We will get a test once again as to the effectiveness of the central bank/MoT confidence game.
The absence of the UK from today’s trade is particularly evident, with volumes remaining particularly light across all asset classes. Nonetheless, European equities are largely seen drifting higher with the exception of the DAX index, which is yet to move over into positive territory. News flow remains light with the highlight of the day so far being comments from the Troika, confirming that Portugal remains on track with its bailout program, and have confirmed that the country will receive the next EUR 4.1bln tranche in July. FX moves remain in a tight range, with EUR/USD looking relatively unchanged, with the USD index slightly weaker as the US comes to market. Looking ahead in the session, participants can look forward to US ISM New York and Factory Orders data as the next risk events of the session.
The recent elections in Egypt now lead to a showdown between the two top vote getters on June 16/17. The protagonists, Ahmed Shaiq (former PM for Mubarak and candidate of the military) vs. Mohammed Mursi (Muslim Brotherhood), pits two candidates most of the population really doesn’t want in the first place. Kind of like Obama vs. Romney. Where’s Ron Paul on the ballot, right? The problem here is Egypt’s position on the timeline of revolution. Egypt has gone through the 1st Stage of a government loosing its justification to govern, and now the 2nd Stage of a caretaker, or provisional government, is now coming to an end. However, no accommodation has been created to correct the deficiencies that caused Egypt’s Spring Revolution, and that spells trouble.
- Germany shifts, gives Spain more time on deficit (Reuters)
- Europe must prepare an emergency plan (FT)
- EU Spain reveals €100bn capital flight (FT)
- Spain’s Guindos says future of Euro at stake in Spain (Bloomberg)
- ECB, EU officials warn euro’s survival at risk (Reuters)
- China can ‘cope’ if Greece exits Euro, NDRC Researcher says (Bloomberg)
- Japan Warns Against Rising Yen (WSJ)
- Global stocks investors head for exits (FT)
- Hot Copper Shorts Burning Commodity Firms (Caixin)
When Iran's nuclear facilities were publicly crippled in 2011 by what then was considered a revolutionary computer virus which destroys physical equipment, many immediately assumed the virus originated in Israel for obvious reasons. They were wrong. In what can be described as the first presidentially-mandated and condoned act of cyberwarfare, one circumventing the War Powers Act of course, the NYT informs us that the order to physically impair Iranian sovereignty came from none other than the Nobel Peace prize winning president: Barack Obama.
One of breakout standup routines from the late, great George Carlin was his 1972 monologue “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” In the presence of polite company, I shall not repeat them… but rest assured, the routine is still hilarious to this day. I wish I could say the same about the Department of Homeland Security… I wish I could say this is all a big joke… that the government’s “377 words you can never use online” is just some stupid comedy routine. But it’s not. And you just can’t make this stuff. After vigorous resistance, the Department of Homeland Security was finally forced into releasing it’s 2011 Analyst’s Desktop Binder. It’s a manual of sorts, teaching all the storm troopers who monitor our Internet activity all day which key words to look for.
We know the U.S. is a big and liquid (though not really very transparent) market. We know that the rest of the world — led by Europe’s myriad issues, and China’s bursting housing bubble — is teetering on the edge of a precipice, and without a miracle will fall (perhaps sooner, rather than later). But we also know that America is inextricably interconnected to this mess. If Europe (or China or both) disintegrates, triggering (another) global default cascade, America will be stung by its European banking exposures, its exposures to global energy markets and global trade flows. Simply, there cannot be financial decoupling, not in this hyper-connected, hyper-leveraged world.
All of this suggests a global crash or proto-crash will be followed by a huge global money printing operation, probably spearheaded by the Fed. Don’t let the Europeans fool anyone, either — Germany will not let the Euro crumble for fear of money printing. When push comes to shove they will print and fiscally consolidate to save their pet project (though perhaps demanding gold as collateral, and perhaps kicking out some delinquents). China will spew trillions of stimulus money into more and deeper malinvestment (why have ten ghost cities when you can have fifty? Good news for aggregate demand!).
