Last week, after the unanimous passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 in Congress we wrote that "World Awaits Russian Response As Obama Makes "Lethal Aid" To Ukraine Legal." We didn't have long to wait: one short hour ago, Putin adopted an updated version of its military doctrine, which "reflects the emergence of new threats against its national security" and which names both the NATO military buildup on Russia's borders, as well as the US and the destabilized situation in some regions (read Ukraine) as the main foreign threats to Russian security. The doctrine update also, for the first time, put protection of Russian national interest in the Arctic (read oil and nat gas) among the key priorities for Russia's armed forces. In other words, Putin is not only not backing down, but has once again explicitly warned NATO that any western action, either in Ukraine or elsewhere, will have a proportional response.
Just a week ago we detailed how China was preparing to bailout Russia's liquidity crisis via the 150 billion yuan swap line the two nations agreed in October. Today, as Bloomberg reports, we got confirmation as two Chinese ministers offered support for Russia. China will provide help if needed and is confident Russia can overcome its economic difficulties, Foreign Minister Wang Yi was cited as saying; and Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said expanding a currency swap between the two nations and making increased use of yuan for bilateral trade would have the greatest impact in aiding Russia. The Global Times (mouthpiece for the Comunist Party) wrote in an editorial this weekend, "Russia is an irreplaceable strategic partner on the international stage." Isolated?
"Most investors go about their job trying to identify ‘winners’. But more often than not, investing is about avoiding losers. Like successful gamblers at the racing track, an investor’s starting point should be to eliminate the assets that do not stand a chance, and then spread the rest of one’s capital amongst the remainder." So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.
Thanks to the massive surge of speculative trading account openings, Chinese stocks are up 28% in the last month and a stunning 52% since China unleashed 'QE-Lite'. This has sent the total market capitalization of China's stocks soaring relative to the rest of the BRICS. In fact, Chinese stocks are now worth 55% more than Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa combined... the most ever.
The oil price drop is a big problem - not just for Russia, or for the other over-levered emerging market currencies that stand to be traumatized by a rising dollar, but ultimately even for the US itself
Earlier this evening China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange's (SAFE) Wang Yungui noted "the impact of the Russian Ruble depreciation was unclear yet, and, as Bloomberg reported, "SAFE is closely watching Ruble's depreciation and encouraging companies to hedge Ruble risks." His comments also echoed the ongoing FX reform agenda aimed at increasing Yuan flexibility which The South China Morning Post then hinted in a story entitled "Russia may seek China help to deal with crisis," which which noted that Russia could fall back on its 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) currency swap agreement with China if the ruble continues to plunge, that was signed in October. Furthermore, two bankers close to the PBOC reportedly said the swap-line was meant to reduce the role of the US dollar if China and Russia need to help each other overcome a liquidity squeeze. Is 'isolated' Russia about to be bailed out by the world's largest economy China?
This is it, folks; this is the endgame right in front of our faces. The year of 2014 is the new 2007, with all the negative potential but 100 times more explosive going into 2015. Our nation has wallowed in slowly degrading financial conditions for years, hidden by fake economic statistics and manipulated stock prices. All of it has been a prelude to a much more frenetic and shocking event. We expect a hailstorm of geopolitical crises over the next year to provide cover for the shift away from the dollar. Ultimately, the death of the dollar will be hailed in the mainstream as a “good and necessary thing.” They will call it “karma.” They will call it “progress.” They will even call it “decentralization” and a success for the free market. But it will not feel like a positive development for the American public, who will suffer greatly as the dollar crumbles.
The import restrictions on gold that were imposed on Indians in August of 2013 were lifted at the end of last month. Despite the fact that the restrictions were still in place gold importation in November surged an incredible 571% relative to the same month last year at over 151.58 tonnes.
"... America has followed the Soviet Union down the path of re-engineering its ideological culture... shifting towards a new socialist middle ground where centralization has woven the macro economic system tighter around a supra-sovereign statehood... They will say no one saw it coming... The sad reality is that the disorganized masses will remain ignorant to the whole process as they become consumed with television news drama that hides the structural truth behind the engineered cultural implosion of the American identity."
Oil is not quite as powerful a weapon against modern-day Russia as one might think.
Total U.S. national debt hit a new record high overnight at over $18 trillion as the Obama administration continues to pile debt onto the back of the U.S. taxpayer at a rate that would have made George W. Bush look prudent.
"Many reasonable analysts understand that there is a widening gap between the global ambitions of the US Administration and the country’s real potential. The world is changing and, as has always happened in history, at some point somebody’s influence and power reach their peak and then somebody begins to develop still faster and more effectively. One should study history and proceed from realities. The seven developing economies headed by BRICS already have a bigger GDP than the Western G7. One should proceed from the facts of life, and not from a misconceived sense of one’s own grandeur."
First Germany, then the Netherlands, perhaps Switzerland this weekend, and now the French right-wing Front National, which shockingly came first in May's European parliament elections, and whose leader Marine Le Pen is currently polling in first place in a hypothetical presidential election (in both a first and run off round), ahead of president Hollande, has sent a letter to the governor of the French Central Bank, the Banque de France, demanding that France join the list of nations which have repatriated, or at least tried to, their gold.
The topic of ‘currency war’ has been bantered about in financial circles since at least the term was first used by Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega in September 2010. Recently, the currency war has escalated, and a ‘sanctions war’ against Russia has broken out. History suggests that financial assets are highly unlikely to preserve investors’ real purchasing power in this inhospitable international environment, due in part to the associated currency crises, which will catalyse at least a partial international remonetisation of gold. Vladimir Putin, under pressure from economic sanctions, may calculate that now is the time to play his ‘gold card’.
Throughout history, in most cases of economic collapse the societies in question believed they were financially invincible just before their disastrous fall. Rarely does anyone see the edge of the cliff or even the bottom of the abyss before it has swallowed a nation whole. This lack of foresight, however, is not entirely the fault of the public. It is, rather, a consequence caused by the manipulation of the fundamental information available to the public by governments and social gatekeepers.