For a centrally-planned market that has long since lost the ability to discount the future, and certainly respond appropriately to geopolitical events, yesterday was a rough wake up call with a two punch stunner of not only the MH 17 crash pushing the Ukraine escalation into overdrive, but Israel's just as shocking land invasion of Gaza officially marking the start of a ground war, finally dragging global stocks out of their hypnotized slumber and pushing risk broadly lower across the globe, even if the now traditional USDJPY and AUDJPY ramp algos have woken up in the past few minutes and will be eager to pretend as if nothing ever happened.
White House Statement Offers Condolences, Blames Russia, Demands "Full, Credible, Unimpeded" Investigation Into MH17 CrashSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/17/2014 23:43 -0400
The White House issued a full statement at 2238ET with regard the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crash following President Obama's earlier brief comments: "The United States is shocked by the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, and we offer our deep condolences to all those who lost loved ones on board... It is critical that there be a full, credible, and unimpeded international investigation as quickly as possible... While we do not yet have all the facts, we do know that this incident occurred in the context of a crisis in Ukraine that is fueled by Russian support for the separatists, including through arms, materiel, and training."
Despite an initial attempt to rally after the terrible news out of Ukraine hit, stocks were unable to mount any serious BTFD as uncertainty spread. Despite Bullard's best efforts, bond yields crashed lower (over 7bps today) with 10Y at 2.45% near the lowest close in 13 months. Gold prices jumped over $20 (even as the USD Index flatlined - though JPY strengthened notably as risk-off set in). VIX exploded 3.7 vols (its biggest swing - 45% - since Aug 2011). Equity markets cratered into the close as Israel ground invasion news (A White House Lockdown) added to the concerns leaving all US markets red post-payrolls and red post-Yellen. The S&P 500 dropped 1.18% - its biggest drop in 3 months. The Russell 2000 is now down 2.5% year-to-date.
A day that couldn't get any more bizarre, just did.
- WHITE HOUSE PLACED ON LOCKDOWN, ABC NEWS TWEETS
Is Obama trying to run away?
While the world was riveted by the latest Malaysian Airlines tragedy, Obama and Putin spoke. According to Reuters, Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday that the United States and its allies are prepared to impose additional sanctions on Moscow if it does not change course in Ukraine.
Slowly but surely, all those cans that many hoped were kicked indefinitely into the future, are coming back home to roost. The biggest impact on global risk overnight have been undoubtedly the expanded Russian sanctions announced by Obama yesterday, which have sent the Russian Micex index reeling to six week lows (as it does initially after every sanction announcement, only for the BTFDers to appear promptly thereafter), with the biggest hits saved for the named companies such as Rosneft -5.6%, Novatek -5.1%, and others Alrosa -5.7%, VTB Bank -4.3%, Sberbank -3.4% and so on. Then promptly risk off mood spilled over into broader Europe and at last check the Stoxx600 was down 0.8%, with Bund futures soaring to record highs especially following news (from the Ukraine side) that a Russian warplane attacked a Ukrainian fighter jet. Not helping matters is the end of the dead cat bounce in Portugal where after soaring by 20% yesterday on hopes of a fresh capital infusion, Espirito Santo has once again crashed, dropping as much as 11%, driven lower following downgrades by both S&P and Moodys, as well as the realization that someone was pulling everyone's legs with the rumor of an equity stake sale.
Just as they promised (and acting unilaterally as Europe declined to go along with The White House), President Obama has unleashed a set of 'sectoral' sanctions to wreak havoc in Russia. The sanctions include the standard travel bans but adds rules that block several of Russia's largest firms from American debt markets. The plan - to restrict funding availability for Russian firms to under 90-days - is however, dead-on-arrival. As we explained here, Russian companies, facing $115 billion of debt due over the next 12 months, will have the funds even if bond markets shut as "the amount of cash on balance sheets of Russian companies, committed credit lines from banks and the operating cash flows they will get is sufficient for the companies to comfortably service their liabilities." This will do nothing but raise Putin's ire even more.
