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Where The Pain Is Today

Whether or not the Nokia-Microsoft deal makes any economic sense is up for analysts to argue but judging by the market's reaction to MSFT this morning, we'd say 'not' as the stocks is down almost 5% (devouring the entire Ballmer-bounce). However, Nokia is up a stunning 41% as investors seem not just relieved at the firm's dumping of the loss-making mobile business (always a greater fool?) for $7.2 billion; but concerned at the massive short-interest in the name. While the absolute number of shares short has dropped in recent weeks, it remains high at 11.9% of float (according to Markit); but in terms of days-to-cover it has never been higher and in fact will take around 15 days at average volume to unwind fund's massive short positions.



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Spain's Ying-Yang Charts

While we understand Europe's desperation to telegraph an improvement in its economy, driven by both GDP and such sentiment indicators as PMI data, very much as we saw in early 2011 before the carpet was pulled from beneath Europe and it promptly slid into a double dip, one thing that is unclear is why Europe continues to insist using Spain as the marginal indicator of improvement. After all, for every 50+ PMI print or "just barely positive" GDP there is a total (or youth) unemployment chart rising to fresh highs and confirming there is no consumption, and certainly no loan creation - the two driving forces of Keynesian economic growth. But while those two data dynamics are well-known to most, perhaps the true Ying and Yang indicators of Spain's economy are these two, somewhat less popular, charts.



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Abenomics Is Crushing The Japanese Worker

It seems the hopes and dreams of a Japanese public (and their illustrious leaders) is being dashed on the same rocks as the US worker. Amid surging input prices (thanks to a devalued currency) with consumer prices rising at the fastest rate since 2008, Bloomberg notes that Japanese salaries extended the longest slide since 2010 squeezing the consumer as the failure of demand pull inflation becomes more than real. Despite a stock market that is surging and politicians the world over proclaiming Japan's victory, "companies aren't confident enough on the sustainability of the economic recovery," instead cutting salaries (in an oh-so-American manner) to manage higher input costs. With a sales-tax increase on its way, the consumer faces even more pressure, "if wages don't improve much, it may pose a political risk" to Abe's administration.



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Israeli Arrow-3 Interceptor Missile Propaganda Video

Yesterday we presented an amusing propaganda video clip remix of the Syrian S-300 Surface to Air missile. We found it hardly surprising, especially following today's news of a missile test launch by Israel, that there is a matching counterparty propaganda video showcasing Israel's Arro-3 missile interceptor from February of 2013.



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Israeli Missile Test Update

More on this morning's unexpected joint Israel-US missile test launch. From Bloomberg:

  • Israel missile defense organization, U.S. missile defense agency completed successful flight test of new version of the “sparrow target missile” today, Israeli Defense  Ministry says in e-mailed statement.
  • Arrow weapon system’s radar successfully detected, tracked target; all elements performed according to configuration
  • Main contractor of arrow weapon system is MLM of IAI, in conjunction with Boeing, according to statement
  • ISRAEL DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS MISSILE TEST WAS SUCCESSFUL
  • ISRAEL'S YA'ALON SAYS NEW DEFENSE TECHNOLOGIES MUST BE TESTED


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Frontrunning: September 3

  • Mediterranean 'Ballistic Targets' Were Part of Israeli Test – Defense Ministry (RIA)
  • Microsoft to Buy Nokia’s Devices Unit for $7.2 Billion (BBG)
  • Long-Term Jobless Left Out of Recovery (WSJ)
  • Swiss banks apologize for assisting tax cheats (Reuters)
  • As Obama pushes to punish Syria, lawmakers fear deep U.S. involvement (Reuters)
  • India Looking to Expand Rupee-Payment System (WSJ)
  • Citigroup Dialing Back Its 'Alternative' Holdings (WSJ)
  • Libya Seeks New Solutions to Oil Crisis (WSJ)
  • Lenovo Chief Yang Shares Bonus With Workers a Second Year (BBG)


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Syria Returns To The Spotlight But Risk So Far Unperturbed

The equity futures euphoria carryover from this weekend, buoyed by sentiment that the Syrian war is postponed if not cancelled, carried over into Tuesday morning despite news that Israel had launched a missile test, which looked at from almost any angle was an attempt at provoking a response from its adversaries. Also the Chinese boost driven by a solid beat in the country's two manufacturing PMIs persisted despite a drop in the August Non-manufacturing PMI reported last night. So once again we have returned to a state where good news is good news and bad news can be ignored. This, even with the Taper announcement just two weeks away. Of note also is that overnight Nokia shares surged 40% after Microsoft announced that it is to buy Nokia mobile business. In tandem, other EU based related names such as STM and Ericsson also gained ground, trading up 3% and 4.5% respectively. Nokia shares traded sharply higher today after Microsoft said it will pay €3.79bln to purchase substantially all of Nokia's devices & services business and will also pay €1.65bln to license Nokia's patents. A fitting farewell present from Steve Ballmer perhaps. Once again, keep an eye on Syria as the president begins his congressional consultations to take the escalation to the next level, with or without provocations from Israel.



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Russian Defense Ministry Reports Two "Ballistic Targets" Launched In Mediterranean, Israel Says Was "Missile Test"

Update from AFP: Mediterranean missile launches were US-Israel drill: Israel media

Moments ago Russian RIA news agency reported that Russia’s Defense Ministry said, citing its ballistic missile early warning system, that the launch of two "ballistic targets" has been detected in the Mediterranean,  "The launch was detected at 10:16 Moscow time (06:16 GMT) by a radar in the southern Russian city of Armavir, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. The targets’ trajectories ran from the central to the eastern Mediterranean, the spokesman said. A diplomatic source in the Syrian capital, Damascus, told RIA Novosti that the targets fell into the sea. The Russian Embassy in Damascus said it did not have any information about the launch, and the streets and residents of the Syrian capital appeared calm, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported the launch to President Vladimir Putin, the spokesman told Russian journalists. The Defense Ministry's press service was not immediately available for further comment."



