This European Nation's Poverty Rate Just Hit A Record High (Spoiler Alert: Not Greece)

For the last few years - and most especially the last few months - all eyes have been focused on Greece. From record poverty rates to record suicide rates and levels of youth unemployment, post-election emboldened hopes for a phoenix-like rebirth of a nation from the flames of Eurogroup repression were seemingly dashed on Friday. However there is another nation, that begins with the letter 'G' and that is at the heart of the EU-Greece talks that is suffering seemingly silently. As Newsweek reports, poverty in Germany is at its highest since the reunification of the country in 1990, with 12.5 million residents now classified as 'poor'...

The Ultimate "Easy Money Paradox": How The ECB's Previous Actions Are Assuring The Failure Of Its Current Actions

The problem, as several sources told Reuters last week, is that there simply aren’t a lot of willing sellers. Ironically, the ECB’s own policy maneuvers are ultimately responsible for creating this situation. That is, the fallout from previous forays into ultra accommodative monetary policy is now hampering the implementation of quantitative easing - call it the ultimate easy money paradox.

Prominent French Journalist Calls For France-Germany-Russia Alliance

"NATO is doing its utmost to present Russia as an enemy of the West and thereby justify its existence," Zemmour wrote in Le Figaro Magazine. "Fortunately, France and Germany in due time blocked Ukraine’s accession to NATO, and that’s a positive fact. "Now when they finally coordinated their positions on establishing relations with Moscow, they should not stop halfway and should move towards forming a tripartite alliance with Russia," he said, recalling numerous efforts in the past by "kings, emperors and presidents" of the three countries to set up such an alliance." Such a bloc "will be the only chance for Europe to get rid of the United States protectorate and become, in the words of General de Gaulle, a ‘Free Europe’."

Department Of Homeland Security Issues Warning After "Mall Of America" Terror Threat

First it was ruthless snow (in the winter), then we got a port blockade (caused by well-paid US workers demanding even more), and now, unveiling the last pillar of the holy trifecta of economic disappointment scapegoats, earlier today the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, aka the "Department of Fear", Jeh Johnson said that in a video the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group al Shabaab called for attacks on US shopping malls, specifically citing the Minnesota mall, and that the agency is taking this threat against the Mall of America “very seriously” and that people should be “particularly careful” when visiting the mall in Minnesota. It was unclear just how being "careful" would protect one from ad hoc explosive detonations and other mass murder event, but that's a bridge the Department of Fear will cross when it gets to it.

The "Liquidity Glut" Springs Eternal: Global Central Bank Easing Quadruples In 2015

Thanks to global disinflationary pressures driven by the savings glut, an oil glut, and universally high (peak) debt levels (crushing the transmission mechanisms of textbook economists), central planners have gone full ease-tard in 2015. From a 'balanced' 10 easing, 9 tightening bias (~1:1) in December, Morgan Stanley illustrates in the following chart there are now 16 central banks easing and only 4 with a tightening bias (4:1) as it appears the one-trick pony brigade are trying moar of what didn't work the first, second, and last times in an effort to prove this time is different...

50 Shades Of Greece

When it comes to the ongoing Greek question, I see a lot of people eagerly jump to conclusions, after the ‘debt deal’, that I don’t think are justified; certainly not yet. The overall conviction in the press seems to be that Syriza has given in on just about all fronts, and Germany and Dijsselbloem are the big winners. But since that may well be the exact position Syriza wants ‘the other side’ to be in, where they think they have prevailed, one will have to try and think a few steps ahead before judging the situation. There’s far more grey area here than many pundits seem to assume, easily 50 shades of it.

Hedge Funds Underperform The S&P For The 7th Year In A Row: Here Are Their Top Holdings

Maybe one day investors, or at least the 1%-ers, will finally grasp that in a centrally-planned world in which the central banks themselves assure that there is "no risk", there is also no point in paying billionaire hedge fund managers 2 and 20 to "hedge" away risk, since there simply is none left.  However, since most people are too lazy to do any work (this includes hedge funds themselves), and would rather piggy back on other people's work (such as the rating agencies back in 2005-2007) that day is still far away. So for the time being, to satisfy everyone's natural curiosity why hedge funds continue to suck so bad, here are their biggest long, and far more importantly short, positions.

