Just days after the tragic crash of a Malaysian Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, Western politicians and media joined together to gain the maximum propaganda value from the disaster. It had to be Russia; it had to be Putin, they said. President Obama held a press conference to claim – even before an investigation – that it was pro-Russian rebels in the region who were responsible. His ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, did the same at the UN Security Council – just one day after the crash! While western media outlets rush to repeat government propaganda on the event, there are a few things they will not report.
The escalation of turmoil in the world is yet to play a role for the market, but be warned: everything economic has a delayed reaction of nine to twelve month – whenever there is an action there will be a reaction. If the present state of alertness continues through the summer you can bet on higher energy prices having a serious impact on not only world growth but also on markets. Simply put, Steen Jakobsen concludes, "prepare for less growth, less certainty and more geopolitical risk."
The MH-17 tragedy could mark a pivotal moment in the worst crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War. Geopolitical risk is extremely high today. As it was in 1914. With the U.S. seeking to impose tough new sanctions on Russia, we appear to be on the verge of a new and more intense phase of currency wars and indeed of an economic war. Indeed, a millitary confronatation with all that entails cannot be ruled out ...
While the world's attention is focused on the tragic events in Ukraine, the fighting in Gaza has entered its 13th, and most deadly day, with at least 50 Palestinians killed on Sunday by Israeli shelling in a Gaza neighborhood, where "bodies were strewn in the street and thousands fled for shelter to a hospital packed with wounded, witnesses and health officials said." Reuters reports that the mass casualties in Shejaia, in northeast Gaza, were the heaviest since Israel launched its offensive, since expanded to a land offensive including tanks and troops. This has brought the total dead count on the Gaza side to over 400. According to elderly locals, today's Israeli shelling was the fiercest they had seen since the 1967 Middle East war, when Israel captured Gaza. Shifa hospital's director, Naser Tattar, said 17 children, 14 women and four elderly were among the 50 dead, and about 400 people were wounded in the Israeli assault.
With a straight face, Barack Obama has been repeatedly telling us that the world is "more stable" and "less violent" than ever. In fact, he believes that this is the best time in history to be alive because of how peaceful and stable everything is. Just this week, his press secretary told the media that this administration has "substantially improved" the "tranquility of the global community". Apparently these guys don't think that we will notice all of the violence, war and terrorism constantly raging all around us.
While everyone in the world (apart from the BRICS and Germany) know that Putin/Russia is the enemy; the relationships among the various 'states' in The Middle East are a mystery to most... As Slate reports, with overlapping civil wars in Syria and Iraq, a new flare-up of violence between Israel and the Palestinians, and tense nuclear talks with Iran; Middle Eastern politics are more volatile than ever and longtime alliances are shifting. Here's Slate's guide to who's on whose side in the escalating chaos...
For Americans, it was like the news from nowhere. Years had passed since reporters bothered to head for the country we invaded and blew a hole through back in 2003, the country once known as Iraq that our occupation drove into a never-ending sectarian nightmare. In 2011, the last U.S. combat troops slipped out of the country, their heads “held high,” as President Obama proclaimed at the time, and Iraq ceased to be news for Americans. With Maliki, it has simply been a different dictator, enjoying even more such support (until these last weeks), and using similarly barbaric tactics against Iraqis. Today, Washington’s policies continue in the same mindless way as more fuel is rushed to the bonfire that is incinerating Iraq.
How stupid do you have to be to send a commercial flight over what essentially is a warzone? How much do you think the airline actually saved by taking the most direct route?
Gold, silver, oil and wheat (see table) surged today after confirmaton that a Malaysian passenger airliner was shot down over the Ukraine. The tragedy is set to be used by opposing sides as a stick to beat each other with and inflame an already very tense geopolitical situation.
The sell off was greeted by Chinese buyers as Chinese premiums edged up to just over $1 an ounce on the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE).
Gold price drops this year have led to a marked increase in demand for gold as seen in very large increases in ETF holdings (See chart - Orange is Gold, Purple is absolute change in gold ETF holdings). The smart money in Asia, the West and globally continues to use price dips as an opportunity to allocate to gold.
We can hear the headlines now... thin of the tax cuts, think of the improved discretionary spending, see Iraq was a storm in a teacup... WTI Crude's drop back below $100 provdes so much great news for the world that many perhaps are missing that the world and his brother were long black gold into this and this squeeze appears anything but reflective of the rising tensions... (or is it due to tumbling demand?) Russia won't be happy - time to escalate.
What’s changed is the perception that the USA has any role to play any longer even in the diplomatic theatrics. The Middle East is disintegrating faster than any polity in historical memory. It appears that, if anything, the USA has only succeeded in accelerating the process wherever we turn our attentions. Since the 1970s, we haven’t felt the ultimate consequence of trouble in that part of the world, which would be an interruption in the oil supply coming out of there. Simply put, it shapes up as a struggle to the death that will not be impeded by reason, the good intentions of others, or sentimentality.
If one were so inclined, one could imagine that the relentless barrage of domestic scandals plaguing Obama have been orchestrated with a simple reason: to divert attention from the worst US foreign policy in four decades. And sure enough, even a casual glimpse of all the raging international crises, in which the US is currently embroiled, is enough to make one wonder if the next global crisis will be fought not in the capital markets but in the actual battlefield. As the WSJ recounts, "a convergence of security crises is playing out around the globe, from the Palestinian territories and Iraq to Ukraine and the South China Sea, posing a serious challenge to President Barack Obama's foreign policy and reflecting a world in which U.S. global power seems increasingly tenuous. The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn't been seen since the late 1970s, U.S. security strategists say, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, revolutionary Islamists took power in Iran, and Southeast Asia was reeling in the wake of the U.S. exit from Vietnam."
- Secret Path Revealed for Chinese Billions Overseas (BBG)
- Traders Flood U.S. With $3.4 Trillion of Bond-Auction Demand (BBG)
- Just in time to cover bad earnings in a massive $3.8 billion "one-time charge": Citi says to pay $7 billion to settle securities investigation (Reuters)
- Troubled Epirito Santo family loosens grip on Portugal's BES (Reuters)
- BES puts in place new executives after central bank push (Reuters)
- Bank of China-CCTV drama may reveal power struggle in Beijing (SCMP)
- Portugal speeds up Banco Espírito Santo management changes (FT)
- Dark pool probe builds pressure on Barclays boss (Reuters)
- Russia Vows to Respond After Shelling From Ukraine (BBG)
- Ukraine forces end rebel airport blockade (Reuters)
- Obama Contends With Arc of Instability Unseen Since '70s (WSJ)
- Carl Icahn says 'time to be cautious' on U.S. stocks (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Lifts Lid on Exposure to Group (BBG)
- Slowing Customer Traffic Worries U.S. Retailers (WSJ)
- Insurgents enter military base northeast of Baghdad (Reuters)
- Obama tells Israel U.S. ready to help end hostilities (Reuters)
- Japan economics minister warns of premature QE exit, sees room for more easing (Reuters)
- Greek Banks See Quadrupling of Housing Loans by Next Year (BBG) ... to fund buybacks like in the US?
- Piggy Banks Being Raided Signal Swedish Housing Dilemma (BBG)
- London Seeks New Spenders as Russians Skip $719 Champagne (BBG)