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Dropping Like Flies: Largest Steel Maker In China's Shanxi Province Defaults On CNY 3 Billion In Debt





 

When we started discussing the upcoming onslaught of corporate defaults in "Minsky Moment" China, now that the bankruptcy seal has been broken, we warned that the worst is about to come. Well, it's coming. Overnight, Hong Kong's The Standard reported that in addition to the solar, coal and real-estate developer companies that are on everyone's radar as potential future bankruptcy candidates, one can also add steel makers to the list, with its report that Highsee Group, the largest private steel makers in Shanxi province has defaulted on CNY3 billion of debt, unable to repay its bonds on time.

 


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Caterpillar Global Retail Sales Continue Sliding, Drop For 15th Month In A Row; LatAm Tumbles





Any minute now...

Just like with the fabled Abenomics recovery which is said to be just around the corner, so Caterpillar, whose stock has discounted a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes, continues to disappoint month after month, with no actual pick up in sales, and as was just released moments ago, in February the heavy industrial equipment maker posted the 15th consecutive decline in global retail sales, which declined 8% from February of 2013, which in turn was a 13% decline from 2012.

 


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Estonia Next? Russia "Signals Concern" For Its Citizens In The Baltic Republic





Amid the growing Crimea crisis, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - which like Ukraine were all parts of the old Soviet Union and have very significant concentrations of ethnic Russian-speaking citizens - have expressed growing apprehension over Moscow's intentions. As Reuters reports, Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia's treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian. "Language should not be used to segregate and isolate groups," the envoy noted, referencing the same 'linguistic tensions' that supported its annexation of Crimea.

 


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Continuing Claims Miss By Most In 8 Weeks As Initial Claims Rise





Initial jobless claims rose for the first time in 4 weeks - with, oddly, no upward revision of previous data - but beat expectations for the 3rd week in a row. In the prior week the best state was New York, where claims dropped by 17,548 due to "Fewer layoffs in the transportation and warehousing, educational services, and food services industries." However, the rise in continuing claims - the most in over 2 months - is perhaps the most notable - missing expectations by the most in 8 weeks. This is notable since this week was the survey period for the all-important Non-Farm Payrolls (well less important now given Yellen's comments).

 


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Dollar Surges, Chinese Yuan Plunges In FOMC Aftermath





In the aftermath of yesterday's key market event, the FOMC's $10 billion tapering and elimination of QE with "QualG", not to mention the "dots" and the "6 month" comment, the USD has been on fire against all key pairs, with the EURUSD sliding below 1.38, a 150 pip move in one day which should at least give Mario Draghi some comfort, but more importantly sending the USDJPY soaring to 102.500 even as US equity futures continue to slide, and not to mention the Nikkei which tumbled -1.7% to just above 14,000 overnight. Perhaps the biggest take home message for traders from yesterday is that the Yen carry trade correlation to the Emini is now dead if only for the time being until DE Shaw and Virtu recalibrate their all-important correlation signal algos. The other big news overnight was the plunge in the Yuan, tumbling 0.5%, 6.2286, up 343 pips and crushing countless speculators now that the "max vega" point has been passed. Expect under the radar news about insolvent trading desks over the next few days, as numerous mega levered FX traders, who had bet on continued CNY appreciation are quietly carted out the back door. Elsewhere, gold and other commodities continue to be hit on rising fear the plunging CNY will accelerate the unwind of Chinese Commodity Funding Deals.

 


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Frontrunning: March 20





  • Possible debris off Australia a 'credible lead' for missing Malaysia jet (Reuters)
  • Maldives and Afghanistan: Theories Blossom for Airliner (BBG)
  • Ukraine Military Concedes on Crimea as Russia Takes Hold (BBG)
  • Asia Stocks Drop on Fed; H-Share Index Enters Bear Market (BBG)
  • Scientists say destructive solar blasts narrowly missed Earth in 2012 (Reuters)
  • GM’s Ignition Victims Need Help From Bankruptcy Judge (BBG)
  • U.S. Alleges Inside Traders Used Spycraft, Ate Evidence (WSJ)
  • God Meets Profit in Obama Contraceptive Rule Court Case (BBG)
 


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Busted! – U.S. Tech Giants Knew Of NSA Spying Says Agency's Senior Lawyer





Last week, Mark Zuckerberg made headlines by posting about how he called President Barack Obama to express outrage and shock about the government’s spying activities. Of course, anyone familiar with Facebook and what is going on generally between private tech behemoths and U.S. intelligence agencies knew right away that his statement was one gigantic heap of stinking bullshit. Well now we have the proof. Earlier today, the senior lawyer for the NSA made it completely clear that U.S. tech companies were fully aware of all the spying going on, including the PRISM program. So stop the acting all of you Silicon Valley CEOs. We know you are fully on board with extraordinary violations of your fellow citizens’ civil liberties. We know full well that you have been too cowardly to stand up for the values this country was founded on. We know you and your companies are compromised. Stop pretending, stop bullshitting. You’ve done enough harm.

