“Everybody knows that the Americans are dropping supplies to Daesh,” said Brig. Gen. Abed al-Maliki, a senior Iraqi army commander based in the city of Samarra, about 80 miles north of Baghdad, using another term for the Islamic State. “It’s just a show,” he said, sitting in the city’s army command headquarters. “If the Americans want to finish something, they will finish it. If they wanted to liberate Iraq, they could.”
As the deadline for Iran nuclear talks looms, the possibility of a deal which in some way lifts crude export sanctions is starting to be realized. As we warned 2 weeks ago, despite all the rhetoric, a confluence of political factors makes a deal highly likely at this point; and as The Telegraph reports, Iran is a sleeping oil giant holding 9% of the world’s proven oil reserves and with an estimated 2m barrels per day of excess supply already sloshing around international markets, any significant increase in Iranian output could easily trigger a further rout in prices. While OPEC may well clamp down on this in June, as The Telegraph concludes, by then a barrel of oil may already be selling for $20.
With the rest of the developed world's central banks waiting for the Fed to admit defeat for one more year and delay its proposed rate hike (or launch NIRP/QE4 outright) it was all about China (the same China which a month ago we said would launch QE sooner or later) and hope that its central bank would boost asset prices, when over the weekend the PBoC governor hinted that more easing is imminent to offset the accelerating drag after he admitted that the nation’s growth rate has tumbled "a bit" too much and that policy makers have scope to respond. How much scope it really has now that its bad debt is rising exponentially is a different question. It got so bad, Shanghai Securities News leaked a false rumor earlier forcing many to believe China would announce an unexpected rate cut as soon as today, in the process sending the Shanghai Composite soaring by 2.6%.
What the Heck Is This War About?
Just a week after Jean-Claude 'I am not a hawkish warmonger' Juncker pressed for the creation of a Unified European Army to combat the 'looming' threat of their massive trade partner Russia; RT reports Arab leaders have agreed to form a joint military force from roughly 40,000 elite troops and backed by warplanes, warships and light armor at a Sharm el-Sheikh summit. Egyptian President Abdel Sisi has announced a high-level panel will work out the structure and mechanism of the future force. The work is expected to take four months. It appears The Endgame of this global game of Risk is fast approaching as one-by-one, geographically proximate nations join forces for whetever comes next.
A look ahead at the major drivers in the days ahead.
President Obama is "blowing up our alliances to secure a deal that paves Iran’s way to a bomb," according to European sources close to the negotiations, and as Washington Free Beacon reports, efforts by the Obama administration to stem criticism of its diplomacy with Iran have included threats to nations involved in the talks, including U.S. allies. France has borne the brunt of Obama's wrath as one source in Europe close to the ongoing diplomacy said the US has begun to adopt a “harsh” stance toward its allies in Paris because "the clarifications expose just how weak the Americans’ deal is shaping up to be."
Well that was a quick geopolitical event. On the heels of what was set to be Crude's best week since July 2013, Stratfor clarifying little risk of disruption to crude supplies, Goldman confirming neglible impact from Yemen and more to Iran, and reports from Saudi Arabia that "this [Yemen] operation will not go on for long, I think it will be days," WTI crude has tumbled back to the $48 handle and erased all the "gulf intervention" premium - refocusing on domestic storage concerns.
It's a day of ‘master of the universe,’ central bank speeches as both Bank of England governor Mark Carney and Fed chief Janet Yellen preach their ultra loose policies and certain market participants lap up the Gospel according to Mark … and Janet ...
After a few days of dollar weakness due to concerns that the Fed's rate hike intentions have been derailed following some undisputedly ugly economic data (perhaps the Fed should just make it clear there will never be rate hikes during the winter ever again) the USD has resumed its rise, and as a result risk assets, after surging early in the overnight session driven by the Nikkei225 and the Emini, the "strong dollar is bad for risk" trade has re-emerged, with the Nikkei dropping almost 500 points off its intraday highs, with US equity futures poised to open lower once more, sliding nearly 20 points in the overnight session, and surprising the BTFDers who have not seen five consecutive days of "risk-off" in a long time.
The last few days have been almost the worst for the Saudi Arabian stock market in 4 years. Between low oil prices, a new King's big social welfare budget, and now "war," it appears this year's dead cat bounce from last year's exuberance is dying rather rapidly. However, what is perhaps even more troublesome for The Kingdom than the net worth destruction and potential blowback from instigating war against the Houthis is the fact that this month saw the largest drop in foreign curreny reserves on record (over 15 years) for the Arab nation... somewhat suggesting capital flight on a scale never seen before in one of the richest states in the world.
Yesterday we saw the tracers against the dark night sky, tonight we get the video of Saudi warplanes bombing various Houthi positions. All looks quite "decisive" to us...
Moments ago AP reported that Egyptian military and security officials told The Associated Press that the military intervention will go further, with a ground assault into Yemen by Egyptian, Saudi and other forces, planned once airstrikes have weakened the capabilities of the rebels. "The assault will be by ground from Saudi Arabia and by landings on Yemen's Red and Arabian Sea coasts. The aim is not to occupy Yemen but to weaken the Houthis and their allies until they enter negotiations for power-sharing, the officials said."