Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Guy Who Called the Threat Of ISIS to Iraq Has Some Thoughts On Saudi Arabia

We visited  the featured analyst, Emad Mostaque a few times in the last couple years:
June 2014's "Oil and a Really, Really, Really Good Analyst Call On Iraq" looked back at his Dec. 2013 comments .

In July 2014 it was "The Analyst Who Called the Instability In Iraq's Oil Market Says Nigeria Is Next".
Nigeria hasn't yet exploded but between mass murders by Boko Haram in the north and financial pressure from the collapse in oil prices it's a tinderbox that could be set off  by pretty much anything.

Like the rise of Biafran separatists in the four oil producing provinces fronting on the Bight of Bonny from whence comes yummy Bonny Light.

So we'll mark that one an incomplete.

Here's the latest from FT Alphaville:

Calling home the petrodollars!
While the world contends with the consequences of shrinking petrodollar flows, Emad Mostaque at consultancy Ecstrat provides an interesting take on the potential benefits of such reversals for petro sovereign Saudi Arabia.

Tl;dr: It’s a blessing in disguise because it forces the kingdom to restructure its economy and reduce its dependency on foreign labour and hydrocarbon receipts.

As Mostaque explains, to-date Saudi Arabia’s rulers have supported a social contract with the populace wherein the state offers a level of employment surety through the public sector and benefits, while almost all of the private sector workers are foreigners without settlement rights:

This worked when populations were smaller or when oil prices were high, but the burden of state spending became increasingly onerous in the wake of the Arab Spring, since which many budgets have doubled as a variety of spending increases were passed as a palliative measure to ensure that an alternative social contract based on democracy and a constitutional monarchy, could be avoided. A large part of this has also been due to rapid increases in military spending, something we have discussed the rationale for elsewhere.
Indeed, the reality in the Gulf states has been that there is no representation of the people precisely as there is no taxation, with the governments adopting a paternalistic approach to their citizens.
An unfortunate side effect of this system is that the state bureaucracy in these nations is notoriously inefficient as the correct incentive structures simply do not exist.
As a consequence, Saudi domestic markets have never really served as a proper tool for capital allocation. They exist primarily, says Mostaque, for wealth redistribution and entertainment. Rules which require local majority ownership, for example, have always ensured an advantage for key Saudi families with large amounts of influence, allowing them to become immensely wealthy without directly participating in the oil business.

But this set-up may be moving into reverse, says Mostaque. ...MORE

Dec. 2014
Oil and Saudi King Abdullah's Illness: Why the Succession Matters
Dec. 2015
To Keep The Kingdom From Blowing Up, Saudi Arabia Has To Invest $4 Trillion In The Non-Oil Economy

And a couple hundred others, right up to Sunday's "Pakistan Threatens To Wipe Iran Off the Face of The Earth If Saudi Arabia Threatened". Use the search blog box, keyword Saudi, if interested.

"The World's Densest Network of Oil Pipelines Runs Through Saudi Arabia's Shia Heartland. "
Sunni and Shia: Who Really Has The Oil?
"Is Russia Plotting To Bring Down OPEC?" Saudi Clerics Declare Jihad On Russia
So What Happens If ISIS Attacks Saudi Arabia?
Oil Stuff We Think About: Sunni, Shi'a, Oil and Nukes
"Princes fleeing Saudi Arabia after Yemen’s scud missile attack"
ISIS leader Urges Attacks in Saudi Arabia - speech