Much has been said in the popular press about Italy's surprising economic recovery (which based on recent data is starting to lose steam), as well as its much improved fiscal picture (even if the country's public debt hits record highs quarter after quarter and the bad debt within its banking system just rose by 24% from the prior year, to €169 billion the highest since 1998). Little has been said about just how Italy managed to pull this economic miracle off. The answer: robbing private suppliers to pay Paul, or rather, the public sector. According to Reuters, the Italian state owes some 75 billion euros ($102 billion)to private suppliers, as reported by the Bank of Italy. The unpaid bills have starved companies of cash and triggered layoffs, factory closures and bankruptcies.
It continues to go from worse to worser for Africa's "deadliest ever" Ebola epidemic which has officially claimed well over 600 lives, and unofficially many more. Following the death of a Liberian government worker two days ago who collapsed in the international airport of Nigeria's 20-million megacity, Lagos which resulted in a "red alert" Nigeria clamping down into a quasi-quarantine state, sending specialists to airports and seaports fo containment, overnight we got an update on the other major Ebola story from last week, namely the female patient whose family broke her out of a hospital in Sierra Leone's capital Freetown, and who had been on the loose of several days, leading to a nationwide hunt. She has passed away, dying in an ambulance on the way to hospital, Reuters reports. And while the US public has been generally unaware of the severity of the breakout, this may soon change following news that a 33-year-old US doctor in Liberia was the latest to test positive for the disease.
The middle east is burning again: first it was the fascinating ascent of the brutal Al-Qaeda spinoff ISIS, creating its own Caliphate in northern Iraq and in the process taking over a third of Syrian territory as well as all of its oil infrastructure. Then, the latest iteration of the Israel vs Gaza conflict has now claimed over 1000 lives and is dragging virtually all neighboring countries into it as well. And the cherry on top is that the Libyan "liberation" by the US has just gone full circle, as the country is is now witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since Gadhafi’s ouster. End result: nearly two years after the deadly attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, moments ago the US once again shuttered its embassy in Libya, this time in Tripoli, evacuating more than 150 Americans to Tunisia. This is happening just 24 hours after the US Secretary of State was literally next door in Egypt, assuring the region that peace and stability are just around the corner.
It's gone from bad (Mapping Africa's "Totally Out Of Control" Ebola Epidemic) to worse, (Head Doctor Fighting Africa's "Out Of Control" Ebola Epidemic Contracts The Virus), to much worse (Liberian Man Tested For Ebola In World's Fourth Most Populous City), to having run out of comparaitves - although we are leery of using a superlative just yet as we have a feeling Africa's Ebola's epidemic will deteriorate before it gets better. But the latest news is bad enough: as Reuters reported moments ago, Sierra Leone officials appealed for help on Friday to trace the first known resident in the capital with Ebola whose family forcibly removed her from a Freetown hospital after testing positive for the deadly disease.
No red lines, no YouTube clips, no WMD this time: just more "straight to propaganda" speculation by the Pentagon. "Russia is preparing the transfer of more powerful weaponry into Ukraine and it could happen at any time, the Pentagon spokesman said Friday, citing the latest U.S. intelligence. The transfer could be "imminent," Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren told reporters. It's believed the weaponry will be driven into Ukraine "potentially today," Warren said, but it is not clear if Russian troops will be involved."
Update: It has been confirmed that the Liberian man who died in quarantine, did in fact have Ebola. Cue panic mitigation.
While the state of Sierra Leone is scrambling to locate the missing woman who is "on the loose" in the capital Freetown with a documented case of Ebola, we can at least close the book on the other developing story we reported yesterday involving a person who collapse in the international airport of Nigeria's megacity, Lagos, and who was being tested for Ebola. The man has died.
With "recoveries" like these who needs staged, false flag conflicts and wars covering over 10% of the globe? Well, socialist France for one which moments ago announced that total jobless rose from 3.389 million to 3.398 million, a new record high. Surprisingly, while the year-over-year unemployment change for people under 25 declined by 3.1%, it was workers 25-49 which saw a material 3.3% increase in joblessness, but it was workers aged 50 and older that saw a veritable surge in unemployment, rising by 11.5% from a year ago. Surely, just like in the US, this is due to young people retiring in droves.
