Israel indicated earlier today that it has finally had it with Obama, with the above sequence of events culminated in what Haaretz described was a reciprocal snub of the "leader of the free world" by Israel's president Reuven Rivlin, who declined a White House invitation to meet with Obama during his upcoming US trip: After consultations, Rivlin finally declined the American suggestion. His advisers explained to the Americans that the two leaders’ schedules do not overlap, because Rivlin is expected to return to Israel before Obama gets back to Washington. “At this stage, it has been agreed not to hold a meeting during his visit, due to the schedule constraints of both leaders, and that a meeting would be scheduled at a later date,” the statement said.
Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen - the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few years. As Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen - the head of ABN's corporate finance and capital markets -"startled" friends and colleagues as the 42-year-old "had a great reputation" at work, came from an "illustrious family," and enjoyed national fame briefly as the boyfriend of a famous actress/model. As one colleague noted, "he was always cheerful, good mood, and apparently he had everything your heart desired. He never sat in the pit, never was down, so I was extremely surprised. I can not understand." Most believe that the suicide is not related to his work at the bank, but a former colleague had noticed that on his Facebook recently changed its job title to "former." Chris leaves behind a son - who had recently been cleared of cancer.
- Sovereign QE not working in Europe
- Emerging market capital flight
- Political risk/popularist governments
- US wage inflation
- Increased currency volatility
- Insurance against natural catastrophes
Since last May (and likely long before) when the topic of "de-dollarization" was first uttered in official circles (and not just tin-foil-hat-wearing blogs), the rest of the world (un-isolated as they are) has been warming to the idea that perhaps - just perhaps - it is time to de-dollarize (more or less depending on the despotic region in question). From currency swap agreements to bi-lateral trade agreements to selling US Treasuries and greatly rotating USD reserves into gold, the world's nations (small and large) appear less and less comfortable holdings dollars in this tempestuous world. Among the supporters of that first "de-dollarization" meeting were China and Iran and while the former continues to work down its exposure, the latter - Iran, according to Tasnim news agency, has almost entirely eliminated USDollars from its reserves and is no longer using dollars in foreign trade. De-dollarization complete...
"No one believes the suicide hypothesis," one of Nisman's investigative team told Reuters, adding that, "he was very convinced of his ideas and prepared to see them through. He had received threats all his life and it never intimidated him." With the news of no gunpowder residue sinking in, and protests rising, even Argentina's President is now uncomfortably admitting it, saying on Thursday that she was "convinced" Nisman's death was not a suicide, explaining that people had led him astray in his investigation in order to smear her name and then "needed him dead." However, instead of vowing to shed light on the matter, Fernandez and her government have been on the defensive, trying to refute Nisman's claims against her. Neighboring Uruguay said it felt sorry for Argentina and that its justice system needs to clear up the case to maintain "the minimal confidence our societies need." Questions abound...
As reported earlier, several hours ago Saudi Arabia announced that its 91-year-old King Abdullah had passed away, in the process setting off what may be a fascinating, and problematic, Saudi succession fight which impacts everything from oil, to markets to geopolitics, especially in the aftermath of the dramatic political coup in neighboring Yemen. As a reminder, it is Saudi Arabia whose insistence on not cutting oil production with the intent of hobbling the US shale industry has led to the splinter of OPEC, and to a Brent price south of $50. Which is why today's event and its implications will be analyzed under a microscope by everyone: from politicians to energy traders. Here, courtesy of Ecstrat's Emad Mostaque, is an initial take at succession, the likely impact on oil, then the Saudi market & currency and finally regional politics.
After first falling ill and being hospitalized in December, Saudi Arabia officials have announced:
*SAUDI ARABIAN KING ABDULLAH DIES, CROWN PRINCE SALMAN SUCCEEDS: STATE TV
As we noted previously when considering this possibility, "a new King can do (almost) anything he wants, including changing oil policy." 79-year-old Crown Prince Salman has been named succesor (and has his own health issues - reportedly suffering from Dementia). Oil prices popped around 80c on the news.
The gravy train is over for oil workers. All over North America, people that felt very secure about their jobs just a few weeks ago are now getting pink slips. Since 2003, drilling and extraction jobs in the United States have doubled. And these jobs typically pay very well. It is not uncommon for oil patch workers to make well over $100,000 a year, and these are precisely the types of jobs that we cannot afford to be losing. The middle class is struggling mightily as it is. And just like we witnessed in 2008, oil industry layoffs usually come before a downturn in employment for the overall economy.
