There is a reasonably quiet start to the week before we head into the highlights of the week including the start of US reporting season tomorrow, FOMC minutes on Wednesday and IMF meetings in Washington on Friday. On the schedule for today central bank officials from the ECB including Mersch, Weidmann and Constancio will be speaking. The Fed’s Bullard speaks today, and no doubt there will be interest in his comments from last week suggesting that the Fed will hike rates in early 2015.
It appears the U.S. government is doing its best to ensure that nobody anywhere in any corner of planet earth will ever trust American technology again (or U.S. aid for that matter). This process of distrust first really got going with the Edward Snowden revelations, which demonstrated that essentially all major U.S. tech firms are mere wards of the state with little to no privacy protections, and absolutely zero backbone. This story of the U.S. government covertly creating a “Cuban Twitter” called ZunZuneo in order to overthrow the regime there has enormous long-term ramifications on many, many levels, which we will address below...
- Russia says expects answers on NATO troops in eastern Europe (Reuters)
- Dealers say GM customer anxiety rising, sales may take hit (Reuters)
- China Unveils Mini-Stimulus Measure (WSJ)
- Londoners Priced Out of Housing Blame Foreigners (BBG)
- New earthquake in Chile prompts tsunami alerts (Reuters)
- Ukrainian Billionaire Charged by U.S. With Bribe Scheme (BBG)
- Chinese Investments in U.S. Commercial Real Estate Surges (BBG)
- Old Math Casts Doubt on Accuracy of Oil Reserve Estimates (BBG)
- US secretly created 'Cuban Twitter' to stir unrest (AP)
Since the early twentieth century, Saudi Arabia has enjoyed a close relationship with the United States. From the development of the Saudi oil fields,to the First Gulf War, this relationship has been an uneasy cooperation—each side received something out of the alliance while nervously watching the other. So recently we have the first open break between the two powers culminating in the Saudi’s refusing a seat on the U.N Security Council due to anger with U.S. Middle Eastern policies. It is foolish for America to offend and promote distrust with another ally in a long list of broken long-standing relationships. These include Poland, United Kingdom, Israel, Egypt, etc. One wonders whether the results of American diplomacy stems from extreme incompetence or is evidence of a much darker agenda.
As is widely known, Ukraine's acting post-coup PM Arseniy Yatsenuk is currently in the US and holding heating talks with president Obama on just how to define the "costs" to Russia should Putin conclude his annexation of the Crimea this weekend in a way that the Russian leader will finally pay attention. As was less known, after his meeting, at 8 pm tonight, the PM was supposed to hold a press conference at the National Press Club. As of moments ago, this propaganda meet and greet has been cancelled.
- DUE TO A SCHEDULING CHANGE, THE PRIME MINISTER HAS CANCELED THIS EVENT
Scheduling change? Really? Did Yatsenyuk ask Obama, in passing, to show him where the Ukraine gold, which as we reported a few days ago was rumored to have been airlifted to the NY Fed, which resulted in a less than pleasant response by the US president?
"In the future, no matter how the situation is resolved in Crimea, we need a much stronger Ukraine," warned Pavlo Rizanenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, adding that "If you have nuclear weapons people don't invade you." It would seem tough for the West (and their START Treaty) to get behind a nation that, as USA Today reports, believes it may have to arm itself with nuclear weapons to enforce a security pact to reverse the Moscow-based takeover of Crimea. "We gave up nuclear weapons," (inherited from the Soviet Union) because of the 1991 agreement that The United States, Great Britain and Russia would "assure Ukraine's territorial integrity" but Rizanenko told his government today, "now there's a strong sentiment in Ukraine that we made a big mistake."
While the US may be rejoicing its daily stock market all time highs day after day, it may come as a surprise to many that global equity capitalization has hardly performed as impressively compared to its previous records set in mid-2007. In fact, between the last bubble peak, and mid-2013, there has been a $3.86 trillion decline in the value of equities to $53.8 trillion over this six year time period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Alas, in a world in which there is no longer even hope for growth without massive debt expansion, there is a cost to keeping global equities stable (and US stocks at record highs): that cost is $30 trillion, or nearly double the GDP of the United States, which is by how much global debt has risen over the same period. Specifically, total global debt has exploded by 40% in just 6 short years from 2007 to 2013, from "only" $70 trillion to over $100 trillion as of mid-2013, according to the BIS' just-released quarterly review.
