- 'Glimmer of hope' for Ukraine after deal at Minsk peace summit (Reuters)
- Ruble Rebounds, Russian Stocks Surge on Ukraine Cease-Fire Deal (BBG)
- Greek PM Tsipras in Brussels as clock ticks on EU bailout (Reuters)
- Emerging-Market Currencies Rout Not Over for Traders (BBG)
- Little noticed, new Saudi king shapes contours of power (Reuters)
- In Wake of Financial Crisis, Goldman Goes It Alone (WSJ)
- AmEx Is Losing Its Millionaires (BBG)
- Thousands to Lose Health Insurance Over Residency Questions (WSJ)
With WTI back under $50 once again (the mainstream media's new Maginot Line for oil complex stability - just like $80, $70, and $60 was), it appears more investors are waking up to the reality of an over-supplied, under-demanded global energy market. The 'squeeze bounce manipulation' that we saw over the last week - very reminiscent of the bounce seen mid-collapse in 2008/9, was predicated on falling rig counts (and capex). However, Goldman pours freezing cold fracking water all over that thesis as they explain that the decline in the US rig count remains well short of the level required to achieve a sufficient slowdown in US oil production growth to balance the global market. Simply put, they conclude, lower oil prices will be required over the coming quarters to see the US production growth slowdown materialize with risk to their already low price forecast to the downside.
We remarked on the first notable casualty of the collapse of global trade and with it the cost of shipping freight last week when the first of the bulk shipping bankruptcies occurred, but as The South China Morning Post reports, over the past 10 years, shipping lines have endlessly invested in newer, larger vessels - flooding the market with additional capacity - yet the industry's profitability and return on capital have remained pitiful. This supply-demand imbalance has lowered the cost of ocean shipping, but has raised concerns among vessel operators, insurers and regulators about the potential for catastrophic accidents, as "cost cutting measures such as reducing crew numbers, overworking and lack of training” have exacerbated the risks.
The worldwide rig count ended January at 3,309, down 261 from December but it is the US and Canada that is dominating that collapse. Following last week's all-time record absolute drop of 94 rigs (over 7%, most since APR09), the oil rig count dropped for the 9th week in a row (down another 83 to 1140 rigs - down 27% in last 9 weeks) as it tracks the 4-mo lagged oil price perfectly. The Permian basin saw the biggest cut in rig count. This is the lowest oil rig count since Dec 2011 (down 19.5% YoY) and lowest total rig count in the US since March 2010 - down 25% in the last 9 weeks). Hopes of production cuts are simply wrong as the last 4 times that rig counts have dropped, no production cuts have occurred.
There’s a fairly easy way to tell if a firm is a marketing firm or an investment firm. Do you see its advertising on buses, cabs and posters? Do they have a practically limitless range of funds? This is not to denigrate marketing firms entirely. But as the financial markets lurch between unprecedented bouts of bad policy, and achieve valuations that we strongly suspect are unlikely to persist, it may be worthwhile to consider the motives of the people charged with managing your money. Are they asset managers, or asset gatherers?
Six years on from the financial crisis and central banks are still hacking away at interest rates. Australia and Romania's did this week and while Poland and India held off, both are expected to prune rates later in 2015.
More than 1,000 people spend their workdays in an industrial park housed in an excavated mine the size of 140 football fields. As Bloomberg reports, the underground industrial park known as SubTroplis opened for business in 1964 in an excavated mine below Kansas City, Mo. attracting tenants with the lure of lower energy costs and cheap rents...
- Arab World Unites to Condemn ‘Barbaric’ Death of Jordanian Pilot (BBG)
- Jordan hangs two Iraqi militants in response to pilot's death (Reuters)
- As Oil Prices Climb, Some Harbor Doubts (WSJ)
- Taiwan plane cartwheels into river after take-off, killing at least 19 (Reuters)
- Seven dead as commuter train hits car near New York City (Reuters)
- Apollo’s 600% Profit on Oil Company Leaves Rivals Behind (BBG)
- Greece's rock-star finance minister Yanis Varoufakis defies ECB's drachma threats (Telegraph)
The devil is in the details: The market is likely too excited about falling rig counts. Even after the natural gas experience, the market fails to appreciate that the relationship between rig count and production can be deceptive. Headline rig count declines may look impressive, but as we look at the data, much of the drop in oil rig count has come in low yielding vertical/directional rigs – i.e. the low-hanging fruit. Even within horizontal rigs, much of the decline has come in lower performing plays or lower tier counties within high quality plays. In some cases, we’ve seen a reallocation of rigs between counties within plays. This was particularly prominent in Midland last week. The most productive rigs will likely remain as long as possible, esp where hedges are in place, until redeterminations or cash flow issues force additional cuts.
