What About The Dollar: Russia, Iran Announce $20 Billion Oil-For-Goods Deal

Spot what is missing in the just blasted headline from Bloomberg:

IRAN, RUSSIA SAID TO SEAL $20B OIL-FOR-GOODS DEAL: REUTERS

If you said the complete absence of US Dollars anywhere in the funds flow you are correct. Which is precisely what we have been warning would happen the more the West and/or JPMorgan pushed Russia into a USD-free corner.

Obama Administration Admits Use Of "Warrantless Searches" Of US Citizens

Just over a month ago, we reported on the Supreme Court's ruling that police may search a home without obtaining a warrant thus denigrating the Fourth Amendment to the funeral pyre under the Obama Administration's totalitarian might. Today that decision (and the end of the 4th) were confirmed when the country's top intelligence official confirmed in a letter to Congress that the Obama administration has conducted warrantless searches of Americans' communications as part of the National Security Agency's surveillance operations. While efforts were made to suggest agencies do not deliberately track Americans' emails, phone calls, and online activity without a warrant, as Sen. Wyden notes, "the facts show that was misleading."

Dennis Gartman Comes Out In Defense Of HFT: "They Do Indeed Have Better Quality Computers Than Do We"

Presented with no commentary and with lots of laughter as yet one more "expert" who has no clue what HFT actually is (and every clue about being the market's best contrarian indicator - see here and here and here and here) comes out of the woodwork with a "world-renowned" opinion. Again.... and Again.... and Again. Needless to say, Gartman opining in favor of HFT effectively seals the debate if the vacuum tubes should all be done away with this nanosecond.

Have We Reached Peak Wall Street?

Though the mainstream financial media and the blogosphere differ radically on their forecasts - the MFM sees near-zero systemic risk while the alternative media sees a critical confluence of it - they agree on one thing: the Federal Reserve and the “too big to fail” (TBTF) Wall Street banks have their hands on the political and financial tiller of the nation, and nothing will dislodge their dominance. In addition, the U.S. dollar’s status as a reserve currency is a key component of U.S. global dominance. Were the dollar to be devalued by Fed/Wall Street policies to the point that it lost its reserve status, the damage to American influence and wealth would be irreversible. What if there is another possibility to the consensus view that the Fed/Wall Street will continue to issue credit and currency with abandon until the inevitable consequence occurs, i.e. the dollar is devalued and loses its reserve status. What if Wall Street’s power has peaked and is about to be challenged by forces that it has never faced before. Put another way, the power of Wall Street has reached a systemic extreme where a decline or reversal is inevitable.

Europe Mapped According To The Germans (And The Russians)

As Acting-Man's Pater Tenebrarum notes, a recent Der Spiegel article highlights the fact that in spite of the fact that Russia and especially Putin are demonized with great verve in the Western media (including Germany's), it seems German citizens from all walks of life and all political camps are highly devoted fans of Russia and its president. As the following two maps show, "Europe" means a lot of different things to the Germans and the Russians.

Peak HFT?

We doubt it: first wait until the next market crash is blamed on HFT (as we speculate it will)... and then watch as the entire world suddenly goes all tar and feathers on a few million vacuum tubes.

De-escalation Off: US Navy Sends Warship To Black Sea "In Direct Response To Ukraine Circumstances"

On the heels of NATO's declaration that is was suspending all practical cooperation with Russia (and ordered military planners to draft new measures to strengthen its defenses), Bloomberg reports that the US will be sending a Navy warship back to the Black Sea. Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren told reporters that the ship (as yet unnamed) wil be there to conduct exercises with allies and is a "direct response to the circumstances in Ukraine." and is the first in the Black Sea for 2 weeks.

Goodbye Blythe Masters

A week ago we wrote: 'While it has been public for a long time that i) JPM is eager to sell its physical commodities business and ii) the most likely buyer was little known Swiss-based Mercuria, there was nothing definitive released by JPM. Until moments ago, when Jamie Dimon formally announced that JPM is officially parting ways with the physical commodities business. But while contrary to previous expectations, following the sale JPM will still provide commercial gold vaulting operations around the world, it almost certainly means farewell to Blythe Masters." Sure enough:

JP MORGAN COMMODITY CHIEF BLYTHE MASTERS LEAVING, WSJ SAYS       

Farewell Blythe: we hope your replacement will be just as skilled in keeping the price of physical gold affordable for those of us who keep BTFD every single day.

Presenting The Next Market Rigged By High Frequency Trading

Almost a month ago, we wrote "This Is The One Financial Product Now Targeted By The HFT Swarm", in which after briefly perusing the Virtu S-1 filing, we concluded that "one product stood out. It is highlighted on the chart below: FX."

We are happy to report that this time the mainstream media is following our reports much more closely then five years ago, because overnight none other than Bloomberg came out with "High-Frequency Traders Chase Currencies as Stock Volume Recedes" in which we read, guess what, "Forget the equity market. For high-frequency traders, the place to be is foreign exchange." But our readers already knew this of course...

