International Monetary Fund
When 2014 started, expectations were sky high and as Saxo Bank's Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen notes, policymakers and their support organisations like the OECD, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were all quick to call the crisis over and project a true recovery. Now just five month into the year we have seen nothing but disappointing data both relatively speaking but certainly also in absolute terms. As the following presentation outlines, Jakobsen believes we will see new low yields in this cycle this year and that 2014 will also be the year of the low in terms of: inflation expectations, wage/salary, velocity of money, loan demand, lack of reform, and innovation reforms.
China and Russia signed an historic agreement in Shanghai this week - the ramifications of which have yet to be appreciated ... Reserve currency status does not last forever. Empires rise and fall. The world is constantly changing and evolving. Nothing lasts forever …
Speaking like a jilted girlfriend, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble exclaimed that "Russia needs Europe more than China to develop economy," following the signing of the 'holy grail' gas deal this week. But the German saved his sternest comments for his US "allies" as he explained discussions over sanctions and negotiations with Russia over Ukrains would "be even more successful if the United States understands that it is also part of the West." Reflecting on the waning US influence and slamming US Congress delays over IMF reform, Schaeuble unleashed the following: "Perhaps now more of those in power in the United States will ask themselves: Why is America's soft power, even though it is the indispensable nation, not so great as to be understood by the dumb Germans?" As the WSJ reports, Schaeuble reiterated "we won't seek military escalation, but we will of course use our political and diplomatic abilities to increase the pressure on Russia to abide by the rules."
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.
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 14:16 -0500
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.
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...
"My country can cry all it likes about yesterday’s referendum vote in eastern Ukraine, but we set the process in motion by sponsoring the overthrow of an elected Kiev government that was tilting toward Russia and away from NATO overtures. The president elected in 2010, Viktor Yanukovych, might have been a grifter and a scoundrel, but so was his opponent, the billionaire gas oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko. The main lesson that US authorities have consistently failed to learn in more than a decade of central Asian misadventures: when you set events in motion in distant lands, events, not policy planners at the State Department, end up in the driver’s seat."
Despite popular belief, very few things in our world are exactly what they seem. That which is painted as righteous is often evil. That which is painted as kind is often malicious. That which is painted as simple is often complex. That which is painted as complex often ends up being disturbingly two dimensional. Regardless, if a person is willing to look only at the immediate surface of a thing, he will never understand the content of the thing. This fact is nowhere more evident than in the growing “tensions” between the elites of the West and the elites of the East over the crisis in Ukraine. The centralization of power is best achieved during moments of bewildering calamity. The conjuring of crises is one of the oldest methods of elitist dominance. Not only can they confuse and frighten the masses into malleability, but they can also ride to the public’s rescue as heroes and saviors later on. The Hegelian dialectic is the mainstay of tyrants.
A month ago, it was alleged, that Ukraine - under cover of night - loaded its gold reserves onto a plane and shipped them off (for safekeeping) in the US, as the potential price of 'liberation'. So how ironic that, given the massive gas debts that Ukraine owes to Russia (and prepayments pending), and sizable bond maturities pending, the first thing that Ukraine's National Bank governor will be buying with his freshly minted loan from the IMF is... buy a billion dollars of gold.
While there may be some confusion about why massive bond buying greeted yesterday's "better than expected" loss of 209 jobs in the 25-54 age group, dragging stocks down, the answer is actually very simple: there is a war in the Ukraine.
When one thinks of Switzerland, banking comes to mind easily but gold doesn’t as much. But, "it is said that the Swiss only love money... this is not true. They also love gold." A full two-thirds of the world’s gold goes through Switzerland and, in an average year, it refines grossly 70% of the world’s gold. Six of the gold refiners on the LBMA Good Delivery list make for 90% of global volume, and four of those are in Switzerland. Up until 1992, the Swiss franc’s 40% backing by gold was written in the country’s Constitution. When Switzerland became a member of the IMF it had to abandon this backing by gold. Today, Swiss citizens have asked for a referendum to be called in order to get back to that backing. As Gilles Labarthe wrote, "Switzerland is for gold what Bordeaux is to wine."
Oil prices have increased recently as tension in Ukraine has escalated and raised concerns about the risks of disruption in Russian energy exports. There is a risk that the security situation in the east Ukraine will worsen even further ahead of the 25 May elections. As Nordea notes, Russia is as important an oil exporter to Europe (of both crude and refined products) as it is a gas exporter, and the consequences of a cut in Russian oil supplies could be as grave since the global oil market has little back-up capacity to lean on. As a result, a halt in the oil deliveries from Russia to Europe will spark a sharp spike in oil prices (potentially to $150/bbl) and in a worst case scenario an oil crisis and European recession (and major slowdown in global growth) and US shale oil or an SPR release will prevent the spike.