Just when you thought it was all over... Having bounced post-CBR intervention and somewhat stabilized, the re-collapse in crude oil prices and continued weakness in Russian macro data provided just the impetus for a re-plunge in the Ruble (back above 63.5/USD) and surge in Russian bond yields (back to 14%). While Russian stocks are also retesting towards recent lows, it is Russian CDS that is the most telling as it closed to day at 595bps - the widest since March 2009. While these violent gyrations are new for recent history, they are not a new phenomenon, but are quite characteristic of the country’s financial history.
In 1991, the Cold War between the US and the USSR ended, as, economically, the USSR had run its course. Since that time, the US has had the ability to back off on armaments and to strengthen itself economically, to become even more powerful as the world’s present empire. But, of course, that’s not what they did. Instead, they went headlong in the direction of becoming a more highly armed, more fascist state. Along the way, they became extremely reckless with their economy, following a Keynesian model that contributed to the greatest debt bubble the world has ever seen.
Fasten your seatbelts; 2015 will be a whirlwind pitting China, Russia and Iran against what I have described as the Empire of Chaos.
Less drilling will not only lead to a loss of jobs for oil workers, but the services that pop up around drilling sites – restaurants, bars, construction, and more – are feeling the slowdown as well. States like Texas, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Louisiana have seen their economies boom over the last few years as oil production surged. But the sector is now deflating, leaving gashes in employment rolls and state budgets. With such extensive dependence on oil for prosperity in these states, the pain will mount if oil prices stay low.
We will readily admit that one cannot know with certainty whether the bubble in risk assets will become bigger. However, it seems to us that avoiding a big drawdown may actually be more important than gunning for whatever gains remain. We don’t think it is a good idea to simply “take the blue pill” and rely on the idea that the effects of the money illusion will last a lot longer. It is possible, but it becomes less and less likely the higher asset prices go and the more money supply growth slows down. If no-one can say when, then the “blue pill” strategy has a major weakness. It means that things could just as easily go haywire next week as next year.
Hot on the heels of his Xmas Poem, 50-year NYSE veteran Art Cashin, UBS Director of Floor Operations, has unveiled his New Year's Poem summarizing the year behind and looking at the year ahead. From ISIS to The Ice Bucket Challenge and from Joan Rivers' death to Kim Jung Un's life, Cashin covers it all...
Fast forward to today when we are about to learn that Newton's third law of Keynesian economics states that every boom, has an equal and opposite bust. Which brings us to Texas, the one state that more than any other, has benefited over the past 5 years from the Shale miracle. And now with crude sinking by the day, it is time to unwind all those gains, and give back all those jobs. Did we mention: highly compensated, very well-paying jobs, not the restaurant, clerical, waiter, retail, part-time minimum-wage jobs the "recovery" has been flooded with. Here is JPM's Michael Feroli explaining why Houston suddenly has a very big problem.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
"Back in the halcyon days of summer, it seemed nothing could go wrong; but now, ...the uncertainties presently being generated have the potential to undermine two crucial kinds of trust – that one must have in the merits of one’s own exposure and that equally critical faith in the reliability of one’s counterparties. If it does, the third great bull run of the 20-year age of Irrational Exuberance could well reach its culmination, after a rally of almost exactly the same magnitude as and of similar duration to the one which ushered it in, all those years ago."
Oil is not quite as powerful a weapon against modern-day Russia as one might think.
We are now far advanced into the third central bank generated bubble of the last two decades, but our monetary politburo has taken no notice whatsoever of its self-evident leading wave. Namely, the massive malinvestments and debt mania in the shale patch.
Having announced its intention to create an alternative to the SWIFT payment system (following calls from Western politicians for SWIFT to cut off Russia - which the 'independent' firm rapidly denied), Russia recently said it would be ready in May. However, it seems the rapid drop in the Ruble (and the Yuan in recent days) has escalated the need for this de-dollarized payment system and, as RT reports, Russia’s Rossiya and SMP banks, which fell under Western sanctions, are among the eight lenders that will start testing the country’s new national payment system on December 15.
The hypothesis that follows, if carried through, is certain to have a significant effect on gold and the relationship between gold and all government-issued currencies. The successful remonetisation of gold by a major power such as Russia would draw attention to the fault-lines between fiat currencies issued by governments unable or unwilling to do the same and those that can follow in due course. It would be a schism in the world's dollar-based monetary order.
Watt will you do when the well runs dry?