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"The ECB Would Like To Thank The Academy" - Here Is What Happens After Greece Defaults: (The PG-13 Theatrical Version)

A few days ago we presented a realistic, if somewhat somber, outlook of what would happen when (not if) Greece finally pulls the plug on its vegetative existence, and its paralyzed body will no longer serve as a breeding ground for maggots of the financial innovation variety. Today, we present a far more comedic one, courtesy of the ECB's Christian Noyer, who makes it all too clear: Europe is not in it to bail out itself and its banks which would topple like a house of undercapitalized, under-MTMed, and uber mismarked cards, but only to protect those poor sad souls of Greece from the "Horror" that would be unleashed when a Greek free fall bankruptcy finally arrives. Truly, the humanist ECB is doing god's work on earth. Try not to laugh while reading this.



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Contrary To French Misinformation, The BRIC Block (And South Africa) Demands Non-European IMF Head, Questions Legitimacy Of Fund

Today, France tried the oldest trick in the diplomatic book, presenting what it wishes was reality as reality, when it said that China had backed its candidate for the IMF presidency under Christine Lagarde. That's great, only it's totally false. Not only has China not endorsed Lagarde, but according to a statement just released by Jianxiong He of China, as well as every other BRIC, the developing world has just put its stake in the ground and is firmly behind a non-European candidate, stating that "we also believe that adequate representation of emerging
market and developing members in the Fund’s management is critical to
its legitimacy and effectiveness." Not surprisingly, the BRICs reference an old promise by none other than Jun(c)ker which "declared that “the next managing
director will certainly not be a European” and that “in the Euro group
and among EU finance ministers, everyone is aware that Strauss-Kahn will
probably be the last European to become director of the IMF in the
foreseeable future”."
By creating the BRICs (and South Africa which is a co-signator of the statement), Goldman may have just created a New New World Order Frankenstein monster which will refuse to blindly go with the demands of its now insolvent master. In the meantime, the diplomatic faux pas by the French, if anything, will merely antagonize China, which has so far refused to unpeg the CNY only due to demand by the US to do precisely that, as any accession to foreign demands would be seen by China, and its billion plus producers (and eventual consumers), as a sign of weakness.



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AIG Offering To Price At $29/Share

According to Dow Jones and now CNBC's Kate Kelly, the AIG offering is due to price at $29 as underwriters supposedly have succeeded in the last minute scramble to get enough bid interest above the Treasury's breakeven price of $28.70. That's a $0.30 buffer. Surely this will inspire much confidence in the deep order book of institutions which despite having access to limitless zero cost cash, still barely chipped in enough to avoid major 11th hour embarrassment for Tim Geithner. In the meantime here is the math for determining just how taxpayers are winning on this deal: Treasury gets $5.8 billion in cash proceeds (200MMx $29), which is immediately offset by $35 billion in debt issued today, another $35 billion tomorrow, and $29 billion on Thursday. One step forward. Fifteen steps back.



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CFTC Charges Traders Controlled By World's Largest Tanker Company With Oil Price Manipulation After Making "Shitload" Of Money

Today's case of alleged (and rather substantial) commodities manipulation comes courtesy of two veteran BP traders and Norwegian tanker giant Frontline. Earlier today the CFTC charged James Dyer and Nick Wildgoose -- former senior traders at oil major BP -- with a manipulative trading scheme. Reuters reports: "The complaint, among the agency's biggest charges of wrongdoing in energy markets, said the scheme yielded more than $50 million in unlawful profits." The two traders, currently working at Arcadia and Pernon Energy, are controlled by Cyprus-based Farahead Holdings, a company controlled by Norwegian shipping magnate John Fredriksen who runs the Frontline, the world's largest tanker company. And since tankers tend to benefit from high crude prices, the question is not why Frontline was doing it, but which other tanker companies have also dipped in the pot but yet not been caught. Also not unexpectedly, at the heart of the charge is the easily manipulated linkage between physical and derivative commodities, which the traders exploited profitably for quite a while.



