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China Cuts Interest Rates, Takes Number Of Central Banks Easing In 2015 To 21

And then there were 21. Hours ago on Saturday, the country whose currency is largely pegged to the dollar which itself is now anticipating a rate hike in the coming months, surprised the world by confirming its economic slowdown yet again following a recent rate cut just this past November when it lowered its benchmark rate by 40 bps, after it again cut benchmark lending and deposit rates by 25 bps starting on March 1. Specifically, the PBOC will lower the one-year lending rate to 5.35% from 5.6% and its one-year deposit rate to 2.5% from 2.75%. It also said it would raise the maximum interest rate on bank deposits to 130% of the benchmark rate from 120%.



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Prominent Politician And Putin Critic Shot To Death In Moscow; "Shocked" John Kerry Urges Russia To Bring Justice

Update: John Kerry has decided to comment: U.S. URGES RUSSIA TO ACT IN EXPEDITIOUSLY IN NEMTSOV MATTER, SAYS BORIS NEMTSOV SOUGHT TO REFORM RUSSIA

Just nine hours after tweeting "Putin annexed Crimea and is now handing over Siberia to the Chinese," and three ours after calling for a "Russian Spring" march, prominent Vladimir Putin critic and opposition politician (who back in 1997 was also deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation) Boris Nemtsov, has been killed in the center of Moscow. As The BBC notes, the Russian opposition politician and former deputy PM was shot to death on a Moscow street. Life News is reporting he was shot in the chest four times on a street very close to Red Square.



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China Just Sided With Russia Over The Ukraine Conflict

Few asked throughout the Ukraine civil war is just whose side is China leaning toward, after all the precarious balance of power between NATO and Russia had resulted in a stalemate in which neither side has an obvious advantage (even as the Ukraine economy died, and its currency hyperinflated, waiting for a clear winner), and the explicit or implicit support of China to either camp would make all the difference in the world, and perhaps the world's most formidable axis. Today we finally got the answer.  China's ambassador to Belgium, was quoted as blaming competition between Russia and the West for the Ukraine crisis, urging Western powers to "abandon the zero-sum mentality" with Russia.  Reuters assessment of Xing speech: "an unusually frank and open display of support for Moscow's position in the crisis." At least it is not a warning to the US to back off or else. Yet.

 



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10 Reasons Washington Has War Fever

Never has our nation, corporations and wealthy top 1% faced so many new threats to their efforts to grow their power and wealth around the world.  But a real war would provide the crisis excuse to confiscate your gold and "excess" retirement plan and IRA assets, reduce or curtail your social security benefits, dramatically raise taxes and institute total exchange controls while curtailing your remaining freedoms and ability to resist for the duration of the crisis.



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The Net Neutrality Debate Proves The Opinions Are Far From Informed

As many of you know the FCC approved what is now considered the greatest change in the fundamental underpinnings of how the internet will be both used as well as “allowed” to be used. The regulation now known as Net Neutrality will supposedly make the internet more “fair” or “equal” to everyone. All I’ll ask you to ponder is this: How’s your cable bill working out for you? There’s a lot of known and unknowns still to be had as we sit here today. Why? Regardless of what you’ve heard or seen written in the press about this regulation; no one, and I do mean, no one knows the details to this new and sweeping regulation.



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Self-Aware? World's Largest Hedge Fund Shifts Strategy To Artificial Intelligence

Despite warnings from the likes of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking (and of course, Sarah Connor), Ray Dalio's $165 billion AUM hedge fund Bridgewater will start a new, artificial-intelligence unit next month. Despite the "new normal"'s total reversal of any and every historical rational trading pattern, the unit will attempt to create trading algorithms that make predictions based on historical data and statistical probabilities, as "machine learning is the new wave of investing for the next 20 years and the smart players are focusing on it." Does this mean the talking heads of CNBC, with their 'memes', 'myths', and 'mumbling' rationales for it always being a good time to buy are now obsolete? Or did the market just become self-aware?



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China And The Dragon Tail Of Marx

The dragon tail of Marx's end-game of overcapacity and finance capital is about to shred China's fantasy that the state can micro-manage both capitalism and financialization with no contradictions or consequences. "Dragon Seeks path. Dragon whips his tail." The dragon of capitalism isn't as easy to control as bureaucrats expect.



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In "Paranormal" Europe, Banks Will Pay You To Borrow, And Charge You To Save

This is what Europe has become: savers - those who diligently put away the fruits of their labor - are now forced to pay, using banks as an intermediary, and subsidize the the debtor: spenders, who live beyond their means, and who in increasingly more frequent situations are now paid to take out even more debt! Call it monetary socialism, or just call it what it is: the New Paranormal.



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The Forgotten War – Understanding The Incredible Debacle Left Behind By NATO In Libya

"In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy; it has devolved into a failed state... As bad as Libya’s human rights situation was under Qaddafi, it has gotten worse since NATO ousted him."



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Spot The Odd Vol Out

Despite the well-managed collapse of Equity, FX, and Rates volatility in February, the Oil complex is exhibiting Lehman-Depression-like levels of implied vol still as central planners seem unable (or unwilling) to manipulate the energy complex (rock of inflation and hard place of 'consumer tax cut'?). As WSJ reports, this volatility is roiling market makers, luring fast-money traders (and algos) and discouraging long-term investors from hedging/positioning. As one asset manager noted, "we like volatile two-way markets... but this is too high for us."



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"Monetary Policy Is Bankrupt" Dr. Lacy Hunt Warns "Bonds, Not Stocks, Are A Good Economic Indicator"

"While the wealth effect is a theoretical possibility, it is not supported by economic fact. The stock market is not a good guide to the economy, but...the bond market is a very good economic indicator. When bond yields are very low and declining it’s an indication that the same is happening to inflation and that economic activity is weak. The bond yields are not here for any fluke of reason. They are here because business conditions in the US and abroad are quite poor."



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WTF Chart Of The Day - Fantasy February Edition

Presented with little comment but to say "Thank you Jim..."



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Senate Passes One-Week DHS-Funding Stop-Gap Bill, House Expected To Pass

With just hours to go until The Department of Homeland Security runs out of money at midnight, after failing to pass a longer-term stop-gap funding bill earlier in the evening, the Senate has managed to buy themselves a week before this whole farce is played over again:

SENATE PASSES ONE-WEEK DHS STOPGAP SPENDING BILL

House GOP Aides expect the one-week measure to pass with Democratic support.



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5 Things To Ponder: Weekend Catch Up

With the "Great Greek Tragedy" now behind the markets, for the time being, all eyes have turned towards the Nasdaq's triumphant march back to 5000.  (The graphics department at CNBC have been working overtime on banners and bugs for when it happens....watch for them.) For now, it is all about the hopes of a cyclical upturn in the Eurozone economy supported by the ECB's QE program starting next month. Market participants have been bidding up stocks globally in anticipation that the ECB's program will pick up where the Fed left off, and the flood of liquidity will find its way back into asset prices



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Puerto Rico's 3rd Largest Bank Fails

Based on Bloomberg data, Doral Bank is the 3rd largest (by assets) bank in Puerto Rico...or rather was. After a 58% collapse in the share price today, news broke after the close:

*PUERTO RICO'S DORAL BANK PLACED UNDER FDIC RECEIVERSHIP, BANCO POPULAR AGREES TO BUY DORAL BANK OPERATIONS

It appears Non-Performing Loans were over 40%. Popular will take the deposits (and 8 of Doral's 26 branches) and the FDIC eats the bad debt (estimates to cost the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $748.9 million).



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