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The Annotated History Of The Russian Empire

The potential geopolitical, economic, and asset implications of the tensions between Russia and the West over the crisis in Ukraine are weighing on growth hopes around the world (and not just in Russia). Russia's promising outlook for 2014 is fading fast but a worst-case scenario that includes a disruption in energy flows would likely wreak more economic and asset damage. However, some context at the growth of the Russian 'empire' is worthwhile before extrapolating Putin's demise too soon...



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NATO To Boost Air, Warship Presence Around Russia; Netherlands May Deploy F-16s To Ukraine

If there is was one way to assure a certain escalation in Ukraine hostilities beyond what has already happened, it is for NATO to do precisely what Russia warned it should not do: build up its presence in the surrounding countries. Which is why we find it somewhat puzzling that NATO announced it would do just this when as the Guardian reported, the military alliance said it would step up its presence around Russian borders to "reassure eastern European member states." And in case Russia fails to notice all of the Netherlands announced it is looking into the deployment of F16 fighter jets as Ukraine crisis air support "to try and ease the conflict around Ukraine, defence minister Jeanine Hennis told a television talk show on Tuesday night.  Asked specifically what form Dutch air support could take, the minister said 'it could mean sending an F16.'



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Why IBM Is Tumbling: BRIC Sales Plunge, Total Revenue Lowest Since 2009

Curious why after nearly touching $200 in early trading IBM is down 4% in after hours trading? Perhaps this has something to do with it: as the chart below shows, in Q1 IBM reported only $22.5 billion in sales, well below the $22.9 billion expected by the street, and down 3.9% from a year ago. In fact, this quarter's revenue was the lowest for IBM since the first quarter of... 2009. Net Income (non-GAAP of course), which was $2.6 billion and which met reduced estimates, was down a whopping 22% from a year ago. But the punchline, one which Cisco is very familiar with, was this:"Revenues in the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India and China — decreased 11 percent."



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Obama And Biden Explain How Great The Economy And Stocks Are - Live Feed

While Fed's Fisher explains how Fed policy has benefited the rich, President Obama (and Joe Biden) are in front of the teleprompter to explain how great it all is for the rest of Americans...

*OBAMA SAYS STOCK MARKET SOARING, TOO MANY AMERICANS STRUGGLING

cue class warfare...

 



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Dow Soars 350 Points In 27 Hours

Following yesterday's significant volume and major short-squeeze ('most shorted' ramped 4% off the lows), today saw neither with volumes light and equity performance prety much balance across the board. Most of the strength occurred overnight with stocks dumping off the open, ramped on Europe's close, modestly sold on Yellen's speech, then ramped into the close. The Dow and Trannies made it all the way back up to unchanged from the March FOMC statement/press conference.  Every status quo hugging asset-getherer heard what they wanted from Yellen - except that Treasuries sold off at the short-end and flattened dramatically to near 5-year lows (not exactly the dovish hype headlines are made of). Copper jumped and oil dumped with gold and silver treading water on the day. VIX was monkey-hammered lower and stocks tracked it. Bottom line, while stock bulls hear dovishness, bond traders are calling Yellen's bluff.



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IEX Records Its Highest Volume Day Yet

In a curious departure from convention, the Goldman-backed, HFT-evading pseudo dark pool IEX, made famous in Michael Lewis' blockbuster "Flash Boys" has decided to post daily volume stats of its operations. And whether it is due to the advertising by the iconic bookwriter, or because increasingly more brokers are switching over to IEX, it appears that new trading venue is gaining traction: according to its own reporting, on April 15, IEX recorded its highest volume day yet, recording nearly 38 million single-counted trades.



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New York AG Sends Subpoenas To HFT Firms Including Tower, Jump and Chopper

Now the vacuum tubes are really in trouble. Bloomberg reports that the NY AG Schneiderman is making good on his threat to go after (it remains to be seen if this is more than a publicity stunt, and actual enforcement actions follow) several New York HFT firms. Bloomberg reports:

  • NY AG SAID SEEKING INFO ON SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS WITH DARK POOLS
  • NY AG SAID TO SEND SUBPOENAS TO FIRMS INCLUDING JUMP TRADING
  • NY AG SAID TO SEND SUBPOENAS TO FIRMS INCLUDING CHOPPER
  • NY AG SAID TO SEND SUBPOENAS TO FIRMS INCLUDING TOWER RESEARCH

Surely Goldman was in no way aware of this coming crack down wave on HFT traders when it washed its hands of the entire industry, and effectively gave up on the trading space in its current format.



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"Pro-Russian Separatists" Attack Ukraine Soldiers With Guns, Molotov Cocktails, Local TV Station Reports (4 Killed, 12 Injured)

UPDATE: ABOUT 500 SEPARATISTS ATTACKED UKRAINE MILITARY BASE: TV5; Unconfirmed reports put the number of casualties higher, with four people killed and as many as 12 injured.

