Banks Gear up for “Hacienda Hedge,” World’s Biggest Oil Deal

It has huge disruption capacity.

By Irina Slav,

International banks are preparing for the Hacienda Hedge – the secretive oil deal that has seen Mexico earn billions from successful bets on future oil prices. Detailed in an analysis by Javier Blas for Bloomberg, the history of the Hacienda Hedge is certainly impressive and might incite other countries to try their hand at betting on future oil prices. Or then again, it might not, as Mexico’s success story seems to be kind of unique.

Blas interviewed Mexican government officials, traders, brokers, and bankers, and reviewed thousands of documents to compile the history of the bet that bankers await every year and that, contrary to what the Mexican authorities say, could swing the oil market.

The story began in 1990, when Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait took one-tenth of the global oil supply off the market, raising prices. The government then accurately predicted that the high prices wouldn’t last, betting on a decline. This accuracy has been remarkably consistent through the years, with Mexico making money most of the time when it has placed the bet. And it hasn’t been alone.

The first bank that Mexico hired to purchase put options for crude oil was Goldman Sachs. Then Morgan Stanley followed, and by the next decade, the two banks were known as “the Wall Street refineries.” Soon enough other banks smelled the sweet scent of profits and joined the party—most notably Barclays, which had no experience with commodities before the mid-2000s. Other banks that got on board for the Hacienda hedge include HSBC, BNP Paribas and Citigroup—but not UBS or Credit Suisse, which seem to be more risk-averse despite the potential for fat profits.

Now, oil and gas hedging is standard practice for airlines and energy producers, among others, as they seek to either insure themselves against higher prices or lock in future profits. With the Hacienda hedge, Mexico seeks to make a buffer for its budget in case of rough oil market waters, Blas notes. Even so, the deal has a huge disruption capacity simply because of its size: last year, Mexico made $2.7 billion from the hedge and the year before it made $6.4 billion.

Of course, the banks are keeping mum on the details, but knowing about the hedge gives them insight into future oil market developments that other players in the oil field lack, enabling them to place their own bets on the commodity and affect prices.

Here’s a fresh example of this coming from the U.S. oil industry. Shale producers have been hedging eagerly of late, to lock in $50+ prices per barrel. However, this means they have to pump the amount of oil they are hedging on, and as a result, drilling activity is rising. This would ultimately increase supply but maintain futures prices at higher levels even if crude on the spot market takes a dive. That’s what Wood Mackenzie writes in a new report, warning the oversupply situation could continue longer than expected.

The results of this year’s Hacienda hedge will only become public in December. A lot of things could happen between now and then, and few are confident enough to predict where oil prices will go with any degree of certainty. That said, it may be a good idea to follow oil price forecast updates from Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. By Irina Slav,

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  10 comments for “Banks Gear up for “Hacienda Hedge,” World’s Biggest Oil Deal

  1. pete says:

    How interesting is this…smart & sophisticated hedging by Mexico!!! – great kudos to them!!!…PJS

  2. DK says:

    I wonder what the Saudis, Canadians and Russians are doing?
    Must be more producers are hedging than just the Mexicans.

  3. J Bank says:

    Interesting web of Russia, oil, Trump, and Goldman Sachs, isn’t it?

  4. Tom Kauser says:

    Futures trading began around 1981; mexico was a high cost producer with a Morgan man needing white shoe polish?

    Is it higher oil prices or maybe a fear of too many bad guys with guns?
    Someone is reaping…..

  5. Gershon says:

    Mexico is the world’s largest silver producer. As the Fed debases the dollar into worthlessness with its deranged money-printing, the value of Mexico’s silver reserves is going to rise exponentially.

  6. Kent says:

    I would assume that everyone is hedging to some extent. But that can’t be the case if Mexico is consistently making money. I wonder who is on the other side of the bets?

  7. FDR Liberal says:

    Why banks can hedge oil, gas, etc., commodities is beyond me. They are speculators with inside information. It is a casino that takes both sides of the same game, knows where the smart action is coming from and makes its own bets too in addition to getting 10% from all losing bets after paying out the winners.

    Banks should hedge interest rates, currency and other type of transactions that affect their NIM, overseas holdings, etc. If they want to bet on fuel, cotton, etc., they need to be a stakeholder and not a casino.

  8. A billion here and a billion there is pocket change in the trillion dollar petroleum market. A hedge won’t save Mexico from the consequences of depletion.

    Meanwhile, somebody (bodies) have to be on the other side of Pemex’s trades. Losing money every now and then is part of finance but the need is to find fools and new ones at that.

    Fool depletion …

    • Gershon says:

      Losing money every now and then is part of finance

      Not when you’re a TBTF bank and the Fed and middle class taxpayers have your back.

Comments are closed.