National Premium


So… in downtown Baltimore there has been the billboard you see on the left featuring the hometown mascot Mr. Boh, of National Bohemian Beer fame and the girl from the Utz Potato Chip bags… I never understood why this sign was so popular considering that Utz Potato Chips are made in Hanover Pennsylvania and are a sponsor for the New York Yankees, which I’m amazed hasn’t been considered blasphemous in this neck of Orioles country.  And I always wondered what the hell Mr. Boh saw in the Utz Girl, she’s looks like she could be his damn sister for crying out loud!  But I digress…

It was news around town that this long-standing billboard was going to be removed in the near future and I got thinking of what should replace the sign…  so I immediately thought that this might the perfect opportunity for National Premium Beer, a one-time popular local beer that has recently re-launched by a committed guy right here in Maryland, to smack National Bohemian and Mr. Boh, now brewed in California of all places, right in his big fat moustachioed face! 

The smooth monocled dude you see in bed with the Utz Girl is Mr. Pils the original mascot of National Premium back in the day.  His cheeky reappearance and the “bitch slap” it would provide to National Bohemian would be completely badass!

National Premium Returns

Back in the days of yesteryear (1936) there was a beer brewed in ~Baltimore~ named National Premium.  Similar name to National Bohemian, and probably similar taste for that matter.  By the 70s the brewery had merged with other breweries, and by 1996 was discontinued.

Then, in 2011, a rich man had a dream.  Not content with the average rich white dude dream of owning his own bar, Tim Miller (real estate agent and fairly attractive dude) decided to revive the National Premium brand and begin producing the beer again in Baltimore.

Tim began his quest by buying the brand back from Strohs (I assume, don’t expect too much investigative journalism from me) and then coaxing the recipe out of a retired brewer (I assume he bribed him with free beer) and then yadda yadda yadda a year later the beer is back on the market.

Should we care?  Maybe?  The beer has been available for the past few weeks, but should be in lots of liquor stores starting this week.  Not sure how much it costs, via I haven’t seen it for sale yet, but I’m hoping it will compete with National Bohemian.  National Premium, unlike Boh, is actually being brewed in Baltimore.  If Premium is priced at the “slightly above Keystone Light and Natty Light” level then it could possibly edge out Boh in some markets (hipsters).  But who knows.

I don’t even know what it tastes like yet, expect posts on this subject in the future.

Cada vez, faltan menos días para que XS este llenando de energía a toda Colombia.

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California's Gas Price Premium Has Never Been Higher, Here's Why

California’s gasoline price premium to the rest of the nation is the highest on record, according to Bloomberg data. This, as OilPrice’s Andy Tully notes, is in large part because an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Torrance has been out of commission since an explosion there in February, and the state’s environmental regulations are hampering the company’s efforts to quickly get it back to full production. This situation is not expected to improve by year-end.

The refinery is now operating at under 20 percent of its potential, mostly because the explosion damaged its two pollution control units, according to Mohsen Nazemi, the deputy executive officer for engineering and compliance of California’s Sourth Coast Air Quality Management District.

ExxonMobil has sought permission to use a previous model of the unit until the newer version can be installed, but was denied because the older unit emits between two and six times more greenhouse gases than the newer model, which would violate state regulations. To use the older equipment, he said, the company would need to show the state that it can contain offset these increased emissions.

In the meantime, ExxonMobil is working to repair the newer pollution control units by replacing about 1,300 plates that trap the emissions, which are made of a fine dust. “That’s not going to happen next week or next month,” Nazemi told the Los Angeles Times. “You’re probably looking at the end of the year.”

This means only higher gasoline prices for Southern Californians at a time when motorists in much of the rest of the United States are benefiting from bargains at the pump due to the plunge in the average global price of oil during the past year.

At one point last week, drivers in Los Angeles County were paying an average of $4.24 per gallon for regular gasoline, an increase of 69 cents from the previous week and 57 more than the average price in June. The same is true in neighboring San Bernardino County, with regular gasoline selling for an average of 63 cents more than the previous week and 51 percent over June’s average.

And these are just average prices. Several service stations in the city of Los Angeles were selling regular gas at $4.99 per gallon, and one had a cost of $5.29 per gallon.

The highest costs are in Southern California, while the northern part of the state is suffering much less, according to Allison Mac, an analyst with the fuel-tracking website “[Northern California] prices have gone up maybe 15 to 20 cents a gallon,” she told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “but [in Southern California] we’ve gone up over 60 cents at the same time.”

