Brussels, we have a problem. As we warned 6 weeks ago, Espirito Santo International SA - is in a "serious financial condition" according to a central bank driven external audit by KPMG identified "irregularities in its accounts." Sure enough, the 'ponzi-like' maneuvers have left the bank unable to pay its bonds as Bloomberg reports bonds plunged to record lows after a parent company delayed payments on short-term notes. More importantly, given the divisively dependent nature of the domestic sovereign bond market (and hence the health of the EU) and its banking system, it is noteworthy that Portuguese bond risk has surged to 4 month highs with the biggest 2-day spike in a year. As one analyst noted, “The bigger question is whether the government will have to get involved,” leaving the EU taxpayer on the hook once again (for fear of M.A.D. threats) as most critically, it "will have to step in to prevent systemic repercussions?"
While the situation between Israel and Gaza continues to escalate, pulling the markets' attention away from the recent developments in Iraq (as for the Ukraine civil war, forget it), the big news overnight came out of Chine which reported another contraction in consumer prices, which both declined to 2.3% and missed expectations of a 2.4% print (down from 2.5%). Producer Prices had another negative print, the 28th in a row, and have remained negative since 2012. This led to the Hang Seng Index falling at the fastest rate since late June to erase all YTD gains. However, as has now become the norm, macro news hardly impacted US equity futures, which are driven exclusively by the Yen carry trade, which unlike yesterday's pounding, has traded rangebound between 101.6-101.7 keeping US equity futures just barely in the green. We expect the momentum ignition algo to kick in at some point, for absolute no fundamental reason beside the NY Fed trading desk issuing a green light, sending the USDJPY surging, taking the Spoos with them, and helping stocks forget all about the weak Asian session.
- Bond Anxiety in $1.6 Trillion Repo Market as Failures Soar (BBG), as reported first by Zero Hedge
- As Food Prices Rise, Fed Keeps a Watchful Eye (WSJ)
- Yellen’s Economy Echoes Arthur Burns More Than Greenspan (BBG)
- Draghi’s $1.4 Trillion Shot: Silver Bullet or Misfire? (BBG)
- Israel's Netanyahu phones father of murdered Palestinian teen (Reuters)
- Ukraine says forces will press forward after taking rebel stronghold (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Brings Forward Rate Forecast as Treasuries Drop (BBG)... you mean rise?
- Super typhoon takes aim at Japan (Reuters)
- Kidnapped Nigerian girls 'escape from Boko Haram abductors' (Independent)
- Merkel says U.S. spying allegations are serious (Reuters)
Meet XKeyscore - "a computer network exploitation system", as described in an NSA presentation, devoted to gathering "nearly everything a user does on the internet." The German site Das Erste has exposed the shocking truth about the rules used by the NSA to decide who is a "target" for surveillance. While the NSA claims to only "target" a small fraction of internet users, the perhaps unsurprising truth is very different. As Boing Boing concludes, one expert suggested that the NSA's intention here was to separate the sheep from the goats -- to split the entire population of the Internet into "people who have the technical know-how to be private" and "people who don't" and then capture all the communications from the first group.
- France's Sarkozy faces corruption probe in blow to comeback hopes (Reuters)
- Ukraine Says Military Offensive Against Rebels Yielding Results (WSJ)
- JPMorgan Investors Show Support for Dimon in Cancer Fight (BBG)
- World’s ATM Moves to Frankfurt as Yellen’s Fed Slows Cash (BBG)
- Argentina Seen Backtracking on Fernandez Vows as Legacy at Risk (BBG)
- Palestinian teen killed in possible revenge attack (Reuters)
- The Bill and Hillary Clinton Money Machine Taps Corporate Cash (WSJ)
- London House Prices Surge the Most Since 1987, Nationwide Says (BBG)
- Last Jew in Afghanistan faces ruin as kebabs fail to sell (Reuters)
- Ceasefire over, Ukraine forces attack rebel positions (Reuters)
- No Good Iraq Options for Obama as Russia, Iran Jump In (BBG)
- Japan’s Cabinet Agrees to Allow Military to Help Defend Allies (BBG)
- Obama says to reform immigration on his own, bypassing Congress (Reuters)
- South Stream Pipeline Project in Bulgaria Is Delayed (NYT)
- Foreign Banks Still in the Dark About Missing Metals in China (WSJ)
- Quelle indignity: several bankers at French bank BNP Paribas will face demotions and cuts to their pay and bonuses (FT)
- Symantec Warns of Hacker Threat Against Energy Companies (BBG)
- Shrinking Office Spaces Slow Recovery (WSJ)
- Rand Paul Slams ‘Fat Cats’ With Hedge Fund in Top Donors (BBG)
Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, The NY Times reports that the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. However, as James Risen (who himself faces jail time thanks to the White House) reports, a senior official of the notorious private security firm allegedly threatened to kill a government investigator leading the probe into the firm’s Iraqi operation. Stunningly (or not), the US embassy sided with him and forced the inspector to cut the visit short. “Blackwater contractors saw themselves as above the law,” Richter added; now we wonder what gave them that idea?
