War, Energy, Banks & USDollarby Jim Willie CB
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March 24th, 2007
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On the eve of the next war front to explode in the Persian Gulf region, some thoughts on the energy sector seem appropriate which attempt to tie some factors together. In the last two to three years, the biggest challenge to analysts is not so much identification of certain relevant effects, as it is integration of analysis on a several simultaneous patently clear crucial factors for correlation. To friends an assessment has been often used by me, “This is five dimensional chess, and at any one time, three dimensions are dominant. All are linked increasingly and with more complexity. The challenge is to finger the most important pairs of factors.” That covers it in my opinion.
The tight relationship between the crude oil price and the USDollar valuation is historically well known, firmly in place for over three decades. While the United States owns control of the world reserve currency, a delicate PetroDollar linkage factor remains in force. Since large oil purchases are conducted in US$-based transactions, entire banking systems are designed accordingly so as to handle those transactions. Some Persian Gulf nations like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have diversified more of their reserve assets away from the USDollar and its related (in)securities. Instability in the region is very likely to deliver some additional instability to the USDollar itself. What the current hellbent political leaders seem to ignore is the potential for continued and amplified economic and financial retribution and vengeance on the most vulnerable façade to the United States monolith, its faulty financial flank.
The risks to the USDollar are rising from both liberal monetary forces and desperate energy forces, not to mention geopolitical backlash forces. The US has isolated itself irresponsibly. Prudent decisions and adept leadership have taken a back seat to private profiteering and the rule of law. One could defensibly claim the public till has been ravaged, with enormous weaknesses having been made more vulnerable. Too bad Thomas Jeffersion, George Washington, and James Madison could not sit as permanent immortal special prosecutors in a triumvirate tribunal. Instead, dissenters are more likely to be imprisoned, to disappear, or to be buried. Maybe Harry Schultz is right. Descriptions nowadays of certain figures are closer to Adolph than Winston, closer to Beelzebub than to any Prophet in my book.
An aside, when crude oil contract rollovers occur, the publicity is loud and shrill of a 57 handle on the oil price on CNBC and other networks & publications. But when the rollover is complete, the new month contract takes root, the talk is minimal of the new 60 handle. With a little push up in the oil price today, the handle is 61. My gut tells me that oil is rising with the euro exchange rate and even the Canadian Dollar, in response to the more obvious next US Federal Reserve move being a rate cut, not a rate hike. But again, this is just language, mere words. Expect the USFed to lie through its teeth in the next couple months in defense of the USDollar. Lies cost nothing but credibility, an empty bag for most matters pertaining to the US financial system. Given the financial conditions measured by current account deficit, trade gaps, foreign dependence on USTBond purchases, foreign dependence for commodity & energy supply, credit growth, derivative mushrooms, absent manufacturing base, one must conclude the USGovt is in worse shape than the highly publicized cancer-ridden subprime mortgage lenders. As cited recently in the alternative news sources, the USGovt is the ultimate quintessential subprime borrower! How better the armada of leaking vessels known as subprime lenders would fare if they owned high tech military weapons to defend against barbarians at the gate!
The United States needs the war to secure supplies, dominate in the supply line, and to put in a proximal presence for the Persian Gulf. Doing so establishes the US as the first customer for oil delivery and helps to ensure the USDollar as the preferred transaction currency. If things go boom on the eastern shores of the Persian Gulf before income taxes are due this April in the deteriorating homeland, once more, the war will be about oil after more misdirection. Investment implications run thick. In war the truth is the first weapon to be used and abused, if not the first major casualty. Closer to home, an impact is real and notable. The drain of US Army soldiers has affected WalMart, UPS, FedEx, Home Depot, American Airlines, and more to the point of rendering them short of skilled staff.
In my simplest view, energy remains a key investment asset when an entire military, its media justification, its cloud of terrorism to maintain high ambient temperature, its usage of private sector mercenaries & oil services contract workers, its greatly extended soldier tours of service, the impact on numerous industries for key worker drain, are devoted to secure its valuable supply. Follow the crowd, the tumult, and the money, which all point to the energy world. When Putin from the Kremlin orders usage of oil and natural gas pipelines to be used as weapons, then again one must conclude energy is a key investment. When the Shanghai Coop Org creates an alliance originally for security and cultural reasons, but then morphs into a powerful phalanx to wall off East from West on “new” energy supply, then again one must conclude energy is a key investment. The risks to the USDollar are rising from both liberal monetary forces and desperate energy forces, not to mention geopolitical backlash forces. Let that be the chorus refrain.
My steadfast claim all along, for the last 18 months, ever since Iran showed up on the radar, is that Iran is more a story about a wall to cut the West from new energy supply, and associated banking of oil money. The same brilliant politically motivated geniuses who gave us the WMD lame argument as cause for war continue to ply their trade. They have given us nuclear proliferation as the argument for attacking Iran. Sure, they might be on a slow track for nuclear refinement, but oil pipelines and a major Russian alliance and Chinese mega energy contracts and befriending former Soviet Republics in “Chaostan” and selling oil in euro transactions and integrated regional energy & military weapons contracts and monumental accumulation of wealth (Western debt) in the East and power shift from West to East, reaction to these powerful forces is the real true valid unmistakable motives for war. The American public is a bit too ignorant, hapless, distracted, uninformed, and conveniently sleepy to properly grasp the issue.
