Supermajors Shell and Italian Eni could be facing the loss of one of the biggest offshore oil exploration blocks in Nigeria, putting an estimated 9 billion barrels of crude oil at risk.
"We learned one thing yesterday: the U.S. Federal Reserve is in the same position as the rest of us when it comes to forecasting the future path of economic growth. Nobody really “Knows” anything right now. Now, there’s enough doubt for everyone: markets, central banks, consumers, governments. Everyone. The best thing we can say about that: if markets accept that the Fed is no better informed than they are, maybe investors will devote more time to stock fundamentals and intrinsic value analysis."
Detailed analysis of economic data is a dying art. The past seven year bull-market has largely justified the logic of such an approach, but the frenzied panic of the last month raises the question of whether investors will know how to adapt if the framework changes again. Recent market ructions offer the first evidence that central banks may be near the limit of their ability, or their willingness, to keep pumping up asset prices.
The financial engineering that has been made possible by zero percent interest rates is no longer available to paper over weak corporate results in the U.S. Our economy is addicted to QE and zero rates, and without those supports, we will spiral back into recession. This is the reality that the mainstream tried mightily to ignore the past several years. But the chickens are coming home to roost, and they have a great many eggs to lay. In the end, stimulus does not create actual growth, but merely the illusion of it.
"The Fed’s monetary policy of extraordinarily low interest rates helped create the asset bubbles in stock and commodity prices that are now bursting. In retrospect, the Fed’s rate hike last month will likely be viewed as monetary malpractice. None of this is likely to forestall turmoil in credit markets. Investors are wise to be worried..."
Wang Baoan, the finance ministry veteran who now heads China's statistics bureau is under investigation for graft. Although it isn't yet clear whether the probe stems from his time at other agencies, given the heightened scrutiny on China's GDP numbers it seems at least possible that there's some connection between Wang's alleged corrupt activities and his management of the country's manipulated data.
Please, take umbrage of my experiences before you decide it's time to press the button on your SHTF nuclear option plan and retreat into the bunker.
- Stronger than expected decline in GDP Growth & weaker economic activity
- China in a major meltdown its government is not capable of stopping
- Major deflationary pressures forcing commodities down & credit spreads up
Is the economy as strong as some say it is?
It's official. More than 50% of the "wealth" effect created from the 2011 lows to the 2015 highs has been destroyed (despite the world's central banks going into money-printing overdrive over that period). Almost $17 trillion of equity market capitalization has evaporated in just over 6 months with over 40 global stock indices in bear markets...
While the economic implosion progresses this year, there will be considerable misdirection and disinformation as to the true nature of what is taking place. As I have outlined in the past, the masses were so ill informed by the mainstream media during the Great Depression that most people had no idea they were actually in the midst of an “official” depression until years after it began. The chorus of economic journalists of the day made sure to argue consistently that recovery was “right around the corner.” Our current depression has been no different, but something is about to change. Unlike the Great Depression, social crisis will eventually eclipse economic crisis in the U.S. That is to say, our society today is so unequipped to deal with a financial collapse that the event will inevitably trigger cultural upheaval and violent internal conflict.
Just before the US equity market topped out last August, none other than infamous stock-chart-extrapolator Laszlo Birinyi ventured on to CNBC and proclaimed that the S&P 500 will hit 3,200 by the end of 2017. Since the soprano uttered that extreme, US equity markets have collapsed not just once, but twice and now trade at levels first seen over two years ago...
Xiao Gang, chairman of China's securities regulator, has offered to resign amid ongoing turmoil in the country's equity markets - turmoil which he says stems from "inexperienced investors, an imperfect trading system and inappropriate supervision mechanisms."
It must be China. Or the weather, which is usually either too cold or to warm – somehow the weather is just never right for economic growth. Surely it cannot be another Fed policy-induced boom that is on the verge of going bust? Sorry, we completely forgot – the Fed is never at fault when the economy suffers a boom-bust cycle. "[An] oversold market can easily become more oversold when it keeps being inundated with evidence that economic conditions are not what they were thought to be."
Over the last 5 years the various Fed QE (quantitative easing) interventions into the capital markets has facilitated dumb luck trading into “genius” status, and no clue analysis into “spot on brilliant” prognostications. The real issue at hand is many believed their own press, and the current state of egg on their face would make many a Denny's blush. As bad as that sounds – it gets worse.
The U.S. government, in particular, has been overrun by the wrong kind of person. It’s a trend that’s been in motion for many years but has now reached a point of no return. In other words, a type of moral rot has become so prevalent that it’s institutional in nature. There is not going to be, therefore, any serious change in the direction in which the U.S. is headed until a genuine crisis topples the existing order. Until then, the trend will accelerate.