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Les Miserables

It is a convoluted world. The money rolls in from the Fed, the ECB and various European funds where money is pledged by each country and put up by none. Pledges, contingent liabilities, guarantees of bank debt are not counted but have not vanished and show up when the bills are due decreasing the assets of everyone.  The newly printed money must find a home and so supports the sovereign debt yields while costing each European government more in the process. Austerity fails, unemployment rises, economies decline, more taxes are applied and the use of newly printed money is the only thing that separates us from some sort of financial chaos. The differential between the European economies and the European markets increases and the actual losses increase. Print forever. Lies without end. Reality redefined.

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Spain Slashes "Growth" Outlook, Projects Higher Deficit, Delays Deficit Reduction

It took about one week from R&R's excel error until the first European country rebelled against "austerity" (which it never implemented in the first place, but that's a different story). Moments ago Spain officially said to hell with Germany's austerity, and announced it would delay achieving Europe's deficit target by two years, pushing it back by 2 years to 2016. Oh, and it slashed growth forecasts confirming what everyone else had known: it's economy is a total disaster, and the country can finally stop pretending there is any hope for "growth" in the near, mid or long-term future.

  • SEES DEFICITS OF 6.3% vs. 4.5% EU 2013 TARGET, 5.5% vs. 2.8% EU 2014, TARGET; 4.1% vs. 1.9% EU 2015 TARGET
  • SPAIN SEES UNEMPLOYMENT AT 27.1% IN 2013, 26.7% IN 2014

Luckily, this is not a surprise: the collapse in the Spanish economy is just as bad as had been expected, so this should be good for 10-20 points this morning in the Stalingrad & Poorski 500 stock index.

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Q1 GDP Preview

In just about an hour, the first (of three) Q1 GDP numbers will be released. It is expected to rebound to 3% from 0.4% in Q4. As Goldman explains, the bounce is expected to reflect "a mix of temporary factors -- namely a large inventory boost contributing about 1pp to growth -- and a genuine upside surprise from the strength of consumer spending despite the 2013 tax hikes." However, as we have since seen, the consumer "spending" was largely a seasonal revision of unadjusted data, which hardly was as euphoric, and which has sharply rolled over in Q2, meaning that what consumers add to Q1 GDP will be promptly removed from the second quarter. Furthermore, since there are two more GDP revisions, and since the Fed will likely seek to moderate QE "tapering" expectations, it wouldn't be surprising for GDP to come substantially weaker than expected, only to be revised higher (or lower) subsequently. In either case, for those who still believe macroeconomic fundamental data is relevant (in the New Normal it isn't), here is a quick run through what to expect from GS.

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Frontrunning: April 26

  • Reinhart and Rogoff: Responding to Our Critics (NYT)
  • Differences with centre-right delay Italy's Letta (Reuters)
  • Italy's Letta moves forward to shape government (Reuters)
  • China’s leaders warn on financial risks (FT)
  • Norway oil fund makes big move from bonds to stocks (FT) - worked wonders for the Bank of Israel
  • Smuggling milk is the new smuggling heroin in HK: Milk Smugglers Top Heroin Courier Arrests in Hong Kong (BBG)
  • RenTec's mean reversion models fail on BOJ lunacy: Yen Bets Don't Add Up for a Fund Giant (WSJ)
  • From 'Fabulous Fab' to Grad Student (WSJ)
  • BOJ in credibility test as divisions emerge over inflation target (Reuters)
  • Boston Bombing Suspect Moved from hospital to prison (WSJ)
  • Provopoulos Says ECB May Never Need to Use Bond-Buying Program (BBG) which is good because, legally, it doesn't exist

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Overnight Sentiment Sours As Bank Of Japan Does Just As Expected And Nothing More

While the main, if completely irrelevant, macroeconomic news of the day will be the first estimate of US Q1 GDP due out later today, perhaps the best testament of just how meaningless fundamental data has become was the scheduled BOJ announcement overnight in which Kuroda's merry men simply stated what was expected by everyone: the Japanese central bank merely repeated its pledge to double the monetary base in two years. The lack of any incremental easing, is what pushed both the USDJPY as low as 98.20 overnight (98.60 at last check), over 100 pips from the highs, and has pressured the Nikkei into its first red close in days, and shows just how habituated with the constant cranking up of the liqudity spigot the G-7 market has truly become.

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RANsquawk EU Market Re-Cap - 26th April 2013

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Guest Post: It's A Bit Early To Declare A Winner In The Economic Debate

We are a long way from really resolving the argument between the Keynesian and Austrian economic theories, despite some so-called experts proclaiming Krugman's victory this week. The discovery of the calculation error in the Reinhart/Rogoff study does little to change the overall premise that excessive debt levels impede economic growth and have, historically, led to the fall of economic empires.  All one really has to do is pick up a history book and read of the Greeks, Romans, British, French, Russians and many others. Does fiscal responsibility lead to short term economic pain?  Absolutely.  Why would anyone ever imagine that cutting spending and reducing budgets would be pain free?  However, what we do know is that the path of fiscal irresponsibility has long term negative consequences for the economy. In the meantime we can continue to ignore the long term conseqences in exchange for short term bliss.

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Bonds 101: Yields, Prices, And Inflation

We recently showed 220 years of US Treasury bond yield history but all too often, the average investor is unfortunately unaware of the relationship between bond yields (interesting on a relative-value perspective) and bond prices (the thing that matters for your portfolio's returns). The two measures are inextricably linked obviously (a higher yield implies a lower price and vice versa) but the relationship is not a straight line - it has 'convexity'. The following charts may help understand the upside-downside changes from 'yield' movements, what the Fed is doing to the relationship, and how inflation expectations impact these changes.