General Keith Alexander, who has furiously denounced the Snowden revelations, said at a Tuesday cybersecurity panel that unspecified “headway” on what he termed “media leaks” was forthcoming in the next several weeks, possibly to include “media leaks legislation.” Alexander genuinely thinks that intelligence officials know best, and should not be subject to any sort of accountability. You don’t need to be a card-carrying member of the ACLU to see how dangerous this perspective is. To endorse this notion that “journalists have no standing when it comes to national security issues,” is to effectively make illegal one of the most important free speech rights in any democracy. This sort of attitude represents the antithesis of American values.
Russia’s seizure of Crimea is the most naked example of peacetime aggression that Europe has witnessed since Nazi Germany invaded the Sudetenland in 1938. It may be fashionable to belittle the “lessons of Munich,” when Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier appeased Hitler, deferring to his claims on Czechoslovakia. But if the West acquiesces to Crimea’s annexation – the second time Russian President Vladimir Putin has stolen territory from a sovereign state, following Russia’s seizure of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions in 2008 – today’s democratic leaders will surely regret their inaction. When Chamberlain returned from Munich, Winston Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” Obama and other Western leaders face a similar choice. And if they choose dishonor, one can be certain that an undeterred Putin will eventually give them more war.
The (ironically named) United Kingdom is the first to openly raise concerns over trade sanctions against Russia. As The Telegraph reports,
"Britain is preparing to rule out trade sanctions against Russia amid fears that the Ukraine crisis could derail the global economic recovery"
Perhaps it is the fear of a massive liquidity suck out from London's real estate market (or its banking system) that has the Brits on edge. We suspect Germany will be close behind as they eye exploding gas and oil prices and their dependence on Russia's marginal production.
By now it was only a formality, as the likelihood of the G-8 meeting taking place in Sochi in June, months after the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, was zero at best. So the fact that G-8, pardon, G-7 countries announced the halting of their preparation for a June vacation on the Black Sea should not surprise anyone.
- Yuan suffers biggest weekly loss as PBOC punishes speculators (Reuters)
- Euro Gains as Bonds Decline With Stocks on Inflation Data (BBG)
- Biggest Sovereign Fund Forced to Sell Stocks as Mandate Breached (BBG)
- Because we don't already have enough fried foods.. (Reuters)
- Putin: Russia to Consider Aid to Ukraine (AP)
- Wall Street Hates JPMorgan Fee for $1 Trillion Junk Loans (BBG)
- Yellen Sticks to Plan Amid Weather Doubts (WSJ)
- U.S. Retail Chains See First Profit Decline Since Recession (BBG)
880 grams at a time...
This next paragraph contains what Grant Williams believes is the fundamental principle of investing in gold and silver, which so few people genuinely understand — despite the multitudes of commentators expending countless thousands of words.
"So these anti-gold idiots are just that, idiots, or else they have the memory of a goldfish, because currencies come and currencies go, as sure as night follows day. It is the natural order of things. And as you can see, it's not about trading gold to get rich or getting long gold or buying one by two call spreads or getting fancy, it literally is about protecting yourself in the end. It's not like Williams got rich. He just stayed rich. Everyone else got poor."
Central banks are accumulating gold because it cannot go BANG! like fiat currencies do. Individuals should be doing the same — not being sidetracked by the distractions. It's not about price - if you own gold, it will do all the heavy lifting for you when the time comes.
If we strip away obscuring narratives, we can clearly see that the two employment sectors (healthcare and higher education) that have expanded rain or shine for decades have functioned as gigantic make-work projects. However, that growth has started to slow for the simple reason that they've run out of oxygen: we can no longer afford their expansion or their out-of-control costs. Much cheaper and more effective systems are within reach, if only we look past failed models and politically powerful cartels and fiefdoms.