Payroll Friday (aka Bubblevision's Live Action Romper Room)

In short, the very project of counting “jobs” is essentially laughable in the context of the US economy as it is currently structured - for better or worse. But regardless of the equities and efficiencies of the current labor market, one thing is abundantly clear. The Payroll Friday report amounts to virtually meaningless noise. It is bad enough that the bubble vision Romper Room and the casino robo-traders are oblivious to this reality. What is scary is that the Eccles Building is just as clueless.

Market Open Ramp Ends With A Whimper As Bund Yields Suddenly Spike

Having tested down to Payrolls levels once again, German Bund yields have spiked back quickly to the highs of the day (from under 60bps to 70bps). This has sparked selling across most asset classes with US and European stocks waning quickly. Trannies are in trouble have tumbled post-open and are now -1.7% from payrolls.

Crude Pumps & Dumps After Inventory Draw Slows & Production Rises

Following API's data lastnight, DOE reported a 2.19 million barrel draw (more than expected) this week, crude oil prices immediately extended gains. However, that ramp quickly faded once it set in that the draw was actually notably lower than last week's. For some context, this leaves the total inventory still a near record 30% above average for this time of year. Prices were also not helped as total crude production rose modestly WoW.

"QE Doesn't Work... But We Can't Wait For More"

It is perhaps an emblematic description for our current bubble age; QE doesn’t work but “we” can’t wait for more. Maybe that is just the logical evolution of monetary magic, since QE was brought on with almost mythical properties that were going to cure a lot of financial and economic ills (Bernanke the former). Now resignation (Bernanke the latter) has left it with only the hope that it can just save us from the worst downside, even without any real expectation of a true upside in the economy. In other words, markets hope for the QE zombie, where the economy is kept from death by it, with full recognition now that it will never regain full life either.

North Korean Defense Minister Executed With Anti-Aircraft Gun For Napping

There was some confusion what caused the fallout between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his defense minister, Hyon Yong Chol. According to Reuters Chol was charged with treason, including disobeying Kim. According to Bloomberg, his offense was more trivial: he fell asleep. The defense minister "was captured napping in video footage of the event late last month."  Whichever one is true is irrelevant, but one thing is certain: nobody will ever be caught napping at official events ever again because Chol was executed in front of an anti-aircraft gun at a firing range. 

Import Prices Plunge For 9th Month In A Row, Biggest Drop Ex-Fuel Since 2009

US Import Prices fell 10.7% in April (missing expectations of a 9.7% decline) making this the longest streak of YoY declines outside of a recession in history. In fact, YoY Import Prices have only risen 5 times in the last 36 months. This is also the 10th monthly decline in import prices (-0.3% vs +0.3% expectations) with with Food and Beverage prices dropping the most and non-fuel-related import costs dropping the most since 2009 and imports ex-fuel and food fell 2.2% YoY in April. The biggest price deflationary pressures appear to come from ASEAN with overall manufactured goods sliding 0.4% against non-manufactured rising 0.5% in April.

US Retail Sales Hint At Recession, Weakest Since Financial Crisis

Despite bouncing back last month at the fastest pace in a year, April just printed the slowest YoY growth since Nov09 at just 0.9% (retail sales has still missed expectations for 4 of the last 5 months). Against expectations of a 0.2% MoM rise in April (considerably slower than the 0.9% pop in March), Retail Sales missed with a 0.0% change. Ex-Auto and Gas MoM also missed with a mere 0.1% gain (aghainst +0.5% exp.) but it was the control group that saw the biggest miss, printing 0.0% (against hopeful expectations of a 0.5% gain). There was widespresd weakness with outright declines in autos, furniture, gas, food, electronics (AAPL hangover), and general merchandise.

The Central Problem With Central Banks: They Become The Greater Fools/Bag-Holders

The conventional view is that the Fed will never need to print-and-buy more than a few hundred billion dollars to stem the tide of selling. But the conventional view has a fatal flaw that Greenspan outlined in his Foreign Affairs article: when markets go bidless, "animal spirits" may be beyond calming. Once central bank buying fails to stem the tide, markets will truly panic. Can central banks double, triple and quadruple their balance sheets almost overnight to absorb the mass dumping of risk-on assets? Will there be no consequences, political and financial, to central banks becoming the greater fools who will buy even as asset values are crashing?

Chicago "Junking" Triggers $2.2 Billion Payment, Deepening Financial Crisis

Following an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that struck down a pension reform plan aimed at closing a $100 billion funding gap, Moody's downgrades Chicago to junk, giving the city the dubious distinction of being the only major city "in recent history" to carry such a low rating other than Detroit. Chicago now faces accelerated payments to creditors of more than $2 billion.

