Frontrunning: February 2

  • Germany Sees No Need to Scrap Troika in Overseeing Greek Turnaround (WSJ)
  • European markets subdued as Chinese data weighs (Reuters)
  • U.S. Oil Workers Strike Enters Second Day as Crude Prices Slide (BBG)
  • Oil prices rally above $55 as investors pile in (Reuters)
  • Obama Wants a New Tax on U.S. Companies' Overseas Profits (BBG)
  • If Trading Bonds Is Hard, Think About Pain When Rates Rise (BBG)
  • Julius Baer Braces for Swiss Franc Impact (WSJ)
  • Coke, Budweiser win as Super Bowl ad battle gets serious (Reuters)

Market Wrap: Futures Attempt Bounce On Sudden Rebound In Crude

The overnight session had been mostly quiet until minutes ago, when unexpectedly WTI, which had traded down as low as the mid $46 range following the weakest Chinese manufacturing data in two years, saw another bout of algo-driven buying momentum which pushed it sharply, if briefly, above $50, and was last trading about 2.6% higher on the day. In today's highly correlated market, this was likely catalyzed by a brief period of dollar weakness as well as the jump of EURCHF above 1.05, within the rumored corridor implemented by the Swiss National Bank, which apparently has not learned its lesson and is a glutton for a second punishment, after its hard Swissy cap was so dramatically breached, it hopes to repeat the experience with a softer one around 1.05. Expect to see even more FX brokers blowing up once the EURCHF 1.05 floor fails to hold next.

The Tide Is Turning: Obama "Expresses Sympathy" For Greece; Lazard Says 50% Greek Haircut "Reasonable"

The newsflow over the past several days was progressing much as expected: any time Greece demanded a bailout renegotiation (or termination), and an end to the Troika, Germany just said "Nein." And then something unexpected happened: the socialists came to the rescue when they voiced their support to their ideological peers in Greece. First, it was France whose finance minister said that France is "more than prepared to support Greece." And now it is Obama's turn who as the WSJ reported, has "expressed sympathy for the new Greek government as it seeks to rollback its strict bailout regime, saying there are limits to how far its European creditors can press Athens to repay its debts while restructuring the economy."

The Super B(ra)wl Summarized In One Chart

Many will debate if it was worth making Super Bowl XLIX into Super Brawl I, but those who trade the market will be familiar with the kind of volatility that everyone just experienced in the final minutes of what otherwise may have been the most nail-biting super bowl in history.

NYPD Launches Plan to Deal With Protests: Long Rifles, Machines Guns & Extra Protective Gear

The morphing of “terrorism” and “domestic dissent” into an all encompassing and convenient category known as “domestic terrorists” or “domestic extremists” has been a long time coming. It has always been our contention, and continues to be, that the oligarchs who have funneled all of the wealth to themselves since the 2008 banker bailouts know exactly what they are doing. They also know that it will eventually result in severe domestic unrest during the next cyclical downturn. As such, the agenda has been to utilize the entirety of the intelligence-industrial-military complex created by the “war on terror” against the domestic population once it recognizes how badly it has been looted.

When "Rumor Becomes Reality" - This Is The Devastation Across The US Oil Patch

"This is going to hurt, no question," fears a landowner in Santa Barbara with a dozen oil wells. Layoffs are "kind of like a death in the family," exclaims a geophysicist in the Permian Basin. Houstonians were hoping for a hiccup, says one restauranteir, but now "they're getting more cautious." As WSJ reports, rumor is becoming reality across America as "unambiguously good" news of low oil prices turns from a trickle to a deluge of job losses and insecurity. Cutbacks aren’t yet reflected in broad data on employment, home sales or tax collections. But fallout is beginning to affect people, starting with the legions working as suppliers to the energy industry.

Chinese Stocks Tumble To Worst 3-Week Slump In A Year As Yuan Plunges To Record Discount

On the heels of worse than expected Manufacturing PMIs (both indicating economic contraction) and the "taking away" of Minsheng Bank's CEO in a clear signal that the corruption probe is refocusing on the banking industry, Chinese stocks and currency are tumbling. Retail investors dreams are going up in smoke as the Shanghai Composite suffers its biggest 3-week loss in over a year and tumbles to a 3.8% loss year-to-date - not what the gambling 'investors' were expecting. But perhaps more worryingly for Chinese officials is the continued selling pressure on the Yuan - now at a record 1.94% discount to PBOC's fixing - very close to forcing intervention of decision time on a wider peg-band or even more free-floating currency.

Paul Craig Roberts On Delusional America

The United States government and the American people cannot contend with reality, because they do not know what the reality is. In America’s make-believe world, neoconservative toadies such as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, set the Group-Think tone, while knowledgeable experts are tuned out. In effect, America is both blind and deaf. It lives in delusions. Consequently, it will destroy itself and perhaps the world.