The timidness with which mainstream media in the U.S. approaches news has been well documented. In fact, the inability of traditional media to do a reasonable job of holding powerful interests accountable has been one of the primary drivers behind the ascendency of alternative news. Despite this reality, one thing we know less about is specifically how the power structure goes about suppressing news it doesn’t want reaching the plebs. Until now...
World Leaders Demand "Central Bank Of Oil"; IMF Warns Price Drop Is Permanent; OPEC Expects "Rebound To Normal Soon"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2015 10:17 -0500
Because nothing says 'stability' like a Central Bank in charge of things, the smartest richest men in the world have proclaimed in Davos this week that "we need a central bank of oil, like the central bank in financial world." As long as they are not Swiss, of course. Oil has been volatile today amid these calls for stability after Saudi Aramco comments on cutting projects (supply) sent prices higher, and was then talked back by the CEO bringing prices lower. Oman - the largest non-OPEC Middle East oil producer - blasted that "we have created volatility," noting it was having a "really difficult time," and that's "bad for business," demanding OPEC slow production. But it was The IMF that sparked the greatest concerns as it warned oil producers to treat this oil price drop as permanent noting that they expect these economies to lose $300 billion. only to be contradicted by OPEC's al-Badri who noted "oil prices will rebound back to normal soon."
Yemen's Rebels Hold US-Backed President "Captive" In His House. Seize Country's Largest Ballistic Missile BaseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2015 08:49 -0500
As reported yesterday, Yemen became the latest foreign policy "success" story of the US after the local minority of Iran-friendly Shi'ite Houthi militiamen stormed, and captured, the presidential palane. At the same the whereabouts of Yemen's US-backed president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi were unknown. Moments ago we learned about his current location: according to AP, "two Yemeni presidential advisers say the Shiite rebels who are on a power grab campaign in the capital, Sanaa, are holding the president "captive" at his home, a day after seizing the presidential palace."
UPDATE: Full SOTU Speech released - "THE SHADOW OF CRISIS HAS PASSED"
By now it is well known that The State of The Union tonight will be about President Obama's Robin-Hood Agenda. Furthermore, it is entirely clear that his proposals have no chance of becoming law. As WaPo's Marc Thiessen notes, Obama is not delusional, his move is completely and transparently political... And just as Eric Cantor suggests will merely serve to inflame the GOP. From taxes to cyber security and from community college to housing... in 50-65 minutes, all will be clear...
The fix for low oil prices is... low oil prices. Past some point high-priced producers will naturally stop producing, the excess inventory will get burned up, and the price will recover. Not only will it recover, but it will probably spike, because a country littered with the corpses of bankrupt oil companies is not one that is likely to jump right back into producing lots of oil while, on the other hand, beyond a few uses of fossil fuels that are discretionary, demand is quite inelastic. And an oil price spike will cause another round of demand destruction, because the consumers, devastated by the bankruptcies and the job losses from the collapse of the oil patch, will soon be bankrupted by the higher price. And that will cause the price of oil to collapse again. And so on until the last industrialist dies...
In what Yemen's information minister described as an "attempted coup" Shia Houthi rebels (backed by Hizbollah and Iran) have surrounded the Yemeni Presidential Palace putting them, as The Telegraph reports, in direct confrontation with al-Qaeda and the Yemen government. Amid hopes of a compromise deal or cease-fire in the conflict that has been under way since September when the Houthis swept into Sana'a, the latest reports are the nation has gone from bad to worse...
YEMENI PM SAID SURROUNDED BY HOUTHI MILITIAS, INFORMATION MINISTER SAYS GOVERNMENT HAS LOST CONTROL OVER COUNTRY -- CNN
Oil prices, interestingly, fell on the increasing tensions today - as we pre-suppose the market is pricing in a successful coup - and the ensuing pump-fest of supply (at any price - just give us revenues) will trump Yelemni tribes threats to cut off supply if the President is harmed.
The Argentine prosecutor who accused President Cristina Fernandez of orchestrating a cover-up in the investigation of Iran over the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center has, according to AP, been found dead in his apartment, authorities said on Monday. As The Times of Israel reports, Alberto Nisman, 51, was discovered, by his mother, in a pool of blood in the bathroom on Sunday night with a gunshot wound to the head, hours before he was set to testify before lawmakers on his accusations of the cover-up. Coincidence we are sure, but police are investigating and Argentinian media reported that they had initially ruled the death a likely suicide but we note that The Clarin daily reported just a few days earlier that Nisman had told the newspaper, "I could end up dead because of this," and in a separate TV interview, had also been considering increasing his security detail.