President Obama’s neo-Cold War is not about ideology or respect for borders. It is about money and global power. The current battle over control of gateway nations - strategic locations in which private firms can establish the equivalent of financial boots-on-the-ground - is being waged in the Middle East and Ukraine under the auspices of freedom and western capitalism (er, “democracy”). In these global gateways, private banks can infiltrate resource-rich locales fortified by political will, public aid and military support to garner lucrative market advantages. ISIS poses a threat to global gateway control that transcends any human casualties. That’s why Congress decided to authorize funds to fight ISIS despite the risk. The common thread of today’s global gateway nations appears to be oil.
After the end of the cold war, the United States dominated world affairs for nearly twenty years. However, the situation of a unipolar world has changed since the financial crisis of 2008 to a now multipolar world that includes China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa. These powers are influencing and manipulating the conflict zones we have today to their advantage. By analysing and dissecting the issues concerning the major conflict zones on our world map, as well as illustrating the parties involved, this article will explain what political and strategic interests are at play and how the development in major hotspots shape the big picture. This will identify the geopolitical forces that affect the European continent and what future concerns and worries await us.
Positioning among "smart money" participants in the markets continues to show major divergences. While large speculators bought S&P 500 contracts at their strongest weekely pace in more than a year - shifting to a net long position - they also increased the net short Russell 2000 position to its 'most short' in five years. Large speculators also bought crude oil after eleven consecutive weeks of selling. In the rates complex, hedge funds maintained their 10Y Treasury long exposure while large speculators sold 2-Y Treasuries at the fastest weekely pace in more than three years to the biggest net short position in five years. - leaving, as BofA warns, 2Y susceptible to a squeeze pull-back. This potential squeeze extends all the way to 5Y as repo rates indicate a massive shortage into month-end.
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) has built a new crystal ball (technically a DSGE model) as part of its efforts to forecast the U.S. economy. In part 1 of a week-long series - to provide some background on the model, its use for policy analysis and forecasting, as well as its forecasting performance - they briefly discuss what DSGE models are and explain their usefulness as a forecasting tool.
What Iraq Thinks: "It Is Obvious To Everyone That ISIS Is A Creation Of The United States And Israel"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/22/2014 14:54 -0400
Ever since the stunningly rapid arrival of ISIS on the global scene, there has been speculation that this spin-off of Al-Qaeda, itself a "terrorist" organization if not created by the CIA then certainly funded by Langley courtesy of Operation Cyclone in its "freedom fighter" stage, has had the implicit or explicit backing of either the US or Israel intelligence service. Nowhere is such speculation more vocal than in the one country that has suffered the most from ISIS: Iraq, or rather what is left of the country now that it is split into southern Iraq, the Islamic State, and a Kurdish region that quietly sells crude to unknown buyers at blue light special prices. To the Iraq locals there is no mystery: “It is obvious to everyone that the Islamic State is a creation of the United States and Israel” says Omar al-Jabouri, 31, a Sunni Muslim from a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad. His view echoes what a vast number of his peers think.
While some were wondering if last night's sudden, commodity-liquidation driven selloff would last, most were not, expecting that the perfectly predictable levitation in the USDJPY around a round "tractor beam" number would provide a floor under the market .Sure enough, starting around midnight eastern, the USDJPY BTFDers emerged, oblivious to comments from former BOJ deputy governor Iwata who late last night said the obvious, and what we have been saying since January 2013, namely that a weak yen puts Japan at recession risk, and that a USDJPY in the 90-100 range reflects Japan fundamentals. And, as expected, the 109 level is where the algos have hone in today as a strange FX attractor, which also means that ES has reverse sharper overnight losses and was down just 7 points at last check even as the poundage in the commodity sector continues over rising fears of a sharp Chinese slowdown driven by its imploding housing sector (most recently observed here) without an offsetting stimulus program, following several comments by high-ranked Chinese individuals who poured cold water on any hopes of an imminent Chinese mega-QE or even modest rate cut.
Since China fired its first 'official' shot across the Petrodollar bow a year ago, there has been an increasing groundswell of de-dollarization across the world's energy trade (despite Washington's exclamations of 'isolated' non-dollar transactors). The rise of the PetroYuan has not been far from our headlines in the last year, with China increasingly leveraging its rise as an economic power and as the most important incremental market for hydrocarbon exporters, in the Persian Gulf and the former Soviet Union, to circumscribe dollar dominance in global energy - with potentially profound ramifications for America’s strategic position. And now, as AP reports, for the first time in history, China has docked a Navy Destroyer in the Southern Iranian port of Bandar-Abbas - right across the Straits of Hormuz from 'US stronghold-for-now' Bahrain and UAE.
So much for any Scottish referendum vote "surprise": the people came, they voted, and they decided to stay in the 307-year-old union by a far wider margin, some 55% to 45%, than most polls had forecast, even as 3.6 million votes, a record 85% turnout, expressed their opinion. The gloating began shortly thereafter, first and foremost by David Cameron who said "There can be no disputes, no re-runs, we have heard the settled will of the Scottish people." Queen Elizabeth II, who is at her Scottish castle in Balmoral, is expected to make a rare comment on Friday. But while a No vote was where the smart betting money was ahead of the vote anyway, and is thus hardly a surprise, the most curious thing overnight was the complete roundtrip of cable, which was bought on the rumor and then sold off on the news, roundtripping by nearly 200 pips.
