Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction“, and it was inevitable that they would begin to wreak havoc on our financial system at some point. While things may seem somewhat calm on Wall Street at the moment, the truth is that a great deal of trouble is bubbling just under the surface. As you will see below, something happened in mid-September that required an unprecedented 405 billion dollar surge of Treasury collateral into the repo market. I know – that sounds very complicated, so I will try to break it down more simply for you. It appears that some very large institutions have started to get into a significant amount of trouble because of all the reckless betting that they have been doing. This is something that I have warned would happen over and over again. In fact, I have written about it so much that my regular readers are probably sick of hearing about it. But this is what is going to cause the meltdown of our financial system.
Many out there get upset when I compare derivatives trading to gambling, and perhaps it would be more accurate to describe most derivatives as a form of insurance. The big financial institutions assure us that they have passed off most of the risk on these contracts to others and so there is no reason to worry according to them.
Well, personally I don’t buy their explanations, and a lot of others don’t either. On a very basic, primitive level, derivatives trading is gambling. This is a point that Jeff Nielson made very eloquently in a piece that he recently published…
No one “understands” derivatives. How many times have readers heard that thought expressed (please round-off to the nearest thousand)? Why does no one understand derivatives? For many; the answer to that question is that they have simply been thinking too hard. For others; the answer is that they don’t “think” at all.
Derivatives are bets. This is not a metaphor, or analogy, or generalization. Derivatives are bets. Period. That’s all they ever were. That’s all they ever can be.
One very large financial institution that appears to be in serious trouble with these financial weapons of mass destruction is Glencore. At one time Glencore was considered to be the 10th largest company on the entire planet, but now it appears to be coming apart at the seams, and a great deal of their trouble seems to be tied to derivatives. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
Of particular concern, they said, was Glencore’s use of financial instruments such as derivatives to hedge its trading of physical goods against price swings. The company had $9.8 billion in gross derivatives in June 2015, down from $19 billion in such positions at the end of 2014, causing investors to query the company about the swing.
Glencore told investors the number went down so drastically because of changes in market volatility this year, according to people briefed by Glencore. When prices vary significantly, it can increase the value of hedging positions.
Last year, there were extreme price moves, particularly in the crude-oil market, which slid from about $114 a barrel in June to less than $60 a barrel by the end of December.
That response wasn’t satisfying, said Michael Leithead, a bond fund portfolio manager at EFG Asset Management, which managed $12 billion as of the end of March and has invested in Glencore’s debt.
According to Bank of America, the global financial system has about 100 billion dollars of exposure overall to Glencore. So if Glencore goes bankrupt that is going to be a major event. At this point, Glencore is probably the most likely candidate to be “the next Lehman Brothers”.
And it isn’t just Glencore that is in trouble. Other financial giants such as Trafigura are in deep distress as well. Collectively, the global financial system has approximately half a trillion dollars of exposure to these firms…
Worse, since it is not just Glencore that the banks are exposed to but very likely the rest of the commodity trading space, their gross exposure blows up to a simply stunning number:
For the banks, of course, Glencore may not be their only exposure in the commodity trading space. We consider that other vehicles such as Trafigura, Vitol and Gunvor may feature on bank balance sheets as well ($100 bn x 4?)
Call it half a trillion dollars in very highly levered exposure to commodities: an asset class that has been crushed in the past year.
The mainstream media is not talking much about any of this yet, and that is probably a good thing. But behind the scenes, unprecedented moves are already taking place.
When I came across the information that I am about to share with you, I was absolutely stunned. It comes from Investment Research Dynamics, and it shows very clearly that everything is not “okay” in the financial world…
Something occurred in the banking system in September that required a massive reverse repo operation in order to force the largest ever Treasury collateral injection into the repo market. Ordinarily the Fed might engage in routine reverse repos as a means of managing the Fed funds rate. However, as you can see from the graph below, there have been sudden spikes up in the amount of reverse repos that tend to correspond the some kind of crisis – the obvious one being the de facto collapse of the financial system in 2008:
What in the world could possibly cause a spike of that magnitude?
Well, that same article that I just quoted links the troubles at Glencore with this unprecedented intervention…
What’s even more interesting is that the spike-up in reverse repos occurred at the same time – September 16 – that the stock market embarked on an 8-day cliff dive, with the S&P 500 falling 6% in that time period. You’ll note that this is around the same time that a crash in Glencore stock and bonds began. It has been suggested by analysts that a default on Glencore credit derivatives either by Glencore or by financial entities using derivatives to bet against that event would be analogous to the “Lehman moment” that triggered the 2008 collapse.
The blame on the general stock market plunge was cast on the Fed’s inability to raise interest rates. However that seems to be nothing more than a clever cover story for something much more catastrophic which began to develop out sight in the general liquidity functions of the global banking system.
Back in 2008, Lehman Brothers was not “perfectly fine” one day and then suddenly collapsed the next. There were problems brewing under the surface well in advance.
Well, the same thing is happening now at banking giants such as Deutsche Bank, and at commodity trading firms such as Glencore, Trafigura and The Noble Group.
And of course a lot of smaller fish are starting to implode as well. I found this example posted on Business Insider earlier today…
On September 11, Spruce Alpha, a small hedge fund which is part of a bigger investment group, sent a short report to investors.
