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Mark's Market Blog

#428 6-11-17: Recession.

By Mark Lawrence

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The various central banks have poured $1.7 trillion into the markets so far this year. Meanwhile, I'm now ready to make my call: the US has entered a recession. This will be denied for several more months, but I don't care: the party is over, everyone is going home drunk to stagger into bed and nurse their hangover. The Fed may find ways to keep markets up for a time, but the employment numbers, the production numbers, the commercial loan numbers, tax receipts, wages, the retail sales numbers, they all add up now: recession.

S&P 500 December 12 2016 to June 9 2017

Qatar (pronounced "gutter"; the leading letter, the arabic qaf does not have an exact transliteration in european languages, but gu is closest. But who's going to fly on Gutter Air?) is suddenly a pariah state, with all the arab nations recalling their ambassadors and refusing flight and landing privileges to qatar air. What's up? The official story is that it was "suddenly" discovered that Qatar was funding terrorism, or perhaps that they paid $1 billion ransom for some kidnapped royals to Iran and other terrorists. Yah, well, that's not it at all. 25 years ago Qatar found one of the richest deposits of natural gas in the world, the North Field, shared with Iran. Suddenly instead of being a vassel state of Saudi Arabia, Qatar was the richest country (on a per capita basis) in the world. To improve their business the Gutteris wanted to build a large natural gas pipeline through Saudi Arabia and Syria to Turkey then to Europe. Unfortunately such a pipeline would threaten Russia's Gazprom monopoly. Russia talked Assad, Syria's president, into refusing the pipeline. Gutter then turned for several years to funding Saudi Arabia's al-queda and isil rebels to help topple Assad's government, while Russia and Iran supported Assad. About a year ago Qatar figured out that this wasn't working, that Assad wasn't going anywhere, so they switched sides - they started doing deals with Iran and Russia, agreeing to invest $2.7 billion in Russia's Rosneft Oil. Now the Saudis are livid 'cause the Gutteris have switched from the Saudi side - kill Assad - to the Iranian side - support Assad and sell natural gas to Gazprom. Trump, wittingly or unwittingly, allowed a smokescreen for this action when last week he called on "all nations of conscience" to isolate Iran and their terrorists. So the Saudis jumped on this, got the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt to cut off diplomatic ties with Gutter and refuse landing and airspace rights to Gutter Air. For all the high-sounding rhetoric about terrorism and such, it seems this is just another skirmish in the ongoing Syrian war and it's all about oil and gas money, not blowing up Jews or Europeans or other infidels. What's next? The Saudis and UAE are major customers of Gutter's natural gas, using large quantities of it to air condition their various huge buildings. But Russia, Iran and Turkey are allies - Turkey is sending an army, Iran is sending food etc. There's an interesting dynamic going on here - the arabs have an incentive to sweep this under the rug and get back to the main business, which is bottling up Iran and toppling Assad. Except Gutter, which is pulled in two directions. I'd say this bears watching, but in reality I wish all these people would just run out of money and go back to living in tents and cutting each other's heads off.

I'm not much of a student of history, and therefore apparently doomed to repeat it. But recently I got interested in the six day war. Here's the jewish take on what happened in a seven part youtube course. Even allowing for the rather one-sided view of history, the arabs were not at all good neighbors. Between this history and Iran's continued calls for an end to Israel and death to all Jews worldwide, it's much easier for me to see now why the Jews continue to expand into their territories and refuse to negotiate with most arabs. I would too.

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