Sorry Ukraine, but when Europe has to choose between you and Russian gas, the gas wins every time.
Since there is nothing on today's data docket, it will be all about, you guessed it, geopolitical risks, where "consensus" is best summarized by these two Bloomberg headlines:
- Stay USD Long as Geopolitical Risks Loom
- USD is mixed and world stock markets rise as concerns over geopolitical risks ease
That pretty much covers it, although in addition to the Ukraine civil war one can now add an Iraq coup to the list of geopolitical fiascoes instigated by US foreign policy.
Investing in oneself and enterprises one actively controls may now be the only legitimate deployment of capital that qualifies as an investment in the traditional sense - that is, capital isn't being risked in rigged gambling halls and Ponzi schemes.
While Ukraine has long since ceased being a customer of Gazprom (for the simple reason being that it can't afford to pay for historical gas purchases let alone future ones, and with a long cold winter just 3 months ahead, Kiev is praying that its brand new Western "allies" will give it the loans it needs to buy Europe-sourced gas), the bulk of Russia-sourced gas into Europe still transits through Ukraine. Not surprisingly, Ukraine correctly understands this is the last trump card it has in any negotiation with the west, or the east. It is this trump card that went into play moments ago when Ukraine's Prime Minister who recently resigned and whose resignation was not accepted, said that Ukraine is considering banning the transit of all Russian "energy resources", i.e. European gas.
We frequently see stories telling us how well the United States is doing at oil extraction. The fact that there are stories in the press about the US wanting to export crude oil adds to the hype. How much of these stories are really true? A major concern with falling per-capita energy consumption it that the financial system may soon reach limits where it is stretched beyond what it can stand. The economy needs energy growth to grow, but the economy is not getting it.
- Russia bans all U.S. food, EU fruit and vegetables in sanctions response (Reuters)
- Snowden receives three-year Russian residence permit (Reuters)
- Headline of the day: Europe's Recovery Menaced by Putin as Ukraine Crisis Bites (BBG)
- Americans worry that illegal migrants threaten way of life, economy (Reuters)
- Almost 90% of Uninsured Won't Pay Penalty Under the Affordable Care Act in 2016 (WSJ)
- Germany’s Bond Advance Sends 2-Year Note Yield Below Zero (BBG)
- Gaza War’s Critics in Crosshairs as Israelis Back Offensive (BBG)
- The 1% May Be Richer Than You Think, Research Shows (BBG)
- Bank of America Near $16 Billion to $17 Billion Settlement (WSJ)
- Deep Water Fracking Next Frontier for Offshore Drilling (BBG)
- So that's what Obama meant by "costs" - Italy Recession, German Orders Signal Euro-Area Struggle (BBG)
- Russia worries, weak German data weigh on Europe (Reuters)
- Hedge Funds Betting Against Banco Espírito Santo in Line for Big Gains (WSJ)
- Bankers Called Up for Ukraine War as Rolls-Royce for Sale (BBG)
- Double Punch for 'Inversion' Deals (WSJ)
- Statist Strongmen Putin-Xi See History’s Capitalism Clash (BBG)
- China bans beards, veils from Xinjiang city's buses (Reuters)
- BATS to Settle High-Speed Trading Case (WSJ)
- Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment (Reuters)
- Second Ebola patient to arrive in U.S. on Tuesday (Reuters)
- Ebola Drug Made From Tobacco Plant Saves U.S. Aid Workers (BBG)
- Egypt plans to dig new Suez Canal costing $4 billion (Reuters)
- Apple Buybacks Pay Most Ever as CEOs Spend $211 Billion (BBG)
- DeMark Says Sell China Stocks Now After World’s Best Gain (BBG)
- Investors Stung by Losses After Exiting Struggling Property Fund in China (WSJ)
- B.A. in BTFD: MIT May Consider Granting Degrees in Less Than Four Years (BBG)
- Too late, money's already been spent: GPIF Needs Overhaul Before Asset Changes, Shiozaki Says (BBG)
- Oh look, another "truce": Israel withdraws troops, 72-hour Gaza truce begins (Reuters)
A stunning $5.3 trillion in goods cross South China Sea every year, and as we previously explained, 190 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves sit below the ocean floor - enough to replace China's natural gas imports for over a century - so it is hardly surprising that the world's largest importer of oil wants control of such a critical region. As Bloomberg illustrates in these 10 incredible graphics, everyone has a claim on the same territory and tensions are rising. “The Chinese believe they have the right to be a great power,” said Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “What we are seeing is a hardening of China’s stance about its place in the world.”
