Things That Make You Go Hmmm... Like Is Japan Totally F##ked?

We have detailed the straitjacket into which the Japanese have been strapped for the past two decades numerous times in the last few years (in great detail here)  but as Grant Williams leaned back in his most comfortable chair after reading an article about proposed changes to the GPIF (Government Pension Investment Fund), Japan’s public pension fund; the thought popped into his mind - "Japan really is totally f##ked." What led him to that well-thought-out and eruditely expressed conclusion? Read on...

Marc Faber Warns "Social Media Stocks Are Just The Start, Market Crash Coming In 2nd Half"

Having called for the demise of the hype/hope growth stocks, biotech, and social media schemes at the end of 2013, Marc Faber believes the weakness in those sectors is a signal of things to come (and that the so-called "rotation" to quality stocks is fallacious in the medium-term). Faber carefully notes that the size of markets allows some stocks to move up as others move down and so the overall market "looks" ok, but warns "we have already had a big break in parts of the market... but we haven't had the big break in the overall market," adding that "it's too late to buy the US stock market," confirming what we noted about Jeremy Grantham's dismal outlook for US equities in the medium-term (and how and when the bubble bursts). Simply