As ISIS unleashed various escalatingly grotesque execution videos over the past few months, one thing has been constant - the image of a masked man, dressed in black (with a British accent). The world has come to know ISIS apparent chief executioner as 'Jihadi John' but today, as WaPo reports, he has been identified - his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. Not exactly the dis-enfranchised under-employed sad terrorist that the US state department suggests ISIS supportes are...
Despite still low crude oil prices, gas prices at the pump have been on the rise recently. While still at levels not seen since 2009, gas prices in February have surged at the fastest pace in at least a decade to 2-month highs. As SMRA notes, shutdowns at some refineries due to strikes has been a good part of the reason for the gain in recent weeks, but prices for gasoline also typically start to rise with the approach of spring as refineries prepare to change over to less polluting formations for the summer months. We assume, in some incredible way, higher gas prices are also a positive for the US economy (just as lower gas prices were... not).
When the system is set up to encourage maximizing self-interest, accountability for the whole is lost. And once accountability for the effectiveness and health of the whole system is lost, the system will degrade and eventually collapse, for the same reason that unrestricted grazing by individuals eventually destroys the commons.
For all the constant bullshit spewing from the mouths of any and every Japanese monetary and fiscal policy maker about a "continued moderate recovery", the facts are the facts and the data is the data - 2 years of Abenomics has utterly failed. The lastest example is tonight's triple whammy of surging joblessness (up to 3.6% from 3.4% - highest in 6 months), a 2.0% tumble in retail sales YoY (double expectations and worse since the tax hike), and a plunge in household spending (-5.1% YoY - down for the 10th month in a row). But, of course, Japanese stocks are at 15-year highs - so "everything must be awesome" - what a farce.
As "isolated" Russia signs a military deal with Cyprus, agrees bilateral trade with Greece, ratifies the $100 billion BRICS Bank, and offers to trade advanced anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, it seems threats of more sanctions against Putin and his nation are finding resistance from an unexpected place. With British PM David Cameron re-demanding that Russia be excluded from the SWIFT global financial payments system, none other than ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny has exclaimed, "one has to be very careful here, exclusion of Russia from Swift would be very problematic because it could potentially undermine confidence in this system as a whole."
Warren Buffett once famously chided that all the gold in the world would form a cube of 67 feet (20 meters) on each side. In doing so, he was attempting to argue that there was no point in owning gold since all the gold in the world would be an unproductive, useless hunk of metal. What’s ironic (and completely lost on the venerable Mr. Buffett) is that you could make the same argument about the paper-based financial system.
Now that the Greek topic is back to overall debt sustainability, a few hours ago Greece Kathimerini reported that the Euro Working Group "discussed Greece’s imminent funding problems on Thursday amid mounting concern about how the country will meet its obligations next months." This follows a suggestion earlier in the day by the Greek Minister of State for Coordinating Government Operations Alekos Flambouraris that "Greece might delay payment to the International Monetary Fund if it cannot find the necessary money." But wait, how does a country "delay" a debt payment? It doesn't: "According to officials familiar with the subject. such a move would constitute a “clear default,” with consequences for a large number of other loans Greece has received."
On the day when the MSCI World Stock Index hits a fresh record high - enthused by the exuberance of the US markets - we thought it more than a little ironic that Global GDP growth expectations for 2015 just hit a fresh record low...
Ponzi schemes, alleged or otherwise, can only exist as long as they generate more cash than they burn. Sadly for Herbalife, the tipping point beyond which every pyramid sheme implodes, has almost arrived. Just ask Bernie Madoff. Presenting cash from operations.
Despite some compression today in anticipation of ECB QE (as if that was not anticipated enough in the idioctically marginal yields across European peripheral bonds), it appears Europe is 'not' fixed. With Brexit odds around 1 in 6 and Podemos' lead in Spain extending, it appears redenomination risk (as we discussed, clearly lacking in many spreads) is re-emerging. Since the Greek election, Spanish credit risk is up 30%... more than Greece!
While the economy is showing some signs of impact from falling oil prices, a port strike in California, weak global demand for exports and an exceptionally cold winter; the markets are pushing all-time highs. There is much hype being placed on the ECB's plans for launching QE in March, however, much remains to be seen as to just how effective it will be in a negative interest rate/deflationary enviroment. But then again...there is always "hope."
One bank which dared to go dramatically against the grain is Germany's Berenberg Bank, which earlier today forecast that AAPL's price will crash to $60, a plunge of more than 50%, due to two things: the law of large numbers, and over-reliance on one single product as the iPhone accounts for 85% of AAPL's operating profit. Putting this in perspective, the vast majority of sellside analysts have a price target well over $100, even the bears. .