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Frontrunning: December 4





  • Thanks Fed: Meet the high schooler who made $300K trading penny stocks under his desk (Verge)
  • Protesters block NY streets after officer cleared in chokehold death (Reuters)
  • U.S. Plans Probe of New York Police Chokehold Death (BBG)
  • Sharpton Leads Civil-Rights Meeting on Chokehold Decision (BBG)
  • Staten Island on Edge Over Grand Jury Decision In Death of Eric Garner (WSJ)
  • Draghi Tests Speed Limit as ECB Awaits Stimulus Evidence (BBG)
  • European Stocks Approach Seven-Year High Before Draghi Statement (BBG)
  • Britain targets multinationals that try to dodge taxes (Reuters)
  • Oil Trains Hide in Plain Sight (WSJ)
 
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Key Events In The Coming Week





Following last week's holiday-shortened week, which was supposed to be quiet and peaceful and was anything but thanks to OPEC's shocking announcement and a historic plunge in crude prices, we have yet another busy week of macroeconomic reports to look forward to.

 
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The Yellow Cab Bubble Pops: Taxi Medallion Prices Tumble 17% From Last Year's Record Highs





A little over a year ago, we presented a "Yellow" asset, which was "the best performer of the past year." It wasn't gold: it was yellow cab medallions.  As we wrote then, "the best returning asset class traded in the NY Metro area is yellow but doesn't change hands on Wall Street.... over the last 12 months New York City taxi medallions have risen 49% in price, besting the relatively humdrum returns of the S&P 500 (up 21%), the NASDAQ (22%) and the Dow (18%).  Medallions – essentially the right to operate a for-hail taxi in New York City – now trade for as much as $1.3 million, an all-time record."  In retrospect it was also the perfect time to cash out on the "yellow" euphoria. According to the NYT, "the average price of an individual New York City taxi medallion fell to $872,000 in October, down 17 percent from a peak reached in the spring of 2013, according to an analysis of sales data. Previous figures published by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission — showing flat prices — appear to have been incorrect, and the commission removed them from its website after an inquiry from The New York Times."

 
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Banker Suicides Return: DSK's Hedge Fund Partner Jumps From 23rd Floor Apartment





The summer, thankfully, has been largely bereft of the dismal trend of bankers committing suicide, but as Bloomberg reports, Thierry Leyne, a French-Israeli banker and partner of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the disgraced former chief of the IMF, was found dead Thursday after apparently taking his own life by jumping off the 23rd floor of one of the Yoo towers, a prestigious residential complex in Tel Aviv. This is the 16th financial services executive death this year.

 
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Guest Post: Turkey, The Kurds And Iraq - The Prize & Peril Of Kirkuk





The modern Turkish government is looking at Iraq and Syria in a way similar to how Damat Ferid did almost a century ago when he sought in Paris to maintain Turkish sovereignty over the region. From Ankara's point of view, the extension of a Turkish sphere of influence into neighboring Muslim lands is the antidote to weakening Iraqi and Syrian states. However, the Turkish vision of the region simply does not fit the current reality and is earning Ankara more rebuke than respect from its neighbors and the West. The Kurds, in particular, will continue to form the Achilles' heel of Turkish policymaking. This is the crowded battleground that Turkey knows well. A long and elaborate game of "keep away" will be played to prevent the Kurds from consolidating control over oil-rich territory in the Kurdish-Arab borderland, while the competition between Turkey and Iran will emerge into full view.

 
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Recovery? 60% Of Greeks Live At Or Below Poverty Levels





While Greek government yields (and political leaders) proclaim the troubled peripheral European nation is 'recovering', the risk of major political upheaval in Greece has not gone away ahead of next year's presidential vote next year. As Reuters notes, under growing pressure from anti-bailout leftists, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras desperately needs a new narrative to get the backing of lawmakers and rally Greeks fed up with four years of austerity. We wish him luck as Keep Talking Greece notes, it is high time that the real data of the economic situation of the Greek society come to the surface and so it did this week. A report from Greece's State Budget Office found that three in every five Greeks, or some 6.3 million people, were living in poverty or under the threat of poverty in 2013 due to material deprivation and unemployment.

