Has the DNA of the global economy been gradually altered by endless injections of quantitative easing, morphing it into a freakish mutant? Are things that are not supposed to happen for centuries on end going to become common occurrences? The collapse of oil prices and jump in the Swiss franc have forced us to puzzle over these weighty questions. In isolation, these events and the direction of their moves did not worry us, but their magnitude, velocity and proximity to each other sent me on an intellectual quest.
The establishment has done everything in its power to hide the most foundational of economic realities, namely the reality of dying demand. Why? Because the longer they can hide true demand, the more time they have to steal what little independent wealth remains within the system while positioning the populace for the next great con. For now we will only say that the program of manipulation we have seen since 2008 is clearly changing. The fact of catastrophic demand loss is becoming apparent. Such a loss only ever precedes a wider fiscal event.
No matter how much oil the United States produces over the next few years, it will never become the next Saudi Arabia in the global oil market, according to Fatih Birol, the new executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). What's especially interesting about this forecast is that it directly contradicts what Birol said only three months ago, and he gave no explanation for his change of mind. “The United States will never be a major oil exporter. Their import needs are getting less but the US is not becoming Saudi Arabia,” Birol told the conference. “Their production growth is good to diversify the market but it will not solve the world’s oil problems.”
Crude oil prices are once again following the path of least deja vu resistance this morning. Having spiked into NYMEX close on Friday (exactly as they did following the rig count data the previous week), WTI is back to a $48 handle this morning following news that Saudi Arabia has increased production to its higest level since 2013. Iraq (another OPEC nation) stirred the pot further by forecasting increased supplies in the next month. This comes as US production hits record highs and vital Oklahoma storage tanks will fill up even sooner than expected, driving the "JK" spread above $2.50 (April delivery drastically cheaper than May). As on analysts noted, as "Cushing continues to fill massively, we could see a '3' handle on WTI."
As the finances of Venezuela continue to deteriorate under the collapse of crude oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro is becoming more paranoid and vindictive. However, the utter bust in oil markets pulled the rug out from beneath the Venezuelan economy. Maduro is cracking down on political opponents as the country deals with the economic crisis, and his pronouncements have become more paranoid as the economy has worsened. The economic situation may only grow worse. The government’s budget breaks even with oil prices at an estimated $117.50 per barrel. With no imminent rebound in sight for oil prices, Maduro is resorting to state-sponsored repression to quell growing opposition.
Euro-denominated emerging market sovereign issuance will soar to its highest levels in 10 years on the back of the European Central Bank's quantitative easing programme, as issuers outside the eurozone seek to take advantage of falling euro yields, according to bank analysts.
If you have been following the price of oil over the last few months, the chances are you’re a little confused. On the one hand you have the likes of A. Gary Shilling who, in this Bloomberg article, loudly trumpets the prospect of oil at $10/Barrel, and on the other there is T. Boone Pickens, who, at the end of last year was predicting a return to $100 within 12-18 months. Pickens prediction has moderated somewhat as WTI and Brent crude have continued to fall, but in January he was still saying that oil would return to $70 or $80/barrel in the near future. So, who is correct?
There was an expectation that today's receipt by the Troika of the revised Greek "reform proposal" would send risk and the EUR higher, which is probably precisely why nothing has happened so far, and US equity futures are unchanged ahead of what the HFT algos' new attention focus is today, namely Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress. As a result, the only thing that has seen notable strength this morning is the USD, which has surged to 119.50 against the Yen, and briefly pushed the EURUSD under 1.1300. which also means that WTI has also gone nowhere overnight and remains under $50. One wonders just what OPEC "rumor" those long crude will leak today.
"The economy is booming, according to recent data. GDP grew by 2.6% annualized in the last quarter. And yet oil prices have dropped faster than they did in the crisis of 2008. The US dollar is at record strength. And the gold price has spiked in many currencies ... Something’s not right here." So says Eric Sprott in his latest report observing what may lie in store for oil and gold in the near future.
UPDATE: *OPEC SAID TO HAVE NO PLANS FOR EMERGENCY MEETING
Crude oil oprices have spiked higher after The FT reports members of OPEC have discussed holding an emergency meeting if crude continues to slide. This would entirely contradict Saudi Arabia's previous statements and, we suspect, means this was more a hope than a statement as the Nigerian Naira collapses... “Almost all OPEC countries, except perhaps the Arab bloc, are very uncomfortable," said Ms Alison-Madueke, adding if the price "slips any further it is highly likely that I will have to call an extraordinary meeting of Opec in the next six weeks or so."
Perhaps the world is beginning to realize that "it's the demand, stupid" as crude oil prices are collapsing this morning (not helped by "all out production" news from Oman). While 'markets' rallied peculiarly after last week's epic surge in inventories and production data, that has all been given back as one trader noted "the market got ahead of itself, even though the rig count has been falling it is not until mid-yr that we are going to see some impact on supply." WTI is back under $49. To complete the gloom, Copper is probing lower, breaking key support with projections to 222.50 if this move takes shape.
- Greece Should Not Give In to Germany’s Bullying (FP)
- Greece Can Pay Its Debts in Full, but It Won’t (WSJ)
- Early Friday humor: Euro Region Economy Strengthens Amid Wrangling on Greece (BBG)
- Euro zone may need extra summit to clinch Greek deal (Reuters)
- Oil-Drop Pain Spreads to Saudi Arabia’s Energy Behemoth (WSJ)
- Yellen Confronts Economists’ Ignorance (BBG) - where does one even start with this one
- ECB Plans to Push Greek Banks to Shed State Debt If Talks Fail (BBG)
The front page of The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, February 10 proclaimed “Oil-Price Rebound Predicted” according to the IEA (International Energy Agency).
The Russian economy continues to suffer. The absolute desolation of the oil market effectively destroyed the economy in Russia, which is incredibly dependent on the commodity. Job’s have been lost, the standard of living has collapsed and now the once proud Russian bond, is being attacked.
Standard and Poors, what some call, “the international credit watchdog” slashed Russian debt to BB+, one step below what the markets consider investment grade.