While Naftogaz (Ukraine's gas pipeline operator) states that all gas transportation from Russia to Europe is running normally, Bloomberg reports that Russian natgas exports to Europe are declining. Shipments are down over 4% from the prior week and also lower to Ukraine. This 'adjustment' follows increased sanctions by the West as Medvedev's notable statement this morning that Ukraine owes Russia $16bn. Furthermore, Gazprom has cut its Diesel output by the most in 7 months... and just to rub some Black Sea salt into the wound, NY Times reports that Russia's asking price for natgas to Europe is soaring.
Many had feared (or expected), fallout from Crimea's referendum and subsequent accession to Russia may embolden ethnic minorities in many bordering nations to seek self-determination. It appears that is taking place in Moldova where Vedomosti reports that Mikhail Burla, head of the Transnistria region's legislature, has asked Russia's Duma for draft laws on accession to Russia to be altered to allow the region to join. The timing of this move is surreal as headlines appeared this morning that Europe is looking to speed up its "association" with Moldova. In a 2006 referendum, over 97% of Transnistrians voted to join Russia...
These Six Euroarea Countries Are In Outright Deflation As Eurozone Inflation Slides To Four Year LowsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/17/2014 11:47 -0400
We have discussed the sword of Damocles that is hanging over the heads of the Ukrainian (and European for that matter) people for some time. The dominant role that Russia plays in providing energy is becoming critical, however, as Gazprom notes:
- *GAZPROM SAYS TODAY IS DEADLINE FOR NAFTOGAZ TO PAY FOR FEB. GAS
- *NAFTOGAZ OVERDUE PAYMENTS AT $1.89B FOR GAS SUPPLIES: GAZPROM
- *GAZPROM SAYS NAFTOGAZ ISN'T OBSERVING CONTRACT
- *GAZPROM: UKRAINE DEBTS CREATE 'RISK OF RETURN TO SITUATION AT BEGINNING OF 2009' (when Gazprom cut off Ukraine gas supplies)
Of course, the US agreed to $1b bailout yesterday - but that's not supposed to be used as a direct transfer payment to the Russians.
The bad feelings concerning Russia run deep in the Western parts of Ukraine (as they topple statues of Lenin in growing numbers) while in the East they see themselves much more as Russians. These feelings run very deep in the region and memories do not fade so easily as the mayor and police chief of Kerch vigorously defend the Ukrainian flag in the clip below - deep in the eastern Crimea region (that Russia has already suggested it is willing to go to war over). Russian President Vladimir Putin has now been placed in a very difficult position, as Martin Armstrong notes, the entire set of circumstances creates the image of events in Ukraine that have diminished the power of Russia, which is a matter of pride and the only stable resolution remains a split along the language faultline. The critical question then is - will Putin let it go?
A recent article at the BBC discusses the findings of a report by EU Home Affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem on corruption in the EU. According to the report, the cost of corruption in the EU amounts to €120 billion annually. We would submit that it is likely far more than that (in fact, even Ms. Malmstroem herself concurs with this assessment). This is of course what one gets when one installs vast, byzantine bureaucracies and issues a veritable flood of rules and regulations every year. More and more people are needed to administer this unwieldy nightmare of red tape, and naturally the quality of the hires declines over time due to the sheer numbers required. And that is merely what they actually know about...One gets an inkling of how big the problem may really be when considering the case of Greece.
As if we didn’t know it already! The Western world is the ultimate destination for corruption, pulling a swift one and swiping the valuables from the inside pocket of the guy’s pants standing in front of you as he keeps his beady eye on the economy.
A recent report released by U.S. computer security firm FireEye revealed that Chinese hackers had accessed computers at the foreign ministries of five European countries. The report concluded that these “seemingly unrelated cyberattacks” could actually be “part of a broader offensive fueled by shared development and logistics infrastructure.” The laundry list of hacking targets mirrors the recent avalanche of accusations leveled at the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). As we move further into the 21st century, the U.S. and China will be the major rule-makers for the new global order. As such, the U.S. and China will together help define what is acceptable behavior in the cyberspace. There have already been calls for the U.S. and China to discuss limits on hacking activities and to define clear “rules of the road” for cyberspace. Unfortunately, it seems that (though neither would admit it) the U.S. and China have very similar ideas on cyberspace — anything goes.
Every country is Number One when it comes to something, relatively speaking - so Ricardo's theory of competitive advantage teaches - and this atlas from Bulgaria's Yanko Tsvetkov, author of the infamous and politically incorrect "stereotype maps", tells us just what these somethings are.
There are very few people that actually give even one hoot and even fewer that could give two of them when it comes to poverty of people that are living in society alongside us.
For the last few days we have been bombarded with words that appear 'peaceful' and problem-solving from Russia with love. Of course, 'no change' benefits mother Russia the most as his government's gas revenues (and political power) will continue to flow from Europe (a quarter of Russian government income comes from being Europe's gas supplier). So it will come as no surprise that amid the Mother Theresa acts, The Telegraph reports that Putin is readying delivery of more S-300 air-defense missile systems to Iran and will continue to discuss "working together in the nuclear energy spehere." Combine that with experts' views that Russia's plan to dismantle Syria's stockpiles of mustard gas, sarin, VX nerve agents is a long shot; initially "sounding attractive, but very quickly, operational problems could derail obtaining international control, much less actually destroying the arsenal." It would appear, despite all the chatter, that Putin is increasing his power-base in the region.
The proud Q1 debt-to-GDP outliers, where the local economies are expected to continue plunging and thus send the stock markets (if mostly that in the US) surging, are the following:
- Euroarea: 92.2%, up from 88.2% a year ago
- Greece: 160.5%, up from 136.5% a year ago
- Italy: 130.3%; up from 123.8% a year ago
- Portugal: 127.2%, up from 112.3% a year ago
- Ireland: 125.1%, up from 106.8% a year ago
- Spain: 88.2%, up from 73.0% a year ago
- Netherlands: 72.0%, up from 66.7% a year ago
As the nations of Europe argue over and over that France is not Greece, Portugal is not Ireland, and reality is not fantasy, Bloomberg has in fact quantified just where each of these troubled nations stands for the next five years. The bad news for the Spanish - facing demands for Rajoy's resignation over the graft - is that they have the worst five-year outlook of all European nations. Worse than Portugal, notably worse than Greece, and dismally worse than Bulgaria. On the bright side, Norway - with the best outlook by far over the next five years - looks attractive (or closer still Luxembourg.)
As everyone knows, the only reason to become a banker, and be subject to constant derision, abuse, scorn and hatred by the "99%", and potentially to a fate comparable to that of the aristocracy in France circa 1789, is a simple one: money. Specifically, get as much of in as short a time period as possible, be rewarded with a taxpayer bailout or two when massive bets go epically wrong, then convert all your cash into "hard assets" and escape to a non-extradition country before the latest credit bubble pops. In other words, a simple opportunity cost analysis. Which then begs the question: why are there bankers in the following European countries: Slovenia, Romania, Malta, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The one thing in common these countries have is that according to a just released European Banking Authority study, in the year ended 2011 not a single domiciled banker made over €1 million! In other words: bankers working for feudal peasant salaries. What a scam.
It has all gone belly up if we look at the EU and we are honest. Yes, they might be trying to paper of the cracks and yes they might be shoving some super strong glue in their to stop everyone pulling in different directions, but if they are really truthful about it, the EU28 (now that Croatia has become a member since July 1st 2013)