Not long ago, we wrote Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If high oil prices can be a problem, how can low oil prices also be a problem? In particular, how can the steep drop in oil prices we have recently been experiencing also be a problem? In our view, a rapid drop in oil prices is likely a symptom that we are approaching a debt-related collapse. Underlying this debt-related collapse is the fact that we seem to be reaching the limits of a finite world. There is a growing mismatch between what workers in oil importing countries can afford, and the rising real costs of extraction, including associated governmental costs. This has been covered up to date by rising debt, but at some point, it will not be possible to keep increasing the debt sufficiently. At some point the debt situation will eventually reach a breaking point.
Claims that the new government in Ukraine is nothing more than a Western puppet Parliament have been swirling around consistently since February. Nevertheless, we think it’s very significant that the takeover is now overt, undeniable and completely out in the open.
Meet American, Natalie Jaresko, who runs private equity fund Horizon Capital, and just became Ukraine’s Finance Minister.
Any economic sage should conclude that the cure for high taxation is, well, low taxation. Remember our job is not to maximize government revenues in the short run, but to improve living standards in the long run. France would do well to repudiate its native son Piketty, and move to align its policies with the Scotsman Adam Smith, who a long time ago advocated low-broad taxation and light-handed regulation of capital and labour markets.
"As was true at the 2000 and 2007 extremes, Wall Street is quite measurably out of its mind. There’s clear evidence that valuations have little short-term impact provided that risk-aversion is in retreat (which can be read out of market internals and credit spreads, which are now going the wrong way). There’s no evidence, however, that the historical relationship between valuations and longer-term returns has weakened at all. Yet somehow the awful completion of this cycle will be just as surprising as it was the last two times around – not to mention every other time in history that reliable valuation measures were similarly extreme. Honestly, you’ve all gone mad."
1. Heightened uncertainty over the achievability of fiscal deficit reduction goals and containing debt
2. Economic growth policy uncertainties and challenges in ending deflation
3. Erosion of policy effectiveness and credibility could undermine debt affordability
Recently we posted the following article commenting on the impact of USD appreciation and dollar circulation among oil exporters, as well as how the collapsing price of oil is set to reverberate across the entire oil-exporting world, where sticky high oil prices were a key reason for social stability. Following today's shocking OPEC announcement and the epic collapse in crude prices, it is time to repost it now that everyone is desperate to become a bear market oil expert, if only on Twitter...
Fear Of "Surge In Debt Defaults, Business Failures And Job Losses" Means Many More Chinese Rate CutsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/23/2014 10:40 -0500
The PBOC, which cut rates for the first time in two years on Friday, will have its work cut out for it. And in the worst tradition of "developed world" banks, Beijing will now have no choice but to double down on the very same bad policies that got it into its current unstable equilibrium, and proceeds with a full-blown policy flip-flop, leading to a full easing cycle that reignites the bad-debt surge once more. And sure enough, today Reuters reports citing "unnamed sources involved in policy-making" (supposedly different sources than the unnamed sources Reuters uses to float trial balloons used by the ECB and the BOJ), that "China's leadership and central bank are ready to cut interest rates again and also loosen lending restrictions" due to concerns deflation "could trigger a surge in debt defaults, business failures and job losses, said sources involved in policy-making." In other words, China has once again looked into the abyss once... and decided to dig a little more.
There are things going on with the financial markets currently that seem just a bit "out of balance." For example, asset prices are rising against a backdrop of global weakness, deflationary pressures and rising valuations. More importantly, there is a rising divergence between sentiment and hard data. While weather can't be blamed yet, it will likely be the main "excuse" in the months ahead as early record snowfall is already impacting economic production. However, it isn't just the manufacturing data that seems "out of whack."
While hopes of the J-Curve recovery in the deficit are long forgotten in the annals of Goldman Sachs history, silver-lining-seekers will proclaim the very modest beat in tonight's Japanese trade deficit a moral victory for a nation whose economic data has been nothing but abysmal for months. However, the near $1 trillion Yen deficit is the 44th month in a row as exports to US and Europe rose modestly in Yen terms but dropped to China and US in volume terms. USDJPY continues its march higher (now 118.25) but, unfoirtunately for Abe's approval ratings, Japanese stocks continue to languish an implied 1000 points behind - unable to break back above pre-GDP levels... as faith in Kuroda's omnipotence falters.
While we no longer live in a world in which debt matters - because central banks will just monetize it in their ongoing and no longer covert effort to reflate the final bubble - and thus debt ratings are an irrelevant anachronism from a bygone era, we can't help but recall a certain statement by S&P from September of last year, in which the rating agency reminded everyone just why Japan has to proceed with both its first sales tax hike from 5% to 8%, (which, together with weather, has now been blamed on Japan's shocking quadruple-dip recession), but also the follow up from 8% to 10%, which as we now know, has been delayed indefinitely, and which was supposed to prefund welfare spending for Japan's demographic disaster which with every passing day gets closer and closer.
Four years ago, bankers, politicians, and traders were patting themselves on the back after Petroleo Brasiliero (Petrobras) raised a stunning $70 billion in the world's largest share sale, as Bloomberg reported at the time, investors bet on its plans to double output within a decade by tapping offshore fields. Things haven't worked out so well...
Words, numbers, earnings and more at one time had a believable meaning. But that was a very long time ago. So long – even the news media seems to have forgotten what the meaning of words like business, free markets, capitalism and others once meant. Now it's nothing but a televised version of crony styled capitalism cheerleaders rolled out one after another in such procession P.T.Barnum would be proud. The problem is the more they talk – the more people tune out. For no amount of words stated matter any longer. Nor do the myriad of “charts” “reports” or so-called “facts” they hold up as evidence. No one is listening or watching. And what’s worse? Nobody now cares.
While most people's attention has been focused on the demise of the Russian Ruble this year, since the June highs in Crude Oil, the oil-producing nations of the world have seen their currencies devalue rapidly. From Brazil to Nigeria and Algeria, the impact of lower oil revenues is starting to create a vicious circle for many of these nations... and having consequences for the very Petrodollar flows that the US relies upon...
- "The hate us for our..." Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program (WSJ)
- Ukraine and Russia take center stage as leaders gather for G20 (Reuters)
- Moscow and Kiev trade accusations; U.S. warns Russia against escalation (Reuters)
- Heartland Central Banker Calls Asset Bubbles Top Concern (BBG)
- U.S. Said to Give Banks December Deadline in FX Probe (BBG)
- Series of Failures Enabled White House Breach, Report Finds (WSJ)
- Yen plumbs seven-year trough on likely Japan sales tax delay (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Chase Bankers Said to Lead Moscow Departure (BBG)
Kuroda has fired the shot that looks likely to trigger the next phase of the crazy monetary experiment we’ve all been living in for the last five years. Unfortunately, the next phase is where things start to get nasty. Just because equity markets cheered the latest sugar rush he guaranteed them should not make smart investors lower their guard — quite the opposite, in fact. Colonel Kuroda has gone up-country into the Heart of Darkness, and all we can do is await the Apocalypse now.