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Friday, February 27, 2015 8:27 PM


Panic in Ukraine Over Food, Empty Stores and Protests; Strategic Food Reserve Empty


Here's a brief update from "Ellen" who lives in Lviv, a city in Western Ukraine.

Hello Mish

We have quite a panic over the collapse of currency. People buy any food product that can be stored. Everyone wants to rid of Hryvnia. We haven't seen anything like this since 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Stores are empty.

It is hard to say what exchange rate this days, somewhere between 34 and 42

There were riots in downtown today. A group of protesters was beaten up by police. They marched through downtown and gave a last warning to government officials. Next time they said they will shoot some officials.

Ukraine is on a brink, but the West is not in a hurry to give us money. Perhaps they want something.  Maybe they know the money will end up with corrupt officials who will steal it.

Either way, the few billion dollars they promised in March won't save our economy, not after this panic started.

Best wishes
Ellen
Strategic Food Reserve Empty

A curious thing happened today. To quiet protests over food, president Petro Poroshenko ordered the minister of the food reserve to fill the shelves of stores with flour, sugar, canned meat, and buckwheat from the reserve.

Well guess what? There was no food in the reserve. It has either been looted (like the vanishing gold), or it was fed to the army.

Here is a nice translation from Russian by J. Hawk: Ukraine's Strategic Food Reserve...Runs Out Of Food.
Ukrainian food prices are rising at a rate faster than in the ‘90s. But the Yatsenyuk government is still blaming the situation on the ignorance of the population and speculation by supermarket chains.

They used to blame currency exchangers, now they are blaming supermarket directors. However, you can’t feed the people with such tales.

The government’s “economy block” hastily summoned the director of the Ukrainian State Reserve Vladimir Zhukov. They demanded that he open the storehouses and fill the shelves with flour, sugar, canned meat, and buckwheat from its stores. In response the keeper of Motherland’s strategic stores revealed a terrible military secret to Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko: the storehouses are empty.

It would seem Ukraine’s Black Hour is here.

J.Hawk's Comment: There indeed were earlier reports that the strategic reserve was being "unsealed" to support military operations on the Donbass. The army has to eat, after all, and maintaining several tens of thousands of soldiers for nearly a year is likely to make a dent. The second factor was the junta's desperate need to earn hard currency to somehow plug up the many budget holes opened up by its adoption of "European Choice" neoliberal economic policies. Therefore anything that could be sold, was sold, including Mariupol's huge grain reserves. Finally, there's the small matter of corruption. One gets the impression Ukraine is a giant organized style "bust-out" operation, whose objective is to stash as much loot in foreign accounts and then leave the mess for someone else to clean up. To say that the Kiev junta has some kind of a strategy would be giving them entirely too much credit. It's a collection of loosely coordinated individuals pursuing their own venal agendas and living hand-to-mouth, without any thought given to Ukraine's long-term prospects.
Here is a link to the original article that J. Hawk translated: Ukraine State Reserve Doesn’t Even Have Buckwheat. Everything was Stolen.

Buckwheat is a Russian staple. I believe, "out of buckwheat" would be the equivalent of Japan being out of rice.

Mish note: One person accused me of bias over the word "junta". I did not choose the word. I quoted someone, just as I quote Colonel Cassad.

In context, it certainly appears J. Hawk went out of his way to not just translate, but to mention the possibility reserves were unsealed to feed the army.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

1:42 PM


"NowCast" - The Evolution of GDP Forecasting


In the wake of existing home sales reports on Monday, and new home sales yesterday, GDP and residential investment forecasts came tumbling down.

Check out the latest "GDP Nowcast" from the Atlanta Fed.



"The GDPNow model forecast for real GDP growth (seasonally adjusted annual rate) in the first quarter of 2015 was 1.7 percent on February 26, down from 1.9 percent on February 18. The first-quarter nowcast for real residential investment growth fell from 11.1 percent to 2.3 percent following Monday's existing-home sales release from the National Association of Realtors and yesterday morning's releases on sales and construction costs of single-family homes by the U.S. Census Bureau."

Please note that the "NowCast" does not factor in this: Chicago PMI Crashes to 5 1/2 Year Low: Production, New Orders, Backlogs Suffer Double Digit Declines.

Expect another revision soon.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

10:22 AM


Chicago PMI Crashes to 5 1/2 Year Low: Production, New Orders, Backlogs Suffer Double Digit Declines


Fourth quarter GDP was revised lower today to 2.2 percent from 2.6 percent previously estimated.

Looking ahead, I think we are going to see some shocking downward estimates in the months to come. Meanwhile, a shocking PMI report came out today.

Chicago PMI Crashes to 5 1/2 Year Low

ISM Chicago reports Chicago Business Barometer At 5½-Year Low

The Chicago Business Barometer plunged 13.6 points to 45.8 in February, the lowest level since July 2009 and the first time in contraction since April 2013. The sharp fall in business activity in February came as Production, New Orders, Order Backlogs and Employment all suffered double digit losses, leaving them below the 50 level which separates contraction from expansion.

New Orders suffered the largest monthly decline on record, leaving them at the lowest since June 2009. Lower order intake and output levels led to a double digit decline in Employment which last month increased markedly to a 14-month high.

Disinflationary pressures were still in evidence in February, although the slight bounceback in energy costs pushed Prices Paid to the highest since December – although still below the breakeven 50 level. Some purchasers cited weakness in some metals prices including copper and brass, but others said suppliers were slow to pass along lower prices to customers.

Commenting on the Chicago Report, Philip Uglow, Chief Economist of MNI Indicators said, “It’s difficult to reconcile the very sharp drop in the Barometer with the recent firm tone of the survey. There’s some evidence to point to special factors such as the port strike and the weather, although we’ll need to see the March data to get a better picture of underlying growth.“



Blame it on the Ports

Everyone was quick to blame this on the ports and bad weather.

But the LA port issue has been festering for months. Weren't economists aware of the ports? Of bad weather?

The reason I ask is the Bloomberg Consensus Estimate was 58.7. The range was 55.5 to 59.6. Who predicted 59.6?

Regardless, the actual number came in nearly 10 points lower than any forecast!

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!



Link if video does not play: Gomer Pyle on Surprises.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

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