Greece Refuses To Back Down: "Government Will Do As Promised" Tsipras Says

With an increasingly vitriolic tone, the new Greek government has come out swinging today with leader Alexis Tsipras making it clear that he will implement the election pledges the people of Greece voted for:

A NEW GREEK GOVT WILL BARGAIN TOUGH, AND PUT A FINAL END TO THE TROIKA AND ITS POLICIES, WE MANAGED TO DECONSTRUCT THE EUROPEAN STATUS QUO THAT WANTS MORE AUSTERITY AND LESS DEMOCRACY

"We will make the impossible, possible to turn things around in Greece" It took one week, Tsipras chides, to get European leaders to talk about the real problems and Greece will negotiate hard to "put an end to Troika," and "rebuild the country from the beginning."

US Trade Deficit Soars In December As Strong Dollar Hurts Exports, Downward Q4 GDP Revisions Imminent

And so after that epic 5.0% Q3 GDP print, driven largely by Obamacare, the payback begins, and the annualized Q4 GDP print, which came in at nearly half the previous quarter run rate, or 2.6%, is about to tumble by another ~0.5% following the just released trade data for December which saw a 17.1% surge in the US trade deficit from $39 billion (revised to $39.8 billion) to a whopping $46.6 billion in December, the widest deficit since 2012, as US exports declined 0.8% to 4194.9Bn from $196.4 Bn, while imports rose notably from $236.2Bn to $241.4Bn in the month before. All of this brought to you courtesy of the soaring USD. This was also the biggest miss to expectations of $38.0 billion since July of 2008. If this does not force policymakers to reassess the impact of the soaring dollar on US trade, nothing will.

Layoffs Surge 17.6% YoY, Shale State Joblessness Soars, Initial Jobless Claims Rise

It all makes perfect sense. Challenger announced this morning that layoffs in January soard 17.6% year-over-year with planned job cuts at the highest level in almost 2 years... Jobless claims in Shale states continues to trend higher as oil prices collapse... but initial jobless claims beat expectations - hovering near cycle lows - though did rise modestly WoW.

Bulk Shipping Bankruptices Begin As Baltic Dry Collapse Continues

With one of the world’s leading dry bulk shipping companies, Copenhagen-based D/S Norden, having made huge losses for the last 2 years and expected to report dramatic losses in 2014 also, it is hardly surprising that the smaller bulk shipping firms are struggling as The Baltic Dry Index collapses ever closer to record all-time lows. As Reuters reports, privately-owned shipping company Copenship has filed for bankruptcy in Copenhagen after losses in the dry bulk market, with the CEO exclaiming, "we have reached a point where there is not more to do." We suspect, given the crash in shipping fees, that this is the first of many...

ECB Pulls The Trigger: Blocks Funding To Greece Via Debt Collateral - Full Statement

Just what the market had hoped would not happen...

*ECB SAYS IT LIFTS WAIVER ON GREEK GOVERNMENT DEBT AS COLLATERAL
*ECB SAYS IT CAN'T ASSUME SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION OF GREECE REVIEW

What this means simply is that since Greek banks are now unable to pledge Greek bonds as collateral and fund themselves, and liquidity is about to evaporate, the ECB has effectively just given a green light for Greek bank runs, as suddenly it has removed, both mathematically but worse politically, a key support pillar from underneath the already bailed out Greek banking system, (or merely a negotiating move to let Greece see just what kind of chaos this will create ahead of the big D-Day on Feb 25th when ELA could be withdrawn).

Guest Post: Organizing Against Tyranny

If you are one of the slithering acolytes of political theory then the primary tool of organization for you is to lie, and to lie often. Tricking people into action using false premises, telling people what they want to hear rather than opening their eyes to reality, is perhaps the easiest way to build a movement. Of course, that movement will eventually destroy itself as the lies begin to inhibit progress rather than inspire it. But in most cases, by the time the organization self-destructs it has already been exploited for the nefarious purpose it was intended. For the liberty movement, the movement against globalization and forced centralization of financial and political power, lies are simply not an option. We must organize around the truth, no matter how painful it happens to be.

The Latest US Invasion Of Iraq Begins: US Military Search And Rescue Teams Arrive In Northern Iraq

Despite numerous explanations that no boots-on-the-ground will be on-the-ground in Iraq in the war against Islamic State, it appears, as CNN reports, that the US military has moved Search-and-Rescue (S&R) assets to Northern Iraq as part of a "constant rebalancing" depending on the evolving airstrike-only mission. Of course, as the 'unnamed source' was so quick to explain, this was in no way a response to threats from The UAE to pull out of the coalition unless S&R assets were placed in Iraq since, cynically speaking, the UAE demands are only the result of US demands that it demand it anyway.

