Frontrunning: May 18

  • Stocks sag as U.S. rate rise expectations revive (Reuters)
  • Clinton, Sanders hit final stretch of nominating contest (Reuters)
  • Bernie Sanders Wins in Oregon, But He Needed Kentucky, Too (NBC)
  • Clinton less than 100 delegates from nomination (The Hill)
  • Trump needs 66 delegates to officially clinch nomination (The Hill)
  • Japan GDP Rebound Not Enough to Stave Off Stimulus (WSJ)

Central Banks And The Rise Of Extremism

Perhaps the world will have to wait it out to finally be graced with leaders who are willing to stand by their convictions and make hard, maybe even unpopular, choices. Such leaders might have to risk sacrificing everything political to be crowned the next true champions of conviction, giving us all a shot at a once again storied fate. Where does that leave us? Apparently angry. Very, very angry.

The Nuclear Arms Race Is Back: Russia Furious As US Launches European Ballistic Missile Shield

The United States' European missile defense shield goes live on Thursday almost a decade after Washington proposed protecting NATO from Iranian rockets and despite Russian warnings that the West is threatening the peace in central Europe. As a result, Reuters notes that "Russia is incensed at such of show of force by its Cold War rival in formerly communist-ruled eastern Europe where it once held sway. Moscow says the U.S.-led alliance is trying to encircle it close to the strategically important Black Sea, home to a Russian naval fleet and where NATO is also considering increasing patrols."

Japan Banks May Soon Pay Borrowers To Take Out Loans

Japanese banks may soon pay borrowers to accept loans if they can raise funds at even cheaper rates. Negative interest-rate lending is increasingly becoming a reality since the Bank of Japan started levying charges on idle cash. Lenders can now borrow for three months in the Tokyo interbank market at a record-low 6 basis-point annualized rate, versus 17 basis points since the BOJ move in January. They may eventually be able to be paid to borrow and then profit by paying less to lend, according to Credit Suisse Group AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. This is also known as shoving money down people's throats... and then paying them for it.

Global Stocks Jump; Oil Rises As Yen Plunges After Another Japanese FX Intervention Threat

In what has been an approximate repeat of the Monday overnight session, global stocks and US futures rose around the world as oil prices climbed toward $44 a barrel, with risk-sentiment pushed higher by another plunge in the Yen which has now soared 300 pips since the Friday post-payroll kneejerk reaction, and was trading above 109.20 this morning. At the same time base metals regained some of Monday’s steep losses following Chinese CPI data that came in line while PPI declined for 50 consecutive months however showed a modest rebound from the prior month on the back of China's recent, and now burst, speculative commodity bubble.

The $2 Trillion Gamble That Saudi Arabia Cannot Win

The Vision for 2030 is mostly smoke and mirrors. Saudi Arabia probably cannot replace the money it will lose if oil goes out of style and so is doomed to downward mobility and very possibly significant instability. It has been a great party since the 1940s; it is going to be a hell of a hangover.

Latest Shock From Europe's Refugee Crisis: Austria Right-Wing Party Sweeps First Round Of Presidential Election

The fallout of popular anger emanating from Europe's refugee crisis continued today with a dramatic result from the first round of Austria's presidential election, where initial results showed that the candidate of the Freedom Party, Austria's right-wing, anti-immigrant party has swept his competition, gathering over 35% of the vote and leaving the other five candidates far behind.

Turkey's Erdogan Goes Full-Dictator: Arrests Dutch Journalist For Critical Tweet

Erdogan may have finally gone too far following the arrest of a Dutch-Turkish journalist, Ebru Umar, who was detained early on Sunday at her home in Turkey for tweets deemed critical of the Turkish president according to her Twitter account. Or maybe not: after all Europe needs Turkey now more than ever to halt the mass flow of Syrian refugees within its borders or else virtually all ruling parties in Europe are threatened with being replaced in any upcoming elections. And Erdogan knows this.

The SPV Loophole: Draghi Just Unleashed "QE For The Entire World"... And May Have Bailed Out US Shale

"The ECB stands ready to buy bonds from Euro Area issuers even when their parent companies are outside of the bloc. Already we can find a number of US, UK and Swiss headquartered names that issue out of SPVs incorporated in the Euro Area. If this trend to SPV issuance catches on, then the ECB’s policies will likely be very reflationary for all credit markets across the globe, and because of a likely refinancing wave – equity markets too."

Europe: Suicide by Jihad

Europe looks like a dying civilization. European political leaders know that every decision they make may provoke reactions among the Muslims living in Europe. Muslim votes matter. Riots occur easily. In France, Belgium, other European countries, Islamists are present in the army and police forces. In the meantime, Islamist organizations recruit and Islamic lobbies gain ground. European governments are now hostages. The European media are also hostages. Political movements expressing anger and concerns are rising. All are demonized by political power holders and the media. They have almost no chance of gaining more influence. Populations are gnawed by fear, frustration and impotence.

Bundesbank Defies Elites: Warns That "Plans To Abolish, Criminalize Cash Out Of Line With Freedom"

With everyone from ivory tower academics to sin-street hookers proclaiming the need for and benefits of a "war on cash" to save the world from criminals and tax-evaders (oh yeah and to stop NIRP-driven savers from hording cash and crushing central planners' dreams), it is perhaps shocking that Bundesbank board member Carl-Ludwig Thiele warned at an event this week that the attempt to abolish and criminalize cash is out of line with freedom. He said that citizens should continue to decide how and in what form they want to use their money.

Denmark, Belgium, Now The Netherlands: Negative Mortgage Rates Spread Across Europe

"Unless a miracle happens and the European and Japanese economic cadavers suddenly sit up and rub their eyes, central banks will eventually have to give up and admit defeat. The hope will be that not too much damage has been inflicted.... But that is central banking for you, in the era of leverage: take from the savers and give to the borrowers in the hope that they will "do something".Not so far, they’re not … they’re just punting it on real estate."