- Facebook Researchers Manipulated News Feeds in 2012 Study (BBG)
- Argentina at Brink of Default as $539 Million Payment Due (BBG)
- Hedge fund correlation risk alarms investors (FT)
- As China Flexes Muscle, Obama Frets Over Rival’s Weakness (BBG)
- As caliphate declared, Iraqi troops battle for Tikrit (Reuters)
- Dubai Caps Worst Month Since 2008 as Real Estate Stocks Tumble (BBG)
- Russian Advisers Ready Iraq to Use New Combat Aircraft (BBG)
- Blackstone Readies Big-Bet Hedge Fund (WSJ) - so what was GSO?
- Pope says communists are closet Christians (Reuters)
- Thomson Reuters revising FX trading standards (Reuters)
Banks and other lenders issued 3.7 million credit cards to so-called subprime borrowers during the first quarter, a 39% jump. "Even though [those borrowers] could be considered subprime, they're still creditworthy," is the deja-vu all over again message from the Financial Services Roundtable, who proudly crow, they are "starting to see an environment where issuers are feeling more comfortable to extend credit." How great is that? What could go wrong? One credit union exec notes, "lenders in general have really saturated the higher-credit-quality market, so it is only natural that as they look for growth opportunities, they expand downward," and sure enough, as one new borrower exclaimed, "my credit score is probably terrible," adding "I was surprised they'd give so much." Exceptional America is back...
While news of high-ranking financial executive suicides in the west have become week to week news, the troubling trend has spread to Asia. A string of Chinese officials have killed themselves in recent months, with speculation linking many to a crackdown on graft. However, as SCMP reports, this weekend saw the head of China's largest copper producer 'fell to this death' from a hotel owned by his company with a state-run newspaper claiming the 52-year-old committed suicide (due to work pressures) following corruption allegations. The timing of Wei Jianghong, chairman of state-owned Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group, suicide appears catalyzed by the growing anxiety over the widespread implications of China's rehypothecation commodity-finance scandal. That leaves one question - what did he know that markets remain ignorant of for now?
With the cease-fire on shaky ground in Ukraine, and the ongoing proxy war between the US and Russia growing in intensity (once again ignited in Syria); it seems Putin has fired a significant warning shot across the bow of the west. Reuters reports that Russia is considering banning state companies and other strategically important firms from holding accounts at foreign-owned banks. As Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes if this actually happens, it would be a very big deal with significant negative implications to the global economy, and certainly an escalation in the friction between these two geopolitically crucial nations.
- Obama Administration Widens Export Potential for U.S. Oil (BBG)
- WTI Pares Gains as U.S. Export Ruling Seen Limited (BBG)
- Senator Cochran defeats Tea Party rival in Mississippi Republican runoff (Reuters)
- Militants attack Iraq air base, U.S. assessment teams deploy (Reuters)
- Maliki rules out national emergency govt (AFP)
- Koch to Start EU Power Trading as It Plans LNG Expansion (BBG)
- Obama Said to Ready Sanctions on Russian Industries (BBG)
- Ghana Sends Plane With $3 Million to Calm World Cup Team (BBG)
- Ghana’s First Hedge Fund Planned by Ex-Exchange Regulator (BBG)
- SEC Is Gearing Up to Focus on Ratings Firms (WSJ)
- Abe Declares Deflation End as Growth Plan Confronts Skeptics (BBG)
"I was curious if I could care about (money) on some fundamental level, and I couldn’t,” she told Fast Company in an interview that ran in the magazine's May edition, explaining why she gave up lucrative gigs to join her family’s philanthropic foundation. “It is frustrating, because who wants to grow up and follow their parents? I’ve tried really hard to care about things that were very different from my parents … it’s a funny thing to realize I feel called to this work, both as a daughter and also as someone who believes I have contributions to make,” she continued about her reluctant status as a boomerang kid.
The annual human trafficking report has just been published by the US State Department in the Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report.
At the heart of the last financial crisis, some compared CDS to buying home insurance on a neighbor's home and burning it down; it appears the USA has come a long way in the last few years. As NDTV reports, employees at The Orange County Register received a rather unusual request from their employer - Freedom Communications - writing to request workers' consent to take out life insurance policies on them.... But the beneficiary of each policy would not be the survivors or estate of the insured employee, but the Freedom Communications pension plan. Because such life insurance policies receive generous tax breaks, they are ideal investment vehicles for companies looking to set aside money to pay for pension plans. But in many cases, companies and banks can use the tax-free gains for whatever they choose, "Companies don't promise regulators they will use it for any specific purpose." Of course, it is the banks that are the biggest utilizers of this. Forget buybacks, just unleash some anthrax to really juice EPS this quarter?