Ten dark suited men entered the premises of FBME bank in Cyprus on Friday afternoon and took it hostage. The men were from the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC). And they commandeered FBME because an obscure agency within the US government recently issued a report accusing the bank of laundering money. It just so happens that FBME... and Cyprus in general... is where a lot of wealthy Russians hold their vast fortunes. Bear in mind, there has been no proof that any crime was committed.
It’s time to think like a contrarian. Why? Because capital markets seem as bulletproof as one of those up-armored military personnel carriers you see in war zones. So what could really rattle stock, bond and commodity markets over the next 3-6 months? The go-to answer, steeped in history, is geopolitical crisis, where the logical hedges are precious metals, volatility plays, and possibly crude oil. Look deeper, however, and other answers emerge.
Worried about tensions in Kuwait, Jordan, and Iraq... the 'market' is not. With the spec positioning significantly net long, it appears 'they' have found another pain trade... as WTI Crude loses $101 and drops to 2-month lows...
Back in April, we warned of the consequences of Saudi King Abdullah has clamped down on all forms of political dissent and protests that could “harm public order”. Concerns that this law would be used to silence dissent and crackdown on basic human rights were apparently well justified, as the Wall Street Journal reported today that a Saudi court has sentenced human rights lawyer and activist Waleed Abu Alkhair to 15 years in prison for “inciting public opinion,” i.e., effectively utilizing free speech. We are currently living in one of the most interesting times in human history as we witness the transformation of society away from centralized, bureaucratic structures, into decentralized, networked organization. It’s imperative that each and every one of us does everything he or she can to make this revolutionary transition as painless as possible.
So, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt (post gas price surges), and now Israel... As the teen deaths, rocket launches (and landings), and rhetoric fly back back and forth; it appears last week's de-escalation is off...
*ISRAEL ARMY SPOKESMAN SAYS TROOPS BEING BOOSTED ON GAZA BORDER
*ISRAELI ARMY SAYS IT IS PREPARING FOR POSSIBLE GAZA ESCALATION
The US administration has been oddly quiet so far on this... we await their 'supportive' comments.
Same stuff... different country. Once again someone (former opposition leader Musallam al-Barrak) exposed the corruption among the elites (revealed documents that allegedly prove billions of illicit financial transfers were made to senior officials, including judges) and the leaders (Kuwait officials) decided he should be arrested and charged with slander. This has caused uproar among the people as hundreds of protesters rallied overnight in support of al-Barrack, marching from his house to the jail chanting: "The people want to cleanse the judiciary!" The police in the oil-rich nation of Kuwait used tear gas and stun grenades early Thursday to disperse the protesters. As we have noted previously, uprising against government corruption is a global trend and in the case of Kuwait (which is oil-rich, the last friendly place to US in the Middle East, and has the highest per capita Twitter usage on the planet), we suspect this 'spring' is far from over.
One hundred years ago today the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every school boy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath - a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money - that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.
What is really going on in Iraq?
According to the latest CapGemini wealth report the number of high net worth individuals increased by nearly 1.8 million in the past year, the second biggest surge since 2000, which also happened to be the crazy days of the first tech bubble (not to be confused with the current tech bubble). In other words, the epic, unprecedented stock bubble reflated by the world's coordinated central banks, has succeeded. Succeeded, that is, if its goal was to make the world's richest people wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. As for everyone else, just over 7 billion people, better luck next time.
The multitudes of people, especially Americans, who view U.S. government activity in a negative light often make the mistake of attributing all corruption to some covert battle for global oil fields. In fact, the average leftist seems to believe that everything the establishment does somehow revolves around oil. This is a very simplistic and naïve view. A very real danger within energy markets is the undeniable threat that the U.S. dollar may soon lose its petrodollar status and, thus, Americans may lose the advantage of relatively low gas prices they have come to expect. That is to say, the coming market crisis will have far more to do with the health of the dollar than the readiness of oil supply.
The slaughterhouse that Iraq has become in the past week is the stuff that nightmares are made of. And this is just the beginning. Here's why...
Because when it comes down to it (as we explained here), all that matters is the resources...
The world is a very complicated place, and the Middle East is a particularly difficult region to try to get your head around. Between decades of colonialism, gigantic oil reserves, governments that are essentially feudal kingdoms, and the never-ending and always shifting Western government propaganda that often changes the targets of demonization on a whim, it’s no wonder people are so confused. The following provides a perspective based on what we have seen so far, and more importantly, ask readers to ask their own set of questions. What is happening is very bad, and it is the direct result of the idiotic children calling the foreign policy shots in Washington D.C. Ever since 9/11, everything about the status quo’s decision making has been irrational and dangerous.
Much has been made about the role that hydraulic fracturing – or fracking -- has played in revolutionizing the energy landscape, unlocking vast new reserves of oil trapped in shale rock. This “tight oil” is pouring into the global pool of oil supplies at a crucial time, preventing oil prices from spiking in an age of high demand and geopolitical turmoil. But the world still relies overwhelmingly on conventional oil production from existing fields, many of which are in decline. The Middle East has dominated the world of oil for half a century and as the list below shows, it remains king. Here are the top five most important oil fields in the world.