"In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” - The Fourth Turning - Strauss & Howe – 1997
In the rapidly unfolding events and chaos in Iraq, leaders of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan have capitalized on the situation to gain further leverage over the central government in Baghdad.
The situation in Ukraine and Iraq have gone from bad to worse. There is the potential for a wider Middle East conflict as the region remains a ‘powder keg.’ Iraq may be the match that sees the region explode into chaos and war - with attendant effects on global oil prices and the global economy.
This week brings some key events and releases in DMs, including US FOMC (Goldman expects $10bn tapering, in line with consensus), IP, CPI, and Philly Fed (expect 13.5), EA final May CPI (expect 0.50%), and MP decisions in Norway and Switzerland (expect no change in either).
About a month ago we showed photos of the Chinese police engaged in a drill designed to crush a "working class insurrection", in which the police did precisely what would be required to end a middle class rebellion. It made us wonder: what does China know that the US doesn't. As it turns out, nothing. Because long before China was practicing counter-riot ops using rubber bullets, all the way back in 2008, the US Department of Defense was conducting studies on the dynamics of civil unrest, and how the US military might best respond. The name of the project: "Minerva Research Initiative" and its role is to " “improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S." The premise behind Minerva is simple: study how violent political overthrow, aka mass civil breakdown, happens in the day and age of social networks, and be prepared to counteract it - by "targeting peaceful activities and protest movements" - when it finally reaches US shores.
Reams of paper have already been spilled about the past, present, and potential future of Iraq and the rest of the Middle East but in order to attempt to simplify things a little, we offer 5 maps that answer: What ISIL already have..., What they want..., What they will gain control of if they win..., and where all the allies and enemies are..."This entire system is disintegrating like a house of cards that starts to collapse," Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said.
"The latest escalation in Iraqi tensions has introduced new event risk for global oil markets. However, current options market pricing suggests oil markets are still attaching a low probability to an oil price spike over the coming months. We believe this sanguine approach to oil price spike risk reflects the fact that the major oil infrastructure in Iraq has not (yet) fallen into the hands of the militant extremists." - Deutsche Bank
Yesterday, when we presented the latest US naval update, focusing on the distribution of US aircraft carriers around the world and particularly in the middle east, we summarized that "America, which historically has had a far greater naval presence in the middle east, is quite unprepared for the recent dramatic resurgence of Al Qaeda splinter groups. Expect at least one more aircraft carrier to depart in direction Iraq shortly." Turns out "shortly" meant less than one day.
Self-sufficiency is the deep rooted belief that you can take care of yourself and those around you.
Oil prices are set to hike in the next few days with the growing fear that fighting in the northern city of Mosul will spread southwards in Iraq.
Yesterday's market action was perfectly predictable, and as we forecast, it followed the move of the USDJPY almost to a tick, which with the help of a last minute VIX smash (just when will the CFTC finally look at the "banging the close" in the VIX by the NY Fed?) pushed the DJIA to a new record high, courtesy of the overnight USDJPY selling which in turn allowed all day buying of the key carry pair. Fast forward to today when once again we have a replica of the set up: a big overnight dump in USDJPY has sent the dollar-yen to just over 102.000. And since Nomura has a green light by the BOJ to lift every USDJPY offer south of 102.000 we expect the USDJPY to once again rebound and push what right now is a weak equity futures session (-8) well above current levels. Unless, of course, central banks finally are starting to shift their policy, realizing that they may have lost control to the upside since algos no longer care about warnings that "volatility is too low", knowing full well the same Fed will come and bail them out on even the tiniest downtick. Which begs the question: is a big Fed-mandated shakeout coming? Could the coming FOMC announcement be just the right time and place for the Fed to surprise the market out of its "complacency" and whip out an unexpected hawk out of its sleeve?
If predicting yesterday's EURUSD (and market) reaction to the ECB announcement was easy enough, today's reaction to the latest "most important ever" nonfarm payrolls number (because remember: with the Fed getting out of market manipulation, if only for now, it is imperative that the economy show it can self-sustain growth on its own even without $85 billion in flow per month, which is why just like the ISM data earlier this week, the degree of "seasonal adjustments" are about to blow everyone away) should be just as obvious: since both bad news and good news remain "risk-on catalysts", and since courtesy of Draghi's latest green light to abuse any and every carry trade all risk assets will the bought the second there is a dip, the "BTFATH mentality" will be alive in well. It certainly was overnight, when the S&P500 rose to new all time highs despite another 0.5% drop in the Shcomp (now barely holding on above 2000), and a slight decline in the Nikkei (holding on just over 15,000).
This week's busy calendar starts off with today’s global PMIs and ISMs. On Tuesday, President Obama begins a four day European trip ahead of the G7 meeting which starts on Wednesday. This G7 meeting is replacing the G8 meeting that was originally scheduled in Sochi but was cancelled after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Tuesday’s data docket is important with Euroarea data releases including inflation and unemployment expected to further cement the ECB’s resolve in easing policy come Thursday. Wednesday features the global services ISMs and PMIs. Other data releases scheduled for that day includes the ADP employment report, which will provide an important preview to Friday’s NFP, and US trade. The Fed releases its Beige Book on Wednesday too and the second estimates of Euroarea GDP will be published on Wednesday as well. Apart from the ECB on Thursday, we also have the BoE policy meeting.
It took a precisely 0.1 beat in the Chinese Manufacturing PMI over the weekend (50.8 vs Exp. 50.7) for the USDJPY and the Nikkei to forget all about last week's abysmal Japanese economic data and to send the Nikkei soaring by 2.1% to its highest print in 5 months. Subsequent overnight weakness from Europe, where the Eurozone Final May Manufacturing PMI dropped again from 52.5 to 52.2, below the 52.5 expected, served simply to push bunds higher back over 147.00, if not do much to US equities which as usual continue their low volume "the music is still playing" melt-up completely dislocated from all newsflow and fundamentals (because just like over the past 5 years, "there is hope").
With tear-gas flying in the streets of Turkey, Ukraine's civil-war raging in the south and east, US drones based in Japan to oversee the South China Sea, and Europe's extremist parties gaining significant traction, today we get one more piece of considerably worrisome geopolitical news that global stock markets must ignore. The Sunday Times reports that Israel is to deploy three submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles in the Persian Gulf that are meant to act as a deterrent, gather intelligence and potentially to land Mossad agents. Iran is not happy, warning that "anyone who wishes to do an evil act in the Persian Gulf will receive a forceful response from us."