As we warned previously, the devaluation, or breaking of the Saudi Riyal peg to the dollar, could be the black swan event for crude oil and the recent weakness in SAR forwards - while not as violent as Nigeria's Naira - certainly signals a renewed market fear that breaking the peg is imminent. It appears Saudi officials are none too pleased with the free markets speculating on this devaluation and as Bloomberg reports, banks in Saudi Arabia are coming under fresh pressure over products that allow speculators to bet against the kingdom’s currency peg, according to people with knowledge of the matter, which were supposedly banned in January.
So far in May, base metals and Oil decoupled markedly. While the Oil price kept rising and moved closer to 50$, base metals fell off a cliff and descended below March lows. We believe that Oil is the errant outlier, helped by deep but temporary supply outages in Canada and Nigeria and all-time record speculative flows, and is more likely to catch down to other commodities going forward rather than the other way round. We look at Oil gyrations as short-term heavy volatility, within a long-term downward trend.
The last phase in all cases of hyperinflation is currency stabilization. This phase is inevitable whether it be because of changes introduced by the government or due to complete rejection of local currency by the population. In order for such a monetary reform to be successful, it is essential that the government first eliminate the main cause of the inflation (the budget deficit). Unfortunately, it does not seem as though the Venezuelan government has any plans to decrease spending, nor does it appear that revenue from oil will be recovering any time soon, meaning that any attempts at currency stabilization will surely fail (just as it did the last time when the bolivar fuerte was introduced in 2008). In light of this situation, it seems that Thiers’ Law is inevitable.
You have to love it when one of Donald Trump’s wild pitches sends the beltway hypocrites into high dudgeon. But his rumination about negotiating a discount on the Federal debt was priceless. No sooner did the 'unschooled' Trump mention out loud what is already the official policy of the US government than a beltway chorus of fiscal house wreckers commenced screaming like banshees about the sanctity of Uncle Sam’s credit promises.
- As Brexit vote looms, U.S. banks review their European commitments (Reuters)
- Oil’s Strength Continues to Boost Global Stocks (WSJ)
- Trump closing gap with Clinton, poll shows (Hill)
- In Adjacent Pennsylvania Counties, Republicans Are Split on Donald Trump (WSJ)
- Make America Gold Again: Calls for Everyone's Favorite Standard Are Back (BBG)
The difference between Trump and his critics is that he must believe there is a cost in printing too much money. Modern economists do not appear to grasp this basic concept.
One month ago, when the NYT reported that Saudi Arabia would liquidate as much as $750 billion in Trasurys should the US pursue legislation that could hold it liable for the September 11 bombings, many asked: does Saudi Arabia own that many Treasurys? We now have the answer courtesy of a Bloomberg FOIA submission to the US treasury, and our estimate of "far less" Saudi holdings was indeed accurate. As Bloomberg reports, "the stockpile of the world’s biggest oil exporter stood at $116.8 billion as of March."
In a vote whose outcome was largely expected, moments ago the Brazilian Senate concluded a marathon 21 hour session with a 55 to 22 vote to suspend President Dilma Rousseff from office to face an impeachment trial, ushering in a new government to take command of Latin America’s largest economy. Rousseff will be tried on allegations she illegally doctored fiscal accounts to mask the size of the budget deficit.
It appears Russia is close to taking the next big step towards de-dollarization and killing the petro-dollar as Vladimir Putin's "dream" of ruble-based pricing of its domestically-produced oil is on the verge of realization. SPIMEX (The St. Petersburg International Mercantile Exchange) is actively courting international oil traders to join its emerging futures market, which as Bloomberg reports, is designed "to create a system where Russian oil is priced and traded in a fair and straightforward way."
Zimbabwe is set to print its own version of the US dollar, as an ailing economy fuels a severe cash shortage in the southern African nation. John Mangudya, Zimbabwe’s central bank governor, said Thursday the so-called bond notes will be backed by $200 million in support from the Africa Export-Import Bank. The specially designed dollar notes will come in denominations of two, five, 10 and 20. They will also have the same value as their U.S. dollar equivalents. The bond notes are an extension of so-called bond coins of one, five, 10 and 25 cents which the central bank introduced in 2014 and are pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar.
In the latest clear sign that low oil prices are taking their indirect toll not only the US shale sector, leading to billions in capex cuts and hundreds of thousands of lost oil and gas jobs, on Friday Saudi newspaper al-Watan reported that the multinational construction conglomerate Saudi Binladin Group (which was founded in 1931 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Laden Sayyid, father of Osama bin Laden who was removed as a shareholder in the business in 1993 and disowned by the family) has laid off 50,000 staff as pressure on the industry rises amid government spending cuts to survive an era of cheap oil.
Everything that the classical economists saw and argued for – public investment, bringing costs in line with the actual cost of production – that’s all rejected in favor of a rentier class evolving into an oligarchy. Financiers in the 1% are going to pry away the public domain from the government and privatize it so that they get all of the revenue for themselves. It’s all sucked up to the top of the pyramid, impoverishing the 99%. “As long as you can avoid studying economics, you know what’s happened. Once you take an economics course you step into the brainwashing of an Orwellian world.”
The Third World War is currently being fought. How long before it moves into its hot stage?
The Vision for 2030 is mostly smoke and mirrors. Saudi Arabia probably cannot replace the money it will lose if oil goes out of style and so is doomed to downward mobility and very possibly significant instability. It has been a great party since the 1940s; it is going to be a hell of a hangover.
For all the pledges of eternal love, it’s an open secret in the Beltway that the House of Saud is the object of bipartisan contempt; and their purchased support, when push comes to shove, may reveal itself to be worthless. Now picture a geopolitical no exit with a self-cornered House of Saud having both superpowers, the US and Russia, as their enemies.