If We Don’t Learn Our History … We May Very Well Blow Off Our Own Foot
The US approach to the Russia/Ukraine situation reflects a serious misunderstanding of the situation. Russia has little choice but to try to raise the price of products it is selling, any way it can. It needs to cut out those who cannot afford its products, including the Ukraine. If Europe increasingly cannot afford its products, Russia needs to find customers who can afford them. There is little chance that the United States is going to be able to help Europe with its natural gas needs in any reasonable timeframe. Our best chance at keeping the global economy “working” for a little longer is to try to keep globalization working as best we can. This will likely require “making nice” to countries we are unhappy with, and putting up with what looks like aggression. Policymakers like to think that the US has more power than it really does, and like to encourage stories suggesting great power in the press. Unfortunately, these stories are not true; we need policymakers who understand our real situation
In a move reminiscent of the Victorian Age, when those "downstairs" lived off the scraps of those "upstairs", a new app 'PareUp' is set to revolutionize the way the increasingly poor and starving masses in America feed themselves. As HuffPo reports, in a country that wastes between 30 and 40 percent of its food, PareUp is a new app that aims to connect consumers to restaurants and food shops with excess food - enabling the impoverished to benefit from the excess greed of the well-to-do by buying their used and forgotten food scraps (at significant discounts of course). "Good food is a terrible thing to waste," boasts the app - and rightly so - but is it not a dismally sad reflection of a nation, that opines of its all time high stock prices as indicative of its cleanest dirty shirt status, that we need this service (and there's an app for that!)
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” - Albert Einstein
Of the economic reports and events in the week ahead, we identify four potential drivers and emphasize one--the ECB meeting.
Could it really be that peripheral countries’ interest rates are plunging and borrowing costs have converged to pre-crisis levels, Greece is issuing debt, and the euro crisis is over forever, but Mario “Whatever-It-Takes” Draghi is musing about starting QE now? Have policymakers lost touch with reality to such a startling degree that they now reach for the QE bottle like it is some 1850s cure-all nostrum, regardless of what is wrong with the patient? All we can imagine is the good doctor, handle bar moustache and full regalia, sitting behind his desk: “You have the vapors? Take this QE, you’ll feel better. Ma’am, you have a little hysteria? QE is just the thing! Sir, this QE will cure that headache! Son, you need some inflation, so QE is just right for you.” There is nothing – we repeat, nothing – that is being done at present to enable Europe to perform better economically, to encourage its unemployed to get off the dole, or to empower its peripheral countries to deal with their underperformance on a sustainable basis.
How can this be possible? Bond yields are at record lows and stock prices near record highs across Europe and even the ever-increasing debt-to-GDP characteristics of the perennially weak periphery are able to issue bonds willy-nilly as if nothing had ever happened. So how come 18.9 million people across Europe were unemployed in the euro area in March? Spain - actually trading at its cheapest cost of funding of all time (below 3%) - accounts for 6 million of those. As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, Greece and Spain have the highest jobless rates in Europe at 26.7% and 25.3%, respectively. That contrasts with 4.9% in Austria. The overall unemployment rate was unchanged at 11.8% in March from February after the previous month’s read as youth unemployment continues to rise.
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.
As we noted on the last day of March, April was supposed to be the best month for stocks, with an average return since 1950 of over 2%. It wasn't.
This is an impressive, comprehensive analysis of the February 2014 Ukraine coup from the perspective of a senior Russian academic. It details the interests and affiliations of the main Ukrainian domestic players - oligarchical clans many of whose leaders have dual nationality - with some shocking and little known detail. It exposes the glaring hypocrisies and double standards of the western sponsors of the coup and their Russian/Ukrainian '5th Column traitors'. It sees the coup and Russia's successful incorporation of Crimea as major game-changing events in the on-going, US-lead post-WWII machinations of the West to subdue Russia to its own agenda and outlines how Russia should now respond. All-in-all a must-read for westerners needing to understand what is really happening in both the Ukraine and the wider Anglo-US-NATO globalisation drive which it brings into sharp focus
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).
- U.S. Plans to Hit Putin Inner Circle With New Sanctions (BBG)
- Russian Billions Scattered Abroad Show Trail to Putin Circle (BBG)
- GE’s Alstom Bid Gains Steam as Hollande Said Not Opposed (BBG)
- Russia-West tensions pressure stocks, buoy oil prices (Reuters)
- Toyota Said to Plan to Move U.S. Sales Office to Texas (BBG)
- Egyptian court seeks death sentence for Brotherhood leader, 682 supporters (Reuters)
- Greece warned of 14.9 billion euro financing gap (FT)
- Comcast to shed 3.9 million subscribers to ease cable deal (Reuters)
- Big U.S. Banks Make Swaps a Foreign Affair (WSJ)
Thanks to the 'generosity' of their European overlords, the Greek government has been allowed to offer its long-suffering people a so-called "social dividend". As KeepTalkingGreece explains, the one time paid allowance between €500 and €1,000 funded with money from the primary surplus of 2013, is designed to be for the poor; but over 900 applicants with assets over €500,000 applied for the handout and several dozen with assets over €2,500,000 had the balls to apply. As he concludes, "can’t help but wonder whether we are indeed a society in such a moral decline."
Since the centrally-planned market is so broken it no longer has the capacity to evaluate and respond to any geopolitical threats and shocks, here - lest anyone think that with the S&P a hair away from all time highs there is nothing to worry about - is a summary of all the simmering, and in some cases, searing and/or scorching geopolitical conflicts and other tensions around the world including Ukraine, Hamas, the US-Japan defense treaty, Syria, South Sudan, Catalonia, Scotland, Thailand, Nigeria, Turkey, Venezuela, Ivory Coast, Bolivia, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain, Algeria, Pakistan, Moldova, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece and more.
Ask any European why their standard of living is so atrocious (after years of freeflowing debt-funded largesse) and the answer is well-known: austerity.Also ask any European if austerity means public debt should go up or down and the answer is also as clear: down. Which is why most Europeans will likely be confused to very confused when presented with the latest Eurostat data according to which not only did Eurozone debt rose remain just shy of all time record highs and certainly increasing from a year ago, but those PIIGS nations which are the first to blame austerity for everything, such as Greece (net of the debt wiped out as part of its 2012 bankruptcy of course), Portugal, Spain and Italy, all saw their public debt hit all time highs.