Despite the intense pain they are suffering in the low price Crudedome, both the Russian and Saudi governments profess for public consumption that they are committed to their volume and market share policies. This observer believes the two countries cannot long withstand the pain they have brought upon themselves - and this article only scratches the surface of the negative impact of low crude prices on their economies. They have, in effect, turned no pain no gain into intense pain no gain and set in motion the possibility neither will exit the low price Crudedome under its own power.
The long-awaited BRICS bank has officially launched, marking yet another milestone on the road to global de-dollarization and lending further credence to the notion that the sun is finally setting on the US-dominated multilateral institutions that have defined the post-war world and served to underwrite six decades of dollar dominance.
While Germany has pre-emptively, and somewhat defensively, come out proclaiming Russian aid to Greece as 'no big deal' - a "routine event" - we suspect the signal that it would send would not be entirely great for the EU (and Obama's) 'Russia is evil' meme. Nonetheless, as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets Russian President Vladimir Putin today - just one day before The IMF loan repoayment is due, topics for discussion vary from lifting sanctions (bilaterally) or bankrolling a bailout to gas discount from Gazprom. Here's a summary...
This anti-capitalistic mentality has brought about today’s essentially bankrupt “middle of the road” welfare state system, in which governments and big business are in a tight embrace that utterly deadens economic progress. The EU’s latest “Four Year Plan” is yet another in a long list of examples of this prototypical continental tradition (incidentally, Europe’s moribund banking system is one of the end results of these economic policies as well). What is really required is a return to free market principles, not yet another “government plan”.
Having put Russia on review in mid-January, Moody's has decided (somewhat unsurprisingly) to downgrade Russia's sovereign debt rating to Ba1 (from Baa3) with continuing negative outlook. The reasons:
*MOODY'S SAYS RUSSIA EXPECTED TO HAVE DEEP RECESSION IN '15, CONTINUED CONTRACTION IN '16
*MOODY'S SEE RUSSIA DEBT METRICS LIKELY DETERIORATING COMING YRS
We assume the low external debt, considerable reserves, lack of exposure to US Treasuries, and major gold backing were not considered useful? Moody's concludes the full statement (below) by noting that they are unlikely to raise Russian sovereign debt rating in the near-term.
With the Ruble having plunged 3 handles today alone, it appears perhaps more than a few could see this coming...
- RUSSIAN FEDERATION RATINGS CUT TO JUNK BY S&P
- RUSSIAN FEDERATION CUT TO BB+ FROM BBB- BY S&P; OUTLOOK NEG
Putting it below investment grade for the first time in a decade. Of course, this happens just 6 days after the news first leaked that S&P would pay a $1.5 billion settlement to the US DoJ over downgrading America: one wonders just what else was in the small print?
When the price of crude started its self-reinforcing plunge, such a death would happen whether the petrodollar participants wanted it, or, as the case may be, were dragged into the abattoir kicking and screaming. It is the latter that seems to have taken place with the one country that many though initially would do everything in its power to have an amicable departure from the Petrodollar and yet whose divorce from the USD has quickly become a very messy affair, with lots of screaming and the occasional artillery shell. As Bloomberg reports Russia "may unseal its $88 billion Reserve Fund and convert some of its foreign-currency holdings into rubles, the latest government effort to prop up an economy veering into its worst slump since 2009." "Together with the central bank, we are selling a part of our foreign-currency reserves,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in Moscow today. “We’ll get rubles and place them in deposits for banks, giving liquidity to the economy."
We often hear that if there is not enough oil at a given price, the situation will lead to substitution or to demand destruction. Because of the networked nature of the economy, this demand destruction comes about in a different way than most economists expect–it comes from fewer people having jobs with good wages. With lower wages, it also comes from less debt being available. We end up with a disparity between what consumers can afford to pay for oil, and the amount that it costs to extract the oil. This is the problem we are facing today, and it is a very difficult issue.
As Pepe Escobar explains, way beyond economy and finance, this is essentially about geopolitics - as in emerging powers offering an alternative to the failed Washington consensus. Or, as consensus apologists say, the BRICS may be able to "alleviate challenges" they face from the "international financial system".
Now that the World Cup is over, and following last week's global macro reporting slumber (aside for the Portuguese risk flaring episode of course), things pick up quite a bit in the coming week. Here are the key events.
- Carl Icahn says 'time to be cautious' on U.S. stocks (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Lifts Lid on Exposure to Group (BBG)
- Slowing Customer Traffic Worries U.S. Retailers (WSJ)
- Insurgents enter military base northeast of Baghdad (Reuters)
- Obama tells Israel U.S. ready to help end hostilities (Reuters)
- Japan economics minister warns of premature QE exit, sees room for more easing (Reuters)
- Greek Banks See Quadrupling of Housing Loans by Next Year (BBG) ... to fund buybacks like in the US?
- Piggy Banks Being Raided Signal Swedish Housing Dilemma (BBG)
- London Seeks New Spenders as Russians Skip $719 Champagne (BBG)
No lesser mortal than commodity-king Andy Lees (ex-UBS and current manage of ALM Macro) explains that today's declining global productivity is and was always a consequence of government policy of taxing productivity in favor of social transfers. The gradual dumbing down of capitalism and move towards social democracy over the last 50 years relied on building a Ponzi scheme of financial innovation to keep the illusion alive. But, he offers hopefully, system dynamics of the natural environment (how land that was once lost to the desert by over taxing it can be returned to a productive use) offer hope that this ponzi trend can be broken. Simply put, Lees concludes, "the system has to change. The issue is whether government and ultimately society can survive during the change; whether the public can unite behind a leadership that can implement tough decisions and allocate capital productively, or whether further sacrifice will be needed first, and how that sacrifice may come"
- Carl Icahn wins again: Actavis to Buy Forest Labs for $25 Billion (WSJ)
- ECB governing council member attacks German court ruling on OMT (FT)
- China Tackles $1 Trillion Data Gap as Xi Changes Metrics (BBG)
- FX Traders Facing Extinction as Computers Replace Humans (BBG)
- BOJ Boost to Loan Programs Signals Room for More Easing (BBG) - actually no it doesn't as it was "factored in"
- Four killed in Thai clashes; PM to face charges over rice scheme (Reuters)
- Goodbye unsterilized SMP: Bundesbank Backs Measure to Boost Funds in Banking System (WSJ)
- Iranian Hacking to Test NSA Nominee Michael Rogers (WSJ)
- Ukraine Clashes Leave Dozens Wounded as Putin Resumes Bailout (BBG)
Spain's unemployment rate hit 26% again this week. Despite Rajoy's please for people to believe things are getting better, that the crisis is over (even as Draghi proclaims it otherwise and Axel Weber warns it is still festering), Spanish local ex-pat newspaper "The Local" has uncovered seven statistics that will help you understand just how serious the situation is. What is perhaps even more surreal is that in a year in which the economy supposedly grew, they depleted their pension reserve fund by 15%...
*SPAIN WITHDREW EU11.6B FROM PENSION RESERVE FUND IN 2013; Spain pension reserve fund ends 2013 With EU53.7 bln
So apart from that, here is how bad it really is in Spain...
Another of history’s many lessons is that governments under pressure become thieves. And today’s governments are under a lot of pressure.