The middle east is burning again: first it was the fascinating ascent of the brutal Al-Qaeda spinoff ISIS, creating its own Caliphate in northern Iraq and in the process taking over a third of Syrian territory as well as all of its oil infrastructure. Then, the latest iteration of the Israel vs Gaza conflict has now claimed over 1000 lives and is dragging virtually all neighboring countries into it as well. And the cherry on top is that the Libyan "liberation" by the US has just gone full circle, as the country is is now witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since Gadhafi’s ouster. End result: nearly two years after the deadly attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, moments ago the US once again shuttered its embassy in Libya, this time in Tripoli, evacuating more than 150 Americans to Tunisia. This is happening just 24 hours after the US Secretary of State was literally next door in Egypt, assuring the region that peace and stability are just around the corner.
Recall what we said earlier today: the proxy war Ukraine conflict, just like that in Syria preceding it, "is all about energy." Recall also the following chart showing Ukraine's shale gas deposits, keeping in mind that the Dnieper-Donets basin accounts for approximately 90 per cent of Ukrainian production. Finally, recall our story from May that Joe Biden's son, Hunter, just joined the board of the largest Ukraine gas producer Burisma Holdings. Now put it all together and you will like figure out what will happen next.
August WTI Crude Oil futures expired at 230pm today... a fact that has been known for years... and yet, in the minutes before the 'last trade' settlement, the 'efficient' markets in which traders trade saw August futures flash smash higher by over $1 (running stops to the upside) and then crash to the day's lows (running stops to the downside) before closing modestly lower on the day. "unrigged"
Following the overnight ramp in various JPY crosses (dragging equity futures higher, and the Nikkei up 0.8%) it is as if the market is desperate to put all of last week's geopolitical events in the rearview mirror, and while yesterday there were no economic events of note, today's CPI and existing home prints should provide at least some distraction from the relentless barrage of one-line updates on Ukraine and Gaza. Still, that is precisely where the biggest risk remains, with an emphasis on the possibility of more Russian sanctions, this time by Europe.
The escalation of turmoil in the world is yet to play a role for the market, but be warned: everything economic has a delayed reaction of nine to twelve month – whenever there is an action there will be a reaction. If the present state of alertness continues through the summer you can bet on higher energy prices having a serious impact on not only world growth but also on markets. Simply put, Steen Jakobsen concludes, "prepare for less growth, less certainty and more geopolitical risk."
If last week's big "Risk Off" event was the acute spike in heretofore dormant Portugese bank troubles (as a reference Banco Espirito Santo has a market cap at the close last night stood at around €2.1bn ($2.9bn), contrasting to Goldman Sachs ($78.1bn) and JP Morgan ($220.5bn)), then yesterday's acceleration in the Portuguese lender's troubles which as we reported have now spread to its holding company RioForte which is set to default, were completely ignored by the market. Today this has conveniently flipped, following a Diario Economico report that Banco Espirito Santo has the potential to raise capital from private investors. No detail were given but this news alone was enough to send the stock soaring by nearly 20% higher in early trading. Still, despite the "good", if very vague news (and RioForte is still defaulting), Bunds remained bid, supported by a good Bund auction, in part also dragged higher by Gilts, which gained upside traction after the release of the latest UK jobs report reinforced the view that there is plenty of spare capacity for the economy to absorb before the BoE enact on any rate rises. Also of note, touted domestic buying resulted in SP/GE 10y yield spread narrowing, ahead of bond auctions tomorrow.
- Microsoft to announce biggest round of job cuts in 5 years (BBG)
- Palestinian rocket fire persists, Israel warns truce at risk (Reuters)
- China tells U.S. to stay out of South China Seas dispute (Reuters)
- Merkel Resists Sundering U.S. Ties Over Spying Affair (BBG)
- BES slide, tumbling German sentiment hit markets (Reuters)
- Top 1 Percent Is Even Richer Than Surveys Say, ECB Paper Finds (BBG)
- Puerto Rico Utility May Default on January Interest Payment (BBG)
- Can't Get a Job From an Algorithm, or So It Seems as Hot Resumes Go Nowhere Fast (BBG)
- Bank of China-CCTV drama may reveal power struggle in Beijing (SCMP)
In real terms, the price of crude oil has not been more expensive since the Pennsylvania Boom over 150 years ago...
A look at key events and data in the week ahead.
It’s time to think like a contrarian. Why? Because capital markets seem as bulletproof as one of those up-armored military personnel carriers you see in war zones. So what could really rattle stock, bond and commodity markets over the next 3-6 months? The go-to answer, steeped in history, is geopolitical crisis, where the logical hedges are precious metals, volatility plays, and possibly crude oil. Look deeper, however, and other answers emerge.
Many seem to believe that if we worked our way out of debt problems in the past, we can do the same thing again. The same assets may have new owners, but everything will work together in the long run. Businesses will continue operating, and people will continue to have jobs. We may have to adjust monetary policy, or perhaps regulation of financial institutions, but that is about all. I think this is where the story goes wrong. The situation we have now is very different, and far worse, than what happened in the past. We live in a much more tightly networked economy. This time, our problems are tied to the need for cheap, high quality energy products. The comfort we get from everything eventually working out in the past is false comfort.
A recent study from Cornell University finds a probable link between drilling activity and an increased frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma. Published in the journal Science, the study indicates that the practice of injecting millions of gallons of wastewater underground after a well is hydraulically fractured may increase the occurrence of earthquakes. Between 1967 and 2000, there was an average of 21 earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 3.0 – considered strong enough to be noticed - in Oklahoma. Last year there were over a hundred, and this year there have been more than 200.
What this chart shows is that when it comes to core manufacturing and service trade, that which excludes petroleum, the US trade deficit hit some $49 billion dollars in the month of May, the highest trade deficit ever recorded! In other words, far from doubling US exports, Obama is on pace to make the export segment of the US economy the weakest it has ever been, leading to millions of export-producing jobs gone for ever (but fear not, they will be promptly replaced by part-time jobs). It also means that the collapse in Q1 GDP, much of which was driven by tumbling net exports, will continue as America appear largely unable to pull itself out of its international trade funk, much less doubling its exports.
We could focus on whatever events took place in the overnight session or the seasonally-adjusted economic data avalanche that will dominate US newsflow over the next two days (ADP, ISM New York, Factory Orders, Services ISM, Yellen Speaking, and of course Nonfarm payrolls tomorrow), or we could ignore all of that as it is absolutely meaningless and all very much bullish, and use a phrase from Standard Chartered which said that "the dollars Yellen is removing could be compensated for by cheap euros from the ECB; result may be enough cash sloshing around to underpin this year’s run-up in risk assets even if the Fed begins mulling higher interest rates too." In other words, the bubble will go on, as the Fed passes the baton to the ECB, if not so much the BOJ which is drowning in its own imported inflation. Case in point: two of the three HY deals priced yesterday were PIK, and the $1 billion in proceeds was quickly used to pay back equity sponsors. The credit bubble has never been bigger.
The Next Global Meltdown Is Baked In: Connecting The Dots Between Oil, Debt, Interest Rates And RiskSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/01/2014 11:05 -0400
The bottom line is the Fed can only keep the machine duct-taped together by suppressing the market's pricing of risk. Suppressing the market's ability to price risk is throwing common-sense fiscal caution to the winds; when risk arises from its drugged slumber despite the Fed's best efforts to eliminate it, we will all reap what the Fed has sown.