While we wait for Greece to pick a side between the US and Russia by either allowing Moscow to use its airspace on the way to supplying Assad at Latakia or else snubbing the Kremlin and jeopardizing a potentially lucrative gas deal, at least one country has been quick to make a decision.
The fallout from the demise of the petrodollar is becoming impossible to sweep under the rug even as Gulf states are keen to downplay the severity of the budget crunch. For the Saudis, who need crude at $100 to plug a budget deficit that’s projected at a whopping 20% of GDP, the situation is becoming particularly acute. For Qatar, the situation isn't quite as dire but that doesn't mean the country's officials aren't acutely aware that the world is now scrutinizing the budgets of petrostates in the wake of collapsing crude and indeed on Monday, Qatari Finance Minister Ali Sherif al-Emadi was at pains to reassure the market.
China’s islanding building on the four-mile-long and two-mile-wide Subi Reef in the South China Sea has put The US in a tight spot. To protect its ally from China’s aggression, The US will be left with little choice but to constrain China by military means. However, the US won't directly engage China in the war in the foreseeable future, because the US dominates China with its superior naval and air force and the only way for China to level the playing field is to apply nuclear weapons. The nuclear nature of Sino-American warfare will make both the world no.1 and no.2 economy the fallen giants. So there is a possibility that The US might use its oil weapon instead to strike at the core of China’s weakness - it’s huge dependence on oil import.
The EIA released a report this week that showed that there would be little effect on gasoline prices if the U.S. government lifted the ban on crude oil exports. In fact, gasoline prices could even fall because refined product prices are linked to Brent much more than WTI, so more supplies on the international market would push down Brent prices. The report lends credence to the legislative campaign on Capitol Hill to scrap the ban, a movement that is picking up steam. On the other hand, although few noticed, the EIA report also said that the refining industry could lose $22 billion per year if the ban is removed. So far, many members of Congress have been reluctant to weigh in on this issue for exactly that reason: it pits drillers against refiners, both of which are powerful political players.
The characteristic feeling of the post-2008 world has been one of anxiety. Occasionally, that anxiety breaks out into fear as it did in the last two weeks when stock markets around the world swooned and middle class and wealthy investors had a sudden visitation from Pan, the god from whose name we get the word "panic." Pan's appearance is yet another reminder that the relative stability of the globe from the end of World War II right up until 2008 is over. We are in uncharted waters. The relentless, if zigzag, rise in financial markets for the past 150 years has been sustained by cheap fossil fuels and a benign climate. We cannot count on either from here on out...
"There is a general understanding that joint efforts in the fight against terrorism should go hand by hand with the political process in Syria. Assad agrees to this and has also agreed to early parliamentary elections and to include healthy opposition."
News That Matters
With China closed today, the usual overnight market manipulation fireworks out of Beijing were absent but that does not meant asset levitation could not take place, and instead of the daily kick start out of China today it has been all about the ECB which as we previewed two days ago, is expected - at least by some such as ABN Amro - to outright boost its QE, while virtually everyone else expects Draghi to not only cut the ECB's inflation forecast, which reminds us of the chart which in March we dubbed the biggest hockeystick ever (we knew it wouldn't last) but to verbally jawbone the Euro as low as possible (i.e., the Dax as high as it will get) even if the former Goldmanite does not explicitly commit to more QE.
Not a week goes by without the Pentagon carping about an ominous Russian "threat". The Pentagon’s rhetorical games also serve to mask a real high-stakes process; essentially an energy war – centering on the control of oil, natural gas and mineral resources of Russia and Central Asia. Will this wealth be controlled by oligarch frontmen “supervised” by their masters in New York and London, or by Russia and its Central Asian partners? Thus the relentless propaganda war.
Perhaps the greatest nightmare for investors in a commodity stock is that the commodity in question goes the way of coal. After more than a century of dominance in the U.S. and abroad, coal appears to have entered into a structural decline. A funny thing happened on the way to the graveyard for coal companies though – one of the industries greatest detractors, George Soros, appears to be stepping in as a supporter.
- Charting the Market: New Month, Same China (BBG)
- China jitters send stocks tumbling (Reuters)
- Oil falls on weak China factory data (Reuters)
- Euro zone factory growth eases in August despite modest price rises (Reuters)
- Euro-Area Joblessness Falls to Lowest Level Since Early 2012 (BBG)
- Clinton friend advised on U.S. politics, foreign policy (Reuters)
- Korea exports slump as Asia's woes deepen (Reuters)
Some context for those who insist renewables will 'solve' everything...
Aggressive Chinese Intervention Prevents Another Rout, Sends Stocks Soaring 5% In Last Trading Hour; US Futures JumpSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/27/2015 06:48 -0400
After a 5 day tumbling streak, which saw Chinese stock plunge well over 20% and 17% in just the first three days of this week, overnight the Shanghai Composite was hanging by a thread (and threat) until the last hour of trading. In fact, this is what the SHCOMP looked like until the very end: Up 2.6%, up 1.2%, up 2.8%, up 0.6%, up 2%... down 0.2%. And then the cavalry came in: "Heavyweight stocks like banks and insurance companies helped pull up the index, and it’s possibly China Securities Finance entering the market again to shore up stocks," Central China Sec. strategist Zhang Gang told Bloomberg by phone. Net result: the Composite, having been red just shortly before the close, soared higher by 156 points or 5.4%, showing the US stock market just how it's down.
Both the stock market and oil prices have been plunging. Is this “just another cycle,” or is it something much worse? We think it is something much worse...