Just minutes after Poroshenko's fearmongering speech to US Congress (and in the face of a collapsing Ukraine economy), The White House has released its "fact sheet" to explain exactly how committed (aside from the lethal aid demands - which may or may not be happening as we noted here) to supprting Ukraine the US taxpayer is... On top of guaranteeing $1 billion of Ukraine's debt, a further $291 million in 'assistance' has been flooded in... here's what for...
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 Fighting Rages In Mariupol, Ukraine Soldiers Say President Would "Betray The Country" If He Backs PeaceSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/05/2014 08:04 -0400
"Our artillery has come and is being deployed against the rebels," said the mayor of Mariupol, Yuri Khotlubey. The commander of the Azov volunteer militia, Andriy Biletsky, said his men had regained territory from the rebels in a counter-offensive after they came within just five km (three miles) of Mariupol on Thursday. And while leaders meet in Minsk to discuss peace, "A ceasefire would be a disaster, we would lose everything. By fighting we can resist the invasion and send them back. With a ceasefire they will consolidate and carry on after a while," said Ukrainian soldier Taras. And an interesting undercurrent has emerged: now the Ukraine army is stronly against a ceasefire, with one possibly leading all the way to yet another presidental coup. To wit: Another Ukrainian soldier who gave his name as Mykola said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko - who was attending the second day of a NATO summit in Wales on Friday - would "betray the country" if he backed a peace plan at this time.
While NATO is contemplating its existential purpose in a world where the Cold War has suddenly come back with a vengeance, and the military alliance has found itself woefully unprepared to deal with a Russia which no longer accepts the supremacy of the west (appropriately enough NATO is doing this on a golf course) Russia is also strategizing, only instead of issuing "sharply-worded catchphrases" and hashtags, a Russian general has called for Russia to revamp its military doctrine, last updated in 2010, to clearly identify the U.S. and its NATO allies as Moscow's enemy number one. That in itself is not disturbing: we reported as much yesterday and is merely more rhetorical posturing. Where things, however, get very problematic is that the general demands that Russia spell out the conditions under which the country would launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the 28-member military alliance.
US Equity Futures Soar To Fresh All-Time Highs On New Ukraine "Ceasefire" Which Is Promptly Refuted By All SidesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/03/2014 06:56 -0400
The comedic value of developments out of Ukraine, especially when it comes to "de-escalation", truly has no equal. Case in point, events from the past three hours, when we learned that there is a new Ukraine ceasefire, there is no Ukraine ceasefire, Putin is looking for a ceasefire but can't be part to a agreement as he is not "firing", NATO is pushing again, Ukraine demands special treatment, the Ukraine rebels were never even consulted on the latest ceasefure, and so on. End result: futures just hit new all time highs.
As we discussed yesterday, Vladimir Putin's apparent 'threat' to EU's Barroso that "If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks," prompted both anger and response as NATO reacted by stating a new "spearhead" force of 3-5,000 troops would be flown in to combat any (further) Russian aggression. However, Russia is not happy that the EC President leaked the conversation with Putin's aide Ushakov stating that recounting the private conversation was "inappropriate," "undiplomatic," and "unworthy of a serious political player." More troublingly, the cold-war-tension-like escalation from NATO has prompted Russia to revise its military doctrine to account for “changing military dangers and military threats.”
Just when we thought centrally-planned markets could no longer surprise us, here comes last night's superspike in the USDJPY which has moved nearly 100 pips higher in the past few trading days and moments ago crossed 105.000. The reason for the surprise is that while there was no economic news that would justify such a move: certainly not an improving Japanese economy, nor, for that matter, a new and improved collapse, what the move was attributed to was news that Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who has been advocating for the GPIF to reduce allocation to domestic bonds, may be appointed the Health Minister when Abe announces his new cabinet tomorrow: a reshuffle driven by the fact that the failure of Abenomics is starting to anger Japan's voters. In other words, the GPIF continues to be the "forward guidance" gift that keeps on giving, even if the vast majority of its capital reallocation into equities has already long since taken place. As a result of the USDJPY surge, driven by a rumor of a minister appointment, the Nikkei is up+1.2%, which in turned has pushed both Europe and Asia to overnight highs and US equity futures to fresh record highs, with the S&P500 cash now just 40 points away, or about 4-8 trading sessions away from Goldman's revised 2014 year end closing target.
