While overnight US equity futures have done nothing notable, what everyone's attention has been fixed on, in addition to the GBP and the read-through to all things UK-ish ahead of the Scotland independence referendum, is the sudden flare up in USDJPY trading and volatility, which exploded by some 100 pips in the past 24 hours hitting fresh post-2008 highs, on what appears to be a major capital reallocation move (it surely is not driven by any news) and/or forced squeeze. What is more perplexing is the change in correlations signals, because while until recently the USDJPY was synonymous with the E-Mini, and thus the S&P, as of late the USDJPY pair has moved tick for tick with the 10Year yield: almost as if the NY Fed's favorite HFT trading shop was instructed to change its vast array of signal inputs away from the S&P and to force a gentle levitation in the 10Y.
The memory hole is working overtime in the USA zeitgeist these days. Shit happens and a week or so later, it unhappens. So it goes, as the late, great Vonnegut always said. All of these stories have something in common: tons of unanswered questions, which the news media shows no interest whatsoever in following up on. And no consequences. People die, nations rise and fall, money disappears, and everybody forgets. The memory hole is the truest signifier of the times we live in: the Age of Anything Goes and Nothing Matters... but that may be changing.
As is well-known, tomorrow, September 4, a NATO summit begins in Wales to discuss and coordinate the western response to ongoing "Russian intervention" in Ukraine (not to be confused by US intervention in Ukraine meant to remove an standing, democratically-elected president), a summit for which Barack Obama has demonstrated impressive enthusiasm following his blitz tour of Europe, a continent reeling on the edge of a recessionary abyss courtesy of the "costs" Obama has imposed on Germany Russia in the aftermath of the Victoria Nuland-instituted local Kiev government. Perhaps it has something to do with this...
Overview of the ECB meeting and likely outcomes. More robust analysis than ideological fervor.
HIGHLIGHTS > Gold reserves destination unknown after moved from Ottawa vault as part of Bank of Canada HQ renovation > Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden say they hold gold in Ottawa > Upcoming Swiss vote on gold repatriation could lead to gold repatriation from Bank of Canada > Bank of Canada only acts as gold custodian to four foreign central banks > Bank of Canada no longer a major gold custodian; Canada has virtually no gold reserves
It is clearly not in the interests of the long-standing members of the EU to escalate a 'sanctions and financial conflict' with Russia. This is why politicians are walking on eggshells, paying lip-service to America and the scared Eastern fringe members of NATO while hoping this goes no further. So long as this is the case it is clear that NATO members are powerless to stop Russia from wresting control of all or parts of Ukraine from the government in Kiev. Putin knows this; unfortunately it is not clear to us that the American government does. All in all it seems likely that after a period of slow-burn as Putin dictates the pace of developments, the political situation in Ukraine will deteriorate with some unhelpful nudges from Russia.
Just days after Russia banned the import of various foods from sanctions-supporting nations, VZ reports Russia's food safety ministry Rosselhoznadzor has discovered fruit being smuggled in via Belarus that was restamped as being from Zimbabwe and various other non-sanctioned nations. It appears the smuggling nation culprits are Poland, Slovenia, and Greece and Russia is now "actively monitoring the situation," suggesting they may extend import bans to Belarus also if the situation continues. In addition, Rosselhoznadzor intends in the future to move to a system of electronic certification of goods in transit.
- Ukraine accuses Russia of invasion after aid convoy crosses border (Reuters)
- Hunt for Foley’s Killer Spans Old Policing and Tech Tools (BBG)
- U.S. Probe Examines GM Lawyers (WSJ)
- Argentina accuses U.S. Judge Griesa of "imperialist" attitude (Reuters)
- Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm (Reuters)
- Geneva Banks Break 200-Year Silence to Unveil Earnings (BBG)
- Richest Jailed Putin Foe Says Ukraine Fears Sparked Prosecution (BBG)
- Disclosure of Failed Attempt to Rescue James Foley Is Criticized (WSJ)
- Execution of U.S. journalist reveals the changing business of war coverage (Reuters)
While it remains to be seen if Obama can put an end to what has been the hottest M&A trend in 2014, namely engaging in tax redomiciling "inversion" deals, it is clear that the C-suite is delighted to continue pursuing deals which minimize the cash outflows to the US Treasury, with some 52 redomiciling deals done since 1983, 22 taking place since 2009 and another 10 being finalized and many more in the works. But what is the track record of tax inversions when it comes to the bottom line, namely investor returns. According to a Reuters calculation, "companies that have done such "inversion" deals have failed to produce above-average returns for investors."
Global crises wreak havoc on all levels of existence, not to the mention the great cost to human lives. If we are to learn from history, however, it seems as though we might have to nevertheless brace ourselves for yet another one in the near future, as it marks the end of one saeculum and the start of a new economic paradigm aligned more positively with proper balances of trade, debt, and policies. The US is trying to postpone the crisis by printing money, however this is creating currency wars with nearly all major central banks in the world. As history has shown us time and again, causing this delay through money printing will only aggravate the problem, not only not preventing the inevitable, but indeed making the transition more painful and costly.
“Commercial shale gas production in Europe can begin not earlier than in 2016-2018 even with positive geological surveys. But production volumes will not bring about major changes in the European gas market due to a decline in conventional gas production,” Gazprom. Which, sadly for Europe, means that Putin will be dictating his terms on the energy-strapped continent for a long, long time.
If a trader knew nothing about the growth, the debt, the inflation, the exporters vs. importers, the serial defaulters, currency manipulators, hot-money or conversely deflation fighters; simply grouping the nations of the world on whether they were 'friend' or 'foe' to the US would provide an odd highly correlated value perspective on the interest rates paid on 1yr and 10yr sovereign debt... It appears your status with the central bank cabal was more important than your ability to repay the loaned money?
While the conflict in Ukraine rages on, EU member states havedecided to impose (not so much more stringent)economic sanctions against Russia, which was predictably followed by Russian counter-measures. The question which isn't being asked often enough, is whether these sanctions will actually improve the situation. Here's an analysis following four concrete questions:
1. Can things get even worse in Russia?
2. Is the West able to guide Russia and Ukraine down the right path?
3. Can the West contribute to a sharpening of the crisis?
4. How can the West protect itself against this conflict?
- Maliki digs in as U.S. pushes for new Iraq government (Reuters)
- Ukraine's forces say close to taking rebel-held Donetsk (Reuters)
- Anger Over Michael Brown Shooting Leads to Looting (WSJ)
- German Economy Backbone Bending From Lost Russia Sales (BBG)
- Kinder Morgan to Consolidate Empire (WSJ)
- Early Failure to Detect Gaza Tunnel Network Triggers Recriminations in Israel (WSJ)
- You’ll never guess how much BuzzFeed raised from Horowitz (FT)
- The dumb money is now chasing Chinese oligarchs: Norway’s Wealth Fund Buys $576 Million of Mayfair Area (BBG)
- Clinical trial to start soon on GSK Ebola vaccine (Reuters)
- No drone skeet shooting any time soon (WSJ)
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?