When the global economy is doing well, the amount of stuff that is imported and exported around the world goes up, and when the global economy is in recession, the amount of stuff that is imported and exported around the world goes down. It is just basic economics. Governments around the world have become very adept at manipulating other measures of economic activity such as GDP, but the trade numbers are more difficult to fudge. Today, China accounts for more global trade than anyone else on the entire planet, and we have just learned that Chinese exports and Chinese imports are both collapsing right now. But this is just part of a larger trend. As I discussed the other day, British banking giant HSBC has reported that total global trade is down 8.4 percent so far in 2015, and global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent. The only other times global trade has plummeted this much has been during other global recessions, and it appears that this new downturn is only just beginning.
For many years, China has been leading the revolution in global trade. But now we are witnessing something that is almost unprecedented. Chinese exports are falling, and Chinese imports are absolutely imploding…
Growth of exports from China has been dropping relentlessly, for years. Now this “growth” has actually turned negative. In September, exports were down 3.7% from a year earlier, the “inevitable fallout from China’s unsustainable and poorly executed credit splurge,” as Thomson Reuters’ Alpha Now puts it. Most of these exports are manufactured goods that are shipped by container to the rest of the world.
And imports into China – a mix of bulk and containerized freight – have been plunging: down 20.4% in September from a year earlier, after at a 13.8% drop in August.
This week it was announced that Chinese GDP growth had fallen to the lowest level since the last recession, and that makes sense. Global economic activity is really slowing down, and this is deeply affecting China.
So what about the United States?
Well, based on the amount of stuff that is being shipped around in our country it appears that our economy is really slowing down too. The following comes from Wolf Richter, and I shared some of it in a previous article, but I think that it bears repeating…
September is in the early phase of the make-or-break holiday shipping season. Shipments usually increase from August to September. They did this year too. The number of shipments in September inched up 1.7% from August, according to the Cass Freight Index.
But the index was down 1.5% from an already lousy September last year, when shipments had fallen from the prior month, instead of rising. And so, in terms of the number of shipments, it was the worst September since 2010.
It has been crummy all year: With the exception of January and February, the shipping volume has been lower year-over-year every month!
The index is broad. It tracks data from shippers, no matter what carrier they choose, whether truck, rail, or air, and includes carriers like FedEx and UPS.
What major retailers such as Wal-Mart are reporting also confirms that we are in a major economic slowdown. Wal-Mart recently announced that its earnings would fall by as much as 12 percent during the next fiscal year, and that caused Wal-Mart stock to drop by the most in 27 years.
And of course this is going to have a huge ripple effect. There are thousands of other companies that do business with Wal-Mart, and Reuters is reporting that they are starting to get squeezed…
Suppliers of everything from groceries to sports equipment are already being squeezed for price cuts and cost sharing by Wal-Mart Stores. Now they are bracing for the pressure to ratchet up even more after a shock earnings warning from the retailer last week.
The discount store behemoth has always had a reputation for demanding lower prices from vendors but Reuters has learned from interviews with suppliers and consultants, as well as reviewing some contracts, that even by its standards Wal-Mart has been turning up the heat on them this year.
“The ground is shaking here,” said Cameron Smith, head of Cameron Smith & Associates, a major recruiting firm for suppliers located close to Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. “Suppliers are going to have to help Wal-Mart get back on track.”
Similar things are going on at some of the other biggest companies in America as well.
For instance, things have gotten so bad for McDonald’s that one franchise owner recently stated that the restaurant chain is “facing its final days”…
“McDonald’s announced in April that it would be closing 700 ‘underperforming’ locations, but because of the company’s sheer size — it has 14,300 locations in the United States alone — this was not necessarily a reduction in the size of the company, especially because it continues to open locations around the world. It still has more than double the locations of Burger King, its closest competitor.”
However, for the franchisees, the picture looks much worse than simply 700 stores closing down.
“We are in the throes of a deep depression, and nothing is changing,” a franchise owner wrote in response to a financial survey by Nomura Group. “Probably 30% of operators are insolvent.” One owner went as far as to speculate that McDonald’s is literally “facing its final days.”
Why would things be so bad at Wal-Mart and McDonald’s if the economy was “recovering”?
Come on now – let’s use some common sense here.
