In our national insanity, the U.S. has only 5% of the worlds population, yet 25% of its prisoners. Many of these people have no business being locked in a cage to begin with, and are wasting their lives away for committing “victimless crimes,” i.e. for no good reason. While the immorality of locking up so many of our fellow citizens for non-crimes should be readily apparent, today’s article from Five-Thirty-Eight offers evidence that America’s incarceration rate has become so saturated that it has absolutely no meaningful impact in lowering crimes rates anyway. The time for prison reform and the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences is long overdue.
Fighting Rages After Ukraine "Ceasefire" Deal; Ukraine Ultranationalist Leader Rejects Peace AgreementSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/13/2015 13:14 -0400
"A ceasefire is due to come into effect from Sunday under the agreement, which also envisages a withdrawal of the heavy weapons responsible for many of the 5,000 casualties in the conflict that broke out almost a year ago. Kiev said pro-Russian rebels had built up their forces across separatist-held zones since the deal and both sides accused each other of killing civilians." There is still hope that on Sunday morning things will be different. Yet, one element that is certain to undermine any deal, in addition to the now usual suspects because after all this is a proxy civil war with far greater geopolitical interests involved, is Ukraine’s ultranationalistic Right Sector, whose leader Dmitry Yarosh today said his radical movement rejects the Minsk peace deal and that their paramilitary units in eastern Ukraine will continue “active fighting" according to their "own plans."
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!
How geo-politics continues to influence macro markets
- Greece will do 'whatever it can' to reach deal with EU (Reuters)
- ECB Urges Greek Political Deal as Emergency Cash Is Tight (BBG)
- Fighting rages in run-up to Ukraine ceasefire (Reuters)
- Eurozone GDP Picks Up, Thanks to Germany (WSJ)
- Two J. P. Morgan Executives Connected to Asia Hiring Probe Pushed Out (WSJ)
- Putin's High Tolerance for Pain and Europe's Reluctance to Inflict It (BBG)
- Indigestion Hits Top U.S. Food Firms (WSJ)
- Alibaba's Jack Ma seeks to reassure employees over U.S. lawsuits (Reuters)
Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.
The “perfect-storm” of geopolitical instability, diplomatic isolation, severe currency depreciation, and economic decline now confronting Russia has profoundly damaged Moscow's international standing, and possibly for the long-term. Yet, it is precisely such conditions that may push the country’s leadership into taking the radical step that will secure its world-player status once and for all: the adoption of a gold-exchange standard.
The new cease-fire agreement is based largely on the original one that went into effect Sept. 5. It focuses on the withdrawal of heavy artillery systems, which have been prominent throughout the conflict, within 14 days of the cease-fire's implementation. The new cease-fire requires these artillery systems to be withdrawn far beyond their maximum effective ranges, a move that will create a buffer to prevent escalation and heavy artillery fire on the demarcation line.
This problem DWARFS Greece, Spain, Italy, even France (combined).
So far it has been an overnight session which clearly forgot to take its lithium, with futures first tumbling after CNBC's "leak" that a Greek deal had been reached was refuted, only to surge subsequently on both the Riskbank's foray into NIRP and QE which crushed the Swedish currency and sent its stocks to recorder highs, and more importantly, on the latest ceasefire out of Minsk which has pushed Russian and European assets substantially higher. While only the most naive believe that any palpable end to Ukraine hostilities will emerge as a result of today's delay, expect for Greek headlines to return with a vengeance as today it is Tsipras' turn to speak at a summit of the 28 European Union leaders set to begin momentarily.
Ukraine Ceasefire Deal Agreed After Negotiations All-Nighter; Doubts Remain About Its ImplementationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/12/2015 07:34 -0400
It would have simply been too much to handle for Europe and the risk off algos if hours after the embarrassing failure of the emergency Eurogroup meeting in Brussels failed to reach any deal involving Greece, the Ukraine ceasefire negotiations in Minsk were also to fall apart. Again. Which is probably why after a marathon session lasting 17 hours, and following repeated trial balloons that a deal had and/or had not been reached, a short while ago all major media outlets were delighted to finally blast some Risk On news namely that leaders of France and Germany brokered a renewed deal to end Ukraine’s 10-month civil war in the separatist eastern region, which means that we have a Minsk-signed Ukraine ceasefire. Again.
Well that didn't take long. Just an hour or so after Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko, and Putin got together to drink tea in Minsk, they have a 'deal':
*RUSSIA, UKRAINE, GERMANY, FRANCE LEADERS READY DECLARATION TO REAFFIRM MINSK CEASE-FIRE DEAL: IFX
*JOINT DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF UKRAINE'S TERRITORIAL SOVEREIGNTY
So - to summarize - they agree to a cease-fire (which saw 1000s killed and shelling continue last time) and to support Ukraine's territorial sovereignty (except of course Eastern Ukraine?) Face-saving headline-maker comes to mind. Stocks don't care though - they are buying it.
There’s nothing good left from the initial idea that gave birth to the EU. It’s devolved into something utterly ugly, in which fat Germans driving their Mercs and Beamers down the autobahn can yell at their car stereos that those lazy Greeks must pay their due - which stems from Merkel et al. bailing out Deutsche Bank’s insanely outsized derivatives portfolios. The whole thing is so morally bankrupt, it’s really insane that we’re still trying to have a serious discussion about it. The whole thing, the entire global banking system, is as morally bankrupt as it is financially. So far, all the EU has (anyone notice how silent the IMF has been?) is hubris, bluster and chest-thumping. They play politicians, but Syriza plays real life.
Moments after its US inhabitants leave the embassy in Yemen for one final time, it is now officially owned by the new, less than supported by the US, rebel regime.
- ARMED HOUTHI REBELS SEIZE U.S. EMBASSY VEHICLES AFTER AMBASSADOR, DIPLOMATS LEAVE COUNTRY - LOCAL MEMBERS OF EMBASSY STAFF
We could make a token witty comment about how this entire episode is emblematic and symbolic of all US foreign policy in recent history, but at this point, what difference does it make?