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Oil price crashes as US shale production surges

Renewed supply glut caused by rising shale production in US causes oil price to fall.

Alexander Mercouris

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The last few days have witnessed a further sharp fall in oil prices after the rally in late 2016 caused by the agreement between Russia and OPEC to cut oil output.

It is generally acknowledged that the terms of the agreement have been fulfilled, and that the two biggest producers – Saudi Arabia and Russia – have indeed cut production as they promised.  Nonetheless oil prices are now falling again.

Partly this may be due to market expectations that the Federal Reserve Board will announce at its next meeting a further increase in interest rates.

As I have repeatedly explained, because oil is priced in dollars and because of the tendency of traders to buy oil as a hedge against falls in the value of the dollar, the dollar price of oil is very sensitive to movements in US interest rates, with rises in interest rates typically causing falls in oil’s dollar price as they cause the value of the dollar to increase.  It was the prospect of a rise in US interest rates following the end of the US Federal Reserve Board’s quantitative easing programme, which was the main cause for the crash in the oil price in mid 2014.

The likely coming increase in US interest rates is however probably only a marginal factor in the latest price fall.  By now – more than two and a half years since the start of the crash – the market has priced in the effect of rising US interest rates into the oil price.

There has been some talk that some of the latest fall in oil prices is the result of speculative long positions in the market.  However there seems little doubt that the major cause of the fall is the build up in US inventories caused by a surge in output of oil from US shales, which has had the effect of worsening the supply glut.

If so then this reinforces my longstanding view that the attempt to end the supply glut artificially by cutting production in Russia and Saudi Arabia was a mistake.

The supply glut was a natural response by producers to the fall in oil prices, as producers reacted (as they always do during a price fall) by stepping up their production in order to maintain their cash flows.  The supply glut was however never very large, with all the indications pointing to a rebalancing of the market in the second half of 2016, with a rebound in oil prices towards the end of the year.

In the event it looks as if the production cut and the previous talk of a production freeze caused the oil price to rise prematurely and too far, delaying the full rebalancing of the oil market, with the major beneficiaries being the US shale oil producers.

The initial impetus for the production cut appears to have come from neither Saudi Arabia nor Russia – both of whom are known to have been skeptical about the idea – but from Venezuela, which has been thrown into crisis by the oil price fall.  If oil prices now fall again it will provide further proof that in a situation where the US – the world’s third big oil producer alongside Saudi Arabia and Russia – refuses to cut production under any circumstances, artificial cuts by other producers to prop up weaker producers in the end simply benefit the shale producers in the US.

The Saudis are now hinting that they may not be prepared to extend the production cut further when it expires at the end of May, in which case the oil price may fall further.

Should that happen I don’t personally expect oil prices to fall unduly.  If they fall below $40 a barrel I doubt they will do so for very long.  The reason is that I personally doubt that the effect of the production cut on prices was actually very great, if only because it was actually quite small and its duration was very short.  Moreover rising economic growth in US, Europe and Asia should eventually provide support for prices.

The events of the first few weeks of 2016 – when oil prices collapsed to historic lows – suggests that the absolute lowest possible floor for oil prices in current conditions is around $30 a barrel.  I personally doubt that this time, given rising economic growth, the oil price will fall so far.  However predictions of where oil prices will go over any period regularly turn out wrong and no-one – certainly not me – can ever say with any confidence where oil prices will be at any specific point in time.

Should oil prices continue to fall, then because of the floating rouble the effect on the Russian budget and on Russian inflation will be limited, just as it was in 2016.  Indeed because of the fall in the rouble the Russian economy would become more competitive, which might conceivably even cause economic growth in Russia to be higher.

In the not so long term it is likely oil prices will anyway begin a sustained rise as higher economic growth and reduced investment in new production which has taken place since 2014 start to have an effect.  Suggestions that the oil price might increase to $70 a barrel do not seem excessive, though it will be the state of the global economy and interest rate policy in the US which will in the end decide the price.

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Theresa May set to order ministers to vote down no-deal Brexit amendments, risking cabinet split

Delaying Brexit would be “calamitous,” and much worse than no-deal.

RT

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May is reportedly set to resist mounting pressure from pro-Remain Tory ministers, and order her cabinet to vote down amendments that would block a no-deal Brexit – risking possible resignations.

