HFT Purge Begins: SEC Prepares To "Remove" Some High Frequency Trading Firms

Ever since Goldman's anti-HFT Op-Ed less than a month ago, and since the even more recent full-hearted support by Goldman of Michael Lewis' most recent entry into the anti-HFT crusade (one promoting the Goldman-supported IEX exchange), one thing has been clear: the days of market structure in its current format are numbered. This was further confirmed after Goldman exited both its legacy Spear Leeds & Kellogg designated market making post at the NYSE, and is said to be winding down its market-dominating dark pool, Sigma X. Sure enough, Post reports that just three weeks after the Gary Cohn Op-Ed, the SEC is "preparing to remove some high-frequency trading firms."

One Killed, Many Wounded After Shooting Breaks Out Between Ukraine Special Forces And Pro-Russia Separatists

"Ball is in Kiev's court." That is how we concluded our article yesterday reporting that Moscow won't accept force against demonstrators after Kiev warned it would use special forces to quell ongoing "terrorist" uprisings across cities in east Ukraine. Predictably, Ukraine couldn't wait to shoot the ball right back at Russia and re-escalate (in hope that the west will finally stand up and side along the acting government in what continues to be a very foolish gambit) and early this morning local time, units of the Ukraine special forces started an anti-terrorist operation in eastern town of Slavyansk, where police station was seized yesterday by separatist protesters, as reported by the Interior Minister Arsen Avakov posts on Facebook, who also warned local residents to stay inside, saying separatist protesters have opened fire in direction of approaching special police units. Moments later the operation turned deadly after at least one member of the special forces was killed and as many as 9 wounded, as well as an unknown number of casualties on the "separatist" side. But most importantly, Russia now has a pretext to step in and "defend" its ethnic population just as it warned it would do.

Why The Standoff At The Bundy Ranch Is A Very Big Deal

Bundy ranchUPDATE: The BLM has ceased rounding up Bundy's cattle - because of safety concerns

If you haven’t been following the unfolding drama at the Bundy Ranch about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas you need to start now. The escalating confrontation between irate local residents and federal agents of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has the potential to take a very dangerous turn for the worse at any moment, as hundreds of militia members from states across the country are expected to descend upon the area and make a stand with 67-year-old Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. The kindling for social upheaval has been growing in America for quite some time. Disrespectful and ignorant statements from billionaire oligarchs only make it worse. The question in my mind has always been what will the catalyst be to spark the brushfire? Will it be the Bundy Ranch? We’ll have to wait and see.

All The Presidents' Bankers: The World Bank And The IMF

"Just after the United States entered World War II, two simultaneous initiatives unfolded that would dictate elements of financing after the war, through the joint initiatives of foreign policy measures and private banking whims. Plans were already being formulated to navigate the postwar peace, especially its international power implications for finance and politics, in the background. American political leaders and scholars began considering the concept of “one world” from an economic perspective, void of divisions and imbalances. Or so the theory went. The original plans to create a set of multinational entities that would finance one-world reconstruction and development (and ostensibly balance the world’s various economies) were conceived by two academics: John Maynard Keynes, an adviser for the British Treasury, and Harry Dexter White, an economist in the Division of Monetary Research of the US Treasury under Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau."

"Analysts" Lower Revenue Growth Expectations By Most In 18 Months

"Estimates have come down more dramatically than usual," warns BofAML's Savita Subramanian as so-called "analysts" slash their expectations to lower the bar even further for firms to hop over. This hype-hope-reality plunge in expectations is nothing new as the chart below shows but Q1’s gap between the starting and ending growth rates was 5.6 percentage points - the widest gap in at least 18 months. The widest spread for 2013 was 4.4 points, recorded in the second quarter. The reductions may help firms beat expectations but do nothing to sustain the hype priced into markets. Once again we ask, why do we listen to analysts?

Guest Post: Oil Limits and Climate Change – How They Fit Together

We hear a lot about climate change, especially now that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently published another report. At the same time, oil is reaching limits, and this has an effect as well. How do the two issues fit together? Unfortunately, the real situation is that the laws of physics, rather than humans, are in charge. Basically, as economies grow, it takes increasing complexity to fix problems, as Joseph Tainter explained in his book, The Collapse of Complex Societies. Now we are reaching limits in many ways, but we can’t - or dare not - model how all of these limits are hitting.

Caption Contest: Magnum PI-MCO

Add a 70s style moustache (and a red Ferrari) and BusinessWeek's Bill Gross cover is the spitting image of Tom Selleck's infamous investigator... but the analogies run deeper as the PIMCO front-man continues to search for his next steps and figure out the past

*GROSS ON EL-ERIAN: "I THOUGHT I KNEW HIM BETTER"
*GROSS SAYS FOR MOST PART, "I'M THE PERSON I THOUGHT I WAS"

Very philosophical - but as the cover asks "is he really such a jerk?"

