USGS Reports 6.8 Magnitude Earthquake In Russia Near Ukraine Border, Then Retracts It Blaming "Mislocation"

Something surprising happened about an hour ago: at 2:15 pm, the USGS reported that a major 6.8 Magnitude earthquake had taken place in Russian territory, 16 kilometers WNW of Klintsy, in a location that is close to the Russian border with both Belarus and Ukraine. What is curious is that some 20 minutes later, the USGS decided that no quake had actually taken place. In fact not only was the earthquake promptly scrubbed from the USGS website but the link we had sent out as notification of the earthquake.

Fed Links To Paper Extremely Critical Of Monetary Intervention... Then Pulls Link

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland earlier this week tweeted out a notice of a working paper titled: U.S. Intervention during the Bretton Woods Era:1962-1973... a detailed report on the massive interventions in currency markets that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve conducted and is exceptionally critical of the market manipulations that took place during that period. It is probably no surprise then that the paper is no longer featured at the Cleveland Fed, and the tweet was quickly deleted.

Obama Unveils His Executive Order To Share Your Confidential Information With Corporations: Live Webcast

As reported earlier, today Obama will unleash his latest executive order, one which will set the stage for "information sharing and analysis organizations" (ISAOs) - or, in political jargon "hubs where companies share cyber threat data with each other and with the Department of Homeland Security."  In regular parlance, what Obama will do is merely codify the second coming of the Patriot Act. Click here to make it easier for the NSA watch you watch the president.

Chart Of The Day – America’s Prison Population Over The Past 100 Years

In our national insanity, the U.S. has only 5% of the worlds population, yet 25% of its prisoners. Many of these people have no business being locked in a cage to begin with, and are wasting their lives away for committing “victimless crimes,” i.e. for no good reason. While the immorality of locking up so many of our fellow citizens for non-crimes should be readily apparent, today’s article from Five-Thirty-Eight offers evidence that America’s incarceration rate has become so saturated that it has absolutely no meaningful impact in lowering crimes rates anyway. The time for prison reform and the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences is long overdue.

Gold In A Negative Interest Rate World

Gold and government bonds now cost about the same to own, but governments actively trying to lower the value of their bonds and bank accounts while gold is rising wherever trouble erupts. The logical conclusion is that if gold and cash both cost the same to own, then maybe gold — which has held its value over millennia while every previous fiat currency has evaporated — is the better bet.

US Rig Count Plunges By Most Since 1993, Production Hits Record Highs

Despite the dramatic plunge in rig counts, this week saw yet another surge in production to record highs and with storage levels getting close to full, it would seem  - despite the bounce/squeeze in prices to $53 as the data hit - that supply remains well ahead of any demand. Total rig count dropped 98 to 1,358 - for the largest weekly drop of the 10 week run as cutting is accelerating rapidly - now down 30%.  This is the biggest weekly rig count drop since 1993. West Virginia remains the relative hardest hit with rig count depletions but Permian Basin collapse 49 rigs to 369 this week.

NATO's Stoltenberg Claims "Documented Evidence" Of Russian Military Presence In Ukraine, OSCE Chief Says No

For the 4th time in February, NATO dispatched Typhoon jets to track a Russian Il-20 today over The Baltic Sea. However, as fighting rages in Ukraine - despite the apparent market excitement at a truce deal - today's biggest news is NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's claims that his alliance has evidence of Russian military presence in Ukraine, despite the 'independent' OSCE chief having stated he saw no Russian troops in Ukraine's east. One wonders if NATO has YouTube proof like that of the American-accented fighter we recently noted.

The Greek Debt Strategy Is Crazy, But Shrewd

With everyone making nice - apart from Dijsselbloem - ahead of the weekend, we thought some reality checks were in order... This whole Greek debt “face-off” with the rest of Europe is so comical. First of all, as previously mentioned, there is NO way that Greece will EVER pay off all of its debt. And its ability to even service [interest payments] its debt is questionable. So, really, if you are a creditor to Greece what are you to do? You are definitely going to get “stiffed”. The question = Can you recover even some of your principal? In this case probably not a lot.