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Guest Post: AIG – Still More Questions And Fallacies Than Answers

So, as the government is about to unload some of its AIG shares on the market, we will hear about it all day long. It is impossible to listen to a report on AIG without someone mentioning how credit derivatives were directly responsible for the collapse of AIG which is proof that credit derivatives are bad. It also seems that everyone is convinced that it wasn’t the fault of the banks and that the bailout was justified. The reality is that AIG lost money on customized regulatory capital arbitrage pass through trades where they underestimated the risk but also gamed the system. The banks themselves were sloppy on the credit terms that they engaged AIG on, creating the margin call death spiral. Finally, it has never been made clear that AIG had to get dragged into the problem, and that AIG FP could have been ring fenced and not impacted the parent companies.



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IB Blasts Preemptive Margin Hike Warning

The brokers are getting pissy again - it must be that time of the month again....when vol is about to surge. In a blast to all exchange members, Interactive Brokers has just warned of imminent margin hikes due to "the recent spike in volatility of various commodity products." Of course, expecting vol (just like inflation), one can argue, is more important than even experiencing it. And it promptly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In other words, should other brokers and/or exchanges follow suit with this preemptive margin hike warning, it may be time to step to the sidelines. Then again, in centrally planned, manipulated stock (and now all other) markets, this is easily the best decision regardless...



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Kansas, Dallas Feds Request 25 bps Discount Rate Hike, As 10 Other Feds Prefer Status Quo

According to the just released minutes from the April 4 and 25 discount rate meetings, two Feds: the Dallas and Kansas City Feds, continued to request an increase in the discount rate by 25 bps from the current 0.75 bps. As a reminder the discount rate was first (and last) hiked back in February 2010, when the Fed, wrongly tried to telegraph the all clear on the economy, which was then hoped to have entered a virtuous cycle, only for everyone to realize it had only entered the conclusive phase of QE1. Since then it has held constant at 0.75 bps, even as it continues to be purely a formality, with just a few million dollars borrowed at the discount window by various banks who wish to avoid the Discount Window stigmata. Therefore, instead of actually determining interest on existing last ditch overnight liquidity requirements, any move in the Discount Rate would instead simply put more confusion on the path the Fed has set off on with regard to tightening/loosening. In other words, despite all the posturing by ever more Fed presidents, just two Feds are willing to put even one metaphoric cent where their mouth is.



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JP Morgan Cuts Q2 GDP Forecast

Once again Zero Hedge is just a week or so ahead of the "experts." A week ago, in a post titled "April Vehicle Assembly Rate Collapses, May Industrial Production Estimates To Be Cut" we concluded "Expect to see drastic downward cuts to May Industrial Production and next, to Q2 GDP." Enter JPMorgan's Michael Feroli with "Motor vehicle sector to drag on Q2 growth." Full text: "We are revising down our outlook for the annual growth rate of real GDP in Q2 from 3.0% to 2.5%. The main factor behind our revision is weaker output of the motor vehicle sector. Based on industry data we project that real output in this sector will decline at around a 20% annual rate, which would subtract 0.5%-point from GDP growth. From an expenditure category perspective, we see most of this weaker output making itself felt in a softer pace of inventory accumulation (with some offset though weaker imports). A portion of this shortfall reflects supply chain disruptions associated with the Tohoku earthquake. Anticipating a fading of those disruptions, auto production schedules look for a rebound in output in the third quarter, which, along with somewhat lower gasoline prices, supports the case for an acceleration in growth next quarter to 3%. The change to our second quarter growth forecast is modest enough not to have a significant impact on our projections for labor markets or inflation. We continue to anticipate a first Fed rate hike in 13Q1." Next up: Goldman revising their Q2-4 GDP "hockeystick" to be more reminiscent of a "baseball bat."



