There’s not really much to talk about ion markets this morning. The Dow put on a marvelous short squeeze Wednesday but in the after math this morning, look for the Dow to give back some of that as the day wears on. The reason being it’s a three day weekend for markets and there’s a good chance that the Ukraine situation could change for the worse (much worse) by Monday if Vlad Putin gets is T levels too high.
The unemployment claims for last week came in about 8,000 lower than expected, which convinced the futures that the world was not ending just this minute, so we slid back to about an even opening level.
Goldman earnings came out and yes, their net income fell, but it was better than what the street was looking for, so score another one for the bear squeezing bulls.
Consumer spending dropped in Japan in the overnight action, but it didn’t impact markets much. In the European action today, most markets are up a bit, so it looks like a pretty calm day for trading as options expire and money types make this a three-day weekend.
I must not be a money type…we’ll be here grinding out wit and sarcasm (for a change) tomorrow.
Russia Working US Spying on Civs
Edward Snowden is asking Vlad Putin about civilian surveillance, which is writ large here in the (former) land of the free. Putin claims the Russians don’t engage in it.
Beer on the side says one of two things is true: Either not as much OR they just haven’t been caught at it yet, like the American alphabeteers have been. Give it time.
More after this…
WW III: Running the Numbers
As you’ll see in the Coping section this morning, there is plenty of bad stuff that has happened on April 19th and 20th, so we look at this weekend with a great deal of suspicion.
As you may have heard, a round of talks involving four parties will take place in Geneva about now. But don’t hold your breath because there is likely nothing to come of them except more talk about more talk. That’s usually how these things go, at any rate.
Which gets us to the short-term outlook: To review, the Russians are supposed to wind-up their massive military “exercises”: near the Ukraine border by Monday. But, if Russia really does have its eye on recapture of Eastern Europe, which has all that delicious arms manufacturing capability in advance of their having to take on China over all the resources in Mongolia/Siberia in a half-dozen years, then Putin will likely move sooner than later.
All of which sets us up for this morning’s strategic view from our war gamer warhammer…
When the Crimea was annexed by Putin, I explained how the move violated every principal of international convention developed since the advent of Geneva Conventions post WWII. Such a bold Ukrainian annexation demanded a diplomatic demarche from both NATO and their (up til now) chief military member, the U.S. The Daily Mail penned a pointed article which makes what I believe to be a very valid case – we are facing what could be the advent of something much greater than a ‘simple’ Ukrainian civil war because of the (in)actions taken to date by the American administration.
My professional judgment in this situation is that as tension builds, intentions may become clouded.
The current militaries of America and Russia are untested in the art of deterrence theory. As a result, unskilled guessing and untested intuition replace game theory-based decision-making, relegating military deterrence to a novice game instead of one abiding by established treaties and strict international protocols or facing mutual assured destruction.
Inexperienced gamblers often bluff and decide to go ‘all in,’ illogically risking everything on an empty hand. So it is in matters of state and their inexperienced military regimes.
If one side is bluffing and they don’t fold when matters become extremely dicey, vanity and pride overrule cool, calculating logic and military escalation begins. The end result could be, well, the end. On the other hand, when one side continually bluffs and folds, the other side makes bigger and bolder claims, knowing they will not meet serious resistance.
Putin stands poised for his moment in time, a glorious and unopposed reclamation of former Soviet satellite countries under the strong, sweeping arms of mighty mother Russia. The Crimea and Eastern Ukraine is likely just the tip of Putin’s pointy spear. And make no mistake here – Putin is definitely not bluffing.
Should he suddenly be faced with resistance from a formidable military opponent, Putin may be deterred from advancing further, deciding instead to hold the lines and bide his time until the clamoring dies down. Putin knows that his chief opponent ‘is’ bluffing. So he has little to lose and much to gain.
If NATO and/or the US continue to bluff the very serious and determined Putin, and the bluff is noticeably weak or fails to ‘cover the bet,’ then there is no doubt in my vacuous cranial cavity that Putin will fully and quickly exploit the bluff, embarrassing NATO and particularly the U.S. in the process through a steady series of land grabs meant to reclaim an empire.
The choice is binary – the west must either make a committed, “all in” stand against further illegal Russian annexation or it must accept Russian advances and conquests. Bluffing a stand without the necessary deterrent force in place equates to weakness, leaving only the doomsday nuclear option for halting further Russian advances.
Meanwhile, the leaders in Poland can clearly see that massive speeding light down the Ukrainian tunnel.
Polish leaders are requesting a strong military commitment, evidenced by U.S. forces on the ground ala Cold War West Germany. Listening to their former Warsaw Pact neighbor and watching Russia make bold land grabs, NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen bravely and quickly (quicker than the U.S.) proclaimed that NATO is moving more troops toward E. Europe
What follows will sound to some of Ure readers like the rantings of a ‘hawk.’ To those individuals I would say, “no, I’m a realist. Evil does not understand idealism, altruism and the unabashed nobility of all humanity. They understand power. The power which they crave is also the same power that they fear.
