A Special Report on Oil by Ronald Stoeferle

Our good friend Ronald Stoeferle of Erste Bank, who has penned the justly famous 'In Gold We Trust' reports,  has just published his latest special report on oil, which readers can download here: 'Nothing to Spare' (pdf).

This is a very comprehensive report that looks at every nook and cranny of the crude oil market – including the debate over resource depletion versus human ingenuity which we have briefly discussed last week.  We recommend it highly.

As we have noted in our market observations post, the current speculative positioning in energy futures has become more extreme over the past several weeks, this is to say, speculators now hold very large net long positions in crude oil and gasoline futures. This suggests a near term pullback is likely, with the caveat that the confrontation with Iran continues to weigh on the market and creates a considerable amount of uncertainty.

 

A Few Words on Iran

Political conservatives allied with Ayatollah Khamenei have just won big in Iran's elections, taking about 75% of the seats in the Majlis (parliament).

This is widely seen as a setback to Iran's president Ahmedinejad, although opinions differ on how big the damage to him and his political allies actually is. Note here that while Ahmedinejad used to be allied with Khamenei's faction in the last election, this is no longer the case. Although two prominent opposition leaders were barred from taking part in the election (Mirhossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi, who ran for president in 2009 are these days under house arrest), the turnout was quite strong at over 64% versus the 2008 parliamentary election at 57% (note that most Western democracies can only dream of voter turnouts this high).

We interpret the election result not merely as a rebuke to Ahmedinejad, who has lost a significant amount of support as Iran's economy suffers under sanctions and experiences extremely high inflation,  but also as a typical 'circling of the wagons'. Voters have not abandoned the clerical regime – on the contrary, support for it has increased. This is precisely what one would expect with the country high up on the list of declared Western enemies these days. Only in the fantasy world of the neo-conservatives do regimes suffer a decline in popular support when their country is attacked, even if the regime in question would quite likely have problems keeping popular support intact otherwise.

In the meantime, North Korea has evidently once again won major diplomatic concessions by dint of having left the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and becoming a nuclear power. The incentive for Iran to obtain nuclear arms couldn't be more obvious. According to a rumor in the German press over the weekend, two of North Korea's nuclear tests were allegedly done on Iran's behalf – the implication being that Iran possesses nuclear weapons already.

Although nuclear weapons technology is now about seven decades old and any halfway economically developed nation should be capable of building such weapons if it so desires, there is one major reason to disbelieve this report: If Iran had nuclear weapons already, it would have said so, or at least allowed it to become an 'open secret' similar to Israel's nuclear armament.

There is normally no point in keeping such information secret, as the deterrent effect can only work if your enemies or potential enemies believe you do possess nuclear weapons. A good example illustrating this is actually Saddam Hussein – although he didn't have a shred of WMD left, his regime was always ambiguous to some degree  about this fact. The reason was that he couldn't be sure if it was better to admit that his arms were nothing but scrap or leave his enemies believing he could actually do them harm. So we continue to hold with the current 'official' assessment that Iran has no nuclear weapon at this point in time.

Many people are probably wondering why Iran seems to be following a similar course. To this it is necessary to try to look at the situation through the eyes of Iran's leadership. For many years the possibility of a military attack on Iran has been discussed favorably in the United States and Israel. The sanctions recently imposed are in fact akin to an act of war already. The example of North Korea must be strongly underscoring the idea that a possessing a nuclear deterrent would be the best way out. Note here that occasional attempts by the Iranian government to achieve a negotiated settlement were brushed away in the past (the routine reaction to such attempts at rapprochement is that they are not credible – it's damned if you do and damned if you don't). It should be noted that Iran's government is not monolithic either – it has its share of 'hawks' and doves', but the hawks surely haven the upper hand now following the election.

In order to better understand Iran, one must also consider its history. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, the country has been a 'plaything' of the big powers. First the British and Russians, and later the US. For a long time, Iranians regarded the US as being 'above politics' – e.g. in 1907 a US envoy (William Morgan Shuster) attempted to help Iran getting its tax policies in order. He was ultimately pushed out from his post again through  British and Russian influence.

The benign view Iranians had of the US changed dramatically with the CIA organized coup that deposed prime minister Mossadegh in 1954 and led to the return of the Shah from exile. The Shah was – rightly – regarded as a US and Israeli puppet and he ruled the country with an iron fist through his secret police, the SAVAK. Today's leader of Iraq's ulama (the clerical establishment), the ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was once imprisoned and tortured by the SAVAK. Not surprisingly, he has little love for those who made this possible.

