Tuesday, January 6, 2015

$48.20!

Never mind $55, oil prices are now down to $48/bbl which is the lowest it has been in nearly 13 years (ok in 2009 it also dropped to these levels).  looking at the press its hard to figure out what is going on, some say its the Saudi trying to either screw with Tar sands and fracking or playing political games with Iran others are saying its the collapse of the global GDP and others are saying that that its the Russians.

Others again say its a massive conspiracy by the banks and the futures markets...

One thing for sure, no one knows for sure, there is no doubt that Saudi have increased production, but did they do it to increase revenues or lower prices?  There are massive financial forces at play int he oil complex, but these are rarely long dated, and oil prices have been dropping for some months -- a trader that goes against the prevailing winds usually ends up jobless -- his positions get cut by risk management.

The most likely scenario is a global slowdown -- in fact what is strange is that despite much lower oil prices we are not seeing an economic kick -- a 50% drop in oil prices should result in an increase in consumer spending -- virtually everywhere!  Yet we are seeing some strength in the US economy, although inflation is still dropping.

What about China -- well the government is undergoing a massive anti-corruption drive, and the world just saw the impact -- gambling in Macao is off 35% month on month -- and Macao is a Chinese gambling den!

My instinct is that the drop in oil price is a consequence of many different, but self re-enforcing factors:  China is slowing, Japan is in free fall, Europe is trying to hold things together -- by selling all the silverware.  America is growing Q3 and Q4 2014 are looking like 4.5% (and maybe more) growth. The one bight spot, but then most "knowledgable" investment professionals have been saying that 2015 with low oil prices America would be a bright spot.

Back in Canada things are less rosy, already hit by low commodity prices (which account for 1/3rd of all GDP) Canada is reeling with the assault of low oil prices.

Some are saying that below $40 the rosy american scenario will turn dark with massive defaults in the high yield bond market... and low oil prices also mean very low inflation 0.1% in Q4/2014.  Its hard to believe that we are only a $8 away from these levels!

Bond prices are certain to fall, we should expect the US 10 year bond to reach 1.0% during the year.

OK that's my prediction for 2014:

If oil reaches $40/bbl then expect; massive high yield default for fracking borrowers (and maybe some issues with oil sands producers), rise in price for non-energy high yields because you sell what you can not what you want.  long term borrowing rates fall to 1%.  Then again, this could be the bottom and oil price could bounce back to the $80s in a few weeks -- no one knows you can only plan for contingencies.

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