The circus is back in town in Washington D.C. (actually, it’s part of a permanent residency), as a congressional panel spent Thursday peppering presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with questions about her role in the Benghazi consulate attack. It’s pure political theater, but sadly, no one on this congressional panel will ask the real questions to which Americans deserve answers. And this is because the real scandal presents questions that can’t be asked, because the answers indict the entire U.S. government.
With Russia now in the driver's seat in terms of supplying crude to China, and with Iranian supply set to come back online with the lifting of economic sanctions, Saudi Arabia faces a serious threat to its dominance of the global oil market. Given the increased cooperation between Moscow and Tehran in Syria, it comes as no surprise that Ruusia and Iran are now in talks on some $40 billion in energy projects which the two countries say could lead to the formation of a new development bank.
Overnight weakness on the back of 8-month highs in Chinese crude inventory (combined with the recent plunge in super-tanker rates - i.e. China is no longer refilling its SPR) sent WTI Crude towards the critical $44 level (which has acted as support for 2 months). The China rate cut weakened crude further as PBOC admitted it was needed because of the state of the economy. And then Baker Hughes reported a total rig count unchanged 787 (lowest since April 2002) and an oil rig count decline of just 1 to 594 (the 8th weekly drop in a row). WTI slipped on the news.
"The deterrent of nuclear weapons has started to lose its value, and some have even got the illusion that a real victory of one of the sides can be achieved in a global conflict, without irreversible consequences for the winner itself – if there is a winner at all."
What if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq in 2003? How would things be different in the Middle East today? Was Iraq, in the words of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the "worst foreign policy blunder" in American history? Let's take a big-picture tour of the Middle East and try to answer those questions. But first, a request: after each paragraph that follows, could you make sure to add the question “What could possibly go wrong?”
"I said it would make it very difficult for us to be able to provide the kind of support you need if the Russians were here conducting operations as well. We can't conduct operations if the Russians were operating in Iraq right now."
"We know now just how wrong everybody was....and to the rest of the world: we are done with you. Yes we wronged you but we were driven by vain men who harmed us as well as you. Even the interventions across the globe were nothing more than a way to loot the treasury. In the guise of democracy and freedom we brought war and death. We are sorry. I am sorry."
"Proxy" War No More: Qatar Threatens Military Intervention In Syria Alongside "Saudi, Turkish Brothers"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/22/2015 13:37 -0500
"Anything that protects the Syrian people and Syria from partition, we will not spare any effort to carry it out with our Saudi and Turkish brothers, no matter what this is. If a military intervention will protect the Syrian people from the brutality of the regime, we will do it."
As John Kerry prepares to meet Sergei Lavrov in Vienna, Putin and Assad are drawing up plans to call for elections in Syria. The idea, of course, is that Assad will prevail in a landslide, allowing Moscow to claim that the people have spoken and the regime must rightfully be restored.
"The gratuitous labeling of Iran as part of a worldwide “axis of evil” by President Bush combined with strong U.S. criticisms of Iran’s nascent nuclear program and its meddling in Iraq led Tehran to the view that Washington had embarked on a course of confrontation in the region that would soon set a kinetic focus on Iran. Even Iran’s positive engagement in helping repair the post Taliban political environment in Afghanistan was met with indifference by Washington."
"It's Russia’s way of saying he is in our pocket, he is our asset and we will decide whether to keep him. This is for sure a preparation for a deal and one more attempt by the Russians to embolden their bargaining position. The message to the world is that Russia solves problems and you don’t. If you want to solve problems, work with us.”
Today’s task for the Republican establishment... Between now and March, they must settle on a candidate, hope his rivals get out of the race, defeat Trump in one of the first two contests, or effect his defeat by someone like Carson, then pray Trump will collapse like a house of cards. The improbabilities of accomplishing this grow by the week, and will soon start looking, increasingly, like an impossibility - absent the kind of celestial intervention that marked the career of the late Calvin Coolidge.
"Real investors" are simultaneously nervous and hopeful, confident yet resigned. Yes, their basic belief in equities as an investment class is sound and supported by the last five years of good performance. At the same time, they understand the nuances of the bear case extremely well and are prepared for a long slog of lower returns.
- Global Stock Markets Edge Higher Though Global Growth Concerns Weigh (WSJ)
- Nikkei up 1.9% because Japan export growth slows sharply, raising fears of recession (Reuters)
- Saudis Risk Draining Financial Assets in 5 Years, IMF Says (BBG)
- Syria's Assad flies to Moscow to thank Russia's Putin for air strikes (Reuters)
- US Prosecutor Preet Bharara Probing Daily Fantasy-Sports Business (WSJ)
- Syrian army denies Russian ground forces fighting in Syria (Reuters)