A few days ago, copper prices and the Chinese stock market were roiled by speculation that another - the second in a row - Chinese bond default may be imminent, in the shape of Baoding Tianwei Baobian Electric (TBE) a maker of electrical equipment and solar panels, whose bonds and stock were suspended from trading a week ago after reporting massive losses. A few days later, TBE "promised" not to default when its next interest payment is due in July (although how the insolvent company can see that far into the future is just a little confusing). And yet the market shrugged and contrary to its recent idiotic euphoria to surge on even the tiniest of non-horrible news, barely saw a rise. Today we may know the reason: overnight Bloomberg reports that second Chinese corporate bond default may be imminent after the collapse and arrest of the largest shareholder of closely held Chinese real estate developer Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate Co, which just happens to be saddled with 3.5 billion yuan ($566.6 million) of debt.
Putin Is No Mad Man to Russians as Power Play Trumps Economy (BBG)
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Russia hearts selling German energy: Billionaire Fridman’s L1 Buys RWE Unit for $7.1 Billion (Bloomberg)
Malaysia plane search straddles continent as police focus on crew (Reuters)
Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to China set to bolster investment (Al-Awsat)
Bugatti-Driving 26-Year-Old Tied to Penny-Stock Website (BBG)
Vodafone agrees $10 billion deal to buy Spain's Ono (Reuters)
The Hidden Rot in the Jobs Numbers (WSJ)
SocGen Ex-Trader Kerviel Walks to Forget Loss as Judgment Looms (BBG)
U.S. Banks’ $75 Billion Payout at Stake in Fed Tests (BBG)
Crimea Names Ruble Currency; Applies To Join Russia, Expects To Become Russian Federation Region By ThursdaySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/17/2014 - 07:24
Here is the latest via Reuters: just hours ago, Crimea's parliament officially applied to become part of Russia. The parliament "made a proposal to the Russian Federation to admit the Republic of Crimea as a new subject with the status of a republic," according to a statement on its website. A Crimean parliamentary delegation was expected to arrive in Moscow on Monday to discuss the procedures required for the Black Sea peninsula to become part of the Russian Federation. "If everything’s signed we’ll become a fully fledged region of the Russian Federation Wednesday or Thursday,” First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Termigaliyev says in interview at govt headquarters in Simferopol. Termigaliyev added that Crimea will promptly get $1b aid from Russia in near-term, and that Hryvnia reserves enough for 10 days, then Crimea will switch to ruble. April pensions “most likely” to be paid in rubles. Crimea can be self-sufficient in natural gas after today’s nationalization of Chernomoreneftegaz. Crimea risks 150,000 hectares being left without water if Ukraine shuts off supply, though that’s “not critical,” says Termigaliyev.
It took only a 60 USDJPY pip overnight ramp to send US equity futures 20 points off the overnight lows in the immediate aftermath of the Crimean referendum, which from a massive risk off event has somehow metamorphosed into a "priced in", even welcome catalyst to buy stocks. The supposed reasoning, and in a world in which Virtu algos determine the price action of the USDJPY from which all else flows based solely on momentum we use the word reasoning "loosely", is that there was little to indicate that the escalation between Russia and Ukraine was set to accelerate further. As we said: an annexation is now seen as risk off, something even Goldman appears unable to comprehend (more on that shortly). In macroeconomic news, European inflation - at least for the Keynesians - turned from bad to worse after the final February inflation print dropped from the flash, and expected, reading of 0.8% to just 0.7% Y/Y, a sequential increase of 0.3% and below the 0.4% expected, confirming that deflationary forces continue to ravage the continent. The only question is how soon until Europe comes up with some brilliant scheme that will help it join Japan in exporting its deflation.
When S&P 500 futures opened they tumbled ten points very quickly along with JPY crosses. This pressed US stocks to their lowest intraday level since 2/24, hovering at key post-correction lows support. However, thanks to an impressive liftathon in JPY-carry, S&P futures rallied all the way back to green - until China opened with its wider trading bands slowing carry-traders. Gold prices surged (as stocks fall) then fell back (as stocks rallied) and are now unchanged. Key overnight will be Europe's reaction as Germany appeared to edge away from sanctions against Russia while Barroso and Van Rompuy were all-guns-blazing.
If one listens to the endless rhetoric of hollow threats and escalating war of words between Russia and DC, one thing should be clear by now: with the passage of the Crimean referendum, accepted (not to mention planned) as perfectly normal by Moscow and blasted as illegal by the West (since it is the former whose troops are in the Crimea, not the latter) then Putin has certainly crossed the Rubicon this time especially since as it was reported earlier, Crimea will formally apply to join Russia tomorrow. Surely, if nothing else, than at least the, drumroll, sanctions must be coming - after all if there is no forceful response now when Putin has called the Western bluff, the West may as well not bother. Well they very well may be... in about a week. The reason: Congress is now in vacation until March 24, so there will be at least one week before any response to the formal Russian annexation can be debated, let alone enacted into law.
While Goldman is quickly down-playing the decision by the PBOC to double the size of the daily trading bands for USDCNY to +/2.0% as a risk-off event (just as it was in 2012 - but blame that on Greece as cause rather than symptom), BofA is a little less sanguine about the move noting a more volatile CNY/USD without trend appreciation will deter hot money inflow and perhaps will result in some unwinding of previous inflow. With 1-month volatility spiking to over 4% (its highest in over 2 years), the move is sure to remove some carry traders as risk-rewards break down on their leveraged positions.
While Jim Bullard has admitted that "tapering is tightening", the rest of the Fed remains adamant that reducing the flow and promising ever-lower for ever-longer rates will make up for the supply of portfolio-rebalancing free money. One glance at the following charts suggests that the bulls are losing faith but the dearth of bears leaves the low-volume levitation of US equities standing on increasingly fragile foundations.
Another day, another drawn out, pointless conversation between Obama and Putin, which will do nothing to prevent the imminent annexation of Crimea, whose people have voted and decided to join Russia.
While we thought Venezuelan President Maduro was doing well in the verbal combat sparring match of global diplomacy, and of course Russian President Vladimir Putin holds the lead in proclaimed "despotism", it is the corruption-probe bedraggled Prime Minister of Turkey that is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the world's leaders in his insults. As Zaman reports, not a day goes by when Erdogan does not spew forth some insult-infused speech to rally his cheering supporters and here are his Top 15...
As we explained in great detail recently, the abundance of so-called cash-on-the-sidelines is a fallacy, but even more critically the we showed the belief that these 'IOUs of past economic activity' would immediately translate into efforts to deploy them into future economic activity is also entirely false. Simply put, there is no relationship between corporate cash and subsequent capital expenditure, nor is the level of capital expenditure even well-correlated with the level of real interest rates. At this point, as John Hussman explains, it should be clear that the mere existence of a mountain of IOUs related to past economic activity is not enough to provoke future economic activity. What matters instead is the same thing that always matters: Are the resources of the economy being directed toward productive uses that satisfy the needs of others?
With US manufacturing jobs down almost 40% from their 1980s peak, proclaiming the last few years marginal increase a "manufacturing renaissance" is more statistical noise, smoke, and mirrors than fact. That is a problem for an administration (and entire genre of Keynesian dreamers) that rely on this sector to prove how effective they have been with stimulus (and not just pulling demand so colossally forward that the future is bleak). How to fix this apparent dilemma between policy talking points and factual data? Easy - as WSJ reports, change the definition of "manufacturing."