Meet Denmark's VoteMan: Using Sex & Violence To Get Out The Vote For EU Elections

Most people have no idea what government is about. As Bill Bonner notes, they think it is a benign institution, designed to make life better for everyone. Some governments, desperate to get more “buy in” from the public, even insist eligible voters go to the polls – or face penalties. Other countries, such as the US, merely excite the voters with dreams of avarice and threats of sanctions. Denmark - went in a different direction - "Voteman - a muscleman first seen in bed with five naked women who then proceeds to beat up young people to force them to vote."

Vacation At "The Door To Hell," Enjoy View To Burning Gas Crater!

The cosmopolitan delights of Azerbaijan’s boomtown capital Baku are well known to international oil industry types, but for adventurous tourists, Turkmenistan offers something even more spectacular than mud volcanoes: a Door to Hell.” Set amid the bleak Karakum Desert, this attraction near the village of Derweze, or Darvaza, dates to the 1970s when a sinkhole opened beneath a test well drilled by Soviet geologists. Gas just beneath the surface ignited and has been burning merrily ever since.

Epic VIX Slams Sparks Buying Panic In Stocks

Nasdaq and S&P back into the green for the week... Dow back into the green for the year... mission accomplished (but a little premature). And all it took was an options-expiration debacle-driven collapsed in VIX...

At Least 6 Chinese Cities Have Bailed Out Their Real Estate Markets In The Last Month

According to the Chinese financial publication Securities Daily, emergency real estate rescue packages have been launched in large cities such as Wuxi, Nanning, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Tongling and Zhengzhou in the last month alone..."if a borrower does not fulfill the loan repayment obligations as agreed in the contract, the guarantee institutions will have to repay the housing loans..." What a surprise – a government guarantee. The market is imploding and defaults are going through the roof. Property vacancy rates in Zhengzhou are an astounding 23%. So the government is putting taxpayers on the hook. In other words, the government is panicking. But it’s not working... so much excess inventory has built up, a major slowdown was inevitable. And like the butterfly that flaps its wings, a slowdown in China has substantial effects on the rest of the world.

Three Market Factors Which Citi Says Are Worse Now Than In 2007

"You’re picking up pennies on a train track. You are not getting paid much but you are sure that there will be a very negative surprise at some point. The risk / reward profile is as bad as ’07." - Portfolio manager speaking to Citigroup

Mapping The "Scalpel, Not A Meat Axe" Approach To US Sectoral Sanctions Against Russia

The threat of "sectoral" sanctions is the latest arrow in America's quiver against Russia's unwillingness to back off and, as the FT reports, the US is seeking support from Europe for these efforts. The problem, as we have discussed, is that energy binds Russia to the rest of the world in a codependent relationship. Consumers – especially in Europe – need Russian oil and gas as much as Russia needs the revenue they bring in. The US believes it can circumvent that obstacle as "the situation calls for a scalpel, not a meat axe... we need targeted asymmetric sanctions that hurt them more than they hurt us." In other words, do you believe in miracles? “In a global economy, each of these actions may also come at a cost to the countries imposing the sanctions that needs to be considered.”

Guest Post: Meet The Man Who Killed Keystone

One man stands in its way. No, not President Obama, but the billionaire environmentalist Thomas Steyer. How much did the Senate cost? With the dangled $100 million divided by 15 hours, the Senate was for sale at approximately $6 million an hour. Political commentators are openly speculating on what Obama will cost.

The Top 12 Things That Bother American Drivers The Most

With Memorial Day rapidly approaching and the onset of summer - and the inevitable spike in the number of drivers on the road, Expedia decided to poll American drivers to understand what really pisses them off the most. The 2014 Road Rage Report ranks "The Texter" as the most aggravating driving behavior beating out "The Tailgater". Perhaps most interestingly, 7 in 10 Americans report having been "flipped off" by a fellow motorist (while only 17% admitted to the aggressive act) and the rudest drivers live in the largest cities (71% rank NYC as the rudest).

Sell Italian Bonds But US Treasury Bulls Beware, Warns BofA

The combination of deteriorating European assets (topping European bank stocks and vulnerable peripheral debt) and poor price action (the impulsive break of 6m wedge support at 1.3685) augurs for further EURUSD weakness, warns BofAML's Macneil Curry, but it is Italian bond futures that broke a long-term uptrend and "it's time to sell the bounce in BTPs." While 30Y and 10Y US Treasuries are in medium term bull trends, he warns they are approaching a 'basing zone' - bond bulls ("if there are any" he jokes) beware.