The letter said that the $80 million fund had lost 48% in a month, according the performance report seen by Business Insider.
There was no commentary included in the note. No explanation. Just cold hard numbers.
Wow – how do you possibly lose 48 percent in a single month?
It would be hard to do that even if you were actually trying to lose money on purpose.
Sadly, this kind of scenario is going to be repeated over and over as we get even deeper into this crisis.
Meanwhile, our “leaders” continue to tell us that there is nothing to worry about. For example, just consider what former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is saying…
Former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke doesn’t see any bubbles forming in global markets right right now.
But he doesn’t think you should take his word for it.
And even if you did, that isn’t the right question to ask anyway.
Speaking at a Wall Street Journal event on Wednesday morning, Bernanke said, “I don’t see any obvious major mispricings. Nothing that looks like the housing bubble before the crisis, for example. But you shouldn’t trust me.”
I certainly agree with that last sentence. Bernanke was the one telling us that there was not going to be a recession back in 2008 even after one had already started. He was clueless back then and he is clueless today.
Most of our “leaders” either don’t understand what is happening or they are not willing to tell us.
So that means that we have to try to figure things out for ourselves the best that we can. And right now there are signs all around us that another 2008-style crisis has begun.
Personally, I am hoping that there will be a lot more days like today when the markets were relatively quiet and not much major news happened around the world.
Unfortunately for all of us, these days of relative peace and tranquility are about to come to a very abrupt end.
A lot of people out there expected something to happen in September that did not ultimately happen. There were all kinds of wild theories floating around, and many of them had no basis in reality whatsoever. But without a doubt, some very important things did happen in September. As I warned about ahead of time, we are witnessing the most significant global financial meltdown since the end of 2008. All of the largest stock markets in the world are crashing simultaneously, and so far the amount of wealth that has been wiped out worldwide is in excess of 5 trillion dollars. In addition to stocks, junk bonds are also crashing, and Bank of America says that it is a “slow moving trainwreck that seems to be accelerating“. Thanks to the commodity price crash, many of the largest commodity traders on the planet are now imploding. I wrote about the death spiral that has gripped Glencore yesterday. On Tuesday, the stock price of the largest commodity trader in Asia, the Noble Group, plummeted like a rock and commodity trading giant Trafigura appears to be in worse shape than either Glencore or the Noble Group. The total collapse of any of them could easily be a bigger event than the implosion of Lehman Brothers in 2008. So I honestly do not understand the “nothing is happening” crowd. It takes ignorance on an almost unbelievable level to try to claim that “nothing is happening” in the financial world right now.
Within the last 60 days, we have seen some things happen that we have never seen before.
For example, did you know that we witnessed the greatest intraday stock market crash in U.S. history on August 24th?
During that day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged from a high of 16,459.75 to a low of 15,370.33 before rebounding substantially. That intraday point swing of 1,089 points was the largest in all of U.S. history.
Overall, the Dow has down 588.40 points that day. When you combine that decline with the 530.94 point plunge from the previous Friday, you get a total drop of 1119.34 points over two consecutive trading days. Never before in history had the Dow fallen by more than 500 points on two trading days in a row. If that entire decline had fallen within one trading day, it would have been the largest stock market crash in U.S. history by a very wide margin, and everyone would be running around saying that author Jonathan Cahn was right again.
But because this massive decline fell over two consecutive trading days that somehow makes him wrong?
Are you kidding me?
Come on people – let’s use some common sense here. We are already witnessing the greatest global stock market decline in seven years, and after a brief lull things are starting to accelerate once again. Last night, stocks in Hong Kong were down 629 points and stocks in Japan were down 714 points. In the U.S., the Nasdaq has had a string of down days recently, and the “death cross” that has just formed has many investors extremely concerned…
The Nasdaq composite spooked investors on Monday after forming a death cross, a trading pattern that shows a decline in short-term momentum and is often a precursor to future losses.
A death cross occurs when the short-term moving average of a security or an index pierces below the long-term trend, in this case the 50-day moving average breaking through the 200-day moving average.
In the past month, similar chart patterns formed in the S&P 500, Dow and small-cap Russell 2000, but the Nasdaq avoided a death cross formation until Monday.
What we witnessed in September was not “the end” of anything.
Instead, it is just the beginning.
And if you listen carefully, some of the biggest names on Wall Street are issuing some very ominous warnings about what is coming. For instance, just consider what Carl Icahn is saying…
Danger ahead—that’s the warning from Carl Icahn in a video coming Tuesday.
The activist says low rates caused bubbles in art, real estate and high-yield bonds—with potentially dramatic consequences.
“It’s like giving somebody medicine and this medicine is being given and given and given and we don’t know what’s going to happen – you don’t know how bad it’s going to be. We do know when we did it a few years ago it caused a catastrophe, it caused ’08. Where do you draw the line?”
Even people like Jim Cramer are starting to freak out. He recently told his audience that “we have a first-class bear market going”…
Jim Cramer, the ex-hedge fund manager and host of CNBC’s show “Mad Money,” has been vocal recently on air, saying repeatedly that he doesn’t like the market now, and last week said “we have a first-class bear market going.” Similarly, Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management, has been sending out notes to clients and this newspaper for weeks, saying the poor price action of the stock market and many hard-hit sectors, such as energy and the recently clobbered biotech sector, has all the earmarks of a bear market. Over the weekend, Kaltbaum said: “We remain in a worldwide bear market for stocks.”