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Guest Post: Bitcoin As Cryptographic Gold?

The crypto-currency Bitcoin is still merely a speck on the global monetary landscape. It is young, experimental, and for all we know, it may ultimately fail to break into the monetary mainstream. However, on a conceptual level some are willing to call it a work of genius and arguably the most exciting development in the field of money for more than 130 years. The outcome is probably binary: Either Bitcoin ultimately fails and the individual Bitcoins end up worthless. Or Bitcoin takes off and Bitcoins are worth hundreds of thousands of paper dollars, paper yen, paper euros, or paper pounds. Maybe more. Those who buy Bitcoin as a speculative investment should consider it an option on the future success of the crypto-currency. We still consider gold to be the essential self-defense asset in the ongoing paper money crisis. The brand-new crypto-currency Bitcoin has to first earn its stripes as a monetary asset by proving itself as a ‘common’ medium of exchange. That is why we view Bitcoin very differently from gold, although the attraction of both has its origin in the demise of entirely elastic, politicized state fiat money. In the meantime, the debasement of paper money continues.

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On The Unsustainable Losses Of The Italian Banking System

While not in the throes of a real estate crash, Italian banks are seeing a sharp deterioration in the quality of their assets. And while Italy's bond spreads head back to pre-crisis lows, as BofAML's Alberto Cordara notes, the ongoing pace and depth of asset quality deterioration further erodes the banks' ability to help Italy on the way back to growth. Critically, the lack of demand for banks' NPLs suggests that asset valuations may be overstated, thereby posing doubts on the real solvency status of Italian banks (i.e. they are not being totally truthful about their balance sheet assets); which explicitly means more capital is needed and soon. The rate of acceleration in newly impaired loans is staggering as it appears the current recession, driven by falling internal demand, is more insidious than the export-led crisis in 2009. And no matter how the Italian banks try to differentiate their bad loan composition, it is an ugly picture. The Italian House Price Index (IPAB) decreased 4.6% yoy as a result of tightening credit conditions, new property taxes and a difficult macro environment; and is unlikely to provide any assistance any time soon. Based on losses and capital, ISP appears best positioned, and BMPS worst - and do not expect a new LTRO to help as this is "not a normal economic downswing."

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Abenomics Leads To Worst Core Deflation In Three Years

Six months in and a 30% devaluation in the JPY and it would appear Abenomics is not having quite the desired effect. With an oh-so-exciting 2% inflation target that we are sure will be appearing any second now, Nationwide CPI just printed -0.9% YoY - its worst (most deflationary) levels since April 2010, missing expectations by the most in 10 months! But wasn't Abenomics supposed to be... inflationary? Well it is in one place - Utilities costs are the only sub-index higher YoY (by 2.3%) - that's a good thing, right? Given that the only reason Abenomics will work is the propagandized concerns of inflation (as we noted here), this could be a problem for Kuroda (perhaps triple the monetary base will do it).

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"The Battlefield Is The United States Of America"

When you’ve got a guy like Senator John McCain who says “The battlefield is the United States of America,” it tells you that almost nothing is safe in the Land of the Free. Whatever remains of civil liberties is going to feel the full brunt of the state’s boot heel.

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Visualizing The Dead-Weight On The Global Economic Recovery

Youth unemployment has become a worrying phenomenon with 74.6 million young people unemployed globally in 2012. Rising youth unemployment has a detrimental effect on economic growth, political and social stability as well as on the ability to exploit the potential demographic dividend. Young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET) are a particular social concern. The economic and social impact of a growing number of NEET young people aged 15 - 24 has raised concerns as they represent a dead weight burden.

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Child Hunger Is Exploding In Greece – And 14 Signs That It Is Starting To Happen In America Too

The world is heading into a horrific economic nightmare, and an inordinate amount of the suffering is going to fall on innocent children.  If you want to get an idea of what America is going to look like in the not too distant future, just check out what is happening in Greece.  At this point, Greece is experiencing a full-blown economic depression. And as you will read about below, child hunger is absolutely exploding in Greece right now.  Some families are literally trying to survive on pasta and ketchup.  But don't think for a moment that it can't happen here.Sadly, the truth is that child hunger is already rising very rapidly in our poverty-stricken citiesNever before have we had so many Americans unable to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, more poor families slip through the cracks with each passing day, and these are supposedly times in which we are experiencing an "economic recovery".  So what are things going to look like when the next major economic downturn strikes?

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JPMorgan's Eligible Gold Plummets 65% In 24 Hours To All Time Low

We are confident that in the aftermath of our article from last night "Just What Is Going On With The Gold In JPMorgan's Vault?" in which we showed the absolute devastation of "eligible" (aka commercial) gold warehoused in JPM's vault just over the Manhattan bedrock at 1 Chase Manhattan Place (and also in the entire Comex vault network in the past month), we were not the only ones checking every five minutes for the Comex gold depository update for April 25. Moments ago we finally got it, and it's a doozy. Because in just the past 24 hours, from April 24 to April 25, according to the Comex, JPM's eligible gold plunged from 402.4K ounces to just 141.6K ounces, a drop of 65% in 24 hours,and  the lowest amount of eligible gold held at the vault on record, since its reopening in October 2010!

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