Oil Market Report December, 2013


For the 5th time in 3 minutes, the OFT (Office of Festive Trading) has launched an inquiry into market manipulation and this time it is looking at monopolistic toy delivery at Christmas time. Predicting the inquiry’s outcome at this early stage is tricky, although we can safely say that there will be huge speculative coverage in the media, followed by public outrage and raised expectations before the whole thing is rounded off with a declaration that “all is fine”.

Pressure for an inquiry has been mounting for several weeks, since the industrial action at the North Pole present factory in October, led by works elf Red Dwarf. Emboldened by his election as Union Convener for the RHA (Reindeer Haulage Association), RD called a strike and demanded overtime throughout the month of December and then normal time for the non-working months of January through to October. Also on the table were greater Pension rights – a huge issue for the PPF (Polar Pension Fund), where the average age of most workers is in excess of 800 years old. Not to be daunted, the brinksmanship shown by CEO Claus in relation to the strike has now gone down in folklore, as he publicly declared that should the strike continue, he would “close Christmas down forever”.

As we now know, this threat seemed to work and North Pole operations were soon back in swing, whilst Red Dwarf has since become an MP. However, the whole affair has raised questions about Lapland’s desire for independence (with so many workers involved in one industry) and it has also not stopped OFT investigators raiding the offices of Claus Inc – in an attempt to find collusion between Father Christmas and his toy suppliers in the ARA (Alaska – Russia – Arctic) region. Perhaps most significant of all is the fact that DECC (The Department of Eating Christmas Cake) have finally woken up to the fact that Britain is heavily reliant on lots of toys for girls and boys, from a source outside the UK and without any serious competition. In fact, Noël the First, General Secretary of DECC has been quoted as saying “it’s all very well declaring that we are happy to rely on the market to deliver at Christmas, but do people really understand how tenuous the supply-chain is? Yes we accept that St Nicholas has historically done a good job, but fundamentally we are talking about 1 man, 1 sleigh and 8 reindeers delivering presents to around 8m children in the UK. Plus our emergency toy stocks (CSO = Christmas Stocking Obligations) only make arrangements for 65 days of toys to be held at any one time, which basically takes you through to late February. Nothing really, particularly when you consider that most presents are broken by Boxing Day or put on E-bay by January 1st”.

The likely beneficiary of this whole brouhaha is of course Antarctica based, Krampus Claus – estranged step-brother of Santa Claus and President of the PRA (Present Retail Association). For years, Krampus has been trying to muscle in on the North Pole operation, although his tactics of replacing presents with cinders and occasionally taking off naughty children in his sack, have largely been condemned by the industry. Nonetheless, this still seems Krampus’s best chance to finally make some headway. The public has become increasingly wary of entrenched corporations, reaping the rewards of monopolistic supply positions and there can be no doubt that Santa is very much part of the “Establishment”. In fact, with his flashy robes, fat-cat corpulence and “devil may care” attitude, his behaviour is increasingly reminiscent of the banking fraternity. On a more practical level, Santa’s rival will also be more than happy to see climate change diminishing the North Pole operating area and reindeer landing strips, whilst the expanding ice-base in the South Pole will allow for significant growth by Krampus in the future.

Father Christmas himself has been unavailable for comment, a reflection perhaps of the pressure he is feeling in the run-up to what (most would agree) is a busy period. But Mrs Christmas has been much more forthcoming; “I’m in total agreement with Roy Wizzard”, she said, “who you will remember pronounced that he ‘wished it could be Christmas every day’. Well so do I, because then at least our activity would be balanced over 12 months. In fact every year, we warn our customers that December is a busy period and that to expect us to get all the deliveries out in one month is unreasonable. But do they listen? Do they Donner and Blitzen! So we end up with the crazy situation, where our assets are primed and ready for delivery all year round, but we still end up doing all our work around a few days in December. And now we have the OFT making accusations that we are taking advantage of our position in the market, when it is the Government who could solve the whole problem by spreading Christmas evenly throughout the whole year. Anyway, it’s the children I feel sorry for, because we know exactly who the people are in the OFT and there is no way that their kids are getting any presents this time around”.