As I have warned repeatedly, there will continue to be ups and downs. The stock market is not going to fall every day. In fact, on some days stocks will absolutely soar.
But without a doubt, we have entered the period of time that I have warned about for so long. The global financial system is now beginning to unravel, and any piece of major bad news will likely accelerate things.
For instance, the total collapse of Deutsche Bank, Petrobras, Glencore, the Noble Group, Trafigura or any of a number of other major financial institutions that I am currently watching could create mass panic on the global financial stage.
In addition, an unexpected natural disaster that hits a financially important major city or a massive terror attack in the western world are other examples of things that could accelerate this process.
Our world is becoming increasingly unstable, and we all need to learn to expect the unexpected.
The period of relative peace and security that we all have been enjoying for so long is ending, and now chaos is going to reign for a time.
So get prepared while you still can, because there is very little time remaining to do so…
Is this the beginning of the end for the eurozone? For years, European officials have been trying to “fix Greece”, but nothing has worked. Now a worst case scenario is rapidly unfolding, and a “Grexit” has become more likely than not. On Sunday, the European Central Bank announced that it was not going to provide any more emergency support for Greek banks. But that was the only thing keeping them alive. In order to prevent total chaos, Greek banks have been shut down for at least a week. ATMs are still open, but it is being reported that daily withdrawals will be limited to 60 euros. Of course nobody knows for sure if or when the banks will reopen after this “bank holiday” is over, so needless to say average Greek citizens are pretty freaked out right about now. In addition, the stock market in Greece is not going to open on Monday either. This is what a national financial meltdown looks like, and the nightmare that has been unleashed in Greece will soon start spreading to much of the rest of Europe.
This reminds me so much of what happened in Cyprus. Up until the very last minute, politicians were promising everyone that their money was perfectly safe, and then the hammer was brought down.
The exact same pattern is playing out in Greece. For example, just check out what one very prominent Greek politician said on television on Saturday…
“Citizens should not be scared, there is no blackmail,” Panos Kammenos, head of the government’s coalition ally, told local television. “The banks won’t shut, the ATMs will (have cash). All this is exaggeration,” he said.
One day later, the banks did get shut down and ATMs all over the country started running out of cash. The following comes from CNBC…
Despite a tweet from Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis that his government “opposed the very concept” of any controls, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said later Sunday that he had forced the country’s central bank to recommend a bank holiday and capital controls.
The Athens stock exchange will also be closed as the government tries to manage the financial fallout of the disagreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Greece’s banks, kept afloat by emergency funding from the European Central Bank, are on the front line as Athens moves towards defaulting on a 1.6 billion euros payment due to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday.
So what is the moral of this story?
Never trust politicians – especially when a major financial crisis is looming.
All over Greece, people are taking photos of very long lines at the ATMs that actually do still have some cash. Here are just a couple of examples…
Of course those that were smart enough to see this coming took their money out of the banks long ago. And even as late as last week, people were pulling more than a billion euros out of the banks every single day. Without direct intervention by the European Central Bank, most Greek banks would have totally collapsed by now…
Customers have been withdrawing money in vast quantities ever since Syriza came to power, fearing that if Greece is thrown out of the single currency their euro savings will be converted into drachma – likely to be worth far less.
In the last week, the sums being taken out have risen to well over one billion euros a day, moved either to foreign banks or stashed in notes under mattresses.
It has been a slow and steady run on Greece’s banks which is now speeding up – for the finish line may well be in sight. Until now, the country’s banks have been kept afloat by €88 billion in loans from the European Central Bank.
So now that the banks are shut down, what happens next?
Needless to say, economic activity in Greece is going to come to a grinding halt. In addition, very few foreigners are going to want to travel to Greece or deal with Greece financially until this crisis is resolved somehow…
An extended bank shutdown and tough capital controls will likely wreak further havoc on the Greek economy by scaring away tourists and chilling commercial activity.
And with Greece unable to borrow from financial markets, and apparently unwilling to strike a deal with the only institutions prepared to lend it money, it will find itself sliding rapidly towards exit from the euro.
When the Greek banks finally do reopen, which of them will still be solvent?
Will some of them need “bail-ins”?
Will account holders be forced to take “haircuts” like we saw in Cyprus?
For the moment, what we do know is that the banks will all be shut down until at least July 6th. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a national referendum to be held on July 5th. The Greek people will get a chance to vote on whether or not the latest creditor proposals should be accepted. But the funny thing is that Tsipras and the rest of Syriza are already encouraging the Greek people to vote no…
Greece’s parliament has voted in favor of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ motion to hold a referendum on the country’s creditor proposals for reforms in exchange for loans, the Associated Press reported. Tsipras and his coalition government have urged people to vote against the deal, throwing into question the country’s financial future.
The vote is to be held next Sunday, July 5. It has raised the question of whether Greece can remain in Europe’s joint currency, the euro.
So why hold a referendum if you just want everyone to vote no?
It is because Tsipras does not want to solely shoulder the blame for what comes next. A “no vote” would essentially be a vote to leave the euro and go back to the drachma. The following comes from the Daily Mail…
Should Greeks vote against the new bailout, most economists believe Greece will be forced to quit the single currency and return to the drachma. The country could even eventually be forced out of the EU, though Greek politicians have long argued a Grexit would not be the automatic result of default.
