The Turkish Lira is tumbling this morning (+150pips at 2.22); rapidly devaluing back towards pre-emergency-rate-hike levels and Turkish bond yields have surged back to levels seen in mid-2009. The driver appears to be the release of several political prisoners, suggesting the President is starting to lose control and given that 'political stability' is the key factor for many of these EM debt markets. The government, however, remains adamant that an "operation" by some institutional holders of lira bonds to "threaten" Turkey's economy started after the probe into government corruption began in mid-December.
- Index of largest Chinese stocks drops to lowest since February 2009 (BBG)
- Plane-Debris Hunters Seek Suspected Aircraft Window Part (BBG)
- New-Home Building Is Shifting to Apartments (WSJ)
- Forward Guidance Risks Stoking Instability, BIS Says (BBG)
- Alleged Bitcoin Millionaire Nakamoto Gets $28,000 Donations (BBG)
- Mexico kills drug kingpin reported dead years ago (Reuters)
- Tencent to Buy 15% Stake in JD.com to Boost E-Commerce (BBG)
- Bitcoin exchange MtGox 'faced 150,000 hack attacks every second’ (Telegraph)
- Noyer Says Stronger Euro Creates Unwarranted Pressure on Economy (BBG)
- Russian Forces Gain in Ukraine as Separatist Vote Looms (BBG)
A week ago, when the idea of sanctions against Russia was first officially announced, we made a statement, which was obviously in jest yet which, as so often happens, was so rooted in reality: "U.S. CONSIDERING SANCTIONS ON RUSSIAN BANKS, OFFICIAL SAYS. So short London/NYC real estate you say?" How is this an indication of reality? Well, for one, as we reported previously, the one country that has the most to lose from Russian sanctions, Germany, and specifically its industrial superlobby has already said "Nein" to any truly crippling trade blockade of Moscow would backfire on Germany's own economy and bottom line. But what about London? Here, the NYT explains why, once again, it was all about the money, and why were right even when we were being humorous: "It boils down to this: Britain is ready to betray the United States to protect the City of London’s hold on dirty Russian money. And forget about Ukraine."
While the US may be rejoicing its daily stock market all time highs day after day, it may come as a surprise to many that global equity capitalization has hardly performed as impressively compared to its previous records set in mid-2007. In fact, between the last bubble peak, and mid-2013, there has been a $3.86 trillion decline in the value of equities to $53.8 trillion over this six year time period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Alas, in a world in which there is no longer even hope for growth without massive debt expansion, there is a cost to keeping global equities stable (and US stocks at record highs): that cost is $30 trillion, or nearly double the GDP of the United States, which is by how much global debt has risen over the same period. Specifically, total global debt has exploded by 40% in just 6 short years from 2007 to 2013, from "only" $70 trillion to over $100 trillion as of mid-2013, according to the BIS' just-released quarterly review.
Big Bubble Brutally Bursts ... Bringing Bankruptcies, Bond Busts
Prepare for more...
Many observers have focused on the relative paucity of the West's diplomatic and military options in Ukraine. Others focus on Russia's sources of leverage: cutting off natural gas to western Ukraine and Europe and/or dumping its reserves of U.S. dollars. All those focusing on the West's lack of leverage are forgetting that the Empire retains multiple way of striking back. For example, bringing the costs of misadventure home to Russia's politically influential 1/10th of 1%.
"If you're sick in Greece, you have an expiration date," is the cheery message from Greece. As WaPo reports, while economists proclaim Europe is turning the corner, a look across the still-bleak landscape, from Greece to Spain, Ireland to Portugal, suggests a painful aftermath, where the plight of millions of Europeans is worsening even as the financial crisis passes with public health being hit in the most troubled corners of the European Union. Greece is the hardest hit and while Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis is attempting to create a fund to help the most acute cases, his concluding remarks are chillingly blunt, "illnesses like cancer are not considered urgent, unless you are in the final stages."
