Ten Banks, Including JPM, Goldman, Deutsche, Barclays, SocGen And UBS, Probed For Gold Rigging

According to the WSJ, "prosecutors in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are scrutinizing the price-setting process for gold, silver, platinum and palladium in London, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has opened a civil investigation, these people said. The agencies have made initial requests for information, including a subpoena from the CFTC to HSBC Holdings PLC related to precious-metals trading, the bank said in its annual report Monday. Who is involved in this latest gold-rigging scandal? Why everyone! ... which makes it immediately obvious why the European regulator had to promptly cover up the whole affair. Under scrutiny are Bank of Nova Scotia , Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Société Générale SA, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and UBS AG , according to one of the people close to the investigation.

What Is China Building In The South China Sea?

Photographs indicate that massive construction projects are underway on the newly build islands at Fiery Cross and Johnson South Reefs, while less extensive but still serious construction is ondoing at Hughes, Gaven, and Cuarteron Reefs. Given the extent to which future control over the shipping lanes of the South China Sea will impact the global balance of power, China’s island construction is worthy of our attention.

"Do As I Say, Not As I Do" HSBC's 'Reforming' CEO Sheltered Millions In Swiss Bank Accounts

Oops! Amid new money-laundering allegations against HSBC's Swiss arm, The Guardian reports that leaked files show that CEO Stuart Gulliver sheltered US$7.6 million in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company. While a spokesperson for the bank said that taxes were paid on these funds in Hong Kong, when asked why he used a Panamanian company to hold the funds, given Swiss accounts already offer secrecy, they declined to comment. With Gulliver stating, "the business has been transformed and standards are now up to scratch," we prsume, of course, that the PR spin will be: who better to refocus the 'new' HSBC on battling tax fraud than someone who has been there and done that...

What's Next For Oil And Gold: Thoughts From Eric Sprott, Rick Rule And Marc Faber

"The economy is booming, according to recent data. GDP grew by 2.6% annualized in the last quarter. And yet oil prices have dropped faster than they did in the crisis of 2008. The US dollar is at record strength. And the gold price has spiked in many currencies ... Something’s not right here." So says Eric Sprott in his latest report observing what may lie in store for oil and gold in the near future.

Despite US/Israel Demands, 'Isolated' Russia Offers Iran Advanced Anti-Aircraft Missiles

With proxy wars mounting and "isolated" Russia ratifying The BRICS Bank this week, we are sure Washington is preparing to double-down on 'costs' (to Europeans) as Reuters reports, Russia has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 missiles (ironically after a deal to supply less powerful S-300 missiles was dropped under Western pressure in 2010). While the United States and Israel lobbied Russia to block the missile sale, the head of Russian state defense conglomerate, Sergei Chemezov, says, "as far as Iran is concerned, we offered Antey-2500 instead of S-300. They are thinking. No decision has been made yet."

Ron Paul: "Interventionism Kills" Post-Coup Ukraine One Year Later

It was one year ago last weekend that a violent coup overthrew the legally elected government of Ukraine. More than 5,000 have been killed and many of those were civilians bombed in their cities by Kiev. What if John McCain had stayed home and worried about his constituents in Arizona instead of non-constituents 6,000 miles away? What if the other US and EU politicians had done the same? What if Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt had focused on actual diplomacy instead of regime change? If they had done so, there is a good chance many if not all of those who have been killed in the violence would still be alive today. Interventionism kills.

Yellen's "Humphrey-Hawkins" Testimony Preview: "Don't Rock The Boat"

Fed Chair Yellen will be presenting her semi-annual monetary policy testimony - sometimes called the "Humphrey-Hawkins" testimony - on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Goldman expects Yellen not to stray far from the message of the January FOMC statement and meeting minutes, seeing it unlikely she will preempt the Committee by sending a strong signal on whether "patience" will be removed from the statement at the March meeting. The testimony will probably not be a major market mover. Nonetheless, to the extent there are risks to our "don't rock the boat" expectation, Goldman thinks they are skewed toward a slightly more dovish tilt.

Recovery? Central Banks Are Easing Policy For 50% Of The World's Population

Despite endless proclamations that the world has 'escaped' the financial crisis, the data (and actions) simply do not back that up. The constant propagandizing of either a) US is economically strong and will drive the world's growth engine (factually incorrect), or b) the rest of the world is about to revert to higher growth seems entirely anathema to the fact that in 2015, we have seen a wave of monetary easing - most recently today by Israel. That makes it 20 central banks that have cut rates (or eased policy) in the last few weeks - covering over 50% of the world's population.

Big Barbie Is Watching You: Meet The WiFi-Connected Doll that Talks to Your Kids & Records Them

Earlier this month, we highlighted the fact that the latest Samsung Smart TV can and will listen to your conversations, and will share the details with a third party. Well a couple of weeks later, and we learn that Mattel’s latest high-tech Barbie doll will bring the “internet of things” right into your child’s playpen... "the high-tech toy will listen to your child, record its words, send them over the internet for processing, and talk back to your kid."

Why The Last Thing US Equity Markets Want Is Good Data

When, amid the plunging stock market in October as we neared the end of QE3, Jim Bullard said QE4 was possible; not only did markets then undertake the longest and most consistent streak of gains in history, he appears to have entirely changed the market's reaction function to data...

Throw Your Grandma Under The Bus

When the German/Eurogroup decision came to throw either their own biggest banks, or the grandmas of a co-member nation of the currency union under the bus, they didn't even hesitate since they have control over the perfect vehicle for such tasks: the ECB (an allegedly neutral institution that in reality peddles political influence in a way that guarantees the poorer countries will always wind up footing the bill). For those of you who don’t want to wake up one day to find their own grandmas crushed under the same bus the Greek yiayia’s are under as we speak, it would be beneficial to ponder how perverse this all is, not just the isolated events but the entire underlying system that produces them. Banks are more important than people, certainly grandmas.

The Government Bundle: Would You Like War With Your Health Care?

A recent business innovation that has seen wide market acceptance is the bundling of goods and services. The government bundles its products, too. However, unlike private businesses, the government gives us no choice but to purchase its one “mega-bundle”. From the viewpoint of the state, to not purchase its bundle is considered a crime rather than freedom and comes with punishments that can be extreme. Being forced to purchase the government bundle is decidedly not freedom.

Grexit Drama Greenlighted For A 5th Season - New Characters, New Plot Twists

The political-financial drama Grexit was greenlighted for a 5th season, as new characters and new narratives have reinvigorated a series that was clearly flagging in mid-2014. Given the sleepy subplots that dominated the 2014 series, industry insiders were anticipating a cancellation. Insiders would neither confirm nor deny the rumor, but they promised a "show unlike any other" this season.

The Oil Markets Are Rigged - Here's How

We have remarked numerous times, thanks in many cases to the detailed analysis of Nanex LLC, that oil markets (among others) are manipulated or rigged. But, just as Michael Lewis was what equity market participants needed to comprehend what was occurring stocks, so WSJ reports today on 'spoofing' in the oil markets. Spoofing is rapid-fire feinting, which as Tabb group's Matt Simon notes, "raises a question now about whether someone is engaging in legitimate market activity or clear market manipulation." Here's how they do it...

The Chart That The Eurogroup Is Really Worried About

The Eurogroup's apparent 'non-negotiation' stance with Greece reflects one main worry we suspect - conceding to Greece would increase rather than reduce political risk, emboldening the resurgent anti-austerity and anti-euor extremist parties across Europe. With Spain and France seeing 'extremist' parties in the lead, the following chart is likely the one that keeps Dijsselbloem up at night...