As Gazprom CEO Arrives In Athens, EU (Coincidentally) Files Anti-Trust Charges Against Russian GiantSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/20/2015 11:38 -0400
As the head of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, arrives in Athens tomorrow (for talks with Greek PM Tsipras about "current energy issues of interest," which we suspect will include finalizing the "Turkish Stream" pipeline heralded by many as Greece's potential get-out-of-Troika-jail-card), he will face an increasingly anxious European Union. Fresh from its suit against Google, the WSJ reports, the EU's competition regulator plans to file formal antitrust charges against Russia’s state-owned gas company OAO Gazprom on Wednesday. This re-opens a suit from 2012 saying that it suspected the company of abusing its dominant position in those countries’ natural-gas supply. It appears Europe is getting nervous...
While this week sees the peak of Q1 earnings season, it will be a generally quiet week on the macro economic front for both EM and DM, with the emphasis on the latest seasonally adjusted manufacturing sentiment surveys, US durables and Japan trade.
With Greece teetering on the edge of insolvency and forced to raid pension and most other public funds, ahead of another month of heavy IMF repayments which has prompted even the ECB to speculate Greece should introduce a parallel "IOU" currency, a white knight has appeared out of nowhere for Greece, one who may offer $5 billion in urgently needed cash. The white knight is none other than Vladimir Putin.
Update: as always is the case in Europe, nothing is confirmed until it is officially denied by officials, so here you go: GREEK GOVT OFFICIAL DENIES FT REPORT GREECE PLANNING DEFAULT
It should hardly come as a surprise that after the latest round of Greek pre-negotiation negotiations with the Troika, in which the Greek representative was said to behave like a taxi driver, who "just asked where the money was and insisted his country would soon be bankrupt" and in which the Eurozone members "were disappointed and shocked at Athens' lack of movement in its plans, and in particular its reluctance to talk about cutting civil servants' pensions" that the next Greek step is to fall back - yet again - to square zero: threats of an imminent default. Which is precisely what, according to the FT, has happened "Greece is preparing to take the dramatic step of declaring a debt default unless it can reach a deal with its international creditors by the end of April."
The Middle East’s ongoing descent into chaos and China’s impending ascendancy to the status of global superpower are just two of the many threats that the US, European Union and Russia all share. Each of these issues should certainly occupy a higher position on their respective agendas than the breakup of Ukraine or the insolvency of Greece. Leaders of all three governments would be well-advised to set aside their differences, or at least to prevent those differences from obstructing cooperation on more important issues. Unlike its predecessor, the Second Cold War will not be bilateral. Today’s world is far more chaotic, kinetic and dangerous than it was fifty years ago.
"NATO completed the first military drills for its new rapid reaction force. From Tuesday through Thursday, more than 1,500 troops took part in exercise 'Noble Jump,' designed to test whether troops assigned to NATO’s new Spearhead Force, or Very High Joint Readiness Task Force, could be ready to deploy 48 hours after receiving an order-to-move." In other words: NATO could deploy troops to counter Russian "aggression" within 2 days.
While Germany has pre-emptively, and somewhat defensively, come out proclaiming Russian aid to Greece as 'no big deal' - a "routine event" - we suspect the signal that it would send would not be entirely great for the EU (and Obama's) 'Russia is evil' meme. Nonetheless, as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meets Russian President Vladimir Putin today - just one day before The IMF loan repoayment is due, topics for discussion vary from lifting sanctions (bilaterally) or bankrolling a bailout to gas discount from Gazprom. Here's a summary...
Russia possesses tremendous opportunity for growth and with no lack of suitors – east or west – Putin is in no hurry to pander to the US or EU hardliners.
No lesser trustworthy character than Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland explained this morning that the US can "confirm" new Russian weapons delivery to Ukraine and that they "can tell" when Russia sends in new weapons (though offering no explanation of this statement). This comment to the Senate Committee comes a day after the US delivered 'lethal aid' to Latvia - 120 armored units (including tanks) - with US Army General John O’Conner who witnessed the tanks arriving on Latvian soil said, "Freedom must be fought for, freedom must be defended." And finally, one more shot in the eye of the germans, deputy under-secretary of Defense Brian McKeon said the US is "actively considering more weapons for Ukraine," seemingly implying they alreadt sent some?
Why are negative interest rates now making an appearance? They are a natural consequence of the rampant money creation undertaken by central banks in response to the global financial crisis as there is a lot more newly-created money floating around the financial system than there are safe places to put it. With the increasingly globalized world of international finance a bank run or financial panic anywhere can easily become a bank run or financial panic everywhere, it might be a good time to give your mattress a bit of extra padding.
Could it be that one of the key factors motivating the West’s apparently illogical and self-defeating desire to constantly confront Russia is simply revanchism for WWII? Most people in the West want to live in peace and are completely unaware of these undercurrents of the war in the Ukraine. While the apparent Russophobia and revanchism is only relevant to various minority groups, the problem is that taken together and when they act in unison, these minorities end of wielding a lot of power and influence. The best way to stop them, is to shed a strong light on them and their real motives.
We don't get it, and we definitely don’t get why nobody is asking any questions. The IMF and EU make a lot of noise – through the Eurogroup – about all the conditions Greece has to address to get even a mild extension of support, while the same IMF and EU keep on handing out cash to Ukraine without as much as a whisper – at least publicly...
With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.