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Austria's 3rd Largest Bank Goes Full Bear Stearns: CEO Blames "Short Sellers" For Firm's Demise





You know it's bad when... you start blaming speculators. Very reminiscent of the "it's not us, we have a solid balance sheet, it's the short selling speculators" bullshit in the days before and after the stock crashes of American Insurance Group, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch; mere days after his bank's bonds crashed, the CEO of Raiffeissen Bank (Austria's 3rd largest) has stated (unequivocally) that "panic was created artificially," blaming short-sellers for his bank's demise.

 
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Putin's Top Security Advisor: "Current US Approach Leads To Inevitable Confrontation With Russia And China"





The current US approach will lead to inevitable confrontation with Russia and China.... Beginning with the global financial crisis in 2008, the U.S. decided to recover at the expense of others, including with the help of military adventurism and the destruction of full governments, employing the theory of ‘managed chaos.'

 
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Eurogroup-Greece "Deal Or No Deal" Press Conference Begins - Live Feed





EU President Jeroen Dijsselbloem is about to explain how there is an agreement in principle (if Greece folds, follows the program it's been given and behaves itself - which they have since confirmed they won't) and that discussions are ongoing (haven't changed on bit all day)...

 
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Obama May Attack ISIS In Any Country He Chooses, Deploy Ground Troops On A Whim, Delay Afghanistan Pull Out





The Nobel peace prize-winning president has been busy today: not only did he already petition Congress earlier to declare war on the Islamic State, a non-country which technically doesn't exist, but now he plans to expands his "war powers" to any other place in the world. From Reuters:

  • MILITARY AUTHORIZATION BILL WOULD PRESERVE PRESIDENT'S ABILITY TO ORDER OPERATIONS AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE IN COUNTRIES OTHER THAN IRAQ, SYRIA - WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN
  • WHITE HOUSE SAYS COMBAT BOOTS ON THE GROUND MAY BE USED FOR HOSTAGE RESCUE OPERATIONS
  • OBAMA NOT RULING OUT DEPLOYING COMBAT TROOPS ON GROUND TO ASSIST AIR STRIKES AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE, IF PENTAGON RECOMMENDS IT -WHITE HOUSE

And not only that: also according to Reuters, Obama is considering a request from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to slow the pace of the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

 
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Deserted US Embassy In Yemen Immediately Seized By Armed Rebels





Moments after its US inhabitants leave the embassy in Yemen for one final time, it is now officially owned by the new, less than supported by the US, rebel regime.

  • ARMED HOUTHI REBELS SEIZE U.S. EMBASSY VEHICLES AFTER AMBASSADOR, DIPLOMATS LEAVE COUNTRY - LOCAL MEMBERS OF EMBASSY STAFF

We could make a token witty comment about how this entire episode is emblematic and symbolic of all US foreign policy in recent history, but at this point, what difference does it make?

 
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Full Circle: Obama Asks Congress For Troop Deployment In Iraq, War Authorization On Islamic State





Update: OBAMA ASKS CONGRESS TO AUTHORIZE WAR AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE: AP

Several years ago, Obama impressed a handful of crusty, old people in Norway who believed the recent Illinois senator's vision of a world without war, validated by his eagerness to end the war in Iraq and withdraw US troops to their native country. He got an award for it. Today, Obama will finally complete the circle started in August when, under the premise of "humanitarian intervention", allegedly meant to save a group refugees stranded on a mountain, Obama launched an airborne coalition effort to destroy the same group of radical jihadist extremists that the US was assisting when they were merely fighting the Assad regime in Syria. Because today is when Obama will officially request that those same troops that he so liberally pulled out in compliance with his Nobel Peace Prize, be put back in Iraq in order to declare war on, drumroll, a nation that doesn't technically even exist: the Islamic State.

 
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Frontrunning: February 11





  • Methodology change sees Indian economy grow faster than China's (Reuters)
  • Can Greek Businesses Even Survive? (WSJ)
  • Putin to travel to Minsk talks raising hopes of a deal over Ukraine (Euronews)
  • Ukraine contact group representatives deny ceasefire deal in Minsk (Reuters)
  • Moar buybacks! Hedge Fund-Backed Investor Puts Himself Up for G.M. Board (NYT)
  • Ukraine peace summit overshadowed by some of war's worst fighting (Reuters)
  • Time for non-non-GAAP excluding China: Tesla CEO threatens firings after dismal China sales - sources (Reuters)
  • Jon Stewart leaving Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show' (Reuters)
 
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Stocks Coiled In Anticipation Of Today's Eurogroup Meeting





