"Success is anything but certain," warned Germany's Merkel during the uncomfortably un-united joint press conference as both the leaders appeared to be able to agree on only one thing - that a military solution will not happen. This was followed by what appeared to be President Obama conceding to Merkel that the provision of arms to Ukraine was kinda sorta 'off-the-table' - though still under "ongoing analysis." Hopes remain for a diplomatic solution and President Obama even concluded, "we are not looking for Russia to fail. ... Our preference is for a strong, vibrant, confident Russia." Other items that caused some tension included Iran, Israel, NSA "trust" and US asking for "benefit of the doubt," and Greek anti-austerity plans...
This could be awkward... US President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are face-to-face this morning to present a 'united' front on world affairs. 'United' that is apart from Germany slamming US plans to provide weapons to Ukraine as "risky and counter-productive" and Obama rejecting Germany's calls for more austerity in Greece... let's see if they can "agree to disagree."
- Greek Risk Draws Global Concern on Lehman Echo Warnings (BBG)
- Merkel to urge caution in U.S. as pressure builds to arm Ukraine forces (Reuters)
- West Races to Defuse Ukraine Crisis (WSJ)
- German-French Push Yields Ukraine Summit Plan With Putin (BBG)
- Swiss Leaks lifts the veil on a secretive banking system (ICIJ)
- Italy Lenders Seen Cleansing Books Amid Bad-Bank Plans (BBG)
- G-20 Finance Chiefs Face Tough Test in Istanbul (WSJ)
- Demand for OPEC Crude Will Rise This Year, Says Group (WSJ)... or rather prays
- U.S. Banks Say Soaring Dollar Puts Them at Disadvantage (WSJ)
The cracks in the foundation, walls, and ceiling of the European Union are beginning to widen. During an interview with Italian State TV RAI3, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis hinted at Greece's "New Deal for Europe" strategy (to be financed by the EIB) but it was the glimpse behind the curtain of EU solidarity that was most shocking as he explained, "Greeks don't have a monopoly on the truth. What we can do, for the rest of Europe, and for Italy in particular, is to open a small door to the truth," adding rather stunningly, that Italy "stands in solidarity with [Greece] but cannot tell the truth as they fear of possible consequences on behalf of Germany."
Mission Accomplished? The "shadow of crisis has passed" but the unemployment rose... but The White House says you can ignore that because wages are growing (but Goldman says ignore that)... President Obama explains.
As politicians know, dead people don’t vote. In fact, politicians today routinely steal from the dead... specifically the unborn. Children that won’t even be born for decades will inherit enormous debts that have been racked up today on drones, bombs, and wars that were waged in our era. President Obama’s most recent budget makes this abundantly clear...
“Keep Fear Alive”
President Obama's $4 trillion budget hinges on what Obama calls "middle-class economics," seeking tax breaks for many Americans while imposing increases on top earners, corporations and particularly the financial sector. Many have called it Robin-Hood Economics, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan accuses Obama of exploiting "envy economics." Probably the most controversial aspect is his recently announced six-year, $478 billion public-works program for highway, bridge and transit upgrades, half-financed with a one-time, 14 percent tax on U.S. companies' overseas profits. As Ryan warned, Ryan said, "This top down redistribution doesn't work."
The historical relationship between the United States and Russia can hardly be described as rosey. The two countries are inextricably linked due to the Cold War era, with the world’s two modern superpowers having enjoyed an extremely suspicious relationship with one another for decades during the 20th century. Which of the two superpowers has the greater military provisions?
Just as AAPL stock hits record highs and single-handedly rescues Q4 earnings from the doldrums, it appears President Obama is bringing his own brand of 'middle-class-economics' Robin-Hood-iness to crush the 'wealth generating' machine that has served America's 1% so well for so long. As AP reports, The White House plans a six-year half a trillion dollar public works program financed with a one-time mandatory tax on profits that U.S. companies have amassed overseas. Under current law, profits only face federal taxes if they are returned, or repatriated, to the US; but Obama's new deal would set a tax on accumulated foreign profits at 14% and due immediately as part of a broader administration plan to overhaul corporate taxes. Of course, with Republicans 'in charge', it is unlikely to pass as Paul Ryan blasted, "the president is trying exploit envy economics again," adding, "top-down redistribution doesn't work."
With the European Central Bank in QE mode, stocks should be catching a bid. Instead, they seem to be following commodities – down. But who knows? The situation is so crazy that only a disabled person could understand it. Why do we say that? Because a report released last week told us that one out of every three people on Social Security’s disability program is a mental defective. In Washington, DC, the rate of nuttiness among the disabled is even higher – 42%. No surprise there. Who better to understand what is going on in the financial world than a crazy person? Fortunately, America’s zombies are going crazy in ever-greater numbers.
When Eric Holder announced his resignation, many breathed a sigh of relief thinking it can’t get much worse, but not so fast. The authoritarian streak and rampant cronyism of the Obama administration is a well oiled machine. You didn’t think you’d get off that easily did you? Enter Loretta Lynch.
According to IRS estimates, there’s close to $5 trillion in individual retirement accounts in the Land of the Free. This is money that taxpayers prudently set aside for retirement, hopefully cognizant that Social Security isn’t going to be there for them. Devoid of any other easy lender, $5 trillion is far too irresistible for such a heavily indebted government to ignore. We've long warned that the government could easily nationalize a portion of all IRAs. It started happening last year with MyRA followed by the President and Treasury Secretary embarked on a blitzkrieg-style marketing campaign to pump the program... and now comes Step three..
Echoing Elliott's Paul Singer's "greatest irony of politicians railing against inequality," former Reagan OMB Director David Stockman raged that when it comes to inequality, everyone can see the symptom, but "President Obama is clueless as to the cause," blasting that the problem is not capitalism, "the problem is in the Eccles Building and the 12 people sitting there thinking that zero interest rates are some magic elixir that will cause this very toubled economy to revive.! It won't, "these people are dangerous and destructive," Stockman exclaims, and sooner or later the inequality they have created is going to cause a huge political reaction.
Following Congress, The Republican-led Senate just passed The Keystone XL Pipeline Bill - as expected:
*SENATE PASSES BY 62-36 BILL TO APPROVE KEYSTONE, DEFYING OBAMA
Nine Democrats joined all of the Republicans who were present in supporting the legislationNow, it is time for President Obama to unleash The Veto Pen...