Speaking of the need for citizen participation in our national politics in his final State of the Union address, President Obama said, “Our brand of democracy is hard.” A more accurate characterization might have been: “Our brand of democracy is cold hard cash.” Cash, mountains of it, is increasingly the necessary tool for presidential candidates. Several Powerball jackpots could already be fueled from the billions of dollars in contributions in play in election 2016. When considering the present donation season, however, the devil lies in the details, which is why the details follow.
Having urged "don't panic" just 4 short months ago, it appears Nigeria just did just that as the global dollar short squeeze forces the eight-month-old government of President Muhammadu Buhari to beg The World Bank and African Development Bank for $3.5bn in emergency loans to help fund a $15bn deficit in a budget heavy on public spending amid collapsing oil revenues. Just as we warned in December, the dollar shortage has arrived, perhaps now is time to panic after all.
On January 21st, George Soros, who has throughout his life been passionately opposed not just to communism but also to Russia, finally stated that the United States (and possibly the EU, but he says that the EU is in terrible economic shape itself) must now fund a new Marshall Plan for all of Europe, including, this time, even his bête noire: Russia. However, is he ending, or merely suspending, his lifelong war against Russia?
"I worked without sleep or rest. After Prime Minister Abe put my self at the helm of Abenomics, I put my life on the line for my national duty over the past three years."
When the RMB deval dust settled, some $1 trillion in capital fled China in 2015 as Chinese rushed to move money out of the country ahead of what many expect will be a much larger yuan depreciation. Estimating capital flight out of China isn't an exact science and different analysts look at different proxies to determine just how leaky the ship is, so to speak. For their part, Goldman has endeavored to break down the numbers on the way to shedding some light on where to look to assess the pace of the flows.
Anyone who dares to question Obama's grand renaissance is supposedly peddling fiction. Meanwhile, in today's latest mass layoff event (which, oddly enough, has become a daily thing during the "recovery") some 2,500 Sprint workers - 8% of the company's 31,000 total employees - have already received, or are about to be "peddled" pink slips.
Having told banks and investors "don't panic" in September, amid spiking interbank lending rates and surging default/devaluation risks, it appears the massive shortage of dollars that we warned about in December has washed tsunami-like ashore in oil-producing Nigeria. Following the Central bank's decision this week to halt dollar sales to non-bank FX market operators, black market exchange rates spiked to 282/USD (vs 199 official) and CDS spiked to record highs implying drastic devaluations loom.
After rising by $15.5 billion in the month before, and a near-record $22 billion in September, the November increase in nonrevolving credit was a paltry $8.3 billion - this was the smallest monthly increase in this most important for US car makers data, since February of 2012!
Just two weeks ago we warned of the looming "hyperinflation monster" in Africa with the continent appearing to be running out of dollars as some of Africa’s largest economies, including Nigeria, Angola, Ethiopia and Mozambique, are restricting access to the greenback to protect dwindling reserves. Specifically we warned of Angola's already-soaring inflation hampering its ability to 'adjust' its currency towards its black market 'reality'. But that did not stop the central bank devaluing Kwanza by 15% over the weekend - the most since 2001 - to record lows as crude prices crush their economy and the flow of USDs.
Important pillars of the bull case evaporated throughout 2015. Global price pressures weakened, the global Credit backdrop deteriorated and the global economy decelerated. The huge bets on central bank policies left markets at high risk for abrupt reversals and trade unwinds – 2015 The Year of the Erratic Crowded Trade. Indeed, a global bear market commenced yet most remain bullish. Serious and objective analysts would view this ominously.
If Donald Trump is a megalomaniac salivating over taking control of American Weimar, then both Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio are führers in the making. The same goes for the rest of the field, where each and every candidate aspires to be the Celebrity-in-Chief. Trump only looks worse because he doesn’t have the benefit of a sympathetic media on his side.
In an unexpected turn of events, the disappearance of not just synthetic but very physical dollars has hit one region much harder and much faster than we expected. Africa.
OPEC blowback continues to ripple around the world. With Russia's Ruble pushing back towards record lows against the USD, and Kazakhstan's Tenge having tumbled to record lows, the writing was on the wall for Azerbaijan. As Bloomberg reports, the third-biggest oil producer in the former Soviet Union moved to a free float on Monday and the manat crashed almost 50% instantly to its weakest on record with the second devaluation this year.
Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism is a threat to the Western countries but the Islamic countries are encountering a much bigger threat of inter-sectarian conflict. For centuries the Sunni and Shi’a Muslims have coexisted in relative peace throughout the Islamic World but now certain vested interests are deliberately stoking the fire of inter-sectarian strife to distract attention away from the Home Front: that is, the popular movements for democracy and enfranchisement in the Arab World.