Economic principles explain why the Saudis began, in late 2014, to pump crude as fast as they could – or close to as fast as possible. In fact, there is a good reason why the Saudi princes are panicked and pumping.
Just to help 17-year-old hedge fund managers reconcile the confusion generated by Pepsi's two sets of numbers, the ghastly GAAP ghastly, and the nice non-GAAP, the company continued the tradition of dramatically dumbing down everything that happens in the quarter with yet another admission that it knows very well who its main "investor base" is these days, namely "attention-deficited", 17-year-old hedge fund managers (and algos of course), all of whom need a simple, portable story on which to BTFD (or BTFATH).
Morgan Stanley's results were quite ugly: total revenue of $7.8 billion barely changed from the previous quarter, and was down 21% from Q1 2015, however due to the sharp drop in consensus estimates in recent months, revenues was a "beat" to the $7.76 billion expected. Earnings likewise were ugly, tumbling by 53% from $2.4 billion to $1.1 billion, or $0.55 per share. This too was a beat as a result of a sharp plunge in Q1 EPS expectations in recent months.
Failure to proceed with crude output freeze plan seen as a "serious blow" to oil-market sentiment by Energy Aspects; Barclays expects mounting tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran to boost volatility. Separately, Kuwait oil workers strike viewed as price-supportive. Here, courtesy of Bloomberg, is a summary of what analysts have said so far on meeting’s outcome as well as comments on Kuwait:
Following yesterday's OPEC "production freeze" meeting in Doha which ended in total failure, where in a seemingly last minute change of heart Saudi Arabia and specifically its deputy crown prince bin Salman revised the terms of the agreement demanding Iran participate in the freeze after all knowing well it won't, oil crashed and with it so did the strategy of jawboning for the past 2 months had been exposed for what it was: a desperate attempt to keep oil prices stable and "crush shorts" while global demand slowly picked up. And whether it is central banks, or chronic BTFDers, just 12 hours after oil opened for trading with a loud crash, the commodity has nearly wiped out all losses, and both brent and WTI were down barely 2%, leading to both European stocks and US equity futures virtually unchanged on the session.
The main questions investors ask us today seem to be about the exterior appearance of the market and not fundamentals. “What is this price action telling you?” “What are other investors asking you about?” “How are other people positioned?” Or, “what’s the current sentiment?” They start by saying “I’m a contrarian investor by nature” and then go on to say the same thing about their view that we have heard in several previous meetings. Romanticizing that you are a contrarian when you are indistinguishable from consensus can’t be good... They are looking at the price, or external appearance, in making their forecasts and not the fundamentals.
Yesterday the Federal Reserve released a 19-page letter that it and the FDIC had issued to Jamie Dimon, the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, on April 12 as a result of its failure to present a credible plan for winding itself down if the bank failed. The letter carried frightening passages and large blocks of redacted material in critical areas, instilling in any careful reader a sense of panic about the U.S. financial system. The Federal regulators didn’t say JPMorgan could pose a threat to its shareholders or Wall Street or the markets. It said the potential threat was to “the financial stability of the United States.”
Sunday’s producer meeting is all about nothing no matter what agreement might be forged. At best, the agreement will be, as Russia’s energy minister has stated, a gentlemen’s affair, with no binding commitments, no concrete next steps beyond having a review meeting, and no procedure for moving to production cuts.
"If the money market dries up, if there is an event like the Lehman crisis, there won’t be the infrastructure for banks to raise capital... Every day is like being Alice in Wonderland... interest-rates levels are having no effect on credit demand, the market function is declining. You can’t expect everything to go according to plan."
It's time for try number two. Moments ago BATS announced that it has just priced its second attempt at going public by pricing its (second) initial public offering at a price to the public of $19.00 per share (this time the high end of the range). The size of the offering has been increased from the initially announced 11,200,000 shares of common stock to 13,300,000 shares of common stock.
Bernanke has been a charlatan and intellectual lightweight all along but the gist is that the US economy is wanting for some non-existent ether called “aggregate demand”. And that this ether is something the Fed can easily create by handing an open-ended spending account to politicians, and one that would never have to be repaid or even serviced with interest! It puts you in mind of the medieval theologians who endlessly debated as to the number of angels which could fit on the head of a pin. The trouble is, there is not such thing as angels. Nor is there any such thing as economic growth or wealth that can be conjured by politicians spending Bernanke’s utterly counterfeit money.