US Taxpayer On The Hook As Ukraine Prepares Moratorium On Debt Repayments, Increases Military Spending

It appears, thanks to the generous backing of US taxpayers, Ukraine is about to get its cake and eat it too. On the same day as Ukraine's government unleashes a bill enabling a moratorium on foreign debt repayments - implicitly meaning default "in case of an attack from dishonest lenders" - the defense ministry unveils a plan to increase military spending by 17 billion hryvnia this year statuing that will “make efforts to find possibilities to finance needs” to secure country’s defense. Ukraine bonds are tumbling.

Oil Prices Will Fall: A Lesson In Gravity

Our present situation is like that of the cartoon character Wile E. Coyote. The oil price collapse is not over yet. It is more likely that the Brent price could fall back into the mid-$50 range than that it will continue to rise toward $70 per barrel. That is because oil prices have risen based on sentiment alone. The fundamentals of supply and demand indicate a dismal reality: oil prices will fall and may fall hard in the near term.

 

Merkel Faces German Parliament "Revolt" On Greece

Angela Merkel is attempting to head off staunch opposition from lawmakers concerning further coddling of what they perceive to be a belligerent Greek government. As we reported earlier this month, the German Chancellor has been under pressure from members of her Christian Democratic bloc to essentially cut Greece loose. Now that pressure is building, leaving Merkel with the unenviable task of selling yet another Greek bailout to an increasingly hostile audience.

Frontrunning: May 19

  • China’s Record Capital Outflows Spark Financial Stability Fears (FT)
  • U.K. Inflation Falls Below Zero for First Time Since 1960 (BBG)
  • Islamic State Solidifies Foothold in Libya to Expand Reach (WSJ)
  • Judge sentences 11 Afghan police over lynching of woman in Kabul (Reuters)
  • The $18 Trillion Global Economic Boost If Everything Went Right (BBG)
  • Eurozone Prices Confirmed Flat Year-on-Year in April, Core Inflation Inches Higher (Reuters)
  • Greek Finances to Stagger On Longer Than You Think (BBG)
  • Athens sees EU deal soon, Greeks' approval of government stance dwindles (Reuters)

Walmart Sales, Comps Miss; Operating Income Tumbles; Runs Out Of Scapegoats

In what may be the most cryptic press release from Walmart yet, the company just issued an 8-K which consisted all of 5 bullet points, a few charts, and precious little else. Perhaps the reason for the pithy transmission is that WMT had nothing good to say: Revenue declined from $115 billion to $114.8 billion, missing expectations of a jump to $116.2 billion, EPS also missed at $1.03, vs $1.05 expected, operating income tumbled 8.3% from $6.2 billion to $5.7 billion, and finally comp store sales also missed at 1.0%, below the 1.5% expected. With these results, anyone would be short and to the point.

Stocks, Bonds Spike After ECB Pledge To Accelerate QE Ahead Of "Slow Season"

Less than a week ago, fresh from the aftermath of the recent dramatic six-sigma move in German Bunds, one of Europe's largest banks openly lamented that so far the ECB's QE had done absolutely nothing: "two months of QE for nothing." And lo and behold, as if on demand, overnight the ECB confirmed it had heard SocGen's lament when just before the European market open, ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure delivered a speech at the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis (appropriately named after a hedge fund) at Imperial College Business School (not to be confused with the July 26, 2012 Mario Draghi "whatever it takes" speech which also took place in London) in which he said that the ECB intends to "frontload" i.e., increase, its purchases of euro-area assets in May and June ahead of an expected low-liquidity period in the summer.

Why Did The IMF Leak The Greek Default Details?

Whenever secret or confidential information or documents are leaked to the press, the first question should always be who leaked it and why. That’s often more important than the contents of what has been leaked. And since there’s been a lot of hullabaloo about a leaked document the past two days, here’s a closer look.

SocGen Bosses Knew 'Rogue Trader' Kerviel Was Taking Massive Risks

Bosses at French banking giant Societe Generale were aware of the activities of "rogue trader" Jerome Kerviel, a top detective working on the case reportedly told an investigating judge, according to France24. The French investigative news website, Mediapart, quoted Nathalie Le Roy as telling judge Roger Le Loire she was "certain" that Kerviel's superiors "could not have been unaware" he was taking wildly risky bets on derivatives. However, as Bloomberg reports, SocGen, in a statement released on Monday, that several judicial decisions have assigned exclusive criminal responsibility to Kerviel, adding "it’s just the opinion of a person and not based on the discovery of new documents."

Chris Christie Calls Snowden Supporters "Civil Liberties Extremists" In His Latest Desperate Neocon Diatribe

“When Edward Snowden revealed our intelligence secrets to the world in 2013, civil liberties extremists seized that moment to advance their own narrow agenda." Well the founding fathers were also “civil liberties extremists” with a narrow agenda. That agenda was laid out in a little something called the Constitution. The most dangerous part of Christie’s language is calling Snowden defenders “extremists.” Christie knows exactly what that term has come to mean, and he deliberately used it.

9 Killed, 18 Injured, 192 Arrested After "True Biker Shootout" At Texas "Breastaurant"

Things escalated quickly on Sunday when rival biker gangs met at a Texas Twin Peaks franchise to settle what Reuters says was a "dispute over a parking lot." The fight started in the bathroom, spilled into the restaraunt, and then into the parking lot where as many as five rival gangs attacked each other with guns, knives, brass knuckles, clubs and motorcycle chains.”  

Obama Flip-Flops: Plans To De-Militarize His Militarized Police

Having enabled billions of dollars worth of militarized equipment to be unloaded into every police department in the nation - only to have alienated the very Americans that hoped for change the most - it appears President Obama is ready to uncross another red line. Following unrest in U.S. cities over the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers, Reuters reports, during his triup to Camden NJ, Obama announced his plans to put in place new restrictions on the use of military equipment by police departments.

Puerto Rico Faces Default, Government Shutdown On July 1

Puerto Rico is racing the clock ahead of a July 1 deadline to pass a fiscal budget for 2016 and scrape together $360 million due to creditors. Without a budget, the commonwealth will face a partial government shutdown and may be unable to issue $2.9 billion in oil-tax bonds needed to pay The Government Development Bank.

79 Members Of Congress Have Been In Office For At Least 20 Years

No wonder Washington never changes – 79 members of Congress have been there since Bill Clinton’s first term in the White House.  This list includes names such as Reid, Feinstein, McConnell, McCain, Pelosi, Boehner, Rangel and Boxer.With a 15% approval rating, The American People absolutely hate the job that Congress is doing, and yet the same clowns just keep getting sent back to Washington again and again.

Graphing The Evolution Of The World's Debt Addiction

"The borrowings of governments, households, companies and financial firms have risen in almost every big country around the world since the year 2000, relative to their GDP," The Economist notes. Here, graphed, is the evolution of the world's debt addiction from 2000 to 2014.

The End Of Meaningful Work: A World Of Machines And Social Alienation

Many activists are clamoring for a higher minimum wage. That's an admirable goal, but is that where the worst problem is? Even at the abysmally low wages of the present moment, we still have 938,000 people being turned away from McDonald's because there aren't enough McJobs. The real problem is the lack of meaningful work. In a world of machines and social alienation, meaningful work is as scarce as water in the drought-stricken California Central Valley.