After a few days of extended verbal foreplay, it was only a matter of time before Ukraine finally snapped and resumed a military operation to regain the lost cities in the east, especially once the warmongering IMF made it explicitly clear that should Ukraine lose control of pro-Russian controlled cities the $17 billion bailout package would be lost too. Sure enough, early this morning Kiev launched a military operation to regain control of the pro-Russian separatist stronghold of Slovyansk, overrunning numerous roadblocks and surrounding the city, officials said, but meeting stiff resistance from militants who managed to shoot down at least one helicopter.
While everyone is by now fully aware just how dependent Europe is on Russia's energy supplies (and most are aware of the "nonsense" that the US will fill any gap if Russia steps up its actions - which Barroso said wouldn't happen because "Russia has self-interest not to play the energy card") but few are truly aware of the scale of contagious debt-driven defaults that could occur if the US (and a reluctant Europe) decide to undertake more aggressive economic sanctions, which, as Germany's Europe minister stated today, "are on the table." As the following chart of Europe's domestic bank exposure to Russia show, Roth's warning that Russia's retaliation could mean "anything is possible," is a major problem for the Germans, Italians, and most of all - The French.
After 'billing' Ukraine this morning, Gazprom must be jubilant this evening as news exudes from Washington that...
- *IMF APPROVES UKRAINE LOAN OF $17 BLN OVER TWO YEARS
- *UKRAINE EXPECTS FIRST TRANCHE OF IMF AID MAY 5-MAY 8: FIN MIN
- *IMF SAYS IMMEDIATE UKRAINE LOAN DISBURSEMENT TO BE $3.2 BLN
So that won't even cover the $3.49bn they already owe to Gazprom? (In fact, $2.2bn is approved for dissemination to Gazprom)
probability that Apple will introduce a brand new product category in the near future is incredibly high
- Headline of the day goes to... Cold weather seen temporarily slowing U.S. economy (Reuters)
- Americans Want to Pull Back From World Stage, Poll Finds (WSJ)
- U.S. Plans to Charge BNP Over Sanctions (WSJ)
- What about Jay Carney: Putin Threat to Retaliate for Sanctions Carries Risks (BBG)
- Fed expected to take further step toward ending bond buying (Reuters)
- A Fed-Watcher’s Guide to FOMC Day: Steady Taper, Green Shoots (BBG)
- Alstom accepts 10 billion euro GE bid for its energy unit (Reuters)
- BOJ projects inflation exceeding 2 percent, keeps bullish view intact (Reuters)
Whoever is looking for the flashpoint, that lethal moment when the war of words and diplomatic lies turns into full-blown physical conflict between the East and the West, they will find it relatively soon if we are to believe the markets and how they are reacting this morning.
Having been quiet all day, Vladimir Putin chose just before 330 on a Tuesday to respond to US and EU sanctions:
*PUTIN: U.S., EU SEEKING TO BLAME RUSSIA FOR UKRAINE CRISIS
*PUTIN SAYS HE CAN'T UNDERSTAND MOTIVATION FOR SANCTIONS
*PUTIN SAYS NO CAUSE-EFFECT BEHIND SANCTIONS
And while he said he sees no need for counter-sanctions currently, he did warn that Russia may reconsider participation of Western companies in egenergy projects if sanctions continue.
Name The Continent: It Accounts For 7% Of The World's Population, 25% Of GDP And 50% Of Welfare SpendingSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/28/2014 21:21 -0400
Angela Merkel has a favourite mantra to offer troubled euro-zone countries: they should copy Germany. As The Economist notes, she put it last autumn: "What we have done, everyone else can do." Fifteen years ago, so she says, her country was widely regarded as the sick man of Europe; then it opted for fiscal austerity, cut labour costs and embraced structural reforms, turning it into an economic powerhouse. However, there is another mantra Mrs Merkel likes to repeat to her colleagues: Europe accounts for 7% of the world’s population, 25% of GDP and 50% of social-welfare spending. The Economist, and George Soros believe, Germany’s current course will exacerbate that problem as Europe's biggest economy is backsliding on structural reforms (as she preaches pre-growth reforms but implements anti-growth ones).