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Is The Human Race Doomed? Deutsche Bank On "One The Most Important (Future) Turning Points In History"

Discussing population dynamics in elite (or is that elitist, let's just call it Wall Street) circles has always had an aura of taboo about it, due to the inevitable degeneration of any conversation into Malthusian rhetoric, especially if one of the speakers had had a little too much to drink. And for better or worse, name-dropping Malthus does not garner brownie points, nor will it lead to another horrendous straight to HBO faux morality tale about this or that. That stigma, however (and luckily) has not prevented Deutsche Bank's Sanjeev Sanyal (yes, there are people at DB who do think originally and whose day is not taken up by trips to and fro Englewood Cliffs) from penning a must read macro analysis titled "The End of Population Growth" which we will discuss more in depth shortly, but wanted to bring readers' attention to one particular chart: namely that comparing world fertility rates in 1950-1955 and 2010-2015. The surprising implication of the below chart leads Sanyal to declare that the period set to begin in just 10 years "will be one of the most important turning points in history" simply because: "the human race will no longer be replacing itself by the early 2020s. Population growth will continue for a few more decades because of momentum from the age structure and people living longer but, reproductively speaking, our species will no longer be growing." And since global reproduction will not be net additive, it will be net subtractive... and on a long-enough timeline the world's population will drop to zero...



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$35 Billion In 2 Year Treasurys Price As Primary Dealers Take Down Half, More Retirement Funds Squeezed To Make Room Under Ceiling

The fact that the US is at the debt ceiling, and every incremental dollar of debt issued has to be met with a comparable underfunding in retirement funds is not bothering the SecTres (at least until August 2 at which point all mechanisms to delay the ceiling breach expire). Which is why today's auction of 2 Year paper passed with barely a glitch: $35 billion (CUSIP QZ6) priced at 0.56% (89.7% allotted at high), the lowest yield since December 2010. The Bid To Cover was a sizable jump to recent auctions, coming at 3.46, nearly half a turn higher than last auction's 3.06, and higher than the LTM average of 3.38. Not surprisingly, at 31.29% Indirect interest was the lowest since January, as foreign central banks and investors are dealing with tightening concerns of their own, meaning the bulk of the auction went to Primary Dealers (half) and the balance to Direct Dealers, who took down a 2011 high of 19.15%. The direct bidder hit rate was a surprisingly solid 32.22%. Nonetheless, with the WI trading almost on top of the auction High Yield, there were no surprise in the short-end of the bond market, where investors once again are forced to look ever further right for any yield, as short-term rates have plunged to lows last seen just when the equity market was about to flip over (not to mention the quirks currently in the money market funds which has snagged the shadow economy rather bad since the FDIC fee assessment was imposed).



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China Oil Demand Projected To Hit 11 MM/bpd By 2015, Up 25% From Now; Will Reach Consumption Parity With US By 2030

With the topic of oil once again dominating the air waves courtesy of Goldman's most recent flip flop on Brent, we look at one of those thing that few if any have actually done much analysis on over the past decade, namely supply and demand. As it is no secret that the primary driver in price formation of virtually all commodities has been excess liquidity, the actual fundamentals have been drowned for a long time. Yet they still remain. Of all "demand fundamentals", the biggest one is and will be China. Should the world indeed proceed to tighten across the globe, the question of Chinese demand will increasingly become one of substantial importance. Here is how Platts sees Chinese oil demand in the next several years: "China's demand for oil will grow 4-5% a year to hit 530 million-560
million mt (10.6 million b/d-11.3 million b/d) in 2015, with transport fuel
and chemical feedstocks driving the increase, a senior Chinese researcher
said Wednesday." Platts estimates that China's current oil consumption is about 450 million mts, a 12.2% increase over the past year. And following 2015, "Growth will then slow to 2%-3% a year, to reach 590 million-650 million
mt by 2020, said Liu Xiao Li of the Energy Research Institute, part of
China's economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform
Commission. With oil production in 2020 expected to be 200 million-230 million mt,
that would imply an import dependence of around 65%, she added." One can thus see why China is ever so cautious proceeding to procure E&P exposure and infrastructure projects around the world: the country realizes that without a friendly foreign "import" base, there is no way it can grow into its energy demand. Lastly, for those who collect parity facts, "in a presentation at the International Air Transport
Association's Aviation Fuel Forum, Standard Chartered Bank said China would
overtake Europe as the world's second largest consumer of oil before 2020,
with around 13 million-14 million b/d of demand. The bank's data indicates China would catch up with the US sometime
after 2030. Standard Chartered's data has China's oil demand approaching 17
million b/d around that year and still rising, with US oil demand around 18
million b/d and falling.
" Luckily by then we should have far more evidence whether the Peak Oil theory is indeed true, in which case the world will have far greater problems in the next 19 years than anything seen to date.



