Reuters

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Sterling At Risk Of "Large-Scale Devaluation" As Currency Wars Intensify





The pound took a fresh beating yesterday as concerns of currency wars and debasement of sterling led to another sell-off and experts said the currency was at risk of a "large-scale devaluation". Sterling trails only Japan's yen as the worst performer against a basket of international currencies this year as a 4.5 per cent decline fuels import prices and pushes up the cost of food, insurance and other necessities for hundreds of thousands of households.  As central banks tolerate higher levels of inflation, the pound is set to weaken further across the board particularly against safe haven gold. UBS warned that the pound seems clearly at risk of following the yen and "suffering the next large-scale devaluation." Dealers also noted weekend comments from Bank of England rate-setter Martin Weale, who warned the pound was still too high to help the UK economy rebalance effectively. The continued pressure on the currency comes after its biggest weekly loss since June last year amid gloom over weak growth prospects.  The Bank of England has signalled it is willing to tolerate higher inflation for longer, while the pound's safe-haven appeal has also waned as the European Central Bank makes explicit commitments to prop up Eurozone strugglers and preserve the single currency.

 
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Frontrunning: February 19





  • Here comes the replay of 2011 as China starts the counter-reflation moves: China Central Bank Reverses Cash Pump (WSJ)
  • Security group suspects Chinese military is behind hacking attacks (Reuters)
  • Iceland Foreshadows Death of Currencies Lost in Crisis (BBG)
  • China Allows More Firms to Sell Mutual Funds to Bolster Market (BBG)
  • Uncertainty looms for Italians (FT)
  • Forget the big comeback; Detroit focuses on what can be saved (Reuters)
  • SAC’s Cohen May Face SEC Suit as Deposition Hurts Case (BBG)
  • Hollande wrestles with austerity demands (FT)
  • Obama Golf With Woods in Florida Risks Muddling Messsage (BBG)
  • Simpson and Bowles to Offer Up Deficit (WSJ)
  • Aso Says Japanese Government Not Planning Foreign Bond Buys (BBG) - ... until it changes its tune once more
  • Abe to Decide on Bank of Japan Governor Nomination Next Week (BBG)
 
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Platinum Spikes Following Report Of People Shot Outside Amplats South African Mine





The tender (and doomed to fail) truce obtained several months ago between miners and platinum mining companies is formally over, following reports from Johanesburg that at least five workers have been shot outside of the the Rusetenberg mine by security officials during a standoff between rival unions. Reuters adds: "Johannesburg - At least five workers were shot on Monday after security guards at an Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg opened fire following clashes between rival union factions, eNCA television said. The station said it believed one worker at the Siphumelele shaft had been killed."

 
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Frontrunning: February 18





  • G-20 Signals Support for Japan Easing Without Yen Talk (BBG) - but how will Mrs Watanabe know to sell the JPY without nightly proddings?
  • Obama Faces Risks in Pipeline Decision (NYT)
  • White House Immigration Plan Leaked (WSJ)
  • Reader’s Digest Is Bankrupt as Iconic Magazine Falters (BBG)
  • Venezuela's Chavez in surprise return from Cuba (Reuters)
  • German Recovery Hinges on Euro Zone (WSJ)
  • Hong Kong’s Bankruptcy Requests Climb to Almost Two-Year High (BBG)
  • China New Year Retail Sales Growth Slows on Frugal Drive (BBG)
  • Debt Bubble Born of Easy Cash Prompts Swedish Rule Review (BBG)
  • In Europe's tax race, it's the base, not the rate, that counts (Reuters)
  • Ugliest Danish Banks Find No Buyers in Toxic Asset Trap (Bloomberg)
  • Italian Undecided Voters Targeted in Campaign’s Last Week (BBG)
 
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"Great Rotation", Over





It would appear that the hopes and commissions of each and every talking head wealth manager and/or central banker has been dashed on the rocks of 'fiscal cliff' tax-hike front-running and a citizenry who remain far more cognizant of the unreality of the real world than the reality being preached by the market. There were some fund flows this week into equity funds (the lowest in six weeks) but, as Reuters notes, it was all into international funds as domestic funds saw outflows and domestic bond funds once again saw inflows. As Goldman Sachs' funds flow and positioning monitor shows - Rotation, Over.

