Fortune has smiled on judo coach Arkady Rotenberg, bringing his businesses Google-like growth and a key role in staging the Winter Olympics. It has now brought down on him the wrath of the U.S. and European governments.
More blowback... UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond suggests imposing sanctions on Russia are a shared sacrifice that European nations must make. While the sanctions were "designed to maximize the impact on Russia and minimize the impact on EU economies," he warns his fellow Britons that, "It will affect our economy..." As RT notes, London will likely be hit hardest among the EU powers because of its intimate financial relationship with Moscow and we are already seeing UK home prices fall as oligarch flows slow.
Ask yourself the following set of questions: Do people seem better informed today in the developed world? Smarter? Is the discourse more sophisticated? The answer is a resounding “no” to all those questions... In the absence of [a basic ground in history, political science, philosophy and civilization], all of these Twitter and Facebook bits alight on a population that lacks the tools to sort or analyze what they are reading while scrunched over their Androids... This overabundance of information and opinion is not a positive development in our view (although we are certainly not suggesting it be curtailed or controlled by governments).
After an exuberant day in Argentine bond and stock markets, we are nearing a decision. With a handful of hours left until it's all over, various 'deal's have been proposed today from Argentine bankers as a last-minute rescue package. S&P has already decided that it's a done deal:
- *ARGENTINA CUT TO SD FROM CCC- BY S&P
- *ARGENTINA DEFAULTED ON $13B IN FOREIGN DEBT, S&P SAYS
- *ARGENTINA MISSED $539M BOND PAYMENT, S&P SAYS
And now, Argentine Economy Minister Axel Kicillof will speak in a press conference at country’s consulate in Manhattan (ironically a block from the holdouts' office).
Whole Foods management seems to have read our lament and acted accordingly. On the chart below see if you can figure out which is the company's quarterly stock repurchase and capex activity without peeking at the legend.
Having waited until after the US equity markets closed, Portugal's troubled Banco Espirito Santo unveiled an enormous EUR 3.577 Billion loss - that is 15 times larger than the loss the bank suffered a year earlier. The data - to end-June, before the crisis really got going - already shows notable deposit flight, a 73.1% plunge in banking income, and a EUR 3 billion collapse in repoable assets (i.e. liquidity). On the heels of this Portugal's securities regulator has enforced a short-selling ban on BES... we suspect they would not have done that if all was systemically well in Portugal.
House Republicans are expected to formally approve their lawsuit against President Obama today. As John Boehner wrote earlier in the week, "President Obama has overstepped his constitutional authority — and it is the responsibility of the House of Representatives to defend the Constitution." Voting has started on the 'impeachment lite' bill...
While equity markets were in focus for the mainstream, the big moves today occurred in Treasuries and oil prices. From the GDP release this morning, Treasury yields surged higher, rallied briefly after FOMC, before closing near the high-yields of the day (up around 10bps or the most in 9 months). Oil prices started to tumble at around 1030ET, flushed again on EU close, tumbled early afternoon on sanctions headlines, then pumped-and-dumped after FOMC to close at near 3-month lows (below $100). Equity markets surged on GDP, dumped on sanctions, pumped-and-dumped on FOMC, then lifted to the close. Only the Nasdaq ends the day above pre-GDP data levels. On the day, only the Dow closed the day red. Gold and silver chopped around in a narrow range as the USD index roundtripped from early GDP gains after FOMC. VIX closed modestly higher on the day. The Russell 2000 is -4.2% for July, its worst month in 2 years.
Two weeks ago the head of the "most transparent administration ever" (perhaps to the NSA?), president Obama, told the common American to "not be cynical" and have hope. Today, speaking appropriately in an ornate theater in Kansas City, he had a message for republicans: "Stop being mad all the time. Stop. Stop. Stop just hatin’ all the time."
Following yesterday's scandalous release of the Obama-Natanyahu phone call transcript by Israel's Channel 1, which officials on both sides have claimed was a fake (due to its clearly negative implications for US foreign policy which appears painfully weak) yet which the media outlet has defended as authentic, citing a "senior American official" as a source, one was wondering how long it would take for the White House to "teach" Israel a lesson, and put it in its place. The answer: less than 24 hours. Moments ago, the White House officially "condemned" the shelling of a United Nations school in Gaza that local authorities estimated killed at least 15 Palestinians who were sheltering there.
As always, for the best take of what the Fed was thinking, skip Hilsenrath and go straight to the people who provide it with its talking points. Here is Goldman's Jan Hatzius with hos post-mortem of the just released FOMC minutes.
Oil prices are holding below $100 and gold (after oscillating) is flat post FOMC. Stocks have roundtripped and given up the kneejerk gains as the USDollar has sold off notably (retracing its gains from GDP earlier in the day). Treasury yields are lower post-FOMC.
As had been rumored all day, The G7 just issued yet another statement on Ukraine showing its wholehearted support for sanctions:
- *G-7 LEADERS ISSUE STATEMENT CONDEMNING RUSSIAN ACTS IN UKRAINE
- *G-7 LEADERS SAY READY TO 'INTENSIFY THE COSTS' ON RUSSIA
The statement, released by The White House, also demands "transparent" access to the MH17 crash site. As this was released, the EU announced its sanctions list (8 people, 3 entities).
As expected, The FOMC continued its taper pace at $10bn but what was supposed to be a 'steady as she goes' statement had a few surprises:
- *PLOSSER DISSENTS ON DECISION, CITING GUIDANCE ON RATE OUTLOOK
- *FOMC SEES SIGNIFICANT UNDERUTILIZATION OF LABOR RESOURCES
- *FOMC: ODDS OF PERSISTENT SUB-2% INFLATION `DIMINISHED SOMEWHAT'
More of the same but some modestly hawkish sentiment sneaking in regarding improving labor markets. Oddly - no trade recommendations from Yellen. Full redline below...
Pre-FOMC: S&P Futs 1961.5, 10Y 2.55%, JPY 102.90, Gold $1294