It has been a bad week for the Greek finance minister: first, under pressure from Europe, Tsipras was forced to sideline the "combatied" Varoufakis from future Troika negotiations, then his wife had to protect him from an attack by "young anarchists", and now - adding insult to injury - an anonymous EU source said that, without Varoufakis present, Greece and its creditors have made "significant progress" and that there were "encouraging" signs from meetings over the weekend. Meanwhile, the maverick economist's 90-year-old father jumped to his son's defence, claiming his European counterparts were jealous of him.
On a day full of exultation for The Oracle of Omaha, we could not help but see the irony of Warren Buffett losing yet another bet and not paying up...
Facing a pensioner rebellion and a looming payment due to the IMF, Greece’s back is now truly against the wall. As Handelsblatt reports, even if a deal were reached with creditors this weekend, it may now be logistically impossible for Greece to make a €780 million payment scheduled for May 12. Oh well, there's always war reparations...
U.S. Air Force General and NATO supreme allied commander Philip Breedlove is ratcheting up the rhetoric by suggesting to the Senate that Russia is planning to shatter what remains of the fragile ceasefire in Ukraine by launching an imminent offensive. “Many [Russian] actions are consistent with preparations for another offensive,” the general said, without fully explaining how he came to his conclusion.
JP Morgan’s massive silver buying brings to mind the Hunt Brothers' attempt to corner the silver market in the late 1970s. The Texas oil-tycoons tried to corner the silver market by accumulating a massive silver futures position. Ted Butler has estimated that JP Morgan may currently hold far more than their official figure of 55 million ounces.
- Record month ends in pain as biotech, small-caps, Apple tumble (BBG)
- Japan inflation rises for first time in nearly a year (WSJ)
- US Navy starts to accompany ships in strait where Iran seized cargo carrier (WSJ)
- Russia may be readying for new Ukraine offensive: NATO commander (Reuters)
- Big banks use loophole to avoid ban (WSJ)
- China April official PMI shows factories struggling to grow (Reuters)
- CME suspends traders for alleged Sarao-like manipulation (BBG)
According to the latest SNB financial release, 18%, or CHF 95 ($102 billion) of the assets held on the SNB's balance sheet are, drumroll, foreign stocks! In other words, the SNB holds 15% of Switzerland's GDP in equities!
- Marchers protest police violence in Baltimore, New York (Reuters)
- Majority of Financial Pros Now Say Greece Is Headed for Euro Exit (BBG)
- Greece signals concessions in crunch talks with lenders (Reuters)
- Greece, Euro-Area Partners Target Deal by Sunday (BBG)
- Iglesias Says EU Risking Right-Wing Backlash With Greek Pressure (BBG)
- Student-Loan Surge Undercuts Millennials’ Place in U.S. Economy (BBG)
- Majors’ Quandary: Why Drill for Oil When They Can Buy Somebody Else’s? (WSJ)
"Greece is to allow money held abroad by its taxpayers to be declared without penalty and taxed at a discount rate, a move to help overcome a cash crunch threatening the country with bankruptcy," Reuters reports. This may sound like a good idea in principle, but we’re not entirely sure why this represents a compelling value proposition for those who are storing their euros in the safe confines of Swiss bank accounts.
The reason this is a politically explosive revelation is because the Clinton Foundation promised to disclose its donors as a condition of Hillary Clinton becoming secretary of state. Shortly after Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, the Clinton Foundation signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the Obama White House agreeing to reveal its contributors every year.
- Police enforce curfew in Baltimore, disperse protesters (Reuters)
- Saudi king resets succession to cope with turbulent times (Reuters)
- Euro-Area Bank Lending Increases for First Time Since 2012 (BBG)
- Riksbank Increases Bond Purchases as Key Rate Left Unchanged (BBG)
- Greek Banks Get More Funds as ECB Weighs Collateral Discount (BBG)
- Greek bank deposits drop 1.36 pct in March for sixth month in a row (Reuters)
- Sarao Remains in Jail After Failing to Pay Bail at Hearing (BBG)
When it comes to much more personal and direct attacks, Varoufakis can at least rely on his wife. As AP reports, last night while dining with his wife in the bohemian Exarchia district of Athens, "a neighborhood popular with extreme leftists and anarchists" a group of "young anarchists" barged into the restaurant telling them to leave "their area" at which point they "threw glass objects at Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and his wife" according to a finance ministry statement. According to Reuters, Varoufakis said his wife hugged him to shield him from the attack, the finance ministry said. They tried "for a few seconds to reach me without hitting her," he said in the ministry statement.
Seven years ago, the U.S. Army War College issued a report calling on the military to be prepared should they need to put down civil unrest within the country. Summarizing the report, investigative journalist Chris Hedges declared, “The military must be prepared, the document warned, for a ‘violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,’ which could be provoked by ‘unforeseen economic collapse,’ ‘purposeful domestic resistance,’ ‘pervasive public health emergencies’ or ‘loss of functioning political and legal order.’ The ‘widespread civil violence,’ the document said, ‘would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities in extremis to defend basic domestic order and human security.’” At what point will all of the government’s carefully drawn plans for dealing with civil unrest, “homegrown” terrorism and targeting pre-crime become a unified blueprint for locking down the nation?
As IBTimes reports, Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton $200,000 for a speech just before lobbying the State Department (then run by Hillary Clinton) on legislation involving the Export-Import Bank, which was set to provide the financing for the purchase of millions in aircraft from a company partially owned by the Wall Street bank.