In the last few days a new and curious question has emerged: would India embrace the US/Japan axis while foregoing its natural Developing Market, and BRICS, allies, Russia and China. We now have a clear answer and it is a resounding no, because in what was the latest slap on the face of now crashing on all sides US global hegemony, earlier today India refused to sign a critical global trade dea. Specifically, India's unresolved demands led to the collapse of the first major global trade reform pact in two decades. WTO ministers had already agreed the global reform of customs procedures known as "trade facilitation" in Bali, Indonesia, last December, but were unable to overcome last minute Indian objections and get it into the WTO rule book by a July 31 deadline. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo told trade diplomats in Geneva, just two hours before the final deadline for a deal lapsed at midnight that "we have not been able to find a solution that would allow us to bridge that gap."
It has been a deja vu session of that day nearly a month ago when the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) problems were first revealed, sending European stocks and US futures, however briefly, plunging. Since then things have only gotten worse for the insolvent Portuguese megabank, and overnight BES, all three of its holdco now bankrupt, reported an epic loss despite which it will not get a bailout but instead must raise capital on its own. The result has been a record drop in both the bonds (down some 20 points earlier) and the stock (despite a shorting ban instituted last night), which crashed as much as 40% before stabilizing at new all time lows around €0.25, in the process wiping out recent investments by such "smart money" as Baupost, Goldman and DE Shaw. The result is a European financial sector that is struggling in the red, while adding to its pain are some large cap names such as Adidas which also tumbled after issuing a profit warning relating to "developments" in Russia. Then there was European inflation which printed at 0.4%, below the expected 0.5%, and the lowest in pretty much ever, and certainly since the ECB commenced its latest fight with "deflation", which so far is not going well. The European cherry on top was Greece, whose dead cat bounce is now over, after May retail sales crashed 8.5%, after rising 3.8% in April.
"Shocked" White House Slams "Fabrication" After Israel TV Leaks Damning Transcript Of Obama-Netanyahu Phone CallSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/29/2014 23:53 -0400
While the US continues to escalate the conflict with Russia in a tit-for-tat recreation of the Cold War, things for US foreign policy just keep going from bad to worse, with the latest insult coming from none other than close US ally, Israel.
When it comes to the rise of Eurasia as the ascendent axis set to oppose US global hegemony, conventional wisdom focuses on the roles of China and Russia. However, the changing geopolitical landscape is certainly far more nuanced than merely the "west" versus the BRICS, and as the following infographic from SCMP shows, China has been quietly working to recreate one of the most legendary trade routes, "the Silk Road", linking Africa to the Middle East (Iraq and Iran) to India, to Indonesia and all culminating in Beijing, while at the same time the reverse leg of the route goes to Kazakhstan, Moscow and ultimately, Germany. The purpose: "to enhance political and economic ties with southeast Asia and beyond."
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.