$QQQ - short, tp 103; sl: 108.50.short-term target: 100.— Rubin (@traderrubin) Apr. 28 at 06:50 PM
Saturday, 30 April 2016
Friday, 29 April 2016
Monday, 25 April 2016
The primary concern for the Fed is offsetting the potential effect that an Infinite Draghi Put could have on the dollar. Draghi has made it clear that he will stop at nothing in order to avoid deflation and hit the ECB's 2% inflation objective, as evidenced by his remarks regarding QE, stating that the end date of the monetary easing program is tentative and did not make any reference to a maximum threshold for QE or a minimum threshold for interest rates. Since low velocity of money in the euro area has dampened the inflationary effects that one would expect from the ECB's QE, and forecasts for sub 2% global growth do not provide any clear tailwinds for economic activity, Draghi has, and will continue to have to, resort to printing/devaluing the Euro in order to meet his unilateral inflation objective. Draghi telegraphed this to markets by announcing an increase in bond purchases at each consecutive one of the previous three ECB press conferences (will Greece be getting any of that free money? I think not. They'll be left to fight it out with the IMF for temporary revolving loans to keep their government from collapsing.
The problem is that the Fed, too, has inflation objectives; the Fed, too, wishes to avoid deflation at all costs; and a weaker Euro resulting from Draghi's kamikaze policy necessarily implies a relatively stronger USD, of which the Fed has little utility, in terms of its dual mandate.
Notwithstanding, Draghi and the ECB waited until the Fed washed their hands of QE before unleashing the mother of all QEs: an increase in the ECB's QE program by +33, an extension of the program until well after the US elections (and "further if necessary"), topped off with negative borrowing costs. Draghi appears to be in the exact position that Yellen wishes to be in, given that it has been eight years since the last recession, the business cycle is currently overextended, and QE with NIRP is likely the only option to cushion a severe slowdown.
On the other hand, Yellen and the Fed are in a relatively opportunistic position; they have more room to move than the ECB does, as the 10Y is still well over 1%, they haven't been forced to take rates into negative territory, and they still haven't done a Reverse Operation Twist or QE4. Slowing global economic growth as forecast by the IMF earlier in the month may mean the Fed will be forced to use those tools, however, optionality gives them relative strength, as all of the ECB's cards appear to be on the table.
Draghi's decision to ramp up QE even further and extend the program indefinitely is certainly an impediment to the Fed in terms of its ability to maintain downward pressure on the dollar while entering into the final stages of the present business cycle.
Wednesday, 20 April 2016
At this point, several factors suggest that the result of the Doha talks has little to do with the real overall global supply/demand outlook. Firstly, slowing global economic growth makes a production freeze self-defeating. The Saudi and Russian governments are both starved for cash; reducing any form of income when growth is necessarily dependent upon deficit spending is comparable to shooting yourself in the foot with your own gun. The Saudi government is running at a near record budget deficit, so a production freeze means they would be forced to add to that deficit, or add to the difficulties of paying it down, i.e. reducing government expenditures
Secondly, the Russian economy is currently in recession. They're unlikely to opt to worsen the effects by cutting back on revenues, which are sorely needed for fiscal stimulus. Russia's debt to GDP ratio is not nearly as high as Saudi Arabia's, however, slower global growth and lower oil prices have taken a toll on government revenues which provides a generous incentive to forego a production freeze.
Finally, since 2009, essentially every government and central bank of the developed world has sustained asset prices by way of various forms of fiscal stimuli. This has hiked up sovereign debt levels in the process without creating any self-sustaining, productive, economic activity. As a result, government and central bank spending/printing is currently required on a perpetual basis in order to maintain any level of meaningful GDP growth (an extreme of the Keynesian Cross/Multiplier model).
Since 2012 Saudia Arabia's total government revenue fell by roughly (-56%); from $1.2 trillion to $546 billion today. Losing 14% percent of government revenues for four consecutive years while the country's economic growth relies on government spending details a situations that is just short of a national economic crisis. Add to that the fact that the Saudi regime is currently undergoing a reorganization of leadership in which the final decision on economic policy is held by a younger, locally educated man with decidedly different perspectives on the relegation of power and resources.
Fragile internal politics, falling revenue/subsidies, and tepid global economic growth has created risk averse regimes that are unlikely to gamble too heavily on the ability to manipulate global oil prices via a freeze in production.
Monday, 18 April 2016
Furthermore, since the US is now the third-largest oil producer in the world (almost neck and neck with Saudi Arabia), a significant part of oil production policy in Russia and the Middle East now has to factor in more than basic market fundamentals. The effects of any action that artificially manipulates supply now have to be factored in with US shale producers and their affect on supply dynamics. If a production freeze does lead to higher prices, shale oil producers will resume production and benefit asymmetrically as their output levels are not subject to OPEC policy makers. Higher crude prices means higher revenues for the producer with the largest quantity of output, and shale oil producers will take advantage of that opportunity. A production freeze in this sense does not entirely benefit Saudi Arabia as they lose the opportunity to price less efficient producers out of the market; therefore a freeze is a sort of boon to the shale industry as well as a headwind for Saudi government revenues.
For the moment, the most viable option for the Russian and Saudi governments appears to be to let the market decide where crude oil will trade, based on supply/demand fundamentals and the prospects for global economic growth.