Parliament will vote on May’s alternative Brexit proposals on Tuesday, as well as a series of amendments that include delaying the UK’s departure from the EU by negotiating an extension to Article 50. The UK is set to leave the EU on March 29.

The prime minister will risk splitting her cabinet – ignoring pleas over taking no-deal off the table – and instead pursue a strategy of securing changes to the contentious Irish backstop, in a bid to win over hardline Tory Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Daily Mail reports.

May will be hoping that such a move will provide her with enough MPs to get her deal through the House of Commons at a second attempt. The PM’s original Brexit proposals were roundly rejected last week, with the government losing by 230 votes.

UK Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has warned May that she faces a spate of cabinet resignations if she fails to allow ministers to vote on a plan that could block a no-deal Brexit.

According to the Times, pro-EU Rudd has intimated that unless May allows a free vote on a Brexit amendment, tabled by backbench Labour MP Yvette Cooper, which calls for Article 50 to be extended if no deal is reached by February 26, then mass resignations could follow.

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has praised Cooper’s “sensible proposal,” claiming that it’s “increasingly likely” that his party will vote for it next week.

Cooper’s is one of eight amendments tabled in recent days. Another, put forward by Tory MP and ‘people’s vote’ advocate, Dominic Grieve, would allow Parliament to set the agenda and vote on a variety of proposals, including a second EU referendum.

It comes as Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, claimed in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today program, that delaying Brexit would be “calamitous,” and much worse than no-deal.

Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator, has claimed that Brussels will only extend Article 50 if there is a “stable majority” in the UK for a deal – adding that the UK could avoid the problems of the Irish backstop by opting for a softer Brexit.

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Louis XVI (aka Emmanuel Macron) runs to Merkels’ arms in Aachen treaty (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 63.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at French President Emmanuel Macron’s comparison of the Yellow Vests movement to the times of King Louis XVI who, as Macron rationalizes, met his tragic fate by refusing to embrace reforms.

Emmanuel Macron told 150 corporate executives gathered at Versailles (including Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, JPMorgan Chase CEO James Dimon, and Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey), that “a lot of people thought that it was not a good date to gather here,” referring to the execution of French King Louis XVI, who was guillotined on January 21, exactly 226 years ago on Monday…“but when you look at French history, if at the end they ended up like that, it’s because a lot of leaders decided not to reform.”

The meeting held by Macron was called together in part to alleviate investors’ fears after 10 weeks of Yellow Vest protests throughout France and spreading across Europe.

According to RT,  the nationwide protests have sometimes turned violent, and according to Macron’s office, have caused concern among foreign investors hoping to cash in on Macron’s business-friendly reforms.

Notably, Macron reassured his CEO guests that he would “not roll back what we have done in the past 18 months” – unpopular labor and tax reforms that have been cited as sparking the Yellow Vest protests.

Macron also said that the Yellow Vest movement had been spurred by middle-class anger over globalization, arguing that similar sentiments have given rise to Brexit and populist governments across Europe.

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Via Zerohedge


French President Emmanuel Macron’s push for what he previously called “a real European army” got a big boost on Tuesday amid France and Germany signing an updated historic treaty reaffirming their close ties and commitment to support each other during a ceremony in the city of Aachen, a border town connected to Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire. But the timing for the renewal of the two countries’ 1963 post-war reconciliation accord is what’s most interesting, given both the rise of eurosceptic nationalism, the uncertainty of Brexit, and just as massive ‘Yellow Vests’ protests rage across France for a tenth week.

Macron addressed this trend specifically at the signing ceremony with the words, “At a time when Europe is threatened by nationalism, which is growing from within… Germany and France must assume their responsibility and show the way forward.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a signing of a new agreement on bilateral cooperation and integration, known as Treaty of Aachen. Image via Reuters

Germany’s Angela Merkel agreed, adding in her own remarks: “We are doing this because we live in special times and because in these times we need resolute, distinct, clear, forward-looking answers.” The agreement, which is being described as sparse on specifics or detail, focuses on foreign policy and defense ties between Berlin and Paris.

“Populism and nationalism are strengthening in all of our countries,” Merkel EU officials at the ceremony. “Seventy-four years – a single human lifetime – after the end of the second world war, what seems self-evident is being called into question once more.”

Macron said those “who forget the value of Franco-German reconciliation are making themselves accomplices of the crimes of the past. Those who… spread lies are hurting the same people they are pretending to defend, by seeking to repeat history.”

And in remarks that formed another affirmation that the two leaders are seeking to form an “EU army” Merkel said just before signing the treaty: “The fourth article of the treaty says we, Germany and France, are obliged to support and help each other, including through military force, in case of an attack on our sovereignty.”

The text of the updated treaty includes the aim of a “German-French economic area with common rules” and a “common military culture” that Merkel asserted could “contribute to the creation of a European army”.

Later before a press pool, Merkel endorsed the idea of a joint European army further:

We have taken major steps in the field of military cooperation, this is good and largely supported in this house. But I also have to say, seeing the developments of the recent years, that we have to work on a vision to establish a real European army one day.

She clarified that the new military organization wouldn’t exist as a counterpart to or in competition with NATO, similar to prior comments she made before European parliament.

Previously in November she had assured, “This is not an army against NATO, it can be a good complement to NATO.” This was also in support of Macron’s early November statements wherein he said of the proposed EU army, “We have to protect ourselves with respect to China, Russia and even the US” — words that were issued on the heels President Trump’s initial announcement that the US would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

Despite such such assurances analysts say the natural and long term by-product of a “real European army” — as Macron and Merkel suggesting — would be the slow eroding and demise of US power in the region, which would no doubt weaken the NATO alliance.

The closest thing to a current “EU army” that does exist (if it can be called even that) – the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) – is generally perceived as more of a civil and emergency response joint EU member mechanism that would be ineffectual under the threat of an actual military invasion or major event.

Meanwhile perhaps a prototype EU army is already in action on the streets of Paris, revealing what critics fear it may actually be used for in the future..

The expected push back came swiftly and fiercely as Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Rally party, slammed the updated Aachen treaty as “an act that borders on treason”, while others worried this is an attempt to create a “super EU” within the bloc.

Alexander Gauland of Germany’s Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), for example, warned:

As populists, we insist that one first takes care of one’s own country… We don’t want Macron to renovate his country with German money … The EU is deeply divided. A special Franco-German relationship will alienate us even further.

Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, warned earlier this month that his country could seek an “Italian-Polish axis” to challenge the whole premise of a “Franco-German motor” that drives European centralization.

Also notable of Tuesday’s signing is that the Aachen document prioritizes Germany being eventually accepted as permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, which it mandates as a priority for French-German diplomacy. Such a future scenario on the security council would shift power significantly in favor of a western bloc of allies the US, Britain, and France, which Germany would vote alongside.

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The Integrity Initiative and the British Roots of the Deep State: How the Round Table Infiltrated America

Kissinger’s takeover of the State Department ushered in a new era of British occupation of American foreign policy.

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With the nearly weekly revelations that the British Foreign Office, MI6, and GCHQ have been behind the long standing agenda to undermine the Presidency of Donald Trump and undo the peaceful alliance between nationalist leaders in America, Russia, China and elsewhere, a new focus on the British hand in undermining the United States has become a serious thought for many citizens. In the first week of the new year, fuel was added to this fire when internal memos were leaked from the British-run Integrity Initiative featuring a startling account of the techniques deployed by the anti-Russian British operation to infiltrate American intelligence institutions, think tanks and media.

For those who may not know, The Integrity Initiative is an anti-Russian propaganda outfit funded to the tune of $140 million by the British Foreign office. The January 2019 leak, featuring documents dated to the early period of Trump’s election, demonstrate that this organization, already active across Europe promoting anti-Russian PR and smearing nationalist leaders such as Jeremy Corbyn, was intent on spreading deeply into the State Department and setting up “clusters” of anti-Trump operatives. The documents reveal high level meetings that Integrity Initiative Director Chris Donnelly had with former Trump Advisor Sebastien Gorka, McCain Foundation director Kurt Volker, Pentagon PR guru John Rendon among many others.

