The latest in this story:
- Saudi oil officials says reports about attack on pipeline are untrue- Dow Jones
So someone is lying. And now we can go back to assuming that Saudi Arabia has limitless excess supplies of crude.
Among the many factors responsible for the jump in WTI to just shy of $109 over the past hour, and Brent to new records in various currencies, is the following news reported so far only by Iranian PressTV: "An explosion has hit oil pipelines in the flashpoint Saudi Arabian city of Awamiyah in the kingdom’s oil-rich Eastern Province." And now back to your regularly scheduled deflation.
Back in September, before the transition from then ECB head J.C. Trichet to current Goldman plant and uber printer Mario Draghi we asked whether "Trichet will disgrace his already discredited central banker career by pushing a rate cut before he is swept out of the corner office by Mario Draghi, or will the former Goldmanite Italian become the most hated man in Germany soon, after he proceeds to ease, even as Germany still experiences Chinese inflationary re-exports. The answer will be all too clear in just a few months." Sure enough, following a whopping €1 trillion in incremental liquidity released by the ECB in the three shorts months since Draghi's ascension on November 1, all under the guise that the ECB is not printing when it most certainly is, albeit "hidden" by the idiotic claim that it accepts collateral for said printing (what collateral - Italian and Spanish bonds, which will become worthless the second even more printing is required in a few short months? This is run time collateral that can be issued "just in time" to convert it to even more cash as UniCredit did again today), the answer is becoming clear. Slowly but surely the realization is dawning on Germany that while it was sleeping, perfectly confused by lies spoken in a soothing Italian accent that the ECB will not print, not only did Draghi reflate the ECB's balance sheet by an unprecedented amount in a very short time, in the process not only sending Brent in Euros to all time highs (wink, wink, inflation, as today's European CPI confirmed coming in at 2.7% or higher than estimated) but also putting the BUBA in jeopardy with nearly half a trillion in Eurosystem"receivables" which it will most likely never collect.
Silver as ever outperformed gold yesterday and traders attributed the surge to “massive fund buying” and to “panic” short covering. Some of the bullion banks with large concentrated short positions covered short positions after the technical level of $35.50/oz was breached easily. Massive liquidity injections and ultra loose monetary policies make silver increasingly attractive for hedge funds, institutions and investors. This time last year (February 28th 2011) silver was at $36.67/oz. Two months later on April 28th it had risen to $48.44/oz for a gain of 32% in 2 months. There then came a very sharp correction and a period of consolidation in recent months. Silver’s fundamentals remain as bullish as ever and the technicals look increasingly bullish with strong gains seen in January and February.
"It Ain't Over Till It's Over": Empirical Observations On Who The Next Occupant Of The White House May Be And WhySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2012 22:44 -0400
It is appropriate that as a post-mortem to tonight's GOP primary, which according to initial reports has Romney as winning both Michigan and Arizona, we have ConvergEx' Nick Colas providing an extensive summary of the factors in favor and against both the presidential incumbent, and the challenger, and in doing so handicap the possibility of election victory for either Obama or the Republican candidate, whoever he may end up being. As Colas says, 'it ain't over till it's over' - "As the battle for the 2012 Presidential election begins to pick up speed, we read a flood of reports that President Obama is a lock for reelection. And just as many that he is destined to be a one-termer. Those who believe that the winner of the 2012 election will be Republican claim that the keys to Obama’s downfall will be unemployment, skyrocketing oil prices, and increased federal spending. However, according to historical data and some political science theory, it looks like Obama has a pretty good chance of staying in the White House.... The GOP isn’t out of the race yet, but it’s up against some strong historical opposition." And while we would agree that all else equal Obama likely is a shoo-in, never before will there have been a full blown debt ceiling crisis in a repeat of August 2011 in the weeks and months leading into the election - that factor alone, in our humble opinion, could end up being the swing variable that pulls the otherwise ironclad victory away from Obama's clutch, and explains why the GOP caved so quickly on the payroll tax extension which will add $100 billion in debt, and force a debt ceiling breach ahead of November, as was first predicted on Zero Hedge. That, of course, and runaway oil: should crude continue its relentless surge, which it will if QE3 occurs, or an invasion or Iran becomes reality, Obama can kiss another 4 years goodbye.
Although U.S. demand for crude oil has fallen by 1.5 million barrels per day since 2007, anyone spending more than a few minutes on the road, watching TV, or surfing the internet will be more than unpleasantly aware of the rapid rise in gas prices recently. As we noted earlier, following January's record high average gas price, February just surpassed its own record and TrimTabs quantifies the impact of this implicit tax on consumption, noting three key factors that will remain supportive of high oil prices: Central Bank liquidity provision (ZIRP), political tensions, and implicit USD devaluation. Critically, around 70% of the benefits of the payroll tax extension has already been removed thanks to 60-80c rise in gas prices nationwide whose growth has far outstripped wage and salary growth in recent years. As Madeline Schnapp points out, while the latest round of oil speculation is likely to end with a pop, the erosion of purchasing power from high energy prices is here to stay. Bottom Line: Rapidly Rising Fuel Prices Put Sluggish Economic Growth at Risk.
