"Pointing to one possible avenue of asymmetrical retaliation, the source said Moscow could give in to long-standing Chinese requests for sensitive defense technologies that would aid in its development of high-tech weapons capable of doing serious damage to U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific. Moscow has so far declined China's requests on "politically correct pretenses," the source said." The punchline: "We can also encourage Iran, or even back Iran in a fight — a military operation — with Saudi Arabia, so then the prices for oil will skyrocket," the source said, explaining that these were just two possible responses."
As reported yesterday in his Q4 letter to investors, Third Point's Dan Loeb took down his net leverage going into 2015 for one simple reason: a "haunted house market" as he described it, where "a new scary event lurks around each corner", and no event is scarier than a worst-case outcome to the Greek situation. So how does Loeb see the latest Greek crisis ending? Read on for this thoughts.
The recent rally in crude prices looks more like a head-fake than a sustainable turning point, suggests Citi's Ed Morse, noting that short-term market factors are more bearish, pointing to more price pressure for the next couple of months and beyond. While the shape of the oil price recovery is unlikely to be 'L'-shaped in their view (more likely 'U', 'V', or 'W'-shaped recovery), Citi warns the oil market should bottom sometime between the end of Q1 and beginning of Q2 at a significantly lower price level in the $40 range (perhaps as low as the $20 range for a while) - after which markets should start to balance, first with an end to inventory builds and later on with a period of sustained inventory draws.
"Economic hardship is another piece of the puzzle governing the extent to which violent extremism takes hold of societies. Europe, in part because of the unintended (but entirely predictable) effects of the euro currency union, is in its seventh year of economic stagnation. Unemployment and underemployment are high, especially among the region’s youth. This economic environment is a foul ground in which anger and racial, religious and ideological hatreds flourish."
It took a while, but three months after we wrote "How The Petrodollar Quietly Died, And Nobody Noticed", someone finally noticed.
If it’s not one geopolitical concern these days it’s invariably another. The number of world conflicts to total world events is at its highest level in seven years and the number of protests to total world events has spiked of late after falling precipitously since the good old days of the Arab Spring and 7% periphery 10-year yields.
What neither the Saudis, nor the US shale companies, and certainly not their investors, who lately seem to get their investment advice from the Cartoon Network, know is even if every last US shale company is Friendo'ed, there is an even more insidious group of drillers and oil extractors waiting behind them, backed by an even greater monetary bubble and an even more clueless group of sources of cash, just waiting to step in and become the next marginal oil producer.
"This is further evidence that they are hellbent on protecting their market share in China," warns one strategist as just when US talking-heads thought things were 'stabilizing' Saudi Aramco slashes its official selling price for Arab Light crude by 90 cents to $2.30 a barrel less than Middle East benchmarks - the biggest discount in 14 years. As Bloomberg reports, the desert kingdom is continuing to fight for market share, and using the oil weapon by "trying to stay competitive in what is the biggest area of growth," as Middle Eastern producers are increasingly competing with cargoes from Latin America, Africa and Russia for buyers in Asia.
It has been a quiet overnight session, following yesterday's epic short-squeeze driven - the biggest since 2011 - breakout in the S&P500 back to green for the year, with European trading particularly subdued as the final session of the week awaits US nonfarm payroll data, expected at 230K, Goldman cutting its estimate from 250K to 210K three days ago, and with January NFPs having a particular tendency to disappoint Wall Street estimates on 9 of the past 10. Furthermore, none of those prior 10 occasions had a massive oil-patch CapEx crunch and mass termination event: something which even the BLS will have to notice eventually. But more than the NFP number of the meaningless unemployment rate (as some 93 million Americans languish outside of the labor force), everyone will be watching the average hourly earnings, which last month tumbled -0.2% and are expected to rebound 0.3% in January.
Despite numerous explanations that no boots-on-the-ground will be on-the-ground in Iraq in the war against Islamic State, it appears, as CNN reports, that the US military has moved Search-and-Rescue (S&R) assets to Northern Iraq as part of a "constant rebalancing" depending on the evolving airstrike-only mission. Of course, as the 'unnamed source' was so quick to explain, this was in no way a response to threats from The UAE to pull out of the coalition unless S&R assets were placed in Iraq since, cynically speaking, the UAE demands are only the result of US demands that it demand it anyway.
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer," appears to be the 'do-nothing-stupid' strategy that Washington continues to play in The Middle East. How else to explain the continuing 'close-ally' relationship with Saudi Arabia given that, as Reuters reports, Zacarias Moussaoui - a former al Qaeda operative imprisoned for life for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks - has told lawyers for victims of the attacks that members of the Saudi royal family supported the Islamic militant group. Saudi officials were quick to denounce these statements as those of "a deranged criminal whose own lawyers presented evidence that he was mentally incompetent," as he included some "extremely famous" Saudi officials as 'donors' during Osama bin Laden's tenure.
Another Conspiracy Theory Becomes Fact: The Entire Oil Collapse Is All About Crushing Russian Control Over SyriaSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/04/2015 11:45 -0400
And so the great chess game involving Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United States, Qatar, Syria, ISIS, Ukraine, natural gas and lots and lots of oil, is finally revealed.
The point is not to focus on how stocks bounced the last few days, but how susceptible they are to a very serious collapse occurring when the US Dollar begins its next leg up.
- Arab World Unites to Condemn ‘Barbaric’ Death of Jordanian Pilot (BBG)
- Jordan hangs two Iraqi militants in response to pilot's death (Reuters)
- As Oil Prices Climb, Some Harbor Doubts (WSJ)
- Taiwan plane cartwheels into river after take-off, killing at least 19 (Reuters)
- Seven dead as commuter train hits car near New York City (Reuters)
- Apollo’s 600% Profit on Oil Company Leaves Rivals Behind (BBG)
- Greece's rock-star finance minister Yanis Varoufakis defies ECB's drachma threats (Telegraph)