Ukraine Won't Pay Russia For Gas, Has Billions In Obligations Due; Europe Promises Aid Money It Doesn't HaveSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/05/2014 08:03 -0500
About an hour ago, the head of Russia's top natural gas producer Gazprom said on Wednesday that Ukraine had informed the company it could not pay for February gas deliveries in full, further adding to tensions between Moscow and Kiev. Alexei Miller said Ukraine's total debt to Gazprom for gas deliveries was nearing $2 billion. "Our Ukrainian colleagues informed us that they would not be able to pay in full for February gas deliveries," he told Russian President Vladimir Putin.
This one should be intuitive: with Ukraine scrambling to load up on natgas ahead of the price surge once Gazprom ends its discount pricing, and unclear what if any access it will have to Russian gas in the future and at what cost, it was only a matter of time before the Ukraine stepped up the protection of its only true energy asset: its 15 nuclear power plant, which supply nearly half of the country's energy needs. Ukraine told as much to the U.N. atomic watchdog on Tuesday, although it framed it as a result of the "grave threat to the security" of the country posed by the Russian military. "Illegal actions of the Russian armed forces on Ukrainian territory and the threat of use of force amount to a grave threat to security of Ukraine with its potential consequences for its nuclear power infrastructure."
It’s Not Our Fight
There was a time when Vietnam was America's staunchest proxy war foe. This is not those times which explains why yesterday the president signed a landmark, controversial and not to mention hypocritical deal with Vietnam in which allows the U.S. to sell nuclear fuel and technology to its former foe, which will then be allowed to further enrich it. Why (because there is always a reason when the US does something so unexpected, and especially when nuclear power is involved)? Simple: as the Hill explains, the US "aims to help guarantee Vietnams' energy independence as China asserts a more prominent role in the region." Of course, the last time the US sought to prevent Vietnam's affiliation with a foreign superpower, the results were quite disastrous. One can only hope this time it's different.
After learning that it snowed in China this winter following the release of the abysmal February Flash HSBC PMI numbers, we found out that there had also been snow in Europe, following misses across virtually all key French, German and composite PMIs with the exception of the German Services PMI which was the sole "beater" out of 6. To wit:
- Eurozone PMI Manufacturing (Feb A) M/M 53.0 vs Exp. 54.0 (Prev. 54.0); Eurozone PMI Services (Feb A) M/M 51.7 vs Exp. 51.9 (Prev. 51.6)
- German Manufacturing PMI (Feb A) M/M 54.7 vs. Exp. 56.3 (Prev. 56.5); German PMI Services (Feb A) M/M 55.4 vs Exp. 53.4 (Prev. 53.1)
- French PMI Manufacturing (Feb P) M/M 48.5 vs. Exp. 49.6 (Prev. 49.3); French PMI Services (Feb P) M/M 46.9 vs. Exp. 49.4 (Prev. 48.9)
Of course, economic data is the last thing that matters in a manipulated market. Instead, all that does matter is what the USDJPY does overnight, and as we forecast yesterday, the USDJPY 102 tractor beam is alive and well and managed to pull equity futures from a -10 drop overnight to nearly unchanged, despite the now traditional pattern of USDJPY selling during the overnight session and buying during the US session.
- Euro-Area Growth Eases Pressure on Draghi for Stimulus (BBG)
- Germany Beats Growth Estimates With France Amid Recovery (BBG)
- Argentina revises ‘bogus’ inflation figures (FT)
- Wells Fargo edges back into subprime as U.S. mortgage market thaws (Reuters)
- China Banks’ Bad Loans Reach Highest Since Financial Crisis (BBG)
- Time Warner Cable Deal to Test Comcast CEO's Washington Clout (WSJ)
- Risky Loans in Europe Banks’ Dark Corners to Be Exposed (BBG) - yeah, right... sure
- Gold Extends Climb Above $1,300 as Investors Boost SPDR Holdings (BBG)
- SEC Takes Steps to Stem Courtroom Defeats (WSJ)
The potential for a golden age of gas comes along with a big “if” regarding environmental and social impact. The International Energy Agency (IEA) - the "global energy authority" - believes that this age of gas can be golden, and that unconventional gas can be produced in an environmentally acceptable way.