Fighting Rages After Ukraine "Ceasefire" Deal; Ukraine Ultranationalist Leader Rejects Peace Agreement

"A ceasefire is due to come into effect from Sunday under the agreement, which also envisages a withdrawal of the heavy weapons responsible for many of the 5,000 casualties in the conflict that broke out almost a year ago. Kiev said pro-Russian rebels had built up their forces across separatist-held zones since the deal and both sides accused each other of killing civilians." There is still hope that on Sunday morning things will be different. Yet, one element that is certain to undermine any deal, in addition to the now usual suspects because after all this is a proxy civil war with far greater geopolitical interests involved, is Ukraine’s ultranationalistic Right Sector, whose leader Dmitry Yarosh today said his radical movement rejects the Minsk peace deal and that their paramilitary units in eastern Ukraine will continue “active fighting" according to their "own plans."

Argentine President Fernandez Charged In Alleged Cover-Up

Just weeks after the death of Alberto Nisman - the prosecutor who was investigating Argentine President Fernandez' alleged cover-up of an Iranian bombing - it appears the discovery of an arrest warrant for the President at his home has prompted the following:

*ARGENTINA'S FERNANDEZ CHARGED IN PROBE OF ALLEGED COVER UP: TN

Given her insistence that Nisman's death was not suicide but from a faction within her (now defunct) intelligence unit, we can only imagine the level of uncertainty in the nation and the potential for social unrest (or worse) is growing rapidly as the movement supporting Nisman was already surging. Analysts warned that charging Fernandez would be "a scandal on a level previously unseen.”

World Press Freedom Index Plunges – USA Now Ranked #49 Globally

The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!

300 US Troops In Iraq Under "Severe Threat" After ISIS Seizes Nearby Town

While military officials have stated that their "advisers" are not involved in the fighting, WaPo reports that ISIS militants have seized an Iraqi town within two miles of the Ayn al-Asad base where 300 US military advisers are stationed. The region remains under "severe threat" and the local council has called for "immediate and urgent military reinforcements” after the attack on the town of al-Baghdadi, which began in the early morning." It seems those non-boots-on-the-ground advisers are about to get a taste of what President Obama promised they would not...

Dijsselbloem Says "Very Pessimistic" About A Deal On Monday As Greek Deposit Flight Hits €1 Billion Per Day

The game of words continues, and following reports both yesterday and today that first Germany, and then Greece would compromise, and in the case of the latter even do "whatever it can" to reach a deal, it is time for Europe's bad cop, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, to pour cold water on the party and crush Greek enthusiasm even more when he said moments ago that he was "very pessimistic" about the chances that a meeting he will chair on Monday of euro zone finance ministers would reach a final debt deal with Greece.  Cited by Reuters, he said that Greek voters' expectations of their new government were "a mile high", Dutch finance minister Dijsselbloem was asked whether a plan to resolve Athens' financial problems would be achieved on Monday. He replied, in a remark aired on Dutch television: "I’m really still very pessimistic about that now."

Silver Is Soaring

Once again the correlation between silver and crude intraday has asymptoted to 1. As Crude accelerates higher so silver has surged - bouncing off its 100DMA...

UMich Consumer Confidence Tumbles, Biggest Miss On Record

After six month so soaring confidence, UMich consumer confidence tumbled from 11 year highs by the most since October 2013 in January (despite the low gas price stimulus), printing at 93.6, missing expectations of 98.1 by the most on record. It appears survey-based 'hope' is catching down to hard-date-based reality of spending habits as the sheer idiocy of the low-gas-price meme is destroyed once again. The drop was led by a plunge in Current Conditions from 109.3 to 103.1 and towards teh future, fewer now expect higher incomes and those who have favorable business expectations plunged from 70 to 58 with a surge in people expecting "bad times" over the next 12 months.

China Creates Most Loans Since Lehman As M2 Growth Tumbles To Record Low

China's January credit data hints that in some ways China is becoming like the US, and as ever more newly created credit money ends up in the stock market, is China about to follow the US and Europe and suffer a collapse in monetary velocity. Because whereas previously the biggest asset bubble in China was that of housing, now it is the stock market, which means that suddenly its monetary system is for all intents and purposes haunted by the same issues that affect western markets. So how long until China, too, which is battling both deflation and economic contraction, proceeds with outright monetary devaluation?