It is at least well-understood that there are seasons in history, but they seem to have a mysterious, implacable dynamism that mere humans can only hope to ride like great waves, hoping to not get crushed. In the background of the present disturbances are not only the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, but the imminent collapse of the machinery that boosted up the greater Islamic economy of our time: the oil engine. These are the stresses that are boiling over into the West these days. The long war underway is a race to the bottom where the human project has to re-set the terms of a life above savagery.
There is compelling evidence that 2015 will see a global slump in economic activity. This being the case, financial and systemic risks will increase as evidence of the slump accumulates. It can be expected to undermine global equities, property and finally bond markets, which are currently all priced for economic stability. Even though these markets are increasingly controlled by central bank intervention, it is dangerous to assume this will continue to be the case as financial and systemic risks accumulate. Precious metals are ultimately free from price management by the state. Furthermore, they are the only asset class notably under-priced today, given the enormous increase in the quantity of fiat money since the Lehman crisis. In short, 2015 is shaping up to be very bad for fiat currencies and very good for gold and silver.
If you, like the BIS, are sick and tired of central bankers, and in this case the ECB's endless jawboning and now daily QE threats, determining the level of stocks, well then today is a good day as any to take your blood pressure medication. Because first it was ECB Governing Council member Ignazio Visco who told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the risk of deflation in the euro zone should not be underestimated and urged the bank to buy government debt, and then, yet another regurgitated story, came from CNBC whose "sources" reported that the ECB QE would be based on contributions from national central banks and paid in capital. And while otherwise the cross-correlation trades would have at least pushed the crude complex modestly higher, today it was Goldman's energy analyst Jeffrey Currie finally throwing up all over oil, with a report in which he said that "because shale can rebound quickly once capital investments return, we now believe WTI needs to trade near $40/bbl for most of 1H15 to keep capital sidelined."
Speaking to his favorite money-honey, billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal told Maria Bartiromo that the negative impact of a 50% decline in oil has been wide and deep. As USA Today reports, the prince of the Saudi royal family said that while he disagrees with the government on most aspects, he agreed with their decision on keeping production where it is, adding that "if supply stays where it is, and demand remains weak, you better believe it is gonna go down more. I'm sure we're never going to see $100 anymore... oil above $100 is artificial. It's not correct." On the theory that the US and the Saudis have agreed to keep prices low to pressure Russia, the prince exclaimed, that is "baloney and rubbish," adding that, "Saudi Arabia and Russia are in bed together here... both being hurt simultaneously."
Every couple of years the same identical European drill repeats itself: 1) Greece makes loud noises as it approaches an election, 2) Europe says it couldn't care what the outcome is and that Greece should stay in the Euro but if it exits it won't be a disaster, 3) the ECB reminds everyone of the lie that it is not preparing for Plan B (it is) despite holding on to over €100 billion in "credibility-crushing" Greek bonds, 4) panicking Greek banks say the deposit outflow situation is completely under control (adding that "The Bank of Greece along with the European Central Bank are monitoring closely the developments and intervene whenever this is necessary," which is code word for far more familiar, five-letter word), and meanwhile 5) all non-Greek banks quietly start preparing for the worst case scenario. So far this time around, we had everything but step "5". We do now.
There is overwhelming evidence that the rampant money printing of the past decade or two has done nothing to generate sustainable growth in mainstream living standards and real wealth. Yet the monkeys keep rattling the cage, promising and demanding more ZIRP(and now N-ZIRP) and more fraudulent purchase of government debt with fiat credit congered by their printing presses. Consider some striking proof of failure...
People are becoming more critical of our current monetary system. In the past six years, central banks have promised us growth within six months’ time. They and the whole monetary and financial system have lost credibility. The banks’ profit to GDP is the highest in history in an economic environment where we have the highest amount of unemployment since WWII. There is something very wrong with the way the system works and this is all due to the overemphasis on trying to minimize the business cycle. The real conclusion of QE can only become visible if we experience the full business cycle. In Jakobsen's view, we have never been allowed to have a down cycle since 2008. But now, there is finally going to be a down cycle because central planners can’t print more money. As Jakobsen puts it: “Now is the time for the real economy to take over”.
Why does one believe the word “catastrophe” was used by The Fed's Charlie Evans? Hmmmmm? After all, the very articulated and polished minutes of what members expressed to one another as to set the current policy was just made public. We thought the verbiage of choice was now “patient.” Unless... You know you’ve either lost, or in the process, of losing control of the markets ear. In our opinion, this is an unveiled showing of possible outright panic developing behind the proverbial curtain.
France’s president, François Hollande, described the attack as an “act of exceptional barbarity.” But killing people is hardly exceptional – neither for the empire nor its enemies. It is routine. And great empires follow their well-trodden paths, too, no matter what mockery they encounter. That path leads in a familiar direction – freedom of speech is chilled. But we know of no instances in which foreign enemies put it on ice. Usually, it is the empire’s own bureaucrats, snoops and protectors who do the chilling. And that cooling is already under way.
If it looks like a war, acts like a war and smells like a war, it may just be a war. The US has been waging economic, financial, trade, political and even kinetic war-by-proxy against Russia. The only question is why?
Two months ago we reported that former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis have put the world "on the brink of a new Cold War." That warning has now escalated as the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner told Der Spiegel news magazine, according to excerpts released on Friday, that tensions between Russia and European powers over the Ukraine crisis could result in a major conflict or even nuclear war, adding that "a war of this kind would unavoidably lead to a nuclear war."
- Global Debt Crisis II – Total Global Debt to GDP Ratio Over 300% - Risk of Bail-Ins in 2015 and Beyond - Currency and Gold Wars - $1 Quadrillion “Weapons of Mass Destruction” Derivatives - Cold War II and New World Order as China and Russia Flex Geopolitical Muscles - Enter The Dragon – Paradigm Shift of China Gold Demand - Forecast 2015: None. Forecast 2020: Gold $2,500/oz and Silver $150/oz
...over time, grand coalition governments may only serve to ossify the re-orientation of political allegiances along the mainstream vs. populist dimension. If economic malaise persists to the next election, support for populist parties is likely to build, as scepticism about the adjustments required to sustain Euro area membership rises. The Greek experience points in this direction. Were this experience to extend to larger and more systemically relevant countries (such as Italy or Germany), the implications for markets would be profound.
While the trading world, or at least the kneejerk reaction algos, is focused on today's US nonfarm payrolls due out in just 2 hours (consensus expects 240K, with unemployment declining from 5.8% to 5.7%) the key event overnight came out of China, (where inflation printed at just 1.5% while PPI has imploded from -1.8% in September to -2.2% in October to -2.7% in November to a whopping -3.3% in December because as per BofA "soft domestic demand over-capacity issue have kept inflation pressures low") and Europe, after a Bloomberg report that as recently as Wednesday, ECB staff "presented policy makers with models for buying as much as 500 billion euros ($591 billion) of investment-grade assets... options included buying only AAA-rated debt or bonds rated at least BBB-, the euro-area central bank official said. Governors took no decision on the design or implementation of any package after the presentation." In other words less than two weeks before the fateful ECB meeting and Mario Draghi not only still hasn't decided on which of three public QE version he will adopt, but the ECB has reverted back to a private QE plan. Not surprisingly the EURUSD jumped back over 1.18 on the news (and USDJPY and stock markets dropped) on the news that Europe still is completely unsure how to proceed with QE despite the endless jawboning.