For a few brief weeks, there was hope among the millions of Japanese that do not love Shinzo Abe as two former premiers entered the race for governor of Tokyo on a zero nuclear-power platform. Today, as The Economist notes, those hopes melted away as quickly as the snow which had blanketed Tokyo on the eve of the vote. The race was won handily by Yoichi Masuzoe - the "women are abnormal during their periods" pro-nuclear, Abe-apologist that personifies Japan’s gender gap. Perhaps Subculturist sums it up best: once again, Japan has shown us that with enough voter apathy (3rd lowest turnout on record), a compliant media, and the connections and funding of the nuclear industry, that any middle-aged asshole guy can be the leader of one of Japan’s largest city-states.
The biggest fear the market currently has is not the ongoing crisis in the Emerging Markets, not the suddenly slowing economy, not even China's credit bubble popping: it is that Bernanke's successor may have suddenly reverted to the "Old Normal" - a regime in which the Fed is not there to provide the training wheels should the S&P suffer a 5%, 10% or 20% (or more) drop. Whether such fears are warranted will be tested as soon as there is indeed a bear market plunge in stocks - the first in nearly three years (incidentally the topic of the Fed's lack of vacalty was covered in a recent Reuters article). So, assuming that indeed the most dramatic change in market dynamics in the past five years has taken place, how does one trade this new world which is so unfamiliar to so many of today's "younger" (and forgotten by many of the older) traders? And, more importantly, how does one look for the signs of a bottom: an Old Normal bottom that is. Courtesy of Convergex' Nicholas Colas, here is a reminder of what to look forward to, for those who are so inclined, to time the next market inflection point.
Will the Builders of Unsafe Nuclear Reactors Finally Face Scrutiny?
There are two major factors that have emerged in the last five years that have sparked a surge in LNG investments. First is the shale gas “revolution” in the United States, which allowed the U.S. to vault to the top spot in the world for natural gas production. This caused prices to crater to below $2 per million Btu (MMBTu) in 2012, down from their 2008 highs above $10/MMBtu. Natural gas became significantly cheaper in the U.S. than nearly everywhere else in the world. The second major event that opened the floodgates for investment in new LNG capacity is the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan. Already the largest importer of LNG in the world before the triple meltdown in March 2011, Japan had to ratchet up LNG imports to make up for the power shortfall when it shut nearly all of its 49 gigawatts of nuclear capacity. In 2012, Japan accounted for 37% of total global LNG demand. The future of LNG may indeed be bright, especially when considering that global energy demand has nowhere to go but up. But, investors should be aware of the very large threat that Japanese nuclear reactors present to upstart LNG projects.
The infamous 'scourge on insider-traders everywhere' Preet Bharara has taken a day off from Wall Street duties to focus on what could be considerably more of a concern. The NY Attorney General just disclosed that Daniel Wilson - the Chemistry Manager at the Indian Point Nuclear Power plant - falsified and fabricated test results for diesel fuel contamination used to power emergency generators.. in order that the plant would not have to be shut down. Have no fear though US public... especially those who live near White Plains, Bharara's punishment for this potentially disastrous 'deliberate misconduct' - a $500 fine and 18 months probation. Well that will teach him, eh?
In the global war for energy supremacy, Russia has won another victory over the United States.
- House Unveils $1.01 Trillion Measure to Fund Government (BBG)
- Credit Suisse Tells Junior Bankers to Take Saturdays Off (BBG)
- Spot the odd word out: ECB Sees Bad-Debt Rules as Threat to Credible Bank Review (BBG)
- Insert laugh track here: Spain GDP grows at fastest pace in almost six years (FT)
- Scandinavian Debt Crisis Waiting to Happen Puzzles Krugman (BBG)
- Fed Said to Release Plan to Limit Banks’ Commodities Activities (BBG)
- Thai Protesters Extend Blockade After Rejecting Poll Talks (BBG)
- China provinces set lower growth goals for 2014 (BBG)