Disillusioned with the pillaging and predation of our supposed leaders who have circled away from all constraint, we in the center that cannot hold can only watch things fall apart as the orderly universe operated by the few at the expense of the many dissolves (in Aldous Huxley's phrase) into a world of planless incoherence.
Over the last 2 days, more than two dozen Russian military aircraft, in four groups, were tracked and intercepted conducting aerial maneuvers around Europe, according to NATO. As The Wall Street Journal reports, this activity is on a scale seldom seen since the end of the Cold War, prompting NATO jets to scramble in another sign of how raw East-West relations have grown. "There is a troubling trend... of sabre rattling" warned The White House, noting that NATO has intercepted over 100 incursions by Russia year-to-date to which the US Army chief of staff ominously warned, this is "Russian aggression," and "we have to reassure our allies."
- Russia Loses Oil Ally in De Margerie After Moscow Crash (BBG)
- Austria's Erste denies report it has failed stress tests (Reuters)
- Sweden gets two new sightings, as hunt for undersea intruder goes on (Reuters)
- Companies Try to Escape Health Law’s Penalties (WSJ)
- Mud and Loathing on Russia-Ukraine Border (BBG)
- NOAA employee charged with stealing U.S. dam information (Reuters)
- Lower Oil Prices Seen Easing Japan’s Trade Pain (WSJ)
- Michigan becomes 5th U.S. state to thwart direct Tesla car sales (Reuters)
- Maglev Train Seen Making Washington-to-Baltimore Trip at 311 MPH (BBG)
The awful news overnight of Total CEO Christophe de Margarie's death in a freak plane crash caused by the jet hitting a snow-plough on the runway has taken a darker twist. As RT reports, Russian prosecutors claim the driver of the snowplough was drunk, and the air traffic controller for the jet was an intern. However, his lawyer, however, says he was completely sober, due to a heart condition preventing him from drinking claiming "he was so sober at the time of the crash," adding "we don't want the blame for the accident falling on an ordinary man." Investigators added that "bad weather conditions and the possibility of a mistake by the pilot will also be considered." ITAR-TASS reports that Putin has sent his condolences and reached out to Francois Hollande, "Vladimir Putin has long known de Margerie and had a close working relationship with him."
A recent weekend experience reminded me of how 99% of them are completely useless
It doesn’t get any more Orwellian than this: Wall Street mega banks crash the U.S. financial system in 2008. Hundreds of thousands of financial industry workers lose their jobs. Then, beginning late last year, a rash of suspicious deaths start to occur among current and former bank employees. Next we learn that four of the Wall Street mega banks likely hold over $680 billion face amount of life insurance on their workers, payable to the banks, not the families. We ask their Federal regulator for the details of this life insurance under a Freedom of Information Act request and we’re told the information constitutes “trade secrets.”
In the aftermath of the recent Wall Street Journal profile piece that, rather meaninglessly, shifted attention to Bill Gross as quirky manager (who isn't) to justify El-Erian's departure and ignoring Bill Gross as the man who built up the largest bond fund in the world, the sole head of Pimco was eager to return to what he does best - thinking about the future and sharing his thoughts with one of his trademark monthly letters without an estranged El-Erian by his side. He did that moments ago with "The Second Coming" in which the 69-year-old Ohian appears to have pulled a Hugh Hendry, and in a letter shrouded in caveats and skepticism, goes on to essentially plug "risk" assets. To wit: "As long as artificially low policy rates persist, then artificially high-priced risk assets are not necessarily mispriced. Low returning, yes, but mispriced? Not necessarily.... In plain English – stocks, bonds and other “carry”-sensitive assets would outperform cash."
With Trader Monthly magazine having, ironically, gone out business long ago, all those traders whose egos demanded that their insider trading connections put them at least in one of the iconic "Top X under X" league tables, pardon, rankings, had to bide their time in expectation of one day when their prowess to frontrun others or move markets with repeated calls to 555-7617 (with or without references to Anacott Steel) would be appreciated by such sterling Wall Street "experts" as Anthony Scaramucci. Well, for this year's crop of some 30 traders under 30, the day has arrived. And while Forbes may not be Trader Monthly, the amusement, the hubris and the behind the scenes dealing to appear in such a list, sure are still the same...
