Denmark’s government led by Lars Løkke Rasmussen is shortly to implement a string of economic measures to revive its European low-inflation, low-growth economy. But several political scientists and whistle-blowers have pointed out that one of these economic measures isn’t economic, it’s political. The measure will miss its goal of increasing performance and place citizens exclusively under state control. It’s the killing of cash.
The reason invoked is that cash is expensive to handle, an outdated way of doing business. Which, in all fairness, stands to reason. The management relative to currency is spread out between central banks (which creates  the money), private banks (which distribute it), private secure cash transferring companies (which move it), and some security agencies (which monitor it). So, that does indeed represent quite a large amount of work the Danish central bank would like to dismiss, in order to modernize its economy.
But that’s missing the forest for the trees. The point of money has never been money. The one single point of cash is freedom. It’s the ability for a Dane (or any other) to go around and do his business without having a bank, or a state agency controlling what he bought, where, when, and from whom. It’s a balancing point for the ever-growing power of the state. If states are given absolute control, it is only a matter of time before dictatorship quietly installs. And with ever-growing numbers of laws passed – a concept known as legislative inflation – with every purchase, citizens are running a higher risk of being held accountable by courts.
And it gets worse. The deletion of cash wouldn’t only allow banking and public authorities in Denmark to monitor and control transactions after they’ve occurred. The hidden agenda of the move is to force citizens to spend, in other words to control spending before it even happens. Because people have a natural inclination to save money for a rainy day, they keep part of their earnings in cash or at the bank, where they generate interest. Because this money isn’t being spent, it isn’t generating tax revenue – something just about every European country is desperate for.
The Danish central bank therefore had the idea of negative interest rates: instead of earning interest at the bank, Danes lose a fraction of their capital. As Sean Farrel described, regarding Japan which has also opted for negative interest rates, “instead of earning interest on money left with the BoJ, banks are charged to park their cash. The idea is that instead of depositing money with the central bank or each other, they lend it to businesses and consumers. Banks may also cut deposit rates paid to customers, encouraging them to spend or invest instead of earning low or negative returns.”
So, the obvious choice would lead them to pull their money out under the form of cash (but that would do the government no good), or spend it. Without cash, there would be only one (fiscally profitable) option. Anti-consumerism, which is quite popular  in Denmark, is therefore about to receive a crushing blow, as consumption will soon become mandatory. As always, freedom fighters and libertarians will arise, but they will be fined for not spending. In the case of Japan, a 0.1 penalty is applied to deposits, which has led to a sharp increase in cash withdrawals from banks.
For the moment, there seems to be little opposition to this measure, within the Danish population. “Using cash is expensive, because it takes time for salaried employees to handle, and it’s also a security concern. Carrying cash opens you up to attack and even though we have relatively low levels of violent crime in Denmark, this is something business owners and employees tell us they worry about”, reported  the Danish chamber of commerce. Today, 6% of Danes use cash regularly, compared to 30 or 40% of their German neighbors.
As it is unlikely that Danes are fond of dictatorships, it’s a safer bet that this quiet consent is more the result of unawareness than genuine adhesion. Whistleblowers are trying to raise awareness on the matter, because such power grabs are historically known as irreversible. Once the state will have suppressed cash and established absolute power over its own economy, the Danes will not get their share back, as they will no longer have any power to force the state to hand back some of the power. Writer known as “Tyler Durden”, from Zero Hedge, warns  “The War on Cash is a favorite pet project of the economic central planners. They want to eliminate hand-to-hand currency so that governments can document, control, and tax everything. This is why they’re lowering the threshold for mandatory reporting of cash transactions and, in some instances, simply making it illegal to pay cash […] “The cashless society is the IRS’s dream: total knowledge of, and control over, the finances of every single American.”
The shift doesn’t concern only Denmark, but the entire Scandinavian area. Finland, Sweden and Norway have similar economies, with low resort to cash currency, and are also considering making the move. If those countries were to carry out the reform, the entire north of Europe would see its populations fall under complete economic control of its states. And as long as these states are run by the current class of politicians, the tyranny will be soft and silent. But when the next European bully comes to power, it will be a very different matter.