The exposure of the British hand behind the scenes affords us a unique glimpse into the real historical forces undermining America’s true constitutional tradition throughout the 20th century, as Mueller/the Five Eyes/Integrity Initiative are not new phenomena but actually follow a modus operandi set down for already more than a century. One of the biggest obstacles to seeing this modus operandi run by the British Empire is located in the belief in a mythology which has become embedded in the global psyche for over half a century and which we should do our best to free ourselves of.

Debunking the Myth of the “American Empire”

While there has been a long-standing narrative promoted for over 70 years that the British Empire disappeared after World War II having been replaced by the “American Empire”, it is the furthest thing from the truth. America, as constitutionally represented by its greatest presidents (who can unfortunately be identified by their early deaths while serving in office), were never colonialist and were always in favor of reining in British Institutions at home while fighting British colonial thinking abroad.

Franklin Roosevelt’s thirteen year-long battle with the Deep State, which he referred to as the “economic royalists who should have left America in 1776″, was defined in clear terms by his patriotic Vice-President Henry Wallace who warned of the emergence of a new Anglo-American fascism in 1944 when he said:

“Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.”

The fact is that already in 1944, a policy of Anglo-Saxon imperialism had been promoted subversively by British-run think tanks known as the Round Table Movement and Fabian Society, and the seeds had already been laid for the anti-Russian cold war by those British-run American fascists. It is not a coincidence that this fascist Cold War policy was announced in a March 5, 1946 speech in Fulton, Missouri by none other than Round Table-follower Winston Churchill.

The Empire Strikes

When the Round Table Movement was created with funds from the Rhodes Trust in 1902, a new plan was laid out to create a new technocratic elite to manage the re-emergence of the new British Empire and crush the emergence of American-inspired nationalism globally. This organization would be staffed by generations of Rhodes Scholars who would receive their indoctrination in Oxford before being sent back to advance a “post-nation state” agenda in their respective countries.

As this agenda largely followed the mandate set out by Cecil Rhodes in his Seventh Will who said “Why should we not form a secret society with but one object: the furtherance of the British Empire and the bringing of the whole uncivilized world under British rule, for the recovery of the United States, and for the making of the Anglo-Saxon race but one Empire?”

With the help of an anglophile, racist president in America, leading figures organizing these think tanks first advanced a program to create a “League of Nations” as the solution to the “nationalist problem” which humanity was told “caused” World War One. Nationalist forces in America rejected the idea that the constitution should be rendered obsolete and the plan for global governance failed. However that did not stop the Round Table Movement from trying again. Leading Round Table controller Lord Lothian (British Ambassador to the USA) complained of the “American problem” in 1918.

”There is a fundamentally different concept in regard to this question between Great Britain and the United States  as to the necessity of civilized control over politically backward peoples…. The inhabitants of Africa and parts of Asia have proved unable to govern themselves…. Yet America not only has no conception of this aspect of the problem but has been led to believe that the assumption of this kind of responsibility is iniquitous imperialism.

They take an attitude towards the problem of world government exactly analogous to the one they [earlier] took toward the problem of the world war. If they are slow in learning we shall be condemned to a period of strained relations between the various parts of the English-speaking world. [We must] get into the heads of Canadians and Americans that a share in the burden of world government is just as great and glorious a responsibility as participation in the war”.

A Chinese leader of the American-inspired republican revolution of 1911 named Sun Yat-sen warned of the likes of Lord Lothian and the League of Nations in 1924 when he said “The nations which are employing imperialism to conquer others and which are trying to maintain their own favored positions as sovereign lords of the whole world are advocating cosmopolitanism [aka: global governance/globalization -ed] and want the world to join them… Nationalism is that precious possession by which humanity maintains its existence. If nationalism decays, then when cosmopolitanism flourishes we will be unable to survive and will be eliminated”.

New Name. Same Beast

By 1919, the Round Table Movement changed its name to the Royal Institute for International Affairs (aka: Chatham House) with the “Round Table” name relegated to its geopolitical periodical. In Canada and Australia, branches were created in 1928 under the rubrics of “Canadian and Australian Institutes for International Affairs” (CIIA, AIIA). However in America, where knowledge of the British Empire’s subversive role was more widely known, the name “American Institute for International Affairs” was still too delicate. Instead the name “Council on Foreign Relations” was chosen and was chartered in 1921.

