"We find ourselves with the same anti-free market interventionist types who set up the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury and the US government running foreign policy in America and then go and intervene in the affairs of Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iraq or Afghanistan. And as can be expected, they mess up just about everything. I think the whole region will blow up and financial markets are not paying sufficient attention to this."
"As the murderous, terrorist Islamic State continues to threaten Iraq, the region and potentially the United States, it is vitally important that we examine how this problem arose. Any actions we take today must be informed by what we've already done in the past, and how effective our actions have been... The Islamic State represents a threat that should be taken seriously. But we should also recall how recent foreign-policy decisions have helped these extremists so that we don't make the same mistake of potentially aiding our enemies again."
Obama's National Security Council Meeting Has Concluded: Here Are The People Bringing You ISIS "Strategy"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/28/2014 21:01 -0400
Shortly after Obama admitted to the world he has no strategy how to deal with ISIS, about two weeks after the "humanitarian" bombing of Iraq started, he rushed into a meeting of his National Security Council. Two and a half hours later, the meeting has finished and we hope the president finally does have a strategy, one that isn't determined solely by Qatari natural gas pipeline interests.
- Islamic State executes soldiers, takes hostages at Syria base (Reuters)
- Buffett Burger King Funds Flip Obama’s Inversion Calculus (BBG)
- Equities Reach Record $66 Trillion as S&P 500 Hits 2,000 (BBG)
- Central Banks Playing Own Version of Plaza-opoly With FX (BBG)
- Russia court closes McDonald's branch for 90 days (Reuters)
- Finland Says NATO an Option After Russia ‘Violates’ Border Laws (BBG)
- Netanyahu Hit With Domestic Criticism Over Gaza Truce (BBG)
- Biggest Danish Fund Readies for Rate Shock as Exit Narrows (BBG)
- Nonprofit Hospitals' Profits Fall (WSJ)
As with every other asset-class in the world now, fundamentals have taken a very distant back-seat to both liquidity (flow) and positioning (technicals) as traders are increasingly (in one way or another) on the same side of the same trade. Mainstream media will proclaim US energy "independence", US sanctions 'winning' over Putin, or US airstrikes 'calming' down Middle East uncertainty; but the real reason oil is plunging is... the biggest mass liquidation of speculative longs in recorded 30 year history over the last few weeks...
The 'Sunni Turn' Against The 'Shiite Crescent': How The Strategic Stupidity Of Washington (And Its Allies) Created ISISSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/25/2014 22:50 -0400
The Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) is being touted as the newest “threat” to the American homeland. We are told by everyone from the President on down that if we don’t attack them – i.e. go back into Iraq (and even venture into Syria) to root them out – they’ll soon show up on American shores. ISIS didn’t blast Sykes-Picot to pieces: we did, and now we must live with the consequences. Nemesis has taken her pound of flesh. The best course now is to learn the lesson every child has to absorb before he can attain adulthood in more than merely a physical sense: actions have consequences. Applied to the Middle East, this lesson can only have one meaning: stay out and keep out.
- Jackson Hole Theme: Labor Markets Can’t Take Higher Rates (BBG), or anything else for that matter
- Kidnappers free American missing in Syria since 2012 (Reuters)
- More unpatriots: Burger King in merger talks with Canada's Tim Hortons (Reuters)
- California Quake to Cost Insurers Up to $1 Billion, Eqecat Says (BBG)
- Congo declares Ebola outbreak in northern Equateur province (Reuters)
- Missouri Governor Defends Ferguson Prosecutor (BBG)
- Kuroda Douses Japan Stimulus Expectations (WSJ)
- London Jihadi Call Vies With Banks in Canary Wharf Shadow (BBG)
- Netanyahu Signals Expansion of Air Attacks in Gaza (WSJ)
- Libya's Islamist Militias Claim Control of Tripoli (WSJ)
Outspoken Union Theological Seminary professor Cornel West goes where very few 'thinkers-of-color' have had the courage to go in this interview with Salon's Thomas Frank: "The thing is, [Obama] posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free... we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist... So you got low-quality black leadership. Al Sharpton is who? He’s a cheerleader for Obama... Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends... I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression."