The only question on traders' minds today, with the lack of any macro news out of the US (except for the DOE crude oil inventory update at 10:30am Eastern expecting a build of 3.5MM, down from 6.33MM last week, and the 10 Year bond auction at 1pm) is which Greek trip abroad is more important: that of FinMin Varoufakis to Belgium where he will enter the lion's den of Eurogroup finance ministers at 3:30pm GMT, or that of the foreign minister Kotzias who has already arrived in Moscow, and where we already got such blockbuster statements as:

LAVROV: RUSSIA WILL CONSIDER AID REQUESTS, IF GREECE MAKES THEM; KOTZIAS: GREECE IS WILLING TO MEDIATE BETWEEN EU, RUSSIA

Or perhaps both are critical, as what happens in Brussels will surely impact the outcome of the Greek trip to Russia?

 
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Tomorrow Greece Decides: Europe... Or Russia





"Greece's Foreign Minister Nikolaos Kotzias is to visit Moscow on Wednesday to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Interfax and TASS news agencies reported on Monday citing a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry." In other words, at precisely the same time as the FinMin is in Brussels discussing the fate, or lack thereof, of Greece in the Eurozone, the new Greek foreign miniser will be in the Kremlin, getting instant updates from Brussels and perhaps discussing the fate of Greece in the Eurasian Economic Union. Or put in the simplest of terms, tomorrow Greece will decide: Europe, or Russia.

 
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After Greece Warns It May Get Funds From Russia Or China, Europe Said To Propose 6 Month Extension





Update: EUROPEAN COMMISSION SAYS THERE IS NO FORMAL PROPOSAL FOR GREECE BUT TALKS ARE INTENSIVE

* * *

Did Europe just fold? Moments ago Bloomberg blasted a headline which has to be validated (and may well be refuted considering this is Europe), which said that:

COMMISSION TO PROPOSE 6 MONTH EXTENSION FOR GREECE - SOURCES.

So did Greece just win the first round of its stand off with Brussels, and why? What emerged as the biggest point of leverage overnight was the following threat reported hours ago by Reuters, citing the Greek defense minister Kammenos, who essentially threatened to go to Russia and/or China if Europe decline to cooperate.

 
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Despite The ECB's Worst Wishes, Greek Deposit Outflows Said To Slow To A Trickle In February





Since central banks are there 24/7 and on site to intervene and "eliminate" Greek leverage at any flashing red headline, it is up to Greece to create a narrative that the European leverage in turn is also weaker, which means to project, whether based on truth or otherwise, that Greek bank deposit outflows are slowing. That is precisely what Reuters reported moments ago when it reported, citing Greek bankers, that deposit outflows have slowed so far in February after a sharp increase estimated for a month earlier, but savers are still uneasy over the new leftist government's standoff with its official lenders.

 
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Frontrunning: February 10





  • Greek defense minister says Greece has Plan B if EU rigid on deal (Reuters)
  • Germany rejects Greek claim for World War Two reparations (Reuters)
  • Greece to Seek $11.3 Billion in Financing to Avoid Funding Crunch (BBG)
  • Lazard Sees $113 Billion Greek Debt Cut as ‘Reasonable’ (BBG)
  • U.S. Navy Considers Setting Up Ship Base in Australia (BBG)
  • Dalio’s Bridgewater Fund Said to Rise 8.3% in January (BBG)
  • As U.S. Exits, China Takes On Afghanistan Role (WSJ)
  • EU money funds cut exposure to bank debt (FT)
  • China Inflation Drops to Five-Year Low in January (WSJ)
  • Oil-Price Rebound Predicted (WSJ)
 
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Market Wrap: Stocks Drift, Dollar Stronger, Oil Snaps Rally, Treasurys Slide On Microsoft Deal





So far it has been largely a repeat of the previous overnight session, where absent significant macro drivers, the attention again remains focused both on China, which reported some truly ugly inflation (with 0.8% Y/Y CPI the lowest since Lehman, just call it deflation net of the "goalseeking") data (which as usually is "good for stocks" pushing the SHCOMP 1.5% higher as it means even more easing), and on Greece, which has not made any major headlines in the past 24 hours as patience on both sides is growing thin ahead of the final "bluff" showdown between Greece and the Eurozone is imminent. The question as usual is who will have just a fraction more leverage in the final assessment - Greece has made its ask known, and it comes in the form of 10 billion euros in short-term "bridge" financing consisting of €8 billion increase in Bills issuance and €1.9 billion in ECB profits, as it tries to stave off a funding crunch, a proposal which will be presented on the Wednesday meeting of euro area finance ministers in Brussels. The question remains what Europe's countrbid, if any, will be. For the answer: stay tuned in 24 hours.

 
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