Rhodes Scholar William Yandall Elliot surrounded by a few of his leading disciples: Sir Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski Samuel Huntington and Pierre Trudeau

Staffed with Rhodes Scholars and Fabians, the CFR (and its International Chatham House counterparts) dubbed themselves “independent think tanks” which interfaced with Rhodes Scholars and Fabians in academia, government and the private sector alike with the mission of advancing a foreign policy agenda that was in alignment with the British Empire’s dream of an Anglo-American “special relationship”. One such Rhodes Scholar was William Yandall Elliot, who played a major role mentoring Henry Kissinger and a generation of geo-politicians from Harvard, not the least of whom include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Samuel (Clash of Civilizations) Huntington.

The Round Table in Canada and the Coup Against FDR

In Canada, five leading Rhodes Scholars were busy creating the League of Social Reconstruction as a self-described “Fabian Society of Canada” in 1931 which was meant to be a fascist/technocratic answer to the chaos of “greedy nationalism” that supposedly caused the economic collapse of Black Friday in 1929. During the same time in America, a different path to fascism was taken by these networks during the early 1930s. This plan involved installing a General named Smedley Butler into power as a puppet dictator steered by the Anglo-American establishment. Luckily for America and the world, General Butler blew the whistle on the coup against Franklin Roosevelt at the last minute.

Kissinger’s British Takeover of America

Though it took a few assassinations throughout the post war years, Kissinger’s takeover of the State Department ushered in a new era of British occupation of American foreign policy, whereby the republic increasingly became the “Dumb Giant” acting as “American Brawn for the British brains” using Churchill’s words. While a nihilistic generation of youth were tuning in on LSD, and an old guard of patriots surrounding Wallace and Kennedy had fallen to the “red scare” witch hunt, geopolitical theory was fed like a sweet poison down the throat of a sleeping nation, replacing a policy of peace and “win-win cooperation” advanced by true nationalist patriots as FDR, Wallace and the Kennedys, with an imperial clone masquerading as a republic.

Sir Kissinger did nothing less than reveal his total allegiance to the British Empire on May 10, 1981 during a Chatham House conference in Britain when he described his relationship with the British Foreign office in the following terms: “The British were so matter-of-factly helpful that they became a participant in internal American deliberations, to a degree probably never practiced between sovereign nations… In my White House incarnation then, I kept the British Foreign Office better informed and more closely engaged than I did the American State Department… It was symptomatic”.

During this period, Kissinger worked closely with CIA director George Bush Senior, who was later rewarded for his role in advancing the British-planned first war on Kuwait with a knighthood. This war set the stage for the second wave of Middle East wars beginning with the Anglo-Saudi orchestrated operation known as 9/11 and the ushering in of the new “post-nation state order” by Kissinger and Blair.

This was the era which was celebrated by both Kissinger and Bush in sundry places as “the New World Order”.

The Dystopic New World Order Threatened by a New Deal of the 21st Century

It is this dystopic geopolitical order which has been challenged by the Russia-China alliance which arose in earnest with Xi Jinping’s 2013 announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative as the Grand design for large scale infrastructure projects internationally and in September 2015 with Vladimir Putin’s intervention into Syria which defeated the Hobbesian regime change paradigm which poisoned the west. In 2016, the election of nationalist American President Donald Trump opened the door for the first time in over 50 years to a true national coalition of sovereign nations to eliminate the cancer of colonial thinking forever from the earth.

It is this same British-run deep state which owns Robert Mueller, who along with the Integrity Initiative, Five Eyes and other Deep State operatives are dedicated to overthrowing President Trump from office and undoing the great potential now facing the world as outlined by the Schiller Institute and American statesman Lyndon LaRouche: 1) an FDR-style re-organization of the bankrupt banking system and 2) the unleashing of a global New Silk Road as the New Deal of the 21st Century.


BIO: Matthew J.L. Ehret is a journalist, lecturer and founder of the Canadian Patriot Review. His works have been published in Executive Intelligence Review, Global Research, Global Times, The Duran, Nexus Magazine, Los Angeles Review of Books, Veterans Today and Sott.net. Matthew has also published the book “The Time has Come for Canada to Join the New Silk Road” and three volumes of the Untold History of Canada (available on untoldhistory.canadianpatriot.org). He can be reached at[email protected]

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