• EconMatters
    08/27/2014 - 21:30
    Investors in European Bonds are running over each other all in an effort to front run what the Big Banks have been begging the ECB to begin a bond buying program.  It is hilarious as ...

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The DSKing Of Christine Lagarde: IMF Head Formally Charged In Fraud Probe

Ah, the perils of European power politics. A day after France revealed its new government, the person who so eagerly stepped in after DSK's infamous and choreographed fall from grace and the IMF presidency (not to mention his derailed French presidential ambitions, greenlighting Hollande as what would become the worst French president ever), Christine Lagarde is about to be DSKed herself after "someone" clearly has set their sights on the former French finance minister. Several hours ago the news hit that a French court has put Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, under a formal probe for negligence in a corruption investigation dating back to her days as finance minister.



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Frontrunning: August 27

  • Islamic State executes soldiers, takes hostages at Syria base (Reuters)
  • Buffett Burger King Funds Flip Obama’s Inversion Calculus (BBG)
  • Equities Reach Record $66 Trillion as S&P 500 Hits 2,000 (BBG)
  • Central Banks Playing Own Version of Plaza-opoly With FX (BBG)
  • Russia court closes McDonald's branch for 90 days (Reuters)
  • Finland Says NATO an Option After Russia ‘Violates’ Border Laws (BBG)
  • Netanyahu Hit With Domestic Criticism Over Gaza Truce (BBG)
  • Biggest Danish Fund Readies for Rate Shock as Exit Narrows (BBG)
  • Nonprofit Hospitals' Profits Fall (WSJ)


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More Bad News Out Of Europe Coupled With Hopes For More QE Push Stocks, Bonds Higher

If the big hope propelling both ES and S&P cash over 2,000 was the Ukraine-Russian talks, leading to some de-escalation and a thawing of Russian-German conditions, then it was clearly a dud. As the WSJ reports, "face-to-face talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents failed to produce a breakthrough for ending the conflict over eastern Ukraine, as Kiev released videos of captured Russian soldiers and rebels pushed toward a government-held city. The one-on-one session, which Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko described as "tough and complex," ended early Wednesday after a day of talks on the crisis in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Mr. Poroshenko said afterward that he would prepare a "road map" toward a possible cease-fire with the pro-Russia separatists." In other words, absolutely no progress. There was however escalation, when overnight the September Bund future rose as much as 36 ticks to 151.18, after Poland PM Tusk said “regular” Russian troops are operating in eastern Ukraine. And so we are back to square one, with concerns over Russia pushing European bonds to new record highs, in turn leading to more US Treasury buying, while a brand new rumor of more easing from the ECB, this time by Deutsche Bank, has propped up European equities, which like US futures are trading water around the critical 2000 level.



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WTF White House Statement Of The Day: Syria Airstrikes Edition

When President Obama bragged earlier that "The United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world..." adding that "no other nation can do what we do," we should have guessed some more war-mongering was coming... and sure enough. As AP reports, it appears Syrian airstrikes are on their way, but there's a mind-blowing twist in US foreign policy: "In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets." In the words of the Guinness commercial, Brilliant.



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Meet ICREACH: The NSA's Own Secret "Google"

The National Security Agency is secretly providing data to nearly two dozen U.S. government agencies with a “Google-like” search engine built to share more than 850 billion records about phone calls, emails, cellphone locations, and internet chats, according to classified documents obtained by The Intercept.



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It Begins: "Central Banks Should Hand Consumers Cash Directly"

"Rather than trying to spur private-sector spending through asset purchases or interest-rate changes, central banks, such as the Fed, should hand consumers cash directly.... Central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, have taken aggressive action, consistently lowering interest rates such that today they hover near zero. They have also pumped trillions of dollars’ worth of new money into the financial system. Yet such policies have only fed a damaging cycle of booms and busts, warping incentives and distorting asset prices, and now economic growth is stagnating while inequality gets worse. It’s well past time, then, for U.S. policymakers -- as well as their counterparts in other developed countries -- to consider a version of Friedman’s helicopter drops. In the short term, such cash transfers could jump-start the economy...  The transfers wouldn’t cause damaging inflation, and few doubt that they would work. The only real question is why no government has tried them"...



