North Korea

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North Korea Says It Has Final Approval For Nuclear Attack On US





 
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Hagel Deploys Missile Defense System Amid "Real, Clear Danger" From North Korea





It appears the Korean 'rhetoric' is being taken a little more seriously than the (always knows best) market - as we noted here with the last inter-Korea cooperation breaking down. Chuck Hagel just announced that the US will be moving missile defense batteries to US bases in Guam (an American territory southeast of Korea). Bloomberg adds:

  • *HAGEL SAYS WORKING WITH CHINA TO DEFUSE N.KOREA SITUATION
  • *HAGEL SAYS CHINA SEEKS TO AVOID A NORTH KOREA 'WAR SITUATION'

The market dipped on the news of the mobilization and Hagel's comments that North Korea "poses a 'real, clear danger' to US Allies."

 
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Turkey’s Silver Imports Surge 31% And Gold Imports Climb To 8 Month High





Physical gold and silver demand remains robust in many markets internationally. Demand from the Middle East remains robust as seen in the near record imports of gold and silver into Turkey. Turkey’s gold imports climbed to an eight-month high in March as prices averaged the lowest since May, according to the Istanbul Gold Exchange. Silver imports rose 31% from a month earlier according to Bloomberg. Gold imports increased to 18.26 metric tons, the most since July. That’s up from 17.34 tons in February and compared with 2.91 tons a year earlier, data on the exchange’s website show. The country shipped in 120.8 tons last year. Turkey was the fourth-biggest gold consumer in 2012, according to the London-based World Gold Council. Bullion averaged $1,593.62 an ounce last month and is trading about 17% below the record nominal high of $1,921.15 set in September 2011.

 
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Frontrunning: April 3





  • Cyprus leader invites family firm probe (FT)
  • How the Fed fueled an explosion in subprime auto loans (Reuters)
  • Wal-Mart Customers Complain Bare Shelves Are Widespread (BBG)
  • JC Penney CEO gets no bonus, stock award after dismal year (Reuters)
  • New Bird Flu Virus Kills 2 in China, Sparking WHO Probe (BBG)
  • Algorithms Play Matchmaker to Fight 7.7% U.S. Unemployment (BBG)
  • Fed hawk Lacker and dove Evans face off over inflation (Reuters)
  • Infamous silver market "cornerer" WH Hunt Becomes Billionaire on Bakken Oil After Bankruptcy (BBG)
  • Japan Auto Sales Fall on Subsidy End as Korea Extends Drop (BBG)
  • Black Hawks Near North Korea Show Risk in U.S. Command Shift (BBG)
  • SEC Embraces Social Media (WSJ)
  • Tesla Touts ‘True Out of Pocket’ Financing for Model S (BBG)
  • U.K. Banks Try to Dodge Bonus Caps by Defining Risk-Taker (BBG)
 
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Frontrunning: April 2





  • The revolving door continues: Mary Schapiro joins Promontory Financial (WSJ)
  • First Peek at Health-Law Cost (WSJ)
  • Abe warns over Japan inflation target: warns 2% inflation target may not be reached within two years (FT)
  • BoJ's Kuroda tested by divided board (Reuters)
  • Nanjing poultry butcher fourth person infected with H7N9 bird flu (SCMP)
  • What time do top CEOs wake up? (Guardian)
  • Cyprus Seeks More Time to Meet Targets in Talks With Troika (BBG)
  • Investors Ignore Negativity at Their Peril (WSJ)
  • Apple bows to Chinese pressure (FT)
  • One can only laugh: North Korea to restart nuclear reactor in weapons bid (Reuters)
  • Visa Demand Jumps (WSJ)
  • Bloomberg's refutation of Stockman: yes, yes but... look over there, stocks are up! (BBG)
 
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Overnight Levitation Driven By Yen Carry Despite Relentless European Deterioration





The driver of today's episode of "make the futures levitate" is not so much a rise in the EURUSD as Europe reopens - a very unhappy Europe where Italy's Monte Paschi was already halted down once on news from this weekend it was the first peripheral bank to suffer a depositor "run" - but curiously the USDJPY which after tumbling to under 93 and pushing the Nikkei 225 down by another 1% to just over 12,000 has been ramping gradually all morning to end well above the start of Japanese trading and was back to 93.25 at last check. It certainly is not the European economic news which continue to be about depressionary and getting worse: fresh unemployment record at 12%, final manufacturing PMIs well into contraction and getting worse especially for the doomed PIIGS: Italian PMI dumping even more to 44.5 vs Flash 45.4 and down from 45.8 last, Spain PMI crashing to 44.2, vs flash 46.2 and 46.8 last, UK 48.3 vs Flash 48.7, Germany 49.0 vs Flash 48.9 down from 50.3; France 44.0 vs Flash 43.9 and so on, rumors that the Cypriot Finance Minister is about to be sacked, and most disturbingly, the Slovenia central bank vice-governor Fabijan said that "Slovenia must start credible measures to avoid aid." Where was the last place we heard this.... Oh, yes, Cyprus. The same Cyprus, which paradoxically, is presented by some as the reason for the overnight "rally", with pundits attributing the Troika's "easing" of MOU terms by pushing back the fiscal target from 2016 to 2017 as reported yesterday. How that is even remotely news is shocking since none of the actual austerity measures themselves have been eased. But any goal seeked narrative is fair in the central banks' intervention in the farce formerly known as the "market."

