The ability of oil exporters to trigger a short-term collapse in price does not automatically translate into an ability to control the financial conflagration such a crash ignites.
"The Fed Is Heading For Another Catastrophe... Central Banking Has Lost Its Way" Stephen Roach WarnsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/24/2014 11:17 -0400
America’s Federal Reserve is headed down a familiar — and highly dangerous — path. Steeped in denial of its past mistakes, the Fed is pursuing the same incremental approach that helped set the stage for the financial crisis of 2008-2009. The consequences could be similarly catastrophic. The Fed’s incrementalism of 2004-2006 was a policy blunder of epic proportions. The Fed seems poised to make a similar — and possibly even more serious — misstep in the current environment. In these days of froth, the persistence of extraordinary policy accommodation in a financial system flooded with liquidity poses a great danger.
In a larger sense, the Fed is already intervening in the oil sector via its zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) and its unlimited liquidity for financial speculation.Should the Fed turn the dial of intervention up by buying futures and oil-based bonds, it is not a new policy--it is simply a matter of degree. The intervention has been going on in every sector since 2008. The implosion of the oil sector is simply the latest outbreak of consequence following cause.
WWII is still reshaping our economic reality. The subsequent baby booms in the US and globally in Japan, Europe, and so many more locations which were affected by the war created a “pig in the python” moment. This unusually large wave of population growth from ’45-’55 was “pent up demand” from the war. But society and its leaders assumed this baby boom anomaly to be the new reality. The “pig is passing” from the American and global workforce into retirement and now the wreckage and folly of such basic misnomers has come home to roost…and will get far worse.
Moments ago we learned that for all talk of a commodity "bottom", the "energetic" dead cat has resumed its inverse bounce. To wit:
- BLOOMBERG COMMODITY INDEX EXTENDS DROP TO LOWEST SINCE 2009
So what does that mean? The answer: it all depends on whose narrative one chooses to believe and/or which narrative the US Ministry of truth is promoting at any given day in order to boost confidence.
We are currently experiencing disturbances in the force. Credit and volatility have never acted this way before, and I can quantify it exactly. Never before has the VIX gone from 11 to 20 in just four days. But it’s actually bigger than that. Volatility is itself volatile. You can measure the volatility of volatility; traders call it “vvol.” And the only times vvol has been this high since the advent of VIX options were in 2007, 2008, and 2011—all times of serious crisis. But we aren’t in a crisis now, are we? Well, we might be, if you think vvol has any predictive power, as we do.
Lots of old market hands are talking about how its similar to the Russia default and crash of ‘98 all over again.. Actually... its worse. Much worse.
The bond bubble today is over $100 trillion. When you include the derivatives that trade based on bonds it’s more like $500 TRILLION. And it’s growing by trillions of dollars every month (the US issued $1 trillion in new debt in the last 8 weeks alone).
- Sydney Siege Sparks Muslim Call for Calm Amid Backlash Fear (BBG)
- Oil Spilling Over Into Central Bank Policy as Fed Enters Fray (BBG)
- Biggest LBO of 2014: BC Partners to acquire PetSmart for $8.7 billion (Reuters)
- Tremble algos: the SEC has hired... "QUANTS" (WSJ)
- When the bubble just isn't bubbly enough: There’s $1.7 Trillion Locked Out of China’s Stock Rally (BBG)
- Oil price slide roils emerging markets, yen rises (Reuters) - may want to hit F5 on that
- Libya Imposes Force Majeure on 2 Oil Ports After Clashes (BBG) ... and will resume production in days
- Amid Crisis, Pimco Steadies Itself (WSJ)
While the market, and America's media, was focusing over the passage of the Cromnibus, and whether Wall Street would dump a few hundred trillion in derivatives on the laps of US taxpayers once again (it did), quietly and unanimously both houses passed The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which authorizes providing lethal assistance to Ukraine’s military as well as sweeping sanctions on Russia’s energy sector. And as has happened for the entire duration of the second Cold War, any action by the US was promptly met with a just as provocative reaction by Russia. In this case, a leftist member of the Russian Duma said the US Senate’s decision to arm the Kiev regime should prompt ‘adequate measures’ from Russia, such as deploying military force on Ukrainian territory before the threat becomes too high. "It is quite possible that we should return to the decision by our Upper House and give the Russian president an opportunity to use military force on Ukrainian territory preemptively. We should not wait until Ukraine is armed and becomes really dangerous."
One sign would be for non-energy junk bonds to begin dropping in price. That would mean large holders are exiting from all junk bonds, not just those companies affected by low oil prices.
Another sign would be sudden drops in share prices for banks or insurance companies that hold small amounts of energy-related bonds or bank loans, a clue that some market participants think they have derivative exposure.
A third sign to look for would be the rumors or news that the big, investment-grade energy companies are having trouble renewing their Commercial Paper, bank loans or maturing bonds (the Exxon-Mobils and Shells of the world).
Courtesy of the Cronybus(sic) last minute passage, government was provided a quid-pro-quo $1.1 trillion spending allowance with Wall Street's blessing in exchange for assuring banks that taxpayers would be on the hook for yet another bailout, as a result of the swaps push-out provision, after incorporating explicit Citigroup language that allows financial institutions to trade certain financial derivatives from subsidiaries that are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, explicitly putting taxpayers on the hook for losses caused by these contracts.
The central banks are now out of dry powder - impaled on the zero-bound. That means any resort to a massive new round of money printing can not be disguised as an effort to “stimulate” the macro-economy by temporarily driving interest rates to “extraordinarily” low levels. They are already there. Instead, a Bernanke style balance sheet explosion like that which stopped the financial meltdown in the fall and winter of 2008-2009 will be seen for exactly what it is—-an exercise in pure monetary desperation and quackery. So duck and cover. This storm could be a monster.
Are much lower oil prices good news for the U.S. economy? Only if you like collapsing capital expenditures, rising unemployment and a potential financial implosion on Wall Street.
If there's one absolute truism we hear again and again, it's that central banks are desperately trying to create inflation. Perversely, their easy-money policies actually generation the exact opposite: deflation. Financial and risk bubbles don't pop in a vacuum--all the phantom collateral constructed with mal-invested free money for financiers will also implode.