Despite the ongoing mainstream media meme that Russia is becoming 'isolated' from the rest of the world thanks to Western sanctions, it appears they have found a few new 'old' friends to become un-isolated with. On the heels of Russia's food-import-ban sanctions last week, Russian and Chinese officials have announced an agreement that China will start selling fruit and vegetables directly to Russia via a special logistics center in Russia's far east. Notably, this week saw Russia's GDP beat consensus expectations, Ruble rally, and stocks jump as German confidence plunged - can you say blowback?
Russia Launches Another Military Drill In Northwest: 3000 Paratroopers, 30 Aircraft And Helicopters To Take PartSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/12/2014 09:02 -0400
As we said yesterday, it was only a matter of time before Russia announced yet another drill just to show to the west that it is by no means telegraphing any weakness through the timing of drills. We were about 12 hours early, because later that same day, Itar-Tass reported that some 3,000 paratroopers will be airlifted in two districts of Russia’s north-western Pskov region as part of command and staff exercises of the 76th air assault division starting on Monday, Airborne Force spokeswoman, Major Irina Kruglova said. As a reminder, Pskov is located right next to the Baltics, bordering Estonia and Latvia, both of which have been on a rather belligerent diplomatic track with the Kremlin, and thus will likely result in a substantial escalation in Russia-Baltic tensions, not to mention Ukraine as well, now that Putin is no longer counter-un-de-escalating, again.
“The point of a series of regional wars organized by the Americans, especially today’s catastrophe in Ukraine, centers on the U.S. securing control over all of north Eurasia” to bolster “its position against China. That’s how the U.S. military and oligarchs are trying to maintain leadership in the global competition with China....Task no. 1 is to block those threats to economic security that are now coming from the U.S., neutralize them by reducing the dependence of our external economic activity on the mercy of American politicians, whose aggressiveness threatens the entire world."
For reasons that have no rational explanations at this time, the US and Europe have embarked on a concerted program to demonize Putin, ostracize Russia, and bring the world as close to a major conflict as it's been since the Cold War, a time hardly memorable to many in the current crop of our elected officials. A dangerous dynamic is brewing between the West and Russia/Putin. We are seeing a rush to war very similar to the one that led up to Saddam's ouster, but this time, we have much less justification (hard to believe) and the opponent is tremendously more capable. There is little sense in the course the West is currently pursuing, little to gain, and much to lose. The main conclusion here is that not only is the US poking the bear, but it is doing so with increasing frequency and upping the ante dangerously with each step.
Would you like to have a digital identity card that is automatically issued to you at birth? In one European nation, residents use such a card when they go to the hospital, when they do their banking, when they go shopping and even when they vote. This card has become so popular that this particular European country actually plans to start issuing them to millions of non-citizens all over the planet who request them. Never heard about this? Neither had I before this week. The Economist is calling for the entire planet to adopt this “national identification system” that the little nation of Estonia has adopted. The Economist is touting all of the “benefits” of a “national identification card”, but are there dangers as well? Could adopting such a system potentially open the door for greater government tyranny than we have ever known before?
Let Us Count the Ways ...
The Ukraine conflict continues to simmer, with the conclusive presidential election perceived as a positive even as the fighting in the eastern part of the nation intensifies, but it is NATO member Lithuania where today's action was, where according to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry, NATO sent two fighter jets from Estonia after Lithuania said Russian vessel disturbed civilian shipping in Baltic Sea, and two Russian warplanes flew over Lithuanian airspace.
The ECB, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and the Riksbank of Sweden announced a new gold agreement this morning. They announced they have no plans to sell significant quantities of gold and reaffirmed the importance of gold bullion as a monetary reserve asset.