Who can forget the amazing story of Alex Hope which was all the rage two years ago? Probably everyone. So here is a timely reminder because as it turns out young master Hope, who struck the proverbial gold at the tender age of 23, was nothing more than the latest Ponzi schemer whose only success in life was finding the absolute, and quite rich, idiots who believed his lies. Well, that, and being able to transform himself from a catering manager working at Wembley Stadium into an FX trader.... even if a fake, criminal and absolutely terrible FX trader.
- Ukraine's leaders say have U.S. backing to take on 'aggressors' (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Stands Firm as Banks Exit Commodity Trading (BBG)
- Obama reassures Japan, other allies on China as Asia trip begins (Reuters)
- China Challenges Obama’s Asia Pivot With Rapid Military Buildup (BBG)
- Google’s Stake in $2 Billion Apple-Samsung Trial Revealed (BBG)
- No bubble here: Numericable Set to Issue Record Junk Bond (WSJ)
- 'Bridgegate' scandal threatens next World Trade Center tower (Reuters)
- Supreme Court Conflicted on Legality of Aereo Online Video Service (WSJ)
- Barclays May Cut 7,500 at Investment Bank, Bernstein Says (BBG)
Less than two short weeks ago, the US sent their first warship into The Black Sea to "reassure NATO allies and Black Sea partners." Since then, thing shave escalated and then de-escalated last week with the so-called "truce deal." So why is the US sending a second ship? The Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50), homeported in Mayport, Fla., will enter the Black Sea April 22 to "promote peace and stability in the region." We are sure that Putin will stand idly by and watch as NATO and the US build forces on his borders, but no matter how aggressive his response, the US Navy combat dolphin and sea lion team will not accompany the mission.
If one picture can paint a thousand words, the following 33 images, from Danish writer/artist duo Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler, should shed serious light on the everyday struggles, irritations, and insights of their fellow Westerners.
"Is it true that nearly 80% of Nevada is still owned by the Federal Government who then pays no tax to the State of Nevada? This seems very strange if true as a backdrop to this entire Bundy affair." The truth behind Nevada is of course just a quagmire of politics. Sorry, but to all the commentators who call Bundy a tax-cheat and an outlaw, be careful of what you speak for the Supreme Court has made it clear in 1845 that the Constitution forbids the federal rangers to be out there to begin with for the Feds could not retain ownership of the territory and simultaneously grant state sovereignty. At the very minimum, it became state land – not federal.
In the beginning it was banker suicides. Then about two weeks ago, suicides were replaced by outright murders after the execution-style killing of the CEO of a bank in otherwise sleepy (and tax evasive) Lichtenstein by a disgruntled client. Then on Friday news hit of another execution-type murder in just as sleepy, if not so tax evasive, Belgium, where in the city of Vise, a 37-year-old Director at BNP Paribas Fortis was murdered alongside his wife and a 9 year old nephew in a premeditated and orchestrated drive-by shooting.
About a month ago, English bank Co-Operative Bank plc, which in October was handed over to bondholders in order to plug a 1.5 billion pound capital shortfall and which added last month it will need to raise an additional 400 million pounds to plug another funding shortfall related to legal and restructuring costs, surprised its brand new owners with news that its full year loss would be a massive $2.2 billion. However the bank's insolvency was just the beginning, and the biggest surprise was not to be unveiled until today when UK prosecution charged Paul Flowers, the banks' former chairman from March 2010 until June 2013, and a Methodist minister, with possession of cocaine and ketamine. Oh and crystal meth.
- Ukraine Says Russia Exporting ‘Terror’ Amid Eastern Push (BBG)
- Civil War Threat in Ukraine (Reuters)
- China Shoe Plant Strike Disrupts Output at Nike, Adidas Supplier (BBG)
- Mt Gox to liquidate (WSJ)
- Ex-Co-Op Bank Chairman Charged With Cocaine Possession (BBG)
- Goldman Sachs plans to jump-start stock-trading business (WSJ)
- Credit Suisse first-quarter profit falls as trading tumbles (Reuters)
- U.K. Unemployment Rate Falls to Five-Year Low (BBG)
- Lawmakers Back High-Frequency Trade Curbs in EU Markets Law (BBG)
- Yahoo's growth anemic as turnaround chugs along (Reuters)
- Spain ETF Grows as Rajoy Attracts Record U.S. Investments (BBG)
We summarized yesterday's both better and worse than expected Chinese GDP data as follows: "a substantial deterioration of the economy, one which was to be expected yet one which can be spun as either bullish thanks to the GDP "beat", and negatively if the purpose is to make a case for more PBOC stimulus." Sure enough here are the headlines that "explain" the latest overnight futures surge which has once again brought the S&P into the green on the year - a 40 point Spoo move in hours since yesterday's bottom when the Nikkei "leaked" Japan's economy is on the ropes :
- Stocks Rise on China Stimulus Speculation
Here one should of course add the comment that launched yesterday's rebound, namely the Japanese warning that its economy is about to contract, adding to calls for more BOJ stimulus, and finally this other Bloomberg headline:
- The Strengthening Case for ECB Easing
And there you have it - goodbye "fundamental" case; welcome back "central banks will once again bail everyone out" case. Hopefully today's news are absolutely abysmal to add "US economic contraction fear renew calls for untapering" to the list of headlines that should send the S&P to all time highs by the end of today.
