Reuters

De-Dollarization Continues As Russia Seeks AIIB Membership

As Moscow and Seoul throw their support behind China's Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the question is no longer about the end of dollar hegemony but rather about the extent to which the new venture will be used to institute a global shift towards the yuan. 

Greek Energy Minister Slams "Unscrupulous, Imperialist" Germany, Will Seek "Bold Alternatives" In Russia

The Greek energy minister kicked the hornet's nest point blank earlier today when he said that "Greece is at more than breaking point; urgently needs big, bold alternatives to “German, incumbent Europe"and that "creditors behaving as unscrupulous imperialists towards distant colony, threatening submission or economic suffocation."  More importantly, Lafazanis has some ideas where to find said "big, bold alternatives." In Moscow. Greece's Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis will meet his Russian counterpart and the CEO of energy giant Gazprom in Moscow on Monday, as he hit out at the EU and Germany for tightening a 'noose' around the Greek economy.

 

Yemen "Gulf Intervention" Premium Erased, WTI Tumbles Back Below $49

Well that was a quick geopolitical event. On the heels of what was set to be Crude's best week since July 2013, Stratfor clarifying little risk of disruption to crude supplies, Goldman confirming neglible impact from Yemen and more to Iran, and reports from Saudi Arabia that "this [Yemen] operation will not go on for long, I think it will be days," WTI crude has tumbled back to the $48 handle and erased all the "gulf intervention" premium - refocusing on domestic storage concerns.

"Serious Depressive Episode" May Have Driven Germanwings Pilot To "Criminal, Mad, Suicidal" Action, Prosecutors Allege

Andreas Lubitz, the 28-year-old co-pilot who murder-suicided a plane full of 150 people into the Alps, had been judged to have suffered a "serious depressive episode" around the time he suspended his training in 2009, according to internal documents cited by Germany's Bild. As Reuters reports, Lubitz had broken off his training in 2009 and reportedly spent a year in psychiatric treatment but as the Lufthansa CEO noted, "After he was cleared again, he resumed training. He passed all the subsequent tests and checks with flying colors. His flying abilities were flawless." French Prime Minister Manuel Valls urged patience during the investigation but stated, "everything points to a criminal, mad, suicidal action that we cannot comprehend."

Frontrunning: March 27

  • Google's new CFO to make $70 million (WSJ)
  • Senate passes Republican budget with deep safety net cuts (Reuters)
  • With Yemen strikes, Saudis show growing independence from U.S. (Reuters)
  • Banks Slash Dividends as Loans Sour From Beijing To Pearl River (BBG)
  • North American Railroads Caught by Speed of Crude-Oil Collapse (BBG)
  • Japan’s Zero Inflation a Setback for Abenomics (WSJ)
  • Cooperman Says U.S. Seeks Information About Omega Trades (BBG)

Futures Wipe Out Early Gains In Volatile Session As Dollar Resumes Climb; Oil Slides

After a few days of dollar weakness due to concerns that the Fed's rate hike intentions have been derailed following some undisputedly ugly economic data (perhaps the Fed should just make it clear there will never be rate hikes during the winter ever again) the USD has resumed its rise, and as a result risk assets, after surging early in the overnight session driven by the Nikkei225 and the Emini, the "strong dollar is bad for risk" trade has re-emerged, with the Nikkei dropping almost 500 points off its intraday highs, with US equity futures poised to open lower once more, sliding nearly 20 points in the overnight session, and surprising the BTFDers who have not seen five consecutive days of "risk-off" in a long time.

Treasury Collateral Shortage Crosses The Atlantic, Makes European Landfall

We're just a little over two weeks into PSPP and signs are already beginning to show that the ECB is effectively breaking the market. "The soaring cost of borrowing government bonds in secured lending markets highlights the distortions caused by the ECB's asset-purchase scheme, which analysts say could clog up Europe's financial system," Reuters notes.

China's Stock Bubble Leaves BNP Speechless: "What Happens Next Is An Unknown-Unknown"

BNP is out with a note calling China’s equity bubble “a microcosm for the overall economy: unsustainable growth in leverage masking ever-deteriorating fundamentals and increasing future downside risks. Margin purchases are now accounting for almost 20% of equities daily turnover which itself has soared to wholly unprecedented levels in another sign of self-feeding speculative frenzy. What happens next is clearly an ‘unknown-unknown’."

The World's Greatest Oil Chokepoints, And Why Yemen Matters

About half the world's oil production is moved by tankers on fixed maritime routes, according to Reuters. The blockage of a chokepoint, even temporarily, can lead to substantial increases in total energy costs and thus, these checkpoints are crucial to global energy security. While Hormuz remains the largest chokepoint (and along with Bab el-Mandeb explains why Yemen matters so much), Malacca (as we noted previously) is quickly becoming another area of potential problems.

Saudi Arabia Imposes Naval Blockade On Red Sea Strait, Deploys 150,000 Troops As Iran Condemns Military Action

As noted earlier, the biggest significance of any Yemen conflict has little to do with its own domestic oil production, which at 133,000 bpd is negligible, but due to its location, which not only shares a border with Saudi Arabia, but more importantly due to the Bab el-Mandeb strait which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden: it is the fourth-biggest shipping chokepoint in the world by volume (3.8 million barrels a day of oil and petroleum products flowed through it in 2013) and is just 18 miles wide at its narrowest point. It’s located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. And since to Saudi Arabia preserving the logistics of oil supply is critical, it is hardly surprising that as Egypt's Ahram Gate reported earlier, the Saudi-led Firmness Storm coalition imposed a naval blockade on Bab El-Mandab strait earlier today. The Saudi navy's western fleet has also secured Yemen's main ports including Aden and Midi.

Frontrunning: March 26

  • Saudi Arabia, allies launch air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters (Reuters)
  • Pilot on Crashed Jet Was Locked Out of Cockpit, NY Times Says (BBG)
  • Why Bombing This Tiny Oil Producer Is Roiling the Energy Market (BBG)
  • U.S.-led coalition, Iraqis pound Islamic State in Tikrit (Reuters)
  • Munger Says Prepare for Harder World as Buying Power Slides (BBG),Mocks Greek ‘Idiotic Idea’ You Can Vote Yourself Rich (BBG)
  • The Central Banker Who Saved the Russian Economy From the Abyss (BBG)
  • Bank of Canada says foreign buyers complicate housing market (Reuters)
  • Investors Scoop Up Companies’ Bonds (WSJ)
  • Espirito Santo Probe Turns Mariana Mortagua Into Portuguese Star (BBG)