Saddam, Saud, and Sino-Petrol

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is hurting. Their move of increasing oil production with the goal of lowering prices in order to gain a larger market share (Saud denies this but they are trying to put US shale out of business – low interest rates in the US have contributed to staving off the death blow, for now) has hurt all net oil exporting economies worldwide, including Saud, itself. The secondary effect was to pressure Russia into leaving Assad to the jackals. Russia bit the bullet and did not yield. Strike two. The war in Yemen as well as the financing of Syrian rebels costs the kingdom a lot of money they just don’t have. Steeeerike three.

Oil represents about 80% of Saud’s revenue. With ISIS competing for market share by selling oil to Turkey at $20/barrel – thereby undercutting the market by half, their economy can simply not withstand this price point for much longer. So what can they do?

They could find other sources of income, they could cut output of oil, they could de-peg from the US dollar, or they could start selling oil in yuan. Remember what happened to Saddam Hussein when he tried to sell his oil in Euros. Everybody was a loser in that affair.

Today, the renminbi (yuan – for all intents and purposes) will likely be included in the IMF’s SDR basket of funds. There is an OPEC meeting this Friday.

*Update*

Saudi Aramco is rumoured to be going public, that is to say, privatized. An IPO is being considered. Of course the Saudis wouldn’t let this corporation fall into the wrong hands (5% for now,) so is this simply a variation on a stock-buyback scheme of epic proportion? This way they can raise their stock price without raising the price of oil. Since doing so would hurt the stock price, this would more or less guarantee low oil prices for a while. This would be a bad thing for all oil net exporters; Canada will be especially hard hit.

One wonders if they will allow Yuan transactions for their shares.

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China Secures SDR

While the world was busy watching the aftermath of the Paris attacks, the IMF just gave its recommendation to place China’s Renminbi in the global Special Drawing Rights (SDR) basket of funds.

In an ironic twist, while the IMF has historically delayed the moment of acceptance, it caved just months after China officially devalued its currency for the first time in decades to stimulate its exports, and has unleashed an unprecedented campaign (using overt and covert means) to stabilize the Yuan as capital outflows in the past several months have soared. ”

This puts pressure on the faith in the US dollar and its world reserve currency status and has many international consequences, as well.

*Update*

Today is the day. Is the beginning of the end nigh for the US dollar?

“In 2009, amid the West’s scramble for signs of recovery, Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of the Peoples Bank of China, called for a new financial order with a global reserve currency replacing the U.S. dollar. The Financial Times noted, “If, as expected, the imf this month approves the inclusion of China’s renminbi as a reserve currency, it will mark a small step for Mr. Zhou’s 2009 vision but a big move for the renminbi.” ”

“The US Dollar might have reached the top of its strength and could see a downward correction in the next few weeks.”

With the Fed expected to raise interest rates in December, more outflows from the US dollar to the Yuan (renminbi) and some downward pressure on the dollar can be expected in the short term. Long term, the dollar still looks strong, but the renminbi is set to catch up.

It’s official, the yuan will be part of the SDR basket starting Oct. 1, 2016 with a weighting of 10.92%. Could this be a catalyst for portfolio re-allocation? If it is, and if new buyers of yuan stem the outflow of capital from China, the yuan may soar undoing all the devaluations to date and, ironically, hurt the already faultering Chinese economy. Could China’s hard landing turn into a crash?