When federal spending grows faster than American's paychecks, the burden of government on taxpayers becomes greater. Over the past four decades, Americans' earnings have risen only 24%; while spending by the government has risen 288%, which begs the question - where did it all go?
Curious where all that dramatic stock footage of one (or the other) side in the ongoing Egyptian (non-)coup comes from? Apparently quite a bit of it is from repeated takes of the best staged (counter) revolution that Straight-To-YouTube money can buy. The following clip released by LiveLeak shows a Muslim Brotherhood "demonstration" in Egypt that was specifically staged to get the most dramatic poses, as the actors freeze their poses for the photographers. Injuries and even bloodstains are faked. Which is not to say only the MB is responsible for such drama: what is shown below is a prevalent tactic used across various ideologies and factions around the world to generate sympathy with the naive, gullible and easily influenced "western" audiences who are always willing to accept "reality" at face value. The take home, if there is one? Never trust anything you are told or shown, especially when national interests or intelligence agencies are involved and/or providing the funding. And always verify independently: after all the video below may well be a counterprovocation to discredit the MB, or not. Nobody knows for sure.
A month ago we reported that cocaine production out of Latin America had dropped to a new 21st century low. Whether that move was supply or demand-driven was unclear, just as it is unclear if it was due to the "scarcity" of cocaine and other more expensive drugs that forced drug-addicts to shift to other narcotics, but what is clear is that WSJ reports, "Heroin use in the U.S. is soaring, especially in rural areas, amid ample supply and a shift away from costlier prescription narcotics that are becoming tougher to acquire. The number of people who say they have used heroin in the past year jumped 53.5% to 620,000 between 2002 to 2011, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. There were 3,094 overdose deaths in 2010, a 55% increase from 2000, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
In May 22 testimony to the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke issued another of many similar positive interpretations of central bank policy. Yet again, he continued to argue that quantitative easing has decreased long-term interest rates and produced other benefits. The Fed's polices have not produced the much-promised re-acceleration in economic growth. The standard of living - defined as median household income - has fallen back to the level of 1995. The best approach would be for the Fed to recognize the failure of QE and end the program immediately, thereby allowing price distortions in the markets to correct themselves. By ending the illusion that the Fed can take constructive actions, this might even serve to force federal government leaders to deal with the growing fiscal policy imbalances. Otherwise, debt levels will continue to build and serve to further limit the potential for economic growth.
On the surface today's last of the week sale of $16 billion in 30 Year paper was not very different from last month's: at a high yield of 3.652%, it was virtually unchanged from July's 3.66% pricing yield. However, when one looks at the When Issued which was trading notably inside at 3.645%, it becomes clear that this was the first 30Y auction to tail in a while. The real dirt, however, is revealed when looking at the Bid To Cover. Confirming the trend we discussed during yesterday's 10 Year auction of plunging BTCs, today was no difference, and there was just 2.11 dollars in bids for every dollar offered. This was well below the 2.26 BTC from July, far below the 2.56 TTM average, and would have been the lowest going back all the way to February 2009 except for the 2.05 BTC seen during the August 11, 2011 30 Year auction when as a result of the debt ceiling fiasco and the S&P downgrade of the US, there was sheer chaos when it came to bonds which ironically saw a paradoxical collapse in yields even as end demand also plunged. Overall this was a very weak auction, but that's precisely what the Fed wants: after all, soon the US may will fund itself by selling equity directly into the biggest Fed bubble ever created, and no longer bother with something as trivial as debt.
The most financially savvy country and western crooner in America, Merle Hazard, returns with the must-watch release of a new economics chart-topper: "The Great Unwind." As Warren Buffett previously noted, "all over the world, everybody that manages money is waiting to catch the signal that the Fed will reverse course," and this two-minutes of country-music magnificence should concentrate the mind as "we've never had the degree of disgorgement that might be called for down the line, and who knows how it'll play out."
Impatient Ackman Sacks Interim JCP CEO Ullman, Approaches Ex-CEO Questrom As Chairman, Demands New CEO StatSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/08/2013 - 12:12
CNBC reports that Ackman, apparently disgusted with the performance of JCP stock, has just sacked the interim CEO, Mike Ullman, he appointed in April and has sent a letter to JCP that a new CEO should be in place in 30-45 days, and also that former CEO Questerom has agreed been approached to return as Chairman. That's all great but we have two questions:
- Shouldn't the next CEO of JCP be really the Chief Restructuring Officer, and as such be appointed by the ad hoc or official, committee of unsecured creditors (aka the post-petition equity)? After all everyone knows how this story ends. And in that regard, we are confident Alix Partners has quite a few retail Chief Restructuring Officers in its rolodex.
