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Obama Gets Iran Deal - Mideast is Aghast

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Money and Markets
YOUR BEST SOURCE FOR THE UNBIASED MARKET COMMENTARY YOU WON’T GET FROM WALL STREET
You can also access this issue on our website.
Obama Got His Iran Deal - But Mideast is Left Aghast
Market Roundup
Dow +75.90 to 18,053.58
S&P +9.35 to 2,108.95
NASDAQ +33.38 to 5,104.89
10-YR Yield -0.031 to 2.399%
Gold -$1.20 to $1,154.32
Oil +$0.65 to $52.85

  By Mike Larson

President Obama has been pushing hard for a deal with Iran – and today, he got it.

The U.S. and six other nations signed a nuclear anti-proliferation pact with Iran. The deal will require Iran to cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98% for the next 15 years. It will also shrink the number of centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium by two-thirds, and allow for monitoring of the remainder.

In exchange, the U.S. and other foreign countries will lift sanctions on Iran’s banking, oil, and other sectors. Arms sales to Iran will gradually be phased out, and sanctions can supposedly be “snapped back” into place if Iran fails to live up to its obligations.

But even before the ink was dry, Obama’s foreign and domestic critics were lashing out at the deal. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dubbed it a “mistake of historic proportions.” Congress will now review the agreement for the next two months, and legislators could vote it down. That would lead to a presidential veto … and a likely subsequent push by opposition lawmakers to override that veto.

President Obama got his long-sought-after nuclear deal with Iran.

Obama and his supporters claim this will open a new chapter in our relationship with former Mideast enemies. They liken the détente to the recent deal to re-establish formal relations with Cuba.

But long-term, democratic allies like Israel – as well as Mideast Sunni nations and ostensible allies like the much more autocratic Saudi Arabia — are aghast. Frankly, I can’t blame them. I don’t understand why the administration has been so eager to embrace Iran.

This is a country with a long-term (and recent) history of trying to kill American civilians and soldiers. It has worked to counter our national interests in the region for decades.

I also have no doubt whatsoever that Iran will be able to skirt the rules and continue to enhance its nuclear program if its leaders choose to. After all, the country’s coffers will gradually fill over time as its economy is unshackled from sanctions. Lastly, this is completely unlike the situation in Cuba — no matter what kind of spin the administration and its allies try to put out there.

Bottom line: I think this is a dumb deal, and our recent policy of rapprochement with Iran is just another in a long line of confused, misguided Middle East efforts over the past several years.

“I have no doubt Iran will be able to skirt the rules.”

But that’s my opinion. What’s yours? Is Obama on the right track here, or dangerously off course? What impact will Iran’s emergence from sanctions have on markets, if any? Oil didn’t react much to the pact – does that mean the market is correctly realizing that it will take years for Iran to ramp production back up substantially? Let me know at the website.

Our Readers Speak

The online chorus had a lot to say about Greece, and the latest deal offered by the country’s European creditors.

Reader Rob said: “Since the goal of the elite money masters is to pretty much rule Europe (the world?) through loans or to own it through confiscation, it would make perfect sense to take the deal, right? I mean, if I owed someone $10,000 and I couldn’t make my payments, it makes perfect sense for me to borrow another $10,000 and tell my creditor that they can just own my children down the road.

“Us so-called free Americans have already done that, so why not spread the joy! Go central banking! You guys are great.”

Reader Howard said: “We just celebrated a time in France when more than 200 years ago, the citizens said ‘Enough … we have had enough of tyranny’ and revolted. Now we find that despite a people’s vote in Greece, their government has decided to sell the household silver in order to stay in a system that gives them a free lunch, but sells their country down the river.

“What has happened in Greece? A country that needs to stand up with some backbone and help the poor and needy? Yes. But so many others who believe they can sit on their arse in the cart while fewer people are left to pull it. Is this the way of the future?”

Reader H.C.B. added: “The Greeks voted not to have more ECB and IMF austerity, yet the Greek government has agreed to ECB and German terms of higher taxes and lower pensions. Reportedly, capital controls will last six more months at least. Greece has not proposed any structural reforms so they cannot possibly payoff their existing loans.

“More bailout money and loans just increase Greece’s national debt and do nothing to solve the country’s insolvency problem. It’s just putting off the inevitable: A default.”

Finally, Reader Todd S. said: “I am very concerned about the precedent-setting influence the EU is exerting over Greek sovereignty and democracy. Whether it be for the good or ill of Greece, its electorate’s voice in its own government should not be overturned by an outside entity like the EU/IMF.

“I’ve encountered one report today that the new proposal would even give the IMF veto power over selected legislation that may be passed in Greece in the future. The potential that this could have for democracy in Greece and other nations has me unsettled.”

Many great points were made here, and I appreciate you sharing them. Greece was definitely behind the eight ball as a result of its excessive debt load, and that allowed its creditors to basically dictate terms.

That has calmed market nerves for now. But since the country’s underlying debt problems haven’t been solved, this tragedy will likely have even more acts down the road. Gee, I can hardly wait.

Any other thoughts on Greece, Europe, or the democracy angle of this story? Then weigh in at the Money and Markets website when you can.

Other Developments of the Day

BulletIt’s earnings season again … and today, it was the megabanks’ turn to chime in on how things are going. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) said it earned $6.29 billion, or $1.54 a share, in the quarter – up from $5.98 billion, or $1.46 a share, in the year-earlier period.

That beat estimates for $1.45 a share, but largely because of cost cuts. Revenue slumped more than 3%, with weakness in bond trading, mortgage servicing, and asset management hurting results.

Results at Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) weren’t much to write home about either, with earnings slipping to $5.36 billion from $5.42 billion. On a per-share basis, the $1.03 in profit Wells recorded only matched estimates.

BulletChina is trying to muscle into the U.S. chipmaking market, with state-owned Tsinghua Unigroup Ltd. offering $23 billion to buy Idaho-based Micron Technology (MU). The price-share price Tsinghua offered was a 19% premium to where MU was previously trading. But any deal could face resistance by U.S. lawmakers, given concerns over intellectual property and security if Micron passes into Chinese hands.

BulletRetail sales dropped 0.3% in June, rather than rising by an equal amount as economists expected. May’s gain was also downwardly revised, and the year-over-year rate of change in core sales was the weakest in 16 months.

So what do you think? Is the U.S. consumer in good or bad shape? Should a Chinese firm be allowed to take over a company like Micron? Any big banks you like after seeing these numbers? Let me know over at the website.

Until next time,

Mike Larson  

Mike Larson
Mike Larson graduated from Boston University with a B.S. degree in Journalism and a B.A. degree in English in 1998, and went to work for Bankrate.com. There, he learned the mortgage and interest rates markets inside and out. Mike then joined Weiss Research in 2001. He is the editor of Safe Money Report. He is often quoted by the Washington Post, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires, Orlando Sentinel, Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel, and he has appeared on CNN, Bloomberg Television and CNBC.
The investment strategy and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of any other editor at Weiss Research or the company as a whole.

For more information and archived issues, visit www.moneyandmarkets.com.

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