Amid all the global geopolitical tensions - which the stock market apparently believes are all fixed now - news that the motorcade of a Saudi prince was attacked in Paris by Kalashnikov-wielding gunmen takes on more relevance than it normally would. The attackers stole 250,000 Euros in cash and more crucially - "sensitive documents." No suspects have been apprehended and to make matters more complex, local police noted "It's quite an unusual attack. They were obviously well-informed. It's true that it's quite a rare way of operating."
UPDATE: *BRAZIL PRES. CANDIDATE CAMPOS DIES IN PLANE CRASH: GLOBONEWS
Brazil's stock market is reeling this morning as rumors and now news hit that Brazilian Presidential candidate Eduardo Campos was on board a private jet that crashed in the city of Santos. Polls had put Mr. Campos head-to-head with Ms. Rousseff (but behind Ms. Silva). A police official in Santos said there were "certainly" fatalities in the crash, but could not say how many or provide any additional information. Campos had run on a platform of less government intervention and proposed a bill to ensure central bank indpendence.
Russia has been quiet, too quiet, since the EU and US unleashed their latest set of sanctions. However, as military drills and troop build-ups occur on Ukraine's borders, Reuters reports that Russian Prime Minister Medvedev is considering a significant retaliation, "any unfriendly measures by the EU, including those in the area of air transportation, we’ll be studied and won’t remain without a response." Russian business daily Vedomosti quoted unnamed sources as saying the foreign and transport ministries were discussing possible action which might force EU airlines into long and costly detours and put them at a disadvantage to Asian rivals by restricting or banning European airlines from flying over Siberia on busy Asian routes. Costs? Over $1.3bn for every months for Lufthansa, BA, and Air France...
65 year old Richard Gilder Rockefeller, son of former Chase Manhattan CEO David Rockefeller, and great grandson of John D. Rockefeller Sr. has been identified as the deceased in a small plane crash just outside of Westchester Country Airport. The aircraft, owned and operated by Mr. Rockefeller, was a single-engined Piper PA-46-500TP (registered N5335R). As NYC Aviation reports, though the cause for the incident is unknown, visibility at HPN for the last several hours this morning has been poor, at 1/4 mile or less; and the Airport Manager reports that the aircraft struck some trees just after departure.
When David Tepper speaks, markets (especially those short) quake as the sheep blindly follow him into the breach; so when he said he "was nervous" recently, bulls got scared (briefly). As PageSix reports this morning, Tepper is nervous once again as the world's highest paid fund manager has split with his wife of nearly 30 years. The split could well be the most expensive hedge fund divorce ever and we suspect comments such as this did not help... "What do you think I should do with it? . . . I could buy an island. I could buy a private jet . . . I could get myself a 22-year-old!"
- Unstoppable $100 Trillion Bond Market Renders Models Useless (BBG)
- Afghan president fumes at prisoner deal made behind his back (Reuters)
- Spain to Unveil $8.6 Billion Stimulus Package (AP)
- How fracking helps America beat German industry (Reuters)
- Obama to Urge European Allies to Stay Tough on Russia (WSJ)
- Frenchman 'admits' Brussels shooting in video (AFP)
- Heloc Payment Jump to Take Bite Out of Consumer Spending (WSJ)
- Obama Said to Propose Deep Cuts to Power-Plant Emissions (BBG)
- Lehman Lesson Lost as Bank Lobby Gains Clout (BBG)
- WSJ reports that WSJ reporting on Icahn insider trading probe may have killed it (WSJ)
- KKR liquidates former Goldman Sachs traders-run hedge fund (Reuters)
Recent developments indicate that North Korea is very quietly beginning to expand its commercial interests. Some of this is due to internal change, but it would seem that much larger geopolitical forces are at work.
Sometimes it's worth remembering that while the demise of the status quo may take a while, there are actions one should be taking despite the sound and fury each and every day. As Marc Faber warned, "I don’t trust anyone." Simply put, Faber blasts, "the monetary policies as they are implemented by central banks around the world, are actually preventing the markets from clearing and [not allowing] the economy to truly improve." His recommendation, he'd "prefer investors hold physical gold in a safe deposit box, ideally outside the US," because "Fed policy will destroy the world."
