NEW YORK — Following a continued selloff in Asian equity markets, the Dow suffered another triple-digit loss, shedding 300 points in Thursday morning trading.
The ongoing Wall Street decline was further fueled by Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen’s refusal to adopt a dovish policy. In her second day of congressional testimony, Yellen said the Fed intends to continue interest rate increases, perhaps at a slower pace than originally planned. It could mean a postponing of another 25 basis point increase in March.
The disintegration in European Union bank stocks appears to be intensifying beyond Deutsche Bank. Investors appear to be getting increasingly nervous, with Credit Suisse now trading at 27-year lows.
Meanwhile, gold prices are breaking above technical resistance levels. Gold at $1,550 an ounce now appears a possibility, as increasingly jittery equity investors worldwide continue shedding equities, making gold appear to be a more reliable and relatively safe hard commodity.
Global equity market investors have lost $16.5 trillion in market capitalization over the last six months in the worldwide stock-market selloff.
Global equity market wealth, measured in market capitalization, is now down 10 percent form its prior November 2007 world stock-market highs.
The prospect of recovery in global equity markets remains dim, with economic projections indicating the price of oil worldwide will remain at or below $30 a barrel for the remainder of 2016, suggesting global equity markets may be on the precipice of an historic sell-off that could end up with the “Crash of 2016.”
Such a crash could dwarf the bank crisis that triggered a global economic recession at the end of President George W. Bush’s second term in office.
Worldwide oil glut
The Paris-based International Energy Agency announced this week that prospects to reduce the current worldwide oil glut have diminished now that it’s clear OPEC members are unable to agree on a deal that will allow OPEC to reduce oil output in the foreseeable future.
The IAEA concluded it was unlikely oil would fall below the worst-case scenario of $10 a barrel, but it was equally hard to see how the price of oil would increase above recent highs in the range of $30 a barrel.
As Reuters reported, the IEA cut its forecast for 2016 oil demand growth, currently projected at 1.17 million barrels per day (bpd), down from a five-year high of 1.6 million bpd in 2015.
The IEA also reduced its projection of OPEC crude production by a mere 100,000 bpd, projecting 31.7 million bpd, down from OPEC’s January output of 32.63 million bpd.
“Persistent speculation about a deal between OPEC and leading non-OPEC producers to cut output appears to be just that: speculation. It is OPEC’s business whether or not it makes output cuts either alone or in concert with other producers but the likelihood of coordinated cuts is very low,” the IEA reported.
Reuters noted oil prices have collapsed over the past 18 months to below $30 a barrel from as high as $115, as OPEC has kept production strong in an attempt to drive higher-cost producers such as U.S. shale companies out of the market.
The International Energy Agency oil market report for February predicted that global demand for oil peaked at a five-ear high of 1.6 million bpd in 2015. Demand is expected to ease back considerably in 2016, to 1.2 million bpd in 2015.
With the global economy projected to experience slow growth in the foreseeable future, the world stockpile of oil held in reserves has grown to a record 3 billion barrels.
As reported Wednesday by the economic blog ZeroHedge.com, Robert Dudley, the CEO of oil giant BP, noted that BP suffered in 2015 the worst annual loss in company history. Dudley alarmed the global energy markets with his stunning warning that every oil storage tank in the world will be full in the next few months, given the continued glut of oil currently coming on world commodity markets.
Economic downturn domino-effect
Clearly, countries where oil revenue is a major component of GDP, such as Russia and OPEC nations including Venezuela, have been thrown into economic crisis by the dramatic drop in crude oil prices, contributing to the slowdown in global economic growth.
In May, Forbes magazine noted that unlike the financial crisis that began in 2008, Russia faces a long and deep recession given that the price of crude oil is unlikely to rebound to the $100 a barrel range anytime in the foreseeable future.
Forbes noted the long-term prospect for continued depressed oil prices and the sanctions imposed on Russia over Ukraine are likely to fulfill dire prophecies made by Russia’s former Prime Minister Evgeny Primakov (1998-1999) that, if Vladimir Putin continues his Ukraine policies, Russia will become a pariah Third-World petro-state.
Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s largest oil-producing state, posted a record budget deficit of $98 billion in 2015, estimated at 15 percent of GDP, as a result of falling oil prices and dependency of the Saudi Arabian government on oil revenue.
The Wall Street Journal noted in January that as many as a third of U.S. oil-and-gas producers could be in danger of bankruptcy and restructuring by mid-2017, if oil prices were to remain in the range of $30 a barrel.
The same article noted that energy companies that took on huge debt loads to finance their participation in the U.S. drilling boom have no choice but to keep pumping to generate cash for interest payments. Meanwhile, continued drilling only compounds the debt problem, as operating revenue at depressed oil prices barely exceeds operating costs.
The International Monetary Fund announced this week that a bailout of Azerbaijan, another country hit hard by low oil prices, is under discussion.
Noting this, Market Watch warned on Feb. 10 that a full-scale sovereign-debt crisis, much like the Eurozone sovereign-debt crisis caused by Greece last year, could spread to the Eurozone once again. Market Watch states that this could happen should depressed oil prices cause a domino-effect with countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela be forced to subsidize budget deficits by burning through foreign-exchange reserves earned when oil was trading at $100 a barrel or more.
While long-term, the prospect of continued low oil prices should stimulate Eurozone growth, the immediate problem is that a renewed sovereign-debt crisis will restart a banking crisis, should banks like Deutsche Bank face loan losses that throw the bank’s capital reserves into dangerous ratios that alarm European Central Bank regulators.
The death of the ‘peak oil’ hoax
Since 2005, WND has been warning readers of the discredited “peak oil” theory, which projects the rate of consumption of carbon-based fuels will soon exhaust the world’s supply of carbon-based fuels.
Oil is an abiotic product, naturally produced within the mantle of the earth in an ongoing basis, not a “fossil fuel” created by decaying prehistoric biological rot, including dinosaur carcasses, as suggested in the 1950 by the “Dino the Dinosaur” logo made famous at the time by Sinclair Oil.
The “peak oil” assumption, first articulated as “Hubbert’s Peak” by Shell Oil’s M. King Hubbert in the 1950s, was a logical corollary of assuming that oil and natural gas were produced by ancient rotting biological debris. Adherents believe that since fossils are by definition finite, fossil fuels must also be finite.
In “Black Gold Stranglehold,” Jerome Corsi and Craig Smith expose the fraudulent science that has made America so vulnerable: the false belief that oil is a fossil fuel and that it is a finite resource.
In an article published Dec. 5, 2005, WND noted the “running out of oil” argument suggested by the “peak oil” theory was nothing more than a tautology, a “slight of hand” restatement of the original “peak oil” premise that oil is a biological product restated so as to form a conclusion.
“Peak oil” theories were nothing more than a Malthusian hoax that preoccupied conventional natural resource thinking. One of the first “running out of oil” fears could be traced back to 1885 when the United States Geological Survey announced there was “little or no chance” of finding oil in California.
As WND reported, Dr. Julian Simon, a professor of business administration at the University of Maryland until his death in 1998, believed the world would never run out of oil.
“It seems impossible to keep using energy and still never begin to run out – that is, never reach a point of increasing scarcity,” Simon wrote on Page 180 of his 1996 book titled, “The Ultimate Resource 2,” published by Princeton University Press. “But the long-run trends in energy prices, together with the explanatory theory of induced innovation, promise continually decreasing scarcity and cost – just the opposite of popular opinion.”
Though largely ignored by establishment media, the United States became the leading oil producer in the world in the fourth quarter of 2013, surpassing Saudi Arabia, a milestone predicted by the 2005 WND Books publication of “Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil.” The book, which was widely ridiculed by industry analysts at the time, correctly predicted that oil – then trading below $50 a barrel – would trade at $100 a barrel, a level that became the standard until the recent dramatic decline in oil.
As early as 2008, WND also accurately predicted new technological innovations would allow the United States to produce oil out of the huge shale deposits in the United States – including the Bakken Formation, which covers parts of Montana, North and South Dakota – allowing the United States to reverse the decline in U.S. oil production that made “peak oil” look plausible in the post-World War II period.