Putting The "Bank Loans Are Rising & Animal Spirits Are Reviving" Meme In Context

Much has been made of the "sharp acceleration" in bank lending in the last few months promulgated by the status quo huggers that 'animal spirits are reviving' and, despite a collapse in equity market valuations for 'growth' stocks, that escape velocity growth and that so-longed-for surge in Capex is just around the corner. However, when put in context... when looked at over more than a few months, and when considered against the typical economic cycle... this is anything but sustainable and merely reflects on the inventory-stacking mal-investment debacle of Q4 that is now unwinding en masse as hoped for 'aggregate demand' shows no signs of appearing.

Rich-Poor Comfort Divide Surges To 2-Month Highs

Following Fed Governor Tarullo's comments this week on central bank policies and the recovery benefiting high-income earners disproportionately - potentially damaging the "nation's democratic heritage", we thought it ironic that this week's Bloomberg Comfort Index data showed that the rich (high incomes) just got a whole lot more comfortable and the poor (low incomes) got a whole lot less comfortable. In fact, the rich-poor comfort divide jumped back to 2-month highs.

Ukraine Prepares Military Response To Russian "Act Of Aggression"; Fears Specter of "Gas Wars"

Following more firefights and government building seizures amid the so-called "liberation of Southeast Ukraine," the Maidan's demands that the government not "give up like in Crimea" appear to be resonating woth leadership. Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov has declared: "The Ukrainian authorities consider the events of the day as a display of external aggression from Russia," adding that, ""Units of the interior and defense ministries are implementing an operational response plan." Russia was quick to respond with threats of war action if Ukraine suppresses pro-Russia 'self-defense' forces. As Reuters adds, with the crisis escalating militarily, the specter of "gas wars" is looming with Ukraine's Energy Minister declaring, "we are probably steering towards Russia turning off its gas provision."

The World Economy At A Glance

Despite bond yields at record lows, stock markets at record highs, and a general 'faith' that we are heading towards a Keynesian utopia of escape velocity growth (despite IMF downgrades and the reality of current data), the following table of the world's PMIs is your handy cocktail-party cheat sheet for 'smart' discussion of soft-survey-based economic progress... UK, Ireland, and UAE are the fastest growers while France, Italy, and the broad Eurozone are contracting at the fastest pace.

"The Liberation Of Southeast Ukraine Has Begun" - Crimean Vice Premier

UPDATE: The Maidan are calling for the leaders to react "Don't give up like in Crimea"

On the day in which "pro-Russian separatists" are again claiming one after another city in east Ukraine, and when Russia has formally warned that any crackdown on protesters is "unacceptable" implicitly threatening retaliation should the promised use of special forces be implemented, moments ago Rustan Temirgaliev, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Miniisters of recently annexed by Russia Crimea, poured some more fuel into the fire and announced on his Facebook page that "the liberation of Southeast Ukraine has begun."

Higher Taxes Don't Make Capitalism "Work Better"

Anyone who understands the basics of capitalism knows taxation acts as a hindrance. There is no question about this. Capitalism is the free trading of goods and services; taxation is the violent extortion of the gains of voluntary trade. Anything that gets in the way of the capitalist process necessarily hinders it. In no possible way will higher taxes make capitalism “work better.” Those who claim otherwise are either one of two things: ignorant of what capitalism is, or insidiously plotting its demise.

Russia Tells Ukraine It Won't "Accept" Force Against Demonstrators

Ukraine may have drawn its own red line overnight by saying it will send "special forces" into the latest east Ukraine city captured by "pro-Russia separatists" as we just reported, but Russia wasted no time in explaining how it would deal with it. Bloomberg cites Russian foreign minister Lavrov who stated that, "Russia Won’t Accept Ukraine Force Versus Demonstrators.

Ukraine Sends Special Forces To "Deal" With Separatists; Donetsk Police Chief Steps Down

While the primary story regarding the Ukraine remains the stand off between Russia and Ukraine over nat Gazprom's gas deliveries and Kiev's overdue, and as of today - officially halted payments - not a weekend passes without some city in eastern Ukraine falling to what are now called "pro-Russian separatists" and this Saturday is no different. While last week it was the eastern cities of Luhansk, Donestk and Kharkiv that saw their government building taken over and occupied by the "separatists", today it was the turn of Slaviansk, where masked men armed with pistols and rifles stood guard near the police station as hundreds of locals gathered around, some building barricades with car tyres.

Guest Post: Real Americans Are Ready To Snap

Despite popular belief, every culture of every nation draws a line in the sand against government tyranny. The problem is, many draw this line so close to total defeat that it rarely matters.