The entire world is watching Putin play poker with the Western politicians lead by Obama and followed by Washington quislings in London, Brussels and Berlin. America's goal since the end of the Cold War has been to weaken by financial, economic and, if necessary, military means any real competition to its global financial and resource domination through the petrodollar and dollar world reserve currency status. We hope Putin realizes the US is not playing games here, as this is a financial and strategic game to the death for Washington and it's Western allies that have foolishly followed the Goldman Sachs/central banking cartel's deadly sovereign debt recipe and for growth and prosperity. The time is up; the debts can never be repaid and sooner or later must be repudiated one way or the other.
It’s unclear whether or not OPEC and Saudi Oil Minister Naimi are simply trying to put a scare into markets long enough to defend their market share – and if they can even keep up in this game of chicken – but the scare is there and the advantage is theirs.
Last week, after the unanimous passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 in Congress we wrote that "World Awaits Russian Response As Obama Makes "Lethal Aid" To Ukraine Legal." We didn't have long to wait: one short hour ago, Putin adopted an updated version of its military doctrine, which "reflects the emergence of new threats against its national security" and which names both the NATO military buildup on Russia's borders, as well as the US and the destabilized situation in some regions (read Ukraine) as the main foreign threats to Russian security. The doctrine update also, for the first time, put protection of Russian national interest in the Arctic (read oil and nat gas) among the key priorities for Russia's armed forces. In other words, Putin is not only not backing down, but has once again explicitly warned NATO that any western action, either in Ukraine or elsewhere, will have a proportional response.
Since the Russian Ruble troughed at almost 80 RUB/USD, it has rallied an impressive 34% erasing most of the dramatic devaluation of December. However, as The CBR just announced, this 'strength' came at a price. Russia burned through $15.7 billion of reserves in the week ending Dec 19th - the biggest percentage weekly drop in reserves since Jan 2009, leaving reserves below $400 billion (still a significant amount) for the first time since Aug 2009. While CBR explained much of this will come back as repo trades mature, Vladimir Putin turned inward, blaming the government for "defects" in restructuring the economy.
The oil price drop that has dominated the headlines in recent weeks has been framed almost exclusively in terms of oil market economics, with most media outlets blaming Saudi Arabia, through its OPEC Trojan horse, for driving down the price, thus causing serious damage to the world's major oil exporters – most notably Russia. While the market explanation is partially true, it is simplistic, and fails to address key geopolitical pressure points in the Middle East.
At present, the choice between the two available models on the planet seems stark indeed: Eurasian integration or a spreading empire of chaos. China and Russia know what they want, and so, it seems, does Washington. The question is: What will the other moving parts of Eurasia choose to do? All these interlocked developments suggest a geopolitical tectonic shift in Eurasia that the American media simply hasn’t begun to grasp. Which doesn’t mean that no one notices anything. You can smell the incipient panic in the air in the Washington establishment. So long to the unipolar moment... 2015 is "going to be a real hardcore year."
- Christmas rally enters sixth day in Europe (Reuters)
- Downing North Korea's Internet not much of a scalp (Reuters)
- North Korean Internet Access Restored After Hours-Long Outage (BBG)
- At U.N. council, U.S. calls life in North Korea 'living nightmare' (Reuters)
- Ukraine Cuts Gold Reserve to Nine-Year Low as Russia Buys (BBG)
- De Blasio Seeks to Heal Rifts With Police After Officers Slain (BBG)
- Oil steady around $60 on hopes of strong U.S. data (Reuters) - so it fell below $60 because...
- Australian Dollar Hits Four and a Half Year Low on Chine Growth Worries (Reuters)
"if anything defines 2014 for me, it’s the advent of incessant claims for which no proof – apparently – needs to be provided. Everything related to Ukraine over the past year carries that trait; the economy too, and now Sony/North Korea. Never any proof, you just have to believe what your government says."
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
The ruble is dying, and fast. Ill prepared to wait it out, the central bank is clearly a step behind the game and perhaps even out of its league. But Black Monday suggested other powers might be at play.
Monday was incidentally the day of an interesting 700 billion ruble liquidity auction. Prior to the auction, Rosneft raised 625 billion rubles (almost $11 billion) in a bond issue backed by the central bank...
The oil price drop is a big problem - not just for Russia, or for the other over-levered emerging market currencies that stand to be traumatized by a rising dollar, but ultimately even for the US itself
This is it, folks; this is the endgame right in front of our faces. The year of 2014 is the new 2007, with all the negative potential but 100 times more explosive going into 2015. Our nation has wallowed in slowly degrading financial conditions for years, hidden by fake economic statistics and manipulated stock prices. All of it has been a prelude to a much more frenetic and shocking event. We expect a hailstorm of geopolitical crises over the next year to provide cover for the shift away from the dollar. Ultimately, the death of the dollar will be hailed in the mainstream as a “good and necessary thing.” They will call it “karma.” They will call it “progress.” They will even call it “decentralization” and a success for the free market. But it will not feel like a positive development for the American public, who will suffer greatly as the dollar crumbles.
No obvious catalyst yet, aside from pure triple-witching anticipatory stop runs, but:
WTI CLIMBS AS MUCH AS 5.5%; BRENT GAINS AS MUCH AS 5.8%
Lifting WTI over $59 and Brent over $63. In fact, the $9 surge from the lows is the biggest move in crude since April 2009!
- Citigroup is pleased: Obama signs $1.1 trillion government spending bill (Reuters)
- Oil holds below $60 as OPEC, Russia keep pumping (Reuters)
- 5 Things to watch at the December Fed Meeting (WSJ)
- Russia Tries Emergency Steps for 2nd Day to Stem Ruble Rout (BBG)
- Ruble crisis could shake Putin's grip on power (Reuters)
- Apple Curbs Russia Sales as McDonald’s Lifts Prices (BBG)
- Traders Betting Russia’s Next Move Will Be to Sell Gold (BBG)
- China Warms to a More Flexible Yuan (WSJ)
First it was humans. Now it is vaccum tubes.