mebeach1“Everything is connected”, say both the Buddhists and contemporary physicists. Not all aspirations to ensure the connection of all things, however, are justified….as this wonderful letter from the Telegraph points out with intelligent precision:

Tgraphletter

By contrast, other coordinates most definitely should be correlated, but aren’t. At the close yesterday, Brent crude was up 26% on 2018 so far. As there have only been twelve trading days in 2018, that’s a sensational number. There’s just one teensy problemette: it is based on absolutely nothing in terms of global economic manufacturing data.

Two days ago, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Tesco reported their Christmas sales on what had been billed as Super Thursday in the City, but it proved to be a flop with investors. Some 45,000  UK retailers are ‘in financial distress’ following Christmas, as limited consumer spending power hit sales.

Retailers sell, on the whole, manufactured goods not “services”. But as we enter 2018, seven of the ten largest global market cap companies are platforms offering financial services. In that food chain, oil is irrelevant. In  many many sectors today, ‘financial services’ is a euphemism for credit.

Thus we see US car and retail sales apparently growing, but what you rarely see is hard data on the growth in credit-based sales. That percent number has been growing for years, to the extent that all auto makers now make more money from selling credit than they do from flogging the metal itself. In some poorer US States, 95+% of sales require massive credit input. Here in India, over 85% of scooter sales obey the same rule.

In terms of both manufacture and consumption, personal auto transport is a huge proportion of global oil refinement and sales. And if credit becomes either more expensive or much tighter (or both) sector sales will slump. Anyone deciding to go gang busters on an auto sales short right now will wind up richer than Jay Gatsby….if, of course, they can find a bookie prepared to pay out.

Take QE and other forms of economic stimulation out of the equation, and an awful lot of countries and manufacturing sectors look sicker than a canine parrot: Japan, China, the eurozone and – still – the UK and US come under that heading. Over 90% of those sectors are using less oil than they were in 2013.

But oil is at seventy bucks a barrel.

Crude is at that level because Texas, the Saudis, Russia and various African producers need it to be at that level. At any price below $40 for a lengthy period of time, they cannot invest in exploration, new extraction technologies, lobbying costs, fracking and bogus shareholder dividends.

By any measure, however, an oil  price taking off should preface growth, and that in turn should depress safe haven commodities like gold. In fact, the opposite is happening: gold is 15% up year on year, and 6% in recent trading days.

As for any remote connection between currencies and economic/fiscal management by the sovereign involved, it’s a joke. Despite the onset of Brexit, huge fiscal and migrational problems in the eurozone and dire predictions of doom for the British economy proving to be wildly inaccurate, Sterling remains 8 eurocents lower in value than it was last April.  Having dropped a little of late, the US Dollar remains strong despite having the worlds largest debt by value, and the Japanese Yen remains hard despite having the biggest global debt per capita.


 

This sort of surreal disconnect is discussed among folks like Yellen and Benanke as “a loss of fit with the fundamentals”. It makes the whole crock of doodoo sound relatively benign, but it is of course BS, spin, bollocks or whatever your metaphor of choice is. Moving away from the metaphorical to empiricism, it is also fraud on a hitherto unimaginable scale.

But in a world where the great mass of the population has been at best suspending disbelief and at worst running like the clappers from every form of 3D reality for the last two decades, it is relatively easy these days to sell gefillte fish in Tehran: all you have to do is tell them it’s a derivative of Halal salted chicken.

The bankers, bourses, globalists and ideologues didn’t invent the human need to deny reality; but they were lucky enough to pull their shit in an age of goggle-eyed denialism.

I’ll be posting in a few days about the broader ramifications of both the search for (and plot-loss about) what reality is. In the meantime, I offer you only this advice as 2018 gets under way: IABATO.

Caveat emptor.