 


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Australian PM Says May (Or May Not) Have Found Objects Belonging To Flight MH370





Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has some interesting comments in the dreadful disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. While addressing parliament today, he stated:

  • *AUSTRALIA FINDS POSSIBLE OBJECTS LINKED TO MH370, ABBOTT SAYS
  • *OBJECTS FOUND IN SEARCH MAY NOT BE MH370, ABBOTT SAYS
  • *ABBOTT SAYS NEW, CREDIBLE INFORMATION IN RELATION TO MH370
  • *ABBOTT: AMSA HAS RECEIVED INFO. BASED ON SATELLITE IMAGERY
  • *ABBOTT: OBJECTS IN SOUTH INDIAN OCEAN MAY BE RELATED TO SEARCH

There is not much color yet but it appears that 2 objects have been found and the Aussies are diverting more aircraft to search the area.

 


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Beef Prices Surge Most In A Decade As Food Inflation Soars





Just a month ago we warned that food inflation was on its way. Today we got the first confirmation that problems are on their way. While headline data washes away the nuance of what eating, sleeping, energy-using human-beings are paying month-in and month-out, the fact, as WSJ reports, that beef prices surged by almost 5% in February - the biggest change since Nov 2003 - means pinching consumers and companies pocketbooks that are still grappling with a sluggish economic recovery. "Things are definitely more expensive," exclaimed on mother of three, "I can't believe how much milk is. Chicken is crazy right now, and beef - I paid $5 a pound for beef!" Just don't tell the Fed!

 


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How Gold Performs During FOMC Weeks (Spoiler Alert: Not Good)





What is more confidence-inspiring in the Fed's ability to manage the world and the continued dominance of the US Dollar as global reserve currency than a falling gold price... and when better to show that than FOMC meeting weeks... welcome to the centrally-planned world where the announcement of ongoing trillions in fiat dilution constantly crushes the price of undilutable money.

 


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The Chinese Yuan Is Collapsing





The Yuan has weakened over 250 pips in early China trading. Trading at almost 6.22, we are now deeply into the significant-loss-realizing region of the world's carry-traders and Chinese over-hedgers. Morgan Stanley estimates a minimum $4.8bn loss for each 100 pip move. However, the bigger picture is considerably worse as the vicious circle of desperate liquidity needs are starting to gang up on Hong Kong real estate and commodity prices. For those who see the silver lining in this and construe all this as a reason to buy more developed world stocks on the premise that the money flooding out of China (et al.) will be parked in the S&P are overlooking the fact that the purchase price of these now-unwanted positions was most likely borrowed, meaning that their liquidation will also extinguish the associated credit, not re-allocate it.

 


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China's "Minsky Moment" Is Here, Morgan Stanley Finds





"It is clear to us that speculative and Ponzi finance dominate China’s economy at this stage. The question is when and how the system’s current instability resolves itself. The Minsky Moment refers to the moment at which a credit boom driven by speculative and Ponzi borrowers begins to unwind. It is the point at which Ponzi and speculative borrowers are no longer able to roll over their debts or borrow additional capital to make interest payments....  We believe that China finds itself today at exactly this juncture."

 


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Government Agency Warns If 9 Substations Are Destroyed, The Power Grid Could Be Down For 18 Months





What would you do if the Internet or the power grid went down for over a year?  Our key infrastructure, including the Internet and the power grid, is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine.  These days, most people simply take for granted that the lights will always be on and that the Internet will always function properly.  But what if all that changed someday in the blink of an eye?  According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's latest report, all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transformer manufacturer and just 9 of our 55,000 electrical substations on a really hot summer day.  The reality of the matter is that our power grid is in desperate need of updating, and there is very little or no physical security at most of these substations.

 


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"The Cacophony Of Fed Confusion," David Stockman Warns Will Lead To "Economic Calamity"





"We never should have painted ourselves so deep in this QE corner in the first place," chides David Stockman, "because the whole predicate [of Fed policy] is false." The author of The Great Deformation holds nothing back in this brief 3-minute primer of everything is wrong with the American economic system (and the CNBC anchors definitely did not want to hear). "We are already at peak debt and forcing more into the economy didn't work," and won't work as is merely funds Wall Street's latest carry trade to nowhere and fiscal irresponsibility in Washington. Simply put, "the private credit channel of monetary transmission is busted," so the Fed is exploiting the only channel it has left - "the bubble channel."

 


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The Problem With Forward P/Es





It is always interesting that, following two major bear markets, investors have forgotten that it was these very same analysts that had them buying into the market peaks previously. As we know repeatedly from history, extrapolated projections rarely happen.  Therefore, when analysts value the market as if current profits are representative of an indefinite future, they have likely insured investors will receive a very rude awakening at some point in the future. There is mounting evidence, from valuations being paid in M&A deals, junk bond yields, margin debt and price extensions from long term means, "exuberance" is once again returning to the financial markets.

 


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