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As More Fukushima Leaks Are "Discovered", Japan Vows "Quick Action"

First it was "contained." Then we found out there was a "small leak." Then, after numerous media reports confirmed it, Japan admitted there was "a big leak," which only became bigger with time. Then the severity level of Fukushima was raised from level 1 to level 3, the highest since the March 2011 disaster. And now it is many leaks. According to AP, "Japan's top nuclear regulator raised safety concerns Monday about hastily built storage tanks and their foundations at the damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant after signs of new leaks of radioactive water. The latest leak was found over the weekend in a connecting pipe. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said it suspects there may also have been leaks from three storage tanks because elevated radioactivity was detected near them. The levels were not considered deadly." Oh so it was not the 1.8 sieverts/hour reported over the weekend? Maybe in the case the honorable Prime Minister can take a big swig from the supposedly undeadly water.



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AsiaPac Stocks Test 3-Month Highs As China Services PMI Droops To 11-Month Low

China's Manufacturing PMI printed in line with its Flash estimate last night and the Services PMI just printed at a disappointing 11-month low as the 2 segments of the economy diverge by their most on record. The 'good' news that Obama backed away from the big red button for 5 minutes (and improving European PMIs) is spurring some more catch up in Asia tonight and while critical nations like India (whose PMI was dismal) and Indonesia are still languishing, the bounce back in the last few days has pushed MSCI's AsiaPac (ex-Japan) index up to 3-month highs... Well, it's a hot-money current-account-deficit vicious cycle dip to be bought, of course. Treasuries re-opened in line with futures expectations (around 5bps higher in yield) and S&P futures are leaking very gently off this morning's exuberant heights (but remain up over 1% from Friday's close). WTI is hovering around $107 (down from Friday) but Brent is at $114.50 (slightly higher than Friday's close). Silver is holding its strong gains and gold is flat.



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Fiction, Fact... Or Scandal?

* * * We make no claims that any of the presented is in any way accurate or representative of the truth. It is sourced from a "hack" by €Wagn3r of what the hacker purports to be numerous emails of one Colonel Anthony James MacDonald, his wife, and various other "Pentagon officers." However, if accurate, the exposed data sheds some critical, if circumstantial, light on the events that transpired in the days ahead of the Wednesday, August 22 "nerve gas" chemical attack alleged to have been executed by Syria's president al-Assad, and presented "beyond a doubt" as such, and as the basis for full-scale military operations and "surgical strikes" targeting Syrian assets, which in the coming days will involve a Congressional vote to determine the fate of the Syrian government and ostensibly of ten of thousands of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. While we doubt the Pentagon, the US Military, or any person in the administration will officially address these "hacked" emails, the world has a right to be aware of the existence of this information, and to come their own conclusions about the veracity of the official "case" for Syrian involvement * * *



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Ron Paul Asks "Will Congress Endorse Obama's War Plans? And, Does It Matter?"

President Obama announced this weekend that he has decided to use military force against Syria and would seek authorization from Congress when it returned from its August break. Every Member ought to vote against this reckless and immoral use of the US military. But even if every single Member and Senator votes for another war, it will not make this terrible idea any better because some sort of nod is given to the Constitution along the way.  Besides, the president made it clear that Congressional authorization is superfluous, asserting falsely that he has the authority to act on his own with or without Congress. That Congress allows itself to be treated as window dressing by the imperial president is just astonishing... We are rapidly headed for the same collapse as the Roman Empire if we continue down the president's war path.



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Unrealized "Gains" On Commercial Bank "Available-For-Sale" Securities Plunge To 2009 Levels

The last time we looked at the impact of the ongoing rates blow out on banks' "available for securities" books, we found the biggest monthly drop in unrealized gains, which dropped by $24 billion in the one month in which interest rates surged by 100 bps. Nonetheless, the cumulative net unrealized number was still positive at $6 billion (down from over $43 billion). A cursory look at the most recent H8 statement shows that as a result of the recent secondary blow out in rates which threatened to take the 10 Year to 3%, the damage has continued, and as of August 21 the formerly net profit has turned into a net loss of ($16) billion. The is the most negative the AFS number for the commercial banks operating in the US, has been since late 2009. 



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Monday Humor: How Glenn Greenwald Killed The Internet

You know the Internet is in trouble when people start taking plane flights to deliver messages.  After Glenn Greenwald's partner was detained for nine hours and stripped of all his computer gear, it's clearly time to look at new ways of communicating...



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"Sentimentals" Versus Fundamentals

We would be the first to espouse the view that, in speculative markets, the 'sentimentals' can long trump the fundamentals, but there is a counterpoint to such a projection, not that many wish to countenance it. The dispiriting truth is that some of the steam has already gone out of the US and were this to continue to be the case, given that esteemed institution’s pathological aversion to short-term difficulty, the Fed's "taper" might yet prove an all too short-lived gesture in the direction of a belated restoration of monetary sanity. As the following 3 charts suggest, equity 'sentimental' valuations are at extremes and fundamentals are deteriorating rapidly, making for an uncomfortable rock- and hard-place-straddle for a Fed that faces 4 reasons it has to Taper (sentiment, deficits, technicals, and international resentment).



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