Ten dark suited men entered the premises of FBME bank in Cyprus on Friday afternoon and took it hostage. The men were from the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC). And they commandeered FBME because an obscure agency within the US government recently issued a report accusing the bank of laundering money. It just so happens that FBME... and Cyprus in general... is where a lot of wealthy Russians hold their vast fortunes. Bear in mind, there has been no proof that any crime was committed.
It had to happen! The blame game on that horrendous airline incident has reached the expected loud monotone of pointing fault, lock, stock and barrel at Russia... and, more specifically, to that villain ex-KGB Slav, Vladimir Putin. The US media barrage of grotesque and obscene propaganda against America’s former foe and competitor has found a leader of this warring marching band in Barack Obama. If the UN is incapable to change or influence the hegemonic geopolitical behavior of the United States... where else can the world look to find resolution to conflicts such as we have in Gaza and Ukraine today? Enter the BRICS group of nations...
As the world slowly turns against US Dollar hegemony, it appears the BRICS are pressing to fill any gaps. Having created the BRICS Bank "alternate to The West-controlled IMF or World Bank," Xinhua reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes the BRICS mechanism has been fully developed and can now transform into a political alliance to "reform the international financial system."
Three more plague cases were found in Colorado, a week after the first infection of the deadliest form of the disease was reported in the state in a decade. The man initially reported with pneumonic plague on July 11 is hospitalized. Two of the new cases also had pneumonic plague, while the third had a milder form. All four cases may be linked to the original man’s dog, which died from the illness, state health officials said.
While everyone in the world (apart from the BRICS and Germany) know that Putin/Russia is the enemy; the relationships among the various 'states' in The Middle East are a mystery to most... As Slate reports, with overlapping civil wars in Syria and Iraq, a new flare-up of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, and tense nuclear talks with Iran; Middle Eastern politics are more volatile than ever and longtime alliances are shifting. Here's Slate's guide to who's on whose side in the escalating chaos...
President Obama was a little cagey early yesterday in finger-pointing or assigning blame... but later in the day, he was clear that Putin and Russia were responsible. This morning we are told that the US "believes" it was pro-Russian separatists "maybe." We await President Obama's statement (and hopefully Q&A) this morning as he explains the situation in Ukraine... and how he won't stand for it any longer. Despite Russia signing energy and investment deals with numerous nations around the world and being at the hub of the creation of the BRICS Bank, we are sure President Obama will dictate how isolated Russia is becoming (despite Europe's "fold" on further sanctions for fear of retaliation).
Reflecting on the growing anti-dollar alliance (especially among the BRICS as we noted here), Jim Rogers exclaims "The US dollar is an extremely flawed currency... we have serious problems... and the world needs something else." His perspective is that maybe (just maybe) a combined China, Russia, Brazil joint-currency can battle the dollar's dominance. Rogers goes on to discuss the rationale for the increased cooperation between these 5 nations with multi-billion populations but notes while Russia has lots to add, "I would throw India out" of BRICS.
The Russian Ruble slumped 1.6% today, its biggest drop in over 4 months as investors kneejerk-reacted to the US latest round of restricted-funding-access sanctions. The Ruble is back at 2-month lows against the USD. The bonds of several of the sanctioned companies are also breaking down with Rosneft yields up 89bps at 6.22% and Novatek yields surging to 6.44% as even though Fitch confirms these firms can manage their own cash needs through 2015, as one analyst notes, "the lack of ability to raise long-term dollar funding will become a big economic limitation for all of them." The broad Russian stock market is also tumbling, down to 2-month lows (though still notably above the US markets since sanctions began). We wonder how long before BRICS Bank steps in to provide 'temporary' funding... and just how quickly Putin's "boomerang" will hit if this selling continues.
"Sanctions have a boomerang effect and without any doubt they will push U.S.-Russian relations into a dead end, and cause very serious damage, and it undermines the long term security interests of the US State and its people."
"This means that U.S. companies willing to work in Russia will lose their competitiveness next to other global energy companies." Putin said the sanctions will hurt Exxon Mobil Corp which has been given the opportunity to operate in Russia. "So, do they not want it to work there? They are causing damage to their major energy companies." Putin said the sanctions will hurt Exxon Mobil Corp which has been given the opportunity to operate in Russia. "So, do they not want it to work there? They are causing damage to their major energy companies."
One can't help but wonder just how concerned the powers that be are becoming when such an esteemed mainstream media outlet as Bloomberg News would deem fit to defend the almighty US Dollar. "There are always people who say the dollar is going to be replaced, but it hasn't happened," chides one strategist (clearly forgetting that nothing lasts forever). As growing concerns of "exorbitant privilege" spread from the usual anti-imperialist foes (Russia and China's de-dollarization) to close allies like France and now to the world's growth engine - BRICS, it seems defending what was previously unquestionable itself should be grounds for alarm...
The sell off was greeted by Chinese buyers as Chinese premiums edged up to just over $1 an ounce on the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE).
Gold price drops this year have led to a marked increase in demand for gold as seen in very large increases in ETF holdings (See chart - Orange is Gold, Purple is absolute change in gold ETF holdings). The smart money in Asia, the West and globally continues to use price dips as an opportunity to allocate to gold.
- BRICS set up bank to counter Western hold on global finances (Reuters)
- Fed's Yellen Hedges Her View on Rates (Hilsenrath)
- China GDP Grows 7.5% in Second Quarter (WSJ)
- Get More Acquainted With Your Knees as Boeing Reworks 737 (BBG)
- Israel Warns Gazans of New Attack After Hamas Rejects Truce (WSJ)
- Israel poised for Gaza incursions after truce collapses (Reuters)
- China Housing Sales Fall in First Half of 2014 (WSJ)
- IBM to offer iPads and iPhones for business users (Reuters)
- Fed's George says strengthening economy warrants quick rate rise (Reuters)
"We are pleased to announce the signing of the Treaty for the establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA) with an initial size of US$ 100 billion. This arrangement will have a positive precautionary effect, help countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures, promote further BRICS cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements. We appreciate the work undertaken by our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. The Agreement is a framework for the provision of liquidity through currency swaps in response to actual or potential short-term balance of payments pressures." - The BRICS
One of today’s most common economic fallacies is that the soaring stock market is evidence of economic recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fed’s balance sheet has grown more than fourfold since 2008 — to $4.3 trillion — and was used to prop up the “too big to fails.” That money had to go somewhere. Paper money promotes the “quick buck” syndrome like narcotics peddling and hookers on the streets. In a paper money society, the social order visibly deteriorates. Fiat promotes an illusory reality where non-substance like financial speculation and gambling replaces the substance of industrial production and long-term value.
As Pepe Escobar explains, way beyond economy and finance, this is essentially about geopolitics - as in emerging powers offering an alternative to the failed Washington consensus. Or, as consensus apologists say, the BRICS may be able to "alleviate challenges" they face from the "international financial system".