"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win." Mahatma Gandhi
"It is no crime to be ignorant of economics... but it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance." - Murray Rothbard
In what has quickly become viral as yet another example of extreme (and unchecked) police behavior against the people, California Highway Patrol says that it is investigating footage posted on YouTube that shows a policeman repeatedly punching the face and head of a prostrate woman. "If you look at the video, there are 15 hits. To the head, and not just simple jabs. These are blows to the head. Blows. Really serious blows. And this is ridiculous to me... I find it hard to believe there [was] no other remedy in this situation." Life, liberty, and no pursuit of police brutality?
The biggest congressional leakage scandal in the past year is the most recent one to cross the rabit hole of all-out absurdity: According to Reuters, the Ways and Means panel said on Friday it should not have to comply with a federal regulator's demand for documents sought for an insider-trading probe involving the staff director of a subcommittee and a lobbyist. The House Ways and Means Committee argued in a court filing that U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in New York should deny the Securities and Exchange Commission's attempt to subpoena documents from the committee and its healthcare subcommittee staff director Brian Sutter.
Until now, whenever Warren Buffett's preferred mode of industrial transportation - that would be trains - derailed, it would usually involve spilling generous amounts of oil into the surrounding area, far more than any hypothetical pipeline disaster to date would have resulted in. Then, in an apparent first, overnight a train derailed in Montana and spilled fuselages of Boeing 737 airplanes into the Clark Fork River. One wonder if all of these airplane orders had been funded by the Ex-Im bank.
Not even we anticipated this particular "unintended consequence" as a result of the US multi-billion dollar fine on BNP (which France took very much to heart):
- NOYER: BNP CASE WILL ENCOURAGE ‘DIVERSIFICATION’ FROM DOLLAR
And, the biggest irony of all is that in "punishing" France for dealing with Russia, that core country of the Eurasian alliance of Russia and China, the US just accelerated the graviation of France (and all of Europe) precisely toward Eurasia, and away from the greenback.
Many in Ukraine are talking about major revisions to the Constitution (leading one local journalist to ask – “Why don’t we use the American Constitution? It was written by really smart guys, it has worked for over 200 years, and they’re not using it anymore…”) He’s right. Much of the West, in fact, has descended into the same extractive system as Ukraine. There’s a tiny elite showering itself with free money and political favors at the expense of everyone else. Ukraine may be in the midst of turmoil right now, but they at least hit the big giant reset button and are looking to build something new. The West, meanwhile, continues down its path of more debt, more money printing, more regulations, and less freedom. How long can this really go on without consequence?
Having surrendered our independence for the quick, easy fix, we will inevitably surrender our health, liberty and freedom.
Yet another in a long stream of relatively esteemed hedge fund managers has decided enough-is-enough and is shuttering his firm. The reason? Same as the rest... As WSJ reports, Steve Eisman, who emerged as one of the stars of the financial crisis with a winning bet against mortgages, has wound up his fund because he believes that "making investment decisions by looking solely at the fundamentals of individual companies is no longer a viable investment philosophy." As Baupost's Seth Klarman reminds us "Six years ago, many investors were way out over their skis. The survivors pledged to themselves that they would forever be more careful, less greedy, less short-term oriented. But here we are again, mired in a euphoric environment in which some securities have risen in price beyond all reason, where leverage is returning to rainy markets and asset classes, and where caution seems radical and risk-taking the prudent course. Not surprisingly, lessons learned in 2008 were only learned temporarily. These are the inevitable cycles of greed and fear, of peaks and troughs."
What this chart shows is that when it comes to core manufacturing and service trade, that which excludes petroleum, the US trade deficit hit some $49 billion dollars in the month of May, the highest trade deficit ever recorded! In other words, far from doubling US exports, Obama is on pace to make the export segment of the US economy the weakest it has ever been, leading to millions of export-producing jobs gone for ever (but fear not, they will be promptly replaced by part-time jobs). It also means that the collapse in Q1 GDP, much of which was driven by tumbling net exports, will continue as America appear largely unable to pull itself out of its international trade funk, much less doubling its exports.
This week was very busy with economic data. For the most part, the majority of the data came basically inline with expectations. However, the internals of the various reports were much less encouraging. The most noteworthy report, and the least important from an investment standpoint, was the monthly employment report which came in at 288,000 jobs for the month. As with the bulk of other reports, the more important details were lost to the headlines... full-time employment relative to the working age population has remained primarily stagnant since the financial crisis and actually fell in the latest month. This is a key reason why economic growth continues to struggle.
While it is all too easy to show the massive outperformance of Russian stocks (even after Carney's "sell" recommendation) as evidence that US sanctions were not 'punishing' as the mainstream media might suggest; this week's release of trade data shows the utter farce that the so-called "costs" imposed on Putin actually are. As WSJ reports, despite all the scaremongery and sanctioning, US exports to Russia in May hit $1.2 billion - a record high (up 21% from pre-sanctions). That will certainly teach them!!
All around Asia, PMIs are tumbling... except for China's government-sponsored Manufacturing PMI. This week saw Aussie Services PMI (linked significantly to China) tumbled to 2014 lows, Japan's PMI drop, and China's own Services PMI disappoint and fade to 2-month lows. So where is all this exuberance coming from in China's manufacturing industry (despite a 8-month in a row drop in employment)? We don't know; but the fact that China coal prices just hit a record low hardly supports the smog-choking industry of China being at 7-month highs... Hard data vs soft surveys? You decide.
Just when you thought that nothing could be worse than bubble blindness of Greenspan and Bernanke - along comes the Yellen doctrine of “resilience”. Its dangerous Keynesian blather, and far worse than Greenspan’s feigned agnosticism which held that the Fed does not have the capacity to recognize financial bubbles in the making and should therefore mop them up after they burst. The Maestro never did say exactly what caused the massive and destructive dot-com and housing bubbles which occurred on his watch - except that Chinese factory girls stacked 12-to-a-dorm-room apparently saved way too much RMB. By contrast, Yellen’s primitive Keynesian mind knows exactly what causes financial bubbles. She has now militantly asserted that bubbles are entirely an irrational impulse in the private market and that the price of money and debt has absolutely nothing to do with financial stability.
As American investors sit back in their chairs, watching parades, sipping Budweiser elegantly, and generally having a good day off... there are some 'people' that are working hard to ensure the status quo is sustained. In order to maintain the illusion of exuberance and lack of concern, we are used to the ubiquitous melt-up in stocks late on a Friday afternoon (always driven by an 'odd' collapse in VIX). Of course, no human would be silly enough to do that on a day when European stocks tumbled on banking contagion concerns and the fact that stock markets around the world are now totally closed... so - we ask in all incredulity - WTF is going with VIX futures...