All of the numbers are screaming at us that we have entered a major economic downturn and that it is accelerating.
CNBC is reporting that the number of job openings in the U.S. is falling and that the number of layoffs is rising…
Job openings fell 5.3 percent in August, while a 2.6 percent rise in layoffs and discharges offset a 0.3 percent gain in hires. Finally, the amount of quits — or what Convergex calls its “take this job and shove it” indicator because it shows the percentage of workers who left positions voluntarily — fell to 56.6 percent from 57.1 percent, indicating less confidence in mobility.
And as I discussed the other day, Challenger Gray is reporting that we are seeing layoffs at major firms at a level that we have not witnessed since 2009.
We already have 102.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now. As this emerging worldwide recession deepens, a lot more Americans are going to lose their jobs. That is going to cause the poverty and suffering in this country to spike even more, if you can imagine that.
Just consider what authorities discovered on the streets of Philadelphia just this week…
Support is flooding in for a homeless Philadelphia family whose two-year-old son was found wandering alone in a park in the middle of the night.
Angelique Roland, 27, and Michael Jones, 24, were sleeping with their children behind cardboard boxes underneath the Fairmount Park Welcome Center in Love Park when the toddler slipped away.
The boy was found just before midnight and handed over to a nearby Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority police officer, who took him to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
He was wearing a green, long sleeve shirt, black running pants and had a diaper on, but did not have shoes or socks.
Could you imagine sleeping on the streets and not even being able to provide your two-year-old child with shoes and socks?
These numbers that I write about every day are not a game. They affect all of us on a very personal level.
Just like in 2008 and 2009, millions of Americans that are living a very comfortable middle class lifestyle today will soon lose their jobs and will end up out in the streets.
In fact, there will be people that will read this article that this will happen to.
So no, none of us should be excited that the global economy is collapsing. There is already so much pain all around us, and what is to come is beyond what most of us would even dare to imagine.
The global elite have never been closer to their goal of a united world. Thanks to a series of interlocking treaties and international agreements, the governance of this planet is increasingly becoming globalized and centralized, but most people don’t seem alarmed by this at all. In the past 30 days, we have seen some of the biggest steps toward a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion that we have ever witnessed, but these events have sparked very little public discussion or debate. So please share this article with as many people as you can. We need to wake people up about this before it is too late.
From September 25th to September 27th, the United Nations launched a “new universal agenda” for humanity. Those are not my words, they actually come directly out of the core document for this new agenda. The Pope traveled to New York City to give the address that kicked off this conference, thus giving his considerable endorsement to this new plan. Virtually every nation on the entire planet willingly signed up for the 17 goals that are included in this plan, but this stunning turn of events made very few international headlines.
The United Nations is promising that if we all work together that we can turn our planet into some kind of “utopia”, but the truth is that all of this talk about “unity” masks a very insidious agenda. The following comes from a recent piece by Paul McGuire, the author of a groundbreaking new book entitled “The Babylon Code”…
The UN is not asking permission, but issuing a command that the entire planet will commit to 17 sustainable development goals and 169 sustainable development targets designed to radically transform our world by 2030. The UN 2030 plan promoted by the Pope will advance Agenda 21 on steroids. Through a controlled media the mass populations will be told that this is all about saving the environment and “ending poverty.” But that is not the true agenda of Agenda 21. The true agenda of Agenda 21 is to establish a global government, global economic system, and global religion. When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon spoke of “a dream of a world of peace and dignity for all” this is no different than when the Communists promised the people a “workers paradise.”
For the general population, “the 2030 Agenda” has been rebranded as “the global goals”. On September 26th, some of the biggest names in the music world (including Beyonce) promoted these new “global goals” at the “Global Citizen Festival” that was held in Central Park. And you can watch a YouTube video where some of the most famous names on the entire planet urge all of us to get behind these new “global goals” right here.
None of this is by accident. We are being trained to think of ourselves as “global citizens” that belong to a “global community”. Decades ago, most Americans would have been up in arms over something like this. But now most people just seem to accept these changes passively. Very powerful secret societies and international organizations have been moving us in this direction for a very long time, and most Americans simply have no idea what is happening. Here is more from Paul McGuire…
The United Nations is a de facto global government and does not rule by the “consent of the governed.” The United Nations is a global government to which American politicians of both parties have surrendered our Constitutional rights. If you look at the Republican Presidential debates you see the vast majority of those running are “bought men and women.” They are there to do the bidding of their true masters, the international banking families and their interlocking secret societies. If a candidate has a different set of beliefs than the “Orwellian group think” which constitutes domestic and foreign policy, he is allowed to go only so far.