ExxonMobil’s Torrance refinery isn’t the only reason for the higher gasoline prices, according to Marie Montgomery of the Automobile Club of Southern California. A refinery in Carson California outside Los Angeles owned by the Tesoro Corp. of San Antonio, Texas, also is offline for annual maintenance, she said.

And then there’s the pipeline breach in Santa Barbara County on May 19 that interrupted the flow of ExxonMobil oil to refineries in Southern California, amounting to 150,000 barrels of crude per day. ExxonMobil filed an emergency application to have trucks move the oil until the pipeline is repaired, but the request was denied on the grounds that the situation wasn’t an emergency.

This led ExxonMobil to shut down production at three offshore oil platforms until the flow can resume.

via Zero Hedge
Cost of insurance forcing many in Detroit to 'drive dirty'

Like most Americans, the drivers of Detroit are required to carry auto insurance whenever they get behind the wheel, but many law-abiding residents can’t afford the Motor City’s highest-in-the-nation auto premiums, which top $5,000 a year in some neighborhoods.

Cost of insurance forcing many in Detroit to 'drive dirty'

DETROIT (AP) – Like most Americans, the drivers of Detroit are required to carry auto insurance whenever they get behind the wheel, but many law-abiding residents can’t afford the Motor City’s highest-in-the-nation auto premiums, which top $5,000 a year in some neighborhoods….

from AP Top U.S. News At 2:25 p.m. EDT

Episode 209: Mission: Impossible Retrospective


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BofA Dares on South African Bonds Trusting Nene as Peers Dissent

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is out on a limb with its call to buy South African dollar bonds.

South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has shown resolve to get his fiscal house in order, averting the threat of a credit downgrade, BofA economist Vadim Khramov said in a note this month recommending an overweight position in the nation’s external debt. Investors including Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, Investec Asset Management Ltd. and Acadian Asset Management LLC. aren’t convinced.

Dollar bonds of Africa’s most-industrialized economy have returned 1.2 percent this year, beating the 1 percent average for emerging-market nations. The premium investors demand to hold South Africa’s foreign-currency debt rather than U.S. Treasuries fell 28 basis points from a 13-month high in March, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. indexes.

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“South Africa remains the most attractive credit” among emerging-market peers in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Khramov said by phone from London on July 13. “We expect the government’s fiscal stance to improve, and we consider rating downgrades unlikely this year.”

‘Better Places’

Nene has committed to keeping public spending under control, with the budget deficit forecast to drop to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product by the year ending March 2018 from 3.5 percent, even with economic growth stifled by power cuts and a slump in commodity prices. Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s affirmed the investment-level sovereign rating last month, citing fiscal plans, while Moody’s Investors Service has said there is little chance of a downgrade that could prompt some investors to sell the nation’s debt.

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While Nene’s fiscal-consolidation goals are clear and positive, “implementation is always key,” especially in a low-growth economy such as South Africa, said Edwin Gutierrez, the London-based head of emerging market sovereign debt at Aberdeen, which is underweight South Africa and favors Russian and Turkish debt.

“There are better places with better risk-return both in the region and outside of the region,” Gutierrez said by phone on July 13. “You do get higher nominal GDP growth in Turkey and Russia, so that’s helped the debt dynamics to improve.”

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Yields on South Africa’s $2 billion of 5.875 percent notes due September 2025 have dropped 23 basis points from a five-month high on June 10. The yield was little changed at 4.5 percent by 6:55 a.m. in London on Friday, compared with 4.69 percent for similar-maturity Turkish debt and 5.03 percent for Russian securities.

Power Cuts

South Africa’s state-owned electricity company, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., has imposed rolling power cuts almost every second day this year, hampering mining and manufacturing output at a time when anemic global growth is damping demand for the nation’s exports and the prospect of a Federal Reserve rate increase this year is drawing capital away from developing nations. Economic growth is forecast to quicken in 2015 to 2 percent from last year’s 1.5 percent, which was the slowest pace since the 2009 recession.

“South Africa’s got fundamental weaknesses in the form of deteriorating budget and fiscal conditions, the Eskom problem, deterioration in the current account that has not responded to the currency devaluation, and I would even add broader concerns about deteriorating governance in the country,” Bryan Carter, a portfolio manager at Boston-based Acadian, said by phone. “That combination of factors makes South Africa look worse than the average emerging market.”

The rand has lost 6.5 percent against the dollar this year. It gained 0.4 percent to 12.3702 per dollar as of 40:30 p.m. in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“South Africa may avoid downgrades over the short term but the trajectory is not encouraging,” said Werner Gey van Pittius, the London-Based co-head of emerging-market debt at Investec. “We are underweight across our portfolios in South African dollar debt.”

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