However, next week’s referendum is likely to be billed as, in effect, an in-out vote on the euro.
If Greece does default and ends up leaving the euro, the short-term economic consequences for Greece will be catastrophic.
But the rest of Europe will feel a tremendous amount of pain as well. In fact, we are already getting a sneak peek at coming attractions. As we approach Monday morning in Europe, Asian stocks are crashing big time, and European futures are absolutely cratering. It should be very interesting to see how Monday plays out.
In addition, the euro is already way down in early trading. If Greece does ultimately leave the euro, the value of the euro is going to plunge like a rock. As I have warned repeatedly, the euro is heading for parity with the U.S. dollar, and at some point it will drop below parity.
And once Greece is out, everyone is going to be speculating who the “next Greece” will be. Expect bond yields for Italy, Spain, Portugal and France to go skyrocketing.
Just a couple of days ago, I issued a red alert for the second half of 2016. We are entering a period of time when the global financial system is beginning to unravel. Most people still have a tremendous amount of faith in the system and assume that those running it are fully capable of keeping it from collapsing. In fact, many have accused me of being crazy for suggesting that the global financial system is in imminent danger of imploding.
A very wise man once said that “pride goeth before destruction”. Our arrogance and our blind faith in the fundamentally flawed systems that we have established will contribute greatly to our undoing.
Events are starting to accelerate greatly now, and it is just a matter of time before we see who was right and who was wrong.
Europe is on the verge of a horrifying financial meltdown, and there are only a few short weeks left to avert total disaster. On Monday, talks that were supposed to bring about yet another temporary “resolution” to the Greek debt crisis completely fell apart. The new Greek government has entirely rejected the idea of a six month extension of the current bailout. The Greeks want a new deal which would enable them to implement the promises that have been made to the voters. But that is not going to fly with the Germans, among others. They expect the Greeks to fulfill the obligations that were agreed to previously. The two sides are not even in the same ballpark at this point, and things are starting to get very personal. It is no secret that the new Greek government does not like the Germans, and the Germans are not particularly fond of the Greeks at this point. But unless they can find a way to work out a deal, things could get quite messy very rapidly. The Greek government has about three weeks of cash left, and any changes to the current bailout arrangement would have to be approved by parliaments all over Europe by March 1st. And the stakes are incredibly high. If there is no deal, we could see a Greek debt default, Greece could be forced to leave the eurozone and go back to the drachma, the euro could collapse to all time lows, all the banks all over Europe that are exposed to Greek government debt could be faced with absolutely massive losses, and the 26 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the euro could start to unravel. In essence, if things go badly this could be enough to push us into a global financial crisis.
On Monday, eurozone officials tried to get the Greeks to extend the current bailout package for six months with the current austerity provisions in place. Greek government officials responded by saying that “those who bring this back are wasting their time” and that those negotiating on behalf of the eurozone are being “unreasonable”…
A Greek government official said that a draft text presented to eurozone finance ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday spoke of Greece extending its current bailout package and as such was “unreasonable” and would not be accepted.
Without specifying who put forward the text to the meeting chaired by Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the official said: “Some people’s insistence on the Greek government implementing the bailout is unreasonable and cannot be accepted.”
Most observers have speculated that the new Greek government would give in to the demands of the rest of the eurozone when push came to shove.
But these new Greek politicians are a different breed. They are not establishment lackeys. Rather, they are very principled radicals, and they are not about to be pushed around. I certainly do not agree with their politics, but I admire the fact that they are willing to stand up for what they believe. That is a very rare thing these days.
On Monday, Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis shared the following in the New York Times…
I am often asked: What if the only way you can secure funding is to cross your red lines and accept measures that you consider to be part of the problem, rather than of its solution? Faithful to the principle that I have no right to bluff, my answer is: The lines that we have presented as red will not be crossed.
Does that sound like a man that is going to back down to you?
Meanwhile, the other side continues to dig in as well.
Just consider the words of the German finance minister…
Wolfgang Schaeuble, the German finance minister, accused the Greek government of “behaving irresponsibly” by threatening to tear up agreements made with the eurozone in return for access to the loans which are all that stand between Greece and financial collapse.
“It seems like we have no results so far. I’m quite skeptical. The Greek government has not moved, apparently,” he said.
“As long as the Greek government doesn’t want a program, I don’t have to think about options.”
Global financial markets are still acting as if they fully expect a deal to get done eventually.
I am not so sure.
And without a doubt, time is running short. As I mentioned above, something has got to be finalized by March 1st. The following comes from the Wall Street Journal…
Any changes to the content or expiration date of Greece’s existing €240 billion ($273 billion) bailout have to be decided by Friday, to give national parliaments in Germany, Finland and the Netherlands enough time to approve them before the end of the month. Without such a deal, Greece will be on its own on March 1, cut loose from the rescue loans from the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund that have sustained it for almost five years.
So what happens if there is no deal and Greece is forced to leave the eurozone?
Below, I have shared an excerpt from an article that details what Capital Economics believes would happen in the event of a “Grexit”…
- The drachma would be back. The euro would be effectively abandoned, and Greece would return to the drachma, its previous currency (it might take a new name). The drachma would likely tumble in value against the euro as soon as it was issued, and how much the government could print quickly would be a big issue.
