Ian Bremmer on 3/9/20 Global Market Freefall | Coronavirus Political & Market Impacts | GZERO Media

Ian Bremmer on 3/9/20 Global Market Freefall | Coronavirus Political & Market Impacts | GZERO Media


Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Global markets in freefall today. We are seeing the worst contraction since the 2008 financial crisis, across emerging markets in Europe, in Asia, in the United States. Lots of reasons for that. Most significantly is, of course, that the expansion of coronavirus is starting to see significant economic slowdowns, not just from China, but also in the developed world. Most importantly in Italy, where pretty much all of industrial production is under quarantine right now. One quarter of the population is shut down in Lombardy at Venice and Milan under quarantine. Also, restaurants, museums, public gatherings across the country are pretty much suspended. And a lot of expectation that that could happen in the United States. But perhaps without the same political response capabilities, either the coordination or, of course, the testing. We’re seeing in Italy already a vastly higher death rate compared to what you see in South Korea. The reason for that is because there’s vastly less testing going on in Italy. And in reality, that probably means, given similar health care systems, you have about 10 times as many cases in Italy as they are presently announcing. In the United States, all sorts of reasons to believe that the level of outbreak is where it is in Italy. But almost no testing thus far has gone on. Once we get a million tests that are rolled out across the population, which should be within a matter of days, not weeks, we’re going to see a level of outbreak that’s similar to what you have in Italy. And I think that’s one of the reasons why the markets are taking such a significant hit. A big question for me is to what extent this ends up being seasonal or not. As a non-epidemiologist, I don’t know. But obviously, the political implications, if this plays out and hits the economy, suitably that Trump believes it will affect his reelection. Well, number one, that’s going to make much greater stimulus in the United States likely. We already hear people in Senate talking about that. The numbers, headline numbers I’m hearing, about 200 billion over the course of the next couple of months. But I think the Democrats would actually support because they don’t want to see the economy collapse either. But beyond that, also, if it looks like Trump, feels like he’s not going to win on the back of an extended coronavirus outbreak, then clearly the impact that’s going to have on his own politics domestically and internationally much more destabilizing. There’s one other big new piece here, and that’s the global oil price, which is down at $30 bucks right now. That was already trending downward because demand just isn’t there. Why? Because global consumption and supply chains and tourism taking such a big hit. But now we also have a price war between the Saudis and the Russians that no one expected coming out of an OPEC plus meeting. Everyone thought a million barrels a day were gonna be taken out of the market. Instead, the Saudis and the Russians came to no agreement whatsoever. This is more a political mistake than it was both sides intending to hit each other. The Saudis have a new oil minister, the half-brother of Mohammad bin Salman, who is, has nowhere near the level of political connection and network and understanding of Russian leadership that the previous minister, Khalid al-Falih. And as a consequence of that, both came into the meeting with very little willingness to coordinate. The Saudis have been more aligned with the Americans and more willing to do what the Americans have asked. The US is the largest military source of sales to Saudi Arabia. And they also coordinate on intelligence and are, generally speaking, allies in the region, pretty strong allies, where the Russians are aggravated with the Americans. Obviously, they’re not aligned on energy production. That’s true of the Saudis, too, given the fact that the Americans are now the largest producer, and all the shale. But the Russians have also wanted to undermine the Americans, both geopolitically in the region and more broadly. And specifically, they’re unhappy with the Americans pushing to stop Nord Stream 2 at geopolitically important and economically important Russian pipeline project from Russia out through Germany. All of that has made Putin much more willing to take a whack at the Americans. He’s also in the stronger position. Domestically, even though his popularity has decreased, he has very strong control of the country. Mohammad bin Salman, not so much. He’s actually recently detained a couple more members of the royal family, even rumors of a potential coup. In Russia, oil, petrochem, not as important to the Russian economy as a whole. In Saudi Arabia, it’s almost the entire thing. So, the Russians have more capacity to wait this out and play hardball. But ultimately, in an environment where the global economy is doing badly and oil prices were already low, it’s unlikely these two countries are going to keep this fight going. Last time we had a fight like this was in the 80s and frankly, it lasted for decades. But it was a very different situation because then you had OPEC countries coming together wanting to really beat up on the super majors that were doing massive projects at real scale and were competing with the traditional energy producers from the Gulf, Russia and others. At that point the former Soviets and others. That was something that could respond to being squeezed. And ultimately you moved. You got bankruptcies, you moved from seven massive oil companies, multinationals, to three. In this environment, it’s a massively decentralized market. It’s all about fracking and shale. And if prices go up a little bit, those decentralized producers snap right back into the market. And the Saudis and Russians are very aware of it. So they’re not playing the long game. It’s a short game that’s been hurt by politics. And also it’s going to be impacted quite negatively by all of the economic trends we see on the back of coronavirus. So, yes, oil prices really low right now, about $30 bucks. But the likelihood that they would continue to drop and stay there for a long time is actually pretty low. Having said all of that, this is an environment where political mistakes are going to be made in much larger order. Why? Because we don’t have the leadership, we don’t have the coordination, either inside our countries or more broadly. And that does mean that on top of the coronavirus economic hit, you’re going to have other surprises. And that’s where the markets really have a problem. They can price in coronavirus once they understand the nature of the pandemic and the nature of the disease. And then we get back to business as usual, unless you have second and third order shocks and surprises. And in this political environment, that’s so much more likely than it was, say, back in 2008. Talk to guys soon.

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11 thoughts on “Ian Bremmer on 3/9/20 Global Market Freefall | Coronavirus Political & Market Impacts | GZERO Media”

  • Update Ian: Italian Prime Minister announces nationwide lockdown

    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says movement will be restricted across the whole of Italy to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

    People who want to travel outside the areas where they live will need to demonstrate they need to do so for their work, for their health, or for other strictly defined reasons.

    Mr Conte said the decision was made to defend the most fragile members of the community.

    The restrictions will take effect on Tuesday, and like those in northern Italy, will last until April 3.

    All public gatherings will be banned and sporting events will be suspended.

  • Putin just waited for the right time to inflict as much pain to the United States as possible. And the timing just couldn't be more precise as far as upheavals and uncertainties are concerned. Russians are way more prepared to weather low oil prices than Saudis. So it'ss highly likely that Saudis are the ones to knock first on Putin's door asking for his help. Russia's current oil breakeven price below U$40. Saudis' one more than U$ 80. Russia's rainy day funds also in better shape than Saudi Arabia's. A very bold and aggressive move, as usual, by Putin taking everyone off guard but I would bet my money on the Russian side this time around.

  • If young and old is just as likely to get infected (maybe not as likely to die) , then surely everyone should be prevented from going to gatherings if we are going to protect the population.
    What is the selfish idiot in the Whitehouse doing… THIS IS MADNESS