In order to understand how it was possible for a theocracy to take political power in Iran, one must be aware that there was always a kind of division of power between the worldly and clerical establishment in Iran since Shi'ism was introduced on a broad front in the 13th century. The ulama had its own prerogatives, among which was the provision and interpretation of law and social services. When various shahs began to 'sell out' Iran to foreign powers in the 19th century, the worldly and clerical authorities had their first clashes. A revolution against the Shah Mozaffar-ed-Din took place in 1905 – 1906, led by clerics, merchants and intellectuals. While this – comparatively peaceful – revolution proved ultimately unsuccessful, it paved the way for the more violent and successful revolution in 1979. The common people were arrayed with the clerical establishment against the shah even back in 1905. A point we wish to make here is that the fact that clerics have political power is far less unusual from the point of view of Iranians than it appears to Westerners.

Be that as it may, a confrontation is now underway. The most recent sanctions aimed at crippling Iran's oil exports probably won't have as much effect on the global supply situation as one might expect, as oil is fungible and Iran will probably end up selling most of its oil to China, which isn't taking part in the boycott. Nevertheless, there will likely be a degree of short term disruption. Should the confrontation deteriorate into a military attack, then much greater disruption can be expected for the oil markets.

As Ronnie's report makes clear, there is very little spare capacity. No-one can really make up for Iranian supplies beyond the very short term. Moreover, a military confrontation could see oil installations sabotaged elsewhere and Iran could very likely disrupt shipping through the Persian Gulf. 

 


 

Iran's clerical leader, the ayatollah Ali Khamenei. No love lost for the former supporters of the Shah. 

(Photo credit: DPA)

 


 
 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 
 

 
 

Dear Readers!

It is that time of the year again – our semi-annual funding drive begins today. Give us a little hand in offsetting the costs of running this blog, as advertising revenue alone is insufficient. You can help us reach our modest funding goal by donating either via paypal or bitcoin. Those of you who have made a ton of money based on some of the things we have said in these pages (we actually made a few good calls lately!), please feel free to up your donations accordingly (we are sorry if you have followed one of our bad calls. This is of course your own fault). Other than that, we can only repeat that donations to this site are apt to secure many benefits. These range from sound sleep, to children including you in their songs, to the potential of obtaining privileges in the afterlife (the latter cannot be guaranteed, but it seems highly likely). As always, we are greatly honored by your readership and hope that our special mixture of entertainment and education is adding a little value to your life!

   

Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke

   
 

One Response to “Crude Oil – Nothing to Spare”

  • trojan1:

    What is interesting about the report from Erste Bank is the lack of any mention about the shale gas potential in Australia. Presently, Australia is one of the largest producers of coal in the world and it is expected that the shale gas potential of Australia may be larger than that if the United States. BG, Shell, CNOOC, Mitsubishi, Hess and Conoc Phillips have all participated in the massive land grab during the past 12 months, and when one looks at the size of the acquisitions, they are only paying approximately $10 (only) per acre.

