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.
"Whatever it takes," appears to have become the new mantra across global financial systems and with Chinese shadow banks under increasing pressure (as cash-for-commodity deal financing dries up and "hedge" losses mount on 'surprise' Yuan weakness), property developers are increasingly desperate for liquidity. The solution, as The FT reports, Chinese property companies are buying stakes in banks and raising fears that the country’s already stretched developers are trying to cosy up to their lenders. 10 Chinese developers, who have been active in recent bank IPOs, have invested an 'unprecedented' $3bn in their potential lifeline lenders.
- The counter-HFT-attack begins with first target - dark pools: Dark markets may be more harmful than high-frequency trading (Reuters)
- Malaysia Jet Team Hears Pings Consistent With Black Box (BBG)
- At Toyota as Humans Steal Jobs From Robots (BBG)
- ‘Reverse Auctions’ Draw Scrutiny (NYT)
- Death knell sounds for Brazil’s economic strategy (FT)
- Technology Traders Head for the Exit as Put Trades Surge (BBG)
- NSA Uses Corporate News to Spread Propaganda and Silence Dissent (TruthDig)
- Holcim, Lafarge agree to merger to create cement giant (Reuters)
- Any minute now: Investment Jump Seen From Macy’s to Berkshire After 2013 Fizzle (BBG)
- India kicks off world's biggest election in remote northeast (Reuters)
With all eyes focused on Eastern Europe, tensions appear to be quickly mounting between the erstwhile allies North Korea and China.
Dispassionate big picture overview.
A mere two weeks since former JPMorgan banker, Kenneth Bellando jumped to his death, Bloomberg reports that the former CEO of Dutch Bank ABN Amro (and his wife and daughter) were found dead at their home after a possible "family tragedy." This expands the dismal list of senior financial services executive deaths to 12 in the last few months. The 57-year-old Jan Peter Schmittmann, was reportedly discovered by his other daughter when she arrived home that morning. Police declined to comment on the cirumstances of his (and his wife and daughter's) death. This is not the first C-level ABN Amro banker to be found dead. In 2009, former CFO Huibert Boumeester was discovered with (assumed self-inflicted) shotgun wounds.
In a further demonstration of the socially destructive and ever widening gap between the haves and have nots, we see that the affluent are buying second homes at an ever increasing clip (up 30% last year), while first home buyers recede into the abyss as private equity and Chinese buyers make purchasing a home unaffordable for the average American. Specifically, a recent study from Zillow showed that more than half the homes in seven major American cities are unaffordable based on historical standards.