In April 2012, economist Robert Wenzel was invited to speak at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. On the occasion, he told the central bankers that “vast amounts of money printing are now required to keep your manipulated economy afloat. It will ultimately result in huge price inflation, or, if you stop printing, another massive economic crash will occur. There is no other way out.”Continue reading
Bursting of an asset bubble can have grave consequences for the economy and the society at large – so grave, it’s worth paying attention at this point. I’ll elaborate.
In only six trading sessions from the 20th February peak, the S&P500 shed more than 12%, one of the fastest declines on record for the index (only the 1987 black Monday was worse). Only a week before this event I posted the article, “Bubbles Always Burst…”on SeekingAlpha, warning about the risk of this happening.
Whether last week marks the beginning of the bubble’s bursting remains to be seen, but this is only a matter of time. Bubbles always burst, no exceptions. But what’s important to understand is this: bubbles are meant to be burst! For guidance, let’s look again at the bursting of Japan’s own everything bubble of the 1980s. Continue reading
In the near future, we are likely to experience severe consequences of three converging disruptions:
- Stock market crash
- Oil price shock
Since the last recession we’ve enjoyed the longest ever period of economic expansion with low interest rates, low inflation and subdued commodity prices. But this all could be coming to an end.
Bursting of the “everything bubble”
Throughout the west, unprecedented government and central bank stimulus programs helped inflate the current “everything bubble.” This is not a new phenomenon; monetary expansion always creates asset bubbles. The one thing we know is that without exception, asset bubbles ultimately burst. The examples are many and some of them made a mark in the collective conscious of entire generations, from the 1630s Tulip Mania to the 1990s dot-com bubble. Continue reading
Back when I traded stocks in late 1990s, I got a gnawing suspicion that beyond the nonstop noise of the news flow, there was some force pushing the rising tide, but I couldn’t discern what it was. By today I think I worked it out. The most surprising thing about it is that it’s been so hard to work out.
Stocks are principally driven by money supply
The first time I encountered an explicitly formulated hypothesis that justified my suspicions was years later while I researched for my book, “Grand Deception.” The hypothesis, relating to Russian stocks, was articulated by Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management in his 2006 HedgeWeek interview: Continue reading
Experts seldom expect surprises. In spite of the ever deepening economic and political uncertainties gripping most oil producing and oil consuming regions, most market experts surveyed last year predicted that oil price would fluctuate between $65 and $70 through 2023.
That forecast assumes that nothing unforeseen would happen over the next five years. Such an assumption, to put it politely, is unjustified and the list of reasons is long and complex, and it can be neither ignored nor wished away. Over the recent months I’d written a handful of articles on the subject of the ‘coming oil price shock.’ Here are the last three: Continue reading
In addition to the better understood challenges of market analysis, like access to timely and accurate data, there is another – rather massive, but usually completely ignored – problem that renders forecasting largely an exercise in futility.
Over the years I’ve written quite a bit on the unreliable nature of price forecasts based on the analysis of market supply and demand . Most recently, in “Market fundamentals, forecasting and the groupthink effect,” I discussed the problem of data quality as well as the very real problem of groupthink among leading analysts, providing an example of a staggeringly wrong oil price forecast they produced. Some of the very same experts later produced this gem: Continue reading
Last month I had the privilege of meeting with Jaran Rystad of Rystad Energy to discuss strategic cooperation between our companies. On the occasion, he gave me a rather detailed presentation of his firm’s energy intelligence database. I must say, in my 20+ years trading in commodities markets this is by far the most impressive product of its kind I’ve ever seen. Even from the software engineering point of view, I was very impressed. For full disclosure, nobody asked nor encouraged me to write this. Much as you’d recommend a restaurant where you ate well or a doctor you respect, I wholeheartedly recommend Rystad Energy as a provider of energy market intelligence as a matter of giving credit where credit is due.
However, even with top notch data on economic supply and demand fundamentals, divining the future remains difficult and unlikely. John von Neumann rightly said that forecasting was “the most complex, interactive, and highly nonlinear problem that had ever been conceived of.” Continue reading
A few years back in an interview with Wall Street Journal’s “Heard on the Street” program , Elliott Management’s Paul Singer said that his greatest worry was the rise of inflation that could appear suddenly. He suggested that this could come about with small changes in perception of inflation risk. Specifically, “The first whiffs of either commodity inflation or wage inflation,” said Singer, “may cause a self-reinforcing set of market events … which may include a sharp fall in bond prices, … fall in stock prices, rapid increase in commodities…”
Measured by historical standards, the price of oil has been extremely volatile in recent years. From over $114 per barrel in the summer of 2014 it collapsed more than 75% in only 18 months’ time. Then it tripled to $86/bbl in October 2018, only to drop by 40% to $52/bbl two months later. The question is, why is the oil price so very volatile? Is the market foreshadowing greater disruptions in the future? A closer look into oil supply and demand fundamentals suggests that a great crisis could be in the making – possibly with alarming repercussions.
The looming oil shortage
In 2012 a report produced by the UK Ministry of Defence predicted that oil prices would rise significantly out to 2040, and by “significantly,” they meant to $500 per barrel. From today’s perspective, this may seem farfetched. However, we should not dismiss UKMOD’s warning lightly. This could turn out to be the most important development facing humanity for decades to come. Continue reading