- No need to use military force in Ukraine for now: Putin (Reuters)
- Russia Orders Drill Troops Back to Bases (WSJ)
- Ukraine premier agrees to reforms for aid package (FT)
- Japan Base Wages Rise for First Time in Nearly Two Years (WSJ)
- Only the algos are trading: Citigroup Joins JPMorgan in Seeing Trading-Revenue Drop (BBG)
- Vietnam sends blogger to prison for critical posts (AP)
- At White House, Israel's Netanyahu pushes back against Obama diplomacy (Reuters)
- Obama to offer new tax breaks for workers in election year budget pitch (Reuters)
- China Banks Show Too-Connected-to-Fail Link to Shadow Loans (BBG)
- Ex-BOK Deputy Lee Named to Head South Korea Central Bank (BBG)
- No mortgage origination problem in the UK: Mortgage approvals climb to six year high (Telegraph)
Russia has lashed out following comments from US Secretary of State John Kerry:
- *RUSSIA SAYS KERRY THREATS ARE `UNACCEPTABLE'
- *RUSSIA SAYS KERRY ISN'T ANALYSING SITUATION IN UKRAINE
- *KERRY IS USING COLD WAR SLOGANS, RUSSIA FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS
- *U.S., ALLIES IGNORED VIOLENCE, RUSSOPHOBIA IN UKRAINE PROTESTS
In addition, EU ministers debate freezing the assets of Ukrainians responsible for corruption and "targeted measures" against Russia if no change of course is undertaken.
It doesn't take any special insight into the situation in Ukraine to conclude that no one narrative illuminates all the dynamics. Various contesting Grand Narratives have emerged in the media--neofascist coup, rampant corruption, east versus west, to name a few--but these only describe a few of the regional fault lines and complexities... I describe the U.S. Deep State as the National Security State which enables a vast Imperial structure that incorporates hard and soft power--military, diplomatic, intelligence, finance, commercial, energy, media, higher education--in a system of global domination and influence. One key feature of the Deep State everywhere is that it makes decisions behind closed doors and the surface government simply ratifies and implements the decisions. I have covered various aspects of geopolitics and the Deep State for years, for example:
With European peripheral bond yields collapsing every single day to new all time lows (primarily driven by Europe's near-certainty that a US-style QE is imminent as we first showed here in November, despite Mario Draghi's own words from November 2011 that a QE intervention is virtually impossible), increasingly more of Europe is trading just as safe, if not more, as the United States. And in keeping with the analogies, considering a major US metropolitan center, Detroit, recently went bankrupt, it is only fair that Europe should sacrifice one of its own historic cities to the gods of negative cash flows. The city in question, Rome, which as the WSJ reports, is "teetering on the brink of a Detroit-style bankruptcy."
Three unlucky attempts in a row to retake the S&P 500 all time high may have been all we get, at least for now, because the fourth one is shaping up to be rather problematic following events out of the Crimean in the past three hours where the Ukraine situation has gone from bad to worse, and have dragged the all important risk indicator, the USDJPY, below 102.000 once again. As a result, global stock futures have fallen from the European open this morning, with the DAX future well below 9600 to mark levels not seen since last Thursday. Escalated tensions in the Ukraine have raised concerns of the spillover effects to Western Europe and Russia, as a Russian flag is lifted by occupying gunmen in the Crimean (Southern Ukrainian peninsula) parliament, prompting an emergency session of Crimean lawmakers to discuss the fate of the region. This, allied with reports of the mobilisation of Russian jets on the Western border has weighed on risk sentiment, sending the German 10yr yield to July 2013 lows.
When civilians launched a suicidal attack on an armed force in Kyiv on February 20, their sense of representing “the nation” far outweighed their concern with their individual mortality. The result was to swing a deeply divided society from the verge of civil war to an unprecedented sense of unity. Whether that unity endures will depend on how Europe responds. We hope and trust that Europe under German leadership will rise to the occasion. We must, however, end with a word of caution. A replay of the Cold War would cause immense damage to both Russia and Europe, and most of all to Ukraine, which is situated between them.
Kevin Lau, the 49-year-old former editor of the respected Ming Pao newspaper (who was unexpectedly replaced last month by journalist with no experience) following his reporting on human rights abuses in China is in critical condition after being attacked with a meat-cleaver. As The Daily Mail reports, slashed three times by a man in a crash helmet in a residential neighbourhood who then fled on a motorbike, police said. His sudden dismissal sparked protests across the city over freedom of the press as the move raised fears among journalists that the newspaper's owners were moving to curb aggressive reporting on human rights and corruption in China. It appears, given this attack, they were right.