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World Press Freedom Index Plunges – USA Now Ranked #49 Globally





The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!

 
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Dijsselbloem Says "Very Pessimistic" About A Deal On Monday As Greek Deposit Flight Hits €1 Billion Per Day





The game of words continues, and following reports both yesterday and today that first Germany, and then Greece would compromise, and in the case of the latter even do "whatever it can" to reach a deal, it is time for Europe's bad cop, Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem, to pour cold water on the party and crush Greek enthusiasm even more when he said moments ago that he was "very pessimistic" about the chances that a meeting he will chair on Monday of euro zone finance ministers would reach a final debt deal with Greece.  Cited by Reuters, he said that Greek voters' expectations of their new government were "a mile high", Dutch finance minister Dijsselbloem was asked whether a plan to resolve Athens' financial problems would be achieved on Monday. He replied, in a remark aired on Dutch television: "I’m really still very pessimistic about that now."

 
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Greece Willing To Do "Whatever It Can" To Reach Deal After Greek Liquidity Situation Deteriorates Rapidly





"Greece will make every effort to reach an agreement with its euro zone partners at Monday's meeting of euro zone finance ministers on how to transition to a new support program, its government spokesman said on Friday. "We will do whatever we can so that a deal is found on Monday," Gabriel Sakellaridis told Skai TV. "If we don't have an agreement on Monday, we believe that there is always time so that there won't be a problem." The reason for this rapid about face? "Senior bank officials have told Kathimerini that almost all the liquidity available to Greece (59.5 billion euros) has been absorbed and that banks’ total dependence on the Eurosystem amounts to 90 billion. The rapid deterioration in liquidity conditions has been attributed to the uncertainty that arose when the snap general elections were called as well as the new government’s inability to reach a swift agreement with the country’s creditors." As usual: money threatening to walk, walks.

 
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Frontrunning: February 13





  • Greece will do 'whatever it can' to reach deal with EU (Reuters)
  • ECB Urges Greek Political Deal as Emergency Cash Is Tight (BBG)
  • Fighting rages in run-up to Ukraine ceasefire (Reuters)
  • Eurozone GDP Picks Up, Thanks to Germany (WSJ)
  • Two J. P. Morgan Executives Connected to Asia Hiring Probe Pushed Out (WSJ)
  • Putin's High Tolerance for Pain and Europe's Reluctance to Inflict It (BBG)
  • Indigestion Hits Top U.S. Food Firms (WSJ)
  • Alibaba's Jack Ma seeks to reassure employees over U.S. lawsuits (Reuters)
 
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German DAX Rises Above 11,000 For First Time After European GDP Surprises To Upside





Who would have thought all it takes for Eurozone Q4 GDP to print above expectations, even if by the smallest of possible margins - one which even the Chinese goalseek-o-tron bows its head down to in respect - which at 0.3% Q/Q was above the 0.2% expected and above Q3's 0.2%, was for Europe to admit it has finally succumbed to deflation. Oh, and for the ECB to admit the situation has never been more serious by launching Q€. Oh, and add the "estimated contribution" to GDP from hookers and drugs. Put all that together and on an annualized basis, the European economy grew by 1.4%. Whatever the reason, Q4 GDP was the best print since Q1, even as Germany blew not only consensus of 0.3%, but the highest GDP estimate of 0.6% out of the water when it reported that courtesy of a spike in spending, its economy grew by 0.7% in the fourth quarter, up from the near-recessionary 0.1% in Q3. That, together with QE and ZIRP now raging across the continent, was enough to push the DAX above 11,000 for the first time ever.

 
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Greek Game Theory: "The Risk Of A Negative Outcome Is Higher Than The Market Thinks"





Essentially, our analysis suggests that there is a large divergence in the perceptions of both sides but the rational choice is to hold to their respective positions. In other words, our analysis of the payoffs suggest that the EU won’t offer debt relief and Syriza won’t back down from demanding it. Our fear is that the markets, inured by previous bailouts, expect the Greeks to cave, leaving the risk of an unexpected negative outcome in Europe is probably higher than what is currently being discounted. At the same time, EU policymakers are assuming that contagion will not occur, which may not be accurate.

 
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Dijsselbloem Pours Cold Water On Greek Compromise: "Don't Get Your Hopes Up"





Just over an hour ago, what appears to have been a strawman now was issued by Bloomberg via leaked sources from Greek and German officials that proclaimed talk of a "compromise" deal that makes everyone happy in Europe. However, as the leaders exited today's summit, the tone of their responses did not exactly sound compromise-prone:

*DIJSSELBLOEM SAYS GREECE PROCESS GOING TO BE V. DIFFICULT, "DON'T GET YOUR HOPES UP YET" ON GREECE
*MERKEL URGES GREECE TO MAKE UP ITS MIND SOON ON FINANCING

Hardly the resoundingly positive spin we saw earlier. Poland's Tusk, Finland's Stubb, and good old Juncker also chimed in with the latter commenting on Greece's "anti-social" behavior. Tsipras made some neutral statements, then came out swinging, "The MoU as we knew it is over. The same goes for the troika. All these years, the burden fell on the poorest. Our aim is to restore the sense of justice."

