Searching for sense and trends in oceans of data and information.

Another dive into the Putanitsa

Published 2.4.2016
Putanitsa is the Russian word for confusion, which LWRAS remains after continuing to collect information about Russian, Putin and the future.

Not everyone thinks Russia is toothless

The Rand Corporation ran a simulation and decided that the “end is nigh” and that Russia could retake the Baltic States easily and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) will be powerless to stop it. To sum up the author's position, basically, the US Army should forever have huge numbers of troops and armor in Europe. Obama has deliberately been trying to have a smaller footprint in Europe.

Europeans for some reason get a complete pass in terms of being responsible for their own safety. The author is also concerned that the number of tanks in the region has decreased. Would the next war really be a repeat of World War 2? In the end however,

Although it was unclear if deploying more troops and armor would be enough to discourage Russia from gambling on an attack in the Baltics, NATO’s current weak position clearly did not pose a persuasive deterrent, the report said.

Talk about burying the lede. So we have no idea if deploying more troops and armor would work, but we should do so anyway. This former army officer seems to think war with Russia is inevitable, but is relieved that the military readiness isn't being completely ignored.

More signs Russia is Flailing

Putin is looking to sell assets to private investors. Foreign investors are permitted, but they have to keep the money in Russia (if they are Russian) the Streetwise Professor thinks no foreign investor will touch this “deal” I agree. Putin admits the sale is because Russia needs money. And he doesn’t want to pay fire sale prices. All in all, not a good bet.

If there are sales, it is likely to be to Russian oligarchs, and in particular those with extensive holdings outside Russia. Just as Putin dragooned them into paying for Sochi and other prestige projects, he could well pressure them into overpaying for stakes in the state enterprises. This would allow him to kill two birds with one stone. It would help stanch the budgetary bleeding. It would also advance Putin’s longstanding goal of onshoring Russian capital. That would fit with the “owners must have Russian jurisdiction” remark.  And Putin has substantial leverage to get oligarchs to do his bidding–literally.

Russia is still producing 10 million barrels per day. It can't cut production, because it needs the cash. Russia claims it wants to coordinate its production with other countries to orchestrate a cut in production, but in the end Saudis control the market. The Russians are hostage to the oil price. For Russian citizens, misery is increasing as both unemployment and inflation are rising.

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Wind, Solar and Cheap Oil, Oh my

Published 2.1.2016
As written about here numerous times at this point, the oil market and oil prices continue to decline. However, wind and solar market are mostly unaffected. Wendy Koch explains why.

Lower oil and gas prices did affect sales of electric vehicles (EV) sales in the US, though worldwide EV sales increased in 2015. Prices for wind and solar energy has decreased, even as oil and gas prices have declined. This price decline is great for end users, but has taken a toll on the solar panel industry, which is basically now centered in China, because manufacturers elsewhere can’t compete with Chinese panel makers. This crushing of solar panel producers (contraction in panel manufacturing) has been a multi-year process.
Read the rest.
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Still Wandering in the Putinitsa

Published 1.26.2016
Still trying to clear the confusion about Russia… with limited effect.

  • The Russians are trying to play fast and loose with statistics the way the Chinese do, but people aren't buying it. Recession is likely in Russia because of the low oil prices. The ruble is weaker and consumer sales are down.
  • The sinking ruble has other effects. Protests in Russia are increasing.

    Sanctions, which have dried up Russia's ability to borrow on international markets, and the plunging price of crude oil have forced the ruble down a further 12 per cent since the New Year. The beleaguered currency has lost more than half its value in the last 18 months.

  • This might be the clearest sign that Putin is in trouble. Suddenly, he's dissing Lenin. Russia's troubles are suddenly the result of boundaries and decision made by Lenin. This is not the action of a leader in a strong position. Which is not to say that I'm a Lenin supporter, but Lenin is still revered in Russia.
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