Billionaire Baubles: A $3.5 Million iPhone 6

In today's new normal, all that matters is pretense and for the most pretentious items we need to dig deep down in the Oligarch ornaments folder. The latest must-have item among those that really understand the world (and manage it) - The $3.5 million "Diamond Ecstasy" iPhone 6 from Goldgenie.

Jim Rogers On Opportunities In Russia & Other Hated Markets

"I’m optimistic about the future of Russia. I was optimistic before this war started in Ukraine, which was instigated by the US, of course. But in any case, I bought more Russia during the Crimea incident, and I’m looking to buy still more. Unfortunately, what’s happening is certainly not good for the United States. It’s driving Russia and Asia together, which means we’re going to suffer in the long run - the US and Europe. Another of the big four Chinese banks opened a branch in Moscow recently. The Iranians are getting closer to the Russians. People are starting to reexamine the propaganda that comes out of Washington. Even the Germans are starting to reassess the situation."

America Is Not Greece

We all "know" how terrible the Greek economy is... day after day we are told about it... and reminded at the same time how "everything is awesome" in America. So the following chart may come as a surprise to some... with expectations for future Greek GDP growth now above 'awesome' America's last year.

The Problem Of Debt As We Reach Oil Limits

Many people ask why we can’t just cancel all debt, and start over again. To do so would probably mean canceling all bank accounts as well. Most of our current jobs would probably disappear. We would probably be without grid electricity and without oil for cars. It would be very difficult to start over from such a situation. We would truly have to start over from scratch. Those holding paper wealth can’t count on getting very much.

Goldman Warns "Don't Count On Rig Declines To Balance The Oil Market Just Yet"

With WTI back under $50 once again (the mainstream media's new Maginot Line for oil complex stability - just like $80, $70, and $60 was), it appears more investors are waking up to the reality of an over-supplied, under-demanded global energy market. The 'squeeze bounce manipulation' that we saw over the last week - very reminiscent of the bounce seen mid-collapse in 2008/9, was predicated on falling rig counts (and capex). However, Goldman pours freezing cold fracking water all over that thesis as they explain that the decline in the US rig count remains well short of the level required to achieve a sufficient slowdown in US oil production growth to balance the global market. Simply put, they conclude, lower oil prices will be required over the coming quarters to see the US production growth slowdown materialize with risk to their already low price forecast to the downside.

Eurogroup-Greece "Deal Or No Deal" Press Conference Begins - Live Feed

EU President Jeroen Dijsselbloem is about to explain how there is an agreement in principle (if Greece folds, follows the program it's been given and behaves itself - which they have since confirmed they won't) and that discussions are ongoing (haven't changed on bit all day)...

If Not Russia, Then China? Tsipras Invited To Visit Premier Li Keqiang In Beijing

First there was The BRIC nations; then South Africa was rolled in and the group became BRICS; but with news today (following yesterday's Russian invitations for Greece's new leader to meet with Vladimir Putin) that Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been invited to visit Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, we wonder if the growing non-dollar partnership will be expanded to BRICSH as The Hellenic Republic prepares to walk away from its European overlords 'partners'.

President Obama Explains His "Boots On The Ground" ISIS-War Strategy - Live Feed

As we detailed earlier, the Nobel peace prize-winning president has been busy today: not only did he already petition Congress earlier to declare war on the Islamic State, a non-country which technically doesn't exist, but now he plans to expand his "war powers" to any other place in the world. We look forward to hearing his explanation for how his "promise" not to put boots on the ground jibes with today's request to deploy boots on the ground... somewhere... anywhere... against ISIS.

Move Over Syriza & Podemos: Revolutionary Indian Political Party Sweeps New Delhi Elections

The nascent global political awakening against corrupt politicians, large corporations and central banks is growing louder. In the last few years we have seen the rise of Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain and even Bepe Grillo’s Five Star Movement in Italy. And now an upstart anti-corruption party won a smashing victory in elections to install a state government in India’s capital, dealing a huge blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party.

Goldman: Markets Ignore Grexit Threat Due To ECB QE, But If There Is A Grexit Then All Bets Are Off

It looks reasonable that investors would not ask for an additional compensation for a source of risk that has limited direct economic bearing for other asset classes.... Such a conclusion would cease to hold, in our view, if Greece were to leave the common currency. Indeed, ‘Grexit’ would constitute a non-diversifiable event, affecting all financial assets. This is because, upon the departure of one of its members, EMU would likely be seen as a fixed exchange rate arrangement between countries which can elect to adhere or leave. Convertibility risk would resurface, exposing the possibility of a collapse of the entire project.

Stocks Jump On Reported Minsk Summit Cease-Fire Deal

Well that didn't take long. Just an hour or so after Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko, and Putin got together to drink tea in Minsk, they have a 'deal':

*RUSSIA, UKRAINE, GERMANY, FRANCE LEADERS READY DECLARATION TO REAFFIRM MINSK CEASE-FIRE DEAL: IFX
*JOINT DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF UKRAINE'S TERRITORIAL SOVEREIGNTY

So - to summarize - they agree to a cease-fire (which saw 1000s killed and shelling continue last time) and to support Ukraine's territorial sovereignty (except of course Eastern Ukraine?) Face-saving headline-maker comes to mind. Stocks don't care though - they are buying it.

Checkpoint Charlie Is Back: Ukraine Starts Building A New Berlin Wall

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has fueled a resurgence in totalitarianism. Capital controls. Exchange controls. Wage and price controls... and now Border controls and people controls. As of this morning, the government of Ukraine started... “reinforcing”... the defenses of Kiev with eight barricaded checkpoints. Walls are never, ever erected to keep people out. They’re built to trap people inside.

Stocks, Crude, & AAPL Bonds Tumble After Big Bond Auction

While stocks dipped a little into the 10Y Treasury auction, it appears the blistering demand was enough to shatter the illusion of awesomeness and spark a plunge in stocks and crude oil. One thing of note, AAPL bonds have been whacked today (newly issued 2025s down 2 points today to $97.50) and as the auction closed, AAPL also rolled over - which appears the catalyst for the broad weakness.