Darth Vader Steps Up His Political Campaign In Ukraine

The (west) Ukraine locals may be caught in a proxy war vise of a western-appointed puppet government desperate to do NATO's bidding, an IMF which has made it clear bailout funds will only continue as long as said government maintains a belligerent stance toward Russia, a Kremlin which holds all the commodity trump cards with its gas supplies, and finally an imploding economy where the industrial eastern parts are on their way to becoming part of Russia not to mention insolvent banks which are one missed IMF rescue payment from total collapse, but at least they can still make some funny clips. Such as this clip showing a very symbolic Darth Vader campaigning in Odessa promising potential voters to "build the first earth-based planetary empire."

"Markets Not Cheap" & "Not Enough People Paid The Price For 2008" - SALT Day 2 Post Mortem

'Not' as exciting and headline-making as Day 1, as damage control was loud and proud after Tepper's "dangerous markets" call. The number of times we heard "what he meant to say was..." made us laugh but day 2 of the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference (SALT) varied from Leon Cooperman's "S&P to 2000" exuberance to Rubinstein's "markets are not cheap" disappointment and everything in between... with Nassim Taleb's "not enough people paid the price for 2008" conclusion summing it all up nicely.

GM 'Rocked' By "Record" DoT Penalty - Fined 0.02% of Revenue

$35 Million - that's what the Chevy Cobalt "ignition switch recall" probe fines cost GM based on The Department of Transport's maximum penalty... or 0.02% of their last 12 months revenues:

  • GM TO PAY UP TO $35M PENALTY ON COBALT PROBE, DOT SAYS
  • DOT:CONSENT ORDER REQUIRE GM TO SUBMIT REPORTS, MEET W/ NHTSA
  • DOT SAYS GM TO MAKE INTERNAL CHANGES TO REVIEW OF ISSUES

So the tax-payer bailed-out firm is paying the government a de minimus fine for killing taxpayers? (and the DoT now urges Congress to raise the maximum penalty to $300 million) Full statement below

Deutsche Bank Has A Message For Its Traders: "Stop Swearing"

Deutsche Bank, which most recently has been in the spotlight for hightailing it out of the silver and gold fix (because it is clearly innocent of any precious metals manipulation as an "independent, impartial and extensive" inquiry by the Bank of England will surely prove), has a message for its traders: stop bloody swearing.

UMich Confidence Tumbles, Misses By Most In 8 Years

After April's confidence-inspiring reflexive rebound (thanks to hope for the future more than current perceptions) back near post-crisis highs, it seems the less-than-frigid-weather and record-er highs in stocks were not enough to maintain the status quo enhancing exuberance. UMich confidence dropped and missed expectations by the most since June 2006. Maybe its fears of El Nino? Maybe its concerns at the bond market signals? Or maybe - the reality is that the average joe is not as cock-a-hoop as the man-on-the-TV says he should be. Economic conditions dropped to their lowest since November. Higher highs in stocks and lower highs in confidence - not what the Fed wants.

Bernanke The Sophist: The Deception Behind QE

Bernanke's legacy: a deceptive case for a failed policy.

Sophistry: the use of fallacious arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving. The Federal Reserve's core policy of quantitative easing (QE) is based on a deceptive but appealing argument voiced by former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke.

Housing Starts, Permits Smash Expectations On Surge In Rental Construction

The serial extrapolators will be pleased... and the talking heads will now proclaim this as clear evidence that the cold-weather dysphoria has abated and its blue skies for real estate from here... Housing Permits back over 1 million homes SAAR (and biggest jump in a year) to new 6 year highs and Housing Starts back above 1 million SAAR near last year's highs. However, there is one major caveat - almost the entire surge was led by an almost 40% spike in multi-family units as the 'rental nation' grows ever stronger. Multi-family accounted for almost 30% of all starts - the highest in over 4 years as single-family starts rose a dismal 0.8%. Not exactly the "but housing inventories are so low and they must builder more homes" kind of growth that the headlines will crow about...

Moscow Says Massive "Holy Grail" Gas Deal With China Is 98% Ready

We have previously profiled the "holy grail" gas deal between Russia and China on several occasions, and with its announcement scheduled for next week (barring some unmitigated disaster) during Putin's first visit to China since Xi's appointment as president last March, it is time to do a status update on where it stands even if according to SCMP, at this point finding the "holy grail" is merely a formality.  "Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said on Monday that the deal was "98 per cent ready". Supply would begin no later than the end of 2018."