So the chess pieces are lining up. Much is at stake if diplomacy ultimately fails. Diplomacy is more digestible when military power is standing ready. Unfortunately for America, the U.S. economy demands their once mighty military suffer massive cuts to manpower and equipment to ‘help pay the bills.’ How can America gin up another ‘containment’ operation against Russia (as it successfully did during the Cold War) when just two months ago troops were in serious danger of not being paid because the sequester locked down their defense budget? The U.S. is weaker, and Putin knows it. Still, American military might is sufficient to induce a reasonable amount of fear in Putin and his pawns if played right.
George, the U.S. President’s failure to set firm red lines and his willingness to achieve peace at any cost is placing Eurasia and millions of souls in a very dangerous and dark place, a place they may not be able to dig out of for decades to come. There are no easy choices. Status quo is not the answer. The time for soft words is over. Russia’s naked military aggression must be confronted in order to be halted. To loosely paraphrase Winston Churchill, the destiny of so many depends upon the path ultimately chosen by so few.
No bluffing, just strong and resolute resistance backed by visible military might, flavored with a solid dose of deterrence theory. Peace through strength!
We have many friends in the silver oak leaf department and without exception they are all significantly worried about what’s ahead.
Note, for example what’s going on in the “next countries west” of Ukraine:
Romania and the US recent conducted joint drills, but on a very small scale.…450 troops wouldn’t even break the pace of Russian mechanized.
We also note that “drills” were planned in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, but again, not of the size to impress Russian mechanized units. They’d be fodder in short order.
If you’ve been following G.A. Stewart’s work on Nostradamus, a Russian romp through Ukraine and thence to the border with Hungary would set up an end-times showdown. Let’s look at the theater a bit closer, then, to see if Nostradamus might be right.
To the north of Ukraine, we see China trying to snuggle up to Belarus with military assistance, which would no doubt be a US-supported option to keep Russia away from Poland.
And to the north of Belarus, we see that Lithuania is upgrading their older Russian-built radars.
The Importance of Running the Numbers
When you look at war, it’s really very similar to analysis of the stock market. You’ve got a lot of numbers you can run and some of them can be very useful.
A little snooping around Google will help you fill in the map. But from a Russian standpoint, Slovakia is weak…they have only 13,660 active personnel. So from a military standpoint, Slovakia has each member of its armed forces responsible for 1.38 square miles of Slovakia soil.
To continue this track, the numbers work out to 1.2 miles per military member in Hungary, while in Poland is down to one square mile per soldier.
And what about Romania? Almost as spread thin as Slovakia…but not quite: 1.254 square miles per soldier.
So just pushing numbers around in advance? IF Russia decides to take Ukraine by force, expect them to keep rolling to the West, dividing forces into Romania and Slovakia to put a pincher on Hungary, and take it first.
Then, with northern fast armor, the Russians would plan a sweep west through Lithuania where resistance would be virtually non-existent at 1.73 square miles per soldier. And from that position, they would then have a pincher on Poland and a drive up the Belarus-Polish border would then cut off Belarus which weighs in at 1.29 square miles to defend.
From there, taking the Czech Republic would be within Russian grasp, since they have 1.45 miles per soldier to defend.
Somewhere, around the middle of the Czech Republic, the line would be drawn: That’s because to the west, Germany is well dug in with only .74 square mile per soldier. And for sure, Russian supply lines would be vulnerable at this extension.
Thus, if Russia decides to go on a romp to the West, we might see Russia go as far as Poland, taking first Hungary in a pincher, then Poland. Their thinking would be to then use the Czechs as a buffer state.
But, about here, Nostradamus hints (in Stewart’s work) that before the projected Poland pinch (PPP) we’ll see a crop of mushrooms of the most poisonous sort, first.
Naturally, any sane person would take whatever is behind curtain #2, but our assessment of sanity is based on bullshit media programming and a warped sense of reality, again, media induced.
Oh, and partly because it’s not likely that China or Russia will drive to the US, and thanks to the Obama administration’s cuts in the military: We have each member of the US military responsible for 2.77 square miles of real estate.
Putin’s no Easter bunny. But Nostradamus looks pretty smart about here.
The Climate Change Distraction
Latest from one of our readers:
“Global Warming Records Shattered!”
Yes, that is sarcasm. See Robert Felix Ice Age Now site…
“Ice cover over the Great Lakes as of April 15 is the most widespread on record for mid-April, covering over 39 percent of the Great Lakes,” says weather.com.
That far exceeds previous years. In fact, only three other years came even remotely close. Even then, ice coverage reached only slightly more than half of this year’s total coverage.
Felix might just get climate more right than Al Gore…gee, wouldn’t that be a shock, huh?
Buying Elections Dept.
I don’t know if you caught the CNN headline that “With hopes of winning issue, group trumpets Hillary Clinton’s income inequality record.”
Clinton? Income inequality? Hmmm…let me see here: Hillary, according to OpenSecrets.org has raised more than $328 million just in the past five years.
Seems to me there’s a good bit of “income inequality” there…I haven’t raised a dime.
On the other side of the aisle, Ted Cruz has raised only $17.7 million since 1989. Rand Paul showing at 10.9 mil.
This almost begins to feel like a weekend, now, doesn’t it.
Damn shame it’s not for the working class… keep reading…