Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Furious Russia Will Retaliate Over "Illegal And Absurd" Payment Block By "Hostile" JPMorgan (“Any hostile actions against the Russian diplomatic mission are not only a grossest violation of international law, but are also fraught with countermeasures that unavoidably will affect activities of the embassy and consulates of the U.S. in Russia,” Lukashevich said) .... And JP Morgan backing down rapidly in 5, 4 , 3 ,2,1 ( JPMorgan could still process the embassy payment if U.S. regulators approve, the person familiar with that dispute said.) ...........

Retaliation updates.....


What About The Dollar: Russia, Iran Announce $20 Billion Oil-For-Goods Deal

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Spot what is missing in the just blasted headline from Bloomberg:
  • IRAN, RUSSIA SAID TO SEAL $20B OIL-FOR-GOODS DEAL: REUTERS
If you said the complete absence of US Dollars anywhere in the funds flow you are correct. Which is precisely what we have been warning would happen the more the West and/or JPMorgan pushed Russia into a USD-free corner.
Once again, from our yesterday commenton the JPM Russian blockade: "what JPM may have just done is launch a preemptive strike which would have the equivalent culmination of a SWIFT blockade of Russia, the same way Iran was neutralized from the Petrodollar and was promptly forced to begin transacting in Rubles, Yuan and, of course, gold in exchange for goods and services either imported or exported. One wonders: is JPM truly that intent in preserving its "pristine" reputation of not transacting with "evil Russians", that it will gladly light the fuse that takes away Russia's choice whether or not to depart the petrodollar voluntarily, and makes it a compulsory outcome, which incidentally will merely accelerate the formalization of the Eurasian axis of China, Russia and India?"
In other words, Russia seems perfectly happy to telegraph that it is just as willing to use barter (and "heaven forbid" gold) and shortly other "regional" currencies, as it is to use the US Dollar, hardly the intended outcome of the western blocakde, which appears to have just backfired and further impacted the untouchable status of the Petrodollar.
More from Reuters:
Iran and Russia have made progress towards an oil-for-goods deal sources said would be worth up to $20 billion, which would enable Tehran to boost vital energy exports in defiance of Western sanctions, people familiar with the negotiations told Reuters.

In January Reuters reported Moscow and Tehran were discussing a barter deal that would see Moscow buy up to 500,000 barrels a day of Iranian oil in exchange for Russian equipment and goods.

The White House has said such a deal would raise "serious concerns" and would be inconsistent with the nuclear talks between world powers and Iran.

A Russian source said Moscow had "prepared all documents from its side", adding that completion of a deal was awaiting agreement on what oil price to lock in.

The source said the two sides were looking at a barter arrangement that would see Iranian oil being exchanged for industrial goods including metals and food, but said there was no military equipment involved. The source added that the deal was expected to reach $15 to $20 billion in total and would be done in stages with an initial $6 billion to $8 billion tranche.

The Iranian and Russian governments declined to comment.

Two separate Iranian officials also said the deal was valued at $20 billion. One of the Iranian officials said it would involve exports of around 500,000 barrels a day for two to three years.

"Iran can swap around 300,000 barrels per day via the Caspian Sea and the rest from the (Middle East) Gulf, possibly Bandar Abbas port," one of the Iranian officials said, referring to one of Iran's top oil terminals.

"The price (under negotiation) is lower than the international oil price, but not much, and there are few options. But in general, a few dollars lower than the market price."
Surely an "expert assessment" is in order:
"The deal would ease further pressure on Iran's battered energy sector and at least partially restore Iran's access to oil customers with Russian help," said Mark Dubowitz of Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a U.S. think-tank.

"If Washington can't stop this deal, it could serve as a signal to other countries that the United States won't risk major diplomatic disputes at the expense of the sanctions regime," he added.
You don't say: another epic geopolitical debacle resulting from what was originally intended to be a demonstration of strength and instead is rapidly turning out into a terminal confirmation of weakness.
Also, when did the "Foundation for Defense of Petrodollar" have the last word replaced with "Democracies"?
Finally, those curious what may happen next, only not to Iran but to Russia, are encouraged to read "From Petrodollar To Petrogold: The US Is Now Trying To Cut Off Iran's Access To Gold."



and....




Russian Retaliation #1: Russia Largest Bank Halts Foreign Currency Loans

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It didn't take long for Russia to launch the first retaliatory salvo against the unexpected JPMorgan "act of aggression." Moments ago Bloomberg just reported that Sberbank,  the largest bank in Russia and all of Eastern Europe, just halted the issuance of consumer loans in foreign currency. Bloomberg adds that "Sberbank, Russia’s biggest lender, holds 43.3% of nation’s consumer deposits, 32.7% of consumer loans and 32.1% of corporate loans."
Why is this important? Well, it is possible that the biggest Russian bank is running low on foreign reserves with which to issue non-ruble loans, which is rather unlikely for a bank which is defacto part of the Russian financial system. Still, it would be problematic if Russia is indeed telegraphing its commodity-export driven economy is suddenly low on Dollars and/or Europe's artificial, life-supported currency.
And then there is another possibility: as weexplained yesterday, "what JPM may have just done is launch a preemptive strike which would have the equivalent culmination of a SWIFT blockade of Russia, the same way Iran was neutralized from the Petrodollar and was promptly forced to begin transacting in Rubles, Yuan and, of course, gold in exchange for goods and services either imported or exported." And this: "One wonders: is JPM truly that intent in preserving its "pristine" reputation of not transacting with "evil Russians", that it will gladly light the fuse that takes away Russia's choice whether or not to depart the petrodollar voluntarily, and makes it a compulsory outcome, which incidentally will merely accelerate the formalization of the Eurasian axis of China, Russia and India."
Judging by the first retaliation, which just showed what Russia thinks of the petrodollar regime by voluntarily isolating itself from it, this is certainly a growing possibility.





