A stunning 57% of undergraduates used federal student aid to help pay for college in 2012; dramatically higher than the 47% in the pre-crisis 2007 year. As the WSJ reports, an average of $8,200 per recipient is paid out by the government coinciding with climbing tuition costs (credit fuels growth?). The report, via the Education Department, noted that "even students from households we would consider middle-income are increasingly eligible and are increasingly taking advantage of Pell grants," as the number of full-time students who received Pell grants in families with incomes between $60,000 to $80,000 shot up to 18% in 2011-12 from 2% in 2007-08. Just another wealth transfer scheme or moar better bargains for the middle class.
In the biggest non-news of the day, Germany's Finance Minister Wolfy Schaeuble finally admitted, officially for the first time, what everyone knows: Greece will need a third bailout. His exact words, as cited by Reuters, "There will have to be another programme in Greece," Wolfgang Schaeuble told a campaign audience in northern Germany, in comments that raised prospect of a step that could be deeply unpopular domestically just five weeks before national elections.
Just as Japan's department store sales hit overnight (plunging at their fastest level in 13 months), gold and silver prices were shellacked lower almost instantaneously (admittedly in thin markets). We haven't seen this kind of morning smack-down in a little while but this time was different... the dip was bought aggressively and has now been retraced.
One can look at the just reported JCPenney Q2 results and compare them to expectations, which as "expected" missed across the board, with Revenues coming at $2.66bn below expectations of $2.78bn, EPS missing consensus of $1.07, printing at $2.16 per share, comparable store sales sliding 11.9%, a profit margin of 29.6% lower than last quarter's 30.8%, and 33.2% a year ago, and so on, but that would be ignoring the forest for the tress. The only data point that summarizes the epic, no recovery catastrophe at the company is the cash burn. As the following tell all chart shows, the company burned a ridiculous (and record) $1.146 billion in free cash flow (Cash from Ops less CapEx) in just one quarter, Q2, and when adding the $948 billion in cash burn in Q1, JCP burned a monstrous $2.1 billion in the first six months of 2013. At this point the only question is when the bankruptcy filing comes.
- So no great rotation into EM? Capital Flows Back to U.S. as Markets Slump Across Asia (BBG)
- Muslim Brotherhood leader arrested in Egypt (Reuters)
- Allies Thwart America in Egypt: Israel, Saudis and U.A.E. Support Military Moves (WSJ)
- Dear Bloomberg: when you buy the loans of a distressed retailer, you are not betting on a rebound, you are betting on being the fulcrum security in a bankruptcy: Kyle Bass Said to Bet on J.C. Penney Comeback With Loan Purchase (BBG)
- Bubbles Bloom Anew in Desert as Buyers Wager on Las Vegas (BBG)
- Britain rejects Spanish request for Gibraltar talks (Reuters)
- U.K. Mortgage Lending Rises to Highest Since Lehman Collapse (BBG)
- Pension Funds Dispute Math in Detroit Bankruptcy (WSJ)
- Christie Says Gayness Inborn as He Signs Therapy Measure (BBG)
Following yet another rout in Asia overnight, which since shifted over to Europe, US equity futures have stabilized as a result of a modest buying/short-covering spree in the 10 Year which after threatening to blow out in the 2.90% range and above, instead fell back to 2.81%. Yet algos appear confused by the seeming USD weakness in the past few hours (EURUSD just briefly rose over 1.34) and instead of ploughing head first into stock futures have only modestly bid them up and are keeping the DJIA futs just above the sacred to the vacuum tube world 15,000 mark. A lower USDJPY (heavily correlated to the ES) did not help, after it was pushed south by more comments out of Japan that a sales tax hike is inevitable which then also means a lower budget deficit, less monetization, less Japanese QE and all the other waterfall effect the US Fed is slogging through. Keep an eye on the 10 Year and on the USD: which signal wins out will determine whether equities rise or fall, and with speculation about what tomorrow's minutes bring rife, it is anybody's bet whether we get the 10th red close out of 12 in the S&P500.