Who are these powerful elite groups and the secret societies that run them? As we extensively document in our new book, The Babylon Code, co-authored by this author and Troy Anderson, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalist, there exists a very real network of semi-secretive and secret groups. Groups like The Council on Foreign Relations, The Trilateral Commission, Royal Institute of International Affairs, United Nations, Club of Rome, The Bilderberg Group, and others control presidents, prime ministers, media networks, politicians, CEO’s, and entire nations. You will almost never hear any substantive analysis by the media, which is controlled by these groups nor of attempts at holding them accountable by governments around the world.
Another way that our planet is being “united” is through the use of international trade agreements.
The ultimate goal is for the entire world to become a “single market” with uniform laws, rules and regulations. But as we merge our economy with the rest of the globe, the United States has been losing tens of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs as the monolithic corporations that now dominate our economy shift production to areas where labor is much cheaper. This is absolutely destroying the middle class, but very few people seem to care.
Negotiations for one of the biggest international trade treaties that the world has ever seen recently concluded. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, also known as “Obamatrade”, would represent a giant step toward a truly unified global economy. The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles…
We have just witnessed one of the most significant steps toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen. Negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been completed, and if approved it will create the largest trading bloc on the planet. But this is not just a trade agreement. In this treaty, Barack Obama has thrown in all sorts of things that he never would have been able to get through Congress otherwise. And once this treaty is approved, it will be exceedingly difficult to ever make changes to it. So essentially what is happening is that the Obama agenda is being permanently locked in for 40 percent of the global economy.
The United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam all intend to sign on to this insidious plan. Collectively, these nations have a total population of about 800 million people and a combined GDP of approximately 28 trillion dollars.
And do you want to know who pushed really hard to give Obama fast track negotiating authority so that these negotiations could be brought to a successful conclusion?
It was the traitorous Republican leadership in Congress. They did everything that they could to pave the way for Obamatrade.
We are also seeing some stunning moves in the direction of a one world religion.
In recent years, you may have noticed that it has become very trendy to say that all religions are just different paths to the same God. In fact, many prominent religious leaders are now openly proclaiming that the two biggest faiths on the entire planet, Christianity and Islam, worship the exact same deity.
For example, just consider what the Pope is saying publicly on this matter. The following is an extended excerpt from one of my recent articles on End of the American Dream…
What Pope Francis had to say at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan has received very little coverage by the mainstream media, but it was exceedingly significant. The following is how he began his address…
I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice. I would have wished my greeting to be warmer. My sentiments of closeness, my sentiments of closeness in the face of tragedy. The tragedy that they suffered in Mecca.
In this moment, I give assurances of my prayers. I unite myself with you all. A prayer to almighty god, all merciful.
He did not choose those words by accident. In Islam, Allah is known as “the all-merciful one”. If you doubt this, just do a Google search.
And this is not the first time Pope Francis has used such language. For instance, the following comes from remarks that he made during his very first ecumenical meeting as Pope…
I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you. I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.
The Catholic Church is aware of the importance of promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – I wish to repeat this: promoting friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions – it also attests the valuable work that the Pontifical Council for interreligious dialogue performs.
Pope Francis clearly believes that Christians and Muslims worship the exact same God. And so that helps to explain why he authorized “Islamic prayers and readings from the Quran” at the Vatican for the first time ever back in 2014.
What is happening is undeniable.
We are steamrolling toward a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion.
Of course we will not get there overnight. It is going to take some time, and there are going to be quite a few bumps along the way. In fact, I believe that our planet will experience an extreme amount of chaos before we actually get there.
But every major crisis will be used as an excuse to advance this agenda. Virtually every solution that the elite offer us will involve more globalization and more centralization. We will be told that all of our problems will be solved if humanity will just come together in unity.
For some, the goal of a “united planet” where we are all working together to eradicate things like poverty, war and disease makes all the sense in the world.
For others, a one world government, a one world economy and a one world religion would simply mean setting the stage for “one world tyranny”.