Saudi Arabia halves oil production: How long will it last, and will it affect oil prices?
Saudi Arabia announces it will halt 50% of its oil production. This Vestle news article will explore the possible financial impact.
Since recent drone airstrikes crippled Saudi Arabia’s Aramco oil processing facility in mid-September, the country – the world’s No. 1 exporter of oil* – has been forced to close half the plant while reconstruction takes place. While no casualties resulted from the attack, the real harm is finally coming to light, as the impact on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry is becoming clearer. This Vestle news article explores this important topic.
Aramco estimates that the closure will affect almost 5.7 million barrels of crude oil per day, which amounts to roughly 5% of the world’s daily oil production. To help you put that into perspective, consider that Saudi Arabia produced 9.85 million barrels a day in August 2019. And it’s not just oil production that will suffer. Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman also indicated that the closure has forced a temporary halt in gas production, limiting the supply of ethane and natural gas by 50% as well.
One particular detail that those with an eye on the financial markets might find interesting is that the attacks took place at a time when Saudi Arabia continues to progress toward taking Saudi Aramco public – a first for the kingdom’s global-reach energy sector. How much money are we talking? As the world’s most profitable oil company, it’s estimated to be valued at around $1.5 trillion.**
Will this affect oil prices?
The short answer, according to some people, is probably yes. With Saudi oil output expected to dip below 50%, the outages present “an extreme risk situation for oil,” according to Paul Sankey, managing director for Mizuho Securities. However, measures have already been put into place. Depending on how long it takes for Saudi Arabia to recover the damaged facility, OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) is aiming to suspend production cuts to help temper the impact of the ongoing crisis. On the trading side, the International Energy Agency is expected to release strategic oil stocks, and US President Donald Trump has already authorized the release of oil from the US petroleum reserve.***
In the weeks just after the drone strikes, the price of WTI Oil on the Vestle platform showed a 13% increase, followed by a 12% decrease over the following two weeks. Also during that time, Bloomberg reported that the spread between WTI and Brent widened to 37%, which could be an indication that the oil spike might affect global prices more than other oil giants, such as the United States. Furthermore, a representative from Goldman Sachs estimates that the global benchmark for Brent Oil could rise above $75 a barrel if the plant shutdown lasts for more than six weeks.****
Will it get any worse?
Some people fear the Aramco incident represents the potential for a broader regional conflict that could escalate to the point that it affects Gulf oil production as a whole. CFRA Research oil analyst Steward Glickman said, “Oil prices are now likely to bake in a much higher geopolitical risk premium than had been absent in much of 2019.” With the recent bombing in June of oil tankers in the Gulf of Hormuz not so distant, it’s no wonder some analysts like Glickman like are raising their eyebrows. ***
Considering all the different factors that play into this situation—the global, financial and geopolitical—there’s no telling what kind of turns it will take. The only thing to do is keep an eye on the news for the political side of it, and financial sites like Vestle to see what kind of ripples such an event is making in the financial markets.
Oil prices and the financial markets
Volatility such as that recently experienced by both WTI Oil and Brent Oil can present both opportunities and risks for informed traders, such as those who invest in Contracts for Difference or CFDs, which essentially means trading on the price movement of a particular instrument without owning the underlying asset. At Vestle, you’ll find hundreds of tradable CFD instruments, from commodities like oil and natural gas to popular stocks, indices, ETFs and crypto. And thanks to a selection of trading signals, market indicators and our economic calendar, access to important financial info for global situations like this is right at your fingertips.
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Fears of a 2019 European Economic Slowdown Loom
Although the spotlight is on the trade war between the United States and China, one aspect that is currently ignored by the media is represented by signs of weakness in the European continent.
Germany slows down
After posting a -0.3% GDP contraction in the third quarter of 2018, the economic indicators released from Germany in 2019 cannot support a positive economic picture. The manufacturing sectors continue to show signs of weakening, with the Markit PMI Composite now at 51.6, down from 52.3.