Things in east Ukraine have spiraled out of control. Moments ago Itar Tass reported that there has been a shoot out at the separatists-controlled airport in the city of Kramatorsk where according to on the ground witnesses, four Su-27 fighter jets have allegedly opened fire at the local airfield. It is unclear who the unidentified warplanes belong to although Itar Tass notes that one of the jets was allegedly taken down, so there should be confirmation shortly. Eyewitnesses also add that there are victims and an ambulance has been sent to the scene. Itar-Tass also adds that according to the newspaper "News Kramatorsk" three helicopters were circling over Kramatorsk.
One Killed, Many Wounded After Shooting Breaks Out Between Ukraine Special Forces And Pro-Russia SeparatistsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/13/2014 08:37 -0400
"Ball is in Kiev's court." That is how we concluded our article yesterday reporting that Moscow won't accept force against demonstrators after Kiev warned it would use special forces to quell ongoing "terrorist" uprisings across cities in east Ukraine. Predictably, Ukraine couldn't wait to shoot the ball right back at Russia and re-escalate (in hope that the west will finally stand up and side along the acting government in what continues to be a very foolish gambit) and early this morning local time, units of the Ukraine special forces started an anti-terrorist operation in eastern town of Slavyansk, where police station was seized yesterday by separatist protesters, as reported by the Interior Minister Arsen Avakov posts on Facebook, who also warned local residents to stay inside, saying separatist protesters have opened fire in direction of approaching special police units. Moments later the operation turned deadly after at least one member of the special forces was killed and as many as 9 wounded, as well as an unknown number of casualties on the "separatist" side. But most importantly, Russia now has a pretext to step in and "defend" its ethnic population just as it warned it would do.
Following more firefights and government building seizures amid the so-called "liberation of Southeast Ukraine," the Maidan's demands that the government not "give up like in Crimea" appear to be resonating woth leadership. Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov has declared: "The Ukrainian authorities consider the events of the day as a display of external aggression from Russia," adding that, ""Units of the interior and defense ministries are implementing an operational response plan." Russia was quick to respond with threats of war action if Ukraine suppresses pro-Russia 'self-defense' forces. As Reuters adds, with the crisis escalating militarily, the specter of "gas wars" is looming with Ukraine's Energy Minister declaring, "we are probably steering towards Russia turning off its gas provision."
While the primary story regarding the Ukraine remains the stand off between Russia and Ukraine over nat Gazprom's gas deliveries and Kiev's overdue, and as of today - officially halted payments - not a weekend passes without some city in eastern Ukraine falling to what are now called "pro-Russian separatists" and this Saturday is no different. While last week it was the eastern cities of Luhansk, Donestk and Kharkiv that saw their government building taken over and occupied by the "separatists", today it was the turn of Slaviansk, where masked men armed with pistols and rifles stood guard near the police station as hundreds of locals gathered around, some building barricades with car tyres.
The average price of USDA choice-grade beef has soared to $5.28 a pound, and the average price of a pound of bacon has skyrocketed to $5.46. Unfortunately for those that like to eat meat, this is just the beginning of the price increases. Due to an absolutely crippling drought that won’t let go of the western half of the country, the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951. But back in 1951, we had less than half the number of mouths to feed. And a devastating pig virus that has never been seen in the United States before has already killed up to 6 million pigs in this country and continues to spread like wildfire. What all of this means is that the supply of meat is going to be tight for the foreseeable future even as demand for meat continues to go up. This is going to result in much higher prices, and so food is going to put a much larger dent in American family budgets in the months and years to come.
The main overnight event, which we commented on previously, was China's trade data which was a disaster. March numbers turned out to be well below market consensus with exports falling 6.6% YoY (vs +4.8% expected) and imports falling 11.3% YoY (vs +3.9% expected). The underperformance of imports caused the trade balance to spike to $7.7bn (vs -$23bn in Feb). Pricing on the Greek 5-year syndicated bond is due later today, with the final size of the bond boosted to EUR 3bln from EUR 2.5bln as order books exceed EUR 20bln (equating to a rough bid/cover ratio of over 6) as the final yield is set at 4.75% (well below the 5.3% finance ministry target and well above our "the world is a bunch of idiots managing other people's money" 3% target). Ireland sold EUR 1bln in 10y bonds, marking the third successful return to the bond market since the bailout. Also of note, this morning saw the release of lower than expected French CPI data, underpinning fears of potential deflation in the Eurozone.