Frontrunning: May 13

  • Obama, McConnell missteps undercut trade pact in U.S. Senate (Reuters)
  • Bears Beware: Rout Puts Investors on Wrong Side of Central Banks (BBG)
  • U.S. Set to Rip Up UBS Libor Accord, Seek Conviction (BBG)
  • Greece’s Creditors Said to Seek EU3 Billion in Budget Cuts (BBG)
  • Amtrak train derails in Philadelphia, killing at least five (Reuters)
  • Oil glut worsens as OPEC market-share battle just beginning (Reuters)
  • China Stimulus Aims at Restructuring Trillions in Local-Government Debt (WSJ)

European GDP Growth Trounces America In Q1, Biggest Rise In 4 Years; Greece Back In Recession

While the US economy was crushed by harsh snow in Q1, with its GDP set to be revised to nearly -1.0% (yes, we know the real reason was the collapse in Chinese end demand and the soaring dollar but don't tell the Fed), Europe must have had a very balmy winter, because as Eurostat reported earlier today, Europe grew (and considering Europe estimates the "benefit" for prostitution and illegal drugs to the economy, we use the term loosely) 0.4% in the first quarter, a 1.6% annualized growth rate, in line with expectations, up from 0.3% last quarter and a year ago, and tied for the highest GDP print in 4 years.

Return Of Bond Market Stability Pushes Equity Futures Higher

Following yesterday's turbulent bond trading session, where the volatility after the worst Bid to Cover in a Japanese bond auction since 2009 spread to Europe and sent Bund yields soaring again, in the process "turmoiling" equities, today's session has been a peaceful slumber barely interrupted by "better than expected" Italian and a German Bund auction, both of which concluded without a hitch, and without the now traditional "technical" failure when selling German paper. Perhaps that was to be expected considering the surge in the closing yield from 0.13% to 0.65%. Not hurting the bid for 10Y US Treasury was yesterday's report that Japan had bought a whopping $23 billion in US Treasurys in March, the most in 4 years so to all those shorting Tsys - you are now once again fighting the Bank of Japan.

Greece Is Now Just A Political Issue

The troika wants the Syriza government to execute things that run counter to their election promises. No matter how many people point out the failures of austerity measures as they are currently being implemented in various countries, the troika insists on more austerity. Even as they know full well Syriza can’t give them that because of its mandate. Let alone its morals. It’s a power game. It’s a political game. It always was. But still it has invariably been presented by both the international-press and the troika as an economic problem.

Presenting Spain's "Part-Time" Recovery

Spain's economic data lost all credibility once the local bureau of economics, statistics and other goalseeked numbers decided to arbitrarily start adding what it estimated was the "contribution" from not only local drug dealers but also hookers. No surprise then that the government has proudly declared quarter after quarter that Spain is one of Europe's most boom economies. And yet, while the GDP data was clearly fabricated, Spain's job numbers did seem impressive. And then we looked at the following chart of full-time versus part-time Spanish workers, and it all quickly fell into place.

Europe Preparing Greek Bankruptcy Loan "In Event Of Grexit"

As reports surface that Greece tapped IMF funds to repay the IMF, and as Christine Lagarde and company express their reservations about participating in a new Greek bailout program, the end appears to be nigh for Athens. According to Bloomberg, Europe is now drawing up the dreaded "Plan B", which just three days ago, supposedly didn't exist.

"Disastrous Mess" Amtrak Train Derails In Philadelphia (5 Dead, 6 Critical, 50 Injured) - Live Feed

Shortly after 920pmET, NBC Philadelphia reports an Amtrak train bound for New York from Washington D.C. derailed with approximately 240 people on board. Officials say 8 to 10 cars left the tracks and there are at least 50 injured. Mayor Michael Nutter confirmed 5 dead and several more critically injured, "It is an absolute disastrous mess," he said. "I've never seen anything like this in my life."

NBC Confirms Obama Lied About Bin Laden Raid

It looks like all those ‘conspiracy nuts’ who took issue with the “official” story following the President’s original announcement of bin Laden’s death were not so crazy after all. There’s a reason millions of Americans have lost trust in their government, and especially with the sitting President of the United States. It’s because we have been consistently lied to about anything and everything of any significance.

America's Achilles' Heel

Instead of collapsing quietly, the US has decided to pick a fight with Russia. It appears to have already lost the fight, but a question remains: How many more countries will the US manage to destroy before the reality of its inevitable defeat and disintegration finally catches up with it? As Putin said last summer when speaking at the Seliger youth forum, “I get the feeling that no matter what the Americans touch, they end up with Libya or Iraq.” But there is another question that deserves to be asked: Do the Americans “touch” themselves? Because if they do, then the next candidate for extreme makeover into a bombed-out wasteland might be the United States itself...