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A Stable Ruble Is The Key To Russia’s Survival

The trend is clear. The West is broke. The endless hunt for taxes to shore up federal budgets will continue.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


The Russian ruble moved sharply this week as the global equity and commodities rout continues in the wake of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates.

Russia’s central bank over-reacted to a rise in inflation as the global economy moves towards a chaotic and politically dangerous 2019.

Oil prices are moving in sync with equities as the markets have entered a panic phase anticipating a global recession next year. Normally the Ruble is very strongly tied to oil prices. But as I showed in an article just before Thanksgiving, the ruble didn’t respond at all to a drop in Brent Crude from $80+ per barrel to around $60.

Amidst a 38% drop in the price of Brent Crude since October, the ruble has fluctuated in a 4% band around 67 to the dollar. This is shocking stability given the volatility in oil prices.

Ruble weakness from earlier this year was an over-reaction to heightened sanctions by the U.S. especially at a time where the threat of further sanctions on Iran and Venezuela’s collapse kept prices high.

Oil’s Outlook

And now it is catching up to this drop in oil prices with this week’s weakness. Oil prices are unsustainable above $65 per barrel amidst this level of supply.

They are equally unsustainable below $40 per barrel for just about everyone due to budget constraints (the Saudis) or debt-servicing (U.S. Frackers).

Since free-floating the ruble back in late 2014, Russia has been less and less affected by the fluctuations in oil prices. Because domestic costs are paid in rubles and income earned in dollars is offset by the weaker ruble.

It is government expenditures which suffer during waves of lower oil prices. But this year’s high prices have swelled Russia’s state coffers, running a 2.1% of GDP budget surplus this year.

Russia has an auto-budgeting system based on oil tariff revenues the budget will adjust based on anticipated oil prices.

And given the announced 1.2 million barrel per day cut from OPEC don’t expect the Russians to budget near $80 per barrel for 2019. That was a bearish signal, a sign of weakness.

Energy makes up the bulk of the country’s exports but that proportion is falling steadily as other industries mature. In 2017 oil/gas made up just under 60% of exports down from 69% in 2014.

They’ll likely be up as a percentage this year because of higher prices, but non-resource exports hit a record $147 billion this year, according to a recent statement from Andrey Slepnev, Chief Executive of the Russian Export Center.

That’s the important part.

The double whammy of increased sanctions (with threats of even more) and lower prices should have sent the ruble skyrocketing similar to what we saw this year with the Turkish lira.

I’m sure that’s been the hope on Capitol Hill.

But we haven’t and that speaks to the growing proportion of Russian trade settling outside the dollar.Russian exports continue to grow thanks to the weaker ruble and Putin’s continued growing stature as a statesman.

This is having the positive effect of opening up more markets for Russian goods and working with countries willing to skirt U.S. sanctions.

The Real Ideological War

Trump and Putin are locked in an ideological war of how to conduct trade now. And the shoe, nominally, is on the other foot. I have to marvel at Trump turning mafioso, punishing people for doing business with anyone but him while Putin pulls a Dale Carnegie looking for wins where he can get them.

Trump has his stick. Putin offers carrots.

It’s a sad commentary on what’s become of the U.S. that Trump believes he can bully his way to remaking America in his image. He talks a lot about America being respected again. But that’s not the sense I get when I look around the geopolitical game board.

In fact, it is the opposite. Trump may get obedience and he can choose to see deference to the U.S.’s power as ‘respect’ but it’s not. It’s resentment. And he should be smart enough to know this.

He’s undermining the one thing that makes the dollar the dollar. Stability and consistency.

Putin, on the other hand, chooses to ignore Trump where he can and make offers which tie Russia and its neighbors together in a web of trade. The hysterical neoconservatives here shout incoherently about “undo Russian influence.”

This is simply code for, “We want Russia poor, weak and incapable of defending herself so we can take it over.”

But the reality is that with each pipeline built between Russia and Europe, India and/or China the likelihood of war between them recedes. Viewed through that lens, Russia uses its energy resources to defend its future.

