NSA Grasps at Straws
It appears that unlike the president, whose rating is plunging in the aftermath of PRISM-gate, US corporations are not eager to double down on their privacy intrusive ways, and some are becoming increasingly concerned about what all the recent exposure may do to their bottom line. Such as Google, which earlier today became only the first company to challenge the long-standing gag order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), arguing that the company has a First Amendment right to speak about information it is forced to give to the government. From Google: "Greater transparency is needed, so today we have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately." And yes, GOOG, which once upon a time pretended its motto is "don't evil" and since transformed it to "be evil, just don't get caught", still refer to "constitutional rights" - how quaint.
A mixed picture is starting to emerge from the Middle East in terms of oil production. Several members of the 12-member OPEC oil cartel are embroiled in turmoil or struggling to ensure post-war political gains. Oil production from the Middle East declined by 1.5 million barrels per day in 2009. Production from most Middle East countries has slowed down or leveled off, though gains from Iraq have offset some of those declines. With economic recovery seemingly on the horizon, a new OPEC may be developing from the ashes of the recession.
Anyone holding substantial deposits (read over $/€100,000) in G-8 banks: consider this your formal warning All data about such deposits will soon be shared among all "developed" countries, and any (every) country which needs to "resolve" its failing banking sector will use the Cyprus bail-in model and use "tax evaded" deposits to provide a liquidity buffer to its crumbling, and NPL-impaired assets. Oh, and what insolvent socialist manifesto can be released to the public without at least one mention of the phrase "fair taxes." Welcome to the second ComIntern, this time with extra global oomph.
Eager to take advantage of NSA-whistleblower Edward Snowden's current unincarcerated status and to ask him questions about his motives or thoughts? Here is your chance courtesy of the Guardian which is holding a live Q&A session with the famous leaker. As the Guardian notes: "He will be online today from 11am ET/4pm BST today. An important caveat: the live chat is subject to Snowden's security concerns and also his access to a secure internet connection. It is possible that he will appear and disappear intermittently, so if it takes him a while to get through the questions, please be patient." Some more from the Guardian:
- Edward Snowden is answering your questions about the NSA leaks live
- Post your questions in the comment section below and recommend your favorites
- We are posting Snowden's replies above the line
- You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #AskSnowden
The live blog can be reached at the following link.
In the week ahead, we get the usual middle-of-the-month batch of early business surveys, including the New York Empire, Philly Fed and Eurozone Flash PMIs. The second key focus will be a number of important monetary policy meetings, including the FOMC, as well as the Swiss, Norwegian Turkish and Indian policy decisions. The latter two are particularly interesting in the light of the recent EM weakness. The main event this weak will be the FOMC meeting after the recent market focus on the timing of tapering of the QE3 program. Swings in bond markets related to the FOMC meeting could be the primary source of FX volatility this week.
The Plight Of Europe's Banking Sector, Its €650 Billion State Guarantee, And The "Urgent Need" To RecapitalizeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/15/2013 12:37 -0400
Since the topic of quantifying how big the sovereign assistance to assorted banks - both in Europe and the US (which Bloomberg calculated at $83 billion per year) - has become a daily talking point, we are happy to read that Harald Benink and Harry Huizinga have reached the same conclusion as us in their VOX analysis, and further have shown that in Europe the implicit banking sector guarantee by the state is a whopping €650 billion. "Europe has postponed the recapitalisation of its banking sector for far too long. And, without such a recapitalisation, the danger is that economic stagnation will continue for a long period, thereby putting Europe on a course towards Japanese-style inertia and the proliferation of zombie banks... Banks are already saddled with ample unrecognised losses on their assets, estimated by many observers to be at least several hundreds of billions of euros and mirrored by low share price valuations, and an additional loss of their present funding advantage will be crippling."
