- U.S. Small-Cap Rally Sends Valuation 26% Above 1990s (BBG)
- Russian troops seize Ukraine marine base in Crimea (Reuters)
- Apple in Talks With Comcast About Streaming-TV Service (WSJ)
- Top J.P. Morgan Executive in China to Leave Bank (WSJ)
- Treasury's Lew to undergo treatment for enlarged prostate (Reuters)
- Billionaire Sought by U.S. Holds Key to Putin Gas Cash (BBG)
- Israel closes embassies around the world as diplomats strike (Reuters)
- Herbalife to Nominate Three More Icahn Candidates to Board (BBG)
- Australian ship homes in on possible debris from Malaysia plane (Reuters)
- California DMV Investigating Potential Credit Card Breach (WSJ)
While Europe is furiously scrambling to find alternative sources of energy should Gazprom pull the plug on natgas exports to Germany and Europe (the imminent surge in Ukraine gas prices by 40% is probably the best indication of what the outcome would be), Russia is preparing the announcement of the "Holy Grail" energy deal with none other than China, a move which would send geopolitical shockwaves around the world and bind the two nations in a commodity-backed axis. One which, as some especially on these pages, have suggested would lay the groundwork for a new joint, commodity-backed reserve currency that bypasses the dollar, something which Russia implied moments ago when its finance minister Siluanov said that Russia may refrain from foreign borrowing this year. Translated: bypass western purchases of Russian debt, funded by Chinese purchases of US Treasurys, and go straight to the source.
When we reported early yesterday that Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan threateningly warned that since Twitter had ignored court orders to remove content related to a government corruption scandal., that he would "destroy Twitter" and that "we'll dig up Twitter - all of them - from the roots," he raged, "they'll see the power of the Republic of Turkey" it may not have been quite clear what he meant. A few hours later it was revealed, when virtually all Twitter access was blocked in Turkey ten days ahead of the general election in a move that has already enraged the nation and resulted in a powerful public outcry.
Amid the growing Crimea crisis, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - which like Ukraine were all parts of the old Soviet Union and have very significant concentrations of ethnic Russian-speaking citizens - have expressed growing apprehension over Moscow's intentions. As Reuters reports, Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia's treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian. "Language should not be used to segregate and isolate groups," the envoy noted, referencing the same 'linguistic tensions' that supported its annexation of Crimea.
Well over a week after the disappearance of flight MH370 - which now is the longest official disappearance of a modern jet in aviation history - with no official trace of the missing plane yet revealed, the investigation, which as we reported over the weekend has focused on the pilots and specifically on Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, earlier today revealed that on his home-made flight simulator had been loaded five Indian Ocean practice runways, among which those of Male in the Maldives, that of the US owned base at Sergio Garcia, as well as other runways in India and Sri Lanka - all notable runways as all are possible landing spots based on the flight's potential trajectories. The Malay Mail Online reported, "The simulation programmes are based on runways at the Male International Airport in Maldives, an airport owned by the United States (Diego Garcia), and three other runways in India and Sri Lanka, all have runway lengths of 1,000 metres."
Many had feared (or expected), fallout from Crimea's referendum and subsequent accession to Russia may embolden ethnic minorities in many bordering nations to seek self-determination. It appears that is taking place in Moldova where Vedomosti reports that Mikhail Burla, head of the Transnistria region's legislature, has asked Russia's Duma for draft laws on accession to Russia to be altered to allow the region to join. The timing of this move is surreal as headlines appeared this morning that Europe is looking to speed up its "association" with Moldova. In a 2006 referendum, over 97% of Transnistrians voted to join Russia...
Despite spending over half-a-billion dollars on increasingly mind-blowing promotions for Obamacare, a new survey released today shows that even the website apparently fixed, over one-third of Americans without insurance say they plan to stay that way, even after being told that the new law requires them to get covered or pay a penalty. As CBS notes, some 46% of those surveyed also were unaware of the March 31 deadline for being insured as it seems "low-income, young families may have been overlooked. They're probably not spending a lot of time watching television, they never read a newspaper and if they listen to radio it's probably music in the car." 41% cited insurance as still too expensive with, oddly, 39% of middle-aged men preferring to stay uninsured.