Jon Stewart On HFT: "It's Not American; It's Not Even Capitalism. It's Cheating"

John Stewart is stunned by the world of HFT (where "stock exchanges sell the right to advance information to high frequency traders [by locating their computers closest to the exchange]") and the mainstream media's immediate jump to defend it "as good for us", but as Michael Lewis explains "anyone whose livelihood is dependent on Wall Street [from CNBC, FOX and even the SEC] is invested in this... it sounds like a conspiracy." As Lewis explains, HFTs "function on volume and volatility" alone and "they know the prices before you do... which is illegal if it's a person, but as a computer, meh?"

The Fed Goes Hunting For "Asset Price Bubbles"

As the world's investors wait anxiously for the next piece of bad news from Japan, China, Europe, or US as a signal to buy, buy, buy on the back of a renewed "stimulus" of freshly printed money that has comforted them for 5 years, it seems the Fed is turning its attention elsewhere:

  • BULLARD SAYS MONITORING FOR ASSET BUBBLES `IMPORTANT CONCERN'
  • BULLARD SAYS ASSET PRICE BUBBLES MAY BECOME `BIG CONCERN'

For now though, of course, the Fed's Bubble-o-meter has no batteries. Pointing out the irony that the Fed creates the bubbles... and then when it becomes a "big concern" it promises to do something about it if it every sees one.  Finally, we are delighted that the schizhophrenia of the central planners continues to be exhibited for all to see: first Yellen tells everyone to buy stocks on Tuesday with an uber-dovish retracement of her "6 month" flub, and now Bullard is saying to watch out for bubbles. What can one say but... economists.

Double Whammy Shocker From Goldman Which Is Also Waving Goodbye To The NYSE

In what is a true double whammy of market structure stunners from Goldman over the past week, not only has the firm done an about face on HFT (we eagerly await Goldman's pardon of "HFT market manipulator" and former Goldman employee Sergey Aleynikov) and is now actively bashing the high freaks (much to the chagrin of Virtu and its pulled IPO, whose lead underwriter Goldman just happened to be), overnight it was reported that Goldman is also in the process of selling its "designated market-maker" unit to Dutch firm IMC Financial Markets to sell the trading business.

 

Goldman's 2014 S&P Target Is Just 10 Points Away

As we entered the year, Goldman Sachs set out a target of 1,900 for the S&P 500 by the end of 2014. Thanks to the plethora of bad news (which, obviously, is great news) and the promise of more money printing if things get worse, with the mini-melt-up of the last few days (ahead of the ECB hope tomorrow and traders desire for a dismal print at Friday's NFP), the S&P 500 is now within 10 points of Goldman's year-end target (it seems 104.50 USDJPY will do it). The Dow is also about to go green year-to-date for the first time in 2014.

What Happens After The Low-Hanging Fruit Has Been Picked?

One way to understand why the global financial meltdown occurred in 2008 and not in 2012 is all the oxygen in the room had been consumed. In the U.S. housing market, there was nobody left to buy an overpriced house with a no-document liar loan because everyone who was qualified to buy a McMansion in the middle of nowhere had already bought three and everyone who wasn't qualified had purchased a McMansion to flip with a liar loan. Once the pool of credulous buyers evaporated, the dominoes fell, eventually circling the globe. Right now China is at the top of the S-Curve, and the problems of stagnation are still ahead.

Factory Orders Beat Expectations Thanks To Major Seasonal Adjustments

Non-Seasonally adjusted New Orders dropped 0.6% YoY - the biggest drop in 11 months (and Capital Goods New Orders plunged 10.2%) but of course, in the current weather-related slowdown-reality, despite a notable mark-down in last month's seasonal data, the headline "common knowledge"-defining data will be the Factory Orders beat expectations (off a lower base).

 

The Real Reason(s) Why Steve Cohen Is Much, Much Richer Than You (In Steve Cohen's Own Words)

The types of “research” SAC may acquire include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • reports on or other information about particular companies or industries;
  • economic surveys and analyses;
  • consulting services regarding products, technologies, issuers or industries;
  • non-mass-marketed financial publications (delivered in hard copy or electronically);
  • computerized pricing and market data services;
  • pre-trade and post-trade analytics, software and other products that generate market research, including research on optimal execution venues and trading strategies;
  • advice from brokers-dealers on order execution, including advice on execution strategies, market color and the availability of buyers and sellers (and software that provides such market research);

Russian Retaliation #1: Russia Largest Bank Halts Foreign Currency Loans

It didn't take long for Russia to launch the first retaliatory salvo against the unexpected JPMorgan "act of aggression." Moments ago Bloomberg just reported that Sberbank,  the largest bank in Russia and all of Eastern Europe, just halted the issuance of consumer loans in foreign currency. Bloomberg adds that "Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, holds 43.3% of nation’s consumer deposits, 32.7% of consumer loans and 32.1% of corporate loans."

35% Surge In Sales Smashes New York Apartment Prices To Record High

"We're seeing basic Econ 101 coming into play," says one New York realtor, "when you have this much demand and so little inventory, prices will have to rise. And they have." And, as Bloomberg reports, that is definitely the case as Manhattan apartment sales surged 35% in the busiest start to a year since 2007, setting price records with the average price per square foot rose 24% to $1,363, the highest in 25 years of record-keeping. As a large broker noted, "we're finally at a point where you're seeing the chronic lack of supply push prices higher," adding "the market really isn’t fun for the buyer." But that freshly printed money from the world's central banks to the world's oligarchs has to go somewhere...