- It would have to be fast, with capital controls. There would be people trying to pull their money out of Greece’s banks en masse. The Greek government would have to make that illegal pretty quickly. The European Central Bank drew up Grexit plans in 2012, and might be dusting them off now.
- European life support for Greek banks would be withdrawn. Greek banks can currently access emergency liquidity assistance from the ECB, which would be removed if Greece left the euro.
- Likely unrest and disorder. Barclays expects that this sudden economic collapse would “aggravate social unrest”, and notes that historically similar moves have caused a 45-85% devaluation of the currency. Capital Economics suggests that the drop could be more mild, closer to 20%, and Oxford Economics says 30%.
- Greece would resume economic policymaking. Greece’s central bank would probably start doing its own QE programme, and the government would likely return to running deficits, no longer restrained by bailout rules (though investors would probably want large returns, given the risk of another default).
- Inflation would spike immediately, but both Capital Economics and Oxford Economics say that should be temporary. It might look a bit like Russia this year — with the new currency in freefall until it finds its level against the euro, prices inside Greece would rise at dramatic speed. The inflation might be temporary, however, because with unemployment above 20%, Greece has plenty of spare labour slack to produce more.
That certainly does not sound good.
And once Greece leaves, everyone would be wondering who is next, because there are quite a few other deeply financially troubled nations in the eurozone.
David Stockman believes that Spain is a prime candidate…
In spite of the “recovery” in Spain, close to 24% are still unemployed. That statistic explains Pessimism in the Streets.
The crisis is here to stay according to significant majority of Spaniards. The general perception is that the current situation in which the country is negative and far from getting better, can only stay stagnant or even worse.
A Metroscopia poll published in El País makes it clear that the Spanish are unhappy with the current state of the country. Five out of six (83%) see the economic situation as “bad”, while more than half of the remaining perceive “regular”.
Right now, Europe is already teetering on the brink of an economic depression.
If this Greek debt crisis is not resolved, it could set in motion a chain of events which could start collapsing financial institutions all over Europe.
Yes, we have been here before and a deal has always emerged in the end.
But this time is different. This time very idealistic radicals are running things in Greece, and the “old guard” in Europe has no intention of giving in to them.
So let’s watch and see how this game of “chicken” plays out.
I have a feeling that it is not going to end well.
This is just the beginning of the oil crisis. Over the past couple of weeks, the price of U.S. oil has rallied back above 50 dollars a barrel. In fact, as I write this, it is sitting at $52.93. But this rally will not last. In fact, analysts at the big banks are warning that we could soon see U.S. oil hit the $20 mark. The reason for this is that the production of oil globally is still way above the current level of demand. Things have gotten so bad that millions of barrels of oil are being stored at sea as companies wait for the price of oil to go back up. But the price is not going to go back up any time soon. Even though rigs are being shut down in the United States at the fastest pace since the last financial crisis, oil production continues to go up. In fact, last week more oil was produced in the U.S. than at any time since the 1970s. This is really bad news for the economy, because the price of oil is already at a catastrophically low level for the global financial system. If the price of oil stays at this level for the rest of the year, we are going to see a whole bunch of energy companies fail, billions of dollars of debt issued by energy companies could go bad, and trillions of dollars of derivatives related to the energy industry could implode. In other words, this is a recipe for a financial meltdown, and the longer the price of oil stays at this level (or lower), the more damage it is going to do.
The way things stand, there is simply just way too much oil sitting out there. And anyone that has taken Economics 101 knows that when supply far exceeds demand, prices go down…
Oil prices have gotten crushed for the last six months. The extent to which that was caused by an excess of supply or by a slowdown in demand has big implications for where prices will head next. People wishing for a big rebound may not want to read farther.
Goldman Sachs released an intriguing analysis on Wednesday that shows what many already suspected: The big culprit in the oil crash has been an abundance of oil flooding the market. A massive supply shock in the second half of last year accounted for most of the decline. In December and January, slowing demand contributed to the continued sell-off.
At this point so much oil has already been stored up that companies are running out of places to put in all. Just consider the words of Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn…
“I think the oil market is trying to figure out an equilibrium price. The danger here, as we try and find an equilibrium price, at some point we may end up in a situation where storage capacity gets very, very limited. We may have too much physical oil for the available storage in certain locations. And it may be a locational issue.”
“And you may just see lots of oil in certain locations around the world where oil will have to price to such a cheap discount vis-a-vis the forward price that you make second tier, and third tier and fourth tier storage available.”
[…] “You could see the price fall relatively quickly to make that storage work in the market.”
The market for oil has fundamentally changed, and that means that the price of oil is not going to go back to where it used to be. In fact, Goldman Sachs economist Sven Jari Stehn says that we are probably heading for permanently lower prices…
The big take-away: “[T]he decline in oil has been driven by an oversupplied global oil market,” wrote Goldman economist Sven Jari Stehn. As a result, “the new equilibrium price of oil will likely be much lower than over the past decade.”
So how low could prices ultimately go?
As I mentioned above, some analysts are throwing around $20 as a target number…
The recent surge in oil prices is just a “head-fake,” and oil as cheap as $20 a barrel may soon be on the way, Citigroup said in a report on Monday as it lowered its forecast for crude.
