USA Is The 16th Best Place To Be Born In The World

In 1988, America was the best place to be born in the world. Based on The Economist Intelligence Unit's quality-of-life index - which links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys (how happy people say they are) to objective determinants of the quality of life across countries - USA was #1. Fast forward 25 years or so... and The United States now ranks 16th, just above South Korea and just below Taiwan and Belgium.

EU Leaders "Are Afraid The Syriza 'Virus' Will Spread Across Europe"

As anti-austerity protests continue to build in numbers across Europe (and not just in Spain where Podemos now holds a commanding poll lead over the status quo) KeepTalkingGreece reports that Greek parliamentary spokesman for Syriza, Nikos Filis notes "The wave of protests indicates a new beginning... And it scares the dominant forces in Europe. Because Syriza virus can spread and in their communities." And we suspect that is indeed the Eurogroup's greatest fear...

"The Rig Count Decline Is Not Sufficient To Slow US Production" Goldman Warns

While so much has been made of the considerable decline in US rig counts as the driver behind the recent price bounce in oil, Goldman Sachs' Damien Courvalin pours cold water all over that narrative as he explains that the rig count decline is still not sufficient, in our view, to achieve the slowdown in US production growth required to balance the oil market. Worse yet, he concludes, with the producer hedging that has occurred over the past weeks and the recent wave of equity issuance, the risk that the US production slowdown will be delayed is high, meaning oil prices will need to remain lower in the coming quarters in order for the announced capex guidance and rig reduction to materialize into sufficiently lower production growth.

What Risk? "The Spoils Go To The Ignorant Only - The Fed's True Heroes"

US equity market Sharpe- and Sortino-ratios shows results that are nothing short of staggering. What they really say = Plenty of Gain with Very Little Pain... and it really is unsustainable if only because it has become much too easy to generate positive returns with very little effort, pain or savvy. To be sure these distorting effects may be entirely assigned to The Fed... They’ve literally trounced and expectorated on the concept of "moral hazard" and, it seems, purposely reconfigured and redefined its meaning into: "We have no economic morals... the spoils go to the ignorant only... The Fed's true heroes."

The Impact Of A Liquidity Bubble On Price In One Chart

The following chart courtesy of Citigroup, demonstrating the liquidity cliff, i.e., the impact of a liquidity bubble on price and risk, is so mindbogglingly simple, it is no wonder that virtually nobody gets it.

Greece And Euroland's Crumbling McMansion Of Debt

All the gimmicks lenders press on borrowers to maintain the artifice that the loan is being serviced are financial frauds. They are simply new frauds piled on the initial fraud of issuing a visibly imprudent loan. The borrower was not creditworthy and the lender should never have offered him loans of that magnitude and at that low interest rate. The losses belong to the lenders, period.

China's COSCO Dis-Assembles 8 Ships Amid Glut As Baltic Dry Hits Another Record Low

You know things are bad in the ship-building business when... amid considerably larger than expected losses, China's COSCO announced that it has dis-assembled 8 vessels in January alone (including 3 bulk carriers) and will be decommissioning and disposing of them as it awaits a "more conducive" environment. It appears that is not coming anytime soon, as The Baltic Dry Index just hit 522 - a new all-time low (down a stunning 53 of the last 55 days).

HSBC Bank: Secret Origins To Laundering The World's Drug Money

Contrary to popular opinion, it is not “demand” from the world’s population which creates the mind destroying drug trade. Rather, it is the world financial oligarchy, looking for massive profits and the destruction of the minds of the population it is determined to dominate, which organized the drug trade. The case of HSBC underscores that point. Serving as the central bank of this global apparatus, is HSBC.

The Latest "Most Critical" Eurogroup Meeting Begins - Live Feed

With "common ground" appearing to be a long lost hope, Eurogroup members have been arriving in Brussels for the latest installment of the EU-Greece showdown. Notably, ECB President Mario Draghi is in attendance this time. With Germany staunchly anti-change and France appearing to soften their stance a little, the cracks are beginning to show as EU leaders - as they arrived - were anything but optimistic of a solution being reached anytime soon.

How Did We End Up Here?

