For reasons that have no rational explanations at this time, the US and Europe have embarked on a concerted program to demonize Putin, ostracize Russia, and bring the world as close to a major conflict as it's been since the Cold War, a time hardly memorable to many in the current crop of our elected officials. A dangerous dynamic is brewing between the West and Russia/Putin. We are seeing a rush to war very similar to the one that led up to Saddam's ouster, but this time, we have much less justification (hard to believe) and the opponent is tremendously more capable. There is little sense in the course the West is currently pursuing, little to gain, and much to lose. The main conclusion here is that not only is the US poking the bear, but it is doing so with increasing frequency and upping the ante dangerously with each step.
While many were amused by this photo of Putin and Merkel during the world cup final showing Europe's two most important leaders siding side by side, some were more curious by just what the two were scheming: Thanks to the Independent, we may know the answer, and it is a doozy, because according to some it is nothing shy of a sequel to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact: allegedly Germany and Russia have been working on a secret plan to broker a peaceful solution to end international tensions over the Ukraine, one which would negotiate to trade Crimea's sovereignty for guarantees on energy security and trade. The Independent reveals that the peace plan, being worked on by both Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin, "hinges on two main ambitions: stabilising the borders of Ukraine and providing the financially troubled country with a strong economic boost, particularly a new energy agreement ensuring security of gas supplies."
Over the past 6 months, there has been much talk about the strategic proximity between Russia and China, made even more proximal following the "holy grail" gas deal announced in May which would not have happened on such an accelerated time frame had it not been for US escalation in Ukraine. And yet little has been said about that other just as crucial for the "new BRIC-centric world order" relationship, that between Russia and India. That is about to change when yesterday the Russian central bank announced that having been increasingly shunned by the west, Russia discussed cooperation with Reserve Bank of India Executive Director Shrikant Padmanabhan. The punchline: India agreed to create a task group to work out a mechanism for using national currencies in settlements. And so another major bilateral arrangement is set up that completely bypasses the dollar.
It would appear "Russia" is the new "weather" when it comes to missed earnings expectations. As Bloomberg reports, Adidas shares fell by a record after the world’s second-largest sporting-goods maker slashed its full-year profit forecast, bursting euphoria around the German company less than a month after its national team’s victory in the World Cup. The reason, aside from golf, "turmoil in Russia," which just happens to be its most profitable region. But Jack Lew promised that there would be no impact?
Curious what Europe's true economic state is? The chart below, showing Europe's annual inflation or lack thereof, and which just dropped from 0.5% to 0.4%, missing estimates of an unchanged print despite the ECB's ongoing and losing war with disinflation, and soon deflation, shows all you need to know.
- Moscow fights back after sanctions; battle rages near Ukraine crash site (Reuters)
- On Hold: Merkel Gives Putin a Blunt Message (WSJ)
- Argentina’s Default Clock Runs Out as Debt Talks Collapse (BBG)
- Argentina braces for market reaction to second default in 12 years (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Plunges After Posting 3.6 Billion-Euro Loss (BBG)
- Adidas Plunges After Cutting Forecast on Russia, Golf (BBG)
- GOP Says Lerner Emails Show Bias Against Conservatives (WSJ)
- Londoners Cashing in Flee to Suburbs as Home Rally Wanes (BBG)
- BNP Paribas Reports Record $5.79 Billion Quarterly Loss (WSJ)
- Swiss Banks Send U.S. Client Data Before Cascade of Settlements (BBG)
- Putin Sows Doubt Among Stock Bears Burned by 29% Rebound (BBG)
It has been a deja vu session of that day nearly a month ago when the Banco Espirito Santo (BES) problems were first revealed, sending European stocks and US futures, however briefly, plunging. Since then things have only gotten worse for the insolvent Portuguese megabank, and overnight BES, all three of its holdco now bankrupt, reported an epic loss despite which it will not get a bailout but instead must raise capital on its own. The result has been a record drop in both the bonds (down some 20 points earlier) and the stock (despite a shorting ban instituted last night), which crashed as much as 40% before stabilizing at new all time lows around €0.25, in the process wiping out recent investments by such "smart money" as Baupost, Goldman and DE Shaw. The result is a European financial sector that is struggling in the red, while adding to its pain are some large cap names such as Adidas which also tumbled after issuing a profit warning relating to "developments" in Russia. Then there was European inflation which printed at 0.4%, below the expected 0.5%, and the lowest in pretty much ever, and certainly since the ECB commenced its latest fight with "deflation", which so far is not going well. The European cherry on top was Greece, whose dead cat bounce is now over, after May retail sales crashed 8.5%, after rising 3.8% in April.