Despite global declines in spending that have driven up oil prices in recent weeks, oil production in the U.S. is still rising, wrote Edward Morse, Citigroup’s global head of commodity research. Brazil and Russia are pumping oil at record levels, and Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran have been fighting to maintain their market share by cutting prices to Asia. The market is oversupplied, and storage tanks are topping out.
A pullback in production isn’t likely until the third quarter, Morse said. In the meantime, West Texas Intermediate Crude, which currently trades at around $52 a barrel, could fall to the $20 range “for a while,” according to the report.
Keep in mind that the price of oil is already low enough to be a total nightmare for the global financial system if it stays here for the rest of 2015.
If we go down to $20 and stay there, a global financial meltdown is virtually guaranteed.
Meanwhile, the “fracking boom” in the United States that generated so many jobs, so much investment and so much economic activity is now turning into a “fracking bust”…
The fracking-for-oil boom started in 2005, collapsed by 60% during the Financial Crisis when money ran out, but got going in earnest after the Fed had begun spreading its newly created money around the land. From the trough in May 2009 to its peak in October 2014, rigs drilling for oil soared from 180 to 1,609: multiplied by a factor of 9 in five years! And oil production soared, to reach 9.2 million barrels a day in January.
It was a great run, but now it is over.
In the months ahead, the trickle of good paying oil industry jobs that are being lost right now is going to turn into a flood.
And this boom was funded with lots and lots of really cheap money from Wall Street. I like how Wolf Richter described this in a recent article…
That’s what real booms look like. They’re fed by limitless low-cost money – exuberant investors that buy the riskiest IPOs, junk bonds, leveraged loans, and CLOs usually indirectly without knowing it via their bond funds, stock funds, leveraged-loan funds, by being part of a public pension system that invests in private equity firms that invest in the boom…. You get the idea.
As all of this bad paper unwinds, a lot of people are going to lose an extraordinary amount of money.
Don’t get caught with your pants down. You will want your money to be well away from the energy industry long before this thing collapses.
And of course in so many ways what we are facing right now if very reminiscent of 2008. So many of the same patterns that have played out just prior to previous financial crashes are happening once again. Right now, oil rigs are shutting down at a pace that is almost unprecedented. The only time in recent memory that we have seen anything like this was just before the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. Here is more from Wolf Richter…
In the latest reporting week, drillers idled another 84 rigs, the second biggest weekly cut ever, after idling 83 and 94 rigs in the two prior weeks. Only 1056 rigs are still drilling for oil, down 443 for the seven reporting weeks so far this year and down 553 – or 34%! – from the peak in October.
Never before has the rig count plunged this fast this far:
What if the fracking bust, on a percentage basis, does what it did during the Financial Crisis when the oil rig count collapsed by 60% from peak to trough? It would take the rig count down to 642!
But even though rigs are shutting down like crazy, U.S. production of oil has continued to rise…
Rig counts have long been used to help predict future oil and gas production. In the past week drillers idled 98 rigs, marking the 10th consecutive decline. The total U.S. rig count is down 30 percent since October, an unprecedented retreat. The theory goes that when oil rigs decline, fewer wells are drilled, less new oil is discovered, and oil production slows.
But production isn’t slowing yet. In fact, last week the U.S. pumped more crude than at any time since the 1970s. “The headline U.S. oil rig count offers little insight into the outlook for U.S. oil production growth,” Goldman Sachs analyst Damien Courvalin wrote in a Feb. 10 report.
Look, it should be obvious to anyone with even a basic knowledge of economics that the stage is being set for a massive financial meltdown.
This is just the kind of thing that can plunge us into a deflationary depression. And when you combine this with the ongoing problems in Europe and in Asia, it is easy to see that a “perfect storm” is brewing on the horizon.
Sadly, a lot of people out there will choose not to believe until the day the crisis arrives.
By then, it will be too late to do anything about it.
The price of oil collapsed by more than 8 percent on Wednesday, and a decision by the European Central Bank has Greece at the precipice of a complete and total financial meltdown. What a difference 24 hours can make. On Tuesday, things really seemed like they were actually starting to get better. The price of oil had rallied by more than 20 percent since last Thursday, things in Europe seemed like they were settling down, and there appeared to be a good deal of optimism about how global financial markets would perform this month. But now fear is back in a big way. Of course nobody should get too caught up in how the markets behave on any single day. The key is to take a longer term point of view. And the fact that the markets have been on such a roller coaster ride over the past few months is a really, really bad sign. When things are calm, markets tend to steadily go up. But when the waters start really getting choppy, that is usually a sign that a big move down in on the horizon. So the huge ups and the huge downs that we have witnessed in recent days are likely an indicator that rough seas are ahead.
A stunning decision that the European Central Bank has just made has set the stage for a major showdown in Europe. The ECB has decided that it will no longer accept Greek government bonds as collateral from Greek banks. This gives the European Union a tremendous amount of leverage in negotiations with the new Greek government. But in the short-term, this could mean some significant pain for the Greek financial system. The following is how a CNBC article described what just happened…
“The European Central Bank is telling the Greek banking system that it will no longer accept Greek bonds as collateral for any repurchase agreement the Greek banks want to conduct,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note.
“This is because the ECB only accepts investment grade paper and up until today gave Greece a waiver to this clause. That waiver has now been taken away and Greek banks now have to go to the Greek Central Bank and tap their Emergency Liquidity Assistance facility for funding,” he said.
