- Two-Thirds of Insurance Exchange Enrollees Paid Premiums (WSJ)
- Panic: Criminal Charges Against Banks Risk Sparking Crisis (BBG)
- Did the junk bubble pop: Junk Loans Pulled as Investors Say No After Fed Raises Concerns (BBG)
- CME mulls price fluctuation limits for gold, silver futures (Reuters)
- AT&T Has Approached DirecTV About Possible Acquisition (WSJ)
- NBA sets wheels turning for Clippers sale; Oprah in wings (Reuters)
- One way to fix prison overcrowding: Florida Jail Hit by Deadly Blast (WSJ)
- New Boeing jets hold key to more than half of future sales (Reuters)
- Sony slashes profit estimate by 70% (Guardian)
Yesterday we reported that among today's expanded sanctioned individuals would be the heads of Rosneft and Gazprom. Moments ago, we got confirmation that at least one of those two will indeed be "sanctioned" - that someone is Igor Sechin, head of Rosneft which also happens to be Russia's largest oil extractor and refiner:
U.S. SANCTIONS LIST INCLUDES OAO ROSNEFT'S CEO SECHIN
However, it appears we were only half right - Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller appears to have been spared for now. And now, as usual, the ball is in Putin's court.
In a rhetorical self-QE released by its strategist Peter Oppenheimer, discussing recent changes to long-running market trends, among which the crash in momo stocks, and the EM to DM inversion, the punchline was the most important. To wit: "We see less scope for this peripheral index... Peripheral spreads may narrow further, but more now via higher bund yields. After all, 5-year Spanish and Italian bond yields have converged to the same levels as the US. We still like selected parts of the peripheral markets, particularly the banks, but would prefer to express this via single names than via index overweights... the drivers of returns may have shifted away from some areas such as US growth and European periphery towards more of a cyclical bias across markets, with a particular focus on exposure to a DM macro recovery." In other words, while the momentum bubble may have popped (if still has a loooooong way to go before it deflates) the European peripheral bubble is about to go pop as well. For all those who just bought Spanish 10 Years at a record low yield (yes, record low) yesterday, our condolences. Then again, it's only other people's money.
- Russia raises interest rates to 7.5% (FT)
- Shanghai to Allow Raw Material Exchanges in Trade Zone (BBG)
- US, Japan Fail to Clinch Trade Deal (WSJ)
- 'We don't have a magic wand', says ECB's Constancio (Reuters)
- Tokyo Inflation Quickens to Fastest Since 1992 (BBG)
- Demand for Home Loans Plunges (WSJ)
- EU banks urged to grasp chance to raise capital (FT)
This doesn't happen very often. Marketwatch reports that Jim Bianco points out in a recent market comment that the 67 economists taking part in a regular Bloomberg survey have a unanimous forecast regarding treasury bond yields: they will be higher 6 months from now... and a separate poll of economists recently showed that exactly zero expect the economy to contract. This is an astonishing degree of consensus thinking, but it perfectly mirrors the complacency we see in stock market sentiment and positioning data. The probability that such a unanimous view will turn out to be correct is traditionally extremely low. The economy is likely resting on a much weaker foundation than is generally believed. This is not least the result of massive monetary pumping and deficit spending, both of which tend to severely weaken the economy on a structural level, even though they can create a temporary illusion of 'growth'.
A few days ago, in an attempt to regain the Krematorsk air base in the "separatist" eastern region, as part of the "counter-terrorist" offensive launched against the pro-Russians, Kiev also started what according to reports was an airborne press by Ukraine Mig fight jets. The condemnation by Russia to such an escalation against the country's own people was swift, and curiously, so was that by Ukraine's own troops which deserted the country's army to join eastern forces, taking with them an unknown number of tanks and APCs. So in what perhaps is a follow on attempt to preempt further escalation, Ukraine's air force has adopted a maneuver taken straight out of Top Gun's "Buzzing the Tower" approach, only this one involves "Buzzing the Tress." Watch as a Ukraine pilot does a fly by and narrowly misses hitting a tree.
Read Seymour Hersh’s devastating account of Obama’s Red Lines and Rat Lines and weep for the Republic. It is no more.
With everyone focusing on the stock market and debating whether the second tech bubble has finally popped as it tends to do every so many years, another bubble also appears to have burst, and this time it is literally a bubble - that in carbonated diet coke. The WSJ reported that "for 13 years running, Americans have been drinking less Coke. Now Diet Coke sales are falling off a cliff. Globally, sales growth of soda is slowing amid concerns about sugar intake and obesity."
Spot what is missing in the just blasted headline from Bloomberg:
IRAN, RUSSIA SAID TO SEAL $20B OIL-FOR-GOODS DEAL: REUTERS
If you said the complete absence of US Dollars anywhere in the funds flow you are correct. Which is precisely what we have been warning would happen the more the West and/or JPMorgan pushed Russia into a USD-free corner.
It didn't take long for Russia to launch the first retaliatory salvo against the unexpected JPMorgan "act of aggression." Moments ago Bloomberg just reported that Sberbank, the largest bank in Russia and all of Eastern Europe, just halted the issuance of consumer loans in foreign currency. Bloomberg adds that "Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, holds 43.3% of nation’s consumer deposits, 32.7% of consumer loans and 32.1% of corporate loans."
While everyone was gushing over the spectacle on TV of a pro-HFT guy and anti-HFT guy go at it, yesterday afternoon we reported what was by far the most important news of the day, one which was lost on virtually everyone if only until this morning, when we reported that "Monetary Blockade Of Russia Begins: JPMorgan Blocks Russian Money Transfer "Under Pretext" Of Sanctions." This morning the story has finally blown up to front page status, which it deserves, where it currently graces the FT with "Russian threat to retaliate over JPMorgan block." And unlike previous responses to Russian sanctions by the West, which were largely taken as a joke by the Russian establishment, this time Russia is furious: according to Bloomberg, the Russian foreign ministry described the JPM decision as "illegal and absurd." And as Ukraine found out last month, you don't want Russia angry.
Monetary Blockade Of Russia Begins: JPMorgan Blocks Russian Money Transfer "Under Pretext" Of SanctionsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/01/2014 14:56 -0400
JP Morgan blocked money transfer from #Russia diplomatic mission in Kazakhstan "under pretext" of sanctions, says Foreign Ministry
— Thomas Grove (@tggrove) April 1, 2014
There’s nothing like a nice cup of reality 'tea' first thing on Monday morning. Periodically, we like to scan headlines for phrases like “record high” or “all time high”... in today's case, the results can often given an interesting big picture perspective of what’s happening in the world.
It is supremely ironic that those who wish to withdraw or minimize their interactions with the Ponzi might actually feed it on the way out. This alone speaks volumes towards how dysfunctional and truly unsustainable it is.
Just a few short weeks ago we reported on the unusual suicide, due to self-inflicted nail-gun wounds, of Richard Talley, CEO of Denver-based American Title Services. The death of the 57-year-old banker was accompanied by the fact that his firm was under investigation by the insurance regulators, and now, as The Denver Post reports, state prosecutors launched a criminal investigation and a grand jury over more than $2 million missing from escrow accounts. As part of that inquiry, investigators have seized about 100 boxes of documents and about 60 computers as records suggest the seemingly successful title business had serious financial problems. Talley's wife, Cheryl, who owns the other 60% of the firm has not commented.