Frontrunning: February 23

  • Tsipras Tamed as Economists Declare Greece Loses Austerity Fight (BBG)
  • Greece readies reform plans to first sign of leftist unrest (Reuters)
  • Yellen Faces Congress Amid Direst Threat to Fed Since Dodd-Frank (BBG)
  • The war must go on: Kiev says cannot withdraw heavy weapons as attacks persist (Reuters)
  • Ukraine fears spread of war after blast in eastern city (Reuters)
  • Denmark Dismisses Report It Could Consider Capital Controls (BBG)
  • Deadline Nears on Homeland Security Funding Impasse (WSJ)
  • Gross Fund Hurt by Oil’s Plunge Amid Bets on Energy Bonds (BBG)

Initial "Greek Euphoria" Ends As Market Digests Road Ahead For Europe

If you thought the Greek tragicomedy is over, you ain't seen nothing yet, because despite the so-called Friday agreement, the immediate next step is for Greece to submit its list of reform measures to the Troika, which will almost certainly result in an immediate revulsion in Germany's finance ministry, and lead to another protracted back and forth between the Troika and Greece, which may once again well end with a Grexit, especially if the Greek liquidity situation, where bash is bleeding from both the banks and the state at a record pace, remains unhalted.  It is therefore not surprising that the ongoing decline in the EURUSD since the inking of the agreement, and the fact that the pair briefly dipped below 1.13 this morning - over 100 pips below the euphoric rip on Friday - is a clear indication that the market is starting to realize that absolutely nothing is either fixed, or set in stone.

Republicans To Investigate NASA Over Climate Data Tampering

With record heat (and drought) in the west and record cold (wet and snow) in the east, the global warming game-playing continues every day but the climate-gate rhetoric has increased vociferously since we first noted three weeks ago, the data that has been so relied upon to 'prove' global warming's trend was in fact manipulated. What The Telegraph called "the most extraordinary scandal of our times" - that of the "seasonally-adjusted" seasonal raw global temperature data - is about to be investigated by Congress. As Daily Caller reports, California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrbacher exclaimed "expect there to be congressional hearings into NASA altering weather station data to falsely indicate warming & sea rise."

This Won't End Well

With the S&P 500 now in positive territory for the year and the mainstream media back in normal cheerleading mode, it is worth noting that 1) "Most shorted" stocks have outperformed the broad market this year, 2) the last 3 weeks have seen the biggest short squeeze in almost 4 years, and 3) Hedge funds are now at a record high 57% net long. We suspect, given the looming Humphrey-Hawkins and March FOMC and the short-term 'gap' between the market and fun-durr-mentals, volatility will be on the rise again.

Trickle-Down QE

Everyone’s heard of trickle down economics, but how about “trickle down QE”? Here’s Citi to explain how a hypothetical credit strategist will visit your fictional office and use the concept of trickle down QE to convince an imaginary you to go long euro HY credit via synthetic exposure to Crossover mezz tranches (you can’t make this stuff up)...

Paul Craig Roberts: The Cancer Of Financial Repression (And Why You Can't Do Anything About It)

Financial repression "is going on on several fronts conducted by different people for their own agendas, though they all seem to be mutually supporting... There is a lot of collusion - the cancer which started in the US Financial System has spread globally... You now have two parties with the same head and reporting to the same masters. There is no longer any countervailing power."

This European Nation's Poverty Rate Just Hit A Record High (Spoiler Alert: Not Greece)

For the last few years - and most especially the last few months - all eyes have been focused on Greece. From record poverty rates to record suicide rates and levels of youth unemployment, post-election emboldened hopes for a phoenix-like rebirth of a nation from the flames of Eurogroup repression were seemingly dashed on Friday. However there is another nation, that begins with the letter 'G' and that is at the heart of the EU-Greece talks that is suffering seemingly silently. As Newsweek reports, poverty in Germany is at its highest since the reunification of the country in 1990, with 12.5 million residents now classified as 'poor'...

The Ultimate "Easy Money Paradox": How The ECB's Previous Actions Are Assuring The Failure Of Its Current Actions

The problem, as several sources told Reuters last week, is that there simply aren’t a lot of willing sellers. Ironically, the ECB’s own policy maneuvers are ultimately responsible for creating this situation. That is, the fallout from previous forays into ultra accommodative monetary policy is now hampering the implementation of quantitative easing - call it the ultimate easy money paradox.

Prominent French Journalist Calls For France-Germany-Russia Alliance

"NATO is doing its utmost to present Russia as an enemy of the West and thereby justify its existence," Zemmour wrote in Le Figaro Magazine. "Fortunately, France and Germany in due time blocked Ukraine’s accession to NATO, and that’s a positive fact. "Now when they finally coordinated their positions on establishing relations with Moscow, they should not stop halfway and should move towards forming a tripartite alliance with Russia," he said, recalling numerous efforts in the past by "kings, emperors and presidents" of the three countries to set up such an alliance." Such a bloc "will be the only chance for Europe to get rid of the United States protectorate and become, in the words of General de Gaulle, a ‘Free Europe’."

Department Of Homeland Security Issues Warning After "Mall Of America" Terror Threat

First it was ruthless snow (in the winter), then we got a port blockade (caused by well-paid US workers demanding even more), and now, unveiling the last pillar of the holy trifecta of economic disappointment scapegoats, earlier today the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, aka the "Department of Fear", Jeh Johnson said that in a video the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group al Shabaab called for attacks on US shopping malls, specifically citing the Minnesota mall, and that the agency is taking this threat against the Mall of America “very seriously” and that people should be “particularly careful” when visiting the mall in Minnesota. It was unclear just how being "careful" would protect one from ad hoc explosive detonations and other mass murder event, but that's a bridge the Department of Fear will cross when it gets to it.

The "Liquidity Glut" Springs Eternal: Global Central Bank Easing Quadruples In 2015

Thanks to global disinflationary pressures driven by the savings glut, an oil glut, and universally high (peak) debt levels (crushing the transmission mechanisms of textbook economists), central planners have gone full ease-tard in 2015. From a 'balanced' 10 easing, 9 tightening bias (~1:1) in December, Morgan Stanley illustrates in the following chart there are now 16 central banks easing and only 4 with a tightening bias (4:1) as it appears the one-trick pony brigade are trying moar of what didn't work the first, second, and last times in an effort to prove this time is different...

50 Shades Of Greece

When it comes to the ongoing Greek question, I see a lot of people eagerly jump to conclusions, after the ‘debt deal’, that I don’t think are justified; certainly not yet. The overall conviction in the press seems to be that Syriza has given in on just about all fronts, and Germany and Dijsselbloem are the big winners. But since that may well be the exact position Syriza wants ‘the other side’ to be in, where they think they have prevailed, one will have to try and think a few steps ahead before judging the situation. There’s far more grey area here than many pundits seem to assume, easily 50 shades of it.

Hedge Funds Underperform The S&P For The 7th Year In A Row: Here Are Their Top Holdings

Maybe one day investors, or at least the 1%-ers, will finally grasp that in a centrally-planned world in which the central banks themselves assure that there is "no risk", there is also no point in paying billionaire hedge fund managers 2 and 20 to "hedge" away risk, since there simply is none left.  However, since most people are too lazy to do any work (this includes hedge funds themselves), and would rather piggy back on other people's work (such as the rating agencies back in 2005-2007) that day is still far away. So for the time being, to satisfy everyone's natural curiosity why hedge funds continue to suck so bad, here are their biggest long, and far more importantly short, positions.

China's "Barely Noticed By The West" Pivot To Everywhere

Geopolitically, China has tweaked its model, but the West, especially the US, has barely noticed it. Essentially, the Beijing leadership finally got fed up with trying to manage a possible reset of the China-US strategic relationship, and be treated as an equal. Exceptionalists don’t do equality. So Beijing came up with its own response to the Obama administration’s political/military “pivot to Asia” – originally announced, and that’s quite significant, at the Pentagon. This is not as much a Chinese pivot to Asia as a Chinese pivot to selected nations in the Global South; and based on a “new type of international relations centered on ‘win-win’ cooperation” – not the bully-or-bomb exceptionalist approach.