A few days ago, copper prices and the Chinese stock market were roiled by speculation that another - the second in a row - Chinese bond default may be imminent, in the shape of Baoding Tianwei Baobian Electric (TBE) a maker of electrical equipment and solar panels, whose bonds and stock were suspended from trading a week ago after reporting massive losses. A few days later, TBE "promised" not to default when its next interest payment is due in July (although how the insolvent company can see that far into the future is just a little confusing). And yet the market shrugged and contrary to its recent idiotic euphoria to surge on even the tiniest of non-horrible news, barely saw a rise. Today we may know the reason: overnight Bloomberg reports that second Chinese corporate bond default may be imminent after the collapse and arrest of the largest shareholder of closely held Chinese real estate developer Zhejiang Xingrun Real Estate Co, which just happens to be saddled with 3.5 billion yuan ($566.6 million) of debt.
Putin Is No Mad Man to Russians as Power Play Trumps Economy (BBG)
Alibaba picks U.S. for IPO; in talks with six banks for lead roles (Reuters)
Russia hearts selling German energy: Billionaire Fridman’s L1 Buys RWE Unit for $7.1 Billion (Bloomberg)
Malaysia plane search straddles continent as police focus on crew (Reuters)
Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to China set to bolster investment (Al-Awsat)
Bugatti-Driving 26-Year-Old Tied to Penny-Stock Website (BBG)
Vodafone agrees $10 billion deal to buy Spain's Ono (Reuters)
The Hidden Rot in the Jobs Numbers (WSJ)
SocGen Ex-Trader Kerviel Walks to Forget Loss as Judgment Looms (BBG)
U.S. Banks’ $75 Billion Payout at Stake in Fed Tests (BBG)
Earlier today we reported that according to weekly Fed data, a record amount - some $105 billion - in Treasurys had been sold or simply reallocated (which for political reasons is the same thing) from the Fed's custody accounts, bringing the total amount of US paper held at the Fed to a level not seen since December 2012. While China was one of the culprits suggested to have withdrawn the near USD-equivalent paper, a far likelier candidate was Russia, which as is well-known, has had a modest falling out with the West in general, and its financial system in particular. Turns out what Russian official institutions may have done with their Treasurys (and we won't know for sure until June), it was merely the beginning. In fact, as the FT reports, in silent and not so silent preparations for what will be near-certain financial sanctions (which would include account freezes and asset confiscations following this Sunday's Crimean referendum) the Russians, read oligarchs, have already pulled billions from banks in the west thereby essentially making the biggest western gambit - that of going after the wealth of Russia's 0.0001% - moot.
Russia Warns Of East Ukraine Invasion To "Defend Compatriots", EU Threatens Gazprom, Rosneft CEOs With Visa BanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/14/2014 08:24 -0400
While Russia has been massively piling up troops next to Ukraine's eastern border, one thing that was missing to allow the crossing of the border was a provocation, aka the proverbial spark to give Moscow the green light to "defend" Russian citizens in the East. It may have just gotten that last night, when as previously reported, clashes in the eastern city of Donetsk between pro-Ukraine and pro-Russian civilians turned lethal, killing at least one person and dozens injured. Needless to say, this escalation was just the green light Russia needed. As Reuters reports, the Russian Foreign Ministry, responding to the death of at least one protester in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk, repeated President Vladimir Putin's declaration of the right to invade to protect Russian citizens and compatriots - "Russia is aware of its responsibility for the lives of compatriots and fellow citizens in Ukraine and reserves the right to take people under its protection." But perhaps the biggest news so far this morning is that the EU is considering visa bans to 13 Russian politicians and industry leaders, which according to Germany's Bild, include the headest hocnho of all: Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.
- 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)
With all eyes focused on China (which is quiet for now), Japanese bond futures just collapsed over a point on very heavy volume only to be instantly lifted back to a modest loss in what appears to be a flash-crash - rather than a fat-finger (jamming June JGBs down to 2-month low prices). Gold, meanwhile, is continuing its day-session rally and has topped $1370 - it's highest since September 19th. US equities are holding gains for now as JPY is bid (i.e. JPY crosses are tumbling).
Mt. Gox’s lawyers confirmed 750,000 Bitcoins belonging to the firm’s customers had gone “missing”, along with around 100,000 units that the company owned. Alleged that it came under some 150,000 DDoS attacks per second for several days ahead of its spectacular failure.
A curious story, and one which should be taken with a mine of salt, has surfaced out of the pro-Russian newspaper Iskra, which reports - so far on an entirely unsubstantiated basis - that last Friday, in a mysterious operation under the cover of night, Ukraine's gold reserves were promptly loaded onboard an unmarked plane, which subsequently took the gold to the US.