 
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North Korea Says It Enters "War" Against South Korea, And North Korea Kaption Kontest





Ordinarily this would be Good Friday humor (unless we are very wrong, and it turns out to be Good Friday Global Thermonuclear War) because when one cries wolf a few too many times, this is what happens (from Yonhap):

"North Korea announced Saturday that it has entered a state of war against South Korea. In a special statement, the North said it will deal with every inter-Korean issue in a wartime manner."

And... nothing. In fact, if the market was open the ES would likely ramp limit up on the non-news. By now the world is so numb to the constant provocations by North Korea's confused leader, who is desperate to be finally paid off as nuisance value by the Western powers, that the most he can extract from anyone is laughter when one wonders if the iMac sitting on the desk of glorious leader wasn't hacked by some brand new FBI-launched virus issuing world war 8-Ks and press releases (although with the Ethernet cable unplugged, "no risk" of that as Geithner would say).

 
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Cyprus Contagion Spreads As European "Omnishambles" Return; Euro Under 1.28 For First Time Since November





While everyone likes to hate on Cyprus, it is Italy that is the focal point of today's European "omnishambles" that has seen the EURUSD tumble to a five month low as of this writing. First it was economic data that scared investors, with Industrial Sales and Orders tumbling far below expected, posting numbers of -1.3% and -1.4%, respectively, on expectations of an increase. Retail sales were just as ugly, declining by -0.5% in January, on expectations of an unchanged print, with the December 0.2% number revised also into negative territory. Then Bersani, who has been tasked to form a government until tomorrow, said that the possibility of a broad coalition government does not exist, adding that no lasting government is possible without him as a premier, and requesting that Grillo's Five Star party not block his path to government, for which we wish him the best of luck as moments later Five Star ruled out all external support for a broad government and would vote no confidence for Bersani. Then we got news that the Italian financial police has searched the Nomura in Milan in connection with the Monte Paschi case, which means even more skeletons in the closet are about to be uncovered. Finally, Italy just held a 3.5% 5 and 4.5% 10 year bond auction in which the country raised less than the maximum targeted €7 billion, and in which the Bid to Cover on the 5 Year dumping to the lowest since 2002, with bidding quite soft and the yield rising to 3.65% versus 3.59% previously. This has resulted in a blow out in Italian yields by 16 bps to 4.73% compared to 4.705% earlier. End result, as noted yesterday, has been an acceleration in the rush out of the EUR, with the EURUSD sliding to under 1.28 for the first time since November 21, a blow out in Greek bonds with yields pushing up 55 bps to 12.68% and a push for real safety (sorry, not the DJIA) in the form of German 2 Year bonds, which have dipped to -0.018%, the lowest since December, on rising fears that despite endless lies out of its bureaucrats, Europe may not be fixed after all.

 
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Frontrunning: March 26





  • Berezovsky Died of Hanging Without Struggle, Police Say (BBG)
  • BRICS Nations Plan New Bank to Bypass World Bank, IMF (BBG)
  • China pledges more investments to Africa (FT)
  • BOJ's Kuroda signals targeting longer-dated JGBs (Reuters)
  • North Korea orders artillery to be combat ready, targeting U.S. bases (Reuters)
  • Supreme Court to take up gay marriage for the first time (Reuters)
  • U.S. Cracks Down on 'Forced' Insurance (WSJ)
  • Japanese courts press Abe on electoral reform (FT)
  • Vietnam accuses China of attack on fishermen in South China Sea (Reuters)
  • Italy's High Court Overturns Knox Acquittal (WSJ)
  • Facebook’s Zuckerberg Said to Explore Forming Political Group (BBG)
 
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Frontrunning: March 21





  • Euro zone call notes reveal extent of alarm over Cyprus (Reuters)
  • Stagnant Japan Rolls Dice on New Era of Easy Money (WSJ)
  • Cyprus, European data batters shares and euro (Reuters)
  • UK cuts taxes to revive stagnant economy (FT)
  • "Quality Control" Rat Body Linked to Blackout at Fukushima (NYT)
  • North Korea issues fresh threat to U.S., South probes hacking (Reuters)
  • South Korea Says Chinese Code Used in Computer Attack (BBG)
  • Osborne paves way for Carney to retool Bank of England (Reuters)
  • Carney Gets ‘Escape Velocity’ Mandate With Limiter (BBG)
  • Osborne Pledges Five More Years of U.K. Austerity (BBG)
  • Bernanke Saying He’s Dispensable Suggests Tenure Ending (BBG)
  • Senate Passes Bill to Fund Operations (WSJ)
 
