Blog Archives

Will the Oil Patch Bust Trigger Recession?

This seemingly inexhaustible credit line is now drying up, with severely negative consequences for oil producers with debt that’s coming due.

Could the oil patch bust triggered by oil plummeting from $100/barrel to $50/barrel kick the U.S. into recession? Longtime correspondent B.C. recently observed: The question is whether the incipient recession in the energy and energy-related transport sectors is sufficient this time around to be the proximate cause of a US/global recession and real estate bust.

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Oil Surges, Gold and Silver Spike as Saudi Arabia Bombs Yemen

Oil Surges, Gold and Silver Spike as Saudi Arabia Bombs Yemen

- Geopolitical tensions in Middle East escalate dramatically as Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen
- Yemen’s government seized power in coup – Regarded as hostile to Saudi and ally of Iran
- Saudi attack is an escalation of Middle Eastern proxy war between Gulf States and Iran
- Action has broader geopolitical implications in deepening cold war between the West and East
- Oil surged 6% and gold 2% on the the news
- Should oil prices return to new record highs will impact struggling global economy

goldcore_chart1_26-03-15

Geopolitical tensions escalated dramatically over night as Saudi Arabia launched military operations including air strikes in Yemen. The Saudis claim the action is to counter Iran-allied forces besieging the southern city of Aden where the U.S. backed Yemeni president had taken refuge.

Oil surged and gold rose nearly 2% following a sharp drop in stocks on Wall Street globally in response to the bombing in Yemen.

Gulf broadcaster al-Arabiya TV reported that the kingdom was contributing as many as 150,000 troops and 100 war planes to the operations. Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Pakistan were ready to take part in a ground offensive in Yemen, the broadcaster said. (more…)

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Oil Dinosaurs Face Extinction: State Oil Companies and the Meteor-Strike of Low Oil Prices

State-owned oil companies that don’t slash expenses to align with revenues and boost critical investment in the infrastructure needed to maintain production will suffer financial extinction.

Domestic and international energy companies are responding to the 50% decline in the price of oil by doing what’s necessary to remain in business: they’re slashing payroll, postponing capital investments, delaying new projects and soliciting price cuts from suppliers and subcontractors.

This is the discipline of profit-driven capitalism: if expenses exceed revenues, profits vanish, losses pile up, capital contracts and eventually the company runs out of cash (and access to credit) and closes down.

Unfortunately for state-owned oil companies, the feedback of expenses, losses and access to credit are superceded by the need to feed hordes of parasites: the state-owned company exists not to generate profits but to fund large payrolls and support state officials and cronies.

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Oil Collapses and Copper Crashes 8% in Day – Great Recession Cometh?

 Oil Collapses and Copper Crashes 8% in Day – Great Recession Cometh?

Oil prices fell another 1 per cent this morning  and continue their collapse – down 57% in just over 6 months. Copper crashed 8% on the London Metal Exchange, plunging to 5 and a half year lows.

Doctor Copper -  Usually a good indicator for economic trends and markets via Marketwatch

Oil fell to fresh six-year lows and has fallen almost 60 per cent since June 30, 2014 to levels last seen in early 2009 after the 2008 crash (see chart). (more…)

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The Deep State Strategy: Burn Everyone Else’s Oil First, Leave Ours in the Ground

The U.S. Deep State is in favor of Saudi Arabia’s strategy of forcing production cuts on its rivals and marginal producers for two profound reasons.

It is widely presumed that if the U.S. government isn’t actively concerned about the financial carnage being visited upon the domestic oil/gas sector, it should be actively concerned for self-evident reasons. These self-evident reasons include lay-offs, cratering profits and a mountain of shale-oil based debt that is in danger of default as revenues fall off a cliff.

The political class that must be re-elected to retain power is obligated to publicly express concern about the negative impact on employment, profits and domestic production.Whether the political class can do anything about the lay-offs and decline in oil/gas revenues is another thing.

But we should also keep our eye on the political system which retains power regardless of which party or politico is in office: the Deep State.

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2015: Asymmetric Oil Warfare

Let’s consider some examples of potential asymmetric-warfare tactics as they relate to the price of oil.

The world has habituated to the never-ending undeclared war over ownership and access to hydrocarbons. Now we are entering a new phase of asymmetric war being waged not over oil but the price of oil. Many observers see a parallel in Saudi Arabia’s stated intent to force other exporters to cut their production (if they want to maintain the price of their oil) to the mid-1980s, when a similar oil-pricing war drove prices to lows that helped bankrupt the Soviet Union.

While there are certainly parallels to that period of superpower confrontation and the Saudis’ use of the oil weapon, it seems to me that the current era is less a replay of the 1980s than a new chapter in asymmetric warfare that may see a variety of oil-related weapons being deployed.

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Iran at all-time low dependency on oil

So, the oil is falling to hurt Iran and Russia? But what are the facts? The fact is that Iran is at all-time low dependency on oil.

The IMF has stated always that Iran needs oil at $130 per barrel to balance its budget. Today the price dropped below $50 per barrel and Iran is at a all-time low dependency on oil. So IMF got it wrong again, again and again. Oepsss.

Read more about Iran at all-time low dependency on oil

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I Call BS on Projections of a Decade of $20/Barrel Oil

The ability of oil exporters to trigger a short-term collapse in price does not automatically translate into an ability to control the financial conflagration such a crash ignites.

My BS detector went off when two stories with similar headlines touting $20/barrel oil were published on the same day. Color me skeptical, but it’s almost as if mere $40/barrel oil is no longer enough to get the blood flowing, so both stories blared the more extreme $20/barrel price point.

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Will the Fed Intervene in the Oil Market?

In a larger sense, the Fed is already intervening in the oil sector via its zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) and its unlimited liquidity for financial speculation.

The problem with financializing a critical sector of the economy is the financialization process transforms it into a systemic risk. The trajectory of every financialized sector is the same: debt and leverage are piled ever higher on a base of collateral that eventually collapses as heightened risk becomes the Monster Id of a crowded trade.

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Maybe Oil Goes to $70 on its Way to $40

A retrace that fills open gaps and kisses the 50-day moving average surprises everyone who was confident oil was heading straight down to $40/barrel.

When the conventional media ordains oil inevitably dropping to $40/barrel, I start looking for something else to happen–like oil going to $70/barrel. There are number of reasons this isn’t as farfetched as it might seem at the moment.

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What Is the Gold-Oil Ratio Telling Us?

Based on historical gold-oil ratios, oil appears extraordinarily cheap right now.

One way to establish if a commodity or asset is relatively expensive or inexpensive is to price it in something other than a fiat currency–for example, gold. Gold goes up and down in value relative to other commodities and fiat currencies, so it is itself a volatile yardstick. Nonetheless, it provides a useful measure of the relative value of gold and whatever is being measured in gold–in this case, oil.

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The Oil-Drenched Black Swan, Part 3: Multiple Risks, Multiple Unknowns

It is these unforeseeable and uncontrollable consequences that are poised to wreak havoc on the global financial system.

Here’s the thing about risk: it bursts out of whatever is deemed “safe.” It wasn’t accidental that the Global Financial Meltdown originated in home mortgages; it was the perceived safety of the mortgage market that attracted all the speculative debt and leverage.

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