Risk-averse sentiment dominated the session yet again as market participants continued to focus on Spain and speculated whether the country will soon be forced to seek some sort of monetary assistance. As a result, credit markets continued to deteriorate, with the EURUSD cross-currency basis-swaps under pressure, while the spread between Spanish and German benchmark bonds widened to a fresh Euro-era wide level. Less than impressive demand for the latest Italian debt issuance where 2017 was underbid by EUR 0.20, while the 2022 issue was underbid by EUR 0.30 also resulted in aggressive bond yield spread widening. However, as we head into the North American open, reports that the EU is willing to envisage direct ESM bank recapitalizations saw Bunds spike lower by around 33ticks and EUR/USD by 44pips to the upside. EU stocks made an impressive recovery, but remain in negative territory. Going forward, the second half of the session will see the release of latest housing data (pending home sales), as well as the weekly API report.
We all know that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Obama on New Year’s Eve contained a now-struck-down provision to authorise the indefinite detention of American citizens on US soil. But did you know that the NDAA also paves the way for war with Iran? From Dennis Kucinich:
Section (6) rejects any United States policy that would rely on efforts to contain a nuclear weapons-capable Iran. Section (7) urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to Iranian enrichment. This language represents a significant shift in U.S. policy and would guarantee that talks with Iran, currently scheduled for May 23, would fail. Current U.S. policy is that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons. Instead, H. Res. 568 draws the “redline” for military action at Iran achieving a nuclear weapons “capability,” a nebulous and undefined term that could include a civilian nuclear program. Indeed, it is likely that a negotiated deal to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran and to prevent war would provide for Iranian enrichment for peaceful purposes under the framework of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty with strict safeguards and inspections. This language makes such a negotiated solution impossible. At the same time, the language lowers the threshold for attacking Iran. Countries with nuclear weapons “capability” could include many other countries like Japan or Brazil. It is an unrealistic threshold.
The notion of a “nuclear weapons capability” seems like a dangerously low standard. Let us not forget that Mossad, the CIA and the IAEA agree that Iran does not have a bomb, is not building one, has no plans to build one.
As Americans mindlessly celebrate another Memorial Day with cookouts, beer and burgers, the U.S. war machine keeps churning. As we brutally enforce our will on foreign countries, we create more people that hate us. They don’t hate us for our freedom. They hate us because we have invaded and occupied their countries. They hate us because we kill innocent people with predator drones. They hate us for our hypocrisy regarding democracy and freedom. Just when we had the opportunity to make a sensible decision by leaving Iraq and exiting the Middle East quagmire, Obama made the abysmal choice to casually sacrifice more troops in the Afghan shithole. We have thrown over $1.3 trillion down Middle East rat holes over the last 11 years with no discernible benefit to the citizens of the United States. George Bush and Barack Obama did this to prove they were true statesmen. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and retreated as a bankrupted and defeated shell after ten years. Young Americans continue to die, for whom and for what? Our foreign policy during the last eleven years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up. These endless foreign interventions under the guise of a War on Terror are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the willfully ignorant masses by proactively creating foreign conflicts based upon false pretenses. General Douglas MacArthur understood this danger to our liberty.
“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within.”
In twenty or thrity years, I expect future monetary historians looking back on this period of history to frequently misquote Ernest Hemingway:
How did the dollar die? First it died slowly — then all at once.
The slow death began with the dollar’s birth as a global reserve currency. America was creditor and manufacturer to the world, and the capitalist superpower. People around the globe transacted overwhelmingly in dollars. Above all else, people needed dollars to conduct trade, and they were willing to pay richly for them, and for dollar-denominated debt
Yesterday, when looking at recent naval developments in the Arabian Sea, we suggested that things involving Iran had gotten quiet. Too quiet. It appears that it may indeed have been the lull before the storm. Just out from Bloomberg and Reuters:
- IAEA SAYS URANIUM PARTICLES ENRICHED UP TO 27% AT FORDOW SITE, HIGHER THAN REPORTED LEVEL
- IRAN DOUBLED 20% URANIUM OUTPUT IN QUARTER, IAEA SAYS
- IAEA INSPECTORS SAY NO GUARANTEE ALL NUCLEAR MATERIAL PEACEFUL
- IRAN TELLS INSPECTORS THAT 27% URANIUM A TECHNICAL GLITCH
As a reminder, Uranium enriched over 20% is considered "Highly Enriched." The only question we have is whether the enrichment level will increase the closer we get to the November presidential election, and whether there is a threshold rating in someone's popularity, pardon, in the enrichment level, which will trigger the Iranian invasion by one or more powers, now that WTI is safely in 9X handle territory and sliding.