Is Obama through? That is, have his lies and incompetence finally caught up with him and emasculated what remains of his effectiveness. Has he taken the concept of “lame duck” to new levels? Dan Henninger describes Obama’s credibility problem: "Bluntly, Mr. Obama’s partners are concluding that they cannot do business with him. They don’t trust him." Henninger’s observation does not bode well for US – International relations. Nor is it likely to provide support for new domestic initiatives. The International ramifications are especially dangerous.
As part of Mike Maloney's recent documentary, Ron Paul was interviewed to discuss the monetary system that he proposes. He begins... "Just get the government out-of-the-way, you know, and let the markets decide and apply the rules of ’no counterfeiting’ to the people and to the government..." as he goes on to discuss everything from The Founding Fathers to how a gold standard could work...
The average 401(k) and other defined contribution (DC) plan participant now defers over 8% of their annual income toward retirement savings through their plan and social security taxes, making it one of the largest expenses for households. However, as HelloWallet found, retirement readiness remains stubbornly low: the typical worker near retirement only has about 2 years of replacement income saved, or about 15 years short of the median lifespan post-retirement. One explanation for the stubbornly low retirement readiness of workers may be an increase in household debt. With more household income going to pay off debt, households may have less money to save and face higher costs of living in retirement. In fact, over 60% of workers accumulated more debt than they contributed to retirement savings between 2010 and 2011.
You don't hear about racial "leaders" like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson among Asians or Asian-Americans. Here and there you may see some irresponsible academics peddling that line in the classroom -- some of whom are of Asian ancestry, since no race of human beings is completely lacking in fools. But they do not get the same attention, or draw the same following, as race hustlers operating in black or Hispanic communities. By and large, Asian youngsters rise and fly. No one can claim that there was no anti-Semitism in America, any more than they can claim that there was never any anti-Asian discrimination. There was plenty of both. But that is very different from following "leaders" whose message would only keep them grounded, after the skies were open to them as never before.
Update: As of 6:30 pm Eastern, the NSA's website has been down for 5 hours.
Following our earlier comments on the vulnerabilities of the Obamacare websites, the fact that the United States National Security Agency suddenly went offline Friday is still surprising. As RT reports, NSA.gov has been unavailable globally as of late Friday afternoon, and Twitter accounts belonging to people loosely affiliated with the Anonymous hacktivism movement have suggested they are responsible. It is perhaps not entirely coincidental that there is a major “Stop Watching Us” rally scheduled for Saturday in Washington, DC. We wonder if the 'hackers' had a German or French accent...?
Our advice to recently graduating Millennials? Live long.
It's Friday afternoon, do you know where your fortress-balance-sheet bank's massive settlement deal with the government is...
- *JPMORGAN TO PAY $5.1 BILLION OVER FHFA MORTGAGE CLAIMS
- *FHFA SAYS JPM TO PAY ABOUT $2.74B TO FREDDIE, $1.26B TO FANNIE
- *JPMORGAN PAYS $1.1B TO RESOLVE REPRESENTATION, WARRANTY CLAIMS
- *FHFA SAYS IT'S SETTLED FOUR OF THE 18 PLS SUITS IT FILED IN '11
$4 billion of this appears to be part of the $13 billion settlement 'agreed' last week; but still leaves the criminal cases from what we can tell... Full statement below...
It has been a very interesting week as the Government shutdown/debt ceiling debate debacle moves into the background. The focus has now turned back towards the fundamentals of the market, economic environment and the ongoing Federal Reserve interventions. What is becoming increasingly evident is that market participants are once again potentially throwing "caution to the wind" betting on a belief that the Fed's ongoing Q.E. programs will continue to trump valuations and economics. After all, that has seemingly been the case up to this point. The problem is that no one really knows how this will turn out. However, as we discussed earlier this week, it is likely that we are close to finding out answer. In the meantime, here is our weekly list of "things to ponder this weekend."
With US Macro slumping to 3-month lows, is it any surprise that markets everywhere traded with a decidedly Taper-off confidence this week. USD was sold (-0.6% on the week) though commodity currencies (CAD/AUD) were sold also. Stock 'traders' bought every dip, lifting the Russell 2000 for the 8th straight week (first time since 2003). Gold completed its best 2-weeks (+6.4%) in 23 months. Treasuries have been very quiet since Tuesday, ending the week 5-8bps lower in yield. Growth hope faded as Copper (-1%) and Oil (-3%) fell on the week and earnings overall tumbled. Of course, it wouldn't be Friday if we didn't melt-up into the close (helped by a VIX slammer) and sure enough the S&P tagged its all-time highs as panic buying ensued with just minutes left in the week. Headlines will crow of new all-time-highs for the S&P (but credit remains a non-believer, not buying the rip).
As we head into the vinegar strokes of 2013 with the world awash with liquidity and ever ready to BTFATH, we note that the last time the S&P 500 saw two consecutive years when the index did not go negative year-to-date was 1975-1976. As Bloomberg notes, just as in 2012 and 2013, we have not seen one day close below the previous year's closing level but as Marketfield's Michael Shaoul comments "eventually circumstances will change sufficiently to make the equity market a treacherous place," and if history is any guide, just as 1977 saw stocks drop 15%, then 2014 may reacquant investorsd with what "risk" and "volatility" means in US equities.
It's happening again. The US lack of intervention in Syria (and implicit and explicit support for the rebels) has apparently emboldened none other than Al-Qaeda. As the WSJ reports, a flurry of recent attacks by al Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq - strengthened by their alliance with jihadist fighters in Syria - is threatening to undo years of U.S. efforts to crush the group, widening sectarian conflict in the Middle East. Iraqi security officials say al Qaeda-linked fighters from the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, are moving aggressively to re-establish a base of operations in Anbar province, the stronghold of the Sunni insurgency during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Its not fun being in the government’s crosshairs. But there is comfort in knowing that the then Head of Enforcement at the SEC , Linda Thomsen (now of Davis & Polk law firm. I’m guessing her clients are proud!) went to the Nth degree to make sure she knew the smallest details of apparent arch-nemesis #1 Mark Cuban's case before moving forward!
How anyone thought this made any sense in the first place was a little beyond us, but the Labor Department has ruled that the Federal employees who were furloughed while the government was shutdown were not eligible for unemployment benefits (as well as back-pay)...
- *FEDERAL WORKERS DURING SHUTDOWN NOT ELIGIBLE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: CNBC
So no double-dip... we await the union-based class action suit...
Rather than go to exhaustive lengths identifying the "terrorists," we identify (based on every piece of data you have ever touched in your life) the 'patriots' and thus, by process of elimination find the real terrorists...
In the long term, it will ultimately be the fundamentals that drive the markets. Currently, the deterioration in the growth rate of earnings and economic strength are not supportive of the speculative rise in asset prices or leverage. The idea of whether, or not, the Federal Reserve, along with virtually every other central bank in the world, are inflating the next asset bubble is of significant importance to investors who can ill afford to lose a large chunk of their net worth. It is all reminiscent of the market peak of 1929 when Dr. Irving Fisher uttered his now famous words: "Stocks have now reached a permanently high plateau." Does an asset bubble currently exist? Ask anyone and they will adamantly say 'NO.' However, maybe it is precisely that tacit denial which might be an indication of its existence