Curious why Brent just spiked by over 1% (and the S&P500 took a leg lower)? The reason is headlines from Reuters citing Europe's unellected dictator, Van Rompuy who has said that sanctions should include Oil technology. However, in a hilarious twist, the unellected muppet of Europe's insolvent banks, hopes to get his sanctions cake and snort Russia's gas too, adding that Europe's sanctions should exclude the gas sector.
- LETTER FROM EU COUNCIL HEAD VAN ROMPUY TO MEMBER STATES SAYS RESTRICTIONS ON SUPPLYING TECHNOLOGY TO RUSSIA SHOULD INCLUDE OIL, BUT EXCLUDE GAS SECTOR-EU SOURCES
Here it appears that Europe's unelected leaders are somehow deluding themselves that if faced with escalating sanctions, Russia will not unilaterally cut off the gas to Europe.
According to Reuters, key measures suggested by the Commission include:
- closing EU capital markets to state-owned Russian banks,
- an embargo on arms sales to Moscow,
- restrictions on the supply of energy and dual-use technologies.
- a list of 15 individuals and 18 entities, including companies, subject to asset freezes for their role in supporting Russia's annexation of Crimea and detribalization of eastern Ukraine.
Of course, since France would blow a gasket if its Mistral ship was impacted by the sanctions, and since this really is just another populist measure not intended to really punish Russia (as that would mean a prompt shut off of European gas and an even prompter slide into a triple dip recession if not outright depression), Europe promptly "detoothed" the sanctions by announcing that they would not affect current supplies of oil, gas and other commodities from Russia, diplomats said.
Think only the US can engage in the farce known as "sanctions" (why theater, because until Obama sanctions Gazprom, yeah right... crickets... it is nothing but populist theater)? Think again. Overnight Russia's consumer protection agency, filed a lawsuit in a Moscow court - which clearly has nothing to do with recent geopolitical bickering between the former Cold War enemies - seeking to ban some of McDonald's Corp's burgers along with its milk shakes and ice cream, a court spokeswoman said on Friday. The reason for the ban: as Reuters reports, a regional branch of the consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor asked the court to declare production and sales of some products illegal due to "inappropriate physical-chemical parameters." The lawsuit's list of contested products named the fast-food chain's Royal Cheeseburger, Filet-o-Fish, Cheeseburger and Chicken Burger but not its Big Mac burger.
- Argentine holdout NML says government "choosing" to default (Reuters)
- Crunch time for Gaza truce talks as death toll passes 800 (Reuters)
- Don’t Tell Anybody About This Story on HFT Power Jump Trading (BBG)
- U.S. Accuses Russia of Shelling Eastern Ukraine (BBG)
- France’s Wheat Exports in Question as Rain Spoils Quality (BBG)
- Tapering in action: Lower printer sales hurt Xerox's revenue (Reuters)
- No liquidity? No Problem, there's an ETF for that: Bond ETFs Swelling in Europe as Trading Debt Gets Tougher (BBG)
- Herbalife hires ex-Biden chief to fend off regulators (NYPost)
- GM recalls far from calamity for some dealers who find new customers, business (Reuters)
- Bad weather likely cause of fatal Air Algerie crash: French officials (Reuters)
Passing a European Banking stress test these days is a little like farting - easy to do, mostly hot air, and yet it typically warns of something else coming down that isn't going to be pretty
Yesterday, when reporting on the latest tragic development in the wost ever Ebola outbreak to sweep through west Africa, namely that the head doctor tasked with containing the virus had himself contracted it, we commented that the "only good news, if any, is that even as the epidemic which has raged for months, and now appears to be out of control, it has not spilled out of Africa into other continents yet." That may not be the case for much longer following an update earlier today by Reuters that a Liberian man in his 40s is being tested for the deadly Ebola virus in Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, a megacity of 21 million people, the Lagos State Health Ministry said on Thursday.
With America's attention, diverted for the past week to events in the middle east and Ukraine, once again returning to domestic issues, Obama is coming under renewed pressure to address the immigration issues that has gripped the southern states as this will certainly be a hot topic issue during the midterm elections. Which is probably why the president has sent a team to Texas to assess whether a National Guard deployment would help to handle an immigration crisis at the Mexican border having so far resisted Republican calls for such a move, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, the underlying problem is getting from bad to worse, and as Bloomberg reported overnight, the flood of children at the border is now overwhelming the US, and as a result "President Obama and congressional Republicans have begun to offer the same simple-sounding solution for dealing with the flood of children crossing the U.S. border alone: Send the kids home."