Sadly, as suspected - and in line with his CFO in 2009 - the reported death of Jan Peter Schmittmann was indeed suicide. The ex-CEO of ABN Amro hanged himself, but only after murdering his wife, Nally, and 22 year-ol daughter Babette. As Bloomberg reports, a farewell letter was found in the house, but authorities declined further comment on its contents. Schmittmann’s family was cited as saying in the statement that “we knew Jan Peter struggled with severe depression," and added that their "first concern now is supporting the remaining daughter in coping with this indescribable grief." Aweful...
Dispassionate big picture overview.
Crimea Names Ruble Currency; Applies To Join Russia, Expects To Become Russian Federation Region By ThursdaySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/17/2014 07:24 -0400
Here is the latest via Reuters: just hours ago, Crimea's parliament officially applied to become part of Russia. The parliament "made a proposal to the Russian Federation to admit the Republic of Crimea as a new subject with the status of a republic," according to a statement on its website. A Crimean parliamentary delegation was expected to arrive in Moscow on Monday to discuss the procedures required for the Black Sea peninsula to become part of the Russian Federation. "If everything’s signed we’ll become a fully fledged region of the Russian Federation Wednesday or Thursday,” First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Termigaliyev says in interview at govt headquarters in Simferopol. Termigaliyev added that Crimea will promptly get $1b aid from Russia in near-term, and that Hryvnia reserves enough for 10 days, then Crimea will switch to ruble. April pensions “most likely” to be paid in rubles. Crimea can be self-sufficient in natural gas after today’s nationalization of Chernomoreneftegaz. Crimea risks 150,000 hectares being left without water if Ukraine shuts off supply, though that’s “not critical,” says Termigaliyev.
As the daily street protests grow bloodier and bloodier, Venezuelan President Maduro has escalated his comments today, exclaiming that he "won't be bullied," and warning "prepare yourself, we are coming for you," if protesters don't "go home within hours."
*VENEZUELAN PROTESTERS HAVE 'HOURS' TO CLEAR BARRICADES: MADURO SAYS HE'LL SEND ARMED FORCES TO 'LIBERATE' PROTEST AREAS
With 28 dead in the last month of protests, things are very serious but as we warned previously, Maduro still enjoying the support of the poor - as EuroNews reports, it appears he is not going anywhere soon. John Kerry also came under fire as the foreign minister called him "a "murderer of the Venezuelan people," accusing him of encouraging the protests.
The Fed’s serial bubble machine has not only bestowed massive speculative windfalls on the 1%, but it has also fostered a noxious culture of plunder and entitlement in the gambling casinos of Wall Street. After each thundering sell-off during the bust phase, crony capitalist gamblers have been gifted with ill-gotten windfalls during the Fed’s subsequent maniacal money printing spree. In this context comes Bruce Berkowitz “scolding” and firing “salvos” at Washington from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
Mainstream media discussion of the macro economic picture goes something like this: “When there is a recession, the Fed should stimulate. We know from history the recovery comes about 12-18 months after stimulus. We stimulated, we printed a lot of money, we waited 18 months. So the economy ipso facto has recovered. Or it’s just about to recover, any time now.” But to quote the comedian Richard Pryor, “Who ya gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?” However, as Hayek said, the more the state centrally plans, the more difficult it becomes for the individual to plan. Economic growth is not something that just happens. It requires saving. It requires investment and capital accumulation. And it requires the real market process. It is not a delicate flower but it requires some degree of legal stability and property rights. And when you get in the way of these things, the capital accumulation stops and the economy stagnates.
It would indeed be supremely ironic if the "strong" foreign law bond indenture would be tested, and breached, not by Greek bonds, as so many expected in late 2011 and early 2012, but by one of the last contries in Europe which is still AAA-rated. We would find it less ironic if the next leg of the global financial crisis was once again unleashed by an Austrian bank: after all history does rhyme...
Having been 'busted' for their manipulation of events in Ukraine (and exposing their views of the European Union), it seems US diplomats have been up to their old tricks once again... this time in Venezuela. "Go Conspire In Washington," was the clear message sent to the US as President Maduro expelled three US diplomats from his country, accusing them of plotting with anti-government protesters in an attempt to topple his socialist government. This is the second time Maduro has kicked out US diplomats (3 more were expelled in September for 'conspiring with government opponents') as he blasted comments by John Kerry as "yet another maneuver" by Washington to "legitimize attempts to destabilize the Venezuelan democracy unleashed by violent groups in recent days."
