Russia Cuts Interest Rate From 15% To 14%, Ruble Rises

Following the dramatic December surge in Russian interest rates when the Bank of Russia scrambled to preserve confidence in the then-plummeting currency and sent the interest rate to a whopping 17%, now that the oil price crash has stabilized it has been walking down this dramatic move, and after reducing rates by 2% on January 30 to 15%, moments ago the Bank of Russia once again cut rates this time by the expected 100 bps to 14%. The bank also said that more rate cuts are in the pipeline.

Euro Resumes Slide After Goldman Cuts Forecast, Expects Parity In 6 Months; Futures Flat

Closing out another whirlwind week, which has seen the biggest S&P 500 intraday plunge and surge in months, futures are taking a breath (if not so much the Nikkei which closed over 19,000 for the first time since 2000 - one wonders how many direct equity interventions it took the BOJ to achieve that artificial "price discovery"). In lieu of any notable macro news, the most significant update hit less than an hour ago when Goldman piled on the EUR pressure, when it released a note in which it further revised down its EURUSD forecast.

The New London Gold Fix And China's Gold Strategy

China now has the opportunity to take a dominant role in London, without having to direct its order flows through the fixing banks. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that from 20th March, China will be able to control the global physical gold market, which will permit her to manage the price. She has the deepest pockets, backed by the largest single stockpile.

Tax Breaks For Oligarchs: The $100 Million NY Apartment With A Property Tax Rate Of 0.017%

Since QE has been far and away the most important variable impacting the economy and markets since the crisis, ignoring its impact on wealth inequality is simply unforgivable. Yet, it’s more than that. Much more. Many of the polices existing in these United States not only encourage foreign oligarch money laundering into luxury skyscrapers that remain empty, but our society seems to go out of its way to ensure they have to pay as little in property tax as possible. Indeed, tax polices don’t benefit the rich, they benefit the super rich. Nowhere is this more apparent that in the oligarch capital of America, New York City.

The West's Plan To Drop Russia From SWIFT Hilariously Backfires

If Vladimir Putin is alive and remotely capable of laughter (the jury is out on that one...) then he’s probably doing so right now. For the last several months, despite numerous warnings of the consequences, the US and UK governments have been pushing to block Russia from the SWIFT payments system. And so what is utterly hilarious - On Monday afternoon, not only did SWIFT not kick Russia out... but they announced that they were actually giving a Board Seat to Russia.

Government Admits It Can't Fully Guarantee 51% Of Insolvent Pension Plans

A new report suggests that the government agency in charge of backstopping private-sector pension plans (the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation) isn’t entirely optimistic about its own ability to provide an effective safety net for multiemployer plans. In fact, more than half of participants will see their benefits cut if their plans become insolvent and are forced to turn to government guarantees.

Harvard Business Review Throws Up All Over Stock Buybacks

GM did $20.4 billion worth of buybacks from 1986 through 2002. If it had saved that money and earned a modest 2.5% on it, the company would have had $35 billion on hand when the financial crisis and Great Recession hit and probably would not have had to file for bankruptcy protection. As Bob Lutz, the veteran auto executive, said recently, stock buybacks are “always a harbinger of the next downturn…in almost all cases, you regret it later”... Taxpayers and workers brought GM out of bankruptcy, yet it is the hedge funds that will reap the biggest rewards. Taxpayers and workers should demand that open-market repurchases by all companies be banned. Stock buybacks manipulate the stock market and leave most Americans worse off. In this case, it is clear that what is good for the hedge funds is bad for the United States.

Under The Hood Of A Subprime Lender Accused Of Illegally Repoing Soldiers' Cars

Accused of illegally repossessing cars from active-duty service members, Santander Consumer has agreed to pay $9.35 million to the Justice Department in the largest auto reposession-related settlement in history. A look at the company's subprime auto securitizations speaks volumes not only about the lender, but about the furture course of subprime ABS issuance in the US.

The Last Time Gas Prices Rose This Fast, The US Entered Recession

From February through May, gas prices have historically tended to rise. However, between refinery strikes and shutdowns (and blend transitions), 2015 has seen gas prices rise from the start of February at the fastest pace on record. Despite the total lack of 'surge in consumer spending' from the low gas prices that we were promised, the velocity of this price rise is eerily reminiscent of the 2007 surge that, within months, saw the US in recession...

Why 1.05 Is Far More Important To The EURUSD Than Parity

"Although the market seems obsessed with the euro/dollar parity, SG's Technical Analysis guru Stephanie Aymes stresses that it is the $1.05/1.04 level that is more important, being the lower limit of the EUR/USD?s massive upward channel (see chart below). Stephanie argues that the move since last summer has been relentless and is very similar to the one seen in the late 1990s. She suspects that a break below $1.05/1.04 will confirm that the ongoing move is not a correction of the upmove since 2000, but a much larger down move. In such scenario, the EUR/USD will achieve parity, but this may well be just a temporary support before the downleg extends towards $0.98/0.96 - and even perhaps towards the lows of $0.84/0.82 reached in 2000."

Bill Ackman Faces FBI Probe Over Possible Herbalife Stock Manipulation

Herbalife stock is up over 5% after hours after WSJ reports Bill Ackman (among others) made false statement about Herbalife's business models to regulators - in order to spur investigations into the company and lower its stock price. This comes just months after Ackman kinda-sorta-didn't-really insider-trade in the Allergan 'scam' that we detailed here. We suspect Whitney Tilson (and his Lumber Liquidators positions) is getting a little nervous now... and Carl Icahn is quietly laughing to himself.

Germans Furious After Varoufakis/Tsipras Admit "Greece Will Never Repay Its Debts"

The Greco-Germanic war of words continues... Having pissed off The Greeks with his "Troika" remarks, Germany's Schaeuble went on today to more ad hominum attacks by reportedly calling the Greek FinMin "foolishly naive." The Greek ambassador has 'officially' complained to "friend and ally" Germany about the personal insult. But The Greeks had the last laugh, as first Varoufakis and then Tsipras explained respectively that "Greece would never pay back its debts," and "Greece cannot pretend its debt burden is sustainable." The German response, via tabloid Bild, "there must be an end to this madness. Europe must not be made to look stupid."

Daniel Hannan Explains How Democracy Died In Europe

With Greece on the edge of being kicked out of the Eurozone , either voluntarily or otherwise, with an anti-austerity party on the verge of taking over the reins of power in Spain, with Beppe Grillo waiting in the corridors for his chance to pounce in Italy and with Marine le Pen and her nationalist party on the verge of becoming the biggest shocker of Europe over the coming years, here, according to Daniel Hannan, is what killed democracy in Europe. Europe itself.

3 Things: Strong Dollar, Oil, Missed Employment

With all deference to Dr. Richard Fisher, the surging dollar is not good for either the economy or ultimately a stronger labor market. This is particularly the case when the dollar is only stronger because the rest of the world is on the brink of recession and or deflation. The negative impact of a surging dollar in a weak economic environment will more than likely outweigh any positive inputs for the U.S. consumer. Time will tell, but the evidence is mounting that the we are likely closer to the end of the current economic cycle than the beginning.