- Has Ackman sued Ullman? Considering the petulant hedge fund manager's recent M.O., this would be the logical move.
- Finally, if Ackman is so confident in the retailer, instead of diluting others perhaps he should just invest his entire net worth and prefund the company's cash burn for one more year. After all, what's the risk, right?
That said, providing shorts with a higher point from which to reshort JCP is always a welcome development.
As US equity markets slide notably from overnight highs on the back of JPY carry unwinds, the USD weakness is the EUR's gain and the EURUSD pair pushing up towards 2 month highs near 1.3400. As the pool of global liquidity sloshes away (briefly) from Japan and the US, the dash-for-trash of what is working drives it into the highest-beta European assets. Banks and insurers rallied on the day across Europe. The best 4 equity markets across the EU were Greece (+2.5%), Portugal, Italy, and Spain with UK unch (as investors remain undecided on Carney's new deal) and all this amid a disappointing German data print. Spanish and Italian bond spreads compressed (of course) and notably US Treasuries are outperforming Bunds by around 4bps on the day.
One of the more surprising news to hit the tape yesterday was that Saudi Arabia, exasperated and desperate by Russia's relentless support of the Syrian regime and refusal to abandon the Syrian army thus facilitating the Qatari plan to pass its natgas pipeline to Europe under Syria, had quietly approached Putin with a proposal for a huge arms deal and a pledge to boost Russian influence in the Arab world if only Putin would abandon Syria's Assad. It will hardly come as a surprise to anyone that in the aftermath of yesterday's dilettante mistake by Obama which alienated Putin from the western world (and its subservient states such as Saudi Arabia of course), has just said no. It will certainly come as no surprise because as we explained previously, the biggest loser from Russia abandoning Syria (something we predicted would never happen) would be none other than Russia's most important company - Gazprom - which would lose its energy grip over Europe as Qatar replaced it as a nat gas vendor. What is shocking in all of this is that Saudi Arabia was so stupid and/or naive to believe that Putin would voluntarily cede geopolitical control over the insolvent Eurozone, where he has more influence according to some than even the ECB, or Bernanke. Especially in the winter.
As the Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, visits the US to promote his nation as a "bastion of stability" in the eastern Mediterranean, things appear to be going from worst to worster in his nation. While 65% youth unemployment is a large and scary enough data point, and Greeks are in open revolt against tax collectors, the uproar over Troika's current demands to lift a ban prohibiting banks from confiscating homes is growing. From the people to the politicians, anger is brewing over the lifting of the ban but the banks (already mired in 27% default rates) are behind the decision to help recapitalize themselves (and are refusing to restructure loans). However, given that Greece has already used 75% of its bank bailout fund and that repossessing and auctioning homes (potentially based on 'social criteria') could cut home prices 12 to 21%... not exactly going to help bank balance sheets; and it would seem Greece will need more caves.
The confused looks on traders faces is the "Taper-On" reaction in stocks (after celeberating last night's false Chinese trade data) as the USD loses steam. Critically, the USD weakness (more usually associated with Taper-off (print-moar-on) is indicative of the ongoing collapse in the JPY-carry trade once again that is gaining momentum as data (and technicals) prompt a Taper sooner than later. US equities are starting to catch down to foreign stocks (and domestic credit), Treasuries are bid (but the Taper?) on safe-haven buying, and gold and silver are spiking as the USD comes under attack.
For 50 years, equity markets exuberantly rose relative to Federal Reserve Assets. As post-WWII 'monopoly' production and credit expansion started to ebb (and bubbles were blown) so equity markets began to oscillate at 15 to 20 times their relative value from 1950. However, as the chart below shows, the entire 60 years of history preceding the 2008/9 collapse has been erased as a regime with the very clear picture that the Federal Reserve and the so-called 'US Equity Market' now tied at the hip. No matter how cognitively dissonant one remains that correlation is not causation; and no matter how many BTFATH newsletters one has to sell; after 60 years of moving from the lower-left-to-the-upper-right, something 'changed' when the Fed started printing money.