• Pivotfarm
    04/18/2014 - 12:44
    Peering in from the outside or through the looking glass at what’s going down on the other side is always a distortion of reality. We sit here in the west looking at the development, the changes and...

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Snowden Calls Into Putin Telethon To Discuss Legality Of Mass Surveillance

While the western media paints Vladmir Putin as some cross between Napoleon and Hitler marauding across Europe breaking international laws willy-nilly, there is one red line he is apparently unwilling to cross. In a somewhat surprising turn of events, none other than Edward Snowden called in to a Putin live telethon and asked the Russian President: "Does Russia intercept millions of citizens’ data?" Putin's response (whether true or not) is worth paying attention to by his opponent on the world stage: "Russia uses surveillance techniques for spying on individuals only with the sanction of a court order. This is our law, and therefore there is no mass surveillance in our country."



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Initial Jobless Claims Beat; Continuing Claims At Lowest Since Dec 2007

Initial jobless claims rose very modestly from last week's near 7-year lows but handily beat expectations with the 4-week average at its lowest since September 2007. Of course, as Yellen explained yesterday, none of this matters as if one indicator of jobs improvement gets too strong to enable more easy money, we simply flip to another that indicates a different worse (more real) reality. Continuing Claims also dropped (beating expectations) to uits lowest since Dec 2007 (as if the whole crisis never happened).



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Goldman Reports Worst Q1 Results Since Lehman, Average Employee Pay Drops 7% To $376,840

Moments ago Goldman reports its first quarter earnings, which beat expectations that had been drastically lowered into this quarter. Specifically, total Q1 revenue printed at $9.33 billion, beating expectations of $8.66Bn, while EPS, which declined 6% from a year ago, also beat Estimates of $3.49 at $4.02. Looking at the key operating segments, the all important FICC revenue was $2.85Bn, also above the sharply reduced estimate of $2.63Bn, while IB was $1.78Bn, more than the Wall Street estimate of $1.52Bn. That was the good news. The bad news: Goldman's first quarter results were the worst since the Lehman crisis, and just to put the critical FICC group's revenues in perspective: at $2.9 billion they were less than half what FICC recorded in Q1 2010 when people apparently still traded.



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Frontrunning: April 17

  • Putin Doesn't Rule Out Sending Troops (WSJ)
  • Japan Cuts Economic View on Tax Rise (WSJ)
  • No "harsh weather" in Chipotle restaurants where comp store sales rose 13.4% (PR)
  • No sanctions for you: EU sanctions push on Russia falters amid big business lobbying (FT)
  • Consumer Spending on Health Care Jumps as Obamacare Takes Hold (BBG)
  • China Seen Cracking on Property Controls (BBG)
  • Google, IBM results raise questions about other tech-sector companies (Reuters)
  • California city evacuation lifted after military ordnance found (Reuters)
  • For Obama, Standoff With Moscow Jumbles Plans at Home and Abroad (WSJ)


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Putin Says Russia Will Respond To NATO Moves, Accuses Kiev Of Plunging Ukraine Into "Abyss"

It didn't take long for Putin to respond to the latest news from the west that NATO was about to boost its military presence in proximity to Russia. Specifically he said that Putin does not see a reason to fear NATO which was to be expected. But the even more predictable punchline: Russia must respond when NATO moves closer to country’s border, President Vladimir Putin says during annual televised call-in show. The Russian president made his views clear during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow on Thursday, ahead of the Geneva two-day meeting during which the Ukraine problam is (again) supposed to get a diplomatic solution (it won't). During the Q&A Putin also accused the Kiev government of committing "a serious crime" by sending in troops to quell unrest in Ukraine's east, as a clash overnight left three pro-Russian protesters dead and 13 wounded. And just to make sure there is a solid enough soundbite, the former KGB spy accused the authorities in Kiev of plunging the country into an "abyss".



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It's Op-Ex Day, And The Buying Panic Is Late

After a solid day for risk yesterday, surging higher on a continuation of the rumor that Japan's economy will deteriorate so much the BOJ will have to print more money (even though overnight ex BOJ governor Sekido said Kuroda won't print more) we have a more cautious tone this morning heading into the Easter long weekend. A double earnings miss from Google and IBM following the US market close, comments from the Chinese Premier suggesting that the government will keep its policy settings unchanged, and a press conference from Russia’s President Putin in which the Russian president as expected, has refused to back down, has put a small dampener on sentiment today. Add the fact that due to Good Friday April equities Op-Ex will take place today and trading in the next 9 hours promises to be more unrigged than ever, especially if the NY Fed trading desk manages to slam the VIX into single-digit territory



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The Richest Man In Asia Is Selling Everything In China

Here’s a guy you want to bet on - Li Ka-Shing. Li is reportedly the richest person in Asia with a net worth well in excess of $30 billion, much of which he made being a shrewd property investor. Li Ka-Shing was investing in mainland China back in the early 90s, way back before it became the trendy thing to do. Now, Li wants out of China. All of it.



