Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SAR 12031

Investors keep fleeing to the dollar for safety. Scary.

Investment 101: People buy US Treasuries not for their high yield, but to preserve their capital. What sort of an economy is anticipated if 10-year Treasuries are returning 1.84% and 10-year TIPS yield 0.49%?

Follow The Money: The US insists that Iran must be punished for trying to develop nuclear weapons, although there is no credible evidence that Iran is doing so. What Iran is doing is accepting things other than dollars as payment for oil. And that will not be tolerated - just ask Saddam or Qaddafi. Oh, wait...

Magic Decoder Ring: It has been 3 months since MF Global went bankrupt, and all the experts can say about the $1.2 billion in customers' money simply vaporized. It just went 'poof'. They are not allowed to say that a significant amount was stolen, because the Wall Street subset of the US judicial code does not admit that such an even could ever happen.

Mrs. Lincoln: Austerity was going to fix the British and Italian and Greek economies - how are things working out? We'll skip Greece because that's outright embarrassing, and move on to Great Britain – which is doing worse in GDP terms that it did back during the Great Depression. And Italy? Well, Italy has become a dictatorship, but one of EU design and not yet fascistic. The US, on a national level, has only just dabbled in austerity cuts, but the states and cities have embraced the idea with a vengeance. And that's just the word for it, vengeance.

More is More: There is a fundamental problem facing us: no matter what the energy source, no matter what you use the energy for, using energy creates heat. The more energy we use, the more waste heat we generate. There is no such thing as "clean energy" on the usage end of the cycle.

Unintended Consequences: If - and it's a big if - Greece and its IIF private sector investors reach some agreement on the degree of haircut, the result would be worse than the dreaded "credit event". It would be the "non-credit event". If investors are forced to take a 50% haircut - or more - 'voluntarily' so as to not trigger CDS settlements, no one will buy another euro's worth of Portuguese, Spanish or Italian bonds. Because if they cannot be sure to get their money back either from the government or from the CDS insurance, investors will not venture their money. Which is not quite what the goal was. Or was it?

There's Something (Not) Happening Here: Since 2005, while global crude oil production has hovered around 74 mbd, European consumption has fallen by 1.5 mbd and US consumption is down 2 mbd. Internal consumption by the producing countries and significant growth in demand by the developing world has taken up the slack, while prices have climbed from $65 to $100 a barrel. Why hasn't production increased 2 or 3 mbd to take advantage of the increased price per barrel? It has, but that just made up for the decline in production from older fields. The future seems to have snuck in unannounced.

Porn O'Graph: The Little Engine that couldn't.

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