Having been on the receiving end of Ukraine special forces for the past 48 hours, it appears the "pro-Russian separatists" have decided to fight back: PRO-RUSSIAN SEPARATISTS ATTACK UKRAINE SOLDIERS; PRO-RUSSIAN SEPARATISTS ATTACK UKRAINE MILITARY BASE; SEPARATISTS USE GUNS, MOLOTOV COCKTAILS IN MARIUPOL: HROMADSKE. Considering the source is a local Ukraine TV station, one should take the news reported by Bloomberg, with a big grain of ketamine, however also considering the 3:30pm ramp appears to be late today (or was front run repeatdly earlier on in the day), this may just be the "bullish" catalyst the "market" needs to close at the day, if not all time, highs.



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GM Seeks Immunity From Lawsuits Due To Bankruptcy

While the law has been something the US government and General Motors have been willing to 'bend' or break in the past (absolute priority 'shifts' in bankruptcy), we suspect this latest move by Mary Barra's new GM will do more PR damage. Simply put, as many suspected given Barra's testimony and comments in the past, Reuters reports that General Motors Co will ask a bankruptcy court to block any litigation of the alleged deaths associated with the ignition switch problem since they are related to the automaker's pre-2009 bankruptcy. Of course, as we noted here, the Feds are probing the company over whether they knowingly committed bankruptcy fraud.



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Moldova's Transnistria Region "Approves" Appeal To Russia For Independence

As the EU seeks a closer association with Moldova, the 97% pro-Russian state of Transnistria (that we first warned was next here) is accelerating its move towards independence. As Bloomberg reports, despite condemnation by Moldova's government of the "direct defiance", the Transnistria Assembly has approved an appeal to Russia to recognize the region's independencee. Neighboring Romania is "worried" and there are growing 'actions' by the so-called "Supreme Soviet" in the region's capital. But, according to local news wires, there is a much bigger thing for government to worry about - modeling politicians.



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With 103 Mentions Of "Weather", It Is Time To Rename The 'Beige Book' To The 'Weather Book'

While overall the beige book was an absolute snoozer, almost as boring as Yellen's earlier appearance at the economic club of New York, and its core message were quite bullish, namely that:

EIGHT OF 12 FED DISTRICTS SAY GROWTH `MODEST OR MODERATE'
FED SAYS ECONOMIC GROWTH `INCREASED IN MOST REGIONS' OF U.S.
FED SAYS LABOR MARKET CONDITIONS `MIXED BUT GENERALLY POSITIVE'

... confirming that the Beige Book contributors did not get the "ignore the dots" memo, the only "exciting" thing that everyone was looking for: what the Fed thought about the weather. Because with 103 instances of the word "weather" in the report (granted less than the 119 in February), it sure thought a lot.



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About That "Strong" March Retail Sales "Bounce": Good Thing Summer's Coming!

We are now entering the fifth season of head-fakes about “escape velocity” acceleration in as many years. Yet the Wall Street stock peddlers and their financial media echo boxes are so fixated on the latest “delta”—that is, ultra short-term “high frequency” data releases—that time and again they serve up noise, not meaningful economic signal. The larger point here is that the Kool-Aid drinkers keep torturing the high frequency data because they are desperate for any sign that the Fed’s $3.5 trillion of QE has favorably impacted the Main Street economy. And that’s important not because it might mean some sorely needed income and job gains for middle America, but because its utterly necessary to validate the Fed’s financial bubble.



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Ex-Chairman Of Insolvent UK Bank Busted For Possession Of Cocaine, Ketamine And Crystal Meth

About a month ago, English bank Co-Operative Bank plc, which in October was handed over to bondholders in order to plug a 1.5 billion pound capital shortfall and which added last month it will need to raise an additional 400 million pounds to plug another funding shortfall related to legal and restructuring costs, surprised its brand new owners with news that its full year loss would be a massive $2.2 billion. However the bank's insolvency was just the beginning, and the biggest surprise was not to be unveiled until today when UK prosecution charged Paul Flowers, the banks' former chairman from March 2010 until June 2013, and a Methodist minister, with possession of cocaine and ketamine. Oh and crystal meth.



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What's The Difference Between Fascism, Communism And Crony-Capitalism? Nothing

When it comes to the real world, the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is semantic.



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Janet Yellen's First Monetary Policy Speech - Live Feed

*YELLEN SAYS FED COMMITTED TO ACCOMMODATION TO SUPPORT RECOVERY

Markets will be hanging on every word of what is likely Janet Yellen's first monetary policy speech and even more so the Q&A afterwards as she suggests that a considerable time is more than 6 months, and the delicate balance she has to play between admitting the economy is ugly while admitting that QE is over no matter what... all the while maintaining some semblance of credibility. One has to wonder if the ripfest rally of the last 24 hours is a buy the rumor ramp ahead of a sell the Yellen news event as once again she is tested...



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