- Australia says nothing spotted in search for plane (AP)
- Putin looks to Asia as West threatens to isolate Russia (Reuters)
- China Billionaire Builds Metals With Dreyfus, Glencore Hires (BBG)
- China Beige Book Says Economy Slowing (BBG)
- Caterpillar Said to Be Focus of Senate Overseas Tax Probe (BBG)
- US Cancels Summit With Divided Group of Gulf Nations (WSJ)
- Cyprus defense minister suffers aneurysm (AP)
- Abe to zero in on economy as tax hike looms (Nikkei)
- Europe strikes deal to complete banking union (Reuters)
With the Crimea referendum passed and Russia ready to annex the region, the United States and the European Union have threatened sanctions. The full extent of these sanctions is not yet known, and announcements are pending for the end of March. If these measures are concrete, they will of course be followed inevitably by economic warfare, including a reduction of natural gas exports to the EU and the eventually full dump of the U.S. dollar by Russia and China. As I have discussed in recent articles, the result of these actions will be disastrous. For those of us in the liberty movement, it is now impossible to ignore the potential threat to our economy. No longer can people claim that “perhaps” there will be a crisis someday, that perhaps “five or 10 years” down the road we will have to face the music. No, the threat is here now, and it is very real.
Earlier today, heavily-armed masked men in military attire, stormed two Ukraine corvettes, Lutsk and Khmelnitsky, in what is now Russian territory at the port of Sevastopol. Perhaps considering Ukraine said it had pulled its troops from Crimea, they should also have pulled their ships, although it is unclear just where they would pull them to. Regardless, this is what the actual storming of the ships looked like.
S&P, still deep in the mire of a legal battle with the US government, has decided now is an opportune time to cut the ratings outlook on Russia:
- *RUSSIAN FEDERATION OUTLOOK TO NEGATIVE FROM STABLE BY S&P
- *S&P SEES EU-U.S. IMPOSING FURTHER SANCTIONS
Russia remains a BBB credit (but with the outlook shift remains open to a downgrade with 24 months). S&P has cut 2014 GDP forecast to 1.2% and 2015 to 2.2%. Of course, we are sure, this would have nothing to do with currying favors with the US government (who threatened them when they downgraded the USA). Full report below.
Amid the growing Crimea crisis, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - which like Ukraine were all parts of the old Soviet Union and have very significant concentrations of ethnic Russian-speaking citizens - have expressed growing apprehension over Moscow's intentions. As Reuters reports, Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia's treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian. "Language should not be used to segregate and isolate groups," the envoy noted, referencing the same 'linguistic tensions' that supported its annexation of Crimea.
- Possible debris off Australia a 'credible lead' for missing Malaysia jet (Reuters)
- Maldives and Afghanistan: Theories Blossom for Airliner (BBG)
- Ukraine Military Concedes on Crimea as Russia Takes Hold (BBG)
- Asia Stocks Drop on Fed; H-Share Index Enters Bear Market (BBG)
- Scientists say destructive solar blasts narrowly missed Earth in 2012 (Reuters)
- GM’s Ignition Victims Need Help From Bankruptcy Judge (BBG)
- U.S. Alleges Inside Traders Used Spycraft, Ate Evidence (WSJ)
- God Meets Profit in Obama Contraceptive Rule Court Case (BBG)
Ukraine Announces Joint US Military Exercises As Obama Rules Out "Military Incursion" - Recap Of The Day's EventsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/19/2014 18:12 -0400
With the story of the day undoubtedly Yellen's first (bungled) press conference, it was easy to forget that the second coming of the Cold War is raging in the Ukraine. For those curious what they may have missed, here is a summary of the major events that took place in the troubled country this afternoon. Highlights from AP, AFP, Reuters, WSJ, Bloomberg, RIA and Interfax.