The West calls it ‘Pipeline Diplomacy,’ and our opposition to it stems from outdated ‘Great Powers’ theory of how to play the great game of geopolitics.

Because Russia knows all too well the belligerence of U.S. and European elites towards it. It’s been dealing with it for centuries. And Putin, as a student of history, knows that time is Russia’s greatest ally.

Stability Becomes Reserves

When looking at the geopolitical picture you have to look at the overall trend, the players at the table and where their motivations lie. For Russia the goal is an independent path which does not leave it at the mercy of U.S. political imperatives.

No one gets out of a conflict with the U.S. over trade unscathed, but that’s not the goal. The goal is minimizing the damage and building stronger local relationships which fell into disrepair after the fall of the U.S.S.R.

Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev finally made it clear that Russian political leaders have turned a corner on their thinking.

He added that US sanctions have pushed Moscow and Beijing to think about the use of their domestic currencies in settlements, something that “we should have done ten years ago.”

“Trading for rubles is our absolute priority, which, by the way, should eventually turn the ruble from a convertible currency into a reserve currency,” the Russian prime minister said.

That’s what Putin’s endless meetings are all about, building trade across central Asia with the ruble as a viable alternative for the dollar.

The trend is clear. The West is broke. The endless hunt for taxes to shore up federal budgets will continue. The U.S. is interested solely in maintaining its power. This is really what Trump means when he says, “Make America Great Again.”

And he will do anything to achieve that goal, regardless of the secondary effects. This makes U.S. policy aggressive, violent and vindictive. And that is not the recipe for long-term economic or political stability.

This is what Trump and his national security team most fear, a Russia capable of building a parallel institutional system operating outside their control.

Because people respond to incentives. And each day that Trump makes using the dollar more expensive is another day where someone else makes the decision not to use them.

So, a stable ruble, unfazed by sanctions and wild swings in the price of oil, makes that decision that much easier. Each day that brings another small deal settled in rubles or another load of oil paid for in yuan and swapped for gold is another day closer to that reality.


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TjoetherevolutionwasTerryOlivia KrothPaddy Jameson Power Recent comment authors
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Olivia Kroth
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President Putin is a genius himself, and he has very able economic advisors.

Paddy Jameson Power
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Paddy Jameson Power

He’s the only statesman alive today, head and shoulders above all contenders, despite his small stature.

Olivia Kroth
Guest

President Putin’s body is trimmed and fit. He looks surprisingly young for his age of 66. His mind is sharp like a razor.

therevolutionwas
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therevolutionwas

The US (Gov’t, deep state, elites,…) must know what China and Russia are doing to increasingly do business outside the petrodollar. They realize Russia and China have been accumulating gold, and especially China has for decades and is estimated to have around 20,000 tons. https://www.goldmoney.com/research/goldmoney-insights/gold-s-monetary-rehabilitation I think the struggle going on in western governments is over how to respond to the rise of the east. I hope the “peacefully” side of the struggle wins out. But with all the political and economic lunatics running the asylum I fear it may end badly.

Terry
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Terry

Russia is now placed above most European countries in the World Bank’s latest ease of doing business report. It is above France,Poland,Portugal, Czech Rep, Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, etc. Its also above Japan, Turkey, China and India.
http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/doingBusiness/media/Annual-Reports/English/DB2019-report_web-version.pdf

therevolutionwas
Guest
therevolutionwas

the marketplace works to the degree governments let it be.

Terry
Guest
Terry

According to the RCB charter, stability of the currency is it’s main function. According to the article it seems it has been successful in that task.

Tjoe
Guest
Tjoe

Every country that Russia trades with should have a quantity of Rubles (readily convertible to their own country money) and Russia should have a quantity of the trading countries currency (also readily convertible).

Make an equity system…not debt like the US Dollar. Germany did it in the late 20’s and it lifted all German citizens from abject poverty…including Jews (not including Wiemar bankers).

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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