Russia Just Pulled Itself Out Of The Petrodollar

When the price of crude started its self-reinforcing plunge, such a death would happen whether the petrodollar participants wanted it, or, as the case may be, were dragged into the abattoir kicking and screaming. It is the latter that seems to have taken place with the one country that many though initially would do everything in its power to have an amicable departure from the Petrodollar and yet whose divorce from the USD has quickly become a very messy affair, with lots of screaming and the occasional artillery shell. As Bloomberg reports Russia "may unseal its $88 billion Reserve Fund and convert some of its foreign-currency holdings into rubles, the latest government effort to prop up an economy veering into its worst slump since 2009." "Together with the central bank, we are selling a part of our foreign-currency reserves,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in Moscow today. “We’ll get rubles and place them in deposits for banks, giving liquidity to the economy."

Gallup CEO Blasts US Leadership "The Economy Is Not Coming Back"

The U.S. now ranks not first, not second, not third, but 12th among developed nations in terms of business startup activity as Gallup CEO Jim Clifton rages, for the first time in 35 years, American business deaths now outnumber business births. Wall Street, Clifton explains, needs the stock market to boom, even if that boom is fueled by illusion. So both tell us, "The economy is coming back." Let's get one thing clear, he exclaims, "this economy is never truly coming back unless we reverse the birth and death trends of American businesses."

What Will You Do When Government Tyranny And Terrorism Work Hand In Hand?

The French are disarmed and utterly socialized. Millions of them march in Paris in a display of solidarity, but solidarity behind what solution? Even more government; the same government that created the problem in the first place? Even more centralization? The globalization of despotic security policies? The French have dug their grave, and now they are going to have to lie down in it. Americans do not have to follow the same path. We do not need more government. We do not need more surveillance, more police militarization or more troops on the streets. Make no mistake, many illusions are about to be shattered. You can be caught up in the storm as a helpless spectator and victim or you can become a barrier.

"Russian Buyer Is A Thing Of The Past" - Oligarchs Rush To Sell US Real Estate

For uber-wealthy Russians, "an apartment in Miami, even the most glorious beachfront apartment, is not a priority right now," warns one real estate attorney, as The New York Observer reports Russian buyers no longer felt they had the liquid assets to carry on with the transaction and were looking to break closed real estate contracts. "Your average Russian buyer tends to be someone who works in the $5, $10, $15 million range. Obviously very wealthy people, but also people who are much more likely to feel a pinch given the economic situation and the exchange rate," and with maintenance costs sky-high, the trophy apartments have shifted from 'safe-deposit-boxes' out of reach of sanctions to burdensome drains.

Canada Crude Contagion: Calgary Home Prices Drop Most In 2 Years

For the 2nd month in a row, home prices in Calgary - corporate hub of Canada's oil industry - have fallen. This is the biggest 2-month-drop in almost 2 years (and comes on the heels of yesterday's news that Suncor is slashing jobs and capex). As Bloomberg reports, Bank of Canada Deputy Governor Tim Lane said yesterday development of the more expensive deposits are threatened by lower crude oil prices. "The dive in energy prices will put pressure on house prices in the Western provinces in the coming months," warns one economist and as the following chart shows, more pain is likely...

What Happens To High-Wage Jobs Next?

Our question is this: if indeed the shale boom is now turning to bust, and if indeed the vast majority of jobs created were thanks to the shale revolution (which is about to go in reverse), what happens to the primary source of high-paying jobs: the energy sector?  Before you answer, take a look at the following chart, courtesy of the Dallas Fed.

Day After SEC Charges HFT Trader With Spoofing, Another HFT Spoofer Sends S&P Soaring

Just yesterday, the SEC charged Canadian Aleksandr Milrud with orchestrating a lucrative market manipulation scheme that relied on "layering" in which a trader places orders solely to trick others into buying or selling at artificially inflated or depressed prices... So we found it ironic that twice today, Nanex exposed examples of the "spoofing" manipulation in crude oil futures (which soared) and S&P 500 e-mini futures (which soared)... These are your "most liquid and transparent capital markets in the world."

Russia Cuts Off Ukraine Gas Supply To 6 European Countries

Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine amid accusations, according to The Daily Mail, that its neighbor has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Due to these "transit risks for European consumers in the territory of Ukraine," Gazprom cut gas exports to Europe by 60%, plunging the continent into an energy crisis "within hours." Perhaps explaining the explosion higher in NatGas prices (and oil) today, gas companies in Ukraine confirmed that Russia had cut off supply; and six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas. The EU raged that the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries was "completely unacceptable," but Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later added that Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey; and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated unequivocally, "the decision has been made."