    The coal seam gas boom in Autralia trailed the USA by 10 years, it looks like the shale gas boom will happen with a much shorter lag.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • TMS-2 fast versionA Date Which Will Live in Infamy
      President Nixon’s Decision to Abandon the Gold Standard Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the Japanese “surprise” attack on the U.S. occupied territory of Hawaii and its naval base Pearl Harbor, “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy.”  Similar words should be used for President Nixon’s draconian decision 45 years ago this month that removed America from the last vestiges of the gold standard.   Nixon points out where numerous evil speculators were suspected to be...
  • Perfect-InvestmentInsanity, Oddities and Dark Clouds in Credit-Land
      Insanity Rules Bond markets are certainly displaying a lot of enthusiasm at the moment – and it doesn't matter which bonds one looks at, as the famous “hunt for yield” continues to obliterate interest returns across the board like a steamroller. Corporate and government debt have been soaring for years, but investor appetite for such debt has evidently grown even more.   The perfect investment for modern times: interest-free risk! Illuustration by Howard...
  • CorporateMediacontrolTrump's Tax Plan, Clinton Corruption and Mainstream Media Propaganda
      Fake Money, Fake Capital OUZILLY, France – Little change in the markets on Monday. We are in the middle of vacation season. Who wants to think too much about the stock market? Not us! Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to reform the U.S. tax system.   This should actually even appeal to supporters of Bernie Sanders: the lowest income groups will be completely exempt from income and capital gains taxes under Trump's plan. We expect to hear...
  • mania1The Great Stock Market Swindle
      Short Circuited Feedback Loops Finding and filling gaps in the market is one avenue for entrepreneurial success.  Obviously, the first to tap into an unmet consumer demand can unlock massive profits.  But unless there’s some comparative advantage, competition will quickly commoditize the market and profit margins will decline to just above breakeven.   Example of a “commoditized” market – hard-drive storage costs per GB. This is actually the essence of economic...
  • Mark Carney starts work as Bank of England governor in Dave Simonds cartoonBank of England QE and the Imaginary “Brexit Shock”
      Mark Carney, Wrecking Ball For reasons we cannot even begin to fathom, Mark Carney is considered a “superstar” among central bankers. Presumably this was one of the reasons why the British government helped him to execute a well-timed exit from the Bank of Canada by hiring him to head the Bank of England (well-timed because he disappeared from Canada with its bubble economy seemingly still intact, leaving his successor to take the blame).   This is how Mark Carney is seen by...
  • web-puzzled-man-scratching-head-retro-everett-collection-shutterstock_91956314News from TINA Land
      Distortions and Crazy Ideas We have come across a few articles recently that discuss some of the strategies investors are using or contemplating to use as a result of the market distortions caused by current central bank policies. Readers have no doubt noticed that numerous inter-market correlations seem to have been suspended lately, and that many things are happening that superficially seem to make little sense (e.g. falling junk bond yields while defaults are surging; the yen rising...
  • old friendsAn Old Friend Returns
      A Rare Apparition An old friend suddenly showed up out of the blue yesterday and I’m not talking about a contributor who had washed out and, after years of ‘working for the man’, decided to return for another whack at beating the market. Instead I am delighted to report that I am looking at a bona fide confirmed VIX sell signal which we haven’t seen for ages here.   Hello, old friend. Professor X and Magneto staring each other down in the plastic...
  • tortoiseThe Fabian Society and the Gradual Rise of Statist Socialism
      The “Third Way”   “Stealth, intrigue, subversion, and the deception of never calling socialism by its right name” – George Bernard Shaw   An emblem of the Fabian Society: a wolf in sheep's clothing   The Brexit referendum has revealed the existence of a deep polarization in British politics. Apart from the public faces of the opposing campaigns, there were however also undisclosed parties with a vested interest which few people have heard about. And...
  • Lighthouse in Storm --- Image by © John Lund/CorbisSilver is in a Different World
      The Lighthouse Problem Measured in gold, the price of the dollar hardly budged this week. It fell less than one tenth of a milligram, from 23.29 to 23.20mg. However, in silver terms, it’s a different story. The dollar became more valuable, rising from 1.58 to 1.61 grams.   Who put that bobbing lighthouse there? Image credit: John Lund / Corbis   Most people would say that gold went up $6 and silver went down 43 cents. We wonder, if they were on a sinking boat,...
  • storming the storeRetail Snails
      Second Half Recovery Dented by “Resurgent Consumer” We normally don't comment in real time on individual economic data releases. Generally we believe it makes more sense to occasionally look at a bigger picture overview, once at least some of the inevitable revisions have been made. The update we posted last week (“US Economy, Something is Not Right”) is an example.   Eager consumers storming a store Photo credit: Daniel Acker / Bloomberg   We'll make an...
  • The CongressThe Fed’s “Waterloo” Moment
      Corrupt and Unsustainable James has been a big help. Trying to get him to sleep at night, we have been telling him fantastic and unbelievable bedtime stories – full of grotesque monsters... evil maniacs... and events that couldn’t possibly be true (catch up here and here).   He turned his head until his gaze came to rest on the barred windows of the main building. Finally, he spoke; as far as I was aware these were the first words he had uttered in more than five years....
  • Zimbabwe_$100_trillion_2009_ObverseGood Money and Bad Money
      Confidence Gets a Boost OUZILLY, France – Last week’s U.S. jobs report came in better than expected. Stocks rose to new records. As we laid out recently, a better jobs picture should lead the Fed to raise rates. This should cause canny investors to dump stocks.   Canny investors at work (an old, but good one...) Cartoon via Pension Pulse   But the stock market paid no attention. It follows logic of its own. Headlines told us that last Friday’s report “boosted...

Austrian Theory and Investment

Support Acting Man

Own physical gold and silver outside a bank

Archive

j9TJzzN

350x200

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!
 

Oilprice.com