There is virtually nothing which is on the level in today’s financial markets. According to the Fed’s PR firm, Hilsenramp & Blackstone, one quarter of the $7 trillion in bonds issued by euro zone government are trading at negative yields. And this drastic financial repression prevails across the yield curve, not just on the short end. Yes, the juxtaposition is entirely reasonable that a state drifting toward insolvency and/or ruinous taxation should be able to borrow 10-year money at 0.70%. That is, when the fix is in, the central bank printing press is open to buy, the apparatchiks are terrified and one of history’s greatest monetary charlatans is in charge - the speculators have nothing to do but harvest their haul. So now begins the greatest heist since Bernanke bailed out Wall Street in September 2008.
The fix for low oil prices is... low oil prices. Past some point high-priced producers will naturally stop producing, the excess inventory will get burned up, and the price will recover. Not only will it recover, but it will probably spike, because a country littered with the corpses of bankrupt oil companies is not one that is likely to jump right back into producing lots of oil while, on the other hand, beyond a few uses of fossil fuels that are discretionary, demand is quite inelastic. And an oil price spike will cause another round of demand destruction, because the consumers, devastated by the bankruptcies and the job losses from the collapse of the oil patch, will soon be bankrupted by the higher price. And that will cause the price of oil to collapse again. And so on until the last industrialist dies...
The possibility of the ECB announcing sovereign asset purchases on 22 January already led Switzerland’s SNB to move pre-emptively last month and introduce negative interest rates. As SocGen's FX Research group notes, as disinflationary pressures spill over from the eurozone to trading partners in the north and east of Europe, we parse over the central banks that stand ready to act should the ECB announce QE.
Despite calls for a bottom all the way down from $90, $85, $80, $75, $70, $65, $60, $55, and then $50... crude oil prices (both Brent and WTI) are now below that crucial level (and as Kyle bass notes, even very wealthy nations like Saudi Arabia and Norway are going to have to tap into their sovereign wealth funds to support their annual budgets this year or next). WTI is trading with a $46 handle once again (at fresh cycle lows), and Brent is trading oince again at fresh cycle lows with a $48 handle. Just as worrying away from the apparently OPEC-over-supplied (and nothing to do with demand) oil complex, copper prices just broke below $6000/mt for the first time in 5 years (which 'over-supplier' will get the blame for that? Or is it really about demand after all, just as Saudi Prince bin Talal warned). And don't mention Iron ore, Steel, Aluminum... which all hit new cycle lows...
- Earnings Pessimism Jumps as Oil Threatens S&P 500 Growth (BBG)
- It’s Amateur Hour in the Booming Chinese Stock Market (BBG)
- France mobilizes 10,000 troops at home after Paris shootings (Reuters)
- European Stocks Gain With S&P 500 Futures While Oil Drops (BBG)
- Nasdaq Looks to Operate Dark Pools for Banks (WSJ)
- This Guy Called Bonds in ’14. You Listening This Time? (BBG)
- Paris attacks boost support for Dutch anti-Islam populist Wilders (Reuters)
- OPEC price war in Asia intensifies as oil falls below $50 (Reuters)
While the trading world, or at least the kneejerk reaction algos, is focused on today's US nonfarm payrolls due out in just 2 hours (consensus expects 240K, with unemployment declining from 5.8% to 5.7%) the key event overnight came out of China, (where inflation printed at just 1.5% while PPI has imploded from -1.8% in September to -2.2% in October to -2.7% in November to a whopping -3.3% in December because as per BofA "soft domestic demand over-capacity issue have kept inflation pressures low") and Europe, after a Bloomberg report that as recently as Wednesday, ECB staff "presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets... options included buying only AAA-rated debt or bonds rated at least BBB-, the euro-area central bank official said. Governors took no decision on the design or implementation of any package after the presentation." In other words less than two weeks before the fateful ECB meeting and Mario Draghi not only still hasn't decided on which of three public QE version he will adopt, but the ECB has reverted back to a private QE plan. Not surprisingly the EURUSD jumped back over 1.18 on the news (and USDJPY and stock markets dropped) on the news that Europe still is completely unsure how to proceed with QE despite the endless jawboning.
For now, they've failed............but the fact that this watering-down was even considered is something I find sickening.
Mainstream Media in the US seem to emphasize the positive aspects of the drop in prices. If our only problem were high oil prices, then low oil prices would seem to be a solution. Unfortunately, the problem we are encountering now is extremely low prices. If prices continue at this low level, or go even lower, we are in deep trouble with respect to future oil extraction. The situation is much more worrisome than most people would expect. Even if there are some temporary good effects, they will be more than offset by bad effects, some of which could be very bad indeed. We may be reaching limits of a finite world.
It’s no longer about which factors bring down oil prices, that’s old news; it’s about what oil prices bring down. The oil price drop is a much bigger event than the US subprime housing crisis, it’s bigger than everything put together that happened in 2008. And this time, central banks are lame sitting ducks. Omnipotence is a harsh mistress. She tends to backfire.
- Economists sceptical ECB bond-buying would revive eurozone (FT)
- Indonesia naval captain says may have located missing plane's tail section (Reuters)
- Oil hits five and a half year low under $55 (Reuters)
- Samaras Warns of Euro Exit Risk as Greek Campaign Starts (BBG)
- The death of active investing: Vanguard Sets Record Funds Inflow (WSJ) - thank you Fed
- Oil Downturn Has Many Wondering How Lone Star State Will Weather a Bust (WSJ)
- Hollande Says France Must Exceed 1% Economic Growth to Spur Jobs (BBG)
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)