Homebuilder Sentiment Slides, Misses For 5th Of Last 6 Months

Since November, HAHB homebuilder sentiment has only beaten expectations once. May printed 54 (notably short of the 57 expectation). Despite all the previous hope for future sales, buyer traffic has fallen as The Midwest saw the biggest drop in sentiment (what about the post-weather bounce?) and The West rising modestly. The story was well-known: pessimism now offset by optimism later: present single family sales falls to 59 vs 61 last month, while future single family sales rise to 64 vs 63 last month, even as prospective buyers traffic falls to 39 vs 40 last month.

Shape Of Greek Endgame Emerges: IMF Discussed "Cyprus-Like" Plan After Tsipras Warned Of Looming Default

The IMF discussed a "Cyrpus-like" take it or leave it solution for Greece last week, FT reports. With the countdown to outright insolvency down to two weeks, PM Tsipras will meet EU leaders in Latvia on Thursday to make one last push for a last minute deal. Meanwhile, the fate of the Greek banking sector hangs in the balance as the ECB has come under fire for the monetary financing of the Greek government. 

EURUSD & Peripheral Bonds Tumble As Greek Fears Re-Emerge

The exuberant bounce of last week's IMF default/IMF payment workaround is fading fast as peripheral European bonds and the euro are being sold aggressively this morning, after headlines continue to suggest Greek bank collateral is dropping faster than the pressure in Patriot's footballs. Most notably, bunds are eeerily stable - almost as if some central planner figured out German bonds were the world's flashing red indicator and decided to suppress volatility some more.

Gold Hits 3-Month Highs Amid "Frenetic Liquidity"

Gold topped $1230 this morning - breaking to 3-month highs and up over 4% year-to-date - up 5 days in a row for the best run in 4 months. The surge comes causally or correlatedly coincidental with China's explicit shift into extraordinary measures (LTROs) but, as The FT reports, market participants are concerned that algo-based funds have created a "frenetic liquidity" environment as everyone from real money to central banks "aren’t trading the gold market the way they used to."

Washington’s Shadowy Energy Partnership With Azerbaijan Exposed

Ten Members of the U.S. Congress – along with 32 of their staff members – received secret payments from Azerbaijan’s state-owned oil company to travel to Baku in 2013, to cover the cost of travel, including souvenirs of “silk scarves, crystal tea sets and Azerbaijani rugs.”

Momos In Turmoil As Patron Saint Of Momentum "Investing" Calls It Quits

Over the years many have wondered how it was possible that a hedge fund could exist that did nothing more than ride momentum and heatmaps higher or lower without almost any insight into the fundamentals of the underlying corporations. That hedge funds, of course, is John A. Thaler's JAT Capital, which did nothing but buy the most talked about, "storied" momo stocks and ride them higher. Or lower, as the case may be. Because the hedge fund which only managed $3.7 billion as of March 31 just because it was a Tiger Management spin off, is no more.

Frontrunning: May 18

  • Tsipras Endgame Nears as Greek Bank Collateral Evaporates (BBG)
  • Shi'ite forces ordered to deploy after fall of Iraqi city (Reuters)
  • Ratings agency Fitch to downgrade many European banks (Reuters)
  • Bubble Blowing to Continue So Long as Yellen Isn’t Raising Rates (BBG)
  • Greece's Debt Battle Exposes Deeper Eurozone Flaws (WSJ)
  • Obama to set new limits on police use of military equipment (Reuters)
  • China April home prices fuel hopes of bottoming out, but long road to recovery (Reuters)
  • Hedge Funds Close Doors, Facing Low Returns and Investor Scrutiny (NYT)
  • ASIC's Greg Medcraft 'quite worried' about Sydney, Melbourne house prices (Fin Review)

Gold Jumps Despite Stronger Dollar As Grexit Gets Ever Nearer, Futures Flat

With equities having long ago stopped reflecting fundamentals, and certainly the Eurozone's ever more dire newsflow where any day could be Greece's last in the doomed monetary union, it was up to gold to reflect that headlines out of Athens are going from bad to worse, with Bloomberg reporting that not only are Greek banks running low on collateral, both for ELA and any other purposes, that Greece would have no choice but to leave the Euro upon a default and that, as reported previously, Greece would not have made its May 12 payment had it not been for using the IMF's own reserves as a source of funding and that the IMF now sees June 5 as Greece's ever more fluid D-day. As a result gold jumped above $1230 overnight, a level last seen in February even as the Dollar index was higher by 0.5% at last check thanks to a drop in the EUR and the JPY.

Guest Post: Why Syriza Will Blink

Once again, Greece seems to have slipped the financial noose. This brinkmanship is no accident. Since coming to power in January, the Greek government, led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza party, has believed that the threat of default – and thus of a financial crisis that might break up the euro – provides negotiating leverage to offset Greece’s lack of economic and political power. But their calculation is based on a false premise.

Jim Rogers On The Coming Water Wars

"Water is one of the great opportunities of our times. If you look at the world there are some huge shortages developing in some parts but there is also a lot of water in other parts, just in the wrong place – like water in Siberia for instance, which is not where most people are. There are going to be wars in the Middle East over oil east of the Red Sea, but west of that there will be wars over water since there are serious water problems in that region." Jim Rogers:

Peak Population Growth?

"The UN's forecasts misrepresent underlying demographic dynamics - the future we face is not one of too much population growth, but too little."

Dan Ariely: Why The Next Market Downturn May Quickly Become A Full-Blown Panic

"Imagine if we have another beginning of a catastrophe happening, not something as big as we had, but something smaller. Is people's sensitivity right now going to be so high that they're going to panic very quickly? I think the answer is: Yes. So we haven't done much to eliminate conflicts of interest, and we haven't done anything to earn back trust. And because of that, I deeply worry."

Chinese Firm Reveals World's First 3D-Printed Five Story Apartment Building

Not content with building single-family houses (and WinSun's own office), WinSun recently made history when it demonstrated the world's first entirely 3D-printed five-story apartment building and a 1,100 square metre (11,840 square foot) villa, complete with decorative elements inside and out.

How China Covered The World In "Liquidity Swap Lines"

Central bank liquidity lines like those the Fed used to bailout the world seven years ago have become a fixture of the post crisis financial system. Since 2009, China has essentially blanketed the globe with yuan liquidity lines, inking swap agreements with nearly three dozen countries with the primary goal of increasing the degree to which the renminbi is used in international trade.