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FBI Plans To Have 52 Million Photos In Facial Recognition Database By 2015

There is a disturbing push by the FBI to create an extensive facial recognition database. The information received by the EFF via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, demonstrates that the feds may have a mugshot database with up to 52 million photos by 2015. The program is called Next Generation Identification (NGI), and the aspect of it that bothers the EFF most is the fact that non-criminal and criminal photos will be combined in the same database. So someone who has no criminal record can suddenly be flagged as a suspect just because an algorithm says so. What’s worst, research shows that the potential for false positive identification increases as the dataset increases.



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Special Forces Confront Chinese 'Investors' Demanding Failed Trust "Pay Back Our Money"

"We have been cheated by CCB," exclaimed one Chinese investor who invested 1 million yuan ($160k) in China Construction Bank's Songhuajing River No.77 Trust (which offered returns of 9.8 to 12% per annum). It appears that a 12% yielding financial instrument was not hint enough of the risk to the dozens of investors who confronted police in troubled Sanhxi province yesterday demanding their money back from the trust which has missed 6 monthly payments in a row. People wearing white masks with the words "despicable bank" and "pay back our money" were among at least 30 investors facing special-forces officers in dark uniforms and the group dispersed soon after the bank had asked for more time, adding "the bank said they wouldn't risk their reputation."



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Visualizing Taxes Around The World

Not every person in the world has the same relationship with the taxman as Americans do. Let’s look at taxing throughout the globe, including what people pay and some of the more bizarre taxes around the world.



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Martin Armstrong Warns American Civil Unrest Is Starting Right On Schedule

"We have been warning that 2014 is the beginning of a new cycle that will see a highly unusual convergence between our domestic (civil unrest & revolution) data and our international war model. Both converge for the first time since the 1700s when there were US and French Revolutions and the fall of monarchy." The civil unrest will develop first outside the USA and turn up more aggressively in the USA after Q3 2015. Nonetheless, it still begins in 2014 for the USA as well. We are starting to see this in the West where memories of previous events still linger deep wounds from 1992.



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BRICS Consider Creating IMF-Alternative As US Loses Credibility

The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have made significant progress in setting up structures that would serve as an alternative to the IMF and the World Bank (which are dominated by the U.S. and the EU), according to RBTH. As WSJ reports, the U.S. would lose its veto power on the International Monetary Fund's executive board under a plan being considered by some emerging economies. The countries are fed up with the United States' failure to ratify a four-year-old deal to restructure the emergency lender. Yet more loss of credibility on the global stage and, as Brazil's FinMin Mantega sums up, "the IMF cannot remain paralyzed and postpone its commitments to reform."



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Federal Reserve Asks "Where Are The Jobs"

Five years into the "recovery" and The Atlanta Fed thinks it's time to figure out where jobs come from (spoiler alert: there is no job tree). The Atlanta Fed has investigated trends in a variety of firm types to better understand why labor market progress continued to be slower than hoped for in 2013... the findings - when it comes to job creation, there is no simple solution. But Ben and Janet said?...



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Beef, Pork, Shrimp, Eggs, And Now Orange Juice

Yesterday we reminded those who fear the dreadful deflation ogre and its extreme monetary policy supporting fantasy that food inflation was in fact soaring. Of course, for those that do not eat Beef, Pork, Eggs, or Shrimp - everything's fine... except today we add yet another 'staple' to the extreme inflationary dilution of the average consumer's pocketbook... ORANGE-JUICE FUTURES RISE AS MUCH AS 1.5% TO TWO-YEAR HIGH



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"Fed Policies Have Made The Rich Much Richer", Fed President Admits

Despite Janet Yellen's meet-and-greet with the unemployed and criminal classes, the absence of Ben Bernanke has seemingly empowered several Fed heads to be just a little too frank and honest about their views. The uncomfortable truthsayer this time is none other than Dallas Fed's Fisher:

*FISHER SAYS FED POLICIES HAVE MADE THE RICH 'MUCH RICHER' (but...)
*FISHER: UNCLEAR IF FED POLICIES WILL BENEFIT THE MIDDLE-CLASS

We wonder how President Obama, that crusader for fairness, equality and all time Russell 2000 highs, will feel about that? In the meantime, just like the Herp, QE is the gift that keeps on giving.. and giving... and giving... to the 0.001%.



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