Although every bad thing that is not the fault of climate change is allegedly the fault of Putin, it seems the EU commissariat “didn’t really mean it” and wants to see South Stream built after all.
Earlier today, in a stunning announcement, Putin revealed that the South Stream project is now finished. As the WSJ reports, "Putin said Moscow will stop pursuing Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline project that would supply natural gas to Europe with an underwater link to Bulgaria, blaming the European Union for scuttling the project." Putin is right: Europe - Austria excluded - had seen rising resistance to the South Stream in recent months. The EU is concerned that the project would cement Russia’s position as Europe’s dominant supplier of natural gas. Russia already meets around 30% of Europe’s annual needs. So what does Putin do? He signs a strategic alliance with NATO member Turkey, the only country in Europe that is anything but European and which lately has been increasingly anti-Western, to build a new mega-pipeline to Turkey instead. And the exclamation point:
TURKEY, RUSSIA AGREE TO USE LOCAL CURRENCIES IN TRADE: TRT
Or, as Obama would put it, Russia just got even more "isolated."
With French youth revolting, Spanish regions seeking secession, and GREXIT back on the cards, Europe's social unrest concerns are starting to rise once again to troubling levels. However, it is in Europe's poorest nation, Bulgaria that the message of dissatisfaction is loudest. As The BBC reports, a woman has set herself ablaze near the presidency building in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. There were six similar self-immolations in Bulgaria last year, amid anger over chronic poverty and alleged corruption.
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While Greek government yields (and political leaders) proclaim the troubled peripheral European nation is 'recovering', the risk of major political upheaval in Greece has not gone away ahead of next year's presidential vote next year. As Reuters notes, under growing pressure from anti-bailout leftists, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras desperately needs a new narrative to get the backing of lawmakers and rally Greeks fed up with four years of austerity. We wish him luck as Keep Talking Greece notes, it is high time that the real data of the economic situation of the Greek society come to the surface and so it did this week. A report from Greece's State Budget Office found that three in every five Greeks, or some 6.3 million people, were living in poverty or under the threat of poverty in 2013 due to material deprivation and unemployment.
As reported ealier this morning, here, courtesy of Bloomberg, are the nominees for the next European Commission under the presidency of Jean-Claude "If Serioues Then lie" Juncker, with one from each of the European Union’s 28 countries. Job assignments were announced today by the incoming president, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg. What do these appointments mean for the European Union? The attached flash analysis from Open Europe should answer most initial questions.
As we detailed previously, Bulgaria had been an enthusiastic supporter of the Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline project, whose construction has stoked tensions between the West and Moscow as it enabled gas supply to bypass troubled Ukraine (thus squeezing the desparate economy back into Russia's hands). In early June, Bulgaria's Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski ordered an initial halt (after Europe offered the nation's suddenly collapsing banking system a lifeline). This time, Energy Minister Vasil Shtonov has ordered Bulgaria’s Energy Holding to halt any actions in regards of the project as it does not meet the requirements of the European Commission. Of course, we assume this decision (to halt a 2nd time) is entirely independent of NATO's deployment of 12 F-15s and 180 troops to Bulgaria's Graf Ignatievo Air Base.
“Commercial shale gas production in Europe can begin not earlier than in 2016-2018 even with positive geological surveys. But production volumes will not bring about major changes in the European gas market due to a decline in conventional gas production,” Gazprom. Which, sadly for Europe, means that Putin will be dictating his terms on the energy-strapped continent for a long, long time.
If a trader knew nothing about the growth, the debt, the inflation, the exporters vs. importers, the serial defaulters, currency manipulators, hot-money or conversely deflation fighters; simply grouping the nations of the world on whether they were 'friend' or 'foe' to the US would provide an odd highly correlated value perspective on the interest rates paid on 1yr and 10yr sovereign debt... It appears your status with the central bank cabal was more important than your ability to repay the loaned money?
Physical gold is migrating to the East (Russia, China) and, with it, power and influence. We see it with China and Russia progressively imposing their will, building consensus with a great many countries that wish to end American domination made possible by their capacity (privilege) of issuing the world reserve currency. The saying, “He who holds the (physical) gold makes the rules”, is truer than ever. The announcement of the creation of the BRICs development bank is just the first cornerstone in the new international monetary edifice. All we have to wait for is the first official announcement from the East of a new means of settlement of commercial trade based on one or more tangible assets, with gold. Afterwards, logically, an announcement of the convertibility of certain currencies into gold, or even the creation of a new currency that would be convertible to gold, should be made.
While Ukraine has long since ceased being a customer of Gazprom (for the simple reason being that it can't afford to pay for historical gas purchases let alone future ones, and with a long cold winter just 3 months ahead, Kiev is praying that its brand new Western "allies" will give it the loans it needs to buy Europe-sourced gas), the bulk of Russia-sourced gas into Europe still transits through Ukraine. Not surprisingly, Ukraine correctly understands this is the last trump card it has in any negotiation with the west, or the east. It is this trump card that went into play moments ago when Ukraine's Prime Minister who recently resigned and whose resignation was not accepted, said that Ukraine is considering banning the transit of all Russian "energy resources", i.e. European gas.
The conflict in Ukraine and the related imposition of sanctions against Russia signal an escalation of geopolitical tensions that is already being felt in the Russian (and increasingly world) financial markets. As The IMF describes in this chartapalooza, a deterioration in the conflict, with or even without a further escalation of sanctions and counter-sanctions, could have a substantial adverse impact on the Russian economy through direct and indirect (confidence) channels. But, perhaps more importantly to the West-sponsored IMF, what would be the repercussions for the rest of Europe if there were to be disruptions in trade or financial flows with Russia, or if economic growth in Russia were to take a sharp downturn?
Imperial Washington is truly running amuck in its insensible confrontation with Vladimir Putin. The latest round of new sanctions is a counter-productive joke. But it is the larger narrative that is so blatantly offensive - that is, the notion that a sovereign state is being wantonly violated by an aggressive neighbor arming “terrorists” inside its borders. Once again, the American Warfare State has confected a false narrative to justify policies and missions that have nothing to do with the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE and Wooster MA. Unfortunately, false narratives are what the Warfare State does.
Russia is mounting a major publicity campaign in Europe for its proposed South Stream gas pipeline in an apparent effort to reassure its EU customers that they can rely on Russian gas for the indefinite future.