North America

Mexico (Political)

An explosion has rocked the headquarters of Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico’s state-owned oil company, killing at least 25 people and injuring over 101 others. As of February 1st, the cause of the explosion is still unknown, and early indications seem to point to negligence rather than a terrorist attack. There are several unconfirmed reports that employees were evacuated before the explosion owing to a problem with the building’s electrical system.

If negligence is confirmed to be the cause, the February 1st explosion could come to weigh heavily on the future of Pemex. The company has developed somewhat of a reputation for being bloated, inefficient, and corrupt in the eyes of many Mexicans, largely due to a seemingly never-ending string of high profile pipeline and refinery accidents. This negative image, along with a steadily decreasing oil production output, led Mexican President Enrique Nieto to announce last December that he intends to privatize parts of the Mexican energy industry. The HQ explosion could very well provide a new impetus to the process.

Canada (Military)

Canada has contributed a small contingent to the ongoing French-led military operation in Mali. The Canadian contribution comes in the form of a C-17 Globemaster III and 40 troops to support the transport plane’s operations. This announcement comes on the heels of a CBC report claiming that Canadian special forces have been deployed in Mali to protect the Canadian embassy in Bamako.

United States (Economic)

Surprising economic data out of the United States has indicated that the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 0.1 percent in the last three months of 2012. The shock contraction exposed a U.S. recovery that is extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in government spending; even with an “unlimited” Federal Reserve QE program in full swing. Declining European economic fortunes has been cited as another factor dragging on U.S. exports.