The dominoes are beginning to fall. The initial spark in 2008 has triggered a series of unyielding responses by those in power, but further emergencies and unintended consequences juxtapose, connect and accelerate a chain reaction that will become uncontainable once a tipping point is reached. The fabric of society is tearing at points of extreme vulnerability, with depression, violence and war on the foreseeable horizon. Mr. President, the shadow of crisis has not passed. The looming shadow of crisis grows ever larger and darker by the day as this Crisis enters the most dangerous phase, where the existing social order will be swept away in a torrent of carnage and ferocious struggle. We are not a chosen people. We are not immune from dire outcomes.
As we detailed earlier, the Nobel peace prize-winning president has been busy today: not only did he already petition Congress earlier to declare war on the Islamic State, a non-country which technically doesn't exist, but now he plans to expand his "war powers" to any other place in the world. We look forward to hearing his explanation for how his "promise" not to put boots on the ground jibes with today's request to deploy boots on the ground... somewhere... anywhere... against ISIS.
Well that didn't take long. Just an hour or so after Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko, and Putin got together to drink tea in Minsk, they have a 'deal':
*RUSSIA, UKRAINE, GERMANY, FRANCE LEADERS READY DECLARATION TO REAFFIRM MINSK CEASE-FIRE DEAL: IFX
*JOINT DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF UKRAINE'S TERRITORIAL SOVEREIGNTY
So - to summarize - they agree to a cease-fire (which saw 1000s killed and shelling continue last time) and to support Ukraine's territorial sovereignty (except of course Eastern Ukraine?) Face-saving headline-maker comes to mind. Stocks don't care though - they are buying it.
So far it has been largely a repeat of the previous overnight session, where absent significant macro drivers, the attention again remains focused both on China, which reported some truly ugly inflation (with 0.8% Y/Y CPI the lowest since Lehman, just call it deflation net of the "goalseeking") data (which as usually is "good for stocks" pushing the SHCOMP 1.5% higher as it means even more easing), and on Greece, which has not made any major headlines in the past 24 hours as patience on both sides is growing thin ahead of the final "bluff" showdown between Greece and the Eurozone is imminent. The question as usual is who will have just a fraction more leverage in the final assessment - Greece has made its ask known, and it comes in the form of 10 billion euros in short-term "bridge" financing consisting of €8 billion increase in Bills issuance and €1.9 billion in ECB profits, as it tries to stave off a funding crunch, a proposal which will be presented on the Wednesday meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels. The question remains what Europe's countrbid, if any, will be. For the answer: stay tuned in 24 hours.
"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.