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What Do Stocks Know?





With global GDP expectations plumbing new depths (at 2.48% consensus for 2014), one could understand why it is that 30Y US Treasury yields are at 16-month lows, that Dr.Copper is tumbling, and crude oil prices slumping. But apart from the fundamentals of global macro strength, what - at almost record highs - does the US equity market know that every other asset class does not...

 
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Putin Considers Banning Jack Daniel's





We knew the blowback from western sanctions against Russia would get serious - and Europe is already finding that out the hard way - but Vladmimir Putin appears to have gone 'cruel-and-unusual' in his latest step. As ITAR-TASS reports, Russian consumer-protection agency Rospotrebnadzor will decide in next few days whether to seize Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and Honey Liqueur after 'reportedly' finding "suspicious" chemicals in batch of flavored whiskey on sale in Sverdlovsk stores. Luckily Jack Lew has told us this will not impact the US economy (unless of course, you are Jack Daniels).

 
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Housing Permits, Starts Surge Driven By Renewed Rental Housing Scramble





After June's very disappointing housing starts and permits numbers, which plunged to 893K and 963K respectively well below consensus expectations, it was time for the Department of HUD to show how it's done, and moments ago the July housing starts and permits data literally blew away Wall Street expectations, as Starts soared from an upward revised 945K to 1093K, the highest print since November 2013, while permits surged from an also upward revised 973K to 1052K, smashing expectations of 1000K and the biggest beat since October. Why? Multi-family housing is back with a vengeance with "rental" permits and starts soaring by 24% and 33% respecitvely in the month of July.

 
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Cease-Fire Violated: Israeli Military Says 3 Rockets Fired From Gaza





Well that didn't last long...

*ISRAEL ARMY SAYS 3 ROCKETS WERE FIRED FROM GAZA
*ISRAEL ARMY SAYS ROCKETS LANDED IN OPEN AREAS, NO INJURIES

The Israeli military has declared the cease-fire broken. So this is the escalation that will enable a pent-up de-escalation buying opportunity?

 
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Core CPI Rises At Slowest Pace In 14 Months As Food Costs Jump





Consumer Price Inflation rose a mere 0.1% MoM in July, its equal lowest since November 2013 and in line with expectations as falling energy and transportation costs (both -0.3% MoM) led the stabilization (with a 5.9% plunge in airfares). The biggest drop was in personal computers (-1% MoM) which is now -6.0% year-over-year. Food prices rose 0.4% MoM. Ex-food-and-energy, prices also rose 0.1%, missing the 0.2% expectations, to the slowest pace of core inflation since April 2013. So much for all that inflation is about to break out and tear bond yields higher chatter... (no matter how real or unreal the government's hedonically-manipulated data is). The 2-month change in Core CPI swung from hottest in 7 years to coldest in 14 months...

 
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Frontrunning: August 19





  • Just how many rats are there? Steven Cohen's Firm Loses Another Top Executive (WSJ)
  • Iceland Sees a Potential Volcanic Eruption, and Airlines Cower (Bloomberg)
  • Iraqi forces battle to drive jihadists from Saddam's home town (Reuters)
  • Israel, Palestinians Agree to Extend Gaza Truce for 24 Hours (BBG)
  • Pimco now buying junk (BusinessWeek)
  • Pakistan arrests 147 in Punjab towns as protests in capital continue (Reuters)
  • Ex-Rabobank Employee Pleads Guilty in Libor-Rigging Probe (BBG)
  • Ebola Orphans Targeted by Aid Groups as Newest Victims (BBG)
  • Two California youths accused of plotting high school shooting spree (Reuters)
  • Only Rich Know Wage Gains With No Raises for U.S Workers (BBG)
 
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Futures Levitate Because Any Re-escalation Is Simply Pent Up De-escalation





A quick reminder of how geopolitics governs markets: on Friday, the market plunged 0.005% over fears Ukraine and Russia may be about to go at it all out after a fake report Ukraine shelled a Russian military convoy. On Monday, the same "market" soared just under 1% as the news that had caused the "crash" was refuted. That has been the dominant rinse, repeat theme for the past month and will continue to be well after Yellen's Friday speech at Jackson Hole (although one does wonder why she is not speaking on Wednesday when the symposium begins). Not surprisingly, with only modest re-escalation news overnight (that Russia is preparing further retaliatory sanctions against the West), which is simply "pent up de-escalation" in the eyes of Keynesian algos, futures are again up a solid 0.2% and rising, and the way the rampy USDJPY is being manipulated before its pre-market blast off, we may well see the S&P hit 1980, if not a new all time high before 9:30am, let alone during today's cash session. In any event, whatever you do, don't you dare suggest that algos should care one bit about Ferguson and its implications for US society.

 
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Russia Prepares Further Retaliation To West's "Destructive Sanctions"





If the West continues its "destructive sanction policy," Kremlin spokesman Dmirty Peskov said Moscow will deploy additional 'protective' measures. Peskov warned, "we have said several times that Russia is not a fan of speaking in terms of sanctions and has not been an initiator. But if our partners continue their non-constructive and even destructive practices, then additional measures will be developed." Of course, this escalation is merely pent-up de-escalation and therefore good reason to buy US stocks, except bonds seem a little concerned this morning that Putin's blowback will dent global growth further.

 
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Ferguson Tonight: Nelly, The Negro Spring, Live Fire From Protesters' Direction, Police Unleash Tear Gas, Flash-Bangs - Live Feed





UPDATE: Tension between heavily armed police and protesters is increasing rapidly, arrests made:"if you are standing in the street or not moving, you are unlawfully assembled... you will be subject to arrest"

Live fire from the direction of protesters, police unleash tear gas and stun grenades, drag people from car. "that's the worst I have seen it"

With the curfew cancelled, the arrival of The National Guard has brought with it new 'rules' as standing become loitering and peaceful protests must keep moving. Several arrests have already been made including 'white' Getty Images photographer Scott Olson. St.Louis native and famous rapper Nelly is on the scene suggesting the people have 'options'. Several protesters have been spotted carrying posters with the words "Negro Spring" on them and this term is beginning to gain traction on social media. As darkness falls (and with no curfew-induced deadline), we suspect the presence of the military will do nothing to resolve roiling tensions as the numbers of protesters is rising rapidly. Perhaps John Oliver said it best - "let's totally demilitarize the police; and if and only if they can get through a month without killing a young black man can get their toys back."

 
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ISIS Gets Angrier At America: "We Will Drown All Of You In Blood"





Over the past month ISIS has been getting angrier (""God Willing, We Will Raise The Flag Of Allah In The White House" - A Deeper Look Inside ISIS") and angrier ("ISIS Issues Threat To White House; Secret Service Taking "Appropriate Steps") until today it released a video in which it warned the United States it will attack Americans "in any place" if continuing US raids hit its militants. The video, released by Reuters, which shows a photograph of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq, featured a statement which said in English "we will drown all of you in blood".

 
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Human Rights Watch USA – Amnesty International Deploys In America





“We criticize dictators for quelling dissent and silencing protestors with tactics like curfews, we’ll certainly speak out when it’s happening in our own backyard. The people of Ferguson have the right to protest peacefully the lack of accountability for Michael Brown’s shooting.” - Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Steven W. Hawkins

 
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Protesters Storm Governor's Office In Downtown St. Louis, Demand Removal Of National Guard





At first the rioting was only in the "sleepy" St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. Now, the angry crowds have moved on to downtown St. Louis, where moments ago a flash mob attempted storming the governor's office, for now unsuccessfully.

 
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A Brief History Of US Money





Looking at the past 100 years of the US dollar's history, one theme becomes abundantly clear: in times of crisis, the US government has no issue with changing its own rules or breaking its own laws. And those "temporary" emergency measures have a nasty habit of quickly becoming permanent. As we see the US money supply exponentially accelerating since the 1970s, and the Federal Reserve more than tripling its balance sheet since 2008, it's only prudent to ask the question: Without constraints, are we in danger of destroying the purchasing power of our currency by making too much of it?

 
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SEC (Finally) Begins Investigation Into CYNK's 36,000% Rise (And Fall)





Over six weeks ago we were the first to bring the investing world's (and SEC's) attention to CYNK technologies - a revenueless, assetless 'social network' shell that rapidly exploded in price and market cap soared to $6 billion. Since then it has come crashing back to 'sanity' levels - i.e. worthless - and now, as WSJ reports, The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating. Their initial findings show a number of 'repeat offenders' linked to several stocks that suffered suspicious trading - just as we noted here...

 
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Occupation Forces





The US is unique in the world with regard to occupation. It has been estimated that the US has over 325,000 military personnel in over 1,000 overseas military bases in more than 150 countries, but statistics are widely conflicting. Generally, the American troops arrive to deal with some sort of conflict (either invited or uninvited), but unlike most other armies, they tend to remain for a long time beyond the stated “need.” There are those who praise this policy, stating that the US “keeps the world safe for democracy;” however, the US is known (at least to us outsiders) as a country that typically routs elected governments, installs corrupt and ineffectual puppet leaders, and seeks to control the occupied country as a satellite state. There are three major downsides to this policy...

 
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