Li & Fung’s latest results yesterday offered some interesting anecdotes. The company’s performance for the first 6 months was hampered by ongoing macroeconomic weakness, geopolitical and weather events in its key destination markets (US and Europe). Price discounting remains a theme in US retail even beyond the end of June. The company also noted a reduction of foreign tourist flow by Russian tourists into Europe which is affecting retail markets there. This fits consistently well with some of the ECB’s geopolitical concerns outlined at its previous policy meeting.
Just days after Russia banned the import of various foods from sanctions-supporting nations, VZ reports Russia's food safety ministry Rosselhoznadzor has discovered fruit being smuggled in via Belarus that was restamped as being from Zimbabwe and various other non-sanctioned nations. It appears the smuggling nation culprits are Poland, Slovenia, and Greece and Russia is now "actively monitoring the situation," suggesting they may extend import bans to Belarus also if the situation continues. In addition, Rosselhoznadzor intends in the future to move to a system of electronic certification of goods in transit.
- Ukraine accuses Russia of invasion after aid convoy crosses border (Reuters)
- Hunt for Foley’s Killer Spans Old Policing and Tech Tools (BBG)
- U.S. Probe Examines GM Lawyers (WSJ)
- Argentina accuses U.S. Judge Griesa of "imperialist" attitude (Reuters)
- Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm (Reuters)
- Geneva Banks Break 200-Year Silence to Unveil Earnings (BBG)
- Richest Jailed Putin Foe Says Ukraine Fears Sparked Prosecution (BBG)
- Disclosure of Failed Attempt to Rescue James Foley Is Criticized (WSJ)
- Execution of U.S. journalist reveals the changing business of war coverage (Reuters)
While today's key events were supposed to be the Jackson speeches first by Janet Yellen at 10:00am Eastern and then by Mario Draghi at 2:30 pm, Ukraine quickly managed to steal the spotlight yet again when moments after the first Russian humanitarian aid convoys entered Ukraine allegedly without permission, Kiev first accused Russia of staging a direct invasion, even if moments later it changed its tune and said it had allowed the convoy in to "avoid provocations." In other words, your daily dose of Ukraine disinformation, which initially managed to push futures down some 0.3% before futs regained virtually all losses on the subsequent clarifications. Expect much more conflicting, confusing and very provocative headlines out of Kiev as the local government and the CIA try to get their story straight.
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talks about the "imminent threat" ISIS poses to the US and the World.. .and pulls no punches in his total fearmongery..."ISIL poses a threat greater than 9/11. ISIL is as sophisticated and well funded as any group we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology with a sophisticated strategic and tactical military prowess and they're tremendously well-funded. This is way beyond anything we have seen. We must prepare for everything. Get Ready!" Time for some QE-funded deficit-busting war spending...
Communist China. Nazi Germany. Cambodia. Guatemala. Uganda. The list goes on and on. Pacification of the citizens is almost always a prerequisite to totalitarianism. There have been a lot of attempts to disarm, or at least partially disarm, people in the US throughout history as well. Each time there’s a major shooting somewhere, the chant to ban firearms grows louder. But the latest proposal is especially telling. H.R. 5344 is a bill currently going through Congress that would ban the purchase of body armor.
In the four months since we last wrote about the upcoming midterm election, the outlook has changed only incrementally. As Goldman notes, although there were a few surprising retirements and primary election results over the last few months, none of these seem to have significantly affected the overall prospects for control of the House or Senate. However, as the election draws near, the potential effects of a Republican Senate majority seem likely to become more of a focus for market participants.
It appears Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has run out of other people's money. Just 8 months after his exuberant 60% approval rating at the end of last year after local elections (appealing to the ever-more-impoverished ultra-poor who remain entirely dependent on his 'fairness'), the socialist leader's popularity has plunged. As Bloomberg reports, Hinterlaces polling shows only a 39% approval rating (oddly similar to President Obama's). There are numerous reasons of course, but we suspect the news that Maduro has announced a mandatory grocery fingerprinting system to combat food shortages, will not exactly endear him to his 'followers'.
Pakistan Opposition Leader Slams US: "You Like Only Those Governments In Muslim Countries That Are Your Slaves"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/21/2014 - 21:50
It is no secret that of all geopolitical crises in the past 5 years, the US has been the instrumental puppetmaster in virtually all of them: from Libya, to Egypt, to Syria, to Ukraine ("US Revealed As Alleged Mastermind Behind Ukraine Unrest"), even the ISIS insurrection in Iraq whose success would have been impossible without prior US weaponizing of al-Qaeda splinter groups in neighboring Syria. And now it appears the US has found yet another country for its "intelligence services" to alienate. According to go the WSJ, the leader of protests against Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lashed out at the U.S. Thursday, accusing Washington of interfering in the country's political crisis. "You like only those governments in Muslim countries that are your slaves," Mr. Khan said in remarks directed at the U.S. "Is there another democracy for you, and another for us?"
The 30 statistics that you are about to read prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a staggering pace. Yes, the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights this year and there are a few isolated areas of the country that are doing rather well for the moment. But overall, the long-term trends that are eviscerating the middle class just continue to accelerate.
"In our view, the meaning of the (law) is clear and unambiguous," the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) wrote, The Pentagon broke the law when it swapped Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a prisoner in Afghanistan for five years, for five Taliban leaders. As AP reports, the GAO charges that the administration failed to notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the exchange, and furthermore, used $988,400 of a wartime account to make the transfer without express appropriation - breaking the Antideficiency Act. So it seems The White House's previous statement that it "acted lawfully" are once again false. As Republican Senator Susan Collins exclaimed, "The president's decision is part of a disturbing pattern where he unilaterally decides that he does not have to comply with provisions of laws with which he disagrees."
Presented with no comment...
Police in the Liberian capital fired live rounds and tear gas on Wednesday to disperse a stone-throwing crowd trying to break an Ebola quarantine imposed on their neighbourhood. As Reuters reports, at least four people were injured in clashes with security forces, witnesses said, though it was unclear whether anyone was wounded by the gunfire. Liberian authorities introduced a nationwide curfew on Tuesday and put the West Point neighbourhood under quarantine to curb the spread of the disease. "The soldiers are using live rounds," said army spokesman Dessaline Allison, adding: "The soldiers applied the rules of engagement. They did not fire on peaceful citizens." Locals are angry, "I don't have any food and we're scared," screamed one, adding, "it is inhumane."
Nowhere is the "financialization" of the US economy more evident than in this chart showing the relative net worth ratio of quntile to the next quintile right below it. Quote Census: "The distribution of net worth became more spread out between 2000 and 2011. The ratio of median net worth of the highest quintile to the second quintile increased from 39.8 to 86.8 between 2000 and 2011, and the ratio of the highest quintile to the third quintile increased from 7.7 to 9.2. The ratio of the highest quintile to the fourth quintile was 3.0 in 2000 and showed no statistically significant change over this period."
Forget Bloomberg, ignore Reuters, dismiss that 'well-informed trader' source... Ukraine's Central Bank has decided that critical medium for expressing its desperation to stop the collapse of its currency is... Facebook.