The puzzling events taking place in Saudi Arabia right now threatens to affect the oil and gold markets.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched an “anti-corruption” crackdown allegedly to stamp out corrupt officials. In an unprecedented move, Crown Prince Mohammed has even detained fellow members of the royal family, which could have repercussions both within the kingdom and abroad.
“There are still a lot of moving parts to this, but whatever this crackdown is, it’s not a big change in policy that should impact the oil market. After breaking the oil market nearly three years ago, Saudi Arabia, the leading producer in OPEC and second in the world after the United States, wants higher prices. They’re tired of operating at a loss,” said Andrew Packer of the Resolute Wealth Letter.
Besides the oil market, gold could see rising prices. “With so much focus on North Korea, the crisis in Saudi Arabia has really taken everyone by surprise. That could spook investors and lead to uncertainty in financial markets, which could see increased demand for safe havens like gold,” according to Goldco CEO Trevor Gerszt.
Complicating matters was a helicopter crash last week that killed eight high-ranking Saudi officials, including Prince Mansour bin Muqrin, the son of former Saudi crown Prince Muqrin al-Saud. Some reports indicate that the helicopter, which crashed near the Saudi border with Yemen, was shot down.
“Locking up his cousins in the Riyadh Ritz Carlton was sexy news that distracted the world from the fact that the Saudis incursion into Yemen is not going as expected,” said Andrew Carpenter, editor of Newsmax’s Ultimate Wealth Report. “It over shadowed the fact that Riyadh’s international airport was, on Saturday, the target of an Iranian modified missile fired by the Houthi militia in northern Yemen.”
Carpenter said the Burkan H-2 short-range ballistic missile was intercepted by a Saudi anti-missile defense system, likely a U.S. supplied Raytheon MIM-104 Patriot anti-missile system. He said the Saudis also employ the Raytheon Improved Hawk air defense system, primarily for defense against aircraft. And, Carpenter said the Saudis have new THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Air Defense) anti-missile systems on order from the U.S. but have not yet received the more advanced system.
“Gold and oil are short-term plays on which investors can make a lot of money,” said Carpenter. “But, defense stocks, such as Raytheon (RTN), should be part of a balanced portfolio with a long-term outlook.”
The current conflict in Yemen is part of a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran that is taking place in numerous countries throughout the Middle East. The other surprise this week was made by the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. He made a surprise trip to Riyadh from where he announced his resignation and has yet to return to Lebanon.
“If this turns into a full-blown conflict in the Middle East, it could be the crisis that precipitates a 1987-style market crash. In that case, gold’s price would shoot higher. A particularly severe and extended crisis could see gold reach all-time highs,” said Gerszt. The Black Monday stock market crash on October 19, 1987 took place against the backdrop of Middle East conflict and saw the Dow Jones lose nearly 23% of its value in one day, with gold rising over 3% that same day.
“Despite some of the geopolitical fears that the Saudi crackdown could have caused, the gold market has slept through it… for now,” said Packer.
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