Protests in Venezuela continue (despite President Maduro's proclamation that the nation is in "absolute calm"), with both the government and the opposition holding rallies, leaving several streets and subway stations in Caracas closed. 10 students who were arrested amid violent protests last week have been released, though 6 students remain in custody. Demonstrators do not yet have the numbers or support base to unseat President Nicolas Maduro's administration, but as Stratfor notes, these protests could mark a turning point as the economic situation deteriorates there is a chance that protests like this could begin to generate additional social momentum in rejection of the status quo.
Even before the new myRA program was announced, there had been whispers about the need for the US government to assume some risk for US retirement accounts. That's code for forced conversion of private retirement assets into government bonds. As bad as it is to deceive naïve Americans into trading their hard-earned retirement savings for garbage (i.e., Treasury securities), the myRA program potentially represents something far worse... the first step toward the nationalization of existing private retirement accounts.
The fact that economic ignorance is widespread is really a big problem in our view. Unfortunately even what is broadly considered the economic mainstream thought is riddled with stuff that we think just doesn't represent good economics. Partly it is actually furthered by statist propaganda and obfuscation. For instance, the average citizen is not supposed to question the centrally planned monetary system, and neither is he supposed to actually understand how it works. Another glaring example is the still widespread idea that socialism – or rather, communism (i.e., full-scale socialism as opposed to its milder 'democratic' version) – would be "the best possible system of social and economic organization if only it were implemented correctly", or the variant "...if only human nature were different and we were morally more advanced than we actually are". The main problem with this train of thought is that it is actually completely wrong...
With the world watching mouth open at the 30% gains in the US equity market (and 57% gains in Japan), the Venezuelans are cock-a-hoop at their wealth-generation this year... a sprinkling of totalitarianism, nationalization, toilet-paper shortages, and hyperinflation and, drum roll please... the Caracas Stock Index is up a disappointed-not-to-make-it-to-500%, 480% in 2013... (time to greatly rotate and chase that momentum)...
The ongoing debacle of Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi (BMPS) took a turn for the worst today. The bank's largest shareholders (MPS Foundation) approved (read - forced through) a delay in a EUR 3 billion capital raise, which the bank needs to avoid nationalization, until May. The delay (which will cost the bank EUR 120 million in interest) allows MPS more time to liquidate their 33.5% holding before their stake is massively diluted. Management is 'considering' resignation and is "very annoyed," but the city Mayor is going Nationalist with his delay-supporting comments that "we cannot let the third biggest bank in this country fall prey to foreign interests." So Europe is recovering but they can't even raise a day's worth of POMO to save the oldest bank in the world?
The economic turmoil in Venezuela has received increasing international media attention over the past few months. Earlier this month, in another attempt to ensure “happiness for all people,” Maduro began to hand out Christmas bonuses, in preparation for the coming elections in December. Although not yet officially in hyperinflation, monetary expansion is pushing Venezuela toward the brink. In such an environment, paychecks need to be distributed quickly, before prices have time to rise; hence, early bonuses. This kind of policy is nothing new in economic history: Venezuela’s hyperinflationary episode is unfolding in much the same way Germany’s did nearly a century ago. Consequently, Venezuela’s economic policy is proving to be another example of Ludwig von Mises’s argument that economic intervention, if left unchecked, leads to complete socialism. As disturbing as the thought is, the difference between the U.S. and other Western economies and Venezuela is merely one of degree, not of kind.
"It's time to deepen the offensive, go to the bone in this economic war," warned Venezuelan President Maduro - echoing Hugo Chavez's iron fist of socialism (and nationalization) before him - as his decision to jail over 100 businessmen is "defending the poor." As Reuters reports, plenty of Venezuelans have applauded his measures, saying price hikes were out of control, while others have expressed fears that Maduro could be uncorking dangerous forces as opposition forces note Maduro's economic policies were "chillingly similar" to those of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Officials say unscrupulous companies have been hiking prices of electronics and other goods more than 1,000 percent. Critics say failed socialist economic policies and restricted access to foreign currency are behind Venezuela's runaway inflation. No matter which, Maduro thundered "They are barbaric, these capitalist parasites!"