As the year winds down, a Gordian knot tying Russia, oil prices and China together is receiving a great deal of attention. Let's see if we can unravel some of the confusing twists and turns.
We turn first to China's offer of assistance to Russia. The idea that Russia could activate its CNY150 bln (~$24 bln) currency swap line with China is capturing the imagination of many.
"The oil-price weapon, in the face of the terminal enfeeblement of the Obama administration, is the last recourse before the Saudis and Turks, whatever their autocues of racist rhetoric, invite Israel to smash the Iranian nuclear program from the air."
Drilling Our Way Into Oblivion: Shale Was About Land Gambling With Cheap Debt, Not Technological MiraclesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/21/2014 16:00 -0400
The shale patch can exist in its present form only if it has access to nigh limitless credit, and only if prices are in the $100 or up range. Wells in the patch deplete faster than you can say POOF, and drilling new wells costs $10 million or more a piece. Without access to credit, that’s simply not going to happen. That’s about all we need to know. Shale was never a viable industry, it was all about gambling on land prices from the start. And now that wager is over, even if the players don’t get it yet. So strictly speaking my title is a tad off: we’re not drilling our way into oblivion, the drilling is about to grind to a halt. But it will still end in oblivion.
While the current episode of Russian geopolitical and economic turmoil may seem significant, the following chart from Goldman Sachs shows the tempestuous time the nation has had over the past 150 years...
- Swiss National Bank Starts Negative Interest Rate of 0.25% to Stave Off Inflows (BBG)
- Putin Strikes Uncompromising Stance Over Crisis Gripping Russia (BBG)
- Sony cancels North Korea movie in apparent win for Pyongyang hackers (Reuters)
- U.S. Said Set to Blame North Korea for Sony Cyber Attack (BBG)
- China’s Short-Term Borrowing Costs Surge as Demand for Money Grows (WSJ)
- Russia Currency Market Bends But Doesn’t Break (BBG)
- Jeb Bush Puts Pressure on Chris Christie for 2016 (WSJ)
- From joy to outrage, Florida's Cuban-Americans greet new U.S. policy (Reuters)
- Russians Quit London Luxury Homes as Only Super-Rich Stay (BBG)
In 1985, the Saudis chose volume over price to defend their market share against new production from the North Sea, as well as cheating/discounting from other OPEC members in a period of weak demand. The Saudis had warned the world of their intentions, but many thought “it was merely an elaborate warning designed to scare other OPEC countries and restore discipline.” The parallels with today’s market structure are hard to miss, and the Saudi’s essential playbook remains the same...
If prices fall any further (and what’s going to stop them?), it would seem that most of the entire shale edifice must of necessity crumble to the ground. And that will cause an absolute earthquake in the financial world, because someone supplied the loans the whole thing leans on. An enormous amount of investors have been chasing high yield, including many institutional investors, and they’re about to get burned something bad. We might well be looking at the development of a story much bigger than just oil.
Anyone who was hoping the market would rebound on last-minute news that the US government has gotten funding for another 9 months, will be disappointed this morning, when futures are finally starting to notice the relentless decline in crude, and with Brent down another 1% as of this writing following yet another cut in the forecast of Global oil demand by the IEA (the 4th in the last 5 months) and with Chinese industrial production also missing estimates (recall that the Chinese slow-motion hard landing has been said by many to be the primary catalyst for the crude collapse) which however pushed Chinese stocks higher on hopes of even more stimulus, the S&P is trading lower by some 14 points, the 10 Year is in the red zone at 2.12%, and the USDJPY is close to session lows. In short: Kevin Henry's "ETF" desk at the NY Fed will have its work cut out to generate one of the now traditional pre-weekend feel good, boost confidence stock market ramps.
New oil projects are being scrapped in Norway amid falling production and low oil prices. The governor of Norway’s central bank says western Europe’s biggest oil producer is facing a major economic slowdown as crude prices continue to plunge. As Bloomberg reports, Oeystein Olsen said today after unexpectedly cutting rates and shocking markets to a new 5 year low in NOKEUR, "our job now is that we need to prevent a severe downturn in the economy... that is presently the major concern of the board."
- Shale operaters Goodrich, Oasis Petroleum cut spending for 2015 as oil slides (Reuters)
- Greece to hold elections in January if president vote fails (Reuters)
- Norway’s Shock Rate Cut Drives Krone to Lowest Since 2009 (BBG)
- ‘Severe Downturn’ Threatening Norway, Central Bank Governor Says (BBG)
- Russia’s Fifth Rate Increase Fails to Halt Ruble Slide to Record (BBG)
- SNB Says Deflation Risks Increased as Franc Cap Maintained (BBG)
- China eases bank lending restrictions, PBOC targets 10 trillion yuan in loans for 2014 (Reuters)
- Mobius Says China’s Bull Market Is Just Getting Started (BBG)
- How Wal-Mart Made Its Crumbling China Business Look So Good for So Long (BBG)
Revelations From The Torture Report – CIA Lies, Nazi Methods And The $81 Million No-Bid Torture ContractSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/10/2014 21:02 -0400
The U.S. government justifies all of its militaristic and other interventions overseas using this false narrative that it holds some sort of moral high ground. It should now be abundantly clear to everyone that this invented ethical position is a total fabrication. I can summarize my thoughts on this entire matter with the following: "If you're part of status quo, you can get away with anything. Murder, torture, theft of trillions. Until top guys are jailed it won't stop."
A dispassionate look at the week ahead.
You almost have to step outside of economics, even out of the financial world as a whole, to pose what is the most elementary question about our economy today. That can’t be right. The most elementary question is not how we can achieve growth, it’s whether we need growth, and what we would need it for that is important enough to destroy our entire societies and economies for.... We’re in dire need of fresh blood and smart new ideas to clean up the mess the present ideologies and their puppets and puppetmasters have created.
Perhaps those sub-$50 Bakken prices tell us pretty much where global prices are ahead. And then we’ll take it from there. With 1.8 million barrels “that nobody needs” added to the shale industries growth intentions, where can prices go but down, unless someone starts a big war somewhere? Yesterday’s news that US new oil and gas well permits were off 40% last month may signal where the future of shale is really located. But oil is a field that knows a lot of inertia, long term contracts, future contracts, so changes come with a time lag. It’s also a field increasingly inhabited by desperate producers and government leaders, who wake up screaming in the middle of the night from dreaming about their heads impaled on stakes along desert roads.
What we experience today is completely contrary to the German (maybe not the U.S.) understanding of the role of the Central Bank. The ECB has now assumed a role not only to protect the value of our common currency against inflation but also to take action as if it is responsible to create economic growth and full employment with instruments like money printing, zero interest rates and unlimited investments in bonds which the free market is rejecting... Is it really worth it to increase the already heavy burden of public debt, which our children must service someday, by accepting even more debt in a vain effort to increase public demand? Let’s instead be happy with zero GDP growth, zero inflation and zero growth of public debt! That could be a more rational solution.