TF Metals Report: Russia mulls conducting trade only in rubles

 Section: 
8:43p ICT Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Dear Friend of GATA and Gold:
The TF Metals Report's Turd Ferguson notes growing discussion in Russia of conducting international trade only in rubles:
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.




and.....





Furious Russia Will Retaliate Over "Illegal And Absurd" Payment Block By "Hostile" JPMorgan

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While everyone was gushing over the spectacle on TV of a pro-HFT guy and anti-HFT guy go at it, yesterday afternoon we reported what was by far the most important news of the day, one which was lost on virtually everyone if only until this morning, when we reported that "Monetary Blockade Of Russia Begins: JPMorgan Blocks Russian Money Transfer "Under Pretext" Of Sanctions." This morning the story has finally blown up to front page status, which it deserves, where it currently graces the FT with "Russian threat to retaliate over JPMorgan block." And unlike previous responses to Russian sanctions by the West, which were largely taken as a joke by the Russian establishment, this time Russia is furious: according to Bloomberg, the Russian foreign ministry described the JPM decision as "illegal and absurd."  And as Ukraine found out last month, you don't want Russia angry.
The biggest U.S. bank thwarted a remittance from the Russian embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan, to Sogaz Insurance Group “under the pretext of anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the United States,” the ministry said yesterday in a statement on its website. Sogaz lists OAO Bank Rossiya, a St. Petersburg-based lender facing U.S. sanctions over the Ukrainian crisis, as a strategic partner on its website.
Interfering with the transaction was an “absolutely unacceptable, illegal and absurd decision,” Alexander Lukashevich, a ministry spokesman, said in the statement.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced the action against Bank Rossiya last month as part of a broadening of sanctions that targeted government officials and allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose associates own Rossiya. The embassy’s transaction was for less than $5,000 dollars, a person with knowledge of the dispute said, asking not to be identified because such transfers aren’t public.
Did JPMorgan just move the second Cold War into semi-hot status? Very possibly:
Any hostile actions against the Russian diplomatic mission are not only a grossest violation of international law, but are also fraught with countermeasures that unavoidably will affect activities of the embassy and consulates of the U.S. in Russia,” Lukashevich said.
As we reported yesterday, for now the JPM party line is to plead ignorance, as it does not want to incur the wrath of the US government, because apparently lying to Congress is less of an issue than transacting with Russian oligarchs.
JPMorgan could still process the embassy payment if U.S. regulators approve, the person familiar with that dispute said.
“As with all U.S. financial institutions that operate globally, we are subject to specific regulatory requirements,” New York-based JPMorgan said in a statement. “We will continue to seek guidance from the U.S. government on implementing their recent sanctions.”
Russia’s Finance Ministry has done business with JPMorgan. It picked the lender to improve the country’s standing among U.S. credit-rating firms. Putin said in 2011 the rankings given to Russia were an “outrage” that increased borrowing costs for domestic companies and the government. JPMorgan also was among banks selected to advise Russia on a 1 trillion ruble ($28.5 billion) privatization program.
There's that. And then there's this, which we also said yesterday:
Wait, did JPM just take a unilateral action, not mandated by the state department (because nowhere in the Russian sanction list does it say putting a freeze on Russian bank transfers), and refuse to process a simple money transfer? Why? And if indeed JPM is doing this, how long until all other US banks, most of which are just as allegedly criminal in dealing with offshore sources of illegal money, follow suit and leave Russia entirely in the world when it comes to USD-backed transactions.

Because what JPM may have just done is launch a preemptive strike which would have the equivalent culmination of a SWIFT blockade of Russia, the same way Iran was neutralized from the Petrodollar and was promptly forced to begin transacting in Rubles, Yuan and, of course, gold in exchange for goods and services either imported or exported.

One wonders: is JPM truly that intent in preserving its "pristine" reputation of not transacting with "evil Russians", that it will gladly light the fuse that takes away Russia's choice whether or not to depart the petrodollar voluntarily, and makes it a compulsory outcome, which incidentally will merely accelerate the formalization of the Eurasian axis of China, Russia and India?
Once again: watch this space carefully - should more western commercial banks (here's looking at you Citigroup, Bank of America, and Citi, and of course "money launderer to criminals everywhere" extraordinaire HSBC) just say no to more Russian hot money, things get really interesting.... if for nothing else, then certainly the ultra-luxury end of the Manhattan real estate market.
Finally, we certainly can not be the only ones looking forward to the epic battle prospect that is Vlad "Shootin" Putin vs JP "Fail Whale" Morgan. Especially if it involves more such sudden moves in gold as what just happened.









Gold Surges: Putin Retaliation Fears?

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It's that time of day again... when the precious metal mice will play as the broad market cat is still away but this time it's different. Instead of the smack-down that we have seen around the 8amET time each of the last 10 days, today gold and silver are spiking. It is unclear what the catalyst is - just as it is never clear what the catalyst for the monkey-hammerings are - but the timing with Putin's retaliation threats (specifically against a major bank with a mysteriously active gold vault) suggest some causation.


Charts: Bloomberg