Once again oil is not even the biggest story today. It’s plenty big enough by itself to bring down large swaths of the economy, but in the background there’s an even bigger tale a-waiting. Not entirely unconnected, but by no means the exact same story either. It’s like them tsunami waves as they come rolling in. It’s exactly like that. That is, in the wake of the oil tsunami, which is a long way away from having finished washing down our shores, there’s the demise of emerging markets. And we're not talking Putin, he’ll be fine, as he showed again yesterday in his big press-op. It’s the other, smaller, emerging countries that will blow up in spectacular fashion, and then spread their mayhem around. And make no mistake: to be a contender for bigger story than oil going into 2015, you have to be major league large. This one is.
Yes, it is that magical week leading up to Christmas and the subsequent low volume push into the new year. It is "magic time" as hopes are high that "Santa Claus" will come to WallStreet. "Ignoring valuation – ignoring risk – is a recipe for disappointment and is the thing that is most likely to lead investors to ruin"
Did you know that 65 percent of all children in the United States live in a home that receives aid from the federal government? We live at a time when child poverty in America is exploding. But as bad as things are for the children of America right now, they are only going to get worse. In the years ahead may we all have great compassion for these victims of our incredibly foolish economic mistakes.
This weekend's reading list is a collection of articles discussing the good, the bad and the ugly of the dive in crude oil prices.
Oil is not quite as powerful a weapon against modern-day Russia as one might think.
Can there be a currency war without victims? Why hasn't any official accused Japan of a currency war?
The oil industry is no longer what it once was, it’s not even a normal industry anymore. Oil companies sell assets and borrow heavily, then buy back their own stock and pay out big dividends. What kind of business model is that? Well, not the kind that can survive a 40% cut in revenue for long. Cheap oil a boon for the economy? You might want to give that some thought.
The precipitous decline in the price of oil is perhaps one of the most bearish macro developments this year. We believe we are entering a “new oil normal,” where oil prices stay lower for longer. While we highlighted the risk of a near-term decline in the oil price in our July newsletter, we failed to adjust our portfolio sufficiently to reflect such a scenario. This month we identify the major implications of our revised energy thesis. The reason oil prices started sliding in June can be explained by record growth in US production, sputtering demand from Europe and China, and an unwind of the Middle East geopolitical risk premium. The world oil market, which consumes 92 million barrels a day, currently has one million barrels more than it needs.... Large energy companies are sitting on a great deal of cash which cushions the blow from a weak pricing environment in the short-term. It is still important to keep in mind, however, that most big oil projects have been planned around the notion that oil would stay above $100, which no longer seems likely.
"QE is a necessary condition for recovery in Europe, but is not sufficient in itself. The question is where does this bridge take us? The eurozone can survive a couple more years of miserable growth, but it can’t go on forever like this before people lose hope. There is political risk almost everywhere."
Brace yourselves, the zero sum game is on like Donkey Kong.
If you require more evidence that the United States is a dysfunctional society, observe American elections. Election season is slander season. Each party’s attack teams focus on misrepresenting, defaming, and ridiculing the opposing party’s candidates. Attack ads have replaced debates and any discussion of what the issues are, or should be, and how candidates perceive the public’s interest. Each attack team tells lies designed to enrage various voters about the other team’s candidate. Whoever is elected is indebted not to voters but to the special interests that provided the campaign money.
When Calpers buys an international asset for its investors, is it intervening in the forex market on behalf of the US?
Over the last few weeks, the markets have seen wild vacillations as stocks plunged and then surged on a massive short-squeeze in the most beaten up sectors of energy and small-mid capitalization companies. While "Ebola" fears filled mainstream headlines the other driver behind the sell-off, and then marked recovery, was a variety of rhetoric surrounding the last vestiges of the current quantitative easing program by the Fed. “You will know that the financial markets have reached peak instability and volatility when Britney Spears rings the opening bell.”
Nobody in the economic intelligentsia is implying that the IMF is staffed by paranoid cranks. They continue to ignore and belittle the Austrian school. This pompous and undeserved behavior will go on until it’s too late. In the process, the ivory tower disciples of Keynes will only further prove their intellectual bankruptcy. The average person never trusted them to begin with. And things certainly won’t change now.
Oil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad? Many people have the impression that falling oil prices mean that the cost of production is falling, and thus that the feared "peak oil" is far in the distance. This is not the correct interpretation, especially when many types of commodities are decreasing in price at the same time. We would argue that falling commodity prices are bad news. It likely means that the debt bubble which has been holding up the world economy for a very long time – since World War II, at least – is failing to expand sufficiently. If the debt bubble collapses, we will be in huge difficulty.