2014's "Robust" Jobs Market Produced No Wages, And Now No Spending

For all the hype about jobs and the booming (GDP) economy, the major portion of the retailer calendar around Christmas was a total bust. In many ways it was worse than last year, which emphasizes simply how the business “cycle” as it was understood in textbook economics no longer applies. In other words, the dichotomy between growing pessimism in credit/funding and economists is due to the continued failure of the economy to produce what economists expect.

Goldman Sachs Warn Oil Prices May "Undershoot" $39

Just two short days ago, Goldman Sachs' significant oil downgrade targeting $40/bbl for most of 1H15 shocked the market. This morning, Jeff Currie - the author of the report - appeared on Bloomberg TV to explain his call for a "new oil order" that has been "fundamentally changed by Shale." Most telling though, Currie warns Tom Keene, crude oil may fall below bank’s six-month forecast of $39 a barrel and future rallies could be thwarted by the speed at which any lost shale output can recover... "you can always undershoot to the downside."

Surprise!! Japanese Stocks Surge After Machinery Orders Crash 14.6% - Worst In 5 Years

So much for that short-lived hope-fest that Abenomics was not a total and utter disaster. Japan Machinery Orders (excluding -rather ironically- volatile orders) plunged 14.6% Year-over-Year in November (missing expectations of a 6.3% drop) for the biggest fall since Nov 2009. In this new farcical normal of course, this is just what the surging JPY of the last week needed and it is now dumping back towards 117.50 dragging Nikkei futures 150 points higher with it!!

China Buying Up Latin American (And Russian) Oil

As the world’s number one energy consumer China is enjoying the low prices while they last. Never one to settle however, China is finding still more ways to take advantage of the dire straits gripping several oil producers...

Ohio Man Arrested Over ISIS-Inspired Plot To Blow Up Capitol

In all the drama over the recent terrorist events in France, Americans almost forgot that there is evil, pure, concentrated evil, as opposed to CentCom Twitter account hacking evil, in their own backyard and only the government can possibly protect them from it. Sure enough, what better way to remind them of just this than to merge a deranged lunatic, bombs, ISIS, and an attack on DC all into one. That is precisely what ABC blasted about an hour ago, when it reported that the FBI had arrested an Ohio man (different from the one who wanted to kill John Boehner) for plotting an Islamic State-inspired attack on U.S. Capitol, where he hoped to set off series of bombs aimed at lawmakers whom he allegedly considered enemies.

Skyscraper Index Goes Global

If the Barclays Skyscraper Index, which posits bursts of skyscraper construction are a harbinger of great economic collapse and market crashes, is accurate, then the world is in for a, well, world of pain. And nowhere more so than in China. As Skyscraper Center reports, 2014 saw an all-time high record 97 buildings of 200 meters or more completed with an increasing shift towards Asia (with a stunning 76% of all tall-building construction). For the seventh year in a row, China completed the most (58) skyscrapers... mal-investment boom much?

The Center's Got To Give

Thing is, that whole line about how lower oil prices were going to be a boost for our economies was ignorant from the start. And there’s still plenty people believing just that. That may explain those EU stock exchange gains. That sort of thing all comes from people who don’t understand to what extent oil is pivotal to our societies. We’re not in 2008 anymore, when an oil price drop actually helped us crawl out of a tight spot. We’re $50 trillion down the road, and there won’t be another $50 trillion, or another road. For all intents and purposes, we are the center today, and we cannot hold this way.

BlackBerry Shares Crash Back To Earth After Company Denies Samsung Rumor

In October, BBRY shares spiked (and dumped) on rumors that Lenovo had made an offer. Today, after a detailed report from Reuters explained that Samsung executives had offered to takeover the troubled phone-maker (or whatever they call themselves nowadays) and the stocks spiked up nearly 40% - perfectly running stopw through the mid-Nov highs and squeezing shorts out of the market... and now - after hours - BlackBerry issues a statement denying the whole thing... rigged much?

Even The Airlines Are Ignoring The "Oil Is Good" Narrative

Yesterday we highlighted the 'odd' behavior of the Airlines - cutting jobs to cut costs (but but but low fuel prices?) and seeing traffic and revenue per seat drop (but but but gas 'tax cut' spending?). It appears 2015 has heralded a broad realization that perhaps - just perhaps - the narrative of "low oil is unambiguously good" is not correct...

The US Economy Is So Bad... Even Lottery Sales Are Collapsing

For what appears to be the first time on record, Powerball Lottery Sales declined year-over-year. As the following slides show, lottery sales declined 19% in FY14 vs FY13 and even more stunningly reflective of a nation whose disposable income (and hope) is in such short supply, sales in the first half of FY15 are down 40% from the first of FY14. As LaFleurs concludes, this will make it very challenging for most Lotteries to manage their budgets...