International Monetary Fund
Vladimir Putin has concluded his lengthy interview having covered everything from "the end of the unipolar model of the world" - i.e. de-dollarization - to US and Europe's responsibility for Ukraine's "full-scale civil war." The Russian leader noted that he's "trying to help Ukraine" but following the loans from the IMF asks "where's our money?" and warned that US sanctions have had little effect on the Russian economy but will have a boomerang effect. The following distills his 120 minute discussion... Putin "expects common sense to prevail."
- McDonald’s Workers Arrested at Protest Near Headquarters (BBG)
- U.S. Sends Troops to Chad to Hunt for Abducted Nigeria Girls (BBG)
- BofA Scrapping Market-Making Unit Amid Trading Scrutiny (BBG)
- Biggest attack in years kills 31 in China's troubled Xinjiang (Reuters)
- Intense Fighting Flares in Eastern Ukraine (WSJ)
- Fed Officials Tussle Over Labor Market Slack (Hilsenrath)
- Ikea Economics Lure Central Bankers Seeking New Tools (BBG)
- When Putin ordered up new hospitals, his associates botched the operation (Reuters)
- Norway’s $33 Billion Man Steps Up Search in Asia Real Estate Bet (BBG)
Last week we commented that based on TIC data, while "Belgium's" unprecedented Treasury buying spree continues, one country has been dumping US bonds at an unprecedented rate, and in March alone Russia sold a record $26 billion, or 20% of its holdings. So as Russia is selling a record amount of US paper, what is it buying? For the answer we go to Goldcore which tells us that "Russia Buys 900,000 Ounces Of Gold Worth $1.17 Billion In April."
On the surface, the economic atmosphere of the U.S. has appeared rather calm and uneventful. Stocks are up, employment isn’t great but jobs aren’t collapsing into the void (at least not openly), and the U.S. dollar seems to be going strong. Peel away the thin veneer, however, and a different financial horror show is revealed. With the Ukraine crisis now escalating to fever pitch, BRIC nations are openly discussing the probability of “de-dollarization” in international summits, and the ultimate dumping of the dollar as the world reserve currency. The U.S. is in desperate need of a benefactor to purchase its ever rising debt and keep the system running. Strangely, a buyer with apparently bottomless pockets has arrived to pick up the slack that the Fed and the BRICS are leaving behind. But, who is this buyer? At first glance, it appears to be the tiny nation of Belgium. Clearly, this is impossible, and someone, somewhere, is using Belgium as a proxy in order to prop up the U.S. But who?
A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.
Another important caveat to the figures is the ‘elephant in the room’ that is demand from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). The PBOC does not declare their monetary gold purchases to the IMF or release the data. However, most market participants accept that they have and are quietly buying significant amounts of gold as part of their foreign exchange diversification programme and as part of their strategic goal to position the yuan as a rival global reserve currency ...
The economic system in which we live today is a crony capitalist system or, we might say, a system of money socialism. And that’s Piketty’s greatest error: to blame capitalism for the negative effects of crony capitalism and money socialism. But perhaps it is no error. Perhaps, he only wants to be loved by politicians and the IMF. I think they love him already, though.
TedBits - Newsletter
Dispassionate discussion of the investment climate.
The (west) Ukraine locals may be caught in a proxy war vise of a western-appointed puppet government desperate to do NATO's bidding, an IMF which has made it clear bailout funds will only continue as long as said government maintains a belligerent stance toward Russia, a Kremlin which holds all the commodity trump cards with its gas supplies, and finally an imploding economy where the industrial eastern parts are on their way to becoming part of Russia not to mention insolvent banks which are one missed IMF rescue payment from total collapse, but at least they can still make some funny clips. Such as this clip showing a very symbolic Darth Vader campaigning in Odessa promising potential voters to "build the first earth-based planetary empire."
When The Head Of The European Central Bank Lies To Zero Hedge On The Record: Presenting Europe's "Plan Z"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/15/2014 15:16 -0400
We are happy to report that Zero Hedge is the first media outlet that Mario Draghi has very publicly, officially, and on the record, lied to. Because as we learned overnight, Europe most certainly had a "plan in place so that the markets don't basically collapse." Only it wasn't as Margio Draghi called it, Plan B. It was a different letter of the alphabet. Thanks to the FT's Peter Spiegel we now know that just over a year ago, in order to preserve the myth that Europe's power echelons are so "confident" with the Eurozone staying together they did not even consider a break up as a potential outcome, Draghi explicitly and on the record lied.
Presenting Europe's Plan Z.
Geithner Confirms Mafia-Linked Berlusconi's Forced Ouster, But Says US Did Not "Have Blood On Our Hands"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/14/2014 22:38 -0400
Silvio Berlusconi - ironically nicknamed "The Teflon Don" - has been found to have done business with the Sicilian Mafia for nearly two decades, according to Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome. Having attacked the "biased judges" who called his actions "a continuous crime," Berlusconi wriggled out from under this result since the link to the Cosa Nostra was, as The Independent reports, via his conduit and former senator Marcello Dell’Utri who was sentenced to 7 years for mafia association. While this confirms as fact yet another conspiracy theory, the bigger story was the confirmation of a broad-based bloodless coup to ouster the Italian Prime Minister at the peak of the credit crisis. "At one point that fall, a few European officials approached us with a scheme to try to force Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi out of power," Tim Geithner writes in his new book, and after telling the President about "this surprising invitation," they decided not to get involved (publicly): "We can't have his blood on our hands."
Dwindling resources produce the least admirable human behaviors, something science has tested and understands quite well. Ukraine is a bellwether; we will see other conflicts like it elsewhere in the world, and likely, in time, within our own nation. Which is why understanding the nature of social unrest is so important, particularly to those considering relocation (within or outside of their home country). You certainly don't want to leap from the frying pan into the fire as resource scarcity and conflicts are now part of the global equation.
The bailout floodgates are open and the US taxpayer is footing the bill once again - whether through IMF loans or more directly. Today saw Ukraine issue $1 Billion 5-Year Notes at a stunningly low risk of only 28bps above US Treasuries and dramatically cheaper than the cost of capital in the public markets (and from the IMF) which yield over 10%. The reason for the 1) low cost, and 2) actual ability to raise debt... the bond is guaranteed by the US Agency for International Development and "assures full repayment of principal and interest" based on the full faith and credit of the US (Taxpayer). We assume Gazprom will be happy...
The Dow had its narrowest range day of the year today and volume was dismal (as weak as yesterday's) but we made new record highs so USA USA USA. From the start of the day stocks were in a wild world of low volume levitation of their own as bonds made lower and lower yields and USDJPY was not supportive at all. Once Europe closed, the bid for US equities disappeared and Nasdaq and Russell tumbled, with the Dow and S&P catching down to unch. Bundesbank bullshit sent the EUR lower (cracking below 1.37 at 6 week lows) and thus the USD higher (+0.3% on the week). Treasury yields tumbled (and flattened) all day with 30Y -2bps on the week (and 7Y -6bps from today's highs). VIX had another seizure today (this time spiking up) and closed higher.