'Famous' Bond Investor Turns Out To Be Nothing More Than A Glorified BTFDer

"Michael Hasenstab is all about the big trade," is the 'masters-of-the-universe'-esque introduction by Bloomberg for Franklin Templeton's "famous" bond fund manager. “His success speaks for itself, but he does take bets,” notes one financial planner but it appears Hasenstab has BTFD one time too many - after loading up on more than $7 billion of Ukraine's bonds (equal to almost half of all Ukraine’s foreign bonds) he has seen them almost cut in half to around $4 billion. And it appears clients are seeing the bond guru's BTFD-iness for what it is - extreme risk with OPM - as investors last year pulled a record $14 billion from the U.S. and European versions of the Templeton Global Bond Fund.

"Warren" Tops "Clinton" & "Bowling" Beats "Facebook" - Social Engagement & Investing In Q1 2015

Hillary Clinton isn’t a lock for the 2016 Elections: Google searches for US Senator Elizabeth Warren surpassed the former US Secretary of State just last month with a ratio of 6 to 5. Interest in bowling (+85% since October) is growing faster than Facebook (-4%) and Youtube (-2%), and there is a lot more interest in smoking marijuana than tobacco (58 vs. 19 on average). Those are just three of the surprising findings from ConvergEx's latest survey of social engagement using Google Trends.

Q1 Earnings Are Set For The Biggest Drop Since 2012

On September 30, the estimated earnings growth rate for Q1 2015 was 9.9%. By December 31, the estimated growth rate had declined to 4.2%. Today, it stands at  -1.6%.  Most of the expected decline in the estimated earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 for Q1 2015 is due to reductions in earnings estimates for companies in the Energy sector. On September 30, the estimated earnings growth rate for the Energy sector for Q1 2015 was 3.3%. By December 31, the estimated growth rate fell to -28.9%. Today, it stands at -53.8%.

U.S. Vs. Russia – Military Might

The historical relationship between the United States and Russia can hardly be described as rosey. The two countries are inextricably linked due to the Cold War era, with the world’s two modern superpowers having enjoyed an extremely suspicious relationship with one another for decades during the 20th century. Which of the two superpowers has the greater military provisions?

Free College Wasn't Just A Give Away – It Was A Trial Balloon

Over the past few weeks one could not escape the headline of the latest proposal to give away two years of community college. Everywhere it was debated by pundits whether it was a “good thing,” or a “bad idea”. One of the details that was missed early on that finally made its way into the discourse was that “free” actually meant it was going to be paid for via the rescinding of the 529-Plan - a plan used primarily by the middle class as a way to help pay the onerous ever rising costs of college. Of course once this detail became apparent there was an outpouring of outrage. So much so that the idea was pulled and shelved nearly as fast as it came on the scene. There just has to be something here more than what typically meets the eye. Then it hit me: Replace 529 with 401K – and change college to retirement...

Ukraine "Truce"? Tanks Are Rolling In Poland As NATO Plans Permanent Eastern European Bases

With Ukraine, Germany, and France all expressing their concern this morning about "conflict escalation" between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine military, the so-called "truce" appears to be hanging by a thread of semanticism (despite OSCE's please for respect of the cease-fire and the demarcation line). Today's triple whammy of 'escalation' appears more focused on the non-Russian side as first, France begins sending tanks into Poland; second, Ukraine shifts its tanks to the front-line; and third - and potentially most inflammatory for Putin - NATO has confirmed plans to create permanent command centers in Eastern Europe. Putin has not responded yet but reports of 'nuclear bombers' flying above the English Channel "with transponders turned off," suggests the sabre rattling continues.

Europe Fractures: France "Prepared To Support Greece" In Debt Renegotiations

Despite Angela Merkel's insistence on numerous occasions this past week that there will be "no debt renegotiations," it appears a schism at the core of Europe is opening. As France24 reports, following a meeting between France's finance minister Michel Sapin and Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, the press conference had a considerably more amicable tone that Friday's Dijsselbloem dissing. "France is more than prepared to support Greece," Sapin said adding that Greece’s efforts to renegotiate were "legitimate." Sapin urged a "new contract between Greece and its partners."

The Euro Tragedy & Its Consequences For Gold

Until now, central banks have restricted monetary policy to domestic economic management; this is now evolving into the more dangerous stage of internationalisation through competitive devaluations. The gold price is an early warning of future monetary and currency troubles, and it is now becoming apparent how they may transpire. The ECB move to give easy money to profligate Eurozone politicians is likely to have important ramifications well beyond Europe, and together with parallel actions by the Bank of Japan, can now be expected to increase demand for physical gold in the advanced economies once more.