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Chinese Consumers Rapidly Shift From Luxury To Thrift

It was a decent run but all good things come to an end. We know China's growth is fading (even by their own official data) but below the surface data suggests things are a lot worse. Between this drop in growth and the rise in anti-corruption practices (that we discussed here) the imports of Swiss-made luxury watches has tubmled 24% in Q1 for the third quarter in a row of declines. "The corruption crackdown campaign is having a big effect on luxury watch sales, high-end watches are very common gifts and they are items that are quite conspicuous and associated as a sign of corruption." This follows the firing of Communist Party official Yang "Brother Watch" Dacai who posted images of himself wearing 11 luxury watches at different times. Two major luxury watch retailers are significantly underperforming while Swatch is improving as Hong Kong (the world's biggest importer of watches) slows dramatically. But have no fear, we are sure it will be a smooth transition.



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Argentina's Modest Proposal: Buy Bonds Or Go To Jail

Argentina's president Kirchner, a keen observer of recent events in Cyprus, has figured out a way to kill two birds with one stone, namely attempt to put an end to tax evasion, and fund the capex of the recently nationalized state oil company YPF (now that its former owner, Spainish Repsol, is less than keen to keep investing in its former Argentine subsidiary). To do that she will present the local tax-evading population (pretty much anyone with any disposable income and savings) with a simple choice: buy a 4% bond to fund YPF "growth" or go to prison.



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Now It's Britain's Turn To Choose

If England does not wake up and recognize what is happening then it will be Neville Chamberlin all over again. Appeasement is never a good answer and today no war is threatened just financial domination. Over time, if Britain remains in the European Union, they will get pushed down into the mud, lose their ability to govern themselves, watch as their financial institutions get trampled by Frankfurt. The Germans will force them into a space presently occupied by Greece, Slovenia and Cyprus. Retribution for two World Wars will finally be won in Berlin.



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Visualizing The Shrinking Dollar

The almighty dollar is looking less mighty these days. By almost every measure, the purchasing power of the US dollar is in precipitous decline.



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Guest Post: The New European Revolt

It is a fair bet that one way or another, the current generation of young people will be unwilling and/or unable to pay for Social Security and Medicare as they presently stand. Of course, Western Europe has the same problem and President Hollande of France recently got a whiff of what is coming from an open letter addressed to him by a 20-year old student named Clara G... "I want to go to a country where there is growth, where wages are rising, where being rich is not a deadly sin, a country in short where the individual and the society have confidence that tomorrow will be brighter than today." Developed nations with deteriorating demographics will have a big problem if large taxpayers decided to move away to lower tax jurisdictions. Clara’s letter suggests that an exodus by the young would be just as damaging, indeed probably more damaging.



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Did "They" Ever Tell You To 'Buy Gold' Or 'Sell Stocks'?

Gold bears are coming out of the woodwork to declare gold dead. Santiago Capital's Brent Johnson wonders where they have been for the last 12 years and reflects on the reality of why one should hold the precious metal; putting the recent weakness in its proper context.



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The Hilsenrath "Tapering" Article Is Out

Yesterday, the rumor turned out to be a joke. Today, there was no rumor, but as we warned four hours ago, it was only a matter of time. Less than four hours later, the time has come, and Jon Hilsenrath's "Fed Maps Exit from Stimulus", conveniently appearing after the close, has just been released.



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QE Qaption Qontest

If the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world asset bubbles don't exit, the next question is who is QE Soze?



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Guest Post: The Obama Administration's Natural Gas Policy Is Tragically Misguided

The Obama administration has come out in support of the idea of exporting U.S. natural gas. This stance is counterproductive and shortsighted, and if followed, it will prove harmful to domestic manufacturing (i.e., value generation) and to future generations of Americans. While exporting natural gas would certainly prove to be an economic boon for a very select minority of companies and individuals, it makes no sense from an energy standpoint and undermines our national interests. All it will do is enrich a few while boosting prices for all domestic consumers and shortchanging the energy and environmental inheritance we pass along to our children. The time has come to give greater weighting to energy matters than to economic and political desires. To continue to be energetically wasteful at this time in history, when so much data is telling us that the effluent of our activities is measurably altering our support systems, is beyond embarrassing.  It's tragic.



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Marc Faber: "Something Will Break Very Badly"

During an interview with The Globe and Mail, 'Gloom, Boom, and Doom's Marc Faber unleashed some awful truthiness about gold "I buy gold every month", real estate "bubble territory", and the likelihood of a crash in smoke-and-mirrors-like asset markets - "In the 40 years I’ve been working as an economist and investor, I have never seen such a disconnect between the asset market and the economic reality... Asset markets are in the sky and the economy of the ordinary people is in the dumps, where their real incomes adjusted for inflation are going down and asset markets are going up... Something will break very bad."



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Friday Humor: Overcompensating In China

China may or may not be building empty cities any more, but when it comes to the buildings it does, ahem, erect, it appears that the communist regime is either running out of ideas or is taking the symbolism of the skyscraper just a little too seriously. Behold the building that will house the new Beijing offices of the People's Daily, the official paper of the China Communist Party...



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The Week That Was: May 6th- May 10th 2013

Succinctly summarizing the positive and negative news, data, and market events of the week...



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How To Manufacture A Record High Stock Market Close On A Friday Afternoon

Presented with little comment aside to note, amid a quiet day with non-equity markets showing extremely volatile movements, it was decided by a great majority that (following 90 minutes of momentum ignition efforts) all protection should be lifted and VIX was smashed to its lowest level in a month...



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Closing Ramp Sends S&P To Fresh Record Amid Cross Asset Chaos

No news is the best news. Quite a week across every asset class dominated by the last two days as USDJPY broke 100 and seemingly all hell broke loose (apart from in stocks). Spikes in Treasury yields (10Y and 30Y +15bps on the week); a surging USD (+1.3%) driven by major JPY and AUD weakness (-2.75%) and the biggest drop in EUR in 6 weeks; Gold and Silver sold off hard (-3.5%) before bouncing back this afternoon ending -1.5% on the week; crude oil plunged but the Brent Vigilantes were not so easily beaten and ripped back above $96 and higher to close the week. Bond-like stocks (Utes) were hammered as high-beta cyclicals (homebuilders) ripped and while stock indices rolled over a little they remain near highs. It's not all sunshine and ponies though... credit markets drastically underperformed (playing catch down from an exuberant few days but sending a clear message to stocks) and the VIX curve steepened rather significantly around the Labor Day horizon - a date that represents desk chatter for "tapering" and debt ceiling drama to re-appear). S&P futures exhibited a spooky 15-min cycle zig-zag pattern this afternoon - in a totally human way... and average trade size was very low (algos) - right before the late-day ramp.



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Where In The World Are The Millionaires Hiding?

More millionaires live in Tokyo than in any other city, according to a new report from WealthInsight, beating out New York and London. The Economist notes that the city, which boasts 460,700 individuals with net assets of $1m or more (excluding their primary residences), is home to over a fifth of Japan's millionaires. However, when it comes to real money (since who can get by on a mere million dollars worth of wealth these days), London tops the list with 4,224 multi-millionaires. But when it comes to the real BSDs, New York City and Moscow rule the world with 70 and 64 billionaires respectively wondering the streets. As The Economist also notes, should you wish to rub shoulders with the rich, heading to Tokyo, London, New York, or Moscow would be a mistake - it is Frankfurt that has the highest millionaires per capita (with 75 out of every 1000 people having at least a seven figure net worth).



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