President Barack Obama hosted Tuesday an Iftar at the White House in celebration of the Holy Month of Ramadan. The Iftar - the sixth to be hosted by Obama since he came to power in 2008 - has become an annual tradition at the White House, gathering diplomats from the Arab and Muslim world. We are sure that was not awkward at all for Obama...
"It's not clear to us that breaking commercial ties with the Russia partners, consumers gets anyone to where they want to be," warns one political think tank as AP reports, The White House is considering imposing unilateral sanctions on Russia over its threatening moves in Ukraine - a move reflecting frustration at Europe's reluctance to bit off its nose to spite its face. Until now, the U.S. has insisted on hitting Russia with penalties in concert with Europe in order to maximize the impact, but, as Putin warned, those same economic ties have made Europe fearful that tougher penalties against Russia could boomerang and hurt their own economies. Obam has faced criticism over a lack of action, as Bob Corker blasted "sometimes I'm embarrassed for you, as you constantly talk about sanctions and yet, candidly, we never see them put in place," but the European 'concerns' are just as valid in America as Utilities in the U.S. are scrambling for coal, on pace to increase imports 26% this year.
What’s so amusing about this week’s article from the New York Times titled, At Dinner Tables, Restless President Finds Intellectual Escape, is that the author appears to be quite sympathetic to Obama. She seems to want to portray the President as a real statesman; one who is so far above politics and the pedestrian task of being Commander in Chief that he finds it necessary to flee his responsibilities in order to find intellectual escape while dining extravagantly with “elites” in Europe. In contrast, he merely comes across as the arrogant, disconnected, oligarch coddler he is.
If one were so inclined, one could imagine that the relentless barrage of domestic scandals plaguing Obama have been orchestrated with a simple reason: to divert attention from the worst US foreign policy in four decades. And sure enough, even a casual glimpse of all the raging international crises, in which the US is currently embroiled, is enough to make one wonder if the next global crisis will be fought not in the capital markets but in the actual battlefield. As the WSJ recounts, "a convergence of security crises is playing out around the globe, from the Palestinian territories and Iraq to Ukraine and the South China Sea, posing a serious challenge to President Barack Obama's foreign policy and reflecting a world in which U.S. global power seems increasingly tenuous. The breadth of global instability now unfolding hasn't been seen since the late 1970s, U.S. security strategists say, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, revolutionary Islamists took power in Iran, and Southeast Asia was reeling in the wake of the U.S. exit from Vietnam."
On the heels of John Kerry's accusation that Russia's behavior does not belong in the 21st century, Germany's Angela Merkel has come out swining against the escalating spying scandal with the US (which saw allegations that the US had recruited two Germans to sell secrets this week). During an interview with ZDF, the German leader blasted “that we have different perceptions on the work of intelligence services," adding that "we don’t live in the Cold War anymore." The White House's response, so far, a shrug of 'business-as-usual' from Josh Earnest; which fits with Merkel's conclusion: "I think it's not that easy to convince the Americans ... to completely change the way their intelligence services work."
Want to hear the worst idea in the history of horrible ideas? How about we take the industry responsible for destroying the U.S. economy and wrecking the lives of tens of millions of people, and then allow it to create a “government-industry cyber war council.” It appears that trillions in taxpayer bailouts simply wasn’t enough for Wall Street. Noting that it can seemingly get whatever it wants whenever it wants, the industry is now positioning itself to overtly control U.S. “cyber” policy. What could go wrong?
"There is a colossal bubble in all asset prices and eventually it will burst," is the subtle recurring message from The Gloom, Boom, & Doom Report's Marc Faber, warnings that "maybe has begun to burst already." While Faber admits he has called for such a correction previously, he notes that the difference now is that "valuations are so much higher; and contrary to what the mainstream economists believe, I don't believe the global economy is strengthening; in fact I believe it is weakening." Furthermore, while "you never know what will trigger for a bull market or bear market is until after the fact," Faber offers 3 factors (aside from the Fed) that could trigger a 30% crash or more... beginning with "a) In The White House we have a very poor President - which will lead to political issues domestically in the US," which are not priced in.