Reuters

Frontrunning: February 20

  • Greece Should Not Give In to Germany’s Bullying (FP)
  • Greece Can Pay Its Debts in Full, but It Won’t (WSJ)
  • Early Friday humor: Euro Region Economy Strengthens Amid Wrangling on Greece  (BBG)
  • Euro zone may need extra summit to clinch Greek deal (Reuters)
  • Oil-Drop Pain Spreads to Saudi Arabia’s Energy Behemoth (WSJ)
  • Yellen Confronts Economists’ Ignorance (BBG) - where does one even start with this one
  • ECB Plans to Push Greek Banks to Shed State Debt If Talks Fail (BBG)

Stocks Coiled To Soar On Any Positive Greek News

With the new and revised (until it is re-revised again to some future date), Greek D-Day set for today's third in the past 2 weeks Eurogroup meeting, every favorable headline serves as a springboard for ES-buying algos, while every negative headline is promptly ignored. And since this is Europe's style trial ballooning, there have been many of both with just these two hitting in the last hour:

  • GREECE, EURO ZONE NEAR DEAL ON PACKAGE, REUTERS CITES UNIDENTIFIED GREEK OFFICIAL
  • GREECE DID NOT GO FAR ENOUGH IN THEIR LATEST PROPOSAL: GREEK GVOERNMENT SPOKESMAN

Guess which one pushed ES into the green?

Oligarch Rules: Jeb Bush Surrounds Himself With Architects Of His Brother's Iraq War

It may be hard to believe, but either one of the two status quo choices for U.S. President currently being force-fed down the American public’s throat will be almost unquestionably more imperial and warlike than Barack Obama. The reason is simple. Any society that apathetically stands by as one President after the other tramples on the Constitution will be subject to a litany of increasingly tyrannical, and even insane, leaders. If you still had any doubt, today we learn that Jeb Bush is actively surrounding himself with the exact same people who under the George W. Bush administration, masterminded the terrible tragedy known as the Iraq war.

Element Of Surpwhat? Pentagon Reveals Details Of Iraq Military Offensive Involving Up To 25,000 Troops

First, the US openly allows potential Jihadist elements (don't worry, the answered "moderate" on the questionnaire) to call in B-1B strikes, and now in all its Sun Tzu-esque brilliance, the Pentagon is handing out not only issuing press releases on its military invasion calendar, but its troops deployment numbers as well. According to Reuters, the United States sees an Iraqi military offensive involving 20,000-25,000 troops to retake Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in April-May, a U.N. military official said on Thursday.

Greece Update: Working Group Ends Without Result, However "Statement Drafted That May Be Basis For Compromise"

In typical European fashion, today's Greek negotiations have ended in a Schrodingerian fashion: on one hands reports are now trickling in that the Greek Eurogroup working group has concluded their meeting after 7 hours without a result while on the other, Market News is reporting that Eurozone deputies have "drafted a statement that could well serve as a basis for a compromise between Greece and the Eurozone, to be examined by finance ministers Friday."

Greece Gives Europe A Counter-Ultimatum: Accept Or Reject Our Offer

UPDATE: *GREEK GOVT WON'T ACCEPT ULTIMATUMS, WON'T GIVE ANY: OFFICIAL

After days of repeated ultimata from The Eurogroup, as Germany (bad cop) and the rest (good cop) make optimistic sounds, this morning's rejection of Greece's latest plan (following Greek comparisons of Germany to Nazi surrender demands) has prompted something new:

*EU HAS 2 CHOICES, APPROVE OR REJECT GREEK REQUEST; EUROGROUP MEETING TO SHOW WHO WANTS A SOLUTION: GREEK OFFICIAL

Markets are stumbling on this news as Germany and the rest come to terms with not just the billions in debt on ECB and various bank balance sheets but the 49 billion other reasons to avoid Grexit that have mounted in TARGET2 liabilities.

Ukraine Fighting Shifts To Mariupol Whose Capture Would Grant Russian Land Corridor To Crimea

Yesterday, when we reported that the last Ukraine outpost in the rebel-controlled eastern territory, the town of Debaltseve, has fallen into separatist hands, we concluded that "perhaps the only question is whether fighting continues around Mariupol which would enable Russia to have a land corridor all the way to Crimea." Moments ago we got the answer when Reuters reported that "pro-Russian separatists have launched mortar attacks on government-held positions near the coastal town of Mariupol in southeast Ukraine and are building up their forces there, local military reached by telephone said on Thursday."