- Lost Jet’s Path Seen as Altered via Computer (NYT)
- Fed Links Low Rates to “Persistent Headwinds” in Economy (Hilsenrath)
- Top German Court Clears Euro-Zone Bailout Fund (WSJ)
- U.S., EU set sanctions as Putin recognizes Crimea "sovereignty" (Reuters)
- Indian wealth effect: Sensex, Nifty hit life highs as domestic-focused firms rally (Reuters)
- China bond default has positive effect on local government groups (FT) - unless it's negative
- Russia tensions risk higher gas prices (FT)
- China Home-Price Growth Slows in Big Cities on Tight Credit (BBG)
- ECB's Weidmann says German surpluses "here to stay" (Reuters)
- Microsoft Office for iPad (AAPL) to be introduced this month (The Verge)
Just a few short hours after Obama issued an executive order declaring sanctions against a select group of Russians and Ukrainians, here comes the EU, whose unelected leaders have just slammed not only those Crimeans and pro-Russian Ukrainians who dared to organize and execute the Crimean referendum vote in which the population overwhelmingly voted to support becoming part of Russia, but in keeping with the US, also launched a salvo making it quite clear that neither Russian politicians nor various Russian military commanders are welcome to park their assets, or buy houses in the EU as of this moment. Needless to say, one person, Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel, is already dreading what the Russian response to this latest escalation will be, and grudgingly stated that "RUSSIA FORCED EU'S HAND WITH CRIMEA BALLOT." Perhaps, and perhaps Russia will be "forced" to if not freeze German gas exports as a result of this diplomatic move, then just happen to pull an Amazon Prime, and hike prices by a few dozen percent. We will find out shortly.
Those of you too caught up in Lady Gaga’s latest cutting edge art project - she arranged for another woman to vomit on her while seated at the keyboard to show, well, I guess to demonstrate that not even vomit cannot stop the power of pop music - may have missed the latest moves in our nation’s foreign policy quest to remain Hall Monitor of the World. State Department chess players are gloating at the moment that the Russian ruble has lost ten percent of its value this year. No doubt a few functionaries in the Kremlin are going boo-hoo over this. But remember: they are a nation who lost about 8.6 million soldiers to overcome Hitler. Do you think a little austerity will persuade them to cede Ukraine to the Walt Disney Company? Have the Lady Gaga fans forgotten that our country set this whole fiasco in motion by promoting a tug-o-war between a proposed Russian free trade zone (the Customs Union) and the European Union (another trade zone) with Ukraine as the rope?
As was largely expected, the first retaliation by Obama has arrived, courtesy of a just issued Executive Order by the president, in which he has blocked and frozen "all property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person" (i.e. assets) of not only the pre-coup Ukraine president Yanukovich and the Crimean leader Aksyonov, including all Russians that operate in the Russian arms industry, but most notably seven Putin aides. Not Putin himself of course - that would be too "escalatory"...
Putin Is No Mad Man to Russians as Power Play Trumps Economy (BBG)
Alibaba picks U.S. for IPO; in talks with six banks for lead roles (Reuters)
Russia hearts selling German energy: Billionaire Fridman’s L1 Buys RWE Unit for $7.1 Billion (Bloomberg)
Malaysia plane search straddles continent as police focus on crew (Reuters)
Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to China set to bolster investment (Al-Awsat)
Bugatti-Driving 26-Year-Old Tied to Penny-Stock Website (BBG)
Vodafone agrees $10 billion deal to buy Spain's Ono (Reuters)
The Hidden Rot in the Jobs Numbers (WSJ)
SocGen Ex-Trader Kerviel Walks to Forget Loss as Judgment Looms (BBG)
U.S. Banks’ $75 Billion Payout at Stake in Fed Tests (BBG)
If one listens to the endless rhetoric of hollow threats and escalating war of words between Russia and DC, one thing should be clear by now: with the passage of the Crimean referendum, accepted (not to mention planned) as perfectly normal by Moscow and blasted as illegal by the West (since it is the former whose troops are in the Crimea, not the latter) then Putin has certainly crossed the Rubicon this time especially since as it was reported earlier, Crimea will formally apply to join Russia tomorrow. Surely, if nothing else, than at least the, drumroll, sanctions must be coming - after all if there is no forceful response now when Putin has called the Western bluff, the West may as well not bother. Well they very well may be... in about a week. The reason: Congress is now in vacation until March 24, so there will be at least one week before any response to the formal Russian annexation can be debated, let alone enacted into law.
The Battle for Ukraine Was Planned in 1997 … Or Earlier
“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”
The core elements of this Fourth Turning continue to propel this Crisis: debt, civic decay, global disorder. Central bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have been able to fashion the illusion of recovery and return to normalcy, but their “solutions” are nothing more than smoke and mirrors exacerbating the next bloodier violent stage of this Fourth Turning. The emergencies will become increasingly dire, triggering unforeseen reactions and unintended consequences. The civic fabric of our society will be torn asunder.