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".
Since the US is apparently unable to take a hint to stay out of China's back year, it was is up to China to explain again, just where it stands. Which it did earlier today when it warned the United States, in no uncertain terms, to stay out of disputes over the South China Sea and leave countries in the region to resolve problems themselves, after Washington said it wanted a freeze on stoking tension. China's Foreign Ministry repeated that it had irrefutable sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, where most of the competing claims overlap, and that China continued to demand the immediate withdrawal of personnel and equipment of countries which were "illegally occupying" China's islands. "What is regretful is that certain countries have in recent years have strengthened their illegal presence through construction and increased arms build up," the ministry said in a statement.
Three months ago we discussed in detail the growing anti-dollar hegemony alliances that were building across the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). Their efforts at the time, to create a structure that would serve as an alternative to the IMF and the World Bank (which are dominated by the U.S. and the EU), appear to be nearing completion. As AP reports, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and Russia's Vladimir Putin have discussed the creation of a development bank to promote growth across the BRICS and hope to produce an agreement on the proposed institution at this week's BRICS Summit. As Rousseff concluded (rather ominously), the five countries "are among the largest in the world and cannot content themselves in the middle of the 21st century with any kind of dependency."
Now that the World Cup is over, and following last week's global macro reporting slumber (aside for the Portuguese risk flaring episode of course), things pick up quite a bit in the coming week. Here are the key events.
A look at key events and data in the week ahead.
While numerous massively indebted administrations around the world hope to divert the attention of what's left of their struggling middle class away from its daily impoverished existence and distract it with flashing lights and glitzy animations showing another all time market high on a daily basis, a significantly more important shift taking place behind the scenes is appreciated by very few: the ongoing de-dollarization of the world. For the latest example of how increasingly more countries are setting the stage for the final currency war, we go again to Russia where VOR's Valentin Mândr??escu explains that slowly but surely the BRICS - that proud Goldman acronym which was conceived to perpetuate the great American way of life by releasing trillions in US-denominated debt in heretofore untapped markets - are morphing into an anti-dollar alliance.