Following the end of a horrible week for petroleum importers (not to mention shale producers) despite WTI briefly dipping under $40 (wasn't this supposed to be great news for the US economy?) we have the start of a just as ugly week for the Persian Gulf oil exporters, whose Sunday market open can be described as a continuation of last week's broad risk carnage, and where Saudi Arabia, until recently the region's best performing market, is now down 10% for the year and down 30% compared to 12 months ago.
Over the weeks, months, and years ahead we’ll begin to understand more about the fallout from the death of the petrodollar and nowhere is it likely to be more apparent than in Saudi Arabia where widening fiscal and current account deficits have forced the Saudis to tap the bond market to mitigate the FX drawdown that's fueling speculation about the viability of the dollar peg. As Bloomberg reports, the current situation mirrors a "very scary moment" in Saudi Arabia’s history.
Persistently low oil prices have already inflicted economic pain on oil-producing countries. But with crude sticking near six-year lows, the risk of political turmoil is starting to rise. There are several countries in which the risks are the greatest – Algeria, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, and Venezuela – and, as we noted previously, RBC Capital Markets has labeled them the “Fragile Five.”
The story behind the deadly chemical explosion that rocked China’s Tianjin port last Wednesday continues to evolve amid fears that the public could be at risk from the hundreds of tonnes of sodium cyanide stored at the facility. Indeed, new samples show that the cyanide level in the water around the site is some 28 times the safety standard. It looks as though determining who actually owns Ruihai will be complicated by the fact that in China, it’s not uncommon for front men to hold shares on behalf of a company’s real owners. In an effort to pacify the country’s censored masses, party mouthpiece The People’s Daily said 10 people, including the head and deputy head of Ruihai had been detained since Thursday. Finally, initial estimates put the cost of the blast at bewteen $1 billion and $1.5 billion.