Earlier today Reuters reported that the European Commission said on Monday it had approved a Bulgarian request to extend a credit line of 3.3 billion levs ($2.30 billion) in support of banks that have come under speculative attack. “The Commission concluded that the state aid implied by the provision of the credit line is proportionate and commensurate with the need to ensure sufficient liquidity in the banking system in the particular circumstances,” the EU executive said in a statement. The statement said Bulgaria’s banking system was “well capitalised and has high levels of liquidity compared to its peers in other member states. For precautionary reasons, Bulgaria has taken this measure to further increase the liquidity and safeguard its financial system”. The move follows runs by jittery depositors on two major Bulgarian commercial banks in the space of a week. And while this latest backstop of the Bulgarian bank system should provide a respite from bank insolvency fears (if only for the time being), one wonders about Europe's true intentions.
A few days ago, when we wrote our "explainer" on the need for Russia to have an alternative pathway for its gas, one which bypasses Ukraine entirely and as the current "South Stream" framework is set up, crosses the Black Sea and enters Bulgaria before passing Serbia and Hungary on the way to the Central European energy hub located in Baumgarten, Austria, we said that "one short month after Putin concluded the Holy Grail deal with Beijing, he not only managed to formalize his conquest of Europe's energy needs with yet another pipeline, one which completely bypasses Ukraine for numerous reasons but mostly one: call it a Plan B." Today we find just what said Plan B is. As Itar-Tass reports, citing Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller, "Russia’s gas giant Gazprom does not rule out gas transit via Ukraine may be stopped completely."
Putin Scores Another Historic Victory: Austria Signs South Stream Pipeline Deal In Defiance Of EuropeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/25/2014 07:23 -0400
In the great chess-vs-checkers game, Putin just keeps steamrolling his clueless opposition.
"...On June 28, 1914, a Slavic nationalist in Sarajevo murdered Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne. The battle lines were drawn. Austria positioned itself against Serbia. Russia announced support of Serbia against Austria, Germany backed Austria, and France backed Russia. Military mobilization orders traversed Europe. The national and private finances that had helped build up shipping and weapons arsenals in the last years of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth would spill into deadly battle. Wilson knew exactly whose help he needed. He invited Jack Morgan to a luncheon at the White House. The media erupted with rumors about the encounter. Though Wilson explained this did not signify the start of a series of talks with “men high in the world of finance,” rumors of a closer alliance between the president and Wall Street financiers persisted..." Woodrow Wilson and Jack Morgan’s collaboration to finance the Allies in the early days of the war - aside from its timeliness - provides one of the strongest examples of the intimate cooperation between the presidency and the highest levels of banking to drive American interests.
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe isn’t a get-rich-quick scenario for the impatient investor: It’s a long, strategic play for the sophisticated investor who can handle no small amount of politics and geopolitics along the way. When it comes to Europe, Russia’s strategy to divide and conquer has worked so far, but Gazprom is a fragile giant that will eventually feel the pressure of LNG. Robert Bensh is an LNG and energy security expert who has over 13 years of experience with leading oil and gas companies in Ukraine. He has been involved in various roles in finance, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions and government for the past 25 years. Mr. Bensh is the Managing Director and partner with Pelicourt LLC, a private equity firm focused on energy and natural resources in Ukraine.
Fourth Largest Bulgarian Bank Seized After Bank Run: "Let's Not Tear Down Our House" Central Banker BegsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/20/2014 10:57 -0400
The small, impoverished country of Bulgaria may not be in the Eurozone (even though its currency is pegged to the Euro), but it is in the European Union. Which is why we find it surprising that there has been relatively little mention that overnight the fourth largest Bulgarian bank, Corporate Commercial Bank (Corpbank) and which in recent weeks has made headlines due to the political exposure of one of its largest shareholders, was seized by the Bulgarian central bank following what Reuters reports was a run on the bank.
In order to back the dollars now in circulation and on deposit -- about $2.7 trillion -- with the approximately 261 million ounces of gold believed to be held by the U.S. government, gold prices would have to rise as high as $10,000 an ounce. Who said gold is not money?
A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.
American foreign policy is mindlessly driven by the machinery of our Warfare State - a vast accretion of economic, diplomatic, spying and military capabilities which are ceaselessly in search of missions and justifications for their colossal call on the nation’s resources. Absent a dismantlement of the Warfare State machinery, giant policy errors like the Bill Clinton’s double-cross on NATO and Obama’s foolish present confrontation with Putin are nearly guaranteed to recur.
A few short hours ago, a Russian delegation which contained the deputy premier of Russia Dimitry Rogozin was flying back from Moldova's capital Chisinau following his visit to Tiraspol as part of May 9 celebrations, when Ukraine scrambled fighter jets to intercept the Yak-42 carrying the Russian vice premier and forced it to promptly land back in Moldova.
...What’s left for the Empire of Chaos is to pray for chaos to keep spreading across Ukraine, thus sapping Moscow’s energy. And all this because the Washington establishment is absolutely terrified of an emerging power in Eurasia. Not one, but two – Russia and China. Worse: strategically aligned. Worse still: bent on integrating Asia and Europe. So feel free to picture a bunch of Washington angry old men hissing like juvenile delinquents: “I don’t like you. I don’t want to talk to you. I want you to die.”
As tensions between all parties in Eastern Europe boil over, Chris Martenson provides a brief tour through just some of the antics surrounding the US' involvement in bringing about change (you can believe in!) in Ukraine. We raise these items to counter the usual clutter and complete lack of context being provided in the US press and to illustrate that the US is already in pretty deep and therefore unlikely to back down now. Before we move on, do you not find it at all strange that the US media, usually extremely sensitive to anti-semitism, has given the McCain and Nuland support of the Svoboda party a complete pass? I find it to be like the case of "the dog that did not bark", meaning the silence reveals a very fickle moral compass at the heart of the western press. The demonization of Putin as the bad guy here is near complete in western media. But there’s plenty of mischief all around and, as usual, the US finds itself with some pretty strange bedfellows as it seeks an outcome it likes.
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