If the US has become the undisputed world leader in sending non-lethal "military advisors" to the middle east, then Russia is learning fast, and as Interfax just reported, the head of the Russian Armed Forces chief of staff Gerasimov just confirmed that Russian "military specialists" are now working in the Donetsk region, although not to support the separatist army, but to promote "conflict de-escalation." One just has to admire politically correct war talk. But the punchline, from both Interfax and Bloomberg which also just reported this news, is that Russia is doing so at the "request of Ukraine's head of general staff." In other words, Ukraine actually invited the Russians.
On the wall of George Orwell's Ministry of Truth from his novel 1984 there were three slogans: "WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH" It occurred to us that these apply just a little bit too well to the way the Washington, DC establishment operates. But there is a fourth slogan they need to add to the wall of Washington's Ministry of Truth. It is this: DEFEAT IS VICTORY!
- China’s Stocks Sink Most Since 2009 as Turnover Jumps to Record (BBG)
- Greek Stocks, Bonds Tumble (WSJ)
- China tightens LGFV funding screws (BBG)
- Crude Rebounds From Five-Year Low Amid Shale-Oil Spending Curbs (BBG)
- Sexual threats, other CIA methods detailed in Senate report (Reuters)
- U.S. Takes Security Precautions Overseas Ahead of CIA Report (WSJ)
- Light-Speed Treasury Trading Governed by Rules Dating to 1998 (BBG)
- Delhi to ban all internet taxi firms after Uber rape claim (Reuters)
- Supreme Group Fined $389 Million for Overcharging Pentagon (WSJ)
It wasn't just China's long overdue crash last night. In addition to the Shanghai Composite suffering its biggest plunge since August 2009, there has been a sharp slide in the USDJPY which has broken its uptrend to +∞ (and hyperinflation), and around the time Chinese gamblers were panicking, the FX pair tumbled under 120, although since then the 120 tractor beam has been activated. Elsewhere, the Athens stock exchange is also crashing by over 10% this morning on the heels of news that the Greek government has accelerated the process to elect the next president and possibly, a rerun of the drama from the summer of 2012 when the Eurozone was hanging by a thread when Tsipras almost won the presidential vote and killed the world's most artificial and insolvent monetary union. And finally, the crude plunge appears to have finally caught up with ground zero, with ADX General Index in Abu Dhabi plunging 3.5%, also poised for the biggest drop since 2009. In fact the only thing that isn't crashing (at least not this moment), is Brent, which did drop to new 5 year lows earlier under $66, but has since staged a feeble rebound.
Although every bad thing that is not the fault of climate change is allegedly the fault of Putin, it seems the EU commissariat “didn’t really mean it” and wants to see South Stream built after all.
"This small group of horrible people are willing to put the world on the line so their lineage can continue to rule the world while the rest of us struggle to simply stop the financial bleeding that has become a 15 year epidemic. This all sounds like the stuff of fiction novels but unfortunately the facts tell us this is all too real. What is hard for me to believe is that we so readily ignore and deny the most essential lessons of history. Perhaps the foremost being that the political class will always be willing to sacrifice the working class in order to retain its power."
Perhaps those sub-$50 Bakken prices tell us pretty much where global prices are ahead. And then we’ll take it from there. With 1.8 million barrels “that nobody needs” added to the shale industries growth intentions, where can prices go but down, unless someone starts a big war somewhere? Yesterday’s news that US new oil and gas well permits were off 40% last month may signal where the future of shale is really located. But oil is a field that knows a lot of inertia, long term contracts, future contracts, so changes come with a time lag. It’s also a field increasingly inhabited by desperate producers and government leaders, who wake up screaming in the middle of the night from dreaming about their heads impaled on stakes along desert roads.
