It just hasn't been a good week for the CIA. A year after Edward Snowden revealed that the US was bugging Angela Merkel's cell phone, first one then, moments ago, Suddeutsche Zeitung revealed that a second "spy case" involving the US (read CIA) have been revealed. According to SZ, an unidentified man working in military-related area likely to be questioned today over suspicion of spying for a U.S. intelligence service in Germany. The home and office of the suspect were being searched in Berlin area. SZ adds that the case is more serious than unrelated allegations against double agent at BND Federal Intelligence Service that emerged last week. In the meantime, the US ambassador to Germany went to the foreign ministry for a "talk" - perhaps it is to remind the local just how extensive Angela Merkel's DDR file is, and just what would be revealed about her proximity to the Kremlin if push came to shove.
- Headline of the day: Complacency Breeds $2 Trillion of Junk as Sewage Funded (BBG)
- Israel intensifies Gaza offensive after surge in rocket fire (Reuters)
- Profits plunge at Vatican bank (FT)
- Investors Are Buying Troubled Golf Courses and Giving Them Makeovers (NYT)
- Pimco Dissidents Challenge Bill Gross in ‘Happy Kingdom (BBG)
- That's a new one: Marks and Spencer blames new website for sales drop (Reuters)
- Iran's Supreme Leader calls for more enrichment capacity (Reuters)
- Boeing Faces Long-Term Credit Risk if Ex-Im Bank Closed, S&P Says (WSJ) not to mention the collapse risk to US durable goods orders
- U.K. Manufacturing Unexpectedly Slumps Most in 16 Months (BBG)
- Some Still Lack Coverage Under Health Law (WSJ)
You know it has become a farce when...
You know you've made it when you land on the official "yes, you can spy on them" NSA list. As WaPo reports, this exhibit lists the 193 foreign governments as well as foreign factions, political organizations and other entities that were part of a 2010 certification approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. These are the entities about which the NSA may conduct surveillance, for the purpose of gathering foreign intelligence. One thing comes to mind... what about Canada?
Earlier today Reuters reported that the European Commission said on Monday it had approved a Bulgarian request to extend a credit line of 3.3 billion levs ($2.30 billion) in support of banks that have come under speculative attack. “The Commission concluded that the state aid implied by the provision of the credit line is proportionate and commensurate with the need to ensure sufficient liquidity in the banking system in the particular circumstances,” the EU executive said in a statement. The statement said Bulgaria’s banking system was “well capitalised and has high levels of liquidity compared to its peers in other member states. For precautionary reasons, Bulgaria has taken this measure to further increase the liquidity and safeguard its financial system”. The move follows runs by jittery depositors on two major Bulgarian commercial banks in the space of a week. And while this latest backstop of the Bulgarian bank system should provide a respite from bank insolvency fears (if only for the time being), one wonders about Europe's true intentions.
Let Us Count the Ways ...
Many believe the most significant battle of our era is between the forces of Decentralization vs. Centralization. Niall Furguson takes that battle and looks at it from a historical perspective, describing it as Networks vs. Hierarchies, and warns we "need networks, for no political hierarchy, no matter how powerful, can plan all the clever things that networks spontaneously generate. But if the hierarchy comes to control the networks so much as to compromise their benign self-organizing capacities, then innovation is bound to wane."
"The one unlimited resource we have on the planet is the human brain – the current strategy of 1% capitalism is failing because it is killing the Golden Goose at multiple levels. Unfortunately, the gap between those with money and power and those who actually know what they are talking about has grown catastrophic. The rich are surrounded by sycophants and pretenders whose continued employment demands that they not question the premises."
Russia Puts Troops In Central Region On Combat-Ready Alert After Launch Of Massive Surprise Drill - VideoSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/21/2014 14:25 -0400
So much for the Ukraine ultimatum. Just hours after fighting erupted on both sides of the Ukraine-Russian border to commemorate Ukraine's "ceasefire" proposal roundly mocked by the Kremlin, Russian forces in Siberia, the Urals and beyond were been put on combat-ready alert, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said after President Putin ordered surprise drills. "Over 65,000 troops, about 5,500 weapon units and vehicles, over 180 planes, and about 60 helicopters will be involved in the test.
