• Steve H. Hanke
    05/04/2016 - 08:00
    Authored by Steve H. Hanke of The Johns Hopkins University. Follow him on Twitter @Steve_Hanke. A few weeks ago, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) sprang a surprise. It announced that a...

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China Warns 'Will Respond To Trump Presidency'

Speaking through its mouthpiece Global Times, China has published its first reaction to "unpredictable" Trump's position as presumptive Republican nominee and their expectations of a Trump vs Clinton fight for The White House... "This scenario is becoming increasingly serious..."


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"Bankers Will Choose To Fly Instead Of Die" - Why Bill Gross Thinks Helicopter Money Is Imminent

"Money for free! Well not exactly. The Piper that has to be paid will likely be paid for in the form of higher inflation, but that of course is what the central banks claim they want. What they don’t want is to be messed with and to become a government agency by proxy, but that may just be the price they will pay for a civilized society that is quickly becoming less civilized due to robotization. There is a rude end to flying helicopters, but the alternative is an immediate visit to austerity rehab and an extended recession. I suspect politicians and central bankers will choose to fly, instead of die."


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US Services Data Rebounds But Jobs, Backlogs "Highlight Fragility" Of US Economy

Despite a modest rise in April's headline Services PMI print to 52.8 (from 52.1) the details under the surface paint a different picture (remaining weaker than its post-crisis average of 55.6). The rate of employment growth was the weakest seen since December 2015 as backlogs of work declined for the ninth consecutive month, which is the longest continuous period of depletion since the survey began in late-2009.   ISM Services data also beat expectations, rising to 55.7 despite a drop in business activity and backlogs. As Markit warns, "the fragility of growth is highlighted by inflows of new business rising at a rate only marginally above the post-recession low."


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The Central Bank War On Savers - The Big Lie Beneath

The central bank war on savers is rooted in a monumental case of the Big Lie. Here is what a retired worker who managed to save $5,000 per year over a 40 year’s lifetime of toil and sweat in a steel factory now earns in daily interest on a bank CD. To wit, a single cup of cappuccino. Yet the central bankers claim they have absolutely nothing to do with this flaming economic injustice.


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As The Sohn Conference Begins, This Is How Last Year's Hedge Fund Picks Did

Moments ago, the 2016 edition of the Sohn Investment Conference started, a feeding frenzy for traders and hedge fund managers such as Gundlach, Einhorn and Chanos who descend on this popular annual "round table" to pitch their best and worst ideas. As always, the moment a company's name is mentioned in a bullish or bearish context, its stock is sure to surge or slump, as the headline-hungry algos immediate pounce in the current reactionary market environment. But is following the advice of these hedge fund gurus such a good idea? 


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US Trade Deficit Tumbles As Overall Imports Plunge, Even As Oil Imports Continue To Rise

In a surprising development, the U.S. monthly international trade deficit decreased substantially in March 2016 from $47.0 billion in February (revised) to $40.4 billion in March, below the $41.2 billion expected, as exports declined by a modest $1.5 billion, a 0.9% drop to $176.62BN from $178.16BN in Feb. At the same time imports outright plunged by $8.1 billion, down 3.6% in March to $217.06BN from $225.13BN in Feb. Curiously this happened just as Canada announced a trade deficit of C$3.4 billion, the widest on record. In March, the US trade deficit excluding petroleum was $37.48 billion.


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US Worker Productivity Slumps At Worst Rate In 23 Years

Despite a very modest beat of expectations US worker productivity fell for the 2nd quarter in a row (down 1.0% vs 1.3% QoQ), the two-quarter-average output per hour isdown 1.4% - the worst slump since 1993. Unit labor costs rose by a better than expected 4.1% (helped by a downwardly revised 2.7% rise in Q4), the highest since Q4 2014.


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Zandi's "Job Creation Machine" Stalls As ADP Employment Growth Worst In 3 Years

Against expectations of a 195k gain, ADP reported just 156k job growth in April with manufacturing losing jobs once again and services job growth clowing quickly to catch down to such negative indicators as ISM Services Employment. This is the worst headline print since April 2013. From last week's job-creation-machine firinmg on all cylinders, Mark Zandi is now more cautious - The job market appears to have stumbled in April. Job growth noticeably slowed, with some weakness across most sectors. One month does not make a trend, but this bears close watching as the financial market turmoil earlier in the year may have done some damage to business hiring.”


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Aeropostale Files Chapter 11: Latest Retail Bankruptcy After American Apparel, Cache, Wet Seal And Quiksilver

Aeropostale's decline was swift. The brand was established in 1987, went public in 2002, and by 2010 it had a market cap of nearly $3 billion. However, by January 2015 the company of 21,000 employees had posted losses in its last three fiscal years, and with 2015 being the fourth consecutive year of losses, its market cap imploded to just $2.9 million.


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Frontrunning: May 4

  • Donald Trump’s Win Just Latest Tremor Shaking GOP (WSJ)
  • Trump Becomes Presumptive Republican Nominee as Cruz Exits Race (BBG)
  • How 'Stop Trump' failed to halt the Republican front-runner (Reuters)
  • Islamic State seeks news blackout in Mosul as Iraqi army nears (Reuters)
  • U.S. gathers allies on next steps in Islamic State fight (Reuters)

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Three In A Row...

We've now seen three consecutive quarters of net tightening of C&I lending standards in the US (Figure 1, left) and previously whenever this has happened it has ultimately led to a full blown default cycle – albeit with only three cycles of data to examine. The series does tend to exhibit sweeping cyclical tendencies with momentum and is not prone to random fluctuations. So it's a worry that we've entered the net tighten stage and have stayed there for three quarters now.


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Global Stocks Slide As Dollar Continues Rising: Has The "Pricing In" Of Trump Begun

While there was no unexpected overnight central bank announcement unlike yesterday's surprise by the RBA which unleashed volatility havoc in the FX market, which promptly spilled over into all asset classes, overnight stocks around the world saw another leg lower without a tangible catalyst, while EM currencies fell to a one-month low after two Fed presidents raised concern investors had become too complacent in their belief that U.S. interest rate raises will stay on hold. Or perhaps all that is happening is that after ignoring Trump, the market is starting to finally price in the possible reality of the Donald in the White House (although as Jeff Gundlach pointed out, Trump would be a far better president for the economy and the market than Hillary or Bernie).


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License To Steal: Italy’s Highest Court Rules “Theft Not A Crime If Hungry”

Stealing small amounts of food to stave off hunger is not a crime, Italy’s highest court of appeal has ruled. Judges overturned a theft conviction against Roman Ostriakov after he stole cheese and sausages worth €4.07 (£3; $4.50) from a supermarket. Mr Ostriakov, a homeless man of Ukrainian background, had taken the food “in the face of the immediate and essential need for nourishment”, the court of cassation decided. Therefore it was not a crime, it said.


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US Futures Tumble After China Devalues Yuan By Most Since August Collapse

The 'odd' regime shift in the relationship between USDJPY and US equities continues overnight. Following some visible-handedness and follow-through momentum, Yen is weakening against the USD - normally a big flashing green sign for risk-on pajama traders but China's biggest Yuan devaluation in 9 months (since the August turmoil) seems to have stolen the jam out of the bull's donut as US equity futures extend losses, AsiaPac credit risk jumps, and USD strength is weighing on crude prices.


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