Today we'll learn more about whether Mr Draghi becomes Super Mario in the near future as the widely anticipated ECB meeting is now only a few hours away. We will do another summary preview of market expectations shortly, but in a nutshell, nobody really expects Draghi to announce anything today although the jawboning is expected to reach unseen levels. The reason is that Germany is still staunchly against outright public QE, and Draghi probably wants to avoid and outright legal confrontation. As DB notes, assuming no new policy moves, the success of today's meeting will probably depend on the degree to which Draghi indicates the need for more action soon and the degree to which that feeling is unanimous within the council. Over the past weekend Weidmann's comment about falling oil prices representing a form of stimulus highlights that this consensus is still proving difficult to build. It might need a couple more months of low growth and inflation, revised staff forecasts and a stubbornly slow balance sheet accumulation to cement action.
On the heels of 5 months of weakness in Services PMI, and 2 months of weakness in ISM Services, it only makes sense that ISM's Services print would massively beat expectations at 59.3 (against 57.5). All ISM subindices rose - apart from employment (which dropped to 4 months lows)! Just 15 minutes after one survey indicates a drastic slowdown in domestic demand for services, another one says it has almost never been better...
Total U.S. national debt hit a new record high overnight at over $18 trillion as the Obama administration continues to pile debt onto the back of the U.S. taxpayer at a rate that would have made George W. Bush look prudent.
It seemed almost too obvious. The European Central Bank was imposing negative interest rates and devising new quantitative easing schemes to combat the growing threat of deflation; the SNB was buying foreign currencies in "unlimited quantities" to cap the value of the Franc; the Bank of Japan was madly printing Yen in a desperate frenzy to finally stir up domestic demand; and then the Bank of China responded with its own rate cuts. All this, while the Federal Reserve was quietly ending its quantitative easing policies and even hinting at forthcoming (2015) rate hikes. The long dollar trade, and all it's various expressions, soon became one of the most crowded trades of 2014.
- DAX’s ‘Brilliant’ Run Sends Red Flag as German Index Tops Record (BBG)
- U.S. military warned of possible Islamic State attacks at home: report (Reuters)
- Russia Faces First Recession Since 2009 as Banks Add to Oil Pain (BBG)
- Dodgy Home Appraisals Are Making a Comeback (WSJ)
- U.S. Corporate Bond Sales Pass $1.5 Trillion for Annual Record (BBG)
- Basic Costs Squeeze Families (WSJ)
- China Orders Stricter Checks on Local Debt as Sales Surge (BBG)
- Draghi Powerless on ECB Path Toward QE Without Reforms (BBG)
Earlier today, in a stunning announcement, Putin revealed that the South Stream project is now finished. As the WSJ reports, "Putin said Moscow will stop pursuing Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline project that would supply natural gas to Europe with an underwater link to Bulgaria, blaming the European Union for scuttling the project." Putin is right: Europe - Austria excluded - had seen rising resistance to the South Stream in recent months. The EU is concerned that the project would cement Russia’s position as Europe’s dominant supplier of natural gas. Russia already meets around 30% of Europe’s annual needs. So what does Putin do? He signs a strategic alliance with NATO member Turkey, the only country in Europe that is anything but European and which lately has been increasingly anti-Western, to build a new mega-pipeline to Turkey instead. And the exclamation point:
TURKEY, RUSSIA AGREE TO USE LOCAL CURRENCIES IN TRADE: TRT
Or, as Obama would put it, Russia just got even more "isolated."
With the apparent goal of 'protecting civilians' from ISIS and Syria's al-Assad, the US and Turkey appear to be close to agreeing on the creation of a no-fly-zone along a portion of the Syrian border. As WSJ reports, U.S. and Turkish officials have narrowed their differences over a joint military mission in Syria that would give the U.S. and its coalition partners permission to use Turkish air bases to launch strike operations against Islamic State targets across northern Syria. The no-fly-zone would provide sanctuary to Western-backed opposition forces and refugees. As Bloomberg notes, this is a significant reversal of Obama's earlier policy (fearing it would be a significant strain on the U.S. Air Force and put fliers in mortal danger) pushing US closer to outright proxy war with Russia via direct confrontation with al-Assad's airforce.
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.