 
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If Europe Were a House... It'd Be Condemned





if Europe were a single house, it would be rotten to its core with termites and mold. It should have been condemned years ago, but the one thing that has kept it “on the market” was the fact that its owners were all very powerful, connected individual. We are now finding out that the owners not only knew that the home should have been condemned but were in fact getting rich via insider deals while those who lived in the house were in grave danger. 

 
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Goldman Implicated In Heinz Insider Trading Probe





When the news broke of the SEC's action against the HNZ call option insider traders, and we posted the full SEC charge against the perpetrators whose actions Zero Hedge reported on first, we asked this regarding one of the entities named: "the trade occurred through an "omnibus account located in Zurich, Switzerland in the name of GS Bank IC Buy Open List Options GS & Co c/o Zurich Office (the "GS Account")." Does GS stand for Goldman Sachs one wonders?" This followed our prior post, rhetorically titled "Guess Who Was Buying HNZ Stock From Its Clients", with the answer of course being Goldman Sachs, which had had HNZ stock at a Sell rating for months, and which just days before reiterated its negative sentiment. But for the most part the post was written in jest. Turns out the joke was on everyone else, because just as we feared, or rather knew, Goldman was indeed implicated all along.

 
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What Happens to a Financial System When Its Two Biggest Pillars Collapse?





Europe keeps banking on these two pillars holding the system up. But the pillars are cracking... it's only a matter of time before the whole thing comes crashing down.

 
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German Lawyer To Head Vatican Bank





A German pope may be vacating the Vatican but a German lawyer is about to head its bank, an institution some say is as important if not more, and whose shady dealing some say may have been the reason for the pope premature departure. Per Reuters, "The Vatican appointed German lawyer Ernst von Freyberg to be the new president of its bank on Friday, filling a post left vacant since May when the previous head was ousted from the scandal-tainted institution. The appointment was made by a commission of cardinals and approved by Pope Benedict and is likely to be one of his last major decisions before he resigns at the end of the month. The Vatican has been trying to shed a reputation for a lack of financial transparency at the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), but has been dogged by scandals for decades." And no, apparently he does not work for Goldman.

 
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Meteor Travelling At 19 Miles Per Second Explodes Over Russian Urals, 500 Injured - Video





In perhaps the oddest news of the day, workers in the Chelyabinsk region in the Russian Urals were greeted this morning with a spectacular show: an exploding meteor. Bloomberg reports "A meteor exploded in the skies above Russia’s Urals region and sent shock waves that shattered windows, hurting hundreds of people, hours before an asteroid half the size of a football field hurtles past the Earth. The meteor broke apart above the Chelyabinsk region at about 7:25 a.m. Moscow time, the Emergencies Ministry’s division in the Urals district said today on its website. “A serious meteor fell,” billionaire Sergey Galitskiy, chief executive officer of OAO Magnit, Russia’s biggest food retailer by value, said in a post on his Twitter Inc. account. “At our hypermarket in Emanzhelinsk, windows were blown out, the roof shook, there was a strong shock wave.”  More than 290 people reported injuries, according to the website of Chelyabinsk Region Governor Mikhail Yurevich. The number may be higher than 500, Interfax reported, citing an unidentified Interior Ministry official."