Argentina defaults; Russia, Ukraine, Libya, Israel, Gaza, Iraq all in a state of (hot or otherwise) war, the worst Ebola epidemic in the history of Africa, and now Obama is getting sued.
Huxley’s Brave New World dystopian America had a good run from 1950 until 2000. Our keepers kept us fat, dumb, distracted, and in debt up to our eyeballs. Since 2000 Orwell’s 1984 dystopian Surveillance States of America seems to be taking shape, under the watchful eye of our very own Big Brother, the NSA. Fear, punishment, slogans (See Something Say Something) and appeals to non-thinking patriotism have replaced freedom, liberty, individual rights, the Constitution, personal responsibility for our own lives and questioning authority. Are you a believer? “One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World; Or a truth seeker? “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you mad.” – Aldous Huxley
More blowback... UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond suggests imposing sanctions on Russia are a shared sacrifice that European nations must make. While the sanctions were "designed to maximize the impact on Russia and minimize the impact on EU economies," he warns his fellow Britons that, "It will affect our economy..." As RT notes, London will likely be hit hardest among the EU powers because of its intimate financial relationship with Moscow and we are already seeing UK home prices fall as oligarch flows slow.
As had been rumored all day, The G7 just issued yet another statement on Ukraine showing its wholehearted support for sanctions:
- *G-7 LEADERS ISSUE STATEMENT CONDEMNING RUSSIAN ACTS IN UKRAINE
- *G-7 LEADERS SAY READY TO 'INTENSIFY THE COSTS' ON RUSSIA
The statement, released by The White House, also demands "transparent" access to the MH17 crash site. As this was released, the EU announced its sanctions list (8 people, 3 entities).
"It's a troubling continuation/expansion of trade as a geopolitical tool," warns one Washington-based consulting firm as Russia prepares to unleash retaliatory actions to US and European sanctions. As Bloomberg reports, Russia said yesterday it may ban imports of chicken from the U.S. and fruit from Europe and is investigating McDonald's cheese for safety. In addition, a Russian lawmaker has drafted legislation that might result in U.S. accounting firms being barred from doing business in his country. All of this is odd given Jack "trust me" Lew's reassurance that Russian sanctions would have no impact on the US economy. Russia's response, US will feel 'tangible losses' from 'destructive, myopic' sanctions.
- Fed Decision-Day Guide: QE Tapering to Inflation Debate (BBG)
- Obama says strains over Ukraine not leading to new Cold War with Russia (Reuters)
- Siemens to BP Prepare for Downward Russia Business Spiral (BBG)
- Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror (NYT)
- Argentina Banks Preparing Bid to Help Argentina Avoid Default (WSJ)
- Obama Weighs Fewer Deportations of Illegal Immigrants Living in U.S. (WSJ)
- India Warships Off Japan Show Rising Lure as China Counterweight (BBG)
- Hong Kong Popping Housing Bubbles London Can’t Handle (BBG)
- Carnage at U.N. school as Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp (Reuters)
"Shocked" White House Slams "Fabrication" After Israel TV Leaks Damning Transcript Of Obama-Netanyahu Phone CallSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/29/2014 23:53 -0400
While the US continues to escalate the conflict with Russia in a tit-for-tat recreation of the Cold War, things for US foreign policy just keep going from bad to worse, with the latest insult coming from none other than close US ally, Israel.
Despots, dictators, and power hungry presidents arise in an atmosphere of fear, scarce resources, hopelessness, and misery. As the power of the central government grows; the freedoms, liberties and rights of the people are diminished and ultimately relinquished.