So what do you think? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
The biggest bank in the western world has just come out and declared that the global economy is “already in a recession”. According to British banking giant HSBC, global trade is down 8.4 percent so far this year, and global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars is down 3.4 percent. So those that are waiting for the next worldwide economic recession to begin can stop waiting. It is officially here. As you will see below, money is fleeing emerging markets at a blistering pace, major global banks are stuck with huge loans that will never be repaid, and it looks like a very significant worldwide credit crunch has begun. Just a few days ago, I explained that the IMF, the UN, the BIS And Citibank were all warning that a major economic crisis could be imminent. They aren’t just making this stuff up out of thin air, but most Americans still seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. The level of blind faith in the system that most people are demonstrating right now is absolutely astounding.
The numbers say that the global economy has not been in this bad shape since the devastating recession that shook the world in 2008 and 2009. According to HSBC, “we are already in a dollar recession”…
Global trade is also declining at an alarming pace. According to the latest data available in June the year on year change is -8.4%. To find periods of equivalent declines we only really find recessionary periods. This is an interesting point. On one metric we are already in a recession. As can be seen in Chart 3 on the following page, global GDP expressed in US dollars is already negative to the tune of USD 1,37trn or -3.4%. That is, we are already in a dollar recession.
Here is the chart that Zero Hedge posted along with the quote above. As you can see, the only time global GDP expressed in U.S. dollars has fallen faster in recent years was during the horrible recession of seven years ago…
But there are still a whole lot of incredibly clueless people running around out there claiming that “nothing is happening” even though more signs of trouble are erupting all around us every single day.
For instance, just today CNBC published an article entitled “The US is closer to deflation than you think“, and Twitter just announced that it plans to lay off 8 percent of its entire workforce.
But of course the biggest problems are happening in “emerging markets” right now. The following is an excerpt from an article that was just published in a major British news source entitled “The world economic order is collapsing and this time there seems no way out“…
Now act three is beginning, but in countries much less able to devise measures to stop financial contagion and whose banks are more precarious. For global finance next flooded the so-called emerging market economies (EMEs), countries such as Turkey, Brazil, Malaysia, China, all riding high on sky-high commodity prices as the China boom, itself fuelled by wild lending, seemed never-ending. China manufactured more cement from 2010-13 than the US had produced over the entire 20th century. It could not last and so it is proving.
China’s banks are, in effect, bust: few of the vast loans they have made can ever be repaid, so they cannot now lend at the rate needed to sustain China’s once super-high but illusory growth rates. China’s real growth is now below that of the Mao years: the economic crisis will spawn a crisis of legitimacy for the deeply corrupt communist party. Commodity prices have crashed.
Money is flooding out of the EMEs, leaving overborrowed companies, indebted households and stricken banks, but EMEs do not have institutions such as the Federal Reserve or European Central Bank to knock up rescue packages. Yet these nations now account for more than half of global GDP. Small wonder the IMF is worried.
It is one thing for The Economic Collapse Blog to warn that “the world economic order is collapsing”, but this is one of the biggest newspapers in the UK.
I was writing about these emerging market problems back in July, but at that time very few really understood the true gravity of the situation. But now giant banks such as Goldman Sachs are calling this the third stage of the ongoing global financial crisis. The following comes from a recent CNBC piece entitled “Is EM turmoil the third wave of the financial crisis? Goldman thinks so“…
Emerging markets aren’t just suffering through another market rout—it’s a third wave of the global financial crisis, Goldman Sachs said.
“Increased uncertainty about the fallout from weaker emerging market economies, lower commodity prices and potentially higher U.S. interest rates are raising fresh concerns about the sustainability of asset price rises, marking a new wave in the Global Financial Crisis,” Goldman said in a note dated last week.
The emerging market wave, coinciding with the collapse in commodity prices, follows the U.S. stage, which marked the fallout from the housing crash, and the European stage, when the U.S. crisis spread to the continent’s sovereign debt, the bank said.
You know that it is late in the game when Goldman Sachs starts sounding exactly like The Economic Collapse Blog. I have been warning about a “series of waves” for years.
When will people wake up?
What is it going to take?
The crisis is happening right now.