As for the fallout of interrupted oil supply, some believe Japan is vulnerable. My information points to Japan and South Korea as having curtailed significantly their Iranian oil supply. The slack has been taken up by China, which has little in the way of moral fiber in business deals, to be sure. See Nigeria, Angola, Iran, and elsewhere, like crushed internal dissent. No, the risk of interruption lies in China, which might actually motivate action by the US Military and its short list of allies, or is it ally?
Some commit a grievous error in regarding the current USGovt Administration as lame duck. Some commit a grievous error in regarding as likely the current US Congress to exert itself, with firm feet founded on a new majority. Neither is realistic. The lame duck image is truly inappropriate. A wounded erratic insecure bear is a better image. No evidence is discernible for respect in the last six years for the democratic process or rule of law. A wider war seems to be the goal, perhaps even martial law, even blessed by the new Congress.
On the lunatic fringe, hardly a secret, is that the Nigerian oil business is in a state of chaos as its indescribably corrupt regime might come to an end, even a possible Muslim new regime to take its place. On the lunatic fringe, little Angola has shifted to neutral on energy deals and progress on production, as observers stand aside and await a possible return of their bloody civil war. On that same lunatic fringe, the Venezuelan oil business is on a steady slide from inefficiency, cronyism, and corruption, whose failure is so blatant and at the same time popular that the northern rim of South America wishes to embrace its business model. See Bolivia and Ecuador.
The biggest untold story in the energy world in my opinion is the rapid decline in Mexico at their Cantarell elephant oil field. My February and March Hat Trick Letter reports cover the story, with full details, facts & figures. Cantarell oil production declined by 13.5% in 2006, and on track to decline by 15% additionally this year? Will the Mexican Govt suffer massive deficits soon? Will their Parliament and PEMEX labor unions obstruct ALL possible reforms and construction actions? My conclusion is that political instability is soon to come to the southern border of the United States!!! All $97 billion in PEMEX oil sales in 2006 went to the Mexican Govt to account for 40% of its budget. The absurdly incompetent Mexican Govt (rivals Washington DC and USGovt) has seen fit to commandeer almost every penny of PEMEX oil income, denying much needed funds for investment in new exploration, new capacity, even crimping basic maintenance. The press is on the story in Mexico City, but not so much in the sleepy US, where reality shows and the latest missing persons and porous borders and murder trials dominate, the latest on obesity & diabetes, if not gay marriage. PEMEX is the second biggest supplier of oil to the USEconomy. Experts now forecast that by 2010, Mexico will be on the verge of becoming an oil importer. Unlike the Saudi story, shrouded in state secrecy, the Mexican disaster is in plain view, with no debate. In fact, there has been no recognition even though the facts are laid bare for all to see.
Then comes Saudi output. Talk about putting into service excess capacity, expanding output, cutting output, agreeing on quotas, agreeing on output cuts, taking action against violator nations, bringing Angola into the OPEC fold, all this is well and good for distraction. The story to focus upon out of OPEC headquarters is the sharp decline in Saudi oil production since 2005, as shown by the graphic below, taken from The Oil Drum. This aint output cutbacks to support price. This is depletion evidence taken in four views from four sources, with four parallel trendlines. The time span shown overlaps with the push in the oil price up to the Lebanon War last July. This Saudi oil output decline all occurred, despite a 150% rampup in oil rigs in Saudi oil fields from January 2005 onward, as reported by Baker Hughes. The Saudi decline is the biggest unreported energy story, with Cantarell the second. Huge implications come to the USEconomy as a direct domino from higher oil prices. Talk on Wall Street of downward oil price trends are more propaganda and self-serving promotional chatter, as the major firms like Goldman Sachs are loading up on their energy investment positions. The risks to the USDollar are rising from both liberal monetary forces and desperate energy forces, not to mention geopolitical backlash forces.
Add to the mix that the US & Western European major oil companies invested in 2006 more in stock buybacks than in actual exploration and production (see March Hat Trick Letter report for corroborative data). One can confidently conclude the energy business is the worst managed in the world. That spells out a recipe for shortage and higher prices, along with great investment opportunities.
Is the Halliburton decision to move its headquarters next door to Saudi Arabia one motivated by locating close to where the implosion is to occur? Is it to keep the pressure on Persian Gulf oil producing nations not to divert sales of oil into euro-based transactions, not to divert USTBonds away from US$-based (in)securities? Could it instead be to better manage a flow of funds from any number of suspicious origins, closer to the Iraq oil field service, closer to Afghan liberation, closer to arms sales? Military weapon sales to Persian Gulf nations is on a staggering radical rampup in recent months and years. Think the worst and you will likely be in closer proximity to the truth.
Banks with Direct and Indirect Deposits
The most critical USDollar and gold factors today are:
It bears repeating. The risks to the USDollar are rising from both liberal monetary forces and desperate energy forces, not to mention geopolitical backlash forces. They all have major banking origins and implications.
Isn’t it curious that banking regulators sit on their hands during a monumental mortgage finance centrifuge over a four year time span, politicians cheer on the housing boom (just a bubble destined to bust), and now politicians are asking tough questions when the cancerous horses are running rampant in the farming field of crops ??? The housing bubble is a good thing when it rescues the system from a 2000 stock bust, but it is a problem when it busts? What an utter joke, travesty, and laughing stock the USEconomic system has become, for all the world to see !!!
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March 24th, 2007
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Jim Willie CB is a statistical analyst in marketing research and retail forecasting. He holds a PhD in Statistics. His career has stretched over 24 years. He aspires to thrive in the financial editor world, unencumbered by the limitations of economic credentials. Visit his free website to find articles from topflight authors at www.GoldenJackass.com. For personal questions about subscriptions, contact him at JimWillieCB@aol.com.
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