May was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly five years, with more than 1,000 dead – both civilians and security personnel -- in a rash of bombings, shootings and other violence. As we read each day of new horrors in Iraq, it becomes more obvious that the US invasion delivered none of the promised peace or stability that proponents of the attack promised. We must learn the appropriate lessons from the disaster of Iraq. We cannot continue to invade countries, install puppet governments, build new nations, create centrally-planned economies, engage in social engineering, and force democracy at the barrel of a gun. The rest of the world is tired of US interventionism and the US taxpayer is tired of footing the bill for US interventionism.
Following the State's takeover of Detroit's finances in March, it seems the end is growing 'nigh'er for the troubled city. According to the WSJ, Kevyn Orr, Detroit's emergency manager, plans to call unions and creditors to a meeting in mid-June to lay the groundwork for a bankruptcy within a matter of months. The meeting is designed to restructure the long-struggling city's liabilities of over $17bn and is an attempt to "have a mature and sober discussion" of repayment terms following its delayed payment in April of $226 million on pensions and other obligations. Several unions said they are willing to come to the table, but believe "it's a scare tactic." Up to now, Gov. Snyder and Detroit elected officials have said they want to avoid using bankruptcy (Detroit would be the biggest muni filing ever) to clean up the city's mess. But in recent days, their positions have softened, adding that, "I don't want to go to bankruptcy, but I do know that it is a strong possibility." Mr. Orr's office confirmed it was evaluating the potential sale of prized assets such as the artwork at the Detroit Institute of Art, a collection potentially worth billions.
Whether the Japanese government guessed that the 150% annualized surge in the nominal price of their stocks, or 30% devaluation was unsustainable is questionable, but it seems that 'Plan B' is being created. As The Diplomat notes, finding itself in an increasingly complex and hostile security environment, Japan has taken the first steps towards developing a pre-emptive first-strike capability. This is a controversial move in a region that remains wary of a potential return to Japanese militarism.
With the story du jour of electric car wunderkind Tesla so far only just that, a story (inasmuch as the gorgeous Fisker Karma was also just that at least until the day it transformed into a bankruptcy filing), if one that has cost shorts dearly including their shirts, slowly the company's fundamentals are coming into view. And just as importantly, the question of how it all clicks together. To assist with that, Reuters Breakingviews has compiled an interactive forecast that models how many cars luxury (for now) car maker would needs to sell (hopefully not all at the EBT-ineligible $100K price point) in order to grow into Elon Musk's target market cap of $43 billion, or roughly where GM is right now. The answer: a base-case assuming a 15x P/E multiple in 2022, a 12% pretax margin, and a 25%/25%/50% split between the Model S ($100K), Model X ($75K) and the still to be disclosed "Bluestar" lower-priced car ($40K) , results in a mindblowing 537,815 cars that will have to be sold in 2022, implying a 35.5% annualized sales growth from the 35,000 cars projected to be sold in 2013 (even if today's numbers did not quite validate this runrate), a cumulative total over the next decade of just under 2,000,000 Teslas.
Why did the E-Mini just dump by 6 points on no news following the 6pm resumption of trading? Why not. Maybe someone hacked the vacuum tubes' calendar file and instead of Tuesday has pegged tomorrow as a Wednesday which takes away any "fundamental" reason to ramp futures and stocks (or perhaps someone leaked that after Tuesday we get a Wednesday when nothing levitationally magical happens, which however makes no sense: after all someone could just as easily refute that rumor with another rumor that yet another Tuesday will follow a week from tomorrow, offsetting the Wednesday rumor). That, or your run of the mill fat finger. Or, worst case, someone actually, gulp, selling with premeditated intent (which in the new normal is at least a 2nd degree felony, somewhere up there alongside marketslaughter).
Fractional reserve banking is unlike most other businesses. It's not just because its product is money. It's because banks can manufacture their product out of thin air. Under the bygone rules of free market capitalism, only one thing kept banks from creating an infinite amount of money, and that was fear of failure. Periodic bank failures remind depositors of the connection between risk and reward. What is not widely appreciated is that the ensuing government bailouts allowed an underlying shadow banking system to not only survive but grow even larger. To the frustration of Keynesians, and despite an unprecedented Quantitative Easing (QE) by the Federal Reserve, conventional commercial banks have broken with custom and have amassed almost $2 trillion in excess reserves they are reluctant to lend as they scramble to digest all the bad loans still on their books. So most of the money manufactured today is actually being created by the shadow banks. But shadow banks do not generally make commercial loans. Rather, they use the money they manufacture to fund proprietary trading operations in repos and derivatives. No one knows when the bubble will pop, but when it does a donnybrook is going to break out over that thin wedge of collateral whose ownership is spread across counterparties around the world, each looking for relief from their own judges, politicians, bureaucrats, and taxpayers.
