FALLING OIL PRICES, THE US DOLLAR, AND CARRY TRADE: A GRAND STRATEGY ...January 14, 2015
As most regular readers of this website are aware, I'm not one of those "the-dollar-will-collapse-any-day-now-and-will-no-longer-be-the-reserve-currency-the-financial-apocalypse-is-immanent" people. For that matter, and for the record, I've never been a singer in the Rockefeller-funded "oil is a fossil fuel and we're at peak oil" choir either. But like many, I've been wondering just what the heck is going on with the falling prices of crude oil(and, to be quite honest, it's not the only industrial commodity that is undergoing falling prices). If anything, the emergence of fracking in practical and widespread application in recent years has produced a clear counter-indicator to the "peak oil" theorists (not to mention the even more problematical findings of the "it's-not-a-fossil-fuel, dummy" crowd. O.K. We get it: there simply weren't enough dinosaurs ever alive on this planet - or elsewhere for that matter - to account for all the oil we've been consuming over the years. It was a dumb idea, and not the first dumb idea the Rockefeller crowd bought into and then made everyone else buy into.)
Apparently many of you were wondering in the past few weeks why the heck oil prices were in what appears to be free-fall, because over the past week and a half, many of you have sent me a spate of articles, in fact, well over twenty articles, all addressing this question, and quite frankly, anyone's guess is as good as, if not probably better, than mine.
But here, for my two cents' worth, are two articles that I think are close, if not spot on, the problem:
Now, what's interesting about both of these articles is that they avoid the theory that the USA is doing this as a component that the USA is doing this as a short-term measure to "get Putin", of in some hypotheses, to "get Saudi Arabia", and in still other hypotheses, to "get both of them."
I want to draw your attention to a few paragraphs from the first article (which confirm the insights of David Bird, the missing Wall Street Journal reporter, that are rehearsed in the second article):
"You will have read about the oil price fall, OPEC, shale fracking, oil glut, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, energy supply and demand, geo-strategy and geo-political risk, alongside myriad conspiracy theories. They all may have some truth in them, but they are relative side issues against the major story that ought to be followed and dissected: the explosion of the near $8+ trillion US dollar carry trade.
"Of that $8+ trillion, $5.7 trillion is emerging market dollar debt, a global reserve currency those countries can neither print nor control. Dollar hard-currency debt of emerging market economies has tripled in a decade, split between $3.1 trillion in bank loans and $2.6 trillion in corporate bonds. In the last two hundred years, very few cross border lending binges equate in size and scale to this dollar denominated debt colossus fuelled by first world quantitative easing on an unprecedented scale and with near Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP).
"What Is The Carry Trade?
"It’s the borrowing of a currency of a low interest rate country, such as the US, converting it to a currency in a higher interest rate country and investing it in high yielding assets of that country and elsewhere. The big trading outfits do this with leverage of 100 or 300 to one. This causes important moves in the financial markets, made possible by the trillions of dollars of central bank money creation in recent years.
"Evaporating Dollar Liquidity?
"Borrowing US dollars is the equivalent of shorting the US dollar. If the US dollar rallies, as it has done over the last several quarters and months, then that dollar debt becomes more and more expensive to finance on a relative basis around the world. As a result, a US dollar rally is oil negative, commodities negative and most global asset classes negative. Much of the global debt was taken out at real interest rates of 1 percent or less on the implicit assumption that the US Federal Reserve would continue to flood the world with liquidity for years to come. This has now been stopped for the moment as announced by Janet Yellen, the chair of the board of governors of the US Federal Reserve. The Fed has already slashed its bond purchases to zero, withdrawing $85bn of net stimulus each month. It is clearly considering the raising of interest rates for the first time in seven years as the US economy recovers at a formidable pace of nearly four percent GDP growth as measured via the most recent last quarter's figures."
But here comes my high octane speculation, and it's strongly suggested even by the article itself, which hints at deeper underlying geopolitical agendas at work, and at the various geopolitically based theories: it's being done to smash OPEC once and for all, it's because of Russia, or Iran. Rather, the article suggests, it is all of these, and more:
"1. Just about everything is likely to be hit in 2015 and beyond, and not just oil, as the US dollar continues to rise. Much of the global “recovery” of the last five years has been fuelled by cheap borrowed dollars. Now that the US dollar has broken out of a multi-year range, we are going to see more and more “risk assets”, including projects or investments funded by borrowed dollars around the world, decline significantly in value step by step. Oil is just the beginning of this rout and needs to be looked at in the context of a bigger picture.
"2. Slow to negative growth economies that are closely aligned with commodities -- all of which are priced in US dollars -- are also going to get demolished step by step. Look at recent examples: Russia, Nigeria and Venezuela on the one hand and Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia on the other.
"3. The bigger story here is not about a mercurial oil price decline alone; it’s about a massive bubble in multiple risk asset classes aided by borrowed dollars blowing up step by step in a cascade. The last time around it was a housing bubble crash in 2007-2009. This time it’s an all asset classes bubble save the US dollar. Isn't oil just the Canary in that coal mine shaft? Remember when a few years back the unintended consequences of quantitative easing or printing money were discussed extensively. Whilst the examples of the Weimar Republic and hyperinflation abounded both within and without ATCA 5000's Socratic dialogue, it may well be that the reverse may yet come to pass as an alternative scenario. We also discussed, a massive global debt deflationary spiral across most asset classes and particularly in the emerging market countries unleashed, perhaps unintentionally, by the US Federal Reserve's eventual monetary policy tightening."(Emphasis added)
Or perhaps it is entirely intentional, and a mechanism whereby the USA's strategic "pivot to the Pacific" and "eastward pivot" of its NATO bases have been deliberately coupled to the timing of Russia's recent institution of an alternative financial clearing system. In the wider geopolitical context, in other words, it makes entire sense to use this mechanism to prevent further BRICSA collaboration, further Chinese penetration of Asian markets, and to weaken commodities driven markets.
Ok, that's clear enough, but where's the high octane speculation part of this? It's suggested in those last italicized lines of the quotation above, for if the Fed's policy is a matter of deliberate and intentional geopolitical and financial policy designed to ring in the BRICSA bloc, then we can expect it to be coupled to certain other developments, like increasing or expanding American military presence and bases in countries such as Thailand, and a deepening of economic and even military ties with - here it comes - Vietnam, increased pressure on countries such as Indonesia to become part of an expanded alliance system in the south Pacific, and so on. Time will, of course, tell, but for the moment, my money's on all of this being part of a grand strategic policy, and quite deliberate, with the Fed playing its dutiful role. If so, then watch American diplomatic moves with Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia, in addition to the "usual players"(Japan, Australia, etc.).
See you on the flip side...