- RBS to cut up to 14,000 jobs in investment banking unit (FT)
- Doctors, patients scramble ahead of high court Obamacare decision (Reuters)
- Rajan Cuts India Rates After Modi Agrees to Inflation Target (BBG)
- Russia’s Putin Makes First Public Comments on Killing of Boris Nemtsov (WSJ)
- House breaks impasse, passes security funding without provisions (Reuters)
- How a 25-Year-Old Investor Spurred Lumber Liquidators’ Plunge (BBG)
- Jeff Immelt’s Overhaul of GE Impeded by Falling Oil Prices (WSJ)
- Sahara India Defaults on Luxury Hotel Loans From Bank of China (BBG)
In "an unprecedented move", the controversial head of Norway's Nobel Peace Prize committee was removed Tuesday and demoted to the rank of mere member. Thorbjoern Jagland, a former Norwegian premier, drew criticism after becoming committee chairman in 2009 for awarding the prestigious Nobel to newly elected US President Barack Obama. He will be replaced by current Deputy Chair Kaci Kullmann Five.
Throughout history, political, financial, and military leaders have sought to create empires. Great Britain owned the 19th century but lost its empire due largely to costly wars. The US took over in the 20th century and, like Rome, rose as a republic, with minimal central control, but is now crumbling under its own governmental weight. Invariably, the last people to understand the collapse of an empire are those who live within it. Americans remain hopeful that the dramatic decline is a temporary setback from which they will rebound...Not likely.
As Russia announces the expansion of its Navy by 50 vessels this year, including two new nuclear-powered submarines and an aircraft carrier, it appears NATO's sabre-rattling has drawn a response/threat/warning. Following British plans to send military 'advisers' into Ukraine (which NATO has stated are not confirmed), TASS reports, Russia's NATO envoy, Alexander Grushko, warns Russia will take all measures against possible NATO threat in Ukraine, adding that Russia’s response may include military measures. Of course all this military machismo comes as Russia and Ukraine hold emergency talks in Brussels over gas supply amid imminent cutoff threats for non-payment.
"None dare call it a “currency war” because that would be counter to G-10/G-20 policy statements that stress cooperation as opposed to “every country for itself”, but an undeclared currency war is what the world is experiencing. Close to the same thing happened in the 1930’s, a period remarkably similar to what many countries’ policies resemble today.... Negative/zero bound interest rates may exacerbate, instead of stimulate low growth rates in all of these instances, by raising savings and deferring consumption... Asset prices for stocks, high yield bonds and other supposed 5-10% returning investments, become stretched and bubble sensitive; Debt accumulates instead of being paid off because rates are too low to pass up – corporate bond sales leading to stock buybacks being the best example. The financial system has become increasingly vulnerable only six years after its last collapse in 2009.... Central banks have gone and continue to go too far in their misguided efforts to support future economic growth."
The ink is not even dry on the much fought extension of the Greek bailout, so hated in Greece because it perpetuates the "austerity" memorandum conditions and already Spain is stoking the anti-austerity fire in Athens even more when moments ago Spain's Guindos revealed that not only is a third Greek bailout imminent, and will cost Europe's taxpayers between €30 and €50 billion, but that Spain, whose banks were completely insolvent as recently as 2 years ago and were only "saved" thanks to the ECB's direct and indirect (repo) bond monetization pathways will provide between 13% and 14% of the funding!
- "THIRD GREEK RESCUE' TO BE EU30B-EU50B: SPAIN'S DE GUINDOS
- SPAIN TO PROVIDE 13-14% OF EU30B-EU5O 3RD GREEK RESCUE: GUINDOS
What makes the announcement doubly ironic (the broke bailount out the insolvent, or is the bankrupt saving the liquidating?), is that just hours earlier Spain’s deputy minister for the European Union Inigo Mendez de Vigo said that "Greece should do less talking, do more reforms." But why if Spain will be so kind as to provide the funding needed for the next Greek bailout, and the bailout after that, and the one after
Few asked throughout the Ukraine civil war is just whose side is China leaning toward, after all the precarious balance of power between NATO and Russia had resulted in a stalemate in which neither side has an obvious advantage (even as the Ukraine economy died, and its currency hyperinflated, waiting for a clear winner), and the explicit or implicit support of China to either camp would make all the difference in the world, and perhaps the world's most formidable axis. Today we finally got the answer. China's ambassador to Belgium, was quoted as blaming competition between Russia and the West for the Ukraine crisis, urging Western powers to "abandon the zero-sum mentality" with Russia. Reuters assessment of Xing speech: "an unusually frank and open display of support for Moscow's position in the crisis." At least it is not a warning to the US to back off or else. Yet.
Never has our nation, corporations and wealthy top 1% faced so many new threats to their efforts to grow their power and wealth around the world. But a real war would provide the crisis excuse to confiscate your gold and "excess" retirement plan and IRA assets, reduce or curtail your social security benefits, dramatically raise taxes and institute total exchange controls while curtailing your remaining freedoms and ability to resist for the duration of the crisis.
The aim of the Greek bailout was not to restore prosperity to the country's people, but to save the eurozone. Given this, the new Greek government is entirely justified in questioning the terms that the country was given. As negotiations continue (Tsipras "war" vs the initial lost "battle), the single worst outcome of the current negotiations would be Greece's submission to its creditors' demands, with few concessions in return. Default and exit from the eurozone would allow Greece to begin correcting past mistakes and putting its economy on the path to recovery and sustainable growth. At that point, the EU would be wise to follow suit, by unraveling the currency union and providing debt reduction for its most distressed economies. Only then can the EU's founding ideals be realized.
The first anti-government rally in Athens turned ugly as anti-authoritarian protesters started to smash the windows of a pastry shop and two jewelry shops and put two vehicles and several garbage bins on fire. According to latest information, there was no intervention by riot police although squads were standing near by.
Oh well, some are more equal than others. One day after Eurogroup head Dijsselbloem says France won’t get any more lenience... "France must respect EU budge rules," ... the EU over-rules him "France gets more time to meet EU budget rules."
One day ahead of a key vote in the German Bundestag whether to ratify the 4-month Greek bailout extension, the biggest-selling, mass-market newspaper (or tabloid as some call it) with a circulation of 2.5 million, Bild, has made it very clear just how it feels about the latest Greek can kicking event.
Ukrainian authorities decision to halt gas supplies to Donetsk amid the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe occurring there "bear the hallmarks of genocide," blasted Russia's Vladimir Putin during an awkward press conference with Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades (who he had just agreed bilateral military and trade deals with). "Apparently, some responsible leaders of the modern-day Ukraine are unable to understand the importance of humanitarian issues," Sputnik News reports Putin concluded. In an attempt to gain leverage and force Ukraine's hand however, Russia's Gazprom has indicated it intends to suspend gas deliveries to Ukraine (and thus Europe via pipelines) unless Kiev makes a further prepayment.
The post-1945 European settlement had many successes. But it is now crumbling. It needs drastic modification. That requires statesmen of the calibre of the men of 1945. It is time for politicians who wish to earn a place in history and upgrade themselves to statesmanhood to step up to the challenge.
"The best environment for man is the environment of liberty." - former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus
Liberty is a fundamental human right; it is the cornerstone of our existence. But liberty is under attack from all directions, whether through higher state control or individuals themselves. Liberty is in search for its protector.