Jim Sinclair’s Commentary
Paw friends of the Sinclair Clan.
Crimea: Too small to matter
By Nicholas Wapshott
April 1, 2014
That is implicit in President Barack Obama’s remarks about where the Ukraine crisis heads next; the terms of the Paris talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and the West’s rejection of military action to hurl back the occupying Russian forces.
That Crimea is gone forever is also the view of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who declared, “I do not believe that Crimea will slip out of Russia’s hand.”
It is now generally accepted in Washington that short of sparking a shooting war, Crimea is lost and will now always be Russian. President Vladimir Putin, presiding over an economy of $2 trillion, barely equal to California, has roundly defeated the United States and the European Union, with a combined worth of more than $34 trillion.
The loss of Crimea is a considerable blow to U.S. prestige and confirmation that Obama holds a weak hand in Ukraine, a country everyone agrees is too hard to defend from Russian aggression. But why has Obama’s response to Russia’s stealth invasion of Crimea been so muted?
Is the U.S. stock market rigged?
March 30, 2014, 7:24 PM|Steve Kroft reports on a new book from Michael Lewis, "Flash Boys," that reveals how a group of unlikely characters discovered how some high speed traders work the stock market to their advantage.
Jim Sinclair’s Commentary
A strategy of provocation.
Nato plans stronger military ties to ex-Soviet states south of Russia
Foreign ministers consider holding joint exercises with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Moldova after annexation of Crimea
Ian Traynor in Brussels
theguardian.com, Tuesday 1 April 2014 07.21 EDT
Nato has drawn up plans to strengthen military co-operation with the former Soviet states on Russia’s southern flank after the Kremlin’s seizure of Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.
Nato foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the alliance’s response to the Ukraine crisis amid continued fears of Russia’s territorial ambitions and what the Americans term a "tremendous" buildup of Russian forces on Ukraine’s eastern border.
Before the meeting, a Nato committee drafted plans "for promoting stability in eastern Europe in the current context" by increasing military co-operation with Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova – all in Russia’s "near abroad" and considered by Moscow as falling within its sphere of influence.
A confidential seven-page paper leaked to the German news weekly Der Spiegel proposed joint exercises and training between Nato and the three countries, increasing the "interoperability" of their militaries with Nato, and their participation in Nato "smart defence" operations.
The paper also proposed opening a Nato liaison office in Moldova, military training for Armenia, and projects in Azerbaijan aimed at securing its Caspian Sea oil and gas fields.
NATO suspends civilian and military cooperation with Russia
Published time: April 01, 2014 15:32
Edited time: April 01, 2014 18:33
NATO has announced that it is suspending all military and civilian cooperation with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis, the bloc said in a joint statement.
"We have decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia. Our political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council can continue, as necessary, at the Ambassadorial level and above, to allow us to exchange views, first and foremost on this crisis," the statement reads. The alliance plans to review its relations with Russia at a meeting in June.
The decision could affect cooperation on Afghanistan in areas such as training counter-narcotics personnel, maintenance of Afghan air force helicopters and a transit route out of the war-torn country.
NATO foreign ministers also urged Moscow in "to take immediate steps … to return to compliance with international law."
The bloc said that it was stepping up its cooperation with Ukraine, promoting defense reforms and increasing the activity of a liaison office in Kiev.
Why Did BRICS Back Russia On Crimea?
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/31/2014 22:52 -0400
Submitted by Zachary Zeck of The Diplomat,
There’s been no shortage of reports and commentaries on the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea, and Russia’s role in it. Yet one of the more notable recent developments in the crisis has received surprisingly little attention.
Namely, the BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) has unanimously and, in many ways, forcefully backed Russia’s position on Crimea. The Diplomat has reported on China’s cautious and India’s more enthusiastic backing of Russia before. However, the BRICS grouping as a whole has also stood by the Kremlin.
Indeed, they made this quite clear during a BRICS foreign minister meeting that took place on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague last week. Just prior to the meeting, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop suggested that Australia might ban Russia’s participation in the G20 summit it will be hosting later this year as a means of pressuring Vladimir Putin on Ukraine.
The BRICS foreign ministers warned Australia against this course of action in the statement they released following their meeting last week. “The Ministers noted with concern the recent media statement on the forthcoming G20 Summit to be held in Brisbane in November 2014,” the statement said. “The custodianship of the G20 belongs to all Member States equally and no one Member State can unilaterally determine its nature and character.”
