Of Sheiks and Shale

”None of the postwar expansions died of old age; they were all murdered by the Fed.”
-Rudi Dornbusch, MIT economist

In May 2015, the markets hit an all-time high. By August the markets were down 11%. The decline was due to an apparent slowing in the Chinese economy and a surprise devaluation of the yuan by China. While the Chinese economy, the second largest in the world, appeared to be slowing, confirmation was hard to obtain owing to the opaque nature of Chinese economic reporting. But, there was no mistaking the yuan devaluation; it caught everyone by surprise. Another sign that the Chinese economy was slowing was the decline in commodity purchases by China. Lacking many resources, China is a big buyer of commodities on the world stage, and producers were definitely seeing a slowing of purchases. With the yuan falling and commodities weakening, Chinese investors began to pull money from their markets and move money out of China. Companies did the same. The Chinese equity markets tumbled. This upheaval was felt throughout the world, as prices of commodities fell sharply. Extraction of natural resources, except for oil, was cut back. The price of oil fell dramatically.

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