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Guest Post: A Roadmap For American Grand Strategy Part 3 (Of 3)





Following Part 1's discussion of America's Dangerous Drift, and Part 2's succincy summation of why America needs a Grand Strategy, today's Part 3 concludes with a discussion of the 'choice' American leaders have: "A decline in America’s leadership role and the emergence of a highly unstable world is a serious possibility. In reality, decline is not a foregone conclusion but a deliberate political choice that builds from a failure to define what matters most to the nation." When we step back from the language and imperatives of grand strategy, the case for the United States to rethink its grand strategy is fundamentally simple. It is designed to meet serious threats while creating and taking advantage of strategic opportunities. To continue on the present course of "drifting" from crisis to crisis effectively invites powers to believe that America is in decline. Worse, Americans, too, might believe wrongly that the nation’s decline is inevitable. If we are to assure America’s future security and prosperity, we need a new national grand strategy that harnesses America’s spirit, sense of optimism, and perseverance to help the nation meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities of this era. When we think about the alternatives, the United States simply has no choice.

 
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Frontrunning: March 11





  • One in four Germans would back anti-euro party (Reuters)
  • EU Chiefs Seeking to Stave Off Euro Crisis Turn to Cyprus (BBG)
  • Ryan Says His Budget Would Slow Annual Spending Growth to 3.4% (BBG)
  • Goldman leads decline as Wall Street commodity revenues plummet (Reuters)
  • South Korea and US begin military drills (FT) and North Korea cuts off hotline with South Korea (Reuters)
  • Karzai Inflames U.S. Tensions  (WSJ)
  • Algorithms Get a Human Hand in Steering Web (NYT)
  • Meeting Is Set to Choose Pope (WSJ)
  • More U.S. Profits Parked Abroad, Saving on Taxes (WSJ)
  • Banks rush to redraft pay deals (FT)
  • Fugitive Fund Manager Stuffed Underwear With Cash, Fled (BBG)
  • Post-Newtown Gun Limits Agenda Narrows in U.S. Congress (BBG)
  • China Hints at Shift in One-Child Policy (WSJ)
 
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Guest Post: North Korean "Insanity" Part of Geopolitical Game





North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may be colorful, but he isn’t crazy. There is logic behind the intensified war rhetoric, and while it may be convenient for the American public to believe that they are about to be attacked unprovoked by the unhinged dictator of an eerily isolated country, the truth of the matter is that the US and its allies have been doing some offensive posturing that has Pyongyang very much on edge. Sending NBA hero Denis Rodman to Pyongyang to entertain Kim Jong-un - a die-hard basketball fan - was said to be a goodwill gesture from Washington. Clearly, Washington’s policy decisions are nearly as colorful as Pyongyang’s. Denis Rodman, oddly enough, is a tool (in the instrumental sense of the word). This is where it gets interesting.

 

 
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Frontrunning: March 7





  • French unemployment rises again to highest since 1999 (Reuters)
  • BoJ rejects call for monetary easing (FT)
  • North Korea threatens pre-emptive nuclear strike against US (Guardian)
  • Firms Race to Raise Cash (WSJ)
  • Time Warner Will Split From Magazine Unit in Third Spinoff (BBG) - slideshows, kittens, "all you need to knows" coming to Time
  • U.S. economy, world's engine, remains in "neutral": Fed's Fisher (Reuters)
  • BOE Keeps QE on Hold as Officials Weigh More Radical Measures (BBG)
  • Jobs start to go as US sequestration cuts in (FT)
  • BofA Times an Options Trade Well  (WSJ)
  • Congress Budget Cuts Damage U.S. Economy Without Aiding Outlook (BBG)
  • Dell’s Crafted LBO Pitch Gets Messy as Investors Circle (BBG)
  • Dell says Icahn opposes go-private deal (Reuters)
  • Portugal Rating Outlook Raised to Stable by S&P on Budget Plan (BBG)
  • China’s Richer-Than-Romney Lawmakers Reveal Reform Challenge (BBG)
 
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Guest Post: This Time Is Different 2013 Edition





A small note on the frankly hilarious news that the Dow Jones Industrial Average smashed through to all-time-highs. First of all, while stock prices are soaring household income and household confidence are slumping to all-time lows. Employment remains depressed, energy remains expensive, housing remains depressed, wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP keep falling, and the economy remains in a deleveraging cycle. Essentially, these are not the conditions for strong organic business growth, for a sustainable boom. We’re going through a structural economic adjustment, and suffering the consequences of a huge 40-year debt-fuelled boom. While the fundamentals remain weak, it can only be expected that equity markets should remain weak. But that is patently not what has happened. With every day that the DJIA climbs to new all-time highs, more suckers will be drawn into the market. But it won’t last. Insiders have already gone aggressively bearish. This time isn’t different.

 
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