U.S. officials have warned of “diplomatic and economic fallout from the [looming 9/11] legislation.” So what sort of economic fallout do they envision? Part of the concern is no doubt related to the impact on global financial markets from a Saudi fire sale, but there’s a potentially even bigger concern at play. Specifically, Saudi Arabia pays Washington insiders an exorbitant amount of money to put the monarchy’s interests ahead of what’s best for the American people.
Following yesterday's OPEC "production freeze" meeting in Doha which ended in total failure, where in a seemingly last minute change of heart Saudi Arabia and specifically its deputy crown prince bin Salman revised the terms of the agreement demanding Iran participate in the freeze after all knowing well it won't, oil crashed and with it so did the strategy of jawboning for the past 2 months had been exposed for what it was: a desperate attempt to keep oil prices stable and "crush shorts" while global demand slowly picked up. And whether it is central banks, or chronic BTFDers, just 12 hours after oil opened for trading with a loud crash, the commodity has nearly wiped out all losses, and both brent and WTI were down barely 2%, leading to both European stocks and US equity futures virtually unchanged on the session.
It’s not the more fickle and systemic nature of the FIRE economy that makes manufacturing particularly important. It goes well beyond that...
- Saudi Arabia Will Only Freeze Oil Production If Iran Joins (BBG)
- Japanese gloom ensures slow start to quarter for world stocks (Reuters)
- Saudi Arabia Plans $2 Trillion Megafund for Post-Oil Era (BBG)
- Prices Sag in Warning to ECB Even as Manufacturing Picks Up (BBG)
- China factories scent hint of spring, Europe still chilly (Reuters)
- Theranos Devices Often Failed Accuracy Requirements (WSJ)
The Fukushima disaster was over five years ago, and may have been largely forgotten by the general public and the media (perhaps because the Japanese olympics are just four years from now), but its effects still linger. Perhaps nowhere more so than for those who took pare in the Fukushima clean up effort: as Starts and Stripes reports, sixteen U.S. ships that participated in relief efforts after Japan’s nuclear disaster five years ago remain contaminated with low levels of radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
Following yesterday's dollar spike which, which topped the longest rally in the greenback in one month, the prevailing trade overnight has been more of the same, and in the last session of this holiday shortened week we have seen the USD rise for the fifth consecutive day on concerns the suddenly hawkish Fed (at least as long as the S&P is above 2000) may hike sooner than expected, which in turn has pressured WTI below $39 earlier in the session, and leading to weakness across virtually all global risk assets.
Earlier today Berkshire Hathaway released its 2015 annual report, which among other things includes Buffett's traditional annual observations and insights. Buffett brushes past last year’s disappointing stock performance, muses on the future of America while taking a swipe at Donald Trump, dwells on Berkshire’s ties to Brazilian PE firm 3G, talks about Berkshire’s big 2015 deal, defends manufactured-housing unit Clayton Homes, bashes inequality and capitalists (just not the crony kind), and concludes with a summary of the biggest risks facing America.
After the biggest two-day surge in oil in seven years, early in the overnight session both Brent and WTI continued their run for a third day, entering a bull market, 20% up from recent lows hit just last week (still 15% down on the year) when Saudi Arabia spoiled the momentum party after the world’s biggest crude exporter said it’s keeping up investments in energy projects while diesel consumption in China dropped for a fourth consecutive month, signaling an industrial slowdown. And thanks to the near record correlation between equities and oil, global stocks and US equity index futures initially rose only to slide following the Saudi comments.
"There is hope of more stimulus in March and potential for even more stimulus in Japan and China, so if we get concrete positive economic news the rebound could last into next week,” said John Plassard, senior equity- sales trader at Mirabaud Securities. “I told my clients to fasten their seatbelts and wait for better news, and this is finally happening."... "The turnaround in sentiment came amid signs central banks may be prepared to act after $7.8 trillion was erased from the value of global equities this year on China’s slowdown and oil’s crash."
- Islamic State launches militant assault on Indonesia's capital (Reuters)
- Three winners emerge in $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot (Reuters)
- European Stocks Tumble, Credit Markets Weaken on Growth Concern (BBG)
- Stocks and commodity currencies floored by new oil plunge (Reuters)
- China Bear Market Looms as PBOC Fails to Stop Flight to Safety (BBG)
- Anxious phone calls, tense moments before Iran's Supreme Leader okayed U.S. sailors' release (Reuters)
Rand Paul’s signature “Audit the Fed” legislation failed to garner the 60 votes needed in the Senate to move the measure forward. Of course, this is merely the latest in a never-ending series of banker victories, and a truly devastating blow against liberty, free markets, transparency and any hope for government by the people and for the people. Ensuring that light is never shined on the Fed’s shady, corrupt and unaccountable bailout activities has always been a key goal of the American oligarchy, and they succeeded once again.
See For Yourself ...
At the end of the day, the current preposterous $325 billion market cap has nothing to do with the business prospects of this firm or the considerable entrepreneurial prowess of its leader and his army of disrupters. It is more in the nature of financial rigor mortis - the final spasm of the robo-traders and the fast money crowd chasing one of the greatest bubbles still standing in the casino.
The $1.15 trillion spending bill passed by Congress last Friday and quickly signed by President Obama is just the latest triumph in the plutocratic management of politics that has accelerated since 9/11...proof that Washington can work. Mainstream media didn’t stop to ask: “Yes, but work for whom?” Instead, the anchors acted as amplifiers for official spin - repeating the mantra-of-the-hour that while this is not “a perfect bill,” it does a lot of good things. “But for whom? At what price?” went unasked. Secrecy today. Secrecy tomorrow. Secrecy forever. They are determined that we not know who owns them.