Yesterday's market reaction to Yellen's commentary was curious: there was none, because when all was said and done the S&P and DJIA traded precisely where they traded just before the show began. Which, of course, was unacceptable, because one way or another the hawkish for the USD - the USDJPY just traded at the highest since 2008 - statement and conference had to be promptly interpreted for the algos as dovish for stocks - Futures are again just why of record highs - if not so much for the Fed-hated bonds, and sure enough, European equities traded in the green from the get-go even as RanSquawk notes, "there has been no major fundamental catalyst behind the spike higher seen in the morning, although do note that the move comes in the backdrop of the positive close on Wall Street which saw the S&P 500 (+0.13%) touch record highs before paring a large portion of the gains." In other words, the upside volatility in the intraday move is now a bullish catalyst, closing print notwithstanding. And what did US equity futures do? Why they followed Europe higher, with the ES now +8, on what is "explained" as a European move to intraday US futures previously. That, ladies and gentlemen, means we may have finally achieved perpetual motion, because all that would take to send the market higher is... for the market to go higher, etc, ad inf.
- -0.07%: Germany Secures Record Low Funding Cost at Bond Auction (WSJ)
- Pentagon Sees Possible Role for U.S. Ground Forces Against Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
- China Joins ECB in Adding Stimulus as Fed Scales Back (BBG)
- Stealthy or Normal? Analysts Diverge on PBOC’s Action (BBG)
- Sony Forecasts Massive $2B Loss as Smartphones Lag (AP)
- Islamic State campaign tests Obama's commitment to Mideast allies (Reuters)
- Brent Crude Rebounds as Libya’s Sharara Oilfield Shut (BBG)
- Market calm over Scottish vote at odds with disaster warnings (Reuters)
It has been a story of central banks, as overnight Asian stocks reversed nearly two weeks of consecutive declines - the longest stretch since 2001 - and closed higher as the same catalysts that drove US equities higher buoyed the global tide: a combination of Chinese liquidity injection (for the paltry amount of just under $90 billion; "paltry" considering Chinese banks create over $1 trillion in inside money/loans every quarter) and Hilsenrath leaking that despite all the "recovery" rhetoric, the Fed will not be turning hawkish and there will be no change in the Fed language today (perhaps not on the redline but Yellen's news conference at 2:30pm will certainly be interesting), pushed risk higher, if not benefiting US equities much which remains largely unchanged.
Smuggled oil could be a pivotal issue for the U.S. as it seeks to destroy IS. The militant group sells oil at a reduced price – perhaps around $25 per barrel. At first, it sold the oil to middlemen, who moved the oil to Iran, Syria, Jordan and Turkey. But as IS’ operations grew, they forced out the middlemen, beat back other militant groups, and are now providing security to their own convoys of oil tanker trucks heading out of their territory to market. Air strikes may succeed in destroying vehicles and other military equipment under IS control, but cutting off the flow of money – specifically from oil smuggling – will likely go further in weakening the Islamic State.
If over the weekend we got some terrible economic news out of China, then overnight it was turn for a major disappointment in capital flows, when Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in August crashed by 14%, far below the 0.8% increase expected, attracting just $7.2 billion in FDI, and the lowest in four years. This once again sparked fears of a Chinese hard landing and sent the Shanghai Composite tumbling 1.82%, the biggest drop in six months. In addition to China, there was the German ZEW Survey, which while beating expectations of a 5.0 print, dropped from 8.6 to 6.9 in August, the lowest since 2012. In fact, the gauge has decreased every month since December when it reached a seven-year high. And while there is not much other news today ahead of the blitz assault of data later in the week, including the Fed tomorrow, the TLTRO announcement on Thursday and the Scottish referendum results and the BABA IPO on Friday, we are stunned futures aren't as usual, soaring.
We recently explained how ISIS remains so well funded but what was unclear was who exactly what purchasing their 'recently-provisioned' oil reserves? The assumption being some desperate third-world nation or some scheming offshore hedge-fund arbitrageur; however, as Sott.net reports, a senior European Union official has revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from ISIL Takfiri militants despite their rhetoric against the group. The official declined to disclose any names but Turkey remains a front-runner (having already shunned President Obama) and potentially France (after their recent anti-Petrodollar comments).
Something appears to have changed not only because the USDJPY is not some 100 pips higher overnight on, well, nothing but because the S&P, which is treading water, has yet to spike on no volume reasons unknown. That something may be algos which are too confused to buy ahead of this week's Fed announcement which may or may not have some notable changes in language or the Scottish referendum on the 18th. Or it could simply be that algos are no longer allowed to openly manipulate and rig the market on the CME as of today now that "disruptive market practices" are banned (why weren't they before)? In any case, keep a close eye on the market today: not all is at it has been for a while, unless of course it is still just a little early and the rigging algos (which haven't gotten the Rule 575 memo of course) haven't woken up just yet.