This Friday's night tape bomb came not from the administration, which may have run out of scandals to reveal for the time being, but from FaceBook which late in the evening disclosed the extent to which it has been cooperating with the government on spying on its users. Which also changes the public narrative built upon a pyramid of lies and secrecy one more time - recall how one week ago the company tried to wash its hands one weeks ago when Mark Zuckerberg said that "Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers." Just indirect. So in what was spun to be a rebellious act by a private company, long-cooperating secretly with the government, FaceBook's general councel posted on the company's news blog that the company is releasing data "including all national security requests." In doing so FB became the first US internet company to reveal the extent of official US government demands to hand over information, including confidential, about its users.
Establishment politicians from both major political parties are rushing to defend the NSA and condemn whistleblower Edward Snowden. They are attempting to portray Edward Snowden as a "traitor" and the spooks over at the NSA that are snooping on all of us as "heroes". In fact, many of the exact same politicians that once railed against government spying during the Bush years are now staunchly defending it now that Obama is in the White House. But it isn't just Democrats that are acting shamefully. Large numbers of Republican politicians that love to give speeches about "freedom" and "liberty" are attempting to eviscerate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The government is not supposed to invade our privacy and investigate us unless there is probable cause to do so. Apparently many of our politicians misunderstood when they read the novel 1984 by George Orwell. It wasn't supposed to be an instruction manual.
What do NYU Stern School of Business, world renknown professors of risk and analytics, and BoomBustBlog have in common? Wild horses couldn't drag a penny of our money through the French banking system!
Dare 'Ye Test the Analysis To Ascertain It's Virility? Madness, I say! Sheer, Utter Madness! In other words - SYSTEMIC RISK is here, NOW!
First it was the conspiracy theory that Li(e)bor traders were manipulating the entire rates market which a year ago became conspiracy fact. Then it was commodities with an emphasis on the energy market (but not gold - gold is never, ever manipulated) with even such luminaries as JPMorgan's Blythe Masters, subsequently implicated. And moments ago, via Bloomberg, to absolutely nobody's surprise, we learn that that final market which so far had not been exposed as the "wild west" of manipulators, the FX market, is part of the conspiracy "fact" too. According to Bloomberg, "employees have been front-running client orders and rigging WM/Reuters rates by pushing through trades before and during the 60-second windows when the benchmarks are set, said the current and former traders, who requested anonymity because the practice is controversial. Dealers colluded with counterparts to boost chances of moving the rates, said two of the people, who worked in the industry for a total of more than 20 years."
The short but profitable tale of how 483,000 private individual have "top secret" access to the nation's most non-public information begins in 2001. "After 9/11, intelligence budgets were increased, new people needed to be hired, it was a lot easier to go to the private sector and get people off the shelf," and sure enough firms like Booz Allen Hamilton - still two-thirds owned by the deeply-tied-to-international-governments investment firm The Carlyle Group - took full advantage of Congress' desire to shrink federal agencies and their budgets by enabling outside consultants (already primed with their $4,000 cost 'security clearances') to fulfill the needs of an ever-more-encroaching-on-privacy administration.
As important as when the Fed might taper its asset purchases is why it might do so. Uncertainty about the Fed’s QE reaction function, BofAML argues, is a significant contributor to recent market volatility. There are several scenarios that could explain why a number of Fed officials have started talking about tapering: they have become more optimistic on the outlook; they are more worried about potential QE costs; they have decided to taper earlier for largely technical reasons. The first of these likely would be the least disruptive for markets, and the last the most. Clear Fed communication could mitigate some of the volatility, but, as BofAML notes, the current lack of consensus on the FOMC likely means uncertainty will likely persist.
That things in Greece are hopeless and getting worse is an understatement. With unemployment levels off the charts, the pension and retirement systems effectively gone and every able-bodied individual (what little remains of them) moving to the shadow economy which now accounts for 24% of GDP, there are few incentives for people to remain on payrolls, pay taxes and otherwise grow the economy via conventional channels. As a result, instead of an improvement in the economy despite all Greek foreign debt now having been forgiven courtesy of its recent conversion to perpetual Zero Coupons, not even during the depths of the recent economic collapse in late 2011 and early 2012 has the economic collapse been as bad. Kathimerini reports that figures released by ELSTAT on Friday showed GDP at 37.7 billion euros in the period from January to March 2013 – the lowest quarterly GDP since 2000.