El-Erian: 6 Reasons Why Capex Is Constrained

Following last week's confirmation that capital expenditure in the land of the Free runs a very poor third to buybacks and dividends (and well anything that props up the over-inflated share prices of US corporates), and merely confirming what we have been discussing for the last few years (that Fed policy has focused management on short-term gratification and not long-term growth and stability), ex-PIMCO shit-cleaner-upper Mohamed El-Erian notes six reasons why the collapse in capex spend will continue and how central banks have failed to prime the pump of the real economy.

Ukraine's New Navy Head Denis Berezovsky Defects After Just One Day On The Post

Overnight, there had been numerous rumors that the newly appointed chief of the Ukraine navy, who was just made head of the navy on Saturday, had defected to the Crimean people explicitly, and to pro-Russian forced in the region implicitly. The sourcing of most were various Russian outlets so we discounted these until we got confirmation from a "western" source. The BBC did just that moments ago: "The newly appointed head of Ukraine's navy has sworn allegiance to the Crimea region, in the presence of its unrecognised pro-Russian leader. Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky was only made head of the navy on Saturday, as the government in Kiev reacted to the threat of Russian invasion."

Ukraine Capital Control Crunch: Largest Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals To $100 Daily

As we warned on Friday, the military escalation in Ukraine has had dire consequences for the financial state of the country, its banks, and ultimately its people. The central bank promised to rescue domestic banks so long as they agreed to its complete control and it appears the first consequences of that "we are here to help you" promise is coming true:

UKRAINE'S PRIVATBANK LIMITS ATM WITHDRAWALS TO UAH1,000/DAY ($103/day)

Privatbank is Ukraine's largest bank and while claiming this move is temporary (just like Cyprus' capital controls), the bank has also ceased new loans amid what it calls "geopolitical instability". In summary, you can't have your money back! Expect long angry lines at Ukrainian banks on Monday morning (and at the pace of collapse in the Hyrvnia, hyperinflation next).

Meanwhile, China Quietly Takes Over Zimbabwe

While the developed world is focusing on the rapidly deteriorating developments in the Crimean, China, which has kept a very low profile on the Ukraine situation aside from the token diplomatic statement, is taking advantage of this latest distraction to do what it does best: quietly take over the global periphery while nobody is looking. We learn that China has just achieved what every ascendent superpower in preparation for "gunboat diplomacy" mode needs: a key strategic airforce base, located in one time economic zombie, Zimbabwe, which incidentally just adopted the Chinese Yuan as a legal currency, and whose president just happens to be on China's payroll.

John Kerry Slams "Incredible Act Of Aggression", NATO Says Russia "Must Stop"

Just in case Obama's Friday message of "costs" should Russia invade Ukraine, which it did, was lost in translation, here is NATO with the clarification, and more harsh language: Russia "threatens peace and security in Europe. Russia must stop its military activities and its threats." And just in case both Obama and NATO were misunderstood, here is Kerry appearing on CBS' Face the Nation laying down the law, and even more harsh language: John Kerry on Sunday condemned Russia's "incredible act of aggression" in Ukraine and threatened "very serious repercussions." "It's an incredible act of aggression. It is really a stunning, willful choice by President (Vladimir) Putin to invade another country. Russia is in violation of the sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia is in violation of its international obligations." Russia's response? "No comment at the moment," Peskov said.

Ukraine Orders Full Military Mobilization, Acting PM Says Russian Actions "Declaration Of War"

With less than 6 hours left until FX trading opens, no resolution to the Ukraine crisis is in sight. Instead the situation has devolved even more and overnight Ukraine has ordered a full military mobilisation in response to Russia's build-up of its forces in Crimea. Prime Minster Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the country was "on the brink of disaster." The BBC adds that it has seen what appear to be Russian troops digging trenches on the Crimean border.  Furthermore, a standoff between Ukrainian troops who have fortified a base in the crimean city of Privolnoye, and Russians who have surrounded them, may be the match that set it all off. Fox reports that hundreds of unidentified gunmen surrounded a Ukraine's infantry base in Privolnoye in its Crimea region Sunday. The convoy included at least 13 troop vehicles each containing 30 soldiers and four armored vehicles with mounted machine guns. The vehicles -- which have Russian license plates -- have surrounded the base and are blocking Ukrainian soldiers from entering or leaving it. In response, acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the move by Russian forces to surround military bases in Crimea was "a declaration of war."

Russia vs Ukraine: The Infographic

Curious how Ukraine, which with its population of 44 million and size of 603,628 square km makes it the largest single country entirely in Europe, stacks up against Russia? The following infographic should answer some questions regarding the (im)balance of power.