From here, the question is whether the current uptick is any more than a bout of short-covering which is doomed to relapse and print new lows once the overstretch inherent in an almost uninterrupted 60% plunge is worked off, or whether some more meaningful recovery can be staged. We still have our doubts about the latter outlook and would watch for behaviour near the 2009 low and the old range high (or in terms of the most heavily weighted of the constituents, crude oil, whether it will hold above first $40/bbl then $35). If not, we face the possibility of a reversion to the mean/mode of that 1974-2005 band at a level loosely corresponding to $20/bbl oil.

'Sceptical' Schaeuble Sounds Off: "I Feel Sorry For The Greeks & Their Irresponsible Government"

Whether this is more economic sabre-rattling or not, Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is not making any Greek friends this morning. During a radio interview on Deutschlandfunk, Schaeuble exclaimed that he was against  a deal "just for the sake of a compromise," and lashed out that "I feel sorry for the Greeks. The new Greek government behaves irresponsible." As Reuters reports, Schaeuble remains "very sceptical" and nobody wants to give Greece any more money "without guarantees," which is odd because within the last year - trend-chasing asset managers had appeared willing to throw good money after bad at it until now.

In NYT Op-Ed, Yanis Varoufakis Says Greece Is Not Bluffing, "Will Not Cross Red Lines It Has Drawn"

With only a few short hours until the process of everyone's cards being revealed in Brussels begins, it is once again Greece' turn to remind the other players on the table that no matter the quality of cards it has, it is not bluffing. Which is precisely what anyone bluffing would say.  In a just released Op-Ed in the NYT (were there no European newspaper willing to accept the Greek finance minister's Op-Ed one wonders that he had to go all the way to the bastion of the left... in the United States) the new Greek finance minister says that not only is he not bluffing adding "that I have no right to bluff", but using recent military jargon says that "the lines that we have presented as red will not be crossed. Otherwise, they would not be truly red, but merely a bluff."

Markets Quiet Ahead Of Eurogroup Summit; US On Holiday

It has been a quiet start to the week, with US equity futures and European stocks mostly unchanged with all eyes on what progress (if any) will be made between Greece and the Eurogroup, where the press conference is scheduled for 7:00 pm GMT (expect significant delays) in what is otherwise expected to be a relatively subdued day with the US away from market and a light macroeconomic calendar.

David Stockman: The Global Economy Has Entered The Crack-Up Phase

Few people understand the global economy and its (mis)management better than David Stockman -- former director of the OMB under President Reagan - and he is now loudly warning that events have entered the crack-up phase, which he predicts will be defined by four key developments. As the crack-up phase gains momentum, he predicts an increasing number of "financial breaks" that will add to the unpredictability and instability of the environment for investors. Even 'dancing close to the door' sounds excessively risky at this point.

30 Years Ago, Greece Bluffed Europe... And Won

"European leaders resolved a bitter financial dispute with Greece today, paving the way for Spain and Portugal to join the Common Market at the start of next year. Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou of Greece had threatened to veto an agreement reached this week on Iberian membership unless the other nine members gave Greek farmers $2 billion in special subsidies to help them compete with Spain and Portugal. But after two days of negotiations at a European Economic Community meeting here, Greece was persuaded to accept about $1.4 billion in new agricultural aid in return for lifting its veto threat."

- March 31, 1985

"I Live In Constant Fear" Kyle Bass Explains How We Got Here

"I constantly feel inadequate, which may be what drives me," Kyle Bass tells Raoul Pal in this excellent discussion between two of the world's foremost (non-status-quo-hugging everything-will-be-fine) market practitioners. The interview with Bass, from the newly launched Real Vision TV, covers everything from how he got started in his career, what drives him, his process "it's an art - there is no science to it", and not only how we got here, but where we are going (inevitably)...

Guest Post: The Great War Of The American Empire

Looking at a map of current American military engagements overseas, one cannot help but notice their wide geographical spread and their seemingly interminable nature. Battles have raged in Europe (Yugoslavia and Ukraine), in Africa, in the Middle East, and in central Asia. The American Empire has launched this country into a series of battles that have no end in sight and no location that may not become a focal point of military force. Upon close inspection, however, all of their rationales fall apart. None is satisfactory. The interventions are too widespread, too long-lasting and too unsuccessful at what they supposedly accomplish to lend support to any of the common justifications.