Reuters

Albert Edwards' "WOW!" Chart, Or Why "Draghi Makes Greenspan Look Like A Rank Amateur"

"Mario Draghi and the ECB’s manipulation of asset prices makes Greenspan’s Fed look like a rank amateur. More shocking though than the plunge in the euro, and more shocking even that 25% of sovereign eurozone bonds now trade in negative territory, is what has happened to eurozone equity valuations. For, as we approach the sixth anniversary of the US cyclical bull market, the PE expansion of eurozone equities is simply off the scale!" - Albert Edwards

US "Urges" Vietnam To Stop Helping Russian Bombers Re-Fuel

It appears Washington is losing some control among its allies. Amid a flurry of high-level visits to Vietnam last year, the US has been pouring in aid and assistance in health, education, landmines clearance, scholarships and nuclear energy. The reason is now becoming clear. As Reuters reports, Vietnam has been allowing Russia to use a former US military base to refuel nuclear-capable bombers as it rattles its sabre over the Asia-Pac region.. and America would like that to stop: "we have urged Vietnamese officials to ensure that Russia is not able to use its access to Cam Ranh Bay to conduct activities that could raise tensions in the region." All that was missing was the "or else."

Two Police Officers Shot Outside Ferguson Police Department: Shooting Caught On Tape

Just hours after Ferguson, MO police chief Thomas Jackson submitted his resignation - the latest in a string of Ferguson officials to resign in the week since a scathing Justice Department report found widespread racially biased abuses in the city's policing and municipal court, and also found that the city used police as a collection agency, citing traffic citations to black residents to boost city coffers through fines, creating a "toxic environment" - two police Ferguson officers were shot during a protest outside Ferguson, Missouri police headquarters early on Thursday.

Frontrunning: March 12

  • As reported here first: The U.S. Has Too Much Oil and Nowhere to Put It (BBG)
  • Dollar Drops From 12-Year High as S&P Futures, Bonds Gain (BBG); Dollar Bulls Retreat From 12-Year High to Euro With Fed in View (BBG)
  • Clinton Private Email Plan Drew Concerns Early On (WSJ)
  • ECB Bond Buying Not Needed With Economy Improving, Weidmann Says (BBG)
  • China Feb new yuan loans well above forecast (Reuters)
  • U.S. probing report Secret Service agents drove car into White House barrier (Reuters)
  • Kerry tells Republicans: you cannot modify Iran-U.S. nuclear deal (Reuters)
  • PBOC Pledges to Press on With Rate Liberalization Amid Slowdown (BBG)
  • China Prepares Mergers for Big State-Owned Enterprises (WSJ)

Bank Of Korea Unexpectedly Cuts Interest Rate To Record Low 1.75%, 24th Central Bank To Ease In 2015

The currency war salvos just keep on coming.  Moments ago the BOK unexpectedly (the move was predicted by just 2 of 17 economists polled by Bloomberg) cut its policy rate from 2.00% to a record low 1.75%, in what is clearly a full-blown retaliation against the collapse currency of its biggest export competitor, Japan, whose currency has cratered to a level that many in South Korea believe has become a direct subsidy for its competing exports. As such the only question is why the BOK didn't cut earlier. And following the surprise rate cut by Thailand earlier today, the "surprise" South Korean rate cut means there are now 24 easing policy actions by central banks in 2015 alone.

"Monetarism Hasn't Worked Anywhere" - Reality On China, Finally

China remains an export economy no matter how hard they try to convince the world they are moving otherwise. The idea of creating internal “demand” as a means to extricate marginal changes from everybody else is undoubtedly a good idea, even a noble one, but the reality of China as it exists top-down isn’t conducive for such a transformation. Further, that just isn’t realistic under the global conditions that have persisted since the Great Recession was declared over. In that respect, there isn’t much to separate what is occurring now from the Great Recession itself.

US To Send Drones, Humvees To Ukraine, Boost Russia Sanctions As Moscow May "Deploy Nuclear Weapons In Crimea"

So much for the second Minsk ceasefire. A few hours ago, the US returned to its strategy of escalating Russian "costs" when it placed sanctions on eight Ukrainian separatists and a Russian bank, warning that recent attacks by rebels armed by Russia violated a European-brokered ceasefire in the war-torn country. The Russian response to the latest sanction pending, but the response may have been hinted at earlier today when an official from Russia's Foreign Ministery said the nation has the right to deploy nuclear arms in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. And finally, indicating that the semi-hot escalation between the US and Russia is close to getting out of control, Vice President Biden told Ukraine's president Wednesday the U.S. will send more aid to the country, which U.S. officials said will include small drones and armored Humvees.

Zombie Banks Finance Buybacks, Dividends With Preferreds They May Never Redeem

"Much of the money for buybacks and higher dividends is coming from the banks issuing preferred shares. To investors they look a lot like bonds that pay interest. But for regulators, preferred shares serve as a cushion against any future losses, in part because they never have to be repaid," Reuters notes, suggesting TBTFs are effectively robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Thai Central Bank's Surprise Action Is 23rd Rate Cut Of The Year

Whether the world's central banks are 'co-operating' or competing is up for question but the tsunami of policy easings so far this year is making the 'surprise' rate cut, unsurprising. As Bloomberg reports, Thailand today became the latest to execute an unexpected interest-rate cut, bringing the total to 23 in 2015. While only 6 of 22 economists expected it, the Southeast Asian country -- a onetime export powerhouse that’s seen its manufacturing mojo dim somewhat in recent years amid historic flooding and political infighting -- lowered its main rate to 1.75%. "The surprise move suggests the economy is much weaker than expected," noted one analyst, adding that "it is negative for the baht and there’s concern that lower rates may lead to more outflows as the U.S. is expected to raise rates."

Venezuela Begins Liquidating Its Gold

In an attempt to secure some stability, i.e., funds, now that Venezuela is no longer able to tap Chinese bailout loans as last-recourse funding, Reuters reported that Venezuela's central bank is in talks with Wall Street banks to create a gold swap that would allow it to monetize some $1.5 billion of the metal held as international reserves, according to government sources familiar with the operation.  Under the swap, the central bank would provide 1.4 million troy ounces in exchange for cash.

Tsipras Slams “Crimes Of Third Reich And Hitler’s Hordes", Threatens Seizure Of German Assets

Earlier today, Greek Prime Minister Tsipras was busy not making German friends, following the latest Greek overture to confiscate German assets in response for allegedly unpaid German WWII reparations. “After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the legal and political conditions were created for this issue to be solved. But since then, German governments chose silence, legal tricks and delay. And I wonder, because there is a lot of talk at the European level these days about moral issues: is this stance moral?” Tsipras said and added that "despite the crimes of the Third Reich and Hitler’s hordes, the German debt was written off." As a result Greece is now seeking to recoup German WWII reparations which may amount to as much as 80% of Greek GDP!