A mere two months after the last widespread blackout to hit Venezuela, major parts of the nation are once again dark tonight as a power outage hit during President Maduro's evening address laying out his new economic philosophy (the inverse of Bernanke's):
*MADURO SAYS VENEZUELANS MUST SAVE MORE, CONSUME LESS
The blackoutt has affected some of the nation's oil refineries (even though they are often powered by separate generator plants). Maduro himself said this evening's blackout cause was "strange," hinting at "sabotage" and not caused by excess demand (since the same substation that was sabotaged in September has failed). Perhaps it is time to spend what little discretionary reserves the nation has left on infrastructure instead of Samsung trinkets and military bonuses to keep the people at bay.
Now that the All Time High (ATH) in the S&P is a distant memory (at least until the Syrian war becomes a widespread conflict involving all global powers and the US suddenly has to issue, and monetize, a few extra trillion) there are those momentum chasers who have an itch to BTFATH. To all of them we have a message: don't despair, and merely set your sights a little lower, on the globe that is, to Venezuela where the local stock market keeps crushing every upside resistance level and hitting new all time highs day after day after day, resulting in a YTD return of nearly 200%!
- Washington Post Company Chairman and CEO Donald Graham talks about the sale, what it means for the future of The Post (WaPo)
- Private-equity firms are adding debt to companies they own to fund payouts to themselves at a record pace (WSJ)
- U.S., U.K. Urge Citizens to Leave Yemen (WSJ)
- India Names Rajan Central Bank Governor as Rupee Plunges (BBG)
- Family Offices Chasing Wealthy’s $46 Trillion in Assets (BBG)
- UK 'bad bank' repays $2.9 billion to taxpayers in first half (Reuters)
- Sony rebuffs Daniel Loeb’s push for entertainment spin-off (FT)
- Public Pensions Up 12% Get Most in 2 Years as Stocks Soar (BBG)
- Hidden Billionaire Found With Food Fortune in California (BBG)
- Fonterra under fire over milk scare; more product recalls (Reuters)
- Crédit Agricole Profit Rises After Greek (WSJ)
It appears that all it took for Spain to finally grant Bolivian president Evo Morales a green light to fly in its airspace was a thorough Austrian check of its cargo hold, a la Millennium Falcon, to make sure it does not hide Barack Obama's public enemy number 1. Sure enough, the plane has left Vienna and at last check was about to fly over Madrid in a few short minutes.
As already reported, the Dassault Falcon 900EX that is the Bolivian Air Force 1 was prohibited from flying over Italy, Portugal, Spain and France, due to suspicions it was harboring the "democratic world's enemy #1" Edward Snowden, trapping FAB1 above Austria, and forcing to land in Vienna. Watch the animation of the flight path below how effective the "democratic world" is in making a mockery of due process, diplomatic immunity and all those other highly valued qualities that make living in the "democratic world" such a joy. As for Europe: what can we say - the continent that over the weekend was furious at the NSA for spying on it, expressed its anger by blocking Snowden's airpace.
Events are rapidly unfolding in Europe which may bring something more than the “blink, wink and nod” of the famous children’s poem to the forefront of everyone’s thinking. There is great wisdom in Pinocchio actually beyond what is generally known. At one point the puppet heads into the “Field of Miracles” where he plants his gold and waits for it to grow. Pinocchio then heads off to “Catch-fools” which is a place where everyone has done something exceedingly foolish and suffers as a result. The world presently believes that there is no “event risk” and upon this foothold and the money poured into the streets by the central banks the markets rest in peace. Roads do not go on forever, the day eventually fades into the night and the peace of the morning is often shattered by the shrill cry of the dove being attacked by the falcon. The Great Game is not “Toyland” and great care is now called for before we awaken to find that we have turned into donkeys, or worse, ourselves.
The center cannot hold because it has failed the nation by defending the Status Quo kleptocracy. As a case study, let's look at Greece, a nation that is the leading-edge of Status Quo delegitimization and destabilization. As the Status Quo fails to protect the national interests and the citizenry from the neofeudal kleptocracy, faith in the political center fades. What happens when people lose faith in the financial institutions and their coercive "fixes"? They move their capital to less-risky, more productive climes. In other words, capital flight is another positive feedback: as people move their capital out of the country, then there is less available per capita for productive investment. The same holds true for every nation ruled by kleptocratic Elites that has attempted to "grow our way out of debt" by piling debt on debt. Doesn't that include Spain, Italy, China, the U.S. and a host of other nations?