From Arab Spring-related uprisings in Libya or Egypt, to a civil war in Syria and now violence in Iraq and the Ukraine, geopolitics are impacting oil. True, geopolitical risk measured by combat deaths does not always correlate well with market volatility. But wars and conflict are easy to spot on an oil price series. With combat deaths rising four fold in the last 10 years, oil markets should prepare for more turmoil. BofA 's Francisco Blanch asks "Can the US preserve geopolitical stability?" America still takes up 38% of global military spending, but appetite for foreign adventures has been low. As an example, a drop in US combat deaths in recent years has been mirrored by a rise elsewhere. Following a drop to multi-decade lows, implied vol in long dated oil options at 15% looks cheap. Oil after US hegemony may not be as steady.
Last night it was SecDef Chuck Hagel who warned ISIS was a bigger threat to America than 9/11 and primed the narrative for the next round of defense-spending (and this deficit-boosting, QE-enabling money printing). Today it is Senate Armed Services Committee member Jim Inhofe who told Fox that "we're in the most dangerous position we've ever been in as a nation." While that seems a little bit of stretch (oh and hasn't the Senator seen stocks?) he adds - rather ominously, "they're crazy out there and they're rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city and people just can't believe that's happening." But then again, when have we ever needed to 'believe' anything anyway (especially without YouTube clips to prove it).
Previewing Yellen's Jackon Hole "Gobbledygook": Not One Analyst Thinks Yellen Will Say Anything Remotely HawkishSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/21/2014 13:55 -0400
Ahead of Yellen's Jackson Hole speech tomorrow, the sell-side, hypnotized by 6 years of Fed bubble-inflating generosity, refuses to even consider the possibility that the Fed could possibly pull the punch bowl away, and the absolutely unanimous consensus is that despite yesterday's minutes (or perhaps due to, because as the Chinese Department of Truth has taught us, one must first and foremost baffle with BS), Yellen will go uber-dove. So without further ado, here is what the Penguins expect Yellen's "gobbledygook" will reveal tomorrow, and as a reminder, yesterday Citi warned that there is "tremendous" downside risk if Yellen doesn't go "full-dovish".
The Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath unleashed an instantaneous reaction to today's FOMC minutes and the message is clear - markets are much less uncertain than the Fed about the timing (sooner rather than later) of the first rate-hike. The minutes of the meeting, Hilsy notes, provide fresh evidence of an intensifying debate inside the central bank about when to respond to a surprisingly swift descent in the unemployment rate and rising consumer prices. The minutes appeared to reflect a slightly more aggressive stance than Ms. Yellen's testimony.
The current US air strikes in Iraq are unlikely to have a significant impact on defense spending or oil prices, Goldman Sachs writes, unless the scale of the conflict changes considerably. Evidence from past US conflicts that were similar in scale also suggests little impact on confidence and at most mixed evidence of a flight-to-safety effect in financial markets. The exchange of sanctions with Russia - a relatively minor US trading partner - is also likely to have only a modest impact on the US economy. Of course, Goldman caveats, both situations are highly unpredictable; as they expect little reaction to recent events from Fed officials, who have generally not discussed conflicts of this magnitude unless accompanied by other economic concerns, such as a large rise in oil prices.
Traders and market participants are pretty bad at decision making as it is, the last thing they need is inaccurate information via sensationalized and overhyped TMZ Style News reports to base their decision making process on.
There is a standard view of energy and the economy that can briefly be summarized as follows: Economic growth can continue forever; we will learn to use less energy supplies; energy prices will rise; and the world will adapt. The following view of how energy and the economy fit together is very different - it is based on the principle of reaching limits in a finite world.