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Poland Is Quietly Mobilizing Its Army Reservists





It seems the words of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk warning that “the world stands on the brink of conflict, the consequences of which are not foreseen... Not everyone in Europe is aware of this situation," are a little more real than some (US equity buyers) might suspect. As The Week's Crispin Black reports, at least 7,000 Polish workers in Europe have received call-up papers as army reservists in the last few weeks. Polish authorities dismiss it as "routine" but the men note this has never happened before.

 


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Albert Edwards Destroys The "Solid Earnings Growth" Myth





Most of the market tends to focus on profits on a pro-forma basis. We have never been big fans of this. These are the earnings numbers companies like to publish that steer attention away from the ?bad stuff?. James Montier used to be highly scathing, describing them as “undefined, unregulated and untrue”. But because of their ready availability most in the market tend to quote pro-forma earnings numbers from the likes of Bloomberg and I/B/E/S and many base their equity valuations on this dodgy earnings metric. Yet even on this artificially inflated measure, trailing EPS grew only a paltry 5½% yoy in 2013, and 3% on a non-financial basis Andrew Lapthorne published an update on the US profits situation in the wake of the Q4 reporting season. He writes "?At first look, growth in US net income last year looks remarkably good. With nearly all S&P 500 names having reported year-end figures, net income grew 14% last year, or 12.8% on an ex-financial basis. This is fairly impressive growth given  the lacklustre economic backdrop. So should we be celebrating? Well we?re not so sure, as the source of this growth is not a robust improvement in operating cash flow, but is to be found in the large goodwill write-downs of 2012?." Andrew then shows that the vast majority of this 14% growth in profits was driven by company-specific write-downs made back in 2012 ? with Hewlett Packard, AT&T and Verizon Communications leading the way.

 

 


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Iraq Buys Massive 36 Tonnes Of Gold In March





The Central Bank of Iraq said it bought 36 tons of gold this month to help stabilise the Iraqi dinar against foreign currencies, according to a statement from the bank that was emailed this morning. It is very large in tonnage terms and Iraq’s purchases this month alone surpasses the entire demand of many large industrial nations in all of 2013. It surpasses the entire demand of large countries such as France, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, Japan, the UK, Brazil and Mexico. Indeed, it is just below the entire gold demand of voracious Hong Kong for all of 2013 according to GFMS data (see chart).  Iraq had 27 tonnes of gold reserves at the end of 2013 according to the IMF data and thus Iraq has more than doubled their reserves with their allocations to gold this month. Gold remains less than 5% of their overall foreign exchange reserves showing that there is the possibility of further diversification into gold in the coming months. The governor of the Iraqi Central Bank, Abdel Basset Turki, told a news conference that, "the bank bought 36 tonnes of gold to boost reserves and this move is to strengthen the financial capacity of the country and increase the elements of security and insurance reserves of the Central Bank of Iraq." He added that "the central bank seeks through the purchase of large quantities of gold to stabilize the Iraqi dinar against foreign currencies.” Iraq quadrupled its gold holdings to 31.07 tonnes over the course of three months between August and October 2012, data from the International Monetary Fund shows.

 


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Frontrunning: March 25





  • Putin Threatened With More Sanctions as Russia Out of G-8 (BBG)
  • China Faces ‘Mini Crisis’ on Debt Defaults, Ex-PBOC Adviser Says (BBG)
  • Don't laugh too hard: Obama to propose ending NSA bulk collection of phone records (Reuters)
  • SEC Is Probing Dealings by Banks and Companies in Loan Securities (WSJ)
  • Japan GPIF asset review not aimed at supporting domestic stocks (Reuters)
  • Chinese families clash with police, slam Malaysia over lost plane (Reuters)
  • Russian Capital Flight Surges in First Quarter, Fueled by Ukraine Crisis (WSJ)
  • Democrats ditch Nate Silver after data whiz predicts dismal midterm outcome (DN)
  • China’s Urbanization Loses Momentum as Growth Slows (BBG)
 


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Stocks Levitate Into US Open In Yet Another "Deja Vu All Over Again" Moment





With another session in which US futures levitate into the open, despite a modest drop in the Nikkei225 (to be expected after the president of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s largest pension fund, said that a review of asset allocations into stocks is not aimed at supporting domestic share prices) and an unchanged Shanghai Composite while the currency pair du jour, the USDCNY, closes higher despite tumbling in early trade (which also was to be expected after a former adviser to the People’s Bank of China said China is headed for a “mini crisis” in its local- government debt market as economic reforms lead to the first defaults) everyone is asking: will it be deja vu all over again, and after a solid ramp into 9:30 am, facilitated without doubt by the traditional Yen carry trade, will stocks roll over as first biotech and then all other bubble stocks are whacked? We will find out in just over two hours.

