Last week, after reading a Time article titled "Why Bashar Assad Won’t Fight ISIS" written by a journalist whose recent work includes "The YouTube War", and who sourced two unnamed, anonymous sources to reach the conclusion that Syria's president Assad is in cahoots with ISIS, we made a simple conclusion: "The Stage Is Set For The Syrian Invasion." Barely a week has gone by and the wheels for the Syrian invasion are indeed turning: earlier today, US Secretary of State John Kerry (who one hopes doesn't use kerryemails.com as a work email server) who is on a trip to Saudi Arabia unveiled the next steps when he said that "military pressure may be needed to oust Syria's President Bashar al-Assad."
Moments ago Mardio Draghi, as part of the ECB's March set of economic forecasts, revealed what is the biggest inflationary hockeystick in history, as European inflation, magically, is now expected to soar from 0.0% to 1.5%!
No matter how much oil the United States produces over the next few years, it will never become the next Saudi Arabia in the global oil market, according to Fatih Birol, the new executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). What's especially interesting about this forecast is that it directly contradicts what Birol said only three months ago, and he gave no explanation for his change of mind. “The United States will never be a major oil exporter. Their import needs are getting less but the US is not becoming Saudi Arabia,” Birol told the conference. “Their production growth is good to diversify the market but it will not solve the world’s oil problems.”
Crude oil prices are once again following the path of least deja vu resistance this morning. Having spiked into NYMEX close on Friday (exactly as they did following the rig count data the previous week), WTI is back to a $48 handle this morning following news that Saudi Arabia has increased production to its higest level since 2013. Iraq (another OPEC nation) stirred the pot further by forecasting increased supplies in the next month. This comes as US production hits record highs and vital Oklahoma storage tanks will fill up even sooner than expected, driving the "JK" spread above $2.50 (April delivery drastically cheaper than May). As on analysts noted, as "Cushing continues to fill massively, we could see a '3' handle on WTI."
As the finances of Venezuela continue to deteriorate under the collapse of crude oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro is becoming more paranoid and vindictive. However, the utter bust in oil markets pulled the rug out from beneath the Venezuelan economy. Maduro is cracking down on political opponents as the country deals with the economic crisis, and his pronouncements have become more paranoid as the economy has worsened. The economic situation may only grow worse. The government’s budget breaks even with oil prices at an estimated $117.50 per barrel. With no imminent rebound in sight for oil prices, Maduro is resorting to state-sponsored repression to quell growing opposition.
Euro-denominated emerging market sovereign issuance will soar to its highest levels in 10 years on the back of the European Central Bank's quantitative easing programme, as issuers outside the eurozone seek to take advantage of falling euro yields, according to bank analysts.
If there isone thing that is virtually certain about today's trading (aside from the post Rig Count surge in oil because if there is one thing algos are, it is predictable) is that despite S&P futures being a touch red right now, everything will be forgotten in a few minutes and yet another uSDJPY momentum ignition ramp will proceed, which will push the S&P forward multiple to 18.0x on two things i) it's Friday, and an implicit rule of thumb of central planning is the market can't close in confidenece-sapping red territory ahead of spending heavy weekends and ii) the Nasdaq will finally recapture 5000 following a final push from Apple's bondholders whose recent use of stock buyback proceeds will be converted into recorder highs for the stock, and thus the Nasdaq's crossing into 5,000 territory because in the New Normal, the more expensive something is, the more people, or rather algos, want to buy it.
One week ago, when reporting on the latest bizarre plan presented by the Pentagon, namely providing Syrian rebels (but only the moderate ones, not the jihadists like al Nusra, or, well, ISIS) with B-1B Bomber air support in their attacks on ISIS, when we wrote that this "means in the coming weeks and months look forward to a surge in false flag "attacks" blamed on the Assad regime, aiming to give Obama validation to expand the "War against ISIS" to include Syria's regime as well." We didn't have long to wait: in an entirely unsourced Time article written today by Aryn Baker, the Middle East Bureau Chief, the stage for the second attempt at invading Assad regime is finally set.
No; Mr. Obama has not seen “the great light,” remaining as blind in Middle East affairs as he has been in his belligerent, anti-Russia approach in Eastern Europe. He, like Don Quixote, is still riding his Rocinante as he charges the windmills. Saint Paul did see the great light and is now known as Apostle of the Gentiles. As for Obama, given his present lackluster status, it’s unlikely he will be politically canonized, much less be known someday as Political Apostle of either Americans or Non-Americans.
"The economy is booming, according to recent data. GDP grew by 2.6% annualized in the last quarter. And yet oil prices have dropped faster than they did in the crisis of 2008. The US dollar is at record strength. And the gold price has spiked in many currencies ... Something’s not right here." So says Eric Sprott in his latest report observing what may lie in store for oil and gold in the near future.
UPDATE: *OPEC SAID TO HAVE NO PLANS FOR EMERGENCY MEETING
Crude oil oprices have spiked higher after The FT reports members of OPEC have discussed holding an emergency meeting if crude continues to slide. This would entirely contradict Saudi Arabia's previous statements and, we suspect, means this was more a hope than a statement as the Nigerian Naira collapses... “Almost all OPEC countries, except perhaps the Arab bloc, are very uncomfortable," said Ms Alison-Madueke, adding if the price "slips any further it is highly likely that I will have to call an extraordinary meeting of Opec in the next six weeks or so."
Why Does America Keep “Losing” Its Wars?
While Obama desperately tries to stick to his now crushed "Nobel peace prize winner" image, by not succumbing to an all-out land war in the one nation where his progressive "pacifism" brought him fame (and according to some, the presidency), namely Iraq, the rest of militant, "interventionist" US foreign policy is rapidly starting to resemble that waged by the most brutally rabid, neo-con Republican leader. Case in point an absolute stunner reported minutes ago by the WSJ, according to which the White House has decided to provide pickup trucks equipped with mounted machine guns and radios for calling in U.S. airstrikes to some moderate Syrian rebels aided by American B-1B bombers!
In case anyone didn’t get ISIL’s message from their latest video in which 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians have their heads sawn off, here it is: “We’re executioners, not warriors.” The Big Prize, of course, is the grand fortress of Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is surrounded by Islamic maniacs now and if Saudi Arabia falls apart, it’s game over for modern life as the West has known it (and much of Asia now, too). But Europe is a gigantic debt minefield that no one can really walk across. Other parts of it than Greece are just waiting to blow up, and will, and it’s unclear whether Europe is even paying attention to the blood-red welcome mat that was laid out in Libya last weekend.