And it certainly didn’t take long for global financial markets to respond to this news…
The Greek stock market closed hours ago, but the exchange-traded fund that tracks Greek stocks, GREK, crashed during the final minutes of trading in the US markets.
The euro is also getting walloped, falling 1.3% against the US dollar.
The EUR/USD, which had recovered to almost 1.15, fell to nearly 1.13 on news of the action taken by the ECB.
But this is just the beginning.
In coming months, I fully expect the euro to head toward parity with the U.S. dollar.
And if the new Greek government will not submit to the demands of the EU, and Greece ultimately ends up leaving the common currency, it could potentially mean the end of the eurozone in the configuration that we see it today.
Meanwhile, the oil crash has taken a dangerous new turn.
Over the past week, we have seen the price of oil go from $43.58 to $54.24 to less than 48 dollars before rebounding just a bit at the end of the day on Wednesday.
This kind of erratic behavior is the exact opposite of what a healthy market would look like.
What we really need is a slow, steady climb which would take the price of oil back to at least the $80 level. In the current range in which it has been fluctuating, the price of oil is going to be absolutely catastrophic for the global economy, and the longer it stays in this current range the more damage that it is going to do.
But of course the problems that we are facing are not just limited to the oil price crash and the crisis in Greece. The truth is that there are birth pangs of the next great financial collapse all over the place. We just have to be honest with ourselves and realize what all of these signs are telling us.
And it isn’t just in the western world where people are sounding the alarm. All over the world, highly educated professionals are warning that a great storm is on the horizon. The other day, I had an economist in Germany write to me with his concerns. And in China, the head of the Dagong Rating Agency is declaring that we are going to have to face “a new world financial crisis in the next few years”…
The world economy may slip into a new global financial crisis in the next few years, China’s Dagong Rating Agency Head Guan Jianzhong said in an interview with TASS news agency on Wednesday.
“I believe we’ll have to face a new world financial crisis in the next few years. It is difficult to give the exact time but all the signs are present, such as the growing volume of debts and the unsteady development of the economies of the US, the EU, China and some other developing countries,” he said, adding the situation is even worse than ahead of 2008.
For a long time, I have been pointing at the year 2015. But this year is not going to be the end of anything. Rather, it is just going to be the beginning of the end.
During the past few years, we have experienced a temporary bubble of false stability fueled by reckless money printing and an unprecedented accumulation of debt. But instead of fixing anything, those measures have just made the eventual crash even worse.
Now a day of reckoning is fast approaching.
Life as we know it is about to change dramatically, and most people are completely and totally unprepared for it.
If you want to figure out what is going to happen next in the financial markets, carefully watch what the insiders are doing. Those that are “connected” have access to far better sources of information than the rest of us have, and if they hear that something big is coming up they will often make very significant moves with their money in anticipation of what is about to happen. Right now, Wall Street insiders and central banks all around the globe are making some very unusual moves. In fact, they appear to be rapidly preparing for something really big. So exactly what are they up to? In a previous article entitled “Are The Government And The Big Banks Quietly Preparing For An Imminent Financial Collapse?“, I speculated that they may be preparing for a financial meltdown of some sort. As I noted in that article, more than 600 banking executives have resigned from their positions over the past 12 months, and I have been personally told that a substantial number of Wall Street bankers have been shopping for “prepper properties” this summer. But now even more evidence has emerged that quiet preparations are being made for an imminent financial collapse. That doesn’t guarantee that something will happen or won’t happen. Like any good detective, we are gathering clues and trying to figure out what the evidence is telling us.
Why Is George Soros Selling So Much Stock And Buying So Much Gold?
I am certainly not a fan of George Soros. He has funneled millions upon millions of dollars into organizations that are trying to take America in the exact wrong direction.
However, I do recognize that he is extremely well connected in the financial world. Soros is almost always ahead of the curve on financial matters, and if something big is going to go down George Soros is probably going to know about it ahead of time.
That is why it is very alarming that he has dumped all of his banking stocks and that he is massively hoarding gold. The following is from shtfplan.com….
In a harbinger of what may be coming our way in the Fall of 2012, billionaire financier George Soros has sold all of his equity positions in major financial stocks according to a 13-F report filed with the SEC for the quarter ending June 30, 2012.
Soros, who manages funds through various accounts in the US and the Cayman Islands, has reportedly unloaded over one million shares of stock in financial companies and banks that include Citigroup (420,000 shares), JP Morgan (701,400 shares) and Goldman Sachs (120,000 shares). The total value of the stock sales amounts to nearly $50 million.
What’s equally as interesting as his sale of major financials is where Soros has shifted his money. At the same time he was selling bank stocks, he was acquiring some 884,000 shares (approx. $130 million) of Gold via the SPDR Gold Trust.
Why would you dump over a million shares of stock in major banks and purchase more than 100 million dollars worth of gold?
Well, it would make perfect sense if you believed that a collapse of the financial system was about to happen.
Earlier this year, George Soros told the following to Newsweek….
“I am not here to cheer you up. The situation is about as serious and difficult as I’ve experienced in my career,” Soros tells Newsweek. “We are facing an extremely difficult time, comparable in many ways to the 1930s, the Great Depression. We are facing now a general retrenchment in the developed world, which threatens to put us in a decade of more stagnation, or worse. The best-case scenario is a deflationary environment. The worst-case scenario is a collapse of the financial system.”
