The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!
When Ukrainian army officers came to the Ukrainian village of Velikaya Znamenka to tell the men to prepare to be drafted, they weren’t prepared for what happened next. As the commanding officer was speaking, a woman seized the microphone and proceeded to tell him off: “We’re sick of this war! Our husbands and sons aren’t going anywhere!” She then launched into a passionate speech, denouncing the war, and the coup leaders in Kiev, to the cheers of the crowd. What she did is now a crime in Ukraine: the only reason she wasn’t arrested on the spot is that the villagers wouldn’t have permitted it.
"To say Greece simply cannot repay isn’t the end of the story. As Europe moves towards a more rational debt policy with Greece, there is an enormous economic cost, not to mention social and perhaps political, to any delay. I worry about the terrifyingly low level of sophistication among policymakers and the economists who advise them when it comes to understanding balance sheet dynamics and debt restructuring. Greece’s debt overhang imposes rising financial distress costs and increasingly deep distortions in the institutional structure of the economy over time, and the longer it takes to resolve, the greater the cost."
Six years on from the financial crisis and central banks are still hacking away at interest rates. Australia and Romania's did this week and while Poland and India held off, both are expected to prune rates later in 2015.
Moments ago the number of central banks who have eased so far in 2015, most of them unexpeted, rose by one more from 15 to 16, when in addition to Singapore, Europe, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, India, Turkey, Egypt, Romania, Peru, Albania, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, Russia and, most recently, Australia it was China's turn to do what so many banks had said was inevitable, even if meant backtracking on all its blustery talk about limiting bad debt expansion, and cut its reserve requirement ratio for bank by 0.5% effective Thursday, to boost liquidity and support the economy.
The rally that was sparked by yesterday's late-day FT report had all but fizzled overnight, replaced by more concerns about the state of the global economy when Austrialia's central bank surprised the world (just 9 of 29 analysts had expected this move) by becoming the 15th in a row to ease in 2015 (the list: Singapore, Europe, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada, India, Turkey, Egypt, Romania, Peru, Albania, Uzbekistan and Pakistan, Russia and now Australia), cutting the cash rate to an all-time low of 2.25%, and sparking more concerns about a global currency war or rather USD war against every other currency, when the USDJPY algos woke up again, and did everything they could to re-defend the critical 117.20 level in the USDJPY which has proven critical in supporting the market in recent weeks, once again using the Greek "softening tone" story as the basis for the ramp as Europe woke up, which in turn sent the DAX promptly to new all time highs, while the Athens stock market surged by 9% at last check.
Asian Markets In Turmoil - Weak Japanese Bond Auction; Surprise Aussie Rate Cut; India Holds Rates, Cuts Reserve RatioSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2015 00:27 -0500
UPDATE: *INDIA'S CENTRAL BANK KEEPS BENCHMARK POLICY RATE AT 7.75%, CUTS SLR TO 21.5% OF NDTL FROM 22%
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
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."
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."