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Reality Check With Rosenberg

  • The S&P 500 is no higher now than it was on February 7. Yet, so many pundits still believe we are in a flaming bull market.
  • QE2 failed to provide for a sustained acceleration in the pace of economic activity.
  • The housing inventory background is horrible
  • Over half of the NYSE is now trading below its 50-day moving average (thanks to Richard Russell).
  • M3 has fallen at a 1.5% annual rate since QE2 started (thanks to CLSA's Russell Napier); in other words, credit is still not being created.
  • The Nasdaq is the first of the major averages to have broken below both the 100-day and 50-day moving averages. The Dow and S&P 500 have so far just pierced the former, but we all know the Nasdaq is a leading indicator. As an aside, in the last 12 months the Dow has broken below its 50-day moving average three times and from that point to the interim bottom, we saw the Dow plummet 4.5%.
  • ...And much more



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    Grassley Steps Up SAC Insider Trading Inqury: Demands SEC Information On How Regulator Resolved Steve Cohen FINRA Referrals

    It looks like the SAC investigation is about to go to the very top. As we reported over the weekend, Senator Chuck Grassley recently commenced an investigation into at least 20 trades, both stocks and options, at SAC Capital, that may implicate the billionaire with the zamboni in insider trading (despite a very spirited defense that Mr. Cohen is a true humanitarian at, heart having recently purchased none other than the NY Mets, evidence of his civic duty) and lead to an insider trading conviction that would make the Raj Raj affair pale in comparison. Of course, any investigation of SAC would draw many parallels to Madoff, where it would appear impossible that any potential insider trading over the years occurred without the regulator's knowledge. Hence, in a new letter to the SEC, the senator has made it clear that he is now investigating whether or not SEC pursued and/or resolved any of the numerous Finra referrals regarding SAC. Grassley is also seeking: "how the number of referrals over this timeframe compares to similarly situated firms, [and] whether a Wells Notice was ever drafted with regard to SAC Capital related to any of these referrals or related to any other matter (if so, please provide a copy of any Draft or Final Wells Notice)." We expect to discover the answer to the last question to be exactly zero. We also expect that various district attorneys will suddenly jump at the opportunity to earn a few political brownie points now that they smell some very nutritious blood in the water.



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    Iraq Part 2: UN Says Syria Violated International Nuclear Agreements

    Well, if anyone was looking for the green light to invade Syria, here it is:

    • UN SAYS SYRIA VIOLATED NUCLEAR AGREEMENTS
    • SYRIA VIOLATED INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS, BUILT REACTOR

    And in case there is any doubt who is next:

    • UN NUCLEAR WATCHDOG EVALUATING NEW IRAN WEAPON DOCUMENTS

    It's a good thing the UN found all those WMDs that were the pretext to establish Halliburton's oil extracting infrastructure in Iraq. Then again, history never repeats itself.



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    Watch Netanyahu's Address To Congress Live

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to address congress in a widely expected speech, the key focus of which will be to diffuse the situation following the president's remarks from last week over what the appropriate borders for the Israeli state should and should not be. As Reuters reports: "When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses Congress on Tuesday, many will be watching to see whether he escalates a war of words with the White House over how to make peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu has a mostly sympathetic ear in Congress, where few lawmakers in either party speak up for the Palestinians, hewing to decades of close U.S.-Israeli ties. But the Israeli prime minister has had a rocky relationship with President Barack Obama, and last week said the president's vision of a Palestinian state based on the borders of 1967 could leave Israel "indefensible."" Watch the full thing below.



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