 
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Frontrunning: February 15





  • G20 struggles over forex, at odds over debts (Reuters)
  • Alwaleed Sells Airbus A380 to Invest in Middle East Firms (BBG)
  • GOP Stalls Vote on Pick for Pentagon (WSJ)
  • ECB officials rebuff currency targeting as G20 meets (Reuters)
  • Not good for the reflation effort: Muto leads as Japan PM close to choosing nominee for Bank of Japan chief (Reuters)
  • M&A Surges as Confidence Spurs Deals in Computers to Consumer (BBG)
  • JPMorgan’s head of equity prop trading Gulati to launch own fund (FT)
  • Tiffany & Co. sues Costco over engagement rings labeled ‘Tiffany' (WaPo)
  • JPMorgan Said to Fire Traders, Realign Pay Amid Slump (BBG)
  • Broker draws Tullett into Libor scandal  (FT)
  • Airbus drops Lithium-Ion batteries for A350 (Reuters)
 
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Start Your Day With The Usual Disappointing European Economic Data





The quiet overnight session was started by comments from Buba's Weidmann, whose statement, among others, that the ECB will not cut interest rates just to weaken the EUR together with the assertion that the EUR is not seriously overvalued, sent the EURUSD briefly higher in pre-European open trading. Of secondary importance was his "hope" that the ECB will not have to buy bonds (it will once the market gets tired of Draghi open-ended verbal intervention), something he himself admitted when he said the ECB "may be forced to show its hand on OMT." The stronger EUR did not last long, and in a peculiar reversal from prior weeks when the European open led to a spike in the cross, saw the EURUSD dip to three week lows, touching on 1.3310, before modestly rebounding. This validity of the drop was confirmed two hours later when in the first key economic datapoint, it was revealed the Euroearea exports fell 1.8% in December, the most in five months. As SocGen said "the monthly trade data rounded off what has undoubtedly been a pretty dismal quarter for the euro area. Overall euro area exports fell by 1.8% m/m in December although this was offset by a even bigger 3% decline in imports - which itself reflects the weakness of domestic demand in some euro area countries. Maybe of more interest is the latest data on the destination of euro exports. These continue to show a pronounced weakness in global demand (albeit for November). This indicates that weakness in Q4 is not solely a domestic affair but also reflects a wider slowdown in the global economy."

 
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Mike Bloomberg Wants To Ban Styrofoam





If 2012 was the year Mayor Mike crushed the (apparently second) greatest evil in society: super-size sugary drinks, in 2013 he has found a new target in his neverending nanny-state vendetta: the pure, concentrated evil that is styrofoam.

 
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Meet America's Largest, Brand New Airline





Until last night, United which combined with Continental in 2010, was the nation's largest airline (surpassing Delta which had merged with Northwest some two years earlier). This morning this changed when the previously disclosed merger between US Airways and bankrupt American Airlines, was formally announced. The resulting airline, with some 26% of the market share is now the nation's largest legacy carrier, bigger than United at 19.3%, Delta with 19.2%, and discounted Southwest with 18.2%. Below are some of the key highlights of this brand new airline behemoth. And just like that, taxpayers now eagerly await the bailout of United South-American Deltawest Airlines in 2-3 years: the first Too Big To Take Off airline.

 
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"This Time It's Different" In Love And Stocks - Valentine's Day Edition





It’s Valentine’s Day – a unique combination of Hallmark Holiday, celebration of romantic love, and source of self-loathing angst, all depending on your personal situation.  And in that Rorschach test located in the local drugstore’s greeting card aisle, ConvergEx's Nick Colas finds some useful lessons about investing and economic development.  Most divorced Americans remarry, for example, within four years of the end of their first marriage.  Any surprise that investors are looking to hitch up with stocks again, some six years after that messy divorce in 2007?  More scientifically, the brain functions of people in love use the same bits of the cranium as we all light up when assessing the pros and cons of a given investment.  “Don’t fall in love with your positions” is good advice. A central observation to a lot of Nick's work: investing isn’t any different from many of the other decisions we make in our lives.  Love, heartache, winning investments, losing positions – it matters not.  Our decisions in life all filter through the same personality. There’s an old saying: “What does every bad relationship you’ve ever had share in common? You.”  More optimistically, all the good ones have the same feature.

 
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