Amid 'turmoiling' stock markets on Friday, CNBC's Simon Hobbs summed up the status quo's thinking on the new Greek leadership when he noted, somewhat angrily and shocked, "The Greeks are not even trying to reassure the markets," seeming to have entirely forgotten (and who can blame him in this new normal the world has been force-fed for 6 years) that political leaders are elected for the good of the people (by the people) not for the markets. Yesterday saw the clearest example yet of Europe's anger that the Greeks may choose their own path as opposed to following the EU's non-sovereign leadership's demands when the most uncomfortable moment ever caught on tape - the moment when Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem (he of the "template" foot in mouth disease) stood up at the end of the EU-Greece press conference, awkwardly shook hands with Greece's new finance minister, and whispered..."you have just killed the Troika," to which Varoufakis responded... "wow!"
The 'souring' of the mother's milk of stock markets continues. Management guidance and commentary implies 3-5pp impact due to 'king dollar' FX headwinds as an astounding 87% of companies guided below consensus expectations for next quarter. Bottom-up consensus 2015 EPS estimates were cut by 4% during January, and, as Goldman Sachs warns, 4Q EPS is tracking 7% below the consensus estimate at the start of reporting season. Finally, and perhaps most worrisome, granular bottom-up consensus is below top-down 'strategist' consensus for the first time since 2009... as the gap between Forward P/E valuations and long-term growth is as wide as it has ever been.
Quietly, and with essentially no coverage from the mainstream media, an obscure resolution (No. 41) was introduced in the US House of Representatives this week. The entire point of the resolution (The Federal Government should not bail out State and local government employee pension plans or other plans that provide post-employment benefits to State and local government retirees) is to say that the federal government is broke. It can’t pay its own bills, and therefore is shouldn’t be responsible to pay anyone else’s either. This Resolution is a pretty scary dose of honesty.
Yesterday we commented on the outsized macro impact that one company already excerts on the world, when we reported that in the fourth quarter, a whopping 60% of retail sales growth was due to the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 in the fall of 2014, and the surge of Chinese tourists who tok advantage of Hong Kong's lower prices and earlier release. So how about the micro level? For the answer we present the chart below. Behold: the AAPL effect, which demonstrates that what until AAPL's release was shaping up to be a flat Q4 earnings season for the S&P 500, has since transformed into Q4 EPS growth of 2.1%, and made Apple the largest contributor to earnings growth for the S&P 500 at the company level for the fourth quarter. All this, thanks to just one company!
Super Bowl ticket prices continue to soar. With the game now just a day away, prices have exceeded the $10,500 average and get-in price is just over $9,000 but, as TiqIQ's CEO reports, the ticket market’s "Black Swan" moment will leave some fans showing up to Arizona having paid for tickets they’ll never receive... as derivative-based speculators were selling tickets they never had to begin with, and the short squeeze is unprecedented. "The market is being manipulated to the extreme by those who have paid teams and the league for access." When this happened in the 2011 BCS National Championship game, many brokers went out of business filling their short orders, and some others even walked away from their orders, leaving fans to fend for themselves and it appears tomorrow will be the same for Super Bowl attendees (and speculators).
This week's Economic Policy Institute's report, leverages the fashionable, French economist Piketty's statistics, in order to illustrate how well the "top 1%" are doing in each of the 50 states. The report is provokingly titled: "The Increasingly Unequal States of America". But the report creates distortions in the truth. An important matter affecting hundreds of millions should also include a straight acknowledgement of probability theory (involving large sample sizes). The most liberal people suggest that even thinking about this math is unnecessary. Perhaps any glorification of wrongs that need to be righted, justifies the means that it would take to get there. Over time this can conflate math ideas with one's ideological bias.
Presented with no comment...
ECB Threatens Athens With Bank Funding Cutoff If No Deal In One Month: February 28 Is Now D-Day For GreeceSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/31/2015 - 16:00
Earlier today the ECB's Erikki Liikanen, tired of pleasantries and dealing with what to Europe is a completely incomprehensible and illogical stance, one which is essentially a massive defection by Greece in the European "prisoner's dilemma", and which while leading to a Greek financial collapse and Grexit - both prerequisites to a subsequent Greek economic recovery unburdened by the shackles of the Euro - would also unleash a European depression, came out and directly threatened Greece that it now has 1 month until the end of February to reach a deal with the Troika, or else the ECB would cut off lending to Greek banks, in the process destroying the otherwise insolvent Greek banking sector.
The grand central banking experiment being conducted around the globe right now will not end well. With little more than a lever to ham-fistedly move interest rates, the central planners are trying to keep the world's debt-addiction well-fed while simultaneously kick-starting economic growth and managing the price levels of everything from stocks to housing to fine art. The complexity of the system, the questionable credentials of the decision-makers, and the universe's proclivity towards unintended consequences all combine to give great confidence that things will not play out in the way the Fed and its brethren are counting on.
Less than a week ago we warned, "today Athens, tomorrow Madrid," and sure enough, emboldened by the success of Syriza in Greece, the people of Spain have turned out in their tens of thousands in Madrid at a demonstration called by the insurgent Spanish leftist party Podemos. As The Independent reports, Podemos, which means "we can", has surged into first place in opinion polls in the few months since it was set up in the summer of 2014. It is now ahead of the centre-right Popular Party and centre-left Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in many opinion polls. Podemos’s policies include a universal basic income, increased democracy, crackdowns on tax avoidance, and increased public control over the economy. Most worrying for the status-quo huggers in Brussels, Podemos has also wants to reform the European Union, describing the current euro arrangement as a "trap."
Funding Markets just called The FOMC's bluff. Policymakers are acting out rational expectations theory or at least how they see it. In other words, their job is not to analyze actual economic conditions, but to condition economic thought toward the end goal. If they convince you that they believe the economy is on track they further believe you will act accordingly (“you” being both investor and economic agent). The more the economy diverges from the “preferred” projection, the more emphatic the cries of “recovery” become. At some point, desperation becomes palpable.
According to the NY Fed, 177 tons of gold have been withdawn from its vault in 2014; according to foreign central banks, at least 207 tons of gold were withdrawn from the NY Fed in 2014.
Did a Fed intern make a very glaring math error or is something else going on?
"According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, around 10 percent of family doctors already offer shared medical appointments, sessions that bring together a dozen or more patients with similar medical conditions to meet with a doctor for 90 minutes. With pressure from the government and insurers to bring down the cost of care while treating the increasing number of people with health insurance, patients can expect group visits to become more common. “It’s efficient. It’s economical.""
The Czechoslovakia crisis of 1938 marked a pivotal shift in the balance of power in Central Europe, putting the major world superpowers in a collision course. The policies of one superpower in particular made inevitable what was to come less than a year later - World War II. This episode provides important historical insights on geopolitics, appeasement strategies, buffer zones, ethnic tensions – and unintended consequences.
With NIRP raging in the Eurozone and over €1.5 trillion in European government bonds trading with negative yields, many were wondering when any of this perverted bond generosity will spill over to other debtors, not just Europe's insolvent governments (who can only print negative interest debt because of the ECB's backstop that it will buy any piece of garbage for sale in the doomed monetary union). In fact just earlier today we, rhetorically, asked a logical - in as much as nothing is logical in the new normal - question: "Who will offer the first negative rate mortgage." Little did we know that just minutes after our tweet, we would learn that at least one place is already paying homeowners to take out a mortgage. That's right - the negative rate mortgage is now a reality.