Tags: china | japan | united states | economomic bubbles

Toil and Trouble, All About Global Bubbles

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Friday, 05 Dec 2014 07:36 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The U.S. employment data should indicate the U.S. continues on a growth path that should be helped by lower oil prices.

The jobs data also should confirm a growing divergence between two of the most important global economies: the eurozone and Japan. (To include China for comparison's sake is difficult because assurances of its data accuracy are still in doubt.)

There is no doubt that China is slowing and the country will have to face deep structural reforms to remain a top economic and financial player in the world. There will be bumps in the road. Long-term investors must remember the Chinese have a tendency for taking risk and over-leveraging.

Meanwhile, the state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. (Aramco) surprised many when it announced cuts to its official oil prices as of January 1.

Aramco cut the January price for its Arab Light grade for Asian customers by $1.90 a barrel from December to a discount of $2 a barrel to the Oman/Dubai average, Reuters reported.

The Arab Light OSP (official selling price) to the United States was set at a premium of $0.90 a barrel to the Argus Sour Crude Index (ASCI) for January, down 70 cents from the previous month.

Arab Light OSPs to Northwest Europe were raised by 20 cents for January from the previous month to a discount of $3.15 a barrel to the Brent Weighted Average (BWAVE).

All  this means further lower prices for oil coming from Saudi Arabia.

All this makes me think about what Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said before the OPEC meeting in Wien, Austria, last week where it was decided not to change OPEC’s production target of 30 million barrels per day:  "The oil market will stabilize itself.”

If there was still any doubt on where oil prices could be headed, it becomes clear that Saudi Arabia will do whatever it takes to defend its oil-market share and it has decided to let oil prices weaken further to safeguard its own market share.

We haven’t seen the bottom in oil prices yet, which is confirmed by the prices of Light Sweet Crude Oil (WTI) futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), which are firmly in “contango,” by which you pay higher prices for delivery at future dates, but which indicate generally lower spot prices ahead. The quotes early Friday morning per barrel were for January 2015 at $66.30, for January 2016 at $68.52 and for December 2016 at $71.16.

For long-term investors, it could be helpful to remember that since the start of this millennium we have had two major WTI oil price downside corrections.

First, when WTI oil went from $47 per barrel in November 2000 to $26/bbl in December 2001, which was a correction of about 45 percent, the S&P 500 went from 1,527 at the beginning of 2001 to 800 in the second half of 2002, which was correction of about 48 percent; and second, when WTI went from $145/bbl in June 2008 to $43/bbl in February 2009, or a 70 percent correction, the S&P 500 went from 1,561 at the end of 2007 to 683 at the start of 2009, which was a correction of 56 percent.

The big question is, "Are we bound for a similar experience over the next year or so?"

It’s also interesting that battles between ISIS and Iraqi-led forces are being fought over Iraq’s largest oil refinery in Beiji. In a normal environment, there would be no doubt oil prices would be on the rise because of the threat as ISIS forces expand further south where the Iraq’s key oil fields are located. So far, this time seems to be different. President Barack Obama also just said he would further deploy military advisers to help Iraqi government forces.

Besides all that, Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Union, released the latest GDP numbers of the eurozone, which increased by 0.2 percent quarter-over-quarter (q/q) and by 0.8 percent year-over-year (y/y).

The eurozone remains in deep trouble at least (if nothing changes dramatically) until 2016 is over … No, that’s not good at all!

By way of comparison, GDP of the U.S. increased 1 percent q/q and by 2.4 percent y/y.

For all investors, the big question that grows further by the day is: “Will the United States continue on its growth path while remaining ‘immune’ and able to ‘decouple’ from, firstly, Europe’s structural deep and still (closely to hopeless) unresolved problems and secondly, from a slowing global growth situation?”

It won’t be as easy as many want us to think these days, but, of course, it isn’t impossible, either.

Any long-term investor should, at least in my opinion, always try to look at the world as it is and not as he or she would like it to be.

Therefore my preference for investments hasn't changed and remains pointed to the U.S. and the U.S. dollar, which doesn’t mean there couldn’t be some bumps in the road forward.

Of course, there will be always investment opportunities all over the world, but doing your serious and realistic “homework” will not be getting easier, you can be sure of that.

Yes, it’s becoming extremely difficult for not getting infected by all those “bubble” viruses that are swirling around everywhere.

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HansParisis
There is no doubt that China is “slowing” and the country still will have to face meaningful adjustments and deep structural reforms on its path to becoming a top economic and financial player in the world in the years ahead, but we aren’t there yet.
china, japan, united states, economomic bubbles
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2014-36-05
Friday, 05 Dec 2014 07:36 AM
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