The conflict in Ukraine and the related imposition of sanctions against Russia signal an escalation of geopolitical tensions that is already being felt in the Russian (and increasingly world) financial markets. As The IMF describes in this chartapalooza, a deterioration in the conflict, with or even without a further escalation of sanctions and counter-sanctions, could have a substantial adverse impact on the Russian economy through direct and indirect (confidence) channels. But, perhaps more importantly to the West-sponsored IMF, what would be the repercussions for the rest of Europe if there were to be disruptions in trade or financial flows with Russia, or if economic growth in Russia were to take a sharp downturn?
For reasons that have no rational explanations at this time, the US and Europe have embarked on a concerted program to demonize Putin, ostracize Russia, and bring the world as close to a major conflict as it's been since the Cold War, a time hardly memorable to many in the current crop of our elected officials. A dangerous dynamic is brewing between the West and Russia/Putin. We are seeing a rush to war very similar to the one that led up to Saddam's ouster, but this time, we have much less justification (hard to believe) and the opponent is tremendously more capable. There is little sense in the course the West is currently pursuing, little to gain, and much to lose. The main conclusion here is that not only is the US poking the bear, but it is doing so with increasing frequency and upping the ante dangerously with each step.
Huxley’s Brave New World dystopian America had a good run from 1950 until 2000. Our keepers kept us fat, dumb, distracted, and in debt up to our eyeballs. Since 2000 Orwell’s 1984 dystopian Surveillance States of America seems to be taking shape, under the watchful eye of our very own Big Brother, the NSA. Fear, punishment, slogans (See Something Say Something) and appeals to non-thinking patriotism have replaced freedom, liberty, individual rights, the Constitution, personal responsibility for our own lives and questioning authority. Are you a believer? “One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World; Or a truth seeker? “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” – Aldous Huxley
- Fed Decision-Day Guide: QE Tapering to Inflation Debate (BBG)
- Obama says strains over Ukraine not leading to new Cold War with Russia (Reuters)
- Siemens to BP Prepare for Downward Russia Business Spiral (BBG)
- Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror (NYT)
- Argentina Banks Preparing Bid to Help Argentina Avoid Default (WSJ)
- Obama Weighs Fewer Deportations of Illegal Immigrants Living in U.S. (WSJ)
- India Warships Off Japan Show Rising Lure as China Counterweight (BBG)
- Hong Kong Popping Housing Bubbles London Can’t Handle (BBG)
- Carnage at U.N. school as Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp (Reuters)
Despots, dictators, and power hungry presidents arise in an atmosphere of fear, scarce resources, hopelessness, and misery. As the power of the central government grows; the freedoms, liberties and rights of the people are diminished and ultimately relinquished.
UPDATE: Caught on tape... A second fuel tank in the Libyan capital Tripoli has caught fire, which Libya's National Oil Company has described as "out of control".
A dark cloud hangs over Tripoli today... but this time it's physical not metaphorical. As NBC reports, a rocket hit a fuel storage tank containing 1.5 million gallons of gasoline, triggering a major blaze as rival brigades of former rebels fought for control of Tripoli's main airport. A huge cloud of black smoke billowed across the capital's skyline as the blaze burned "out of control," and firefighters had withdrawn from the area.