 
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Greek Gambit Succeeds As Germany Said To Ease Bailout Terms





With tax receipts tumbling and ELA funding hitting its limit, the Greeks are up against it. On the other side, the Greek strength in the face of EU's demands (and Eurogroup's realization of the uncertainty this could lead to) has apparently led to the start of compromise. As Bloomberg reports,

*GERMAN, GREEK OFFICIALS SIGNAL COMMON GROUND ON AID DEAL
*GERMANY SAID NOT TO INSIST ALL PARTS OF CURRENT BAILOUT STAY, GREECE SAID TO BE OPEN TO SURPLUS, PRIVATIZATION DEBATE

As Merkel noted earlier, "Europe is always about finding a compromise," and it appears they are getting closer  - as long as a 'program' continues. Bundesbank's Weidmann has noted that Grexit would not solve either side's longer-term problems.

 
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The Terms Of The Ukraine Cease-Fire: Presenting "East Ukraine"





The new cease-fire agreement is based largely on the original one that went into effect Sept. 5. It focuses on the withdrawal of heavy artillery systems, which have been prominent throughout the conflict, within 14 days of the cease-fire's implementation. The new cease-fire requires these artillery systems to be withdrawn far beyond their maximum effective ranges, a move that will create a buffer to prevent escalation and heavy artillery fire on the demarcation line.

 
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The Greek Issue Just Got Personal





The usual bag of tricks no longer works. And the subject Varoufakis brings to the table, that the EU and ECB economical policies have been an abject failure is no longer an extreme notion. The contagion from Syriza success can be considerable, and though it pretends otherwise, the EU has no idea what it would mean down the line. Every single option they look at that is NOT Varoufakis surrendering, must scare them out of their socks. Anything they give up will be seen as a sign of weakness, and it will encourage parties for which Syriza ‘carries the torch’, and likely raise their support and votes.

 
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Market Wrap: Whirlwind Manic-Depressive Session Sees Futures Slide Then Surge





So far it has been an overnight session which clearly forgot to take its lithium, with futures first tumbling after CNBC's "leak" that a Greek deal had been reached was refuted, only to surge subsequently on both the Riskbank's foray into NIRP and QE which crushed the Swedish currency and sent its stocks to recorder highs, and more importantly, on the latest ceasefire out of Minsk which has pushed Russian and European assets substantially higher. While only the most naive believe that any palpable end to Ukraine hostilities will emerge as a result of today's delay, expect for Greek headlines to return with a vengeance as today it is Tsipras' turn to speak at a summit of the 28 European Union leaders set to begin momentarily.

 
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Ukraine Ceasefire Deal Agreed After Negotiations All-Nighter; Doubts Remain About Its Implementation





It would have simply been too much to handle for Europe and the risk off algos if hours after the embarrassing failure of the emergency Eurogroup meeting in Brussels failed to reach any deal involving Greece, the Ukraine ceasefire negotiations in Minsk were also to fall apart. Again. Which is probably why after a marathon session lasting 17 hours, and following repeated trial balloons that a deal had and/or had not been reached, a short while ago all major media outlets were delighted to finally blast some Risk On news namely that leaders of France and Germany brokered a renewed deal to end Ukraine’s 10-month civil war in the separatist eastern region, which means that we have a Minsk-signed Ukraine ceasefire. Again.

 
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Greek Deal Falls Apart After EU Says "No Way Forward", No Eurogroup Statement; Greece "Questions Merit" Of Bailout Extension





Following earlier deal rumors citing 'unidentified sources' stating that:*GREECE AGREEMENT `IN PRINCIPLE' REACHED, GREECE WILL STAY IN EU BAILOUT PROGRAM, DETAILS OF GREECE DEAL UNCLEAR, CNBC REPORTS (after which stocks futures and EURUSD surged), the Eurogroup and Greece have completely denied any progress was made whatsoever...

GREEK GOVT OFFICIAL SAYS NO AGREEMENT IN EUROGROUP, GREECE WILL NOT ACCEPT AN EXTENSION OF CURRENT BAILOUT
DIJSSELBLOEM: NO STATEMENT POSSIBLE WITHOUT JOINT CONCLUSIONS
GREECE WOULD NEVER AGREE TO STAY IN CURRENT PROGRAM: VAROUFAKIS

 
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Eurogroup-Greece "Deal Or No Deal" Press Conference Begins - Live Feed





EU President Jeroen Dijsselbloem is about to explain how there is an agreement in principle (if Greece folds, follows the program it's been given and behaves itself - which they have since confirmed they won't) and that discussions are ongoing (haven't changed on bit all day)...

 
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