Death Throes of the System

The dragon is writhing, desperate to avoid the pain of what it hasn’t yet recognized as the beginning of its demise. Its huge barbed tail, thrashing against the walls of its lair, is knocking down bigger and bigger rocks — more unavoidable end times stuff. (Forgive the dragon imagery — I’ve been immersing myself in “Game of Thrones,” a fictional parallel.)

This post is sparked by an e-mail from Global Network (space4peace.org) — a worthy list to be on — referencing an article on Counterpunch, a simplified version of which is presented below. You can read the original here. Take heart, however. According to Charles Eisenstein, my latest guru, it’s all part of a necessary process. A careful reader of this blog will have read my notes on Eisenstein’s Sacred Economics (see the Resources tab), his original text, or both. I’m now in the process of reading his other books — they’re great! — and will be sharing some notes on them in the near future.

Meanwhile, here’s this morning’s article, which I think will help you create/maintain what the late Mike Ruppert used to call “an accurate road map” of the age we’re currently living in… Titled, “The Oil Coup,” and subtitled “US-Saudi Subterfuge Send Stocks and Credit Reeling,” it was posted yesterday on counterpunch.org by Mike Whitney.

Whitney starts by quoting from Larry Eliot’s article, “US Plays the Oil Card against Iran and Russia,” in the Guardian: ‘John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.’ He then begins his own analysis: “U.S. powerbrokers have put the country at risk of another financial crisis to intensify their economic war on Moscow and move ahead with their plan to ‘pivot to Asia.’ They’ve persuaded the Saudis to flood the market with oil to push down prices, decimate Russia’s economy, and reduce Moscow’s resistance to further NATO encirclement and the spreading of US military bases across central Asia. The scheme has slashed oil prices by nearly half since they hit their peak in June. This sharp decline in prices has burst the bubble in high-yield debt, which has increased turbulence in the credit markets and pushed global equities into a tailspin.’

Whitney then quotes from an article by F. William Engdahl titled “The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria”: ‘The kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deeply discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC. The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China, where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100. The Saudi financial discounting operation is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that’s gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely.

According to Rashid Abanmy, president of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer, ostensibly to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran for her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria…More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas. The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing the US as sole superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that superpower hegemony.’

Whitney explains that US policymakers have embarked on this economically risky venture in order to maintain “the status quo which allows the US to impose its own coercive dollar system on the world, a system in which the US exchanges paper currency produced-at-will by the Central Bank for valuable raw materials, manufactured products, and hard labor. Washington is prepared to defend this extortionist petrodollar recycling system to the end, even if it means nuclear war. The destructive and destabilizing effects of this plan are visible everywhere. Plummeting oil prices are making it harder for energy companies to get the funding they need to roll over their debt and maintain current operations. Companies borrow based on the size of their reserves, but when prices tumble by nearly 50%, as they have in the last six months, the value of those reserves falls sharply. If the problem could be contained within this sector, there’d be no reason for concern. But what worries Wall Street is that a surge in energy company failures could ripple through the financial system and wallop the banks. Despite six years of zero rates and monetary easing, the nation’s biggest banks are still perilously undercapitalized, which means that a wave of unexpected bankruptcies could be all it takes to collapse the weaker institutions and tip the system back into crisis.

Here’s an excerpt from a post at Automatic Earth titled “Will Oil Kill the Zombies?”: ‘If prices fall any further, it would seem that most of the entire shale [and tar sands] edifice must of necessity crumble to the ground. And that will cause an absolute earthquake in the financial world, because someone supplied the loans the whole thing leans on. An enormous amount of investors have been chasing high yield, including many institutional investors, and they’re about to get burned. If oil keeps going the way it has lately, the Fed may have to think about bailing out the big Wall Street banks once again.’ (Will Oil Kill the Zombies? by Raúl Ilargi Meijer)

“The problem with falling oil prices,” Whitney goes on, “isn’t just mounting deflation or droopy profits; it’s the fact that every part of the industry – exploration, development and production – is propped atop a mountain of red ink (junk bonds). When that debt can no longer be serviced or increased, the primary lenders sustain heavy losses which domino through the entire system. When energy companies lose access to the market and are unable to borrow at low rates, it’s only a matter of time before they trundle off to extinction. On Friday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) renewed pressure on prices by lowering its estimate for global demand for oil in 2015. The announcement immediately sent stocks into a nosedive. Pension funds, private equity, banks, and other investors who gambled on dodgy energy-related junk bonds are going to get their heads handed to them in the months ahead. By dropping interest rates to zero and flooding the markets with liquidity, the Fed made it possible for every Tom, Dick and Harry to borrow in the bond market regardless of the quality of the debt. No one figured that the bottom would drop out leaving an entire sector high and dry. Investors piled into these dodgy debt-instruments because they thought Bernanke had their back and would intervene at the first sign of trouble. Now that the bubble has burst and the losses are piling up, the Fed is nowhere to be seen. The signs of contagion are apparent and likely to get worse. Investors fear that if they don’t hit the ‘sell’ button now, they won’t be able to find a buyer later. In other words, liquidity is drying up fast, which is accelerating the rate of decline. Naturally, this has affected US Treasuries, which are still seen as ‘risk free.’ As investors increasingly load up on USTs, long-term yields have been pounded into the ground. As of Friday, the benchmark 10-year Treasury checked in at a miniscule 2.08%, the kind of reading one would expect in the middle of a depression. Policymakers in Washington have remained resolutely silent on the issue, never uttering as much as a peep of protest against a Saudi policy that can only be described as an act of financial terrorism.”

About (They Got the Guns, but) We Got the Numbers

I'm an artist and student of history, living in Eugene, OR. On the upside of 60 and retired from a jack-of-all-trades "career," I walk, do yoga, and hang out with my 10-year-old granddaughter. I believe we can make this world better for her and the young and innocent everywhere, if we connect with each other and create peaceful, cooperative communities as independent of big corporations and corporate-dominated governments as possible.

Posted on December 17, 2014, in Capitalism, Economics, Peak oil, Resource wars, The current system, US foreign policy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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