China's "Barely Noticed By The West" Pivot To Everywhere

Geopolitically, China has tweaked its model, but the West, especially the US, has barely noticed it. Essentially, the Beijing leadership finally got fed up with trying to manage a possible reset of the China-US strategic relationship, and be treated as an equal. Exceptionalists don’t do equality. So Beijing came up with its own response to the Obama administration’s political/military “pivot to Asia” – originally announced, and that’s quite significant, at the Pentagon. This is not as much a Chinese pivot to Asia as a Chinese pivot to selected nations in the Global South; and based on a “new type of international relations centered on ‘win-win’ cooperation” – not the bully-or-bomb exceptionalist approach.

Greek Infighting Begins After Historic Syriza Member Slams Agreement, Apologizes For "Contributing To Illusion" Of Change

As the divergence between Syriza's leadership perspective on debt talks - "success...won the battle" - and the Greek voters - "It looks to me that nothing has changed" - grows ever wider, and on the heels of apparent near mutiny last week, there is growing division in the ranks of the newly elected party. Syriza MEP Manolis Glezos penned a stunning rebuke of the party's apparent U-turn and asks his electorate for forgiveness... "Pity, and pity again... I apologize to the Greek people because I have contributed to this illusion... before it is too late, let us react!"

Commercial Traders Are The Most Long 30Y Treasuries In A Year

Over the last five years the signal given by investor positioning in options and futures contracts on the 30-year treasury bond has proven prescient. Each time commercial traders have moved to a long position in the long bond rates have been near a peak. Over the last few weeks the commercials have shifted their positioning dramatically, moving from one of the largest short positions to a net long position for the first time in almost a year.

After Spike In Earthquake Activity , New Fukushima Leak Sees 70x Increase In Radiation

While it is unclear if it is directly related to the recent surge in tectonic activity, overnight another radioactive water leak in the sea was detected at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, the facility’s operator TEPCO announced. Contamination levels in the gutter reportedly spiked up 70 times over regular readings. The levels of contamination were between 50 and 70 times higher than Fukushima’s already elevated radioactive status, and were detected at about 10 am local time (1.00 am GMT), AFP reported. After the discovery, the gutter was blocked to prevent leaks to the Pacific Ocean.

What Ordinary Greeks Think Of Friday's Deal: "We Went Through Two Months Of Agony To Realize We Are Still A Debt Colony"

Some Greeks wondered what the government had achieved. "We went through two months of agony, emptied the banks, to realize we are still a debt colony," 54-year-old electrician Dimitris Kanakis told Reuters. "The paymasters call the shots."... Pensioner Paradisanos Rigas siad: "It looks to me that nothing has changed. Later on they'll throw us some bones and say everything is fine. Syriza will be saying we put up a fight, while the other side will be saying you did nothing. And I think that it will be the same, just more of the same."

War And Petroleum Reserves

We would do well to consider the possibility of war strategies when it comes to the global stockpiling of petroleum reserves. In the years leading up to the German invasion of Poland, the world witnessed dramatic decreases in the price of oil as well as massive increases in petroleum inventories, especially as the Texas fields began to produce. These shifts in the global oil markets ran parallel to the deflation which had begun in October, 1929, and as such, we can see the same pattern repeating today as oil prices collapse, inventories are growing, and world wide deflation is deepening.

De-Dollarization: Russia Ratifies $100 Billion BRICS Bank

A BRICS Bank - as an IMF alternative and to enable nations to become less dependent on the global reserve currency - was originally discussed at The BRICS Summit in 2012. Then at the 2014 BRICS Summit, the framework for The BRICS Bank was approved as "a system of measures that would help prevent the harassment of countries that do not agree with some foreign policy decisions made by the United States and their allies." Headquartered in Shanghai and chaired by Russia, this week saw what appears to be the final step in the creation of BRICS New Deverlopment Bank as RT reports, The Russian State Duma has ratified the $100 billion BRICS bank that’ll serve as a pool of money for infrastructure projects in Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa. It is expected to start fully functioning by the end of 2015. Isolated?

Peace? Ukraine "Preparing For Full-Scale War" With Russia, Demands The West Supply Lethal Weapons

"We don't want to scare everybody, but we are preparing for full-scale war," warns Vadym Prystaiko - Ukraine's deputy foreign minister - telling CBC during a stunning interview that "what we expect from the world is that the world will stiffen up in the spine a little." Prystaiko concludes, "we would like [The West] to send lethal weapons to Ukraine... weapons to allow us to defend ourselves."

Fukushima: Playing With Nuclear Fire

Three years after the Tohoku earthquake in Japan, citizens and the international community are left wondering if Japan really does have the situation in Fukushima under control... "TEPCO's own engineers are clueless... nobody knows how much [radiation] is washing into the ocean."