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Forget Geopolitical De-Escalation - Here's The Real Reason Why Oil Is Tumbling

As with  every other asset-class in the world now, fundamentals have taken a very distant back-seat to both liquidity (flow) and positioning (technicals) as traders are increasingly (in one way or another) on the same side of the same trade. Mainstream media will proclaim US energy "independence", US sanctions 'winning' over Putin, or US airstrikes 'calming' down Middle East uncertainty; but the real reason oil is plunging is... the biggest mass liquidation of speculative longs in recorded 30 year history over the last few weeks...



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The Retail Trader Lockout - Today's 'Market' "Issues" Were Worse Than The Flash Crash

For 39 minutes today, as we noted earlier, the US stock "market" broke. As Nanex details, a total of 1,384 symbols were affected as 100s of stocks trade with crossed NBBOs, practically eliminating any chance for retail traders to transact. Options market were frantic, volatility swung around like a Ukrainian border-patrol agent, and yet the US equity indices limped ever higher. For those who fear 'the big one', for those who understand market liquidity, for those who got a glimpse of what happens when large crowds meet small doors in the high-yield credit market, today's "broken" market was a cold hard lesson that few 'moms and pops' would have noticed... but from the perspective of 'ability to trade' - today's market was worse than the Nasdaq Blackout and the Flash Crash... Hedge accordingly.



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The Real Threat

Presented with no comment...



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An Interview With Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

In this first of a series of London interviews that Lars Schall conducted for Matterhorn Asset Management this summer, Lars met up with the Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard to discuss geopolitical tensions in the world, China's challenges, threats to the global economy and the expectations for gold.



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Ron Paul: "Americans Must Choose Non-Interventionist Free Markets For Peace & Prosperity"

Mark Spitznagel: "Mises will ultimately be right yet again about the inevitable final collapse of the current asset boom brought about by credit expansion. The term “black swan” (the surprising, unforeseen event) used for bursting financial bubbles has been and will remain a misnomer - we can and, indeed, should expect such tumults to occur at some point as a consequence of massive central bank intervention and economic distortion."

Ron Paul: "As to the unwinding of this mess, I’m convinced that when the current expansion ends it will be abrupt, gigantic, and worldwide. The 43-year expansion of Fed credit and debt, delivered to us by a fiat dollar standard, and held together artificially by an undeserved trust will end badly."



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An American In ISIS: Meet Doug McCain, One Dead Jihadist

Perhaps the only question emerging from this profile of the first document US citizen casualty fighting for the Islamic State, whose name earlier was revealed as Douglas McAuthur McCain, is whether he and John are related.



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China Industrial Commodities Collapse As Sentiment Tumbles To 15-Month Lows

Unlike the QE-lite-driven exuberance in Chinese stocks of the last few weeks (which faded dramatically overnight), China's industrial commodities (with near-record inventories) and seeing prices collapse. This may shock some who espy PMIs and government-created trade data and proclaim, China is fixed. In fact, as JPMorgan's China Sentiment Index (JSI) shows, things are anything but bright as it fell to the lowest since June last year (at 48.3 in August). Sales and margins are tumbling - despite supposedly lower input costs. Lastly, those focused on spot Yuan movements (strength in recent weeks) have suggested this also confirms China strength - inflows - but looking out 12-months shows the market is expecting a dramatic devaluation from current levels in the Chinese currency is coming.



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The World's Most Dangerous Dams

Hydroelectric dams are a nifty way of producing a huge amount of power, but they do not last forever. This is a tale of two dams that will fail unless they are urgently repaired, and if they fail, catastrophic suffering and loss of life will be the result.



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Treasury Curve Collapse Signals Multiple Expansion Exuberance Is Over

Thanks to buybacks, multiple expansion has been the driver of equity market strength as non-economic actors know one thing - buying stocks at record highs pays better than 'investing' in Capex or growth. However, the Treasury market's yield curve is sending a message loud and clear that multiple-expansion is due to end. As Wells Fargo's Gina Martin Adams notes, "Index P/E is likely to fall," as the spread between 10Y and 2Y yields compresses. Historical data shows the P/E ratio contracted in seven out of eight periods when the curve flattened since 1975. As Bloomberg adds, Martin Adams expects the S&P to close 2014 -7.5% from here at 1850 (tied with Deutsche's David Bianco for lowest prediction among 20 strategists).



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