Industrial Production had been contraction by 1.9% in November, and both imports and exports had been down by 1.6% and 0.4%, respectively. DAX trading had also suggested there is growing concerns among investors and the main German stock index peaked out in July 2018, being now down by 15%.
Germany relies mostly on exports, being the third exporter in the world, only surpassed by the United States and China. That is why the weakness we see in Germany is actually a symptom of what’s happening in other European countries as well.
Italy and France not too encouraging
The new populist government in Italy, formed by La Lega and The Five Star Movement faced a serious challenge to get the EU’s approval for the 2019 budget, as the already high debt-to-GDP ratio (currently at 131.8%) raises concerns on whether the country will be able to meet its debt obligations in the future.
There are also serious concerns about the banking sector, which despite mergers and acquisitions, and huge capital available from the ECB, were unable to solve their problems which emerged after the 2008 financial crisis. The future of Italy is very uncertain, and analysts predict that the new government will not be able to meet their economic promises, given that we are at the end of a business cycle.
Speaking of France, the problems are social at the present time. President Macron was unable to stop the “Yellow Vests” protests, despite promises to increase the minimum wage and the overall standard of living for the very poor. France’s debt-to-GDP ratio currently stands at 97%, but given the latest promises, there are concerns whether the country will manage to keep the budget deficit below 3% in 2019, as the European treaties demand.
Although there’s a single currency in Europe, in terms of fiscal policy things were very fragmented, which is why the economic recovery had been very slow and the reason why investors predict Europe will face the greatest challenges to solve its economic, political, and social problems.
Sterling Whipsaws as Brexit Negotiations Fall Flag
Sterling whipsawed on Thursday, first tumbling and then rallying, and experiencing robust volatility. The GBP/JPY also experienced a wild ride as the yen increased in value on safe-haven flows. Sterling has been trading under pressure following news that the European Union has no plans for further Brexit discussions. May is now stuck between a rock and a hard place and may have to exit from the EC without an agreement.
The EU Has No Plans to Continue Brexit Talks
The European Union announced through a spokesperson saying that they had no plan on further Brexit discussions with the UK. The British had hoped for additional assurances on the contested Irish backstop. Prime Minister May has been making the rounds with EU leaders ahead of this month’s vote in parliament, but her diplomacy appears to have failed to change any minds.
The Financial Times reports that a EU source said no dialogue has occurred over the past 10-days and that PM May spoke to the EC head Donald Tusk on January 2. The EU is sticking to their word and appears to reflect the view that EU officials have gone as far as they can as it relates to the Irish backstop. They also revealed that if a backstop was triggered that EU negotiators would use “best endeavors” to negotiate a replacement agreement.
Strong US Private Payrolls Help Buoy US Yields
Sterling was also shaken by a rebound in the dollar which was buoyed by an uptick in US yields. US yields tumbled on Wednesday as traders removed all the potential tightening of interest rates in 2019. In fact, the yield curve shows that 1-year yields are less than current yields. This came despite a stronger than expected private payroll report, released by ADP on January 3.
ADP reported that Private payrolls rose by 271,000 in December, beating expectations that jobs would increase by 178,000. You can follow the private payroll report on Vestle news. The strong jobs numbers should help lift wages which is an argument for why the Fed should remain vigilant. The increase in private payrolls was the largest climb in nearly 2-years and increased the 2018-month average of private payroll gains to 203,000.
The report showed the increase in jobs was mainly drive by professional and business services which increased by a solid 66,000 while education and health services contributed 61,000 and leisure and hospitality added 39,000. In all, service-related industries were responsible for 224,000 of the new hires, while goods producers rose by 47,000. This include an increase in construction which grew by 37,000 and manufacturing added 12,000. Natural resources and mining lost 2,000 positions.
Sterling rebounded after making a fresh low of 1.24 which is a 20-month low on sterling versus the greenback. The exchange rate is likely to remain volatile until there is a solution to the UK exit from the EU. The trend is also downward sloping, and with momentum negative, the path of least resistance is for a lower exchange rate for sterling.
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