Of course many Americans will refuse to acknowledge what is going on until the Dow Jones Industrial Average collapses by several thousand more points. And that is coming. But let us all hope that day is delayed for as long as possible, because all of our lives will become much crazier once that happens.
And the truth is that many Americans do understand that bad times are on the horizon. Just check out the following numbers that were recently reported by CNBC…
The CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds views on the current state of the economy about stable, with 23 percent saying it is good or excellent and 42 percent judging it as fair. About a third say the economy is poor, up 3 points from the June survey.
But the percentage of Americans who believe the economy will get worse rose 6 points to 32 percent, the highest level since the government shutdown in 2013. And just 22 percent believe the economy will get better, 2 points lower than June and the lowest level since 2008, when the nation was gripped by recession.
If you want to believe that everything is going to be just fine somehow, then go ahead and believe that.
All I can do is present the facts. For months I have been warning about this financial crisis, and now it is playing out as a slow-motion train wreck right in front of our eyes.
We are moving into a period of time during which events are going to start to move much more rapidly, and life as we know it is about to change in a major way for all of us.
Hopefully you have already been preparing for what is about to come.
If not, I wouldn’t want to be in your position.
If you are looking for a “canary in a coal mine” type of warning for the entire global economy, you have a whole bunch to pick from right now. “Dr. Copper” just hit a six year low, Morgan Stanley is warning that this could be the worst oil price crash in 45 years, the Chinese economy is suddenly stalling out, and world trade is falling at the fastest pace that we have seen since the last financial crisis. In order not to see all of the signs that are pointing toward a global economic slowdown, you would have to be willingly blind. In recent months, I have been writing article after article detailing how the exact same patterns that happened just before the stock market crash of 2008 are playing out once again. We are watching a slow-motion train wreck unfold right before our eyes, and things are only going to get worse from here.
Copper is referred to as “Dr. Copper” because it does such an excellent job of indicating where economic conditions are heading next. We saw this in 2008, when the price of copper started crashing big time in the months leading up to the stock market implosion.
Well, now copper is crashing again. Just check out this chart. The price of copper plunged again on Wednesday, and it is now the lowest that it has been since the last financial crisis. Unfortunately, the forecast for the months ahead is not good. The following is what Goldman Sachs is saying about copper…
“Though we have been bearish on copper on a 12-mo forward basis for the past two and a half years, we have maintained a more bullish medium to long-term stance on the assumption of Chinese copper demand growth of 4% per annum and a major slowing in supply growth around 2017/2018 … we substantially lower our short, medium, and long-term copper price forecasts, on the back of lower Chinese copper demand growth forecasts (we have been highlighting that the risk has been skewed to the downside for some time), increased conviction in copper supply growth over the next three years, and increased conviction in the outlook for mining cost deflation in dollar terms.”
It is funny that Goldman mentioned China so prominently. Even though China’s fake GDP figures say that everything is fine over there, other numbers are painting a very dismal picture.
For instance, Chinese electrical consumption in June grew at the slowest pace that we have seen in 30 years, and capital outflows from China have reached a level that is “frightening”…
Robin Brooks at Goldman Sachs estimates that capital outflows topped $224bn in the second quarter, a level “beyond anything seen historically”.
The Chinese central bank (PBOC) is being forced to run down the country’s foreign reserves to defend the yuan. This intervention is becoming chronic. The volume is rising. Mr Brooks calculates that the authorities sold $48bn of bonds between March and June.
Charles Dumas at Lombard Street Research says capital outflows – when will we start calling it capital flight? – have reached $800bn over the past year. These are frighteningly large sums of money.
Just last month, the Chinese stock market started to crash, but the crash was interrupted when the Chinese government essentially declared a form of financial martial law.
And I don’t think that “financial martial law” is too strong of a term to use in this case. Just consider the following excerpt from a recent article in the Telegraph…
Half the shares traded in Shanghai and Shenzhen were suspended. New floats were halted. Some 300 corporate bosses were strong-armed into buying back their own shares. Police state tactics were used hunt down short sellers.
We know from a vivid account in Caixin magazine that China’s top brokers were shut in a room and ordered to hand over money for an orchestrated buying blitz. A target of 4,500 was set for the Shanghai Composite by Communist Party officials.
