With the world still awaiting the outcomes in Greece and Ukraine, it appears that Putin's brilliant tactics in Ukraine have confused the West and become a worry for NATO.
Here is a key portion from today's note by Art Cashin: "Stocks went into a bit of a trance in early afternoon, awaiting the release of the FOMC Minutes at 2:00.
The Minutes were stunningly verbose, about 8000 words of discussion as opposed to the 4000 to 5000. That alone suggested how uncertain the FOMC was.
They went into the on the other hand mode so often, it prompted some of us to harken the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, she of the many arms. The Fed's apparent timidity caused the Treasury market to spike, followed by stocks. Stocks then had doubts and sold back down, only to reverse upward later. I guess it isn't just the FOMC who is indecisive. Thus a neutral close.
Putin, ISIS And Destabilizing Insurgencies – In his invaluable blog, Geostrat, my old pal and former fellow floor broker, Bob Hardy touches on a recent report on Putin, his tactics and other "insurgencies". Here's a bit:
Russia's tactics in Ukraine, including supporting separatists with modern military equipment and using social media campaigns, could inspire other nations, such as China and Iran, a top defense think-tank warned on Wednesday, February 11.
Most armies around the world are not prepared for this new type of "hybrid warfare", the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) said in its annual Military Balance report, covering 171 nations.
It urged NATO to act with "urgency" to develop strategies to respond to such threats, which had the potential to "rapidly destabilize" Western States.
The study said Russia has waged "limited war for limited objectives in Ukraine," while maintaining a "deniability", which has confused the West's response.
As the U.S. is weighing whether to send arms to Ukraine, the report detailed how Ukraine's military had been "hollowed out" by low investment and is largely dependent of Soviet-era equipment. In contrast, Russia's defense budget is set to increase from 2.1 trillion rubles ($31.6 billion) in 2013 and to 3.29 trillion rubles in 2015, the report noted.
Russia is waging a form of war in Ukraine, which combines low-level conventional and special operations with social media campaigns to shape public opinion.
Such tactics represent a "grave threat to NATO's collective security", because they take place in "grey areas that exploit seams in the alliance," the report said.
The report suggests state and non-state Western adversaries could follow the Russian example:
It said these tactics could also spread further than Ukraine, shining the spotlight on China, Iran, the Islamic State (IS-ISIS) and North Korea.
"Policymakers may anticipate that some current or potential state or non-state adversaries, possibly including China and Iran, will learn from Russia's recent deployment of hybrid warfare."
"These lessons might not necessarily be applied in conflicts with Western states, but their potential to rapidly destabilize the existing order could, if applied, in other zones of political and military competition, mean they have global ramifications," the report said.
The Jihadists are flexible while Western states still rely on old tactics:
Some of the media tactics used by IS in Syria and Iraq, including using social media to recruit fighters, had "thematic similarities" with those Russia has used in Ukraine. It pointed out, Western nations, many emerging from the 13-year conflict in Afghanistan and facing reduced defense budgets, were still focusing on using more conventional tactics.
The report goes on to speculate whether these kinds of hybrid wars will inspire folks like North Korea, or even China. Not conducive to a restful night.
Consensus – Claims may be a factor but traders will look more toward market internals. They watch for next shoe in Europe. Stick with the drill – stay wary, alert and very, very nimble."
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