Caption Contest: Ukraine On The Line

As the West Wing tweeted earlier, the White House released this photo of president Obama on the phone with Russian president Putin. Because there is always a professional photographer handy when the fate of a nation is on the line, so to speak.

The Greatest Propaganda Coup Of Our Time?

There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false. The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category... But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized.  What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time.

Obama And Putin Held Phone Conversation

"On the initiative of the US, a phone call took place between Vladimir Putin and the President of the US, Barack Obama. Under discussion were the various aspects of the extraordinary situation in Ukraine. In response to the concern expressed by Barack Obama regarding the possible use of Russian armed forces in the Ukraine, Vladimir Putin drew attention attention to the provocative, criminal acts of the ultranationalist elements, in effect encouraged by the present authorities in Kiev. The Russian president stressed the existence of real threats to the lives and well-being of Russian citizens and numerous compatriots located in the Ukraine. Vladimir Putin underscored that should the violence spread further to the eastern regions of the Ukraine and the Crimea, Russia reserves the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population living there."

Ukraine's Acting President Puts All Armed Forces On Full Combat Alert

In a stunning 24 hours, it now appears that Russia and the Ukraine are one formal announcement away from a state of war. From moments ago, as reported by Bloomberg:

  • UKRAINE ACTING PRESIDENT PUTS ALL FORCES ON FULL COMBAT ALERT

And this, as reported by the NYT, virtually assures the escalation to a hot war, as some provocation, somewhere will certainly take place: "a Ukrainian military official in Crimea said Ukrainian soldiers had been told to “open fire” if they came under attack by Russia troops or others."

Near-Bankrupt Rome Bailed Out As Italy Unemployment Rises To All Time High, Grows By Most On Record In 2013

A few days ago, we reported that, seemingly out of the blue, the city of Rome was on the verge of a "Detroit-style bankruptcy." " And just as expected, yesterday Rome was bailed out. What is certain is that this year will not be the last one Rome is bailed out either. In fact, it will continue getting rescued for years to come because contrary to the propaganda, the Italian economy continues to get worse with every passing month, yields on Italian bonds notwithstanding. Ansa reports that in January the Italian unemployment rate rose to a record 12.9%, and that "reducing Italy's "shocking" rate of unemployment must be the government's highest priority, Premier Matteo Renzi said Friday." How, by pretending everything is ok, kicking the Roman can and hoping things improve by bailing out anyone that is insolvent? Putting 2013 in perspective, this is the year when according to national statistical agency Istat, some 478,000 jobs were lost in Italy in 2013, the worst year since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, with an average annual jobless rate of 12.2% last year.

Pro-Russian Protesters Storm Kharkiv City Administration Building; Russian Flags Hoisted Across East Ukraine

Even as Russia has officially deployed its military to the Ukraine, its unofficial involvement in The Crimean was well known for days. A much more notable development would be if protesters in the pro-Russian eastern part of the country were to seize control of the second largest city in the Ukraine, Kharkiv, located just miles from the Russian border as this would quickly give Russia a foothold into the east of the nation with the tactical escalation abilities such a takeover would entail. Which is why the following clip of pro-Russian protesters storming the city administration in Kharkiv is of importance: should Ukraine lose control of the city, or is forced to use troops against the people, it would be just the pretext Russia needs to "defend" citizens in this part of the country, the same argument it used for military intervention in the Crimean.

Ukraine Acting President Calls Emergncy Meeting Of Security Chiefs; Russia Threatens To Cut Off The Gas

All the dominoes are tumbling now. Moments after the Russian upper house of parliament approved the decision to use Russian troops in the Ukraine as expected, Ukraine's acting president called an emergency meeting of security chiefs according to his spokeswoman. Oleksander Turchinov summoned his Security Council after Russian President Vladimir Putin sought parliamentary approval to deploy Russian forces in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. At this point the biggest and perhaps final wildcard is whether NATO does or does not get involved. If it does, and if Russia does not back off - which it has clearly telegraphed it won't - futures may be looking at a limit down open on Sunday.

Putin To Use Military In Ukraine

Current US foreign policy in a nutshell: Barack Obama tells Vladimir Putin "there will be costs" if Russia invades Ukraine. What does Putin do? He invades Ukraine. Only this time it's official: AP reports that the Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked parliament for permission to use the country's military in Ukraine. Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine's strategic region of Crimea. RIA further adds, the military use is virtually assured as it was leaders of Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament who first called Saturday on President Vladimir Putin to stabilize the situation in Crimea and protect Russian citizens.  The leader of Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, said the use of military force in the former Soviet nation could be justified after the opposition swept into power in Kiev last weekend.