 


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Ukraine Leader In New Leaked Recording: 8 Million Russians In Ukraine "Must Be Killed With Nuclear Weapons"





After a month ago a leaked phone call between US assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland and the US envoy to the Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt confirmed that it was the US that was pulling the strings in what was about to be a violent coup overthrowing Ukraine's president Yanukovich, "someone" has just leaked another phone conversation, this time between parliamentarian Nestor Shufrych and former PM and ideological leader of the Ukraine "revolution" Yulia Tymoshenko and most probable future president of West Ukraine, in which Tymoshenko makes several new threats but the the smoking gun, and where Putin once again shows just how masterful of a chess player he is, is the following statement by Tymoshenko, after asked, rhetorically, by her counterparty, "what should we do now with the 8 million Russians that stayed in Ukraine. They are outcasts"... to which she replies: "They must be killed with nuclear weapons." And just like that Putin has his provocation carte blanche - because the second something, anything happens to any ethnic Russian in east Ukraine, Putin can point to precisely this conversation as proof of how Ukraine's "government" feel toward the ethnic minorities in the east, and why "they deserve to be protected." Which has been precisely Putin's ploy all along.

 


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Guest Post: Does The World Need China's Leadership?





For more than two decades China has abided by former leader Deng Xiaoping’s “keep a low profile” strategy in foreign affairs. But things are changing — China is ready to take on a leadership role in international affairs, and the world may benefit from it. Does the goal of a more stable and prosperous world necessitate a China that’s more active and assertive in global affairs.

 


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Despite Late-Day Ramp, Stocks Slide As Yield Curve Flattens To 2009 Lows





Despite dismal PMIs from China and USA, stocks managed a miraculous 'pump' into the US open only to be unceremoniously dumped very soon after as MoMos and Biotechs had the rug pulled out. Weakness continued down to Nasdaq's 50DMA (and Biotech's 100DMA) and stabilized into the European close when soon after, via the magic of EURJPY, stock rebounded back to VWAP. Alas, it was not be the day for the bulls as VWAP-selling hit hard in the last hour... until the good fairy 330RAMP CAPITAL came along, and punched VIX in the mouth in a desperate attempt to regain green and get the Dow positive post-FOMC. Unlike many fairy tales though, this one ended sadly ever after. Stocks down, USD down, Gold down, VIX up, Yield Curve down to 2009 levels.

 

 


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Who Is And Isn't Saving For Retirement





In the land of the free and the home of the entitled, the sad (but true) nature of income inequality's inexorable rise in the past few years has a somewhat more startling impact on the future. With work being punished for the marginal employee and the wealth effect concentrated in the hands of the great and good, the following two charts show clearly the sad fact that those who need to save for the future the most don't (and likely can't) and those with all the income save the most (and thus 'spend' the least). As we noted previously, the rich have the assets and the poor have the debt (and debt is not wealth).

 


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Eric Holder & DoJ Spent Millions Of Taxpayer Dollars On Unreported Personal Travel





Despite his unique role, Eric Holder has spent the past five years taking absolutely zero action on any matter of national significance. In fact, his major claim to fame appears to be that he has solidified the creation of a group of untouchable criminals known as the “Too Big to Jail” class. So what does Eric Holder do in his spare time, you know, when he isn’t coddling financial oligarchs and running firearms into Mexico? Apparently, according to a recent study from the non-partisan Government Accountability Office, he likes to hop on government planes for personal trips at taxpayer expense. Serfs up suckers!

 


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30 Survey Results That Sound False But Are Actually True





You will be shocked at what some Americans actually believe.

 


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What Happens To America's Long-Term Unemployed (Spoiler Alert: Nothing Good)





The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or longer in the US rose by 203,000 in February to 3.8 million. As we noted previously, this is the desperate shadow hanging over the so-called recovery. What is more problematic is the stunning findings of a new study that only 11% of the long-term unemployed in any given month found full-time work a year later.

 


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IceCap: "Which Bubble Is Created Next?"





Chart 1 proves it is crystal clear that every time the US Federal Reserve acts to "save us" from one crisis, it directly sows the seeds for an even bigger crisis in the future.

 


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The Fourteen Year Recession





When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse. 

 


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Venezuela Bolivar Devalues 89% in Start of New FX Market





Venezuela's exchange rate is a Gordian Knot of rules and regulations meant to baffle onlookers with bullshit and, we suspect, hide the hyperinflation from prying eyes just a little longer. Today's launch of SICAD II, a new currency market which allows the free-market to bid for USD (in Bolivars), appears to be an effort to provide liquidity to a black-market for dollars. SICAD II priced at 55 Bolivars today - an 88% devaluation from the official rate of 6.29.

 


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