Frontrunning: February 19

  • Greece requests euro zone loan extension, offers big concessions (Reuters)
  • Germany Rejects Loan Request Saying Greece Must Meet Conditions (BBG)
  • Did the Fed Just Enter the Currency Wars (BBG)
  • French consumer prices fall for first time since 2009 (Reuters)
  • Oil falls sharply after U.S. crude inventories rise (Reuters)
  • High-Speed Firm Virtu Revives IPO Plans (WSJ)
  • Fed Tiptoes Into Rate-Hike Debate (Hilsenrath)
  • Rajoy’s Nemesis Is Back: Anti-Graft Editor Targets Vote (BBG)

Stocks Rebound On Hopes Of Resolution To Greek Impasse

After yesterday's FOMC Minutes, despite a huge dovish reversal by the Fed - one which increasingly puts its "credibility" and reputation at risk - stocks were unable to close green, or even above 2100, for one simple reason: uncertainty with the fate of Greece. Overnight there has not been much more clarity, when as previously reported Greece submitted a 6 month extension request to its master loan agreement but not to its bailout extension, a nuance lost in the annals of diplomacy. But is this the much-awaited Greek capitulation? Or will the Eurogroup reject this too? The answer may be available in a few hours after an emergency Eurogroup meeting due later today. However, as usual stocks are ready to "price in" yet another Greek conflict resolution, and after futures were lower by 7 points overnight, were up 4 points at last check: a rebound which will not correct if the latest Greek "compromise" fails to deliver.

Greece Requests Six Month Loan Agreement Extension, Denies It Requests "Memorandum" Extension

As had been leaked in advance, earlier today Jeroen Dijsselbloem first reported that Greece had submitted a request to euro-area creditors to extend the availability of bailout funds for six months, i.e., an extension to the "Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement" not an extension to the Greek "bailout programme" aka the Memorandum per se, which has been the sticking point in all Greek government public addresses in recent days. Greece further asked for best use of flexibility in "current arrangement", which supposedly means an unconditional extension with Greece given the liberty to determine what happens in the next 6 months without Troika intervention. But was it a bailout extension or just a loan extension? GREECE DENIES HAS REQUESTED EXTENSION OF 'BAILOUT'-OFFICIAL: MNI

In short, confusion reigns once more.

Central Banks Have Lost Control Of The World

With the world's oldest central bank - Sweden's Riksbank - taking the plunge into negative rates, there have been 19 'eases' by central banks this year, Morgan Stanley warns of "ghosts of the 1930s." With competitive 'easing' stoking fears of international currency wars, The Telegraph notes however that looser monetary policy is not the order of the day everywhere in the world, and herein lies potential danger for the world economy.

Explosion at Exxon Refinery In Southern California - Live Feed

It's not been a good week for oil safety in America. Following the derailment earlier in the week, CBS now reports an explosion at Exxon Mobil's Torrance, California refinery (processes an average of 155,000 barrels of crude oil per day) occured at 850amPT...

*EXXON SAYS EMERGENCY PROCEDURES ACTIVATED AT TORRANCE REFINERY
*EXXON TORRANCE SAID TO HAVE EXPLOSION IN FCC

While dismissed as 'normal flaring' to begin with, Exxon has confirmed it is not and "shelter in place" has been ordered as ash is falling up to 3 miles away.

Hundreds Of Ukraine Troops Surrender As Besieged Town Of Debaltseve Falls To Rebels

Last week, German equities soared to record highs with the Dax surpassing 11K, not only on the imminent arrival of the ECB's Q€ which provides a risk-less bid to all asset classes, but on news that a second Ukraine ceasefire had been achieved in Minsk. Well, just like the first Minsk "ceasefire", one can promptly forget the just as "successful" second one, because overnight, after a several week siege, the Ukraine town of Debaltseve finally fell to rebel forces with "troops of Ukraine’s Armed Forces laying down arms en masse,” according to Donetsk rebel official Maxim Leschenko says, cited by Tass news service.