 
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Did The Winter War Just Begin? Russian Gas Supplies To Europe Plunge 15%, Ukraine Transit Slashed 54%





Just a week ago, the Russian energy minister made the first public 'threat' of gas supply "throttling" disruptions to Europe but judging by the data that has just been released, it appears the 'throttling' has begun. Bloomberg reports that Russian gas supplies to Europe fell 15% year-over-year in Q3 - the most in over two years - as natural gas transit through Ukraine plunged 54% year-over-year. In 2013, Gazprom sent 60% of its supply via Ukraine pipelines, in August that dropped to 39%, and in September only 34%. Of course, Europe remains confident its storage efforts will buffer any "Winter War" disruptions, as we noted here, but as Citi warned previously, "if colder weather arrives, storage levels will be drained," and then there is the Spring (and German industry needs).

 
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How The UK Would Look Like Without Scotland





One quick look at the map of the UK shows the biggest impact a loss of Scotland would have on the Divided Kingdom (f/k/a UK) of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, should the "Yes" vote in the Scottish referendum garner a majority in one week.  But how else would a Scottish departure impact the UK? Here are the answers...

 
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Meet The New Leadership Of Europe: Presenting The "Juncker Commission"





As reported ealier this morning, here, courtesy of Bloomberg, are the nominees for the next European Commission under the presidency of Jean-Claude "If Serioues Then lie" Juncker, with one from each of the European Union’s 28 countries. Job assignments were announced today by the incoming president, Jean-Claude Juncker of Luxembourg. What do these appointments mean for the European Union? The attached flash analysis from Open Europe should answer most initial questions.

 
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Key Events In The Coming Week: iPhone 6 Release And Other Less Relevant Happenings





One of the more amusing comments overnight came from Bank of America, which now predicts that China's export growth will be boosted by iPhone 6 by 1% per month through year-end. Whether or not this is accurate is irrelevant, but we are happy that unlike before, BofA has finally figured out that iPhone sales are positive for Chinese GDP, not US, which was the case with the release of the iPhone 4 and 5, when clueless strategists all came out boosting their US (!) GDP forecasts on the iPhone release. We note this because the long-awaited release of Apple's new iPhone will certainly grab some attention tomorrow. According to a BofA poll last week and of the 124 respondents surveyed, 66% of those have noted that they are going to buy the new iPhone and of those planning to buy 75% of those will be replacing their iPhone 5/5s.

 
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Top Russia Expert: Ukraine Joining Nato Would Provoke Nuclear War





U.S and NATO Responsible for Ukraine Crisis … and West Has Agreed to Cover Up Details About Shoot Down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17

 
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It's Official: Public Opinion Of Congress Sinks Below That Of A Used-Car Salesman





Poll after poll confirms what we're sure you’ve already been feeling. People are disenchanted with the existing system. They don’t trust the government, they don’t trust the banks, and they don’t trust the media. You can hear the rumblings of grumblings, and it’s only growing louder and louder. It doesn’t have to be this way.

 
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US Troops Are Heading To Ukraine





While only 'humanitarian adviser' boots on the ground are present in Iraq (and Syria), Reuters reports that preparations are under way near Ukraine's western border for a joint military exercise this month with more than 1,000 troops from the United States and its allies. As Obama told reporters last week, "that a military solution to this problem is not going to be forthcoming," it seems a little odd 'strategically' to go ahead with the Rapid Trident exercise Sept. 16-26 as a sign of the commitment of NATO states to support non-NATO member Ukraine, entailing the first significant deployment of U.S. and other personnel to Ukraine since the crisis erupted.

 
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Key Events In The Coming Week





The US may be closed on Monday, but after a summer lull that has seen trading volumes plunge to CYNKian lows, activity is set to come back with a bang (if only for the sake of banks' flow desk revenue) with both a key ECB decision due later this week, as well as the August Nonfarm Payrolls print set for Friday. Among the other events, in the US we have the ISM manufacturing on Tuesday, with markets expecting a broadly unchanged reading of 57.0 for August although prices paid are expecting to decline modestly. Then it is ADP on Thursday (a day later than usual) ahead of Payrolls Friday. The Payrolls print is again one of those "most important ever" number since it comes ahead of the the September 16-17 FOMC meeting and on the heels of the moderation of several key data series (retail sales, personal consumption, inflation). Consensus expects a +225K number and this time it is unclear if a big miss will be great news for stocks or finally bad, as 5 years into ZIRP the US economy should be roaring on all cylinders and not sputtering every other month invoking "hopes" of even more central bank intervention.

 
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Key Events In The Current Week





Unlike last week's economic report deluge, this week has virtually no A-grade updates of note, with the key events being Factory Orders (exp. 0.6%), ISM non-mfg (exp. 56.5), Trade balance (Exp. -$44.9 bn), Unit Labor Costs (1.2%) and Wholesale Inventories (0.7%).

 
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