- Germany Sees No Need to Scrap Troika in Overseeing Greek Turnaround (WSJ)
- European markets subdued as Chinese data weighs (Reuters)
- U.S. Oil Workers Strike Enters Second Day as Crude Prices Slide (BBG)
- Oil prices rally above $55 as investors pile in (Reuters)
- Obama Wants a New Tax on U.S. Companies' Overseas Profits (BBG)
- If Trading Bonds Is Hard, Think About Pain When Rates Rise (BBG)
- Julius Baer Braces for Swiss Franc Impact (WSJ)
- Coke, Budweiser win as Super Bowl ad battle gets serious (Reuters)
"This is going to hurt, no question," fears a landowner in Santa Barbara with a dozen oil wells. Layoffs are "kind of like a death in the family," exclaims a geophysicist in the Permian Basin. Houstonians were hoping for a hiccup, says one restauranteir, but now "they're getting more cautious." As WSJ reports, rumor is becoming reality across America as "unambiguously good" news of low oil prices turns from a trickle to a deluge of job losses and insecurity. Cutbacks aren’t yet reflected in broad data on employment, home sales or tax collections. But fallout is beginning to affect people, starting with the legions working as suppliers to the energy industry.
- Who Doubts Yellen's Policies? Summers for One (BBG)
- Samsung, Apple Back in Dead Heat for Global Smartphone Dominance (WSJ)
- Islamic State purportedly sets new deadline for hostage swap (Reuters)
- Turkey's $7.9 Billion Mystery Money That's Simply Vanished (BBG)
- How a Two-Tier Economy Is Reshaping the U.S. Marketplace (WSJ)
- U.S. Prisons Grapple With Aging Population (WSJ)
- Hasenstab Sees $3 Billion Vanish in Ukraine as One Big Bet Sours (BBG) - maybe he should BTFD, pardon, "invest" in Belarus next?
- Belarus May Seek Debt Restructuring in 2015, President Says (BBG)
U.S tight oil production from shale plays will fall more quickly than most assume. Why? High decline rates from shale reservoirs is given. The more interesting reasons are the compounding effects of pad drilling on rig count and poorer average well performance with time.
The more detached from reality American culture becomes the more strictly ceremonial leadership gets, as illustrated by the raft of bromides Barack Obama floated past the assembled vassalage of government last week in another grand effort to avoid the necessities of the moment. Those necessities include freeing a hostage public from the tyrannical clutches of corporate despotism — the evil empire of big boxes, big burgers, big pharma, Big Brother — and the atrocious rackets fostered by them that masquerade as an economy. The template of the life we have known is broken and the pieces within are flying apart, and no amount of wishing or promising can keep them going. If this society is even going to survive, the people have to smash their way out of this template prison, probably against the efforts of the people and organizations now running it merely for their own benefit.
With oil prices down another 6% this week (despite Saudi leadership uncertainty and ECB QE), widespread layoffs announced in Shale states, and despite Lew's comments that he doesn't see US oil production declining, it is perhaps no surprise that the US rig count cratered further to its lowest level since August 2010. The US rig count is now down over 15% from the highs, with its biggest 10-week drop since May 2009 (and down 8% YoY). The pace of collapse in the rig count has now accelerated for 7 weeks in a row, and judging by lagged oil prices, there is a lot more room to drop yet. The oil rig count standalone is now down 7% YoY - its biggest drop sicne Nov 2009. As T.Boone Pickens so rightly noted, watch the US rig count (and suggested it will need to drop 500 rigs or more before any stability returns).