Russia supplies China with hi-tech military hardware. Russia has negotiated two major natural gas deals with China in the last year. China expects to double its gas usage by 2030. From a Chinese point of view, it is certainly expedient to keep Russia on its side.
"I just get annoyed with the ridiculous foolishness of people. We’ve got to start using our own brains. The Fed stopped using any benchmarks because while the benchmarks were improving, the economy wasn’t and isn’t. And so they were being railroaded by the transparency that benchmarks provide. And now it is just a black box of various indicators that will be analyzed in real time to form justifiable actions, far too complex for you and I but trust them that there is a definite method and it’s very quantifiable at that, they just can’t tell us what it is because it would just confuse everyone. Does anyone really not get it?? What is happening is the grandest con job in the history of the world."
The drop in oil prices is certain to cause some incremental unemployment in the U.S. energy industry; the question is simply how much and what that means for the American economy as a whole.
"Q4 GDP Below 2%, December Payrolls Under 200,000" Markit Warns As Service PMI Crashes To 10-Month LowSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/18/2014 09:54 -0500
"Another bumper month of non-farm payroll growth looks unlikely in December, with private sector payroll growth unlikely to breach the 200,000 mark," warns Markit after The US Services PMI plunged to 53.6, missing expectations of 56.3 by the most on record. This is the 6th straight month of declines. Job creation slumped to 8-month lows. The Composite (Services & Manufacturing) PMI plunged to its lowest level since October 2013. Still exuberant? Still hopeful? Here's Markit's summary, "A sharp slowing in service sector activity alongside a similar easing in the manufacturing sector takes the overall rate of economic expansion down to the weakest since October 2013. The extent of the slowdown suggests that economic growth in the fourth quarter could come in below 2%"
Having started at noon Moscow time (4am Eastern), Putin's annual Q&A run for a massive three and a half hours, during which the Russian leader took numerous questions from the public and as expected, reiterated the key "rally around the flag" talking points that have permeated Russian rhetoric over the past few weeks as the economic situation in Russia deteriorated. As Bloomberg notes, the conference was attended by hundreds of reporters and carried live on television around the world, the event took on heightened importance this year as the president sought to reassure a Russian public unnerved by the ruble’s plummet. While he did acknowledge the difficult economic reality, Putin sought to reassure his countrymen that the current weakness "would last no longer than two years." Putin promptly pivoted against the west and accused the U.S. and European Union of trying to undermine his country and blaming external factors for the sharp plunge in the ruble, notably the drop in oil saying that “the economy will naturally adapt to the new conditions of low oil prices.”
This is it, folks; this is the endgame right in front of our faces. The year of 2014 is the new 2007, with all the negative potential but 100 times more explosive going into 2015. Our nation has wallowed in slowly degrading financial conditions for years, hidden by fake economic statistics and manipulated stock prices. All of it has been a prelude to a much more frenetic and shocking event. We expect a hailstorm of geopolitical crises over the next year to provide cover for the shift away from the dollar. Ultimately, the death of the dollar will be hailed in the mainstream as a “good and necessary thing.” They will call it “karma.” They will call it “progress.” They will even call it “decentralization” and a success for the free market. But it will not feel like a positive development for the American public, who will suffer greatly as the dollar crumbles.
"...so many still maintain that America is the greatest nation in the world. They swear that America represents all that is good; freedom, democracy, merit based capitalism and the rights of the individual. That is true America does represent such things. However, it is fraudulent to consider our current nation America. America was a concept that promoted all that is good. And so it would seem that the nation in which they find themselves cannot be America. Their nation today represents the will of the political class at all costs, period. Their sole motivation is themselves. Very different from America. And so perhaps a renaming on the nation is required, at least until or if the people decide to take it back and reintroduce the world to the concept that is America for as discussed below you cannot destroy a concept and so there is hope to bring her back. But until then we need a name for this geographic region and its new societal system... It seems"Neoconica" is most fitting."
The lower-gas-price-tax-cut is "unequivocally good" meme is becoming more and more full of holes by the day. All that extra disposable income means moar iPhones, moar dining-out, and moar GDP... right? Wrong! As CBS reports, a new poll finds 73% of Americans will not use any extra cash from lower gas prices to buy additional gifts. What is even worse for America's credit-growth-dependent economy - 69% of Americans will use this extra disposable income to pay down outstanding bills and expenses. The final nail in the coffin of exuberance, two-thirds of Americans say they see no benefits from lower gas prices. But apart from that... keep the narrative going...
Since the beginning of this year, Wall Street economists and analysts have been consistently prognosticating that following the Federal Reserve's latest bond buying campaign, economic growth would gather steam and interest rates would begin to rise. This has consistently been the wrong call. The recent decline in interest rates should really not be a surprise as there is little evidence that current rates of economic growth are set to increase markedly anytime soon. Consumers are still heavily levered; wage growth remains anemic, and business owners are still operating on an "as needed basis." This "economic reality" continues to constrain the ability of the economy to grow organically at strong enough rates to sustain higher interest rates. This is a point that seems to be lost on most economists who forget that the Federal Reserve has been pumping in trillions of dollars of liquidity into the economy to pull forward future consumption.
Forget about the Fed’s language and its FOMC meeting. The real story is the $100 trillion bond bubble (more like the $191 trillion interest rate bubble based on bonds). When it breaks, it doesn’t matter what the Fed says or does.
If the world's fifth largest trader of commodities has chosen to outright not trade gold, and thus not generate value for its shareholders over risks and fears that another, or two, or three, or a countless number of other prior "owners" may come knocking one day and demanding delivery of gold whose origin could not be documented by its trading intermediaries, and whose ownership link Gunvor is unable to trace, then just what on earth is really going on with the world's physical gold inventory (here's looking at you, Chinese gold-backed Commodity Funding Deals), and just what is the catalyst that will unleash what is essentially the infamous US mortgage robosigning scandal onto the gold arena, at which point owners of gold realize the gold they thought they owned, even if held safely in a deposit box deep in a gold vault in a safe offshore location, in reality "belongs" to someone else?
The rank economic cheerleading in the guise of “news” printed by the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the rest of the financial press never ceases to amaze. But on the heels of Congress’ pathetic capitulation to Wall Street over the weekend you have to wonder if even the robo-writers who compose the headlines are on the take. How could anyone in the right mind label this weekend’s CRomnibus abomination “A Rare Bipartisan Success for Congress”? Apparently, that unaccountable plaudit was bestowed upon Washington by the WSJ solely because it avoided another government shutdown.
It's a wonderful life on Wall Street, yet here is a holiday wish list to make it even better...
The myth of harsh lending conditions in the US is probably only matched in its disconnect from reality by the just as entertaining narrative of the "one-time, non-recurring" harsh winter crushing Q1 GDP. A narrative which even needed support from none other than former Fed Chairman Bernanke who allegedly was denied a mortgage refinancing on the $672K loan he still owes for his 3-bedroom, 2100 square foot home (a story which is about as credible as 17 year olds making $72 million by cornering the penny-stock market). For the truth we go to the Office Of the Comptroller of the Currency, which just reported in its annual survey that for the third year in a row, U.S. banks relaxed loan underwriting standards, "a trend mirroring the lax lending just before the financial crisis." To wit: "This year's survey showed a continued easing in underwriting standards, with trends very similar to those seen from 2004 through 2006," said Jennifer Kelly, senior deputy comptroller for bank supervision.
Lots of old market hands are talking about how its similar to the Russia default and crash of ‘98 all over again.. Actually... its worse. Much worse.