"History, real solemn history, I cannot be interested in.... I read it a little as a duty; but it tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars and pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all - it is very tiresome." Jane Austen spoken by Catherine Morland in 'Northanger Abbey'
In the chart above, the top panel shows U.S. non-financial corporate debt to GDP at levels where credit defaults start hitting the front page. The lower panel shows the cumulative flow of investment funds in the U.S. and illustrates that institutional money is way ahead of private client money in getting out of the way of market risk to the downside.
According to the New York Times December 8, 2015 "If It Owns a Well or a Mine, It’s Probably in Trouble".
“The world of commodities has been turned upside down,” said Daniel Yergin, the energy historian and vice chairman of IHS, a consultant firm. “Instead of tight supply and strong demand, we have tepid demand and oversupply and overcapacity for commodity production. It’s the end of an era that is not going to come back soon.”
Some energy experts are even beginning to express concerns that sovereign wealth funds of Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Persian Gulf and oil-producing countries will redeem their money from investment firms in the coming year to shore up their balance sheets. If they do, the moves could initiate more instability in global equity and debt markets.
The full article is worth reading for Canadians who are also heavily leveraged and require employment earnings to satisfy debt repayment on assets that have insufficient equity to refinance.
Credit lines drying up for oil companies?
Notice the comments about the competition between Sunni (Saudi Arabia) and Shia (Iran) oil.
Distress (bonds trading over 1,000bps) has been spreading across the HY space. From its starting point in energy a year ago, it has now reached other commodity-sensitive areas such as transportation, materials, capital goods, and commercial services. But it did not stop here and is also visible in places like retail, gaming, media, consumer staples, and technology – all areas that were widely expected to be insulated from low oil prices, if not even benefitting form them.
In other words, what was until a year ago a purely "energy" phenomenon is now an "everything" phenomenon, despite promises by every prominent economist that plunging energy prices are great news for the economy.
History, Charts & Curated Readings
"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement; and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense