Norway is in trouble. As we have detailed previously (here, here, here, and here), the world's largest sovereign wealth fund has begun liquidating assets (after its largest quarterly loss) as the nation faces recessionary fears (key data deterioration as oil stays lower for longer) with expectations building (despite denials by the central bank) that ZIRP (or even NIRP) is coming. Why? Simple - as the following real-time map shows - every one of Norway's oil fields are currently underwater!
On Tuesday we get the latest tragedy out of Turkey as at least 10 are dead in a suicide attack on Istanbul. The explosion rocked Sultanahmet Square outside the city’s Blue Mosque injuring 15 in addition to those killed.
While the media attention was directed to the shale oil boom in the US, the Saudis created a giant offshore oil project called Manifa. With one single project Manifa added 1 million barrels a day to the world oil glut. Manifa will expand its capacity the coming year, adding a further 500 million barrels a day to world markets.
When Mario Draghi “disappointed” markets in December by “only” cutting the depo rate by 10 bps and “merely” extending PSPP by six months while electing not to expand monthly asset purchases, the Riksbank, the Nationalbank, the Norges Bank, and the SNB all breathed heavy sighs of relief. And while we doubt the ECB is done when it comes to going "full-Krugman" (as it were), Mario Draghi’s “hawkish” ease did buy his counterparts some breathing room. Case in point: Denmark just hiked.
Market psychology established in recent years is reversing. Market volatility is rising and will remain pervasive for a while as psychology, the change in direction of Fed policy, and the increases in general uncertainties, will all conspire to shape an environment ripe for sharp spikes in volatility which will be further amplified by rickety market liquidity.
While the market might have been disappointed by the ECB’s “underdelivery in December, it came as a relief for the Riksbank, the SNB, the Norges Bank, and the Nationalbank who are effectively forced to cut each time the ECB eases or risk seeing upward pressure on their respective currencies. That dynamic has led to a veritable race to the Keynesian bottom with Norway as the last man standing in terms of conducting monetary policy with rates above zero. As we enter the new year, a number of questions remain regarding Europe's headlong plunge into NIRP-dom.
The unfolding correction of the visible excesses of the credit inflation - such as overinvestment and malinvestment - will destroy incomes and profits; the Great Unwind of the less visible effects, such as the sovereign wealth fund liquidations, are a giant pin aimed squarely at the monumental worldwide bubbles in stock, bonds and real estate.
As we move into winter, darkness has fallen up on us. Oil, ca. 65% of the nation’s economy, will not see the required $70 barrel anytime soon. American innovation, once again, turns a scarce resource into an abundant commodity. Despite optimistic Norwegian media articles, the potential for $20 per barrel looms. Production overwhelms demand while inventories rise to record highs. Although, still considered the best place to live, the cracks, in the oil based economy, are forming.
It has come down to this: a year in which the US stock market (led by a handful of shares even as the vast majority of stocks has dropped) has gone nowhere, but took the longest and most volatile path to get there, is about to close either red or green for 2015 based on what happens in today's low-volume session following yesterday's unexpected last half hour of trading "air pocket" which brought the S&P back to unchanged for the year.
The movement toward deeper European integration appears to have halted, and gone into reverse, as the EU seems to be unraveling along ideological, national, tribal and historic lines. If these trends continue, and they seem to have accelerated in 2015, the idea of a United States of Europe dies, and with it the EU. And this raises a question about the most successful economic and political union in history - the USA.
The S&P 500 closed at 2052 on November 18,2014. That was 405 days ago, and despite the rips and dips in the interim the broad market average has gone nowhere.
"I hope I'm wrong but I fear Washington is trying to provoke a war in the Middle East to cover the coming collapse of the Petrodollar system and the American economy when the dollar is no longer the world reserve currency. The war is necessary to blame the coming dollar and debt collapse on Russia and China rather where it belongs on Wall Street, the central banking cartel and Washington political establishment. Remember while a Washington provoked war or conflict is likely to start in the Shia Crescent; it could spread across the Middle East and into Europe."
It appears Swedish banks are falling over themselves to get rid of excess cash. We noted Swedish banks refusing to open bank accounts in September, and warned in October of a "giant wave of money" heading into Sweden thanks to the Riksbank-ECB policy divergence, and now, Swedish banks are paying each other to take cash off their balance sheets into year-end, as 1-week STIBOR crashes to -1.792%.
Fukushima radiation just off the North American coast is higher now than it has ever been, and government scientists and mainstream press are scrambling to cover-up and downplay the ever-increasing deadly threat that looms for millions of Americans.
“To the intelligent man or woman, life appears infinitely mysterious, but the stupid have an answer for everything.” ~Edward Abbey