Western "Boots On The Ground" In Ukraine: Britain Sends 75 "Military Advisers" To Combat "Russia-Backed Aggression"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/24/2015 - 14:33
In what we believe is the first touchdown of Western 'boots-on-the-ground' in Ukraine, Britain's David Cameron stated today that British military personnel are to be deployed to Ukraine for the first time in the next few weeks to provide advice and training to government troops. As The Guardian reports, Britain would be “the strongest pole in the tent”, and argued for tougher sanctions against Moscow if Russian-backed militias in eastern Ukraine failed to observe the ceasefire. The MoD said up to 75 personnel would begin to deploy to Ukraine from next month as Cameron warned sanctions could become "materially different" and held out SWIFT exclusion once again. We suspect Putin will not be impressed at the 'encroachment'.
If you have been following the price of oil over the last few months, the chances are you’re a little confused. On the one hand you have the likes of A. Gary Shilling who, in this Bloomberg article, loudly trumpets the prospect of oil at $10/Barrel, and on the other there is T. Boone Pickens, who, at the end of last year was predicting a return to $100 within 12-18 months. Pickens prediction has moderated somewhat as WTI and Brent crude have continued to fall, but in January he was still saying that oil would return to $70 or $80/barrel in the near future. So, who is correct?
As home sales drop and home prices surge, the shifting sands of the housing market are accelerating in a seemingly inequality-expanding manner. As first-time homebuyers struggle to qualify for mortgages in a market that’s shrinking after the housing collapse, Bloomberg reports that lenders are providing more multi-million dollar loans to Americans who (in their opinion) pose less risk. Home loans from $1-5 million were the fastest growing part of the jumbo market in January with the number of loans surging to the highest since 2007.
Beginning at the time of Disney World’s grand opening in 1971 when Magic Kingdom tickets cost only $3.50, Magic Kingdom ticket prices have increased at a compound annual growth rate of 8.04% – nearly double the U.S. CPI’s compound annual growth rate of 4.13%. The U.S. CPI no longer accounts for the cost of maintaining the same standard of living in America. The Magic Kingdom Price Inflation Rate provides a much more accurate view of real U.S. price inflation.
If there was any debate whether Yellen's testimony today was hawkish or dovish, the bond market certainly made it clear what it thinks, when first the 10 Year yield tumbled back under 2.00%, and then moments ago, the Treasury auction of $26 billion in 2 Year paper continued to trend of strong demand for government paper, when 3.45 bidders lined up for every dollar for sale, at a closing yield of 0.603%, 0.5 bps through the When Issued.
Former Ukraine Deputy PM Says "Another Coup Can Not Be Ruled Out" Among Currency Implosion, Central Bank ChargesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/24/2015 - 12:52
A year or so on from the last coup in Ukraine, Ukraine’s former Prime Minister Sergey Arbuzov told TASS, with growing popular discontent, "another state coup can’t be ruled out in Ukraine." As the cease-fire deal hangs torn and tattered in the Debaltseve winds, the nation is a mess: a new gas dispute looms as Gazprom demands upfront payments; capital controls have been tightened as the $17.5bn IMF loan may not be enough; and the central bank governor faces prosecution as the economy craters. All of these factors have driven massive outflows from Ukraine and the Hryvnia has crashed to over 33 to the USD - a record high (and 70% devaluation from the last coup).
It appears Janet Yellen's confidence-inspiring testimony that juiced stocks was interpreted as a buying opportunity for bonds. US Treasury yields are now down 10bps on the week with 10Y yields back with a 1% handle...
"Let us begin with what should be indisputable: the Eurogroup agreement that the Greek government was dragged into on Friday amounts to a headlong retreat. The memorandum regime is to be extended, the loan agreement and the totality of debt recognized, “supervision,” another word for troika rule, is to be continued under another name, and there is now little chance Syriza’s program can be implemented.... Greece will be receiving the tranche it had initially refused, but on the condition of sticking to the commitments of its predecessors.... How is it possible that, only a few weeks after the historic result of January 25, we have this countermanding of the popular mandate for the overthrow of the memorandum?"
While there are many that suggest there is "no bubble" in the financial markets at the current time, a simple look at the extreme elevation of prices over the last couple of years is eerily reminiscent of the late 90's. Given the very elevated levels of investor bullishness, margin debt and complacency, there is more than sufficient evidence that a mean reverting event is highly likely at some point. However, at the moment, the perceived "risk" by investors is "missing the run" rather than the potential destruction of capital if something goes wrong. This is the opposite of what "risk" management is about...
The reason why not only the Troika received an agreed to version of the Greek reform proposals "before midnight on Monday", but rushed these through with a favorable agreement today, is that, drumroll, the European Commission prepared and drafted the whole letter!
Despite being told by The Fed that stocks are over-valued, investors decided today was the day to take that money off the sidelines and BTFATH. Everything is surging in equity land as bad data, worse earnings, and Ukraine were trumped by a little old lady in Washington and a self-referential list of growth-destroying reforms for Greece. However, as investors sell sell sell their dollars (USD Index down hard) they are buying US Treasuries with both hands and feet...
Despite this morning's US Services PMI rise, US macro data is running at a 90% miss rate in February and Richmond Fed's tumble from 6 to 0 (11mo lows) along with The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence dropping the most since Oct 2013 merely confirm this trend. This is the biggest 4-month slump in Richmond Fed since 2010 as practically every sub index deteriorated. California, Florida and New York saw over consumer confidence collapse and Texas saw 'present situation' plunge. US Macro data is now nearing its lowest in a year...
Just in case there wasn't enough on the calendar, between Yellen, Greece, consumer confidence, housing data, Richmond Fed, and of course stocks at another all time high, the latest news out of California is that a Matrolink commuter train struck at least two trucks between Oxnard and Camarilo, in a repeat of a similar tragic accident that took place in New York two weeks ago.
Confirming last year's warning, The Fed's Monetary Policy Report has sent a broad message to the markets in what may be Yellen's Irrational Exuberance 2.0 moment: "Overall equity valuations by some conventional measures are somewhat higher than their historical average levels, and valuation metrics in some sectors continue to appear stretched relative to historical norms... price-to-earnings and price-to-sales ratios are somewhat elevated, suggesting some valuation pressures... with heightened leverage that is close to levels preceding the financial crisis."