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The gospel according to credit

Behold, the people are one, and they all have the same language and that language is money...

AND NOW NOTHING they can imagine will be restrained from them, with the bricks and mortar of securitization, derivitization, and financialization. Amen.

   The secular adaptation of Genesis, Chapter eleven is this: stocks, bonds, shares, and resources can all go much higher when all the world speaks in the language of dollar and the syntax and grammar of credit and debt.

   Not the most precise analogy, but the market’s march to new highs, and this persistent doubt that oil deserves to be in a bull market, are both evidence of the widespread belief in the financial benefits of globalization. The chief article of faith in this new religion of money is that there’s no problem more money can’t solve. We’ll see about that.

   The last Biblical flood we recall destroyed the world rather than making it richer. We don’t know why it would be any different this time around.

   In Genesis, man was punished for his hubris by a suspicious God. His tongues were confused and his tower to the sky abandoned. In markets, the process may be less dramatic, but the net effect is just as biblical: thousands-maybe even millions of people go broke as their chief financial beliefs are cast down to the ground by the reality that you can’t get something for nothing.

   But since when has reality stopped people from trying impossible things? “Saudi Arabia plans to increase its crude oil production capacity nearly 40 percent by 2009 and double its refining size over the next five years to keep pace with growing global demand, the country’s oil minister said Thursday,” reports today’s International Herald Tribune. Take that, peak oilers!

   We’re joking, by the way. We love the peak oilers, both for their exacting science and profound passion. And here’s a question for you: Can the Saudis really increase oil production capacity from the current level of about 10 million barrels to about 14 million barrels by 2009? Do they have the oil to back the boast? There are plenty of sceptics, including certain occupants of the Old Hat Factory, but oil minister Ali Naimi is not one of them.

   "Additional projects have been identified for implementation after 2009, if warranted by market conditions," Naimi says.

With plenty of global demand for its oil, market conditions certainly support new projects. It’s just the oil has been awfully hard to find. But apparently the Saudis have plenty more where the last fifty years of oil have come from. And they certainly have plenty of uses for the money that comes from increased oil sales. After all, the proposed $100 billion expansion would be paid for with oil money. And then there is the coming war with Iran to pay for as well as, you know, the one taking place in Iraq.

   But wouldn’t this looming conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran be bullish for oil, with or without the facts behind peak global oil production? Jim Rogers thinks so.

   "Oil will resume its march toward $100 a barrel after a 'correction' said Jim Rogers, who predicted the start of the commodities rally in 1999," reads another Bloomberg article today.

Rogers continues, "I’m just not smart enough to know how far down it will go and how long it will stay, but I do know that within the context of the bull market, oil will go over $100. It will go over $150. Whether that is in 2009 or 2013, I don’t have a clue, but I know it’s going to happen."

   When you throw enough money into the global mix, anything is possible. We agree with Rogers. But in the meantime, crude oil’s correction has been ruthlessly efficient, falling 34% to a 19-month low after hitting nearly $80 per barrel in July. The real question is whether oil and energy stocks will regain their lustre even when crude regains its footing.

Best-selling author of The Bull Hunter (Wiley & Sons) and formerly analyzing equities and publishing investment ideas from Baltimore, Paris, London and then Melbourne, Dan Denning is now co-author of The Bill Bonner Letter from Bonner & Partners.

See our full archive of Dan Denning articles

Please Note: All articles published here are to inform your thinking, not lead it. Only you can decide the best place for your money, and any decision you make will put your money at risk. Information or data included here may have already been overtaken by events – and must be verified elsewhere – should you choose to act on it. Please review our Terms & Conditions for accessing Gold News.

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