Following three consecutive days of missions by the Russian "Doomsday Plane", i.e. the Tupolev Tu-214SR communication relay aircraft, which as we reported first on Friday, has been circling in proximity to Finland, above the island of Valaam in Lake Ladoga, moments ago, deep in the Russian night, the plane which traditionally accompanies Putin took off from Moscow's Vnukovo airport and is once again making loops over Valaam island (flight can be tracked in real-time for the next several hours with FlightRadar24).
The last time the Russian "Doomsday Plane" was seen in the air doing its trademark loops at 27,000 feet telegraphing Vladimir Putin was somewhere nearby, was on March 31, just days after the formerly Ukrainian region was annexed by the Kremlin. Until today, when over the past 4 hours, the Tu-214 has been quietly circling in position just shy of Finland and the Baltics, where as it is known, NATO has been depositing hundreds of western soldiers in a "defensive" build up.
For most of Canada's existence, it has been regarded as the weak neighbor to the north by most Americans. Well, that has changed dramatically over the past decade or so. Back in the year 2000, middle class Canadians were earning much less than middle class Americans, but since then there has been a dramatic shift. At this point, middle class Canadians are actually earning more than middle class Americans are. The Canadian economy has been booming thanks to a rapidly growing oil industry, and meanwhile the U.S. middle class has been steadily shrinking. If current trends continue, a whole bunch of other countries are going to start passing us too. The era of the "great U.S. middle class" is rapidly coming to a bitter end.
- Putin Doesn't Rule Out Sending Troops (WSJ)
- Japan Cuts Economic View on Tax Rise (WSJ)
- No "harsh weather" in Chipotle restaurants where comp store sales rose 13.4% (PR)
- No sanctions for you: EU sanctions push on Russia falters amid big business lobbying (FT)
- Consumer Spending on Health Care Jumps as Obamacare Takes Hold (BBG)
- China Seen Cracking on Property Controls (BBG)
- Google, IBM results raise questions about other tech-sector companies (Reuters)
- California city evacuation lifted after military ordnance found (Reuters)
- For Obama, Standoff With Moscow Jumbles Plans at Home and Abroad (WSJ)
There is a reasonably quiet start to the week before we head into the highlights of the week including the start of US reporting season tomorrow, FOMC minutes on Wednesday and IMF meetings in Washington on Friday. On the schedule for today central bank officials from the ECB including Mersch, Weidmann and Constancio will be speaking. The Fed’s Bullard speaks today, and no doubt there will be interest in his comments from last week suggesting that the Fed will hike rates in early 2015.
Dr Faber discussed the importance of not owning gold stored in the U.S., the mystery of the Fed gold, why Singapore is safest for gold storage, the risks of bitcoin and how small countries should revert to national currencies. The must watch interview can be watched here ...
Yesterday we reported that in an attempt to unclog Europe's broken credit and monetary piping, European regulators are preparing to get their hands dirty by easing rules on, and unleashing, an asset class once labelled toxic sludge, i.e., all the worst of the worst debt that was the reason why Europe is in a 6 year-old depression, and hope and pray it somehow fixes itself. Today, the ECB reported the latest data on European credit creation in the private sector. Or rather lack thereof. Because at -2.2%, this was essentially an all time low private sector loan "growth" (rather, credit destruction). Which means Europe will have to throw all the toxic sludge it can find in its desperation to reignite yet another credit bubble, something Bernanke's cronies appear to have done far more admirably.
After warning of the potential for "dangerous risks of escalation" President Obama, absent his Congress, has signed an Executive Order authorizing further penalties on more Russian individuals and also a bank. "We’re imposing sanctions on more senior officials of the Russian government,” Obama said. “In addition, we are today sanctioning a number of other individuals with substantial resources and influence who provide material support to the Russian leadership, as well as a bank that provides material support to these individuals.” The list includes Bank Rossiya (Russia's 5th largest bank), and 20 more individuals including Billionaire Gennady Timchenko, and Duma Deputy Speaker Evgeny Bushmin.
- Anti-Euro Party’s Le Pen Gains Supporters, French Poll Shows (BBG)
- Carney Renews BOE Low-Rate Pledge to Fight Slack in Economy (BBG)
- Bank of England hints at 2015 rate rise (Reuters)
- ECB bond-buying intact and ready after court decision-Coeure (Reuters)
- Canada scraps millionaire visa scheme, dumps 46,000 Chinese applications (SCMP)
- Scrap this then? Vancouver facing an influx of 45,000 more rich Chinese (SCMP)
- China's January Exports Power Higher, Up 10.6% (WSJ) ... and nobody believes the number
- Emerging-Market Shakeout Putting Reserves Into Focus (BBG)
- Wall Street's most eligible banker Fleming waits for suitor (Reuters)
- Kazakh Devaluation Shows Currency War Stirring as Ruble Dips (BBG)
Dispassionate update on digital currencies.
Europe is recovering, right? Wrong. As Nigel Farage raged last night, things are not what they seem and even the IMF is now beginning to get concerned again (especially after Lagarde's call yesterday for moar from Draghi and every other central banker). As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, it's not just the PIIGS we have to worry about (or not), Denmark, Finland, Norway and Poland have been added to the IMF’s list of countries with the potential to destabilize the global economy.
The NYT reports that if judging by the initial response to Apple's expansion into China, then this too latest Apple "rollout" is set to be a major flop. To wit: " Apple has been counting on a long-awaited agreement with China Mobile, the world’s largest cellular operator, to reverse its fortunes in China. If the muted reception Friday, when customers were finally able to buy iPhones from China Mobile, is any indication, the companies may have to work harder to whip up enthusiasm. Instead of the round-the-block lines that have greeted Apple product introductions in China and other countries in the past, only about a dozen customers showed up to buy iPhones at the opening of a store in Beijing — despite the presence of a special guest, the Apple chief executive, Timothy D. Cook."
While Greek (and Cypriot) leaders exclaim the recovery in their economies (factual data aside), the reality is that they remain low-man-on-the-totem-pole among the European Union (despite holding the Presidency). Nowhere is this better illustrated than the world's decision to sink two ships carrying Syria's chemical weapons in the waters near Greece and Cyprus. As KeepTalkingGreece notes, the first stage of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons has reportedly already begun with the aid of Norway, Denmark, Russia, China, Finland, UK and USA, among others. The chosen dumping ground for more than 800 tonnes of chemical weapons... Crete.