UPDATE 2: India's Sensex -20.3% YTD in USD terms (bear market)
UPDATE 1: USDINR breaks above 64.00 (20% devaluation in 3 months)
Hot money outflows continue to crush most of Asia's currencies this evening led by Indonesia's Rupiah (-1.7%) and Indian Rupee (-1% to a new record low). From the Won to the Ringgit, the USD is bid and now trades at its strongest relative to Asian FX in 13 months. Equity markets are not faring any better as that leveraged carry is eliminated. Indonesia's Jakarta stock index is down 4.66% today (-12.4% From Thursday's close); India's Sensex is -1.6% today (-7.2% From Thursday's close) with Thailand and China's Hang Seng close behind with losses over 1.5% on the day. Even the Nikkei (in spite of JPY weakness) has given back all its early gains (after getting back to even from US day session futures losses). JGBs are modestly bid but EM bonds are getting slammed (India's 10Y +23bps to new 12-year high yield of 9.47%). But apart from all that, the markets are fine...
Thanks to more documents leaked by Edward Snowden, this time to the Washington Post, we learned last week that a secret May 2012 internal audit by the NSA revealed 2,776 incidents of “unauthorized” collection of information on American citizens over the previous 12 months. They are routinely breaking their own rules and covering it up. However, although the numbers of Americans who have had their information intercepted in violation of NSA’s own rules seems large, it is actually miniscule compared to the huge volume of our communications they intercept in total! Though it made for a sensational headline last week, the fact is these 2,776 “violations” over the course of one year are completely irrelevant. The millions and millions of “authorized” intercepts of our communications are all illegal -- except for the very few carried out in pursuit of a validly-issued search warrant in accordance with the Fourth Amendment. That is the real story.
The story of the German Finance Ministry stating Bitcoin is essentially “legal tender” has been making the rounds all over the virtual currency and technology world this morning and for good reason. This is a very, very big deal. Not just because some bureaucrat seemingly “legitimizes” the crypto-currency, but because it is the first commonsense approach from a major economy to-date. While the U.S. government runs around like a chicken with its head cut off, issuing subpoenas and launching Senate investigations on Bitcoin, Germany is merely accepting the obvious. A lot of people will state this is merely a veiled move of support in order to make sure the government can install a system of taxation on Bitcoin. While that is no doubt part of it, do not underestimate Mr. Schaeffler quoting Hayek. More than anything else, we believe this represents a psychological and cultural step change toward the realities of the future. A more decentralized and freer world.
UK Government "Pulverizes" Guardian Hard Drives In Snowden Retaliation, Says "No Need To Write Any More"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 08/19/2013 - 22:28
While it appears to be increasingly likely (odds) that the Fed will Sept-Taper (desperate to use economic data to cover the fact that they are cornered due to deficits, sentiment, and technicals), in the lead-up to the next FOMC meeting on September 17-18, as Stone McCarthy notes, there are some significant developments regarding the outlook for the Fed and monetary policy between then and and now that everyone should be paying attention to...
“We have to turn the page on the bubble-and-bust mentality that created this mess,” President Obama stated authoritatively in his weekend radio address... but do not get too excited by the possibility of a real end to the Keynesian experiment and a return to 'free' markets for the President, in his oh-so-not-trying-to-start-a-class-warfare-battle way, blames bubbles not on Central banks (who have done "an outstanding job") but on the skewed distribution of income. As Bloomberg reports, Obama states “When wealth concentrates at the very top, it can inflate unstable bubbles that threaten the economy." The problem with his way of thinking is best described by the status quo defender Sarah Bloom Raskin who offered up this insight into what the manipulation of market interest rates gives us, "asset bubbles are a feature of our financial landscape." So there it is, a feature (not a bug) that the President wants to get rid of (and yet wants to maintain the illusion that unrealized profit (and debt) is wealth).
If you want to track how close we are to the next financial collapse, there is one number that you need to be watching above all others. The number that we are talking about is the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries, because it affects thousands of other interest rates in our financial system. When the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries goes up, that is bad for the U.S. economy because it pushes long-term interest rates up. When interest rates rise, it constricts the flow of credit, and a healthy flow of credit is absolutely essential to the debt-based system that we live in.
With the Fed set to begin tapering its "credit creation" or rather enabling, through monetization, of public debt, one would think that US commercial banks, after four years of QE, are finally ready to pick up the pieces and open the lending spigots. One would be wrong.