With the biggest drop in Turkish stocks in a decade and the biggest jump in Turkish bond yields on record, the troubled nation finally made some mainstream media screens today. As we have noted here and here most recently, the social unrest is escalating rapidly, as Stratfor notes, the protests grew rapidly over the weekend and spread quickly to other major regions and cities in the nation. The largest protests, in Istanbul and Izmir, brought out predominantly young protesters in the tens of thousands. These protests will be highly significant if they grow to the hundreds of thousands, include a wider demographic and geographically extend to areas with traditionally strong support for the ruling party.
This is no time to be complacent. Massive economic problems are erupting all over the globe, but most people seem to believe that everything is going to be just fine. In fact, a whole bunch of recent polls and surveys show that the American people are starting to feel much better about how the U.S. economy is performing. Unfortunately, the false prosperity that we are currently enjoying is not going to last much longer. Unfortunately, the majority appear to be purposely ignoring the economic horror that is breaking out all over the globe.
With JPY losing 100 and the Nikkei futures trading down to a 19.25% loss from the highs (12815 the dreaded bear-market 20% drop level), a combination of a desperate Japanese 2015 plan for the pension fund to buy moar stocks, bad-is-good economic data, and front-running of the now-ubiquitous Tuesday rally provided the ammo for a rally in equities - recovering almost 50% of their post Friday drop losses. Risk-assets in general correlated extremely closely on the day and while volume was well above average, this was driven by the surge to the downside (not the upswing). Treasuries ended the day unchanged (amid a 12bps range on the day) ending near the low yields (moar QE). VIX snapped above 17.5% (its highest in 6 weeks) before fading back in the ramp to unchanged at 16.25%. Credit tracked stocks closely but was less exuberant in the late-day ramp. USD weakness (JPY and EUR strength) supported commodities, with gold and silver outperforming on the day (up 1.65% and 2.2% respectively).
Since Mr. Krugman tells us all this spending and debt issuance/guarantees are not only good and necessary but in the long run, painless, why are we bothering with personal income taxes?
The US government will collect approximately $2.0bn this year in Personal Income and Payroll taxes. But why? Why are we even bothering with this when today’s leading economists and politicians are telling us that debts/deficits don’t matter and running up astronomical debts is a long-term painless process? It’s practically patriotic. So why shouldn’t we just add our tax burden to the list of items the Fed should be monetizing? Seriously. Why not relieve the burden on every tax paying citizen in the United States (about 53% of us according to Mitt Romney)? You want an economic recovery? Reduce my taxes to zero and see how fast I go out and start spending some of that extra income.
With Lerner pleading 'da fif' and Steven Miller now long-gone, it is up 'new' IRS Acting Commissioner Daniel 'Danny-boy' Werfel to face the House subcommittee hearing music. While the focus (for now) is the IRS' targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, we suspect the Dance-Prance-Revolution clips that have been so broadly disseminated this weekend may make an appearance.
While preparing to leave for work Monday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reportedly loaded up his iPod with dozens of Associated Press reporters’ confidential phone conversations to enjoy on his morning commute. “It usually takes me about 30 minutes to get to the office, so I’ll have something to listen to to pass the time,” said the Justice Department head while transferring the wiretap recordings taken from dozens of AP journalists’ work and cell phone lines from his home computer to his mp3 player.
Curious why (formerly) government-subsidized, ultra-luxury battery operated car maker Tesla has a market cap of $10.6 billio (a little over 25% of GM's market cap). Here's a hint
- AUTODATA ESTIMATES TESLA MAY U.S. MODEL S SALES WERE 1,425
And that's with the surge in daily publicity, the headline news articles resulting from the epic short squeeze, and the nearly daily CNBC infomercials.
Worried that manipulated official data is the only thing one has to "predict" on a day to day basis in a world drenched with "Baffle with BS", where China expanding and contracting at the same time is perfectly normal, and where Chicago PMI soaring by an 8 sigma beat to multi year highs precedes by one day the lowest US manufacturing print in 4 years? Turns out that's not all - in addition to everything else, one should also realize that key market moving data continues to be disseminated ahead of its official release time to those who have the "funds" and the interest in trading on early leaks. Take today's key economic data point: the Manufacturing ISM. As Nanex shows, trading in SPY exploded at 09:59:59.985, which is 15 milliseconds before the ISM's Manufacturing number released at 10:00:00. Activity in the eMini (traded in Chicago), exploded at 09:59:59.992, which is 8 milliseconds before the news release, but 7 milliseconds after SPY. Surely someone decided to perform a massive headfake and like a plunging goaltender during a penalty kick just happened to guess the direction right. That, or the clock on the CQS tape is just a little off. Oh, and this is merely today's example of early distribution of data to those who have the means(and the funds) to trade on it. Everyone else - well, the saying involving a sucker, a poker table and confusion, is quite applicable right now...
A German election is drawing close and it is evident in many small things that are happening lately. The latest is that Mrs. Merkel is now apparently distancing herself from her erstwhile demands to create a 'fiscal union' and give the eurocracy in Brussels more powers. Incidentally, her change of heart comes shortly after her summit with France's president Hollande, which indicates that the latter has probably let her know that France is none too happy with the idea either. She still talks about the alleged need for 'more policy coordination', but luckily handing more powers to the bureaucrats in Brussels seems to be off the table for now.