• Pivotfarm
    04/20/2014 - 17:08
    As the audience went from laughter to applause, Vladimir Putin responded to the question that he had just read out on a televised debate in Russia. What was the question?

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The "New" SATs (Summed Up In One Cartoon)

Presented with no snark or ironic comment whatsoever...



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Barclays Latest To Exit Commodity Trading, Layoff Several Thousand Staff

With JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank having exited the commodities business (and numerous other banks discussing it ahead of the Fed and regulators' decisions over banking rules of ownership), it appears a few short months of regulatory scrutiny is enough to warrant more broad-based cuts across bulge-bracket banks historically most manipulated and profitable business units. As The FT reports, Barclays, one of the world’s biggest commodities traders, is planning to exit large parts of its metals, agricultural and energy business in a move expected to be announced this week. This comes on the heels of Barclays shuttering its power-trading operations (after refusing to pay $470mm in fines) with CEO Jenkins expected to announce several thousand layoffs. This leaves Goldman (for now), Mercuria (ex-JPM), and Glencore to run the commodities world.



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Gas Prices Hit 13-Month Highs, Prompt Macro Concerns

At $3.67, US Regular gasoline prices are their highest since March 2013 having risen over 12% (40c) in the last 2 months. This must be great news, right? It must mean world demand is picking up and driving up prices of crude oil as global trade soars (amid a collapsing Baltic Dry and decelerating Chinese growth). This can't be related to "war premia" right? - as we noted here - because stocks (which always know best) have discounted all this tomfoolery. However, as the following chart shows, each time gas prices have surged up toards the Maginot Line of $3.80, US macro-economic fundamentals have collapsed... the only problem is, this time is different - because macro data is already weak going in (and expectations for the post-weather pop are high).

 



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An Obituary For High Frequency Trading: The Adaptive Genius Of Rigged Markets

Ultimately, I think the problem for HFT liquidity providers is not that they are skinning investors, but that they are outsiders. They're doing what the keepers of the market infrastructure keys have always done - skin investors, retail and institutional alike, to the outer limits of what technology and the law allows. But while their outward behavior and appearance may be familiar, they are clearly an alien species on the inside, without so much as a microgram of Wall Street DNA. They are Rakshasa's. HFT liquidity providers are technology companies disguised as financial intermediaries. They hijacked the market infrastructure in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stealing it away from under the noses of the big financial firms who had come to see control over market structure as their birthright, and they had a good run. But now the big boys want their market infrastructure back, and they're going to get it.



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Peak Smuggling: Indian Has 12 Gold Bars Removed From His Stomach

While US central bankers seem to believe that you can eat iPads, it seems one Indian fellow has taken the ongoing restrictions on gold imports, owning, or transacting in India to a whole new level. As we have noted previously - have led to an epidemic of smuggling as Indians continue to horde the precious metal (the only true source of financial security in their view) by any means possible. As The BBC reports, 12 bars of gold have been removed from the stomach of a 63-year-old businessman in the Indian capital Delhi. The surgeon said he had never seen a "case like this before," and customs officials were called and confiscated the gold - where whistleblowers for gold smuggling are rewarded more richly than for cocaine and heroine smuggling.



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Ready For The Price Of Food To More Than Double By The End Of This Decade?

It's not just beef, pork, shrimp, eggs, and orange juice... If you think that the price of food is high now?  Just wait.  If current trends continue, many of the most common food items that Americans buy will cost more than twice as much by the end of this decade. Even if nothing else bad happens (and that is a very questionable assumption to make), our food prices are going to be moving aggressively upward for the foreseeable future.  But what if something does happen?  In recent years, global food reserves have dipped to extremely low levels, and a single major global event (war, pandemic, terror attack, planetary natural disaster, etc.) could create an unprecedented global food crisis very rapidly.



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Fueling The New World Order: Where Does China Import Its Crude Oil From?

