German banks are not heavily exposed to the Ukraine. Germany’s main vulnerability is natural gas.
A dispassionate discussion of the major forces impacting the investment climate in the week ahead.
As the clock ticks down to tomorrow's Crimea referendum, where residents will vote to align with Russia or to stay in Ukraine, Russia Today looks at what the sunny Black Sea peninsula can offer economically and what ties it has with Moscow and Kiev. At first glance, Crimea has certain problems - a lack of energy, and more dangerously, freshwater resources. The republic's annual GDP is only $4.3 billion - 500 times smaller than the size of Russia’s $2 trillion economy. However, whatever the results of the referendum are, fixing the dilapidated state of infrastructure and transport could offer a real investment opportunity for both Russian companies and Crimean entrepreneurs.
“The risk of catastrophe will be very high. The nation could erupt into insurrection or civil violence, crack up geographically, or succumb to authoritarian rule. If there is a war, it is likely to be one of maximum risk and effort – in other words, a total war. Every Fourth Turning has registered an upward ratchet in the technology of destruction, and in mankind’s willingness to use it.”
The core elements of this Fourth Turning continue to propel this Crisis: debt, civic decay, global disorder. Central bankers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have been able to fashion the illusion of recovery and return to normalcy, but their “solutions” are nothing more than smoke and mirrors exacerbating the next bloodier violent stage of this Fourth Turning. The emergencies will become increasingly dire, triggering unforeseen reactions and unintended consequences. The civic fabric of our society will be torn asunder.
Producer Prices in the US (less the all important food and energy - which no on uses) fell 0.2% month-over-month - the biggest drop since July 2013 - and missing expectations of a 0.1% rise. This is only the third month of 'disinflation in the last 18 months. Perhaps even more relevant is the dramatic slowdown in prices for final demand services which dropped 0.3% (the biggest drop since May 2013) and equal slowest rise year-over-year since the 'recovery' began.
It has been a relatively quiet overnight session, aside from the already noted news surrounding China's halt on virtual credit card payments sending Chinese online commerce stocks sliding, where despite an ongoing decline in the USDJPY which has sent the Nikkei plunging by 3.3% (and which is starting to impact Abe whose approval rating dropped in March by a whopping 5.6 points to 48.1% according to a Jiji poll), US equity futures have managed to stay surprisingly strong following yesterday's market tumble. We can only assume this has to do with short covering of positions, because we fail to see how anyone can be so foolhardy to enter risk on ahead of a weekend where the worst case scenario can be an overture to World War III following a Crimean referendum which is assured to result in the formal annexation of the peninsula by Russia.
The Real Reason Why Ukraine is Key
Putin has warned that U.S. action over Ukraine would have a boomerang effect. With the situation anything but de-escalating (and the weekend's Crimea referendum set as a potential catalyst), it seems timely to consider what actions Russia could take against the United States if tensions were to spiral out of control. Clearly Vladimir Putin has a number of options to create significant havoc in multiple areas of American national interest—especially in Asia.
With the Sunday Crimean referendum seemingly unstoppable now, its outcome certain, it is set to unleash a chain of events that is not entirely predictable but is at best, ominous, as it will involve the launch of trade, economic and financial sanctions against Russia (despite China's stern disapproval), which will lead to a "symmetric" response in kind by Moscow. And in a worst case escalation scenario, should game theory completely collapse and everyone starts defecting from a cooperative equilibrium state, the first thing to go will be European gas exports from Russia, anywhere from one day to indefinitely. So which European countries are most exposed to the whims of Gazprom? The following map from the WSJ, shows just how reliant on Russian gas exports most European countries are.
- China premier warns on economic slowdown as data fans stimulus talk (Reuters)
- Li says China defaults ‘unavoidable’ (FT)
- Russia Said to Ready for Iran-Style Sanctions in Worst Case (BBG)
- Rescue the tapes from the Bank of England’s dustbins (FT)
- Obama Warns Putin of Cost to Russia for Annexing Ukraine (BBG)
- The TVIX is back: Credit Suisse VIX Note That Ran Amok in 2012 Back on Top (BBG)
- U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack (WSJ)
- U.S. Investigators Suspect Missing Airplane Flew On for Hours (WSJ)
- Malaysia says no evidence missing plane flew hours after losing contact (Reuters)
- Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It (BBG)
- Death Toll in NYC Building Blast Rises to Six; Search Continues (BBG)
Globalization is certainly at the heart of what it means to become a trading partner with another country. I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. But, what happens when the itching continues or the scratcher starts scratching himself in an unlikely place rather than where he’s supposed to?
Russia's military action in Crimea was out of weakness. He was afraid having a potentially hostile power on his border and losing his naval base in Crimea. He is at risk of repeating mistakes of the Soviet Union in not taking market forces seriously enough.
Rather than attempt to reduce a very complex system to a cartoonish "explanation" of events, we would be better served by seeking out the geopolitical linchpins that have proven key in every era and theater of operations. These include Energy, Transport routes, Military control of transport and geographical chokepoints, and The support or resistance of resident populaces
How much faith can we put in our ability to decipher all the numbers out there telling us the US is closing in on its cornering of the global oil market? There’s another side to the story of the relentless US shale boom, one that says that some of the numbers are misunderstood, while others are simply preposterous. The truth of the matter is that the industry has to make such a big deal out of shale because it’s all that’s left. There are some good things happening behind the fairy tale numbers, though—it’s just a matter of deciphering them from a sober perspective.
If you travel around America you will see towns and landscapes every bit as desolate as a former Soviet republic. In fact, our towns look infinitely worse than the street-views of Ukraine’s population centers. Ours were built of glue and vinyl, with most of the work completed thirty years ago so that it’s all delaminating under a yellow-gray patina of auto emissions. Inside these miserable structures, American citizens with no prospects and no hope huddle around electric space heaters. They have no idea how they’re going to pay the bill for that come April. They already spent the money on tattoos and heroin.