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Greg E. Sharenow
There has been a lot of market chatter over the past few weeks regarding a potential Israeli strike on Iranian facilities. The market’s focus on the region has been heighted by the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iranian nuclear activities. All of this could have significant and direct implications for the oil market and secondary implications for the global economy, depending on which scenario actually plays out. Further, given the heightened level of geopolitical instability around the globe, the conclusions we can draw by evaluating this particular situation may be useful when assessing the danger of other potential or realized supply disruptions. Although we cannot (and will not) predict whether an attack is imminent, or even likely, it is important to analyze the potential outcomes to prepare portfolios for tail risk events.
Today, markets are much more vulnerable to significant price spikes stemming from a new supply disruption than they were during the 1990/1991 Iraqi Invasion of Kuwait or even 1980 Iran-Iraq War. Due to significant production outages and relatively strong non-OECD demand leading to sharp draws on inventories this past year, the market also has significantly less “cushion” than it did earlier this year when the Libyan conflict began. Therefore, any event could pose a formidable risk to the global economy (e.g. a real supply disruption scenario would require higher prices to lower demand in order to balance the market). This could come at a time when the global economy, or at least the developed world, is facing fiscal headwinds and limits on monetary policy
Below we outline four hypothetical scenarios for output and prices that could materialize if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites. Again, we emphasize that we are not predicting the likelihood of Israel’s action or inaction in any way.
Past performance is not a guarantee or a reliable indicator of future results. All investments contain risk and may lose value. Commodities contain heightened risk including market, political, regulatory, and natural conditions, and may not be suitable for all investors.
This material contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of PIMCO and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material has been distributed for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein are based upon proprietary research and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed.
No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. Pacific Investment Management Company LLC, 650 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660, 800-387-4626. ©2014, PIMCO.
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