- U.S. Small-Cap Rally Sends Valuation 26% Above 1990s (BBG)
- Russian troops seize Ukraine marine base in Crimea (Reuters)
- Apple in Talks With Comcast About Streaming-TV Service (WSJ)
- Top J.P. Morgan Executive in China to Leave Bank (WSJ)
- Treasury's Lew to undergo treatment for enlarged prostate (Reuters)
- Billionaire Sought by U.S. Holds Key to Putin Gas Cash (BBG)
- Israel closes embassies around the world as diplomats strike (Reuters)
- Herbalife to Nominate Three More Icahn Candidates to Board (BBG)
- Australian ship homes in on possible debris from Malaysia plane (Reuters)
- California DMV Investigating Potential Credit Card Breach (WSJ)
S&P, still deep in the mire of a legal battle with the US government, has decided now is an opportune time to cut the ratings outlook on Russia:
- *RUSSIAN FEDERATION OUTLOOK TO NEGATIVE FROM STABLE BY S&P
- *S&P SEES EU-U.S. IMPOSING FURTHER SANCTIONS
Russia remains a BBB credit (but with the outlook shift remains open to a downgrade with 24 months). S&P has cut 2014 GDP forecast to 1.2% and 2015 to 2.2%. Of course, we are sure, this would have nothing to do with currying favors with the US government (who threatened them when they downgraded the USA). Full report below.
Has the market done it again? Two weeks ago, Putin's first speech of the Ukraine conflict was taken by the USDJPY algos - which seemingly need to take a remedial class in Real Politik - as a conciliatory step, and words like "blinking" at the West were used when describing Putin, leading to a market surge. Promptly thereafter Russia seized Crimea and is now on the verge of formally annexing it. Over the weekend, we had the exact same misreading of the situation, when the Crimean referendum, whose purpose is to give Russia the green light to enter the country, was actually misinterpreted as a risk on event, not realizing that all the Russian apparatus needed to get a green light for further incursions into Ukraine or other neighboring countries was just the market surge the algos orchestrated. Anyway, yesterday's risk on, zero volume euphoria has been tapered overnight, with the USDJPY sliding from nearly 102.00 to just above 101.30 dragging futures with it, in advance of Putin's speech to parliament, in which he is expected to provide clarity on the Russian response to US sanctions, as well as formulate the nation's further strategy vis-a-vis Crimea and the Ukraine.
Day after day, the West's mainstream media promotes Russian President Vladimir Putin as a tyrannical despotic hitler-esque figure so we though it might be interesting to see what the Russian people hear from Russian TV. It is perhaps no surprise that Putin revels in near-record-high approval ratings when one hears Dmitry Kiselev - anchor of News of the Week - explain that "Obama's hair is getting greyer and greyer... as he fears direct action against Russia (and its nuclear retaliation)... as it is the only country that can turn the US into radioactive dust."
Given this morning's UN vote declaring the Crimea referendum invalid (and Russia's obvious veto - along with China's abstention), and on the heels of Lavrov's words Friday that Russia would decide how to respond to the Crimean vote after the referendum had been held, it is thought-provoking to consider Putin's options given the vote's outcome is a near-certainty voting in favor of accession to the Russian Federation (especially in light of this morning's images across Crimea). Europe's Council on Foreign Relations notes "not knowing Vladimir Putin’s strategy makes it hard for Europe and the West to come up with meaningful and workable responses. In a way, we are all speculating and trying to get a glimpse into Putin’s soul. The five points below attempt to reinforce or refute some aspects of the conventional wisdom that has emerged from all this speculation."
- Ukraine anxiety triggers flight to safety, stocks tumble (Reuters)
- Woodrow Wilson’s Ukraine Failure Foreshadows West’s Dilemmas (BBG)
- Fortress Executives Join Peers Selling Stock After Rally (BBG)
- 303 Deaths Seen in G.M. Cars With Failed Air Bags (NYT)
- Putin Deports Executives for Speeding as Sanctions Loom (BBG)
- Russia blocks internet sites of Putin critics (Reuters)
- China Bond Risk Exceeds Ireland as Defaults Unavoidable (BBG)
- China H-Shares Post Biggest Weekly Drop Since October (BBG)
- Surge in Rail Shipments of Oil Sidetracks Other Industries (WSJ)
- Blackstone’s Home Buying Binge Ends as Prices Surge (BBG)
Poor Obama - the president can't get anything right these days. Obama's job approval ticked down to 41% in March from 43% in January, marking a new low. Some 54% disapproved of the job he is doing, matching a previous high from December, when the botched rollout of his signature health law played prominently in the news. The latest survey also showed the lowest-ever approval in Journal/NBC polling for Mr. Obama's handling of foreign policy.