The statement went on to say, “The escalation of hostile language, sanctions and counter-sanctions, and force does not contribute to a sustainable and peaceful solution, according to international law, including the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.” As Oliver Stuenkel at Post Western World noted, the statement as a whole, and in particular the G20 aspect of it, was a “clear sign that [the] West will not succeed in bringing the entire international community into line in its attempt to isolate Russia.”
Jim Sinclair’s Commentary
This is automated front running of orders, a crime in my time.
FBI Investigating High-Speed Trading Examination Centers on Possible Trading on Nonpublic Information
Scott Patterson and Michael Rothfeld
Updated March 31, 2014 9:59 p.m. ET
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing whether high-speed trading firms are engaging in insider trading by taking advantage of fast-moving market information unavailable to other investors.
The investigation, launched about a year ago, involves a range of trading activities and is still in its early stages, according to a senior FBI official and an agency spokesman. Among the activities being probed is whether high-speed firms are trading ahead of other investors based on information that other market participants can’t see.
Among the types of trading under scrutiny is the practice of placing a group of trades and then canceling them to create the false appearance of market activity. Such activity could be considered potential market manipulation by encouraging others to trade based on false orders.
Another form of activity under scrutiny involves using high-speed trading to place orders to conceal that the transactions are based on an illegal tip.
"There are many people in government who are very focused on this and who are concerned about it and who think it breaks the law," an FBI spokesman said. "There is a big concern that high-frequency traders are getting material nonpublic information ahead of others and trading on it."
Ultimately, federal prosecutors would have to decide whether the facts of a specific case warrant bringing charges, the FBI official said.
Jim Sinclair’s Commentary
Bail in is certain.
‘Bail-in’ deal raises risk to bank deposits
By Ellen Brown
On March 20, 2014, European Union officials reached an historic agreement to create a single agency to handle failing banks. Media attention has focused on the agreement involving the single resolution mechanism (SRM), a uniform system for closing failed banks. But the real story for taxpayers and depositors is the heightened threat to their pocketbooks of a deal that now authorizes both bailouts and "bail-ins" – the confiscation of depositor funds.
The deal involves multiple concessions to different countries and may be illegal under the rules of the European Parliament, but it is being rushed through to lock taxpayer and depositor liability into place before the dire state of eurozone banks is exposed.
The bail-in provisions were agreed to last summer. According to Bruno Waterfield, writing in the UK’s Telegraph in June 2013:
Under the deal, after 2018 bank shareholders will be first in line for assuming the losses of a failed bank before bondholders and certain large depositors. Insured deposits under 85,000 pounds sterling (US$142,000, or 100,000 euros) are exempt and, with specific exemptions, uninsured deposits of individuals and small companies are given preferred status in the bail-in pecking order for taking losses… Under the deal all unsecured bondholders must be hit for losses before a bank can be eligible to receive capital injections directly from the ESM [European Stability Mechanism], with no retrospective use of the fund before 2018.
German execs criticize West for allowing tension with Russia to rise
Source: Reuters – Sat, 29 Mar 2014 04:10 PM
By Maria Sheahan
FRANKFURT, March 29 (Reuters) – Several top German executives criticised the strategy of the U.S. and Europe in dealing with Russia after it took control of the Crimea region, fearing the consequences for their businesses.
The European Union, United States and other Western nations have imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its seizure of the Crimea region of Ukraine and have threatened broader economic penalties if the crisis escalates, triggering the worst East-West clash since the Cold War.
Steelmaker ThyssenKrupp’s Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger told daily newspaper Die Welt that the events of the past had shown that great change could be achieved if the West cooperated with Russia rather than being confrontational.
"Now we have a situation in which Russia feels that its back is against the wall," he said in an article published on the paper’s website on Saturday.
Russia is Germany’s 11th biggest commercial partner, with trade reaching 76.5 billion euros ($105 billion) last year, according to the trade association Ost Ausschuss.
Many companies are worried about losing out on business if further sanctions take effect. Some 300,000 German jobs are linked to business there and Europe’s biggest economy depends on Russia for 35 percent of its gas.
"Many German companies that invested in Russia last year or wanted to build production sites there have now given up their plans or put them on ice," Bernd Hones, Economic Correspondent at economic development agency Germany Trade & Invest in Moscow, told weekly paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.