For years, the suspicion that Mr. Putin has a secret fortune has intrigued scholars, industry analysts, opposition figures, journalists and intelligence agencies but defied their efforts to uncover it. Numbers are thrown around suggesting that Putin may control $40 billion or even $70 billion, in theory making him not only the richest head of state in world history but possibly the richest man alive in the world today, period. Now, the quest to track down, and isolate, Putin's billions launches in earnest.
Last week we discovered that Gazprom's Chairman Viktor Zubkov sold his entire stake in the company days before the Crimean invasion (and subsequent sanctions and asset freezes). Today, on the heels of the latest round of US sanctions against Russia's so-called "Putin cronies"; Cyprus-based oil trader Gunvor Group announced that co-founder Gennady Timchenko (estimated wealth $8.5 billion) - who was named on today's sanctions list - sold his entire 44% stake in the company yesterday. The question is - as we show below - did the US Treasury tip Timchenko off to what was coming?
Monsignor Nunzio Scarano - dubbed "Monsignor 500" after his favorite bank-note - who is already on trial for allegedly plotting to smuggle 20 million euros from Switzerland to Italy, was arrested Tuesday in a separate case for allegedly using his Vatican accounts to launder a further 7 million euros. As AP reports, police said they seized 6.5 million euros in real estate and bank accounts Tuesday, including Scarano's luxurious Salerno apartment, filled with gilt-framed oil paintings, ceramic vases and other fancy antiques. A local priest was also placed under house arrest and a notary public was suspended for alleged involvement in the money-laundering plot. Police said in all, 52 people were under investigation. Have no fear though, for his lawyer, "has good faith that the money came from legitimate donations."
With over 1,000 new merchants adopting Bitcoin every week, it is perhaps not surprising that, as NY Post reports, the first Bitcoin ATM is about to debut in New York City. Following success in Canada and Europe, Brooklyn native Willard Ling, 30, is set to introduce the first bitcoin ATM to New York City at the East Village bubble tea shop 'Just Sweet'. State regulators with the Department of Financial Services are expected to hold hearings later this month to discuss how the digital currency should be regulated; and until then, Ling’s bitcoin ATM will sit in his apartment.
- J.P. Morgan to Pay Over $1 Billion to Settle U.S. Criminal Probe Related to Madoff (WSJ)
- Ford board aims to pin down CEO Mulally's plans (Reuters)
- Raising Minimum Wage Is a Bad Way to Help People (BBG)
- Japan Lawmakers Demand Speedy Pension Reform (WSJ)
- EU reaches landmark deal on failed banks (FT)
- In which Hilsenrath repeats what we said in August: Fed Moves Toward New Tool for Setting Rates (WSJ)
- Senators Vow to Add to Iran Economic Sanctions in 2014 (BBG)
- Centerbridge in $3.3bn LightSquared bid (FT)
- Banks, Agencies Draw Battle Lines Over 'Volcker Rule' (WSJ)
If you thought you had seen it all when it comes to sob stories of the “super rich” following the comparison of the criticisms of banker bonuses to the lynching of black people in the south by AIG’s CEO in September, think again. The latest groveling, inane defense of the “super rich” comes from none other than the gatekeeper of the largest oligarch whorehouse on planet earth. The Mayor of London, Mr. Boris Johnson. Now we warn you, do not read the following Op-Ed on a full stomach. The vapid, nonsensical, Onion-like prose may very well induce fits of nausea and uncontrolled regurgitation. This is quite frankly one of the worst things we have ever read. It echoes like a sort of grandiose ass-kissing ritual one would have encountered in a Middle Age court from an aspiring manservant of the realm, desperately trying to rapidly advance a coupe of notches up the social strata of some decadent feudal kingdom. Simply put, Boris Johnson should be ashamed to show his face in public after writing such disingenuous garbage.
From consumer and retailer surveys to quantitative data such as household spending and private jet bookings, ConvergEx's Nick Colas has amassed a collection of 10 clues about this year's holiday shopping season. On the plus side, disposable personal income and consumer spending on discretionary items are rising, and travel to Palm Beach via private jet is quite popular this Christmas season. However, consumer confidence surveys are particularly weak, and consumer debt has ballooned to a 5-year high. Roughly equal parts good and bad, Colas' collection of holiday spending indicators points to a mediocre (at best) 2013 shopping season (as we noted earlier).