity of estimating the guvment’s report that I e-mailed the AP and ripped them for using bad information on a weekly basis, they were off by about 300%.

So the folks with the Associated Propagandists seem to be in on the fix. They seem to have a vested interest in using bad information to spread unwarranted panic through estimate information that is routinely inaccurate in a way that makes weatherpeople look like the precogs in Minority Report.

Stay tuned every Wednesday for the latest findings.


3 September: Nary a word from the AP about Platts or estimates, only the Energy Dept.’s actual findings. I’m not going to be so presumptuous as to say that one man took on the Associated Press and won via the power of the interweb, but I’m just saying that four weeks after a certain writer contacted the AP and three weeks after said writer started keeping published track of the mistakes, and lo!, was there no word of the incompetent ones at Platts to be found.

And oil continues its nosedive. Now the prices need to follow suit. Better time than ever for the elected moronity in Madison to repeal or suspend the minimum markup law.


Well, Platts took Labor Day off, it seems.

As reported by the Associated Propagandists today:

Platts estimate: gas supplies down -1.8M barrels

Energy Dept: gas supplies down -1M barrels

Platts off by 40%

Feel confident about McGraw Hill’s textbooks yet? If Platts is this crazy, what do you think they’re passing in print?


24 September:

Platts: +1.5M barrels

Energy dept: -1.6M

Platts off by 200% the complete wrong way.


1 October:

Platts: + OR – 1.5M barrels of crude stocks

Energy dept: + 4.3M barrels

With a THREE-MILLION BARREL SPREAD, the brain trust at Platts still managed to get it wrong anywhere from nearly 200-400%.

Gas stocks:

Platts: – 1-3M barrels

Energy dept: + 900K barrels

With a TWO-MILLION BARREL SPREAD, Platts again misses from almost 200 to 400%, while also going the wrong way.

Next week, expect the analysts to finally get it right with a spread from +30M to -20M. They may as well, since they can’t seem to hit water falling out of the boat.


Last week’s hijinks out of the way, Platts managed to blow it yet again…

Crude stocks:

Platts est.: – 1M barrels

Energy dept: + 8.1M

Margin of error: Off the wrong way by 900%

Gas stocks:

Platts: + 2M barrels

Energy dept: + 7.2M

Margin of error: about 300% off

And, added to the fray this week, distillates:

Platts: + 1M barrels

Energy dept: – 500K

Margin: Off the wrong way, 150%

Platts surveys analysts in the market to come up with their wild prognostications. Should you trust the markets when these clowns are overseeing the supplies? Probably about as much as trusting Washington with the bailout.



Platts took yesterday off (due to Columbus Day), but they’re back for another week of wild guesses…

Platts Oil: +3.1M

Energy dept: +5.6M

Platts Gas: +3.5M (approx., according to the Associated Propagandists)

Energy Dept: +7M (ditto)

So they missed each estimate by about double. New week, same misses.


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