Stocks Coiled In Anticipation Of Today's Eurogroup Meeting

The only question on traders' minds today, with the lack of any macro news out of the US (except for the DOE crude oil inventory update at 10:30am Eastern expecting a build of 3.5MM, down from 6.33MM last week, and the 10 Year bond auction at 1pm) is which Greek trip abroad is more important: that of FinMin Varoufakis to Belgium where he will enter the lion's den of Eurogroup finance ministers at 3:30pm GMT, or that of the foreign minister Kotzias who has already arrived in Moscow, and where we already got such blockbuster statements as:

LAVROV: RUSSIA WILL CONSIDER AID REQUESTS, IF GREECE MAKES THEM; KOTZIAS: GREECE IS WILLING TO MEDIATE BETWEEN EU, RUSSIA

Or perhaps both are critical, as what happens in Brussels will surely impact the outcome of the Greek trip to Russia?

How Fast Would Contagion Spread If Greece Exits The Eurozone

It is very difficult for governments to control the progress of a monetary union break-up because the example of one country exiting will create a precedent in the eyes of other members of the monetary union. The transmission channel is not government bonds, nor equities, not currency markets, but banks. In the event of a Greek exit from the euro, the loss in the real value of Greek bank deposits would encourage bank depositors in other countries to withdraw their funds. 

The process can be very rapid indeed.

Tomorrow Greece Decides: Europe... Or Russia

"Greece's Foreign Minister Nikolaos Kotzias is to visit Moscow on Wednesday to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Interfax and TASS news agencies reported on Monday citing a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry." In other words, at precisely the same time as the FinMin is in Brussels discussing the fate, or lack thereof, of Greece in the Eurozone, the new Greek foreign miniser will be in the Kremlin, getting instant updates from Brussels and perhaps discussing the fate of Greece in the Eurasian Economic Union. Or put in the simplest of terms, tomorrow Greece will decide: Europe, or Russia.

Elizabeth Warren Opposes "Congressional Meddling" 'Audit The Fed' Bill

It would appear the powers that be are getting nervous. Yesterday, Fed Governor Jerome Powell (and Fisher and Plosser) stepped up the central bank’s push against what he termed congressional efforts to extend political influence over monetary policy, calling them "misguided" and "in violent conflict with the facts." Today we have Senator Elizabeth Warren trying to sound supportive of transparency but proclaiming that she opposes Rand Paul's "Audit The Fed" Bill because it promotes "congressional meddling in the Fed’s monetary policy decisions," and has "dangerous implications for financial stability and the health of the global economy."

Political Masters Of Parallel Universes

Much as we may dislike the fact, the results from quantum physics are unequivocal: parallel universes do exist. Oddly enough, such quantum effects are quite normal to observe within the political space. Here the physical objects involved are far too large to give rise to the parallel universes of quantum physics, but the narratives they give rise to are not. This is because the narratives are a matter of perception, and there can be historical periods, such as the present one, when the peephole through which the political establishment and the mainstream media allow us to see the world becomes so tiny that it becomes a toss-up as to whether or not any given photon will manage to find its way through it.

Too Big To Sail? Container Ship Cost-Cutting Creates Potential Of "Nightmare" Catastrophe

We remarked on the first notable casualty of the collapse of global trade and with it the cost of shipping freight last week when the first of the bulk shipping bankruptcies occurred, but as The South China Morning Post reports, over the past 10 years, shipping lines have endlessly invested in newer, larger vessels - flooding the market with additional capacity - yet the industry's profitability and return on capital have remained pitiful. This supply-demand imbalance has lowered the cost of ocean shipping, but has raised concerns among vessel operators, insurers and regulators about the potential for catastrophic accidents, as "cost cutting measures such as reducing crew numbers, overworking and lack of training” have exacerbated the risks.

The Keys To The Gold Vaults At The New York Fed ‘Coin Bars’, ‘Melts’ And The Bundesbank

 

‘Coin bars’ is a bullion industry term referring to bars that were made by melting gold coins in a process that did not refine the gold nor remove the other metals or metal alloys that were in the coins. The molten metal was just recast directly into bar form. Because it’s a concept critical to the FRBNY stored gold, the concept of US Assay Office / Mint gold bar ‘Melts’ is also highlighted below. Melts are batches of gold bars, usually between 18 and 22 bars, that when produced, were stamped with a melt number and a fineness, but were weight-listed as one unit. The US Assay Office produced both 0.995 fine gold bars and coin bars as Melts. The gold bars in a Melt are usually stored together unless that melt has been ‘broken’.