It looks like he is putting his money where his mouth is.
Perhaps even more disturbing is what he believes is coming after the financial collapse….
As anger rises, riots on the streets of American cities are inevitable. “Yes, yes, yes,” he says, almost gleefully. The response to the unrest could be more damaging than the violence itself. “It will be an excuse for cracking down and using strong-arm tactics to maintain law and order, which, carried to an extreme, could bring about a repressive political system, a society where individual liberty is much more constrained, which would be a break with the tradition of the United States.”
That doesn’t sound good.
George Soros has told us what he believes is going to happen, and now he is making moves with his money that indicate that he is convinced that it is actually about to start happening.
But he is not the only one that has been busy accumulating gold.
Billionaire John Paulson (the one that made 20 billion dollars on the subprime mortgage meltdown) has been buying gold like crazy and his company now “has 44 percent of its $24 billion fund exposed to bullion.”
So why are Soros and Paulson buying up so much gold?
Central Banks Are Also Hoarding Gold
According to the World Gold Council, the amount of gold bought by the central banks of the world absolutely soared during the second quarter of 2012. The 157.5 metric tons of gold bought by the central banks of the world last quarter was an increase of 62.9 percent from the first quarter of 2012 and a 137.9 percent increase from the second quarter of 2011.
Prior to 2009, the central banks of the world had been net sellers of gold for about two decades. But now that has totally changed, and last quarter central banks stocked up on gold in quantities that we have not seen before….
At 157.5 metric tons, gold buying among central banks came in at its highest quarterly level since the sector became a net buyer of the precious metal in the second quarter of 2009, data in the organization’s quarterly Gold Demand Trends report show.
So why have the central banks of the world become such gold bugs?
Is there something they aren’t telling us?
Rampant Insider Selling
Wall Street insiders have been dumping a whole lot of stock this year.
In my previous article, I linked to a CNN article from back in April….
First quarter earnings have been decent, if not spectacular. And many corporate executives are issuing cautiously optimistic guidance for the rest of the year.
But while insiders’ lips are saying one thing, their wallets are saying another. The level of insider selling among S&P 500 (SPX) companies is the highest in nearly 10 years. That is not good.
A lot of insiders appear to be getting out at the top of the market while the getting is still good.
Other insiders appear to be bailing out before the bottom falls out from beneath them.
Just check out what has been happening to Facebook stock. It hit another new record low on Thursday as insiders dumped stock. The following is from a CNN article….
Facebook’s life as a public company has been a nightmare from day one, and the pain continued on Thursday as some company insiders got their first chance to dump shares.
Facebook stock hit a new intra-day low of $19.69 Thursday morning, and ended the day 6.3% lower at $19.87.
Sadly, Facebook has now lost close to half of its value since the IPO.
Will Facebook end up being the poster child for the irrational stock market bubble that we have seen over the past couple of years?
Overall, retail investors have been very busy pulling money out of stocks in recent weeks.
The following are the net inflows to equity funds over the past five weeks (in millions of dollars) according to ICI….
According to the figures above, more than 10 billion dollars has been pulled out of equity funds over the past two weeks alone.
So does this mean anything?
But it is very interesting and it bears watching.
Why Does The U.S. Government Need So Much Ammunition?
In my previous article, I also noted that the U.S. government appears to be very rapidly making preparations for something really big.
This week, it was revealed that the Social Security Administration plans to buy 174,000 hollow point bullets which will be delivered to 41 different locations all over America.
Now why in the world does the Social Security Administration need 174,000 bullets?
And why do they need hollow point bullets? Those bullets are designed to cause as much damage to internal organs as possible.
But of course this is only the latest in a series of very large purchases of ammunition by U.S. government agencies. The following is from a recent article by Paul Joseph Watson….
Back in March, Homeland Security purchased 450 million rounds of .40-caliber hollow point bullets that are designed to expand upon entry and cause maximum organ damage, prompting questions as to why the DHS needed such a large amount of powerful bullets merely for training purposes.
This was followed by another DHS solicitation asking for a further 750 million rounds of assorted bullets, including 357 mag rounds that are able to penetrate walls.
Now why in the world would the government need over a billion rounds of ammunition?
If it was the U.S. military I could understand this. You can burn through a whole lot of ammunition fighting wars.
But this makes no sense – unless they believe that big trouble is coming.
Personally, I wouldn’t blame them for getting prepared. Our economy continues to fall apart and there are signs of social decay everywhere around us.
The American people are more frustrated and more angry than at any other time in modern history. This upcoming election is only going to cause Americans to become even more angry and even more divided.
All it would take is just the right “spark” to cause this country to erupt.
It could be the upcoming election.
It could be the collapse of the financial system.
Or it might be something else.
But the conditions are definitely there for it to happen.
Unfortunately, the American public is never told to prepare because authorities never want “to panic” the general population.
We are always the last to know, and that stinks.
So don’t wait for someone to come on the television and announce that a crisis is happening.
If you wait that long, it will be too late.
Instead, open up your eyes and think for yourself.
We all need to work hard to get prepared for the coming crisis while we still can.
As you can see, Wall Street insiders, the U.S. government and the central banks of the world are busy getting prepared.
Don’t put your head in the sand.
The warning signs are there and time is running out.