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By Keith Fitz-Gerald
Money Morning/The Money Map Report
Here's a headline investors probably never expected to see: The United States and China have agreed to cooperate on the management of the two countries' strategic oil reserves.
We don't know whether to find this story - first reported by China's state-run Xinhua News Service - amusing, or downright terrifying.
So for now we will think logically about the possible reasons why such an unlikely alliance would be formed, and ponder what we should do about it.
Let's talk about the why first.
Ostensibly, this agreement is about curbing oil speculation in the international markets. By including China, the consortium of international members who report their oil-reserve plans through the International Energy Agency in Paris, not only get a look at China's current inventory, but also at that country's potential future energy needs.
Considering it's the United States that's shepherding China through the admissions process, we suspect this is what's really driving the agreement.
China's growth is unprecedented. But as a Communist nation, its workings are all too often closed off to the rest of the world. Having international disclosure of China's oil reserves and future stockpiling plans will theoretically provide advanced notice to other nations of higher oil prices in the event one or more nations makes a run on the markets.
Knowing how secretive Chinese traders can be - and the potential competitive advantages they are giving up in the interest of international cooperation - we're more than a bit stunned over the prospects of a China that would be willing to disclose this information.
As for how we might use this agreement to create bigger profits in the years ahead, that's a crucial point to consider.
Our sources suggest that China is slated to spend between $300 billion and $500 billion in the next five years on energy conservation and environmental protection equipment. And that's in addition to the $1 trillion or more that nation already has apportioned to energy production and other petroleum-related matters. Therefore, any storage and demand figures can conceivably be utilized to develop better investment intelligence on where it plans to spend its money and in what order.
Indeed, now that the OPEC crowd has finally conceded that the global supply outlook for petroleum is nowhere near as serene as they've tried to have us believe for years, this kind of market intelligence becomes all the more valuable to investors.
And given that $300 billion to $500 billion represents nearly 30% of the total global market for such conservation and protection equipment, this could be a powerful indicator when it comes to future profits. With regard to energy production, that's more of a wildcard. But since oil remains priced in U.S. dollars, the potential demand figures carry a highly correlated relationship to the strength - or weakness - of the greenback.
Moreover, given that much of this equipment - as well as China's reserves - come from the United States, China's participation in the IEA consortium could serve as important political antacid when it comes to reducing China's trade surplus, which has been a major point of controversy in Washington.
News and Related Story Links:
China, U.S. to Cooperate on Use of Strategic Oil Reserves
- Money Morning Commentary:
Investors Will Clean Up From Beijing's Toxic Mess for Years to Come
- Money Morning News:
Oil Hits $100 a Barrel on Global Political Tension and Supply Concerns
About the Author
Keith is a seasoned market analyst and professional trader with more than 37 years of global experience. He is one of very few experts to correctly see both the dot.bomb crisis and the ongoing financial crisis coming ahead of time - and one of even fewer to help millions of investors around the world successfully navigate them both. Forbes hailed him as a "Market Visionary." He is a regular on FOX Business News and Yahoo! Finance, and his observations have been featured in Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and MarketWatch. Keith previously led The Money Map Report, Money Map's flagship newsletter, as Chief Investment Strategist, from 20007 to 2020. Keith holds a BS in management and finance from Skidmore College and an MS in international finance (with a focus on Japanese business science) from Chaminade University. He regularly travels the world in search of investment opportunities others don't yet see or understand.