Putin Tells Merkel "Ukraine On The Verge Of A Civil War" As Germany Agrees To Re-Sell Russian Gas To UkraineSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/15/2014 19:36 -0400
A day after Putin called Obama to warn him that only the US president can prevent bloodshed in Ukraine - something which Obama failed at based on this morning's reports out of east Ukraine - German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a follow up phone call with the Kremlin a few hours ago, in which Putin told her that "The sharp escalation of the conflict puts the country, in essence, on the verge of a civil war".
March CPI Higher Than Expected, Driven By 16.4% Annual Spike In Utilities, Increase In Shelter IndexSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/15/2014 08:47 -0400
Following the hotter than expected PPI data, it was the turn of CPI to come in stronger than consensus had hoped for, and sure enough, moments ago the BLS reported that March consumer inflation printed higher than the expected 0.1%, coming at 0.2% for both headline and the core (excluding food and energy) components, driven mostly higher by a surge in Utility costs which soared by 7.5% M/M, and a whopping 16.4% Y/Y. Curiously, the energy services spike of 2.6% of which utilities is a part, was offset by a drop in energy commodities, mostly fuel oil, whose cost dropped 2.9% in March and by gasoline down 1.7%, and down 4.7% Y/Y. The BLS also noted the rapid increase in the shelter price index: "Almost two-thirds of this increase was accounted for by the shelter index, which rose 0.3 percent. The indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent both rose 0.3 percent, while the index for lodging away from home rose 1.5 percent." Is the housing bubble - both purchase and rent - and which has already burst across much of the nation, finally being noticed by the Fed?
Wheat, gas and palladium surge 3.3%, 2.4% and 1.7% respectively. Palladium surged for a fifth straight session to its highest since August 2011 on growing fears that supply would be hurt by more U.S. sanctions on top producer Russia and prolonged labour strikes in world number two producer, South Africa.
We hear a lot about climate change, especially now that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently published another report. At the same time, oil is reaching limits, and this has an effect as well. How do the two issues fit together? Unfortunately, the real situation is that the laws of physics, rather than humans, are in charge. Basically, as economies grow, it takes increasing complexity to fix problems, as Joseph Tainter explained in his book, The Collapse of Complex Societies. Now we are reaching limits in many ways, but we can’t - or dare not - model how all of these limits are hitting.
While the primary story regarding the Ukraine remains the stand off between Russia and Ukraine over nat Gazprom's gas deliveries and Kiev's overdue, and as of today - officially halted payments - not a weekend passes without some city in eastern Ukraine falling to what are now called "pro-Russian separatists" and this Saturday is no different. While last week it was the eastern cities of Luhansk, Donestk and Kharkiv that saw their government building taken over and occupied by the "separatists", today it was the turn of Slaviansk, where masked men armed with pistols and rifles stood guard near the police station as hundreds of locals gathered around, some building barricades with car tyres.
Despite the ongoing propoganda machine's push for a bailout plan to 'liberate Europe from Gazprom's claws', The FT reports that the head of Cheniere Energy, which is due to become the US’s first new natural gas exporter next year, said the ability of US energy to save Europe from its dependence on Russian supplies had been overstated. Simply put, as Putin knows all too well (but Obama and his merry men in the mainstream media seem destined to perpetuate), Cheniere's CEO blasts "It’s flattering to be talked about like this, but it’s all nonsense. It’s so much nonsense that I can’t believe anybody really believes it."
Producer Price Inflation data soared higher than expectations across the board this morning with Final Demand up 1.4% YoY (against 1.1% expectation) to its highest since Aug 2013. The main driver was food and apparel prices (rather unexpectedly) but we also note that ex-Food-and-Energy was a 0.6% rise (vs 0.2% exp.) which is the biggest month over month jump since March 2011.