As China's ravenous appetite for oil surpasses that of the US which is enjoying an unexpected, if transitory, boom of shale oil production, which according to some experts may have already peaked, it means suddenly China is far more are the mercy of its core suppliers - the same way that for decades the US had no choice but to be best friends with Saudi Arabia, at least until Canada became the biggest supplier of crude to the US by a huge margin. So which are the countries that China relies most on for its daily energy importing needs? The map below has the answer.



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This Is Madness!

Keep interest rates at zero, whilst printing trillions of dollars, pounds and yen out of thin air, and you can make investors do some pretty extraordinary things. "Central bankers control the price of money and therefore indirectly influence every market in the world. Given this immense power, the ideal central banker would be humble, cautious and deferential to market signals. Instead, modern central bankers are both bold and arrogant in their efforts to bend markets to their will. Top-down central planning, dictating resource allocation and industrial output based on supposedly superior knowledge of needs and wants, is an impulse that has infected political players throughout history." The result was always a conspicuous and dismal failure. Today’s central planners, especially the Federal Reserve, will encounter the same failure in time. The open issues are, when and at what cost to society?



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BNP Banker, His Wife And Nephew Murdered In Belgium

In the beginning it was banker suicides. Then about two weeks ago, suicides were replaced by outright murders after the execution-style killing of the CEO of a bank in otherwise sleepy (and tax evasive) Lichtenstein by a disgruntled client. Then on Friday news hit of another execution-type murder in just as sleepy, if not so tax evasive, Belgium, where in the city of Vise, a 37-year-old Director at BNP Paribas Fortis was murdered alongside his wife and a 9 year old nephew in a premeditated and orchestrated drive-by shooting.



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Donetsk "Letter To Jews" Found To Be A Forgery

Yet another attempt to provoke retaliation and global hatred against "pro Russian separatists" fails.



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Five Reported Killed In East Ukraine Following Ultra-nationalist Attack

And to think it was just two days ago when all the USDJPY momentum ignition algos roared to life on flashing headline news of yet another diplomatic "de-escalation" of tensions in Ukraine. What was clearly ignored is that since John Kerry was involved, it was nothing but the latest sham. And the proof came moments ago when Reuters reported, citing Russian state television on Sunday, that five people were killed when Ukraine gunmen attacked a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian separatists near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk.



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The Next Shoe Just Dropped: Court Denies Attorney-Client Privilege

In the Land of the Free, people grow up hearing a lot of things about their freedom. You're told that you live in the freest country on the planet. You're told that other nations 'hate you' for your freedom. And you're told that you have the most open and fair justice system in the world.  This justice system is supposedly founded on bedrock principles-- things like a defendant being presumed innocent until proven guilty. The right to due process and an impartial hearing. The right to counsel and attorney-client privilege. Yet each of these core pillars has been systematically dismantled over the years...



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The Secret World Of Gold

In light of the Chinese demand we discussed earlier, the ongoing manipulation of 'rigged' markets everywhere, and rising geopolitical tensions (as the de-escalation continues), we thought it worth dusting off this excellent  and wide-ranging look at the history and present of the barbarous relic, gathering many perspectives (pro and con) on gold. From historical shipwrecks to Nazi 'death gold' and England's war chest to recent years where widespread economic uncertainty has given the yellow metal a "new luster in the world of high finance;" valued for its permanence, beauty and scarcity, people will lie, cheat, steal and kill in the name of gold; and the clip provides color on many of the market manipulations of the last few years.



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The One Thing Most Desired By Chinese Consumers Is...

Hint: it's not designer clothes, shoes, bags or watches.



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The 5 Faces Of Income Inequality

Whatever your position is on income inequality or the “great wealth divide,” there is little argument that it currently exists. The question is whether something should be done about it. Raising taxes on “the rich,” forced redistribution, increases in social welfare, etc. all have potentially negative economic consequences which affects everyone. There is clearly no easy solution. However, for the upcoming mid-term elections this debate will be waged to swing votes in favor of those who want to remain in political office on both sides of the aisle. This is ironic considering that the majority of those individuals are currently in the top wealth brackets in the U.S. Maybe we should just start there?



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