Conflict with Russia may have a “massively bullish impact on gold prices.” The concept of MAD or mutually assured destruction was what prevented war between the superpowers during the Cold War. Today, there appears to be a lack of awareness regarding the risk of mutually assured economic destruction.
U.S. sanctions, to be announced today, will target Russian individuals and companies involved in financial, energy, infrastructure sectors, congressional official familiar with White House plan tells Bloomberg’s Jonathan Allen.
- *U.S. SAID TO SANCTION 7 RUSSIANS, 17 COMPANIES IN NEW ACTIONS
- *PERSON ON CAPITOL HILL DISCUSSES NEW U.S. SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA
As we already noted it appears Rosneft and Gazprom (and Gazprombank) will be among the companies but the one to watch is for a direct sanction against Vladimir Putin himself. Full list to follow... and then the blowback.
Here is a full breakdown of regional price parities, again using BEA data, this time at the Metro State Level, which shows for example that it is over 30% more expensive to live in New York, NY (which is the second most expensive city in the US after Honolulu.
Pro-Russian Forces "Parade" OSCE Hostages On TV As Ukraine Air-Force In "Full Operational Readiness" & EU Preps Sanctions 2.0Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/27/2014 13:50 -0400
The Ukrainian defense ministry has issued a statement confirming that Ukraine's air-defense forces have been placed in "operation readiness" in the nation's southern regions. This comes on the heels of the pro-Russian separatists taking OSCE observers hostage - and later "parading" them on local TV (where they explained they were not being treated badly). In another odd twist, pro-Russian forces (wearing British militrary fatigues) have taken over the region's TV station based in Donetsk. Twitter rumors suggest there has been a full military mobilization in Kharkiv - yet to be confirmed; but Germany's deputy forign minister Erler confirmed the EU is set to widen "stage-two" sanctions against Russia tomorrow and may discuss further sanctions later in the week.
Despite the considerable risks created by the situation in eastern Europe, most western stock, bond and property markets, fed on massive central bank fiat liquidity, continue to flirt with new highs. This strikes me as an exercise in whistling past the graveyard. In the short term, investors may continue to profit from risk-taking in financial markets. In the larger picture, much of the geopolitical balance of power that has been in place for much of the past 25 years will be tested on the banks of the Black Sea. Investors should take a few minutes from their daily technical chart analysis to consider these major developments.
It seems Russia won't have to wait too long for the billions that Ukraine owes it for energy supplies past, present, and future pre-billings. Bloomberg reports that:
*IMF STAFF SAID TO BACK $17B UKRAINE LOAN
*IMF STAFF SAID TO SEEK APRIL 30 BOARD MEETING ON UKRAINE LOAN
The always-accurate staff at the IMF project a mere 5% contraction in Ukraine's economy (so that means more like 15%).
Dear Gennady, ...So you see, Gennady, we are actually quite prepared to see the stock market crash, to see all the stock markets in the world crash, and the yields on our dollar bonds rise to whatever level. We are prepared for much worse things... The inevitable economic setback may result in some political opposition within Russia itself, but in the context of an escalating confrontation with Europe it shouldn’t be too difficult to cope with.... I hope that makes things a little clearer. Yes, it is a risky strategy, but a Europe dominated by Russia, or at least detached from the United States and disunited, is a prize worth risking everything for. Beppo is worth a crash.... Think about what I’ve said – some of it may come as a shock, but in the end, I think you’ll agree that it’s actually good news that the long tense period of waiting is finally over. We can’t win a conventional or a nuclear conflict, but this plan really might succeed. If not, well, we Russians are used to overcoming adversity.. Your Friend, Sasha