After a selloff as violent as that of last night, usually the overnight liftathon crew does a great job of recovering a substantial portion of the losses. Not this time, which coupled with the sudden and quite furious breakdown on market structure, leads us to believe that something has changed rather dramatically if preserving investor confidence is not the paramount issue on the mind of the NY Fed trading desk. Nikkei 225 (-2.38%) suffered its worst week since March'11 amid broad based risk off sentiment following on from a lower close on Wall St. where the Nasdaq Biotech index suffered its largest intra-day decline since August 2011. Negative sentiment carried over into European session, with stocks lower across the board (Eurostoxx50 -1.17%) and tech under performing in a continuation of the recent sector weakness seen in the US. JP Morgan (JPM) due to report earnings at 7:00AM EDT and Wells Fargo (WFC) at 8:00Am EDT.
Is the US or the World Coming to an End? It will be one or the other
2014 is shaping up as a year of reckoning for the United States. One of two things is likely: Either the US dollar will be abandoned and collapse in value, thus ending Washington’s superpower status and Washington’s threat to world peace, or Washington will lead its puppets into military conflict with Russia and China. The outcome of such a war would be far more devastating than the collapse of the US dollar.
European partners have left Russia with "no alternative" but to halt supplies of gas to Ukraine and Europe, according to a letter from Russian president Putin to European leaders. The remarks, as Reuters reports, were the strongest sign yet that Russia could curtail supplies of gas to (and through) Ukraine affecting supplies of gas to Europe (as they fear Ukraine will siphon off Russian gas meant for Europe). Russia is getting angry, and an angry Russia can simply turn the gas switch to the "Off" position and hibernate for a bit.
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Sebastopol last month, Western leaders have been pondering how to get back at Moscow for its actions without starting a new world war. The situation is what the Brits may describe as a sticky wicket. They want to get back at Russian President Vladimir Putin but at the same time they don’t want to upset him too much seeing that he controls much of the oil and natural gas that flows to Eastern and Western Europe via a number of pipelines. The options available to punish Russia for its actions are really quite limited when you think about it; but President Putin now has two new weapons which in some ways frightens some of the old Soviet republics and the Europeans even more than conventional and nuclear weapons
Even Germany's vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel realizes that there is no alternative to Russian gas for Germany, at least not in the near future.
“In the debate over Europe's dependence on Russian natural gas it is often falsely pretended that there are many other possibilities. This is incorrect.”
But keep hanging on that "we'll export LNG to fix Putin" meme anyway
Russia's Gazprom and China are poised to conclude a gas supply contract in coming weeks, the first in a series of energy projects planned between the two countries. "We’re working now to sign a gas contract in May," said Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. "Consultations are continuing and Gazprom's leaders are holding talks with Chinese partners on the contract terms. We hope to conclude the contract in May and believe it should come into effect by the year end.
- Russia's Gazprom says Ukraine did not pay for gas on time (Reuters)
- Ukraine Moves to Keep Control in East (BBG)
- Banks Set to Report Lower Earnings as Debt Trading Slumps (BBG)
- More DeGeners and Obama selfies needed: Samsung's lower first-quarter estimate highlights smartphone challenges (Reuters)
- Citi Is Bracing to Miss a Profit Target (WSJ)
- Another slam from GM? Safety group calls for U.S. probe of Chevy Impala air bags (Reuters)
- Japan drugmaker Takeda to fight $6 billion damages imposed by U.S. jury (Reuters)
- EU court rules against requirement to keep data of telecom users (Reuters)
- White House may ban selfies with president after Ortiz-Obama photo promotes Samsung (Syracuse)
The Grand Narrative of the past few centuries goes something like this: from religious authority to secular authority, from agriculture to industrial, from rural to urban, from local to global, from periphery to center, from decentralized to centralized, from low-density energy to high-density energy (from wood to coal to oil/natural gas), from industrial to communication technology, from gold to fiat currencies, from linear to non-linear (complex/fractal), from local scarcity and high cost to global abundance, from islands of prosperity to continents of prosperity, from cash to credit, from collateral to leverage,from productive to consumerist and from sustainable to unsustainable. Many of these linear trends are running out of oxygen or reversing. This is not doom-and-gloom for society--it is only doom-and-gloom for the current unsustainable arrangement (Plan A).