Last week we joked that for every downtick in the Obama popularity rating (due to record February gas prices) we would see at least 1 million barrels released from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Sure enough, humor promptly becomes reality in United Banana States of Amerika:
- CHU SAYS U.S. WEIGHS USING STRATEGIC PETROLEUM RESERVE
- CHU SAYS U.S. IS `VERY CONCERNED' ABOUT EVENTS IN IRAN
So following the Transcanada fiasco, China is now doubly delighted that it will be able to buy even more cheap crude at America's expense. And yet one wonders why the SPR release: after all didn't we learn just today that Americans have not been more confident in years?
Much has been spun in recent weeks to indicate that as a result of collapsing trade, Iran's economy is in shambles and that the financial embargo hoisted upon the country by the insolvent, pardon, developed world is working. We had a totally different perspective on things "A Very Different Take On The "Iran Barters Gold For Food" Story" in which we essentially said that Iran, with the complicity of major trading partners like China, India and Russia is preparing to phase out the petrodollar: a move which would be impossible if key bilateral trade partners would not agree to it. Gradually it appears this is increasingly the case following a just released Reuters report that "Iran will take payment from its trading partners in gold instead of dollars, the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted the central bank governor as saying on Tuesday."
It had been a quiet week in terms of geopolitical developments out of Middle East. Too quiet, well aside for that whole US escalating once again bit, and forcing Iran to eventually go over the edge. And while the role of the US and Iran has been extensively digested in the past few weeks, it is Iran that has remained in the shadows recently. No longer: as Al Arabiya reports, "Israeli officials say they won’t warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered the message to a series of top-level U.S. visitors to the country, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House national security adviser and the director of national intelligence, and top U.S. lawmakers, all trying to close the trust gap between Israel and the U.S. over how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions, according to The Associated Press." Needless to say, the thoroughly effete and comical US foreign policy has no response to follow up queries: "The White House did not respond to requests for comment, and the Pentagon and Office of Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, as did the Israeli Embassy." And while there may be no comments here, look for more warnings about Israeli citizens being targetted by deranged Iranian around the world. Because when all else fails, fearmonger. Next up: the Status Quo will be telling the world how not attacking Iran would be tantamount to global destruction. The only trade off - will the spike in crude to $150 outdo the surge in Obama's popularity rating as the Nobel Peace Prize winner puts his name in the hat for a nomination in the Nobel War Prize category as well.
There no longer are any words left to explain what is going on in this centrally planned market (technically "enantiomeric" may be a word, but nobody would get it). It is sheer and utter bipolar insanity, when the S&P can hit multi-year highs even as the 10 year drops below 1.90%, something which in the pre-New Normal would be completely impossible. We wish luck to anyone "trading" a market (read trading alongside Central Bank X, with momentum escalated courtesy of Algo Y, regulated by the SEC no less) which is now pricing in extreme deflation and inflation at the same time, or, simply said, much more QE from the Chairman, record EUR Brent be damned. Oh, and with crude (in USD) back on track to surpass $110, we can't wait for the Department of Truth to tell us how February consumer confidence is literally off the charts.
The economic data keeps coming fast and furious, with Consumer Confidence just printing at a blistering 70.3 on expectations of 63.0, up from 61.5? Why? Because crude is approaching records and gas is $5? No - because the market is up of course on trillions in liquidity. So confidence is up because the market is higher, and the second the higher than expected confidence number prints, the market is higher on that alone. Catch 22 FTW, and it is not alone - every other confidence-based indicator in the past 3 months has beat! Because human beings, indoctrinated to only care about nominal gains, really are that dumb - something well known and appreciated by the central bankers. In other news, we joked before it printed that the Richmond Fed would come several standard deviations above the consensus. Sure enough, the actual print came at 20, naturally far higher than the average estimate of 14, and in fact above the highest estimate of 17. The good news: silver has just hit a 30% YTD return.
Stocks advanced as market participants looked forward to tomorrow’s 3yr LTRO by the ECB where the street expects EU banks to borrow around EUR 400-500bln. All ten sectors traded in positive territory for much of the session, however less than impressive demand for the latest Italian government paper saw equity indices lose some of the upside traction. Of note, the ECB allotted EUR 29.469bln in 7-day operation, as well as EUR 134bln for 1-day in bridge to 3yr loans. In other new, although Portugal's finance minister announced the country has passed its 3rd bailout review by the EU/IMF, this did not stop S&P's Kraemer saying that if there is a probability of default, it is higher in Portugal than in any other Euro-Zone country.
Chatham House: Gold Standard Impractical But Gold Hedge Against Declining Values of Key Fiat CurrenciesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/28/2012 08:35 -0400
While the gold standard may no longer exist, nations and international organizations still have 30,877 metric tons of bullion reserves, valued at about $1.77 trillion. The dollar has been the world’s reserve currency since the U.S. and allies agreed at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference to peg it to a rate of $35 per ounce of gold. It remained the most- traded legal tender after global currencies began freely floating in the early 1970s. The greenback dropped 12 percent against a basket of six major currencies since March 2009. The U.K. suspended the gold standard in 1931, Chatham House said. “Greater discipline on financial markets might have been helpful in inhibiting the reckless banking and excessive debt accumulation of the past decade,” the task force said. “However, with the onset of the global crisis, had gold had a more formal role to play, the rigidity it imposes might also have been a handicap when a more flexible policy response was required.” “For gold to play a more formal role in the international monetary system, it would be imperative for it neither to hamper the system’s performance nor to create unacceptable constraints on national economic policies,” the task force said. Gold may “continue playing a significant role in the international monetary system, serving as a valuable hedge and safe haven, particularly in times when tail risks predominate.”