While Iraqi crude represents about 4.4% of world production, or around 3.4 mmbd (5th largest in the world); enabling investors to shrug at any fears that ISIS will spread to the South and interrupt this supply (since it will be 'contained'); what many do not comprehend is that in such a tight oil market as we currently have, Goldman warns that as much as 60% of OPEC’s expected capacity growth over the next five years to come from Iraq. Production losses so far have been fairly small, and have only been felt domestically. However, the larger impact of the conflict potentially lies in the medium to long term.
According to BP, drivers whose vehicles rely on burning oil have a little more than a half-century to find alternate sources of energy. Or walk. BP’s annual report on proved global oil reserves says that as of the end of 2013, Earth has nearly 1.688 trillion barrels of crude, which will last 53.3 years at current rates of extraction.
Economic analysts are torn as to how important Saudi Arabia will prove to the global economy in years ahead. In the first half of 2014, the US surpassed Saudi Arabia to become the world’s foremost oil producer. This sparked widespread predictions that the US would soon become an oil exporter, reducing its dependency on Riyadh and harming Saudi Arabia’s leading role in the Middle-East. However, the ISIS invasion of Iraq and Syria, the Boko Haram insurgency and continued oil theft in Nigeria, unrest in Venezuela and ongoing violence in Sudan and South Sudan have changed the deal.
Whoever really runs things these days for the semi-mummified royal administration down in Saudi Arabia must be leaving skid-marks in his small-clothes thinking about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his ISIS army of psychopathic killers sweeping hither and thither through what is again being quaintly called “the Levant.” ISIS has successfully shocked the world over the last two weeks by negating eight years, several trillion dollars, and 4,500 battle deaths in the USA’s endeavor to turn Iraq into an obedient oil dispensary. Things are happening at lightning speed over in the region and beware of how the turmoil spreads from one flashpoint to another.
The Great Depression did not represent the failure of capitalism or some inherent suicidal tendency of the free market to plunge into cyclical depression - absent the constant ministrations of the state through monetary, fiscal, tax and regulatory interventions. Instead, the Great Depression was a unique historical occurrence - the delayed consequence of the monumental folly of the Great War, abetted by the financial deformations spawned by modern central banking. But ironically, the “failure of capitalism” explanation of the Great Depression is exactly what enabled the Warfare State to thrive and dominate the rest of the 20th century because it gave birth to what have become its twin handmaidens - Keynesian economics and monetary central planning. Together, these two doctrines eroded and eventually destroyed the great policy barrier - that is, the old-time religion of balanced budgets - that had kept America a relatively peaceful Republic until 1914. The good Ben (Franklin that is) said,” Sir you have a Republic if you can keep it”. We apparently haven’t.
For quite some time, we have been predicting that the Russians and Chinese will, at some point, bring an end to the petrodollar system that has virtually guaranteed the US the position of having its currency be the world's default currency. This position has allowed the US, in recent decades, to go on a borrowing and currency-printing spree, the likes of which the world has never seen. But now, the US is broke, and its stature as the biggest boy has begun to wane. The other kids in the schoolyard are playing smart, whilst the US is still playing tough... and it's no longer working... The US is at war with China and Russia. It's an undeclared war, and it's monetary warfare, not military warfare.
Energy security is not synonymous with energy independence.
The multitudes of people, especially Americans, who view U.S. government activity in a negative light often make the mistake of attributing all corruption to some covert battle for global oil fields. In fact, the average leftist seems to believe that everything the establishment does somehow revolves around oil. This is a very simplistic and naïve view. A very real danger within energy markets is the undeniable threat that the U.S. dollar may soon lose its petrodollar status and, thus, Americans may lose the advantage of relatively low gas prices they have come to expect. That is to say, the coming market crisis will have far more to do with the health of the dollar than the readiness of oil supply.
Bank of America believes the increasing geopolitical tensions in Iraq risk regional contagion, with the potential for negative spillover to global markets. If Iraq were to see further turmoil, in addition to the civil war in neighbouring Syria, we believe it could destabilize the region further, disrupt oil production and exports, and provide fertile ground for terrorist activity to extend its reach. They review the background of Iraqi turmoil, and discuss the political, economic and market implications in 10 questions; noting that the root of the problem is the central government’s non-inclusive and sectarian policies.
"In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” - The Fourth Turning - Strauss & Howe – 1997
This week’s news certainly WASN’T BORING. Big events and small add up to unfolding CHAOS around the WORLD. This week’s subjects: American Empire on FIRE!, Out on a LIMB: Credit Unions facing INSOLVECY, Is rising indebtedness a sign of economic strength?, Bond YIELDS continue to collapse as the race for yield INTENSIFIES, George Orwell in Action, Showdown looming at the OK corral!, Simply UNBELIEVABLE SOVEREIGN credit market action, PHANTOM GDP, Rare INDEED, Must watch video interview with Charles Nenner,European BANKING SYSTEM INSOLVECY
While the US scrambles to figure out what the least painful way is to admit yet another humiliating foreign policy defeat, things in Iraq continue to deteriorate as the relentless blitzkrieg unleashed by the ISIS/ISIL Al-Qaeda spin off, which has shocked everyone by its speed and scale, takes two more towns, as it rushes for its target: Baghdad itself.
Oil prices are set to hike in the next few days with the growing fear that fighting in the northern city of Mosul will spread southwards in Iraq.
Yesterday's market action was perfectly predictable, and as we forecast, it followed the move of the USDJPY almost to a tick, which with the help of a last minute VIX smash (just when will the CFTC finally look at the "banging the close" in the VIX by the NY Fed?) pushed the DJIA to a new record high, courtesy of the overnight USDJPY selling which in turn allowed all day buying of the key carry pair. Fast forward to today when once again we have a replica of the set up: a big overnight dump in USDJPY has sent the dollar-yen to just over 102.000. And since Nomura has a green light by the BOJ to lift every USDJPY offer south of 102.000 we expect the USDJPY to once again rebound and push what right now is a weak equity futures session (-8) well above current levels. Unless, of course, central banks finally are starting to shift their policy, realizing that they may have lost control to the upside since algos no longer care about warnings that "volatility is too low", knowing full well the same Fed will come and bail them out on even the tiniest downtick. Which begs the question: is a big Fed-mandated shakeout coming? Could the coming FOMC announcement be just the right time and place for the Fed to surprise the market out of its "complacency" and whip out an unexpected hawk out of its sleeve?