So a stock market crash was halted, but in doing so Chinese officials have essentially destroyed the second largest stock market in the world. China’s financial markets have lost all legitimacy, and foreigners are going to be extremely hesitant to put any money into Chinese stocks from now on.
Meanwhile, there is no hiding the fact that trade activity in China and in most of the rest of the planet is slowing down. In fact, world trade volume has now dropped by the most that we have seen since the last global recession. The following comes from Zero Hedge…
As goes the world, so goes America (according to 30 years of historical data), and so when world trade volumes drop over 2% (the biggest drop since 2009) in the last six months to the weakest since June 2014, the “US recession imminent” canary in the coalmine is drawing her last breath…
As Wolf Street’s Wolf Richter adds, this isn’t stagnation or sluggish growth. This is the steepest and longest decline in world trade since the Financial Crisis. Unless a miracle happened in June, and miracles are becoming exceedingly scarce in this sector, world trade will have experienced its first back-to-back quarterly contraction since 2009.
As you probably noted in the chart above, a decline in world trade is almost always associated with a recession.
That was certainly the case back in 2008 and 2009.
Another similarity between the last crisis and what is happening now is a crash in the price of oil.
According to Business Insider, we have just officially entered a brand new bear market for oil…
Oil is officially in a bear market.
On Thursday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures fell more than 1% to settle near $48.55 per barrel in New York.
A bear market is roughly defined as a 20% drop from highs. Crude has now fallen by about 20% in the last six weeks.
So what does all of this mean?
All of these signs are indicating that another great economic crisis is here, and that a global financial implosion is just around the corner.
At this point, even many of the “bulls” are sounding the alarm. For example, just consider what Henry Blodget of Business Insider is saying…
As regular readers know, for the past ~21 months I have been worrying out loud about US stock prices. Specifically, I have suggested that a decline of 30% to 50% would not be a surprise.
I haven’t predicted a crash. But I have said clearly that I think stocks will deliver returns that are way below average for the next seven to 10 years. And I certainly won’t be surprised to see stocks crash. So don’t say no one warned you!
For those that don’t know, Henry Blodget is definitely not a bear. In fact, he is one of Wall Street’s biggest cheerleaders.
So for Blodget to suggest that we could see the stock market drop by half is a really big deal.
The closer that we get to this next crisis, the clearer that everything is becoming.
Where are things going to go from here? Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…
Are we on the verge of a major worldwide economic downturn? Well, if recent warnings from prominent bankers all over the world are to be believed, that may be precisely what we are facing in the months ahead. As you will read about below, the big banks are warning that the price of oil could soon drop as low as 20 dollars a barrel, that a Greek exit from the eurozone could push the EUR/USD down to 0.90, and that the global economy could shrink by more than 2 trillion dollars in 2015. Most of the time, very few people ever actually read the things that the big banks write for their clients. But in recent months, a lot of these bankers are issuing such ominous warnings that you would think that they have started to write for The Economic Collapse Blog. Of course we have seen this happen before. Just before the financial crisis of 2008, a lot of people at the big banks started to get spooked, and now we are beginning to see an atmosphere of fear spread on Wall Street once again. Nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next, but an increasing number of experts are starting to agree that it won’t be good.
Let’s start with oil. Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen a nice rally for the price of oil. It has bounced back into the low 50s, which is still a catastrophically low level, but it has many hoping for a rebound to a range that will be healthy for the global economy.
Unfortunately, many of the experts at the big banks are now anticipating that the exact opposite will happen instead. For example, Citibank says that we could see the price of oil go as low as 20 dollars this year…
The recent rally in crude prices looks more like a head-fake than a sustainable turning point — The drop in US rig count, continuing cuts in upstream capex, the reading of technical charts, and investor short position-covering sustained the end-January 8.1% jump in Brent and 5.8% jump in WTI into the first week of February.
Short-term market factors are more bearish, pointing to more price pressure for the next couple of months and beyond — Not only is the market oversupplied, but the consequent inventory build looks likely to continue toward storage tank tops. As on-land storage fills and covers the carry of the monthly spreads at ~$0.75/bbl, the forward curve has to steepen to accommodate a monthly carry closer to $1.20, putting downward pressure on prompt prices. As floating storage reaches its limits, there should be downward price pressure to shut in production.
