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Asian Markets In Turmoil - Weak Japanese Bond Auction; Surprise Aussie Rate Cut; India Holds Rates, Cuts Reserve Ratio


UPDATE: Dow Futs -80 points, S&P Futs -9pts

Following the 15th surprise rate cut of 2015 (Singapore, Europe, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, India, Turkey, Egypt, Romania, Peru, Albania, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, Russia and now Australia), the Aussie Dollar has cratered to its lowest since May 2009 against the US Dollar at 0.7650 (and bond yields crashed by the most since 1997 to record lows). Aussie stocks kneejerked higher (on an extremely dovish RBA statement) but are fading (as are Chinese stocks). Perhaps even more concerningly indicative of the central banks losing control, following this morning's weak Japanese auction (or more properly expressed - BoJ monetization farce), USDJPY (under 117), Japanese stocks (down 350 points from US session highs), and JGBs (yields up 6-8bps) are all being sold.

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Ukraine "Truce"? Tanks Are Rolling In Poland As NATO Plans Permanent Eastern European Bases

With Ukraine, Germany, and France all expressing their concern this morning about "conflict escalation" between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine military, the so-called "truce" appears to be hanging by a thread of semanticism (despite OSCE's please for respect of the cease-fire and the demarcation line). Today's triple whammy of 'escalation' appears more focused on the non-Russian side as first, France begins sending tanks into Poland; second, Ukraine shifts its tanks to the front-line; and third - and potentially most inflammatory for Putin - NATO has confirmed plans to create permanent command centers in Eastern Europe. Putin has not responded yet but reports of 'nuclear bombers' flying above the English Channel "with transponders turned off," suggests the sabre rattling continues.

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Superpower Blunders: Czechoslovakia In 1938

The Czechoslovakia crisis of 1938 marked a pivotal shift in the balance of power in Central Europe, putting the major world superpowers in a collision course. The policies of one superpower in particular made inevitable what was to come less than a year later - World War II. This episode provides important historical insights on geopolitics, appeasement strategies, buffer zones, ethnic tensions – and unintended consequences.

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Bank Of Russia Surprises With Unexpected Rate Cut, Brings YTD Total Of Nations Easing To 14

Yesterday we reported that in less than 1 month in 2015, so far a whopping 13 countries have proceeded with "surprising" rate cuts: Singapore, Europe, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, India, Turkey, Egypt, Romania, Peru, Albania, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. As of this morning, make that total 14, because in one of the more "surprising surprises" so far, it was none other than the Bank of Russia which cut its main interest rate from the 17% shocker it instituted at an emergency session on December 17 to halt the Ruble collapse (as a result of the crude price plunge) to 15% less than an hour ago. At the same time it cut the deposit rate to 14% and the repo rate to 16%.

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2015 Currency Wars Year-To-Date Summary: 13 Rate Cuts, 5 Rate Hikes

For those keeping track of currency wars around the globe, 2015 - a year in which two central banks, those of Switzerland and Singapore have already admitted defeat, is shaping up as nothing short of historic. As DB's summarizes: just about 31 countries have, in less than a month, eased in the form of 13 mostly "surprise" rate cuts, while just 5 have tightened monetary policy.

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Markets Drift Without Direction As Zombified BTFDers Unable To Frontrun Hawkish Fed

The bottom line is that unfortunately for the BTFDers, with the Fed no longer giving explicit buy signals with the "considerable time" language struck, and with an implicit economic upgrade suggesting a rate hike is still on the table, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to frontrun the Fed's "wealth creation" intentions.


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"It's Just A Tactical Withdrawal" - Ukraine Forces "Abandon" Contested Donetsk Airport

With NATO's top military commander, General Breedlove, proclaiming that fighting in Ukraine is worse than pre-truce levels (and noting he could not confirm Poroshenko's Russian force numbers accusations), the news overnight, as The Telegraph reports, that Ukrainian forces appeared to withdraw from Donetsk airport last night, ending an 8-month battle in a bitter blow for pro-Kiev forces and apparent triumph for the Russian-backed separatists they are fighting. While the Pro-Russian separatists' Pyrrhic victory over the completely destroyed (as we noted here) airport may be a blow, a Ukrainian military spokesman on Thursday played down the surrender of the terminal buildings, saying it was simply a tactical withdrawal. Additionally, Russia has denounced an attack on a bus in separatist-held Donetsk which killed civilians as a "monstrous crime."

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Russia Cuts Off Ukraine Gas Supply To 6 European Countries

Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine amid accusations, according to The Daily Mail, that its neighbor has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Due to these "transit risks for European consumers in the territory of Ukraine," Gazprom cut gas exports to Europe by 60%, plunging the continent into an energy crisis "within hours." Perhaps explaining the explosion higher in NatGas prices (and oil) today, gas companies in Ukraine confirmed that Russia had cut off supply; and six countries reported a complete shut-off of Russian gas. The EU raged that the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries was "completely unacceptable," but Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later added that Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a route via Turkey; and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak stated unequivocally, "the decision has been made."

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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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