$25 Billion Hedge Fund Manager Explains 'How To Be A Great Trader'

Every money manager makes mistakes in the course of a career. Sometimes the mistakes are isolated, and sometimes they come in bundles or waves. The fact that the vast majority of investors and traders cannot (with rare exceptions) beat the markets over long periods of time is not an argument for efficiency. Rather, the reason is that they are mostly doing the same thing sharing the same set of assumptions, and following the same impulses.

Goldman Busts The Narrative: The New Oil Order Is "Blessing In Disguise" For Russia

With S&P facing billion-dollar fines for defying the narrative, Goldman Sachs just dared to go even further against the US government by suggesting that the new oil order may be a blessing in disguise for Russia's oil industry. Simply put, the impact of the lower oil price and sanctions on the Russian economy increase the importance of oil industry tax reform, which could provide stimulus for upstream investments and commercialisation of the country’s vast oil reserves. An acceleration of upstream/downstream tax rebalancing could incentivise the development of substantial new basins in Russia, leading to a production capacity increase and a reduction in refining volumes to levels necessary to supply the domestic market. As a result, in Goldman's view, Russian crude exports would increase, improving the country’s current account, government revenues would grow, and upstream would attract material incremental investments.

A Chapter In Trading History Closes: CME Ends The Open-Outcry Pit

Scenes like this one from the iconic movie Trading Places will henceforth be forever entombed in the annals of trader history, a history in which man is thoroughly replaced by machine, following news earlier today that the CME will close most of its futures pits in Chicago and New York. "The move deals a death blow to trading floors that grew in the 20th century alongside America’s agriculture, mining and energy industries and were once synonymous with capitalism."

Abegeddon: Speculators Are Net Short Japanese Stocks For First Time Since Abenomics

Despite increasing the scope of QQE, it appears the most crucial part of Abenomics has been lost... speculative faith that Abe and Kuroda have a clue what they are doing. With JGB yields spiking higher and now CFTC net speculative positions in Japanese stocks bearish for the first time since 2012, it looks like time's up for the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th arrow...

 

Venezuela Runs Out Of Condoms: A Pack Now Costs $755 (If You Can Find It)

Unfortunately, the country whose president two weeks ago said that "Venezuela Must Deepen Socialism To Improve Economy", which is the political equivalent of "we must do even more QE to fix record wealth inequality", may have just hit rock bottom when Venezuelans, who already must line up for hours to buy the simplest of daily necessities (which they can obtain without being arrested in the process if they are lucky) now have to pay $755 for a pack of condoms. “The country is so messed up that now we have to wait in line even to have sex,” lamented Jonatan Montilla, a 31-year-old advertising company art director. “This is a new low.”

Paul Singer Warns "The Consequences Of Monetary Manipulation Are Unknowable"

The world believes it is in a sweet spot. There is global consensus that central banks know what they are doing and are in control, and that if economies falter, a bigger dose of QE or ZIRP or NIRP (negative interest rate policy – we just made that one up) will keep it from getting out of hand. Additionally, there seems to be a universally held belief that the U.S. is unquestionably the safe haven for the foreseeable future, that its financial crisis and long recession are behind it and that China has complete control over its own destiny. It may not surprise you to learn that we either disagree with or remain unconvinced about every one of the foregoing propositions.

President Of Euro Parliament Warns Greece Risks National Bankruptcy; Varoufakis Replies: "Greece Already Is Bankrupt"

With the ECB escalating matters this afternoon, the craziness of European leaders talking past one another in an effort to create the next headline-driven narrative continued to gather pace today. That idiocy was nowhere more obvious than when EU President Martin Schulz warned ominously that Greece risks national bankruptcy if it continues down the path of non-agreement when Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has previously explained quite clearly that "Greece is already bankrupt."

Meet The Man Behind The Scenes: The "Pro-Market Socialist" Banker Who Will Shape "Europe's Financial Future"

While the media world follows every step of the new Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis (or "YV") with morbid fascination, and for good reason - he is so subdued it makes him flamboyant to a media world unaccustomed with modesty -  the truth is that, for all his best intentions, Yanis as well as the Prime Minister, are merely frontmen for popular consumption. The real brains behind the latest Greek attempt at tearing away the hated "oppressive" shackles of debt (which nobody had a problem incurring originally when everything was going smoothly, but that's a topic for another day) is a banker who sits 3000 kilometers away, on Paris' Boulevard Hausmann, and who is a self-described "pro-market socialist", and fan of The Clash. Meet Lazard's Matthieu Pigasse, the banker, whose actions in the next few days, as the WSJ puts it, will shape  "Europe’s financial future."

The Long View: Is The Bull Market In Bonds Almost Over?

There has been much debate about the current low levels of interest rates in the economy today. The primary argument is that the "30-year bull market in bonds", due to consistently falling interest rates, must be near its end. Of course, this debate has devastated the "bond bears" who have consistently been frustrated by lower interest rates despite their annual predictions to the contrary. However, just because interest rates are currently low, does this necessarily mean that they must rise?