While today's key news event will likely be the preannounced latest, third, round of anti-Russian sanctions and the Russian retaliation, the reality as DB notes, is that the market seems to be seeing "some fatigue" in this story with the ECB, Scotland and next week's Fed meeting taking center stage. As a result, and ahead of expectations of change in Fed language which should carry a more hawkish tone, the dollar has been bid up some more overnight, leading to fresh multi-year highs in the USDJPY, and the now-paired TSY trade, with 10Y yields up to 2.57%, although this may now be in short-term oversold territory. The latest Scottish poll appears to have dented some of the "Yes" momentum, with 52% of the polled saying they would vote No in the referendum, although right now neither side has a clear majority when factoring in the undecideds: which means it will come down to the wire next week, with clear implications for Europe's secessionist movements if the Yes vote still manages to prevail, not to mention massive ramifications for the UK.
Governments and mainstream media outlets have a great way of presenting sensational threats and evil villains. They want us to be terrified of men in caves, roving bands of barbarians, and deadly viruses that turn our insides out. Last night, for example, President Obama told the world that ISIL poses the most significant threat to global security. (Ironically al-Qaida no longer seems to be a threat, and ISIL, which no one had heard of until a few months ago, is now public enemy #1. It just goes to show how shallow and reactionary the security theater is...) But here’s the truth: If you live in the Land of the Free, you’re far more likely to get ‘accidentally’ shot by a police officer than blown up by a terrorist.
Well that didn't take long. After espousing his strategy last night of leading a broad coalition against ISIS, it appears President Obama's "allies" are backing away from the plan. As The WSJ reports, Germany and the U.K. on Thursday ruled out carrying out air strikes on Islamic State militants in Syria. It appears the Europeans, realizing the ire that these actions will likely cause to Putin, are stepping back - "We haven't been asked, nor will we do it," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters and his U.K. counterpart Philip Hammond explicitly ruled out air strikes in Syria, after the U.K. parliament struck down such a move last year. So that leaves the French?
We'll be bombing a sovereign nation (Syria).
We'll be arming terrorist groups while fighting them.
The US Economy is Great.
Previewing tonight’s televised prime-time address to the nation, The Onion reports that White House aides confirmed that President Obama will reassure Americans that the impending military campaign against ISIS will be the exact same type of open-ended, drawn-out conflict that they are used to. “The president’s message is clear: This will be just another one of our routine intractable engagements in the region - it’s going to be unending, it’s going to be expensive, and it’s going to affect our credibility within the international community. There will not be any surprises for folks to worry about.”
And in The President's own words, "But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
It appears that, in a rush to get his strategy out the door, President Obama overlooked his key "do nothing stupid" foreign policy plan.
- OBAMA SAID TO SEEK CONGRESS AUTHORITY TO ARM SYRIAN REBELS
So - to be clear - the strategy to defeat ISIS is to arm more of the same "rebels" that ultimately split off and became, well, ISIS?
Mission Accomplished, military-industrial complex scaremongers...
Yesterday, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was the keynote speaker at KPMG’s 2014 Insurance Industry Conference Tuesday, where he answered questions such as 1) where the economy is going, 2) why, and 3) when (if ever) is it likely to improve. The answers, as reported by Property Casualty 360, are: 1) nowhere fast, 2) because nobody is willing to invest, and 3) eventually, but nobody can tell when. He listed 9 specific reasons why the "economy stinks", although surprisingly, nowhere did he mention the fact that the current and future economic disaster is all a direct result of his ruinous reign at helm of the Fed where as a result of his "great moderation" and the Fed's catastrophic monetary policies conceived mostly under Greenspan himself, the economy is now perpetually stuck in a boom-bust cycle, and where every time a bubble bursts another has to replace it or else the entire western way of life will be gone in a heartbeat.
Last week, Adam Hartung qualified for the "Mark Twain Award" if there was such a thing. In his article, "Obama Outperforms Reagan On Jobs, Growth & Investing," Adam goes to some length to try and show that unemployment rate, the S&P 500 and economic growth are currently better under the current administration than they were during the Reagan administration. Unfortunately, that is not the case. When considering that President Obama has been able to achieve real economic growth of just 2.04% annually despite historically low levels of inflation and interest rates combined with massive government interventions and balance sheet expansions; it makes his overall performance even more disappointing.
As President Obama prepares to unleash his ISIS 'defeat' strategery tomorrow, we thought it appropriate to gather together what we know so far about the terrorist organization. While their annual report (as we noted here), is chock full of ugly details of a well-organized and well-funded entity, the following brief clip from WSJ explains how The Islamic State is operating like a government, with a bureaucratic hierarchy; and how it is structured.
"Washington is absolutely correct, in my opinion, to want to boost American consumption, but the Fed seems to be trying to boost consumption by igniting another asset bubble in the hopes that, like before 2007, Americans will feel “richer” and so will consume more. This isn't sustainable, however, and will leave us, as Paul and Druckenmiller fear, even more heavily indebted and more dangerously exposed to the underlying weakness in demand."
We can hear the narrative now... how can Congress turn down President Obama's demands for $5 billion to pay for a 'counter-terrorism' fund that could be used to support operations against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria... if they do, are they not supporting terrorism? As The Hill reports, White House press secretary Josh Earnest floated the $5 billion counterterrorism fund as something that “would strengthen the hand of this president and future presidents for dealing with urgent situations like this." We await Wednesday night's unveiling of the long-awaited strategy...
First it was UN and US military hardware and artillery, second it was hijacked Syrian fighter jets, and now ISIS has 'commandeered' a Navy. As Reuters reports, Islamic State fighters attacked a riverside town north of Baghdad on Monday with gunboats and a car bomb, killing 17 people and wounding 54, a security source said. We anxiously await President Obama's Wednesday unveiling of the strategy to 'defeat' The Islamic State on land, and air, and now water...
President Obama has swung from "we have no strategy" to "keep in mind this is something we know how to do," in a week, and speaking on Meet The Press this morning he teased the world's allies (and terrorists) with the promise that he will address the nation Wednesday to lay out U.S. plans for combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), promising the U.S. can and will defeat the group. As CBS reports, while not quite as gung-ho as Biden's "gates of hell" speech, President Obama appears to have stepped up his rhetoric from 'contain' to 'defeat' as he stated "we will hunt down [ISIS] members and assets wherever they are," but carefully added putting U.S. troops on the ground would be a "profound mistake."
After two solid days of 'discussions' at a gold course in Wales, President Obama is ready to make some new comments this morning. With a cease-fire agreed in Ukraine, and no ISIS beheadings yet today, we wonder where his ire will be pointed (or perhaps it's back to the Republicans' fault we had such a weak jobs print?)...