“You can’t stop an idea whose time has come.”
Over the weekend, a major shift in the balance of power in Iraq took place when Islamic State forces seized the key Iraqi state of Ramadi. It took barely one day for the neoconservative cries for an aggressive and powerful response when overnight Kimberly Kagan's hawkish think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, came out with its assessment which was at least partially right that "Obama's strategy against the Islamic State in ruins not only in Iraq but also throughout the Muslim world."
Less than a week ago, fresh from the aftermath of the recent dramatic six-sigma move in German Bunds, one of Europe's largest banks openly lamented that so far the ECB's QE had done absolutely nothing: "two months of QE for nothing." And lo and behold, as if on demand, overnight the ECB confirmed it had heard SocGen's lament when just before the European market open, ECB executive board member Benoit Coeure delivered a speech at the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis (appropriately named after a hedge fund) at Imperial College Business School (not to be confused with the July 26, 2012 Mario Draghi "whatever it takes" speech which also took place in London) in which he said that the ECB intends to "frontload" i.e., increase, its purchases of euro-area assets in May and June ahead of an expected low-liquidity period in the summer.
Does legalization lead to lower prices? A crowdsourced site for marijuana prices has the answers...
As the economic calendar slowly picks up following the NFP lull, we are looking at a busy week both globally and in the US, where an army of Fed speakers culminates with a Yellen speech on Friday at 1pm in Rhode Island.
"Water is one of the great opportunities of our times. If you look at the world there are some huge shortages developing in some parts but there is also a lot of water in other parts, just in the wrong place – like water in Siberia for instance, which is not where most people are. There are going to be wars in the Middle East over oil east of the Red Sea, but west of that there will be wars over water since there are serious water problems in that region." Jim Rogers:
Greenwald Warns "The Greatest Threat To Free Speech Is Not From Terrorism, But From Those Claiming To Fight It"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/17/2015 12:43 -0400
Threats to free speech can come from lots of places. But right now, the greatest threat by far in the West to ideals of free expression is coming not from radical Muslims, but from the very Western governments claiming to fight them. The increasingly unhinged, Cheney-sounding governments of the U.K., Australia, France, New Zealand and Canada - joining the U.S. - have a seemingly insatiable desire to curb freedoms in the name of protecting them...
With a global population of 7.3 billion this works out out at over $27,200 of debt for every man, woman and child alive today.
It has gotten to where just the lack of a rout in Bunds or any other government issue is enough to activate the "bullish" outside stop hunting algo, which is probably why ES has jumped overnight in another illiquid, newsless session. Curiously, Bunds shave not sold off even though the EUR has jumped sharply by almost 100 pips overnight to a 3 month high also on no news (with some amusing acrobatics by the USDJPY alongside) traditionally a bearish indicator for the Dax and thus the S&P. Perhaps the algos are just late, or maybe the "weak dollar is good for stocks" thesis has been activated, but in any event this morning's ramp higher in the ES will continue until all upside stops are hunted down by Virtu and crushed mercilessly.
While apparently the US does not have its hands full already with orchestrating (and profiting from) two proxy regional wars, one in Ukraine and one in the Middle East, and feels compelled (by shareholders of US "defense" companies) to prove to the world it has long since lost its globocop status when China roundly ignores American threats, China wasted no time to do just that and overnight Beijing strongly condemned a proposed U.S. military plan to send aircraft and Navy ships near disputed South China Sea islands to contest Chinese territorial claims over the area. It didn't end there and China escalated verbally to a near breaking point when Beijing urged “relevant countries to refrain from taking risky and provocative action.”
Following yesterday's turbulent bond trading session, where the volatility after the worst Bid to Cover in a Japanese bond auction since 2009 spread to Europe and sent Bund yields soaring again, in the process "turmoiling" equities, today's session has been a peaceful slumber barely interrupted by "better than expected" Italian and a German Bund auction, both of which concluded without a hitch, and without the now traditional "technical" failure when selling German paper. Perhaps that was to be expected considering the surge in the closing yield from 0.13% to 0.65%. Not hurting the bid for 10Y US Treasury was yesterday's report that Japan had bought a whopping $23 billion in US Treasurys in March, the most in 4 years so to all those shorting Tsys - you are now once again fighting the Bank of Japan.
Moments ago, in an embarrassing setback for the president, Senate Democrats in a 52-45 vote - short of the required 60 supporters - blocked a bill that would give President Barack Obama fast-track authority to expedite trade agreements through Congress, a major defeat for the president and his allies who "say the measure is necessary to complete a 12-nation Pacific trade deal that is a centerpiece of the administration’s economic agenda." But don't count it out yet: the WSJ cites Mitch McConnell who told reporters shortly before the vote, which he expected to lose, that “This issue’s not over" adding that "I’m hopeful we’ll put this in the win column for the country sometime soon.”
It all started again in Asia, although not in China where the berserker mania bid for stocks has returned and the SHCOMP is now up nearly 5% in the past two days following the PBOC's latest easing, but in Japan where once again the massively illiquid JGB market, of which the BOJ owns roughly a third as of this moment, is going through yet another shock period (if not quite VaR yet) with last night's 10 Year JGB auction seeing the lowest Bid to Cover since 2009. This was the beginning, and promptly thereafter bond yields around the globe spiked once more, with 10-year Treasury yields climbing to a five-month high, as the global rout in debt markets deepened. The biggest casualty so far is the Bund, which having retraced some of the flash crash losses from two weeks ago is once again in panic selling mode, and while not having taken out the recent 0.8% flash crash wides, traded just shy of 0.75% this morning.
As the years have passed without Washington hearing, Russia and China have finally realized that their choice is vassalage or war. Had there been any intelligent, qualified people in the National Security Council, the State Department, or the Pentagon, Washington would have been warned away from the neocon policy of sowing distrust. But with only neocon hubris present in the government, Washington made the mistake that could be fateful for humanity.
Less than two years ago, the number of smartphone shipments in China soared by roughly 100% year over year, rising over 80 million for the first time. Fast forward to Q1 of 2015 when according to IDC, the Chinese smartphone market - the largest in the world since 2011 when it overtook the US - has not only reached maturity but is now also fully saturated and as a result smartphone shipments suffered their first Y/Y decline, dropping 4.3% on an annual basis. As IDC notes, "this is the first time in six years that the China smartphone market declined YoY as the market continues to mature." Worse, on a quarter over quarter basis, the market contracted 8% on the back of a large inventory buildup at the end of last year.