No! Lower Oil Prices Are Not An Economic Stimulus

It's been more than six months since oil prices started to plunge (and with them gas prices at the pump). That should (right?) be more than enough time for the status quo's narrative "tax cut" to filter through into the real economy and lift US Macro data... it hasn't... at all!

Brian Williams' "Mis-Remembering" Will Cost Him $5 Million, Suspended By NBC For 6 Months

Having signed a new five-year contract in December reported to be worth $10 million a year, Brian Williams - the mis-remembering NBC News anchor - has been suspended by the network for six months without pay this evening, according to The NY Times. NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke remarked, "by his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate."

How Russia Plans To Retaliate For The Saudi-Driven Collapse In Oil

"Pointing to one possible avenue of asymmetrical retaliation, the source said Moscow could give in to long-standing Chinese requests for sensitive defense technologies that would aid in its development of high-tech weapons capable of doing serious damage to U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific. Moscow has so far declined China's requests on "politically correct pretenses," the source said." The punchline: "We can also encourage Iran, or even back Iran in a fight — a military operation — with Saudi Arabia, so then the prices for oil will skyrocket," the source said, explaining that these were just two possible responses."

Middle-Class Spending Expectations Crash, NY Fed Reports

It appears someone forgot to tell The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) how to 'seasonally-adjust' its data to meet the narrative. In Februrary's survey of consumer expectations, FRBNY reports a collapse in consumer spending growth expectations in January. Even more worrying for President Obama's "middle-class economic" strategy is that the biggest plunge is among the $50-100k income cohort. Not exactly the picture of the 'wreckovery' Americans are supposed to be buying right now. All those jobs, all that wealth created, all the low-gas-price-tax-cut, and spending expectations collapse...

Fourth Turning: The Shadow Of Crisis Has Not Passed - Part 1

The inability of the linear thinking ruling class to acknowledge the seriousness of our current circumstances and the implications of the era of depression and violence the country is about to experience can be witnessed on a daily basis by listening to mainstream media talking heads or politicians of all stripes who bloviate about economic improvement and progress just ahead. Could there be a better example of myopia, delusion and willful ignorance than the theme and opening line of Obama’s State of the Union speech: "The Shadow Of Crisis Has Passed" Do Obama and his advisors actually believe this Crisis is over? Or is he purposely misleading the American people about the seriousness of our circumstances because he has been instructed to do so by the men who really pull the levers of this country?

US Plans To Open Naval Base In Australia Risking More 'Inflamed Tensions' With China

With Russia allegedly moving its military presence deeper into NATO territory in Europe (with a Cyrpiot base), Bloomberg reports that in response to the regions' growing strategic importance, the US plans to open naval base in Australia (risking further "inflamed tensions" with China) in the midst of a “pivot-to-Asia” that will see 60% of its naval forces deployed in the region by 2020. The latest move, Admiral Greenert confirms, "we’re doing a study together with the Australia Defence Force to see what might be feasible for naval cooperation in and around Australia, which might include basing ships," as the Indian Ocean and South China Seas are becoming "geostrategic hot spots."

Economists: They Can Add But Can't Put Two & Two Together

Once again we found ourselves bewildered while watching financial discussions on television. All one needs to do to follow along is forget your rational objective analysis at the door, have another glass of the proverbial “Kool-Aid™, and chant with the congregation panel “everything is just awesome!” Why? Because it’s in the “numbers!” When you listen to most of these debates by economists using today’s “numbers” one can’t help but think any release of data must be taken as holy writ. For our money, when it comes to this new theology of economics, we’d rather be with the heretics. Maybe we don’t understand how they can believe the numbers they recite. But we do no one thing above all else. We won’t partake in the Kool-Aid.

Europe's Greek Showdown: The Sum Of All Statist Errors

The politicians of Europe are plunging into a form of ideological fratricide as they battle over Greece. Accordingly, all the combatants - the German, Greek and other national politicians and the apparatchiks of Brussels and Frankfurt - are fundamentally on the wrong path, albeit for different reasons. Yet by collectively indulging in the sum of all statist errors they may ultimately do a service. Namely, discredit and destroy the whole bailout state and central bank driven financialization model that threatens political democracy and capitalist prosperity in Europe - and the rest of the world, too.