The Ukrainian parliament approved a law on Thursday to impose sanctions on Russian companies and individuals "for financing terrorism." As Reuters reports, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told parliament that "by approving the law on sanctions, we showed that the country is able to protect itself." The first 'threat' though - that European energy companies would have to agree major contract revisions when purchasing Russian natural gas, potentially disrupting supplies in the coming winter months - seems suicidal... and EU leaders are not happy. Slovak Premier Robert Fico asked rhetorically, "Isn't it strange that a country, which has signed an association agreement, a country, which we are all trying to help, is taking steps that jeopardize the interests of individual EU members?"
In July, the rest of the world once again succeeded in exporting its deflation to the US, confirmed by a -0.2% drop in the Import Price Index, its first decline since April following a 0.1% increase in June, if just a fraction better than than the -0.3% consensus.This was also a 0.8% increase Y/Y, suggesting June may have been a Y/Y top following 5 consecutive months of annual increases. The key drivers for the decline: Fuel imports as well as car prices. To wit: the price index for import automotive vehicles declined 0.8 percent in July, the first monthly decrease for the index since a 0.1-percent decline in February and the largest 1-month drop since the index fell 1.1 percent in December 1992. Why? Because foreign car sellers have no choice but to slash prices to compete with the US subprime flood making domestic car prices effectively "free."
U.S. energy independence, we're told, is at our fingertips thanks to the so-called “shale revolution”. Offsetting declines in conventional oil and gas production, shale gas and tight oil (shale oil) are being heralded as the means by which the U.S. will become energy independent – a net exporter of natural gas and once again the world’s largest oil producing nation. But two new reports by Post Carbon Institute and Energy Policy Forum show that the hype simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
- Obama says Missouri shooting death tragic, reflection needed (Reuters)
- U.S. Weighs Iraq Rescue Mission to Save Yazidis (WSJ)
- Maliki says Abadi's appointment as Iraqi PM 'has no value' (Reuters)
- Iran Joins U.S. in Backing Replacement for Iraq’s Maliki (BBG)
- Kurds Push Attack in North Iraq as Maliki Clings to Power (BBG)
- Obama Donors Embrace Corporate Inversions He Criticizes (BBG)
- Syrian Forces Advance on Aleppo, Rebels Fear Another Siege (WSJ)
- Israel, Palestinians pursue Gaza deal with ceasefire clock ticking (Reuters)
- Ebola Drug’s Success Bolsters Approach for Other Diseases (BBG)
- With Natural Gas Byproduct, Iran Sidesteps Sanctions (NYT)
- Kazakhs to Hoard Food as Putin Sanctions Rattle Alliance (BBG)
The western world has placed many sanctions on Russia and its economy. However, Russia holds major leverage over Europe; it has oil and Europe needs it (and may just do a 'deal').
It's All About Erbil
- Gunshots, tear gas in riots over shooting of black Missouri teen (Reuters)
- Russia sends big aid convoy to Ukraine, West sounds warnings (Reuters)
- Maliki Bid to Block Successor Escalates Crisis in Iraq (BBG)
- Poor German data pushes euro toward 9-month lows against dollar (Reuters)
- Derivatives Reincarnate Boosting Debt Wagers in New Era (BBG)
- Israel Says No Gaza Talks Progress as Hamas Warns on Truce (BBG)
- Traders brace for research crackdown as easy money dries up (Reuters)
- U.S. Bank Profits Near Record Levels (WSJ)
- Unproven Ebola Drugs Are Ethical to Use in Outbreak: WHO (BBG)
- Caesars’ CEO Loveman Says No Qualified Bidders for Revel (BBG)
"The US government's decision to apply more sanctions on Russia is a grave mistake and will only escalate an already tense situation, ultimately harming the US economy itself. While the effect of sanctions on the dollar may not be appreciated in the short term, in the long run these sanctions are just another step toward the dollar's eventual demise as the world's reserve currency."
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)