- China worries chill markets, copper slumps (Reuters)
- Peak dot com dot two idiocy: Candy Crush Saga maker King seeks $7.56 bln valuation from IPO (BBG)
- Obama Meeting With Yatsenyuk Raises Stakes in Ukraine (BBG)
- Federal prosecutors open criminal probe of GM recall (Reuters)
- Pimco Cuts Government Debt on Outlook for Fed Buying (BBG)
- Missing Malaysian Jetliner Confuses World That’s Online 24/7 (BBG)
- Mortgage Giants Face Endgame (WSJ)
- Russia Calls U.S. Aid to Ukraine Illegal Amid Standoff (BBG)
- U.S. judge freezes assets of Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange boss (Reuters)
- Ousted Libyan PM flees country after tanker escapes rebel-held port (Reuters)
- Senate-CIA Dispute Erupts Into a Public Brawl (WSJ)
Puerto Rico muni owners who never saw the Barron’s story or the rating firms’ downgrades are better off than those who kept up with the financial news.
The move towards "bail-ins" and away from government "bailouts" continues to evolve and yesterday credit rating agency, Standard and Poor's (S&P) warned that this could lead to credit ratings for European banks being slashed by one or two notches. It is important that one owns physical coins and bars, legally in your name, outside the banking system. Paper or electronic forms of gold investment should be avoided as they could be subject to bail-ins.
- High Stakes Limit Bid to Cow Putin (WSJ)
- Russia says can't control Crimea troops ahead of U.S. talks (Reuters)
- Crimea Crisis Haunted by Ghosts of Bungled World War I Diplomacy (BBG)
- Putin’s Ukraine Gambit Hurts Economy as Allies Lose Billions (BBG)
- Germany Says It Provided Equipment and Training to Ukraine's Riot Police (WSJ)
- China signals focus on reforms and leaner, cleaner growth (Reuters)
- China Shares in Hong Kong Decline Amid Default Concern (BBG)
- Beijing Signals New Worry on Growth (WSJ)
Is anyone surprised that the poorest and least credit worthy of Americans are being saddled with piles of debt in order to buy new cars? It’s not enough that a generation of our citizens will toil pointlessly to pay off more than $1 trillion of student loans, we may as well add some other form of debt burden on top of it. It’s hard to even imagine this is happening so shortly after the last credit bubble train wreck, but happening it is. Creative ways for people to purchase cars they can’t afford have been on our radar screen for some time now... Well the dancing has continued, and now we have Americans borrowing at all-time record levels to buy cars.
So you want to be a mortgage banker? then listen now to what i say Just get liability insurance... and get ready to pay and pay...
While the FT promptly retracted an article on precisely the topic of gold manipulation from earlier this week (recorded for posterity here), Bloomberg appears to not have had the same "editorial" concerns and pressures, and today released an article once again slamming the final conspiracy theory that while every other asset class is manipulated, gold is in a pristine class of its own, untouched by close-banging, price fixing traders or central bankers, and reports that "the London gold fix, the benchmark used by miners, jewelers and central banks to value the metal, may have been manipulated for a decade by the banks setting it, researchers say." And the punchline: "Large price moves during the afternoon call were also overwhelmingly in the same direction: down. On days when the authors identified large price moves during the fix, they were downwards at least two-thirds of the time in six different years between 2004 and 2013. In 2010, large moves during the fix were negative 92 percent of the time, the authors found."
With European peripheral bond yields collapsing every single day to new all time lows (primarily driven by Europe's near-certainty that a US-style QE is imminent as we first showed here in November, despite Mario Draghi's own words from November 2011 that a QE intervention is virtually impossible), increasingly more of Europe is trading just as safe, if not more, as the United States. And in keeping with the analogies, considering a major US metropolitan center, Detroit, recently went bankrupt, it is only fair that Europe should sacrifice one of its own historic cities to the gods of negative cash flows. The city in question, Rome, which as the WSJ reports, is "teetering on the brink of a Detroit-style bankruptcy."