The oil market should bottom sometime between the end of Q1 and beginning of Q2 at a significantly lower price level in the $40 range — after which markets should start to balance, first with an end to inventory builds and later on with a period of sustained inventory draws. It’s impossible to call a bottom point, which could, as a result of oversupply and the economics of storage, fall well below $40 a barrel for WTI, perhaps as low as the $20 range for a while.
Even though rigs are shutting down at a pace that we have not seen since the last recession, overall global supply still significantly exceeds overall global demand. Barclays analyst Michael Cohen recently told CNBC that at this point the total amount of excess supply is still in the neighborhood of a million barrels per day…
“What we saw in the last couple weeks is rig count falling pretty precipitously by about 80 or 90 rigs per week, but we think there are more important things to be focused on and that rig count doesn’t tell the whole story.”
He expects to see some weakness going into the shoulder season for demand. In addition, there is an excess supply of about a million barrels of oil a day, he said.
And the truth is that many firms simply cannot afford to shut down their rigs. Many are leveraged to the hilt and are really struggling just to service their debt payments. They have to keep pumping so that they can have revenue to meet their financial obligations. The following comes directly from the Bank for International Settlements…
“Against this background of high debt, a fall in the price of oil weakens the balance sheets of producers and tightens credit conditions, potentially exacerbating the price drop as a result of sales of oil assets, for example, more production is sold forward,” BIS said.
“Second, in flow terms, a lower price of oil reduces cash flows and increases the risk of liquidity shortfalls in which firms are unable to meet interest payments. Debt service requirements may induce continued physical production of oil to maintain cash flows, delaying the reduction in supply in the market.”
In the end, a lot of these energy companies are going to go belly up if the price of oil does not rise significantly this year. And any financial institutions that are exposed to the debt of these companies or to energy derivatives will likely be in a great deal of distress as well.
Meanwhile, the overall global economy continues to slow down.
On Monday, we learned that the Baltic Dry Index has dropped to the lowest level ever. Not even during the darkest depths of the last recession did it drop this low.
And there are some at the big banks that are warning that this might just be the beginning. For instance, David Kostin of Goldman Sachs is projecting that sales growth for S&P 500 companies will be zero percent for all of 2015…
“Consensus now forecasts 0% S&P 500 sales growth in 2015 following a 5% cut in revenue forecasts since October. Low oil prices along with FX headwinds and pension charges have weighed on 4Q EPS results and expectations for 2015.”
Others are even more pessimistic than that. According to Bank of America, the global economy will actually shrink by 2.3 trillion dollars in 2015.
One thing that could greatly accelerate our economic problems is the crisis in Greece. If there is no compromise and a new Greek debt deal is not reached, there is a very real possibility that Greece could leave the eurozone.
If Greece does leave the eurozone, the continued existence of the monetary union will be thrown into doubt and the euro will utterly collapse.
Of course I am not the only one saying these things. Analysts at Morgan Stanley are even projecting that the EUR/USD could plummet to 0.90 if there is a “Grexit”…
The Greek Prime Minister has reaffirmed his government’s rejection of the country’s international bailout programme two days before an emergency meeting with the euro area’s finance ministers on Wednesday. His declaration suggested increasing minimum wages, restoring the income tax-free threshold and halting infrastructure privatisations. Should Greece stay firm on its current anti-bailout course and with the ECB not accepting Greek T-bills as collateral, the position of ex-Fed Chairman Greenspan will gain increasing credibility. He forecast the eurozone to break as private investors will withdraw from providing short-term funding to Greece. Greece leaving the currency union would convert the union into a club of fixed exchange rates, a type of ERM III, leading to further fragmentation. Greek Fin Min Varoufakis said the euro will collapse if Greece exits, calling Italian debt unsustainable. Markets may gain the impression that Greece may not opt for a compromise, instead opting for an all or nothing approach when negotiating on Wednesday. It seems the risk premium of Greece leaving EMU is rising. Our scenario analysis suggests a Greek exit taking EURUSD down to 0.90.
If that happens, we could see a massive implosion of the 26 trillion dollars in derivatives that are directly tied to the value of the euro.
We are moving into a time of great peril for global financial markets, and there are a whole host of signs that we are slowly heading into another major global economic crisis.
So don’t be fooled by all of the happy talk in the mainstream media. They did not see the last crisis coming either.