What Obama wants, he appears to get. As AP reports, the U.S. Patent Office has ruled the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. We note that this decision is based on the fact that 30% of Native Americans believed the term 'Redskins' to be disparaging (not a majority). Which leaves us questioning when the Federal Government will see the New York Giants as disparaging of tall people and The Oakland Raiders as disaparaging of pirates... welcome to the new normal. We wonder (rhetorically of course) if this latest Redskins escalation is supposed to distract from Ukraine, Iraq, Bergdahl, IRS, Benghazi, or approval ratings?
In a day and age in which corporations rule the world, the brutal Al-Qaeda spin off known as ISIS is learning from the best, and as part of its credentialising and image-building has done something only major corporations do at the end of every year: it has issued annual reports for the past 2 years (unaudited). That's right: as the FT reported earlier, "Since 2012 the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, (known as Isis) has issued annual reports, outlining in numerical and geographical detail its operations – the number of bombings, assassinations, checkpoints, suicide missions, cities taken over and even “apostates” converted to the Isis cause."
With 2 Russian TV journalists killed in recent days and on the heels of Russia's cutting off Ukraine's gas supply for non-payment, Interfax is reporting that:
*EXPLOSION ON UKRAINE GAS TRANSIT PIPELINE REPORTED: IFX
*INTERFAX CITES UKRAINE INTERIOR MINISTRY ON GAS PIPELINE BLAST
Witnesses say flames are reaching 200 metres high. Gazprom shares are tumbling on the news (as should European stocks) and Russia's Foreign Affairs Committee Chief Aleksei Pushkov warned relations between Ukraine and Russia have entered a new stage and are "moving closer towards a serious conflict."
You can ignore and even downplay for a while, but eventually and as sure as the fundamental law of nature that everything has a cost....
With stocks up and oil down, Iraq must be fixed? However, as The Institute for the Study of War notes, the clashes continue from north to south in Iraq.
Just minutes after claiming the 'explosion' at "The Brotherhood" pipeline in Ukraine was not an explosion but a 'fire', Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov has stated that:
*UKRAINE SAYS GAS PIPELINE EXPLOSION PROBABLY TERROR ATTACK
Of course, the question is which 'terrorists'? The Right Sector or the Russian separatists. According to reports from UKRTransGas, the fire has now been extinguished but it is the rhetoric of Ukraine's Yatsenyuk "Russia's gas halt aims to destroy Ukraine" that is most troubling as, like Russia's Pushkov warned, Ukraine-Russia tensions have reached a new stage.
- Obama to tout manufacturing gains, highlight economic progress (Reuters)
- Iraq Gunmen Attack North of Baghdad as Obama Weighs Plan (BBG)
- Chinese Regulators Block Shipping Alliance Abandoned Deal (WSJ)
- Russian $8.2 Trillion Oil Trove Locked Without U.S. Tech (BBG)
- Ukrainian forces, rebels clash near Russian border (Reuters)
- M&A talk lifts stocks, Iraq tensions ease slightly (Reuters)
- Wealthy Clintons Use Trusts to Limit Estate Tax They Back (BBG)
- Argentina vows to service debt despite new legal blow (Reuters)
- Allergan's Bitter Pill for Morgan Stanley (WSJ)
- Islamists kill 50 in Kenya, some during World Cup screening (Reuters)
- American Express Revs Up Pursuit of the Masses (WSJ)
"In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” - The Fourth Turning - Strauss & Howe – 1997
ISIS militants boasted on Twitter that they had executed 1,700 Iraqi government soldiers, posting gruesome photos to support their claim. If the claim is true, it would be the worst mass atrocity in either Syria or Iraq in recent years, surpassing even the chemical weapons attacks in the Syrian suburbs of Damascus last year, which killed 1,400 people and were attributed to the Syrian government.
About a month ago we showed photos of the Chinese police engaged in a drill designed to crush a "working class insurrection", in which the police did precisely what would be required to end a middle class rebellion. It made us wonder: what does China know that the US doesn't. As it turns out, nothing. Because long before China was practicing counter-riot ops using rubber bullets, all the way back in 2008, the US Department of Defense was conducting studies on the dynamics of civil unrest, and how the US military might best respond. The name of the project: "Minerva Research Initiative" and its role is to " “improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S." The premise behind Minerva is simple: study how violent political overthrow, aka mass civil breakdown, happens in the day and age of social networks, and be prepared to counteract it - by "targeting peaceful activities and protest movements" - when it finally reaches US shores.
We believe Jeffrey Gundlach, et al. are wrong regarding the 10-Year Bond yield staying below 2.80% over the second half of the year.
Earlier today we reported that despite, or rather due to, all the confusing propaganda from either side, it was not exactly clear whether and how far away from Baghdad the ISIS offensive had been halted (if at all). It appears the confusion has also impacted none other than the US State Department, which moments ago announced it would evacuate an "substantial number" of the whopping 5,500 staff situated in the US embassy in Baghdad on the banks of the Tigris river, staff which incidentally is the largest of any US embassy. Additionally, the State Dept said that some additional U.S. govt security personnel will be added to Baghdad staff as result of instability and violence in certain areas of Iraq.
More and more investors are struggling...
While the world's short attention span may have been diverted to Iraq where the ISIS insurgents are now knocking on Baghdad's door, and with it - Iraq's vast southern oil fields and infrastructure (which if taken offline would send oil up to $200 according to T. Boone Pickens). the "out of sight, out of mind" conflict in Ukraine, which the western media dropped covering like a hot potato some time in early May for reasons not entirely known, continues to escalate and where the latest outbreak of violence took place overnight when a Ukraine military transport Il-76 was allegedly shot down by separatists in the city of Lugansk as it was about to land.
Best week for WTI crude in 6 months (to 9 month highs). Worst week for the Dow Transports in 2 months (3rd worst in 10 months)... and while 5s30s flattened to its equal lowest since January 2009, 10Y Treasury yields ended the week just 1bp higher in yield. Late day VIX smashing was trumped by rumors of the death of Iraq's PM Maliki (which was later denied and sent VIX reeling lower again). The USD ended the week modestly higher (+0.2%) with GBP strength and EUR weakness the main theme. Silver and gold were bid (safety and CCFD unwinds) with the best week in 3 months. Copper and iron ore were down for the 3rd week in a row. "Most shorted" stocks rose for the 5th week in a row (notably decoupling from the broad markets's weakness in the last few days). So it seems that the market does not trade on bad news; it trades on fake rumors.