So what’s a Peeping Tom, anti-democratic, Constitution-trampling intelligence crony to do after leaving decades of “public service?” Move into the private sector and collect a fat paycheck from Wall Street, naturally. So what is Mr. Alexander charging for his expertise? He’s looking for $1 million per month. Yes, you read that right. That’s the rate that his firm, IronNet Cybersecurity Inc., pitched to Wall Street’s largest lobbying group the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)
Russia Reignites The Proxy War: Putin Offers "Complete Support" To Iraq Prime Minister Scorned By ObamaSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/20/2014 20:50 -0400
The Kremlin said in a statement that al-Maliki informed Putin on Friday about his government’s steps to combat the “terrorist groups in the north of the country.” It added that the insurgency threatens security of the entire region. Putin confirmed Russia’s “full support for the Iraqi government’s action to quickly free the territory of the republic from terrorists,” the Kremlin said, adding that Putin and al-Maliki also discussed bilateral cooperation. Putin’s expression of support for the embattled Iraqi prime minister comes as al-Maliki’s rivals have mounted a campaign to force him out of office, with some angling for support from Western backers and regional heavyweights.
Larry Fink told the world this morning that central banks are holding a floor under stock prices (but wouldn't expect to see large price increases) - and judging by the gamma imbalances in volatility-land, they are using options markets to unriggedly manage that implicit put. However, given the utter dominance of the machines in the market and any reaction when real volume hits stocks (always down), we thought, courtesy of Nanex, a gentle reminder of just how quickly the Fed put disappears would be useful in this new "we can never get hurt, valuations are within norms, there is no complacency" normal.
- Currency Probe Widens as U.S. Said to Target Markups (BBG)
- Battle for Iraq refinery as U.S. hesitates to strike (Reuters)
- Ukraine forces battle separatists after truce 'refused' (Reuters)
- Fed Dots Ignored as Investors Focus on Yellen’s Message (BBG)
- Retirees Suffer as $300 Billion 401(k) Rollover Boom Enriches Brokers (BBG)
- American Apparel ousts CEO; source says Dov Charney 'will fight like hell' (LA Times)
- House Panel Is Subpoenaed as Trading Probe Heats Up (WSJ)
- GM Officials Ignored Alert on Car Stalling (WSJ)
- Russia’s $20 Billion Bond Void Filled by China to Mexico (BBG)
Now that virtually everyone has figured out what we first said in 2012, namely that in the New bizarro Normal, the best trading strategy - the only way to generate alpha in a world in which hedge funds no longer can - is going long a basket of the most shorted names, one has to wonder how any hedge fund replicating, 13F-chasing service can remain in business. After all, the last thing anyone wants to do is copycat hedge fund groupthink in a world in which hedge funds have underperformed the S&P 500 for 6 years in a row, especially a world in which one can buy the SPY with virtually no fees instead of paying some bloated billionaire 20% for the privilege of underperforming the Federal Reserve-managed S&P500. Still, there are those who, for some inexplicable reason, believe in the infallibility of hedge funds and chase every opportunity imitate those who make their money by collecting 2 and 20 not by generating alpha. For all these, the following charts are for you.
Despite the White House seeming reluctance to see airstrikes as an imminent option (as AP reports, in part because there are few clear targets that U.S. could hit, officials said), Arabiya TV - citing Iraq's Foreign Minister Zarabi, has asked for help (seemingly triggered by ISIS attacks on the Baiji refinery):
*IRAQ ASKED U.S. FOR AIRSTRIKES AGAINST MILITANTS: ARABIYA
*IRAQ ASKED US TO GO AHEAD W/ AIR STRIKES AGAINST JIHADISTS: AFP
This has now been confirmed by the BBC reporting that Gen. Martin Dempsey confirms the request. So 275 boots on the ground are not boots on the ground and now the US will reluctantly but pin-pointedly accurately bomb the bad guys (and some good guys) in Iraq... how has that ended in the past?