European Union

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Germany Openly Hostile To Putting Frenchman In Charge Of European Financial Affairs





Current finance minister Sapin, perhaps unsurprisingly, has admitted that France will miss EU deficit targets and needs more time to rein in public finances - proclaiming, as Reuters reports, that it may take until 2017 to bring it in line. Germany's response "nein, nein, nein" with Merkel demanding EU nations stick to commitments (rejecting any plans to 'bend rules') and Schaeuble blasting that Germany is "certain France is aware of its responsibilities." But the real stunner is that as France shows its utter ineptitude in managing an economy, EU President Juncker has placed former French finance minister Moscovici in charge of Europe's taxes and finances. German lawmakers exclaimed this is "not a wise personnel decision." The core splinters...

 
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Sterling Volatility Spikes To 3-Year High As Scottish Independence Nears





The dramatic rise in support for Scottish independence is nowhere more evident than in GBPUSD implied volatility, which has soared to 3-year highs as The Guardian reports a further poll showing next week's referendum is on a knife-edge with a gap of just 1 percentage point between yes and no. As one 'Yes Scotland' representative noted, "This new Scotland could be less than a fortnight away. But we must not be complacent. The scaremongering, dissembling and misrepresentation of the no campaign will be ramped up as we approach polling day." Of course, Scotland is not the only EU nation seeking separation, as we illustrate below, and as Goldman Sachs notes, there could be a broader impact on the risk premium across Europe as Scottish independence leads to other calls for more regional autonomy.

 
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Frontrunning: September 9





  • Showtime for Apple: Big phones, smart watches and high expectations (Reuters)
  • Bank of England Gov. Mark Carney Signals Spring Rate Rise (WSJ)
  • Quebec Shows Scots Question Returns Even If Answer Is No (BBG)
  • Hush money with a 9 year vesting period: Ex-SAC Fund Manager Martoma Sentenced to Nine Years in Prison (BBG)
  • Dreams on hold, Brazil's 'new middle class' turns on Rousseff (Reuters)
  • Fed to Hit Biggest U.S. Banks With Tougher Capital Surcharge (WSJ)
  • Egypt court sentences Brotherhood leader, cleric to 20 years in jail (Reuters)
 
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Here Is Why Europe Just Launched The "Nuclear Option" Against Russia





Europe's leaders, we assume under pressure from Washington, appear to be making a big weather-related bet with their taxpayers' lives this winter.  As they unleash funding sanctions on Russia's big energy producers, Europe has pumped a record volume of natural gas into underground inventories in an effort to 'outlast' Russia and mitigate any Napoleonic "Winter War" scenario. The plan appears to be to starve Russian energy firms of cashflow - as flows to Europe are already plunging - and remove their funding ability, potentially forcing severe hardship on Russia's key economic drivers. There appears to be 3 potential problems with this plan...

 
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Anxious EU Leaders Delay Russian Sanctions For "Few Days"





Whether it is confidence in Poroshenko's statements that "the ceasefire is holding" or fears over Russia's threats of "asymmetric" retaliation, Europe's leaders - having convinced the Finns not to veto - emerged from their emergency meeting and declared tough new funding sanctions on Russia's big three oil companies... will be "delayed a few days." It would seem - as we noted earlier - Europe is debating whether or not it can last the winter cold better than Russia can withstand the funding lock.

 
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Frontrunning: September 8





  • Scotland split jitters send sterling to 10-month low (Reuters)
  • S&P 500 Beating World Most Since 1969 Doesn’t Spark Flows (BBG)
  • Happy ending guaranteed: Vietnam building deterrent against China in disputed seas with submarines (Reuters)
  • China Posts Record Surplus as Exports-Imports Diverge (Bloomberg)
  • Russia, U.S. to hold talks on 1987 arms accord (Reuters)
  • Halcon’s Wilson Drills More Debt Than Oil in Shale Bet (BBG)
  • Deadly Disappointment Awaits at Ebola Clinics Due to Lack of Space (WSJ)
  • Latinos furious at Obama on immigration delay, vow more pressure (Reuters)
  • Japan GDP Shrinks at Fastest Pace in More Than Five Years (WSJ)
 
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UK In "Full Panic Mode", Rains Brimstone, Bribes On Scotland As "Yes" To Independence Poll Crosses 50%





All pundits who over the past few months have been saying the possibility of Scottish independence as a result of the September 18 ballot, is at best a pipe dream got a rude wake up call overnight, when Scottish YouGov poll for the Sunday Times put the "Yes" (for independence campaign) on top for the first time since polling began, with No below the majority cutoff line for the first time, at 49, when undecided voters are excluded, and even when including undecideds "Yes" is still ahead by two points at 47-45. As the Spectator reports, "in the space of four weeks, "No" has blown a 22-point lead."

 
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Putin, Poroshenko Speak; Kiev Church Says Russian "Under Satan's Spell", Locals Say "Ceasefire Just Theater"





So far, and contrary to most expectations, the latest ceasefire between Ukraine and the eastern separatists, which was announced early yesterday, has managed to hold up. "Contrary" because while it is the talking point of the west that it is Putin's desire to perpetuate the proxy civil war, in reality it was Ukraine's own troops who voiced against a ceasefire as we reported yesterday:  "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. Ironically, their rebel opponents share the same but opposite opinion: "The ceasefire is looking good for now but we know they (the Ukrainian side) are only using it to bring in more forces here and ammunition and then to hit us with renewed strength," said one rebel commander in Donetsk known by his nickname Montana. In other words, both sides believe their adversary is merely using the break in the fighting to regroup and reinforce. But for all the rhetoric and posturing, one person summarized it best: "This is no ceasefire but a theatre," said Donetsk resident Ksenia. "This war will go on for five to nine years. Slavs are killing Slavs, there can be nothing worse than that."

 
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Where Is Russia On The Road To Recreating USSR 2.0?





Given the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia and escalating conflict between Russia and the Ukraine, JPMorgan asks, where is Russia on the road to recreating something like the Soviet Union as an economic, political and financial counterweight to the West?

 
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Europe Needs A New Source Of Oil And Gas, Fast





Summer is over and many Europeans may have to keep warm this coming winter by thinking about their summer holidays while wrapped in blankets, praying for a short winter or for the world to come to its senses. It both cases, they may well be disappointed. The never-ending conflicts in the Middle East, mayhem in Libya, uncertainty in the Gulf and a war in Ukraine are all going to take a toll on the energy supplies this winter. Result? Many cold Europeans, many angry Europeans and many very pissed off Europeans. And what does history tell us about cold, angry, pissed-off Europeans?

 
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Frontrunning: September 5





  • Euro left reeling after ECB's liquidity splurge (Reuters)
  • Coalition Emerges to Battle Islamic State Militants (WSJ)
  • Ukraine Gas Chief Takes on Gazprom in Race With Winter (BBG)
  • Nato leaders fail to agree spending targets (FT)
  • JPMorgan Had Exodus of Tech Talent Before Hacker Breach (BBG)
  • Mercedes-Benz Sales Rise Despite Weak German Demand (WSJ)
  • Secret Network Connects Harvard Money to Payday Loans (BBG)
  • ICE looks to crack financial data market (FT)
 
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Is This Putin's Ukraine Strategy?





"The West is afraid of a major war and Putin is exploiting that," says one former Kremlin adviser, adding that "his end goal is a Ukraine that is a buffer state between Russia and the West." After the recent rebel offensive, it's now militarily possible to gain full control of Donetsk and Luhansk and to create a 'land bridge' to Crimea, and "without help, Russian troops can roll ever-deeper into Ukraine." As Bloomberg reports, Vladimir Putin will continue his shadow war until he's created quasi statelets in Ukraine’s easternmost regions with veto power over the country’s future, five current and former Russian officials and advisers said. As they ominously conclude, "Ukraine's only way out is to admit defeat... the longer Ukraine waits, the more territory it will lose and the harsher demands it will face." However, as Gavekal explains, Putin may have staved off an immediate defeat but the stakes have undoubtedly been hugely raised - here are 3 scenarios.

 
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July Trade Deficit Better Than Expected, But Excluding Oil Remains Near Record High





After several months of disappointing trade data which dragged on GDP for the past two quarters, the July trade balance finally was a welcome beat of already low expectations, printing at a deficit of $40.5, better than the $42.4 billion expected, and an improvement from the downward revised deficit of $40.8 billion in July. The deficit declined as exports increased more than imports. The goods deficit decreased $0.2 billion from June to $60.2 billion in July; the services surplus was nearly unchanged from June at $19.6 billion. And yet, even as the deficit contracted, the trade balance excluding the shale revolution, has almost never been worse.

 
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Mario Draghi's "If You Like Your Negative Rates, Here's More" ECB Press Conference - Live Feed





Mario Draghi broke new ground once again this morning by pushing rates even negative-er. We are sure the ECB's top man will further explain how ABS purchases, TLTRO, and even sovereign QE are just around the corner (so keep buying)...

 
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