OPEC

The Fascinating Story Of How The Petrodollar Was Born And Lived In Secrecy For Over 40 Years

For decades, the story of Saudi Arabia recycling US petrodollars, i.e., funding the US deficit by buying US Treasuries with proceeds of its crude oil sales (mostly to the US), while the US sweetened the deal by providing the Saudis with military equipment and supplies, remained entirely in the conspiracy realm, with no confirmation or statement from the US Treasury department. Now, that particular "theory" becomes the latest fact, thanks to a fascinating story by Bloomberg which lays out the history of how the petrodollar was born...

Oil Spikes Near $50 On Libya Turmoil Despite Highest OPEC Production Since 2008

In its ubiquitous manner, crude futures decided to try and run the stops at the US equity open but were unable to get to $50 (49.984 in July WTI) before fading back a little. Ths driver - according to the narrative-du-jour - is turmoil in Libya and ongoing Nigeria and France disruptions, which are both offsetting a surge in OPEC production to its highest level since 2008 in the minds of the machines. "The market is pretty much on hold until we get all this information," says Deutsche Bank's Jens Pedersen of the data dump and OPEC meetings this week. "We need to get that out of the way to see if there is a reason for oil to go higher."

Futures Flat, Gold Rises On Weaker Dollar As Traders Focus On OPEC, Payrolls

After yesterday's US and UK market holidays which resulted in a session of unchanged global stocks, US futures are largely where they left off Friday, up fractionally, and just under 2,100. Bonds fell as the Federal Reserve moves closer to raising interest rates amid signs inflation is picking up. Oil headed for its longest run of monthly gains in five years, while stocks declined in Europe.

The Limits Of Oil's Rebound

Now that all of the main oil producers are unequivocally committed to maximizing production, regardless of the impact prices, oil will continue to trade just like any other commodity (for example, iron ore) that is in oversupply in a competitive market. Prices will be determined as described in any standard economics textbook: by the marginal costs of the last supplier whose production is needed to meet global demand. In the 20-year period of competitive pricing from 1985 to 2004, the oil price frequently doubled or halved in the course of a few months. So the near-doubling of oil prices since mid-January’s $28 low is not surprising. But now that the $50 ceiling is being tested, we can expect the next major move in the trading range to be downward.

Global Stocks Unchanged; US Futures Rise Above 2,100 As Traders Celebrate Memorial Day

With the US closed for Memorial Day and UK markets also offline, overnight volumes have been weaker than normal on little newsflow. The main story remains the stronger USD which not only led to the lowest Yuan fixing since February 2011 but pushed the USDJPY as high as 111.50 overnight before paring gains. Europe’s Stoxx 600 is unchanged on poor volume, after earlier rising above the 200 DMA for the first time in 2016. US equity futures were 0.2%, or 4 points higher, currently resting just above 2,101 with the last trading day of May tomorrow expected to push the cash market over 2,100 as well.

Venezuela's Gold Reserves Plunge To Lowest Ever As Maduro Repays Debt With Gold

Venezuela’s gold reserves have plunged to their lowest level on record after the country sold $1.7 billion of the precious metal in the first quarter of the year to repay debts. The country is grappling with an economic crisis that has left it struggling to feed its population.The OPEC member’s gold reserves have dropped almost a third over the past year and it sold over 40 tonnes in February and March. Gold now makes up almost 70% of the country’s total reserves, which fell to a low of $12.1 billion last week

This Week's Main News From The Oil Sector

For those who need a quick and easy recap of all the main events that took place in the oil and gas services sector, here it is courtesy of Credit Suisse's James Wicklung who present the various "things we've learned this week."

The Consequences Of $50 Oil

If U.S. shale stays competitive, it could trigger another round of production increases from Saudi Arabia, which is determined to do its utmost to hold on to market share even as it boasts of long-term plans to build an “oil-less” economy by 2030. The Saudi bottom line has been ravaged by years of low prices, generating huge budget deficits and debts to contractors (which the Saudi government will attempt to cover through IOUs). Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia remains uniquely positioned to weather such storms; should the price fall again, it is better-placed to retain market share than the high-cost producers in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Peak Petro-State - The Oil World In Chaos

Pity the poor petro-states. Once so wealthy from oil sales that they could finance wars, mega-projects, and domestic social peace simultaneously, some of them are now beset by internal strife or are on the brink of collapse as oil prices remain at ruinously low levels. At the peak of their glory, the petro-states played an outsized role in world affairs.  That, of course, was then, and this is now. While these countries still matter, what worries these presidents and prime ministers now is the growing likelihood of civil violence or even state collapse.

Losing Ground In Flyover America

The Fed’s paint-by-the-numbers Keynesian incrementalism leaves it blind to the underlying rot in the US economy and to drastically over-estimate its capacity to maintain a stable growth equilibrium. In fact, corporate America is being strip-mined by Fed-fueled financial engineering and flyover America is sinking irretrievably into debt, dependency and shrinking living standards.

"The Freeze Is Finished" - Why Did Saudi Arabia Kill OPEC?

The OPEC meeting is only a week away, but the chances of a positive result are as remote as ever. Rising oil prices, the heightened rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and Saudi Arabia’s willingness to go it alone will make a deal all but impossible. "I don't think OPEC will decide anything," a source from a major oil producer in the Middle East told Reuters. "The market is recovering because of supply disruptions and demand recovery." An OPEC delegate told Reuters that any changes to the cartel’s policy is off the table. “Nothing. The freeze is finished,” the OPEC source said.

Why China Is Being Flooded With Oil: Billions In Underwater OPEC Loans Repayable In Crude

Poorer oil-producing countries which took out loans to be repaid in oil when the price was higher are having to send three times as much to respect repayment schedules now prices have fallen.  But while these already poor and corrupt OPEC nations were the biggest losers, one country was a huge winner, the country that provided the billions in virtually risk-free, oil-collateralized loans to any country that requested them. China.

Is OPEC A U.S. National Security Threat?

Republican Kevin Cramer from North Dakota is cosponsoring a bipartisan bill that will set up a commission to probe whether OPEC has used unfair means to bolster its dominance over the market and propose possible remedies on the grounds that the matter is important from a national security standpoint, reports the Financial Times. Though similar efforts in the past against OPEC have been ineffective, another cosponsor, Republican Trent Franks, is optimistic about the outcome this time around. “If our bill does nothing more than to raise this question on to the agendas of business leaders and policymakers . . . it will have achieved something,” he said.

Frontrunning: May 24

  • Asian stocks near 11-week lows, dollar bounces on Fed rate view (Reuters)
  • Poll Finds Lack of Enthusiasm for Clinton and Trump (WSJ)
  • Oil falls for fifth day as focus returns to growing exports (Reuters)
  • The Hedge Fund That Couldn't Stay Open Long Enough for a Big Payday (BBG)
  • French police break up refinery blockade in anti-reform showdown (Reuters)