While it most likely is just the usual Friday (past) midnight trial balloon by the Nikkei, a media outlet that has promptly become the BOJ's mouthpiece (recall a week ago the new owner of the FT reported that Abe would delay his 2017 sales tax increase, only to see the premier backpedal when the reaction in the USDJPY was not quite as desired), moments ago the Japanese publication reported that the Bank of Japan will "likely set aside funds for the first time to prepare for losses on its huge holdings of Japanese government bonds should the central bank end its monetary easing policy in the future."
For 20 of the last 21 weeks, US oil rig count has declined as it tracked the lagged oil price lower. That changed today as oil rigs were unchanged week-over-week perfectly syncing with the lagged lows in oil. Total rigs dropped 2 (thanks to gas rigs) to a new record low but even that pace has slowed dramatically. Oil prices are fading modestly on the news...
New accounting rules show Chicago has understated its pension liabilities by $11.5 billion. At the end of 2015 the stated liability was $7.1 billion. Today it’s $18.6 billion. That’s a jump in net liabilities of 168%. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has hopes pinned on union concessions and help from the state legislature. Neither is likely. Let’s stop pretending there is another solution, because there isn’t.
Less than a month after a still unexplained suicide took place inside a conference room at Apple headquarters, there seems to be more trouble in Silicon Paradise. According to CBS, an incendiary device ignited a fire late Thursday night at the offices of digital giant Google, damaging a Google Earth demo car and leaving a large singe mark on one of the buildings, authorities said.
The last phase in all cases of hyperinflation is currency stabilization. This phase is inevitable whether it be because of changes introduced by the government or due to complete rejection of local currency by the population. In order for such a monetary reform to be successful, it is essential that the government first eliminate the main cause of the inflation (the budget deficit). Unfortunately, it does not seem as though the Venezuelan government has any plans to decrease spending, nor does it appear that revenue from oil will be recovering any time soon, meaning that any attempts at currency stabilization will surely fail (just as it did the last time when the bolivar fuerte was introduced in 2008). In light of this situation, it seems that Thiers’ Law is inevitable.
Update: Curfew has been imposed in Baghdad.
The situation in Iraq had already become very dangerous, as we reported in earlier in the month, after the Iraq PM ordered arrests in order to disband Green Zone protests. As Reuters reports, Anti-government protesters are back at it, and have stormed into Baghdad's Green Zone, allegedly reaching the Council of Ministers building.
A few months ago, we reported the incredible story of how hackers stole $100 million from Bangladesh Central Bank by way of the New York Federal Reserve. Now, thanks to a little noticed lawsuit, details are emerging that hackers had initially stolen another $12 million from a bank in Ecuador, Banco del Austro, although the bank was able to get back about $2.8 million of the stolen money.
The Federal Reserve has created a semblance of normality, but by suppressing interest rates they have enabled non-linear, and very possible ugly outcomes, to become entrenched in US public debt dynamics. The euro crisis from 2010 to this day show how difficult it can be to regain investor trust when the unsustainability is first revealed for all to see.
Tthe European Space Agency says one of its satellites has spotted a possible oil slick in the same area of the Mediterranean Sea where EgyptAir Flight 804 disappeared. The agency said its Sentinel-1A radar satellite detected the 2 kilometer- (1.2 mile-) long slick about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the plane's last known location. It gave the coordinates as 33 32' N / 29 13' E.
Single-family existing home sales rose just 0.6% MoM in April with The South and The West regions seeing notable declines in sales (down 2.7% and down 1.7% respectively). What saved the headline priont was a 10.3% surge in Condo sales - among the best monthly spikes since the crisis helped by a spike in sales in The Midwest - where prices are most affordable. While headline data beat expectations, NAR's Larry Yun warned that "the temporary relief from mortgage rates currently near three-year lows has helped preserve housing affordability this spring, but there's growing concern a number of buyers will be unable to find homes at affordable prices if wages don't rise and price growth doesn't slow."
Earlier this week, Goldman unleashed the latest oil rally when it admitted that while the oil market will take far longer to rebalance due to rising low-cost oil production, it said that material supply disruptions are providing a boost to near-term prices. Goldman provided the following visualization of unplanned ongoing outages where it highlighted the recent stoppages in Canada, Nigeria and Libya as the most prominent. But in a surprising twist, it appears that virtually all three of the main disruptions choke points are being resolved far quicker than expected.
Somewhere back in the depths of time the world got the idea that easy money - that is, low interest rates and high levels of government spending - would produce sustainable growth with modest but positive inflation. And for a while it seemed to work. But that was an illusion.
This could not have come at a more perfect time, with the Fed once again flip-flopping about raising rates. After appearing to wipe rate hikes off the table earlier this year, the Fed put them back on the table, perhaps as soon as June, according to the Fed minutes. A coterie of Fed heads was paraded in front of the media today and yesterday to make sure everyone got that point, pending further flip-flopping. Drowned out by this hullabaloo, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve released its delinquency and charge-off data for all commercial banks in the first quarter – very sobering data.
"We are net short of equities here in our account, although we are not materially so. We’ve only a few positions on: we are long of gold in EUR and Yen terms via GEUR and GYEN; we are long of a small bullish derivative of gold in US dollar terms and we are “short” of the market via derivatives positions. There are only two things that bother us..."
Now that 13-F reporting season is over, we have the data to compile who bought, who sold, and what the top holdings of the largest hedge funds are.