Socialist-Motion Trainwreck: France Mistakenly Orders 2,000 Trains Which Are Too Wide For Its Platforms

In a time before the New Normal "fairness doctrine" where socialized companies such as GM have 60% more recalls in 5 months than they had sales in the prior year, a story such as the following would belong at best to a surreal "Polak" joke. Unfortunately, in this centrally-planned day and age, it is all too real. Reuters reports that in order to boost GDP and to cement that even under hard-core socialism France is still a manufacturing powerhouse, the French national rail company SNCF had ordered some 2000 trains for an expanded regional network from the national rail operator RFF. There was just one problem: the trains were too wide.

Russia And China Do Pipelineistan

A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.

Caught On Camera: Fire At Fukushima?

We are by no means experts at identifying instances of fire caught on camera under low illumination conditions, but the following compressed 3 minute video from the official Tepco YouTube feed (where 1 second of the clip represents 20 seconds in real time) showing the Fukushima nuclear power plant between 8:00pm and 9:00 pm last night, and particularly the segment 1:16 into the clip and continuing for about 30 seconds (or about 6 minutes in the real world), certainly looks disturbing.

Will We Never Learn? (2002 Edition)

"The tragedy for all of us would be if the Fed's and the Treasury's and the Congress's reverence for people who make a lot of money left us unprotected against some sudden revelation of the truth that becomes obvious only in hindisght... that a lot of them don't know what they are doing..."

- Martin Mayer, 2002

Banking Buffoonery, Modeling Mysticism And Why Paul Krugman Should Be Sweatin' Bullets

We have a few things to say about the recent debunking of established monetary theories. Effectively, the BoE joined forces with the rebels in economics who’ve long argued that standard models are bunk. Moreover, the BoE’s report discredits many well-known pundits, some more so than others. We’ll pick on one from the “more so” category: Paul Krugman.

Putin's Crimea Bonus: Vast Oil And Gas Fields

Crimea's secession to Russia - and Putin's gracious acceptance of their request for annexation - has focused all eyes on the peninsula's landmass and rolling tanks; but, as we have noted previously, NY Times reports that when Russia acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars. It's all about the resources as we have noted previously but Russian officials are quick to play this down, "compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there," but as one analyst noted, Russia’s annexation of Crimea "so obvious" as a play for offshore riches. No wonder Putin is happy to take on the 'burden' of Crimea.

The Modern Investor's Manifesto

The stock market is filled with people who know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” – Philip Fisher.

A 51-point personal perspective on some of the challenges facing today’s investor...

Jobless Claims And The Issue Of "Full Employment"

Last week, the number of first-time jobless claims dropped below 300,000 which has not happened since before the onset of the financial crisis. Not surprisingly, the media and economic analysis exploded with commentary that this is a sure sign that the economic recovery is afoot. Such a recovery will lead to stronger employment, higher wages, rising interest rates and a continuation of the bullish stock market cycle. However, is that really the case?

When 'Memes' Fail - Worst Dow Tuesday In 7 Months

It began with JPY technicals and peripheral European weakness then US Retail earnings started it, Plosser extended it (rate hike sooner), then Dudley slammed it (terminal rate lower than normal)... Turbo Tuesday became Terrible Tuesday - only saved by the apparent BTFWWIII effort after Russia test-fired ICBMs. This was still the worst Tuesday for the Dow in 7 months. Despite the best effort of someone to lift VIX amid the turmoil and rescue stocks, things ended red and ugly for the Russell. USDJPY clung keenly to its 200DMA around 101.25 but stocks were manacled to bond yields on the day. Stocks crumbled back to credit markets un-exuberance from yesterday. Gold and silver recovered from an early slamdown to close higher as the USD trod water... and volume was above average.

Credit Mania Update – The Chase for CCC-Rated Bonds

Despite the plethora of talking heads proclaiming credit markets as awesomely supportive of stocks - High-Yield bond spreads are flashing red... But that's not stopping investors piling into the worst of the worst. As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes, in an all too reminiscent scene from 2007 (MBIA CDS traded 11bps at one point then remember), investors have been buying up bonds with a triple-C-rating en masse.

'Unpatriotic' Citi Turns Bullish Russian Stocks

While The White House's Jay Carney issued his "sell" recommendation week ago now, it appears Citi's FX techicals group have decided to do the unpatriotic thing and look for a positive "rusk"-on environment as Russia's MICEX stock market index begins to test pivotal resistance...

Fed's Dudley Explains Why Bond Yields Are (And Will Stay) Low

Ben Bernanke told those that could afford to hear that rates would not "normalize" in his lifetime and just last week we noted the market's shifting attitude towards what a post-rate-hike 'rate normalization cycle' might look like. As longer-term bond yields tumble, the Fed's Bill Dudley just confirmed the lower post-rate-hike "terminal rate" meme:

DUDLEY: LONG-TERM RATES LIKELY TO BE LOWER THAN HISTORIC NORM, SAYS EQUILIBRIUM REAL RATE MAY BE LOWER THAN NORMAL

 In other words, if and when the Fed starts raising rates, the highest rate to which it will raise rates in the next cycle is now expected to be notably below previous historical 'norms'. And stocks didn't like it and long-term bond yields tumbled...

Barclays' Head Of Gold Trading, And Gold "Fixer", Is Leaving The Bank

Last week, for the first time ever, in "From Rothschild To Koch Industries: Meet The People Who "Fix" The Price Of Gold" Zero Hedge shone a spotlight on the mysterious, and "without any permanent employees" company known as The London Gold Market Fixing Limited which for 117 years has served as the corporate face of the London bankers who "fix" the price of gold twice daily. Since then, more than one of the LinkedIn pages we profiled of the bankers among the 5 gold fixing banks has quietly been taken down. However, the biggest surprise took place moments ago when none other than the head of spot gold trading at Barclays, Marc Booker, did what so many heads of spot FX trading in the past few months have done over fears of being caught in the ongoing manipulation probe: he exited stage left from Barclays HQ at One Chruchill Place.

Fed President Says It Is Fed's Fault Markets Ignore Fundamentals

Equity markets are not happy about the Fed's Charles Plosser's economic exuberance ("3% growth no matter the weather" which is 20% above consensus of 2.5%) and his 'good-news-bad-news' monetary policy hawkishness ("may need to raise rates sooner rather than later"). But perhaps the most crucial part of his speech this morning was what the headlines notably left out. Plosser admonished his global central bank brethren: "if central banks do not limit their interventionist strategies and focus on returning to more normal policymaking aimed at promoting price stability and long-term growth, then they will simply encourage the financial markets to ignore fundamentals and to focus instead on the next actions of the central bank." Simply put, he warned, "central bankers have become too sensitive and desirous of managing prices in the financial world.."

The Chart That Has VIX Traders Most Concerned

The relationship between high-yield credit spreads (the 'cost' of protecting the most equity-like of the credit-risky bond spectrum) and VIX (the 'cost' of protecting equities) tend to have a very stable and consistently correlated relationship driven by clear arbitrages between the two asset classes and corporate finance causation. Last July, VIX futures plunged while credit spreads remained less impressed... that ended badly for the penny-in-front-of-the-steamroller crowd who saw VIX spike back to credit's reality. May 2014 - as the chart below shows - is exhibiting the same kind of disconnect and VIX traders and credit market participants are concerned.

USDJPY Breaks Key Technical Level; Drags Stocks, Bond Yields Lower

USDJPY has broken below its 200-day moving-average at 101.25 and is trading back to almost 6-month lows this morning ahead of this evening's BoJ meeting (which is largely expected now not to provide the additional QQE that everyone hoped for earlier in the exuberant year). The Nikkei is tumbling right along side it... as are US equities... and US Treasury bond yields...

Following Latest Recall Shocker, GM Has Recalled 56% More Cars In 2014 Than It Sold In 2013

Over the weekend we titled our summary of GM's unprecedented avalanche of recalls so far in 2014 - the year in which the company's criminal practice of covering up its faulty products became a congressional scandal -  as follows: "GM Set To Surpass Total Recall Record This Year." Three days later we are happy to report that while Detroit, we not only have a big recall problem, we also have a new record, after moments ago GM just announced another 4 recalls affecting 2.4 million cars. This brings the total number of vehicle investigations since the start of the year to 35, and with today's four latest fiascos, has initiated a whopping 29 recalls. More importantly, this also means that the number of domestic recalls rises to 13.6 million, smashing the previous record of 11.8 million recalls in 2004, and brings the number of global recalls to 15.2 million: or a stunning 56% greater than the 9.7 million cars GM sold in all of 2013!