What if Putin is Telling The Truth? On April 26 Russia’s main national TV station, Rossiya 1, featured President Vladimir Putin in a documentary to the Russian people on the events of the recent period including the annexation of Crimea, the US coup d’etat in Ukraine, and the general state of relations with the United States and the EU. His words were frank. And in the middle of his remarks the Russian former KGB chief dropped a political bombshell that was known by Russian intelligence two decades ago... Putin stated that the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s was actively backed by the CIA and western Intelligence services to deliberately weaken Russia.
Guest Post: Unprecedented 'Mass Die Offs' As Pacific Ocean "Turning Into a Desert" Off California CoastSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/23/2015 - 20:30
"...the waters of the Pacific off the coast of California are a clear, shimmering blue today, so transparent it’s possible to see the sandy bottom below... clear water is a sign that the ocean is turning into a desert, and the chain reaction that causes that bitter clarity is perhaps most obvious on the beaches of the Golden State, where thousands of emaciated sea lion pups are stranded."
Spoiler alert: these are not the requirements of an "everyday American"...
"FBI agents can’t point to any major terrorism cases they’ve cracked thanks to the key snooping powers in the Patriot Act, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report Thursday that could complicate efforts to keep key parts of the law operating... Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said that between 2004 and 2009, the FBI tripled its use of bulk collection under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows government agents to compel businesses to turn over records and documents, and increasingly scooped up records of Americans who had no ties to official terrorism investigations."
The last time large speculators were as aggressively buying silver as last week was September 1997. The net long non-commercial positioning in Silver futures, according to the CFTC rose almost 22,000 contracts last week to a 3-month high (which is closing in on the 'longest' since 2005). Gold, not be out-precious'd also saw major buying. Net speculative longs in gold added over 45,000 contracts - the most since July 2005 - lifting net long positions to their highest in 3 months. Perhaps, just perhaps, as Alhambra's Jeffrey Snider notes, this is due to Yellen putting the 'dollar' back on suicide watch.
In an attempt to frontrun even more draconian measures resulting from California's record drought, farmers in the state's Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta who have California's oldest water rights proposed to voluntarily cut their water use by 25% to avoid the risk of even harsher restrictions by the state later this summer should the water situation deteriorate further. State officials promptly accepted the offer, even if it is ultimately moot since there is no way to enforce it.
Foreign investment is of course common around the world and is generally seen as a good thing. Americans mostly like it, for instance, when Japanese investors bid up shares of US companies or Chinese expats pay above asking price for Manhattan apartments. With only a few exceptions we take the money and don’t look back. But there must be a limit, a point where foreign interests own so much of a country that they call the shots and the locals become in effect their serfs. Greece might be the test case that shows us where that point is...
With HFT algos now firmly entrenched in FX markets we weren't surprised to learn that volatility is rising, bid-ask spreads are blowing out, and liquidity is vanishing. Expect things like last October's algo-driven, Fed-assisted Treasury flash crash to become par for the course in FX markets as well, with harrowing USD, EUR, JPY, [fill in the blank] ramps and flash crashs becoming the norm and leaving panicked central bankers desperately trying to figure out what happened after the fact.
China is building the world’s greatest economic development and construction project ever undertaken: The New Silk Road. The project aims at no less than a revolutionary change in the economic map of the world. It is also seen by many as the first shot in a battle between east and west for dominance in Eurasia. For the world at large, its decisions about the Road are nothing less than momentous. The massive project holds the potential for a new renaissance in commerce, industry, discovery, thought, invention, and culture that could well rival the original Silk Road. It is also becoming clearer by the day that geopolitical conflicts over the project could lead to a new cold war between East and West for dominance in Eurasia.
At the end of every quarter there is a scramble by the financial public to peek at what the biggest hedge fund holdings were as of 45 days ago. And yet, one wonders why: as Goldman notes, "the low dispersion market continues to challenge stock-pickers as the average hedge fund lags the S&P 500 for the seventh straight year (2% vs. 4% YTD)." In fact, even the barbarous relic known as gold has outperformed the average hedge fund YTD. Then again, as we have said since 2012, the only informational value comes not from looking at hedge fund longs, but their biggest shorts, since short squeezes remain perhaps the only source of major outperformance. So for all those curious, here are the biggest hedge fund shorts as of March 31, 2015.
As we detailed earlier, in a chaotic scene during the wee hours of Saturday, Senate Republicans blocked a bill known as the USA Freedom Act - backed by President Barack Obama, House Republicans and the nation's top law enforcement and intelligence officials - which would have preserved the government's ability to search phone company records for suspected spies and terrorists. As AP reports, the failure to act means the NSA will immediately begin curtailing its previously-secret bulk data collection progreams with The DoJ noting that while it will take time to taper off the collection process, that process began Friday (according to an administration official). Sen. Rand Paul called the Senate's failure to allow an extension of the surveillance programs a victory for privacy rights, adding "we should never give up our rights for a false sense of security."
Lately, not a day seems to pass without news of NATO jets being scrambled to intercept/reroute a Russian warplane or reconnaisance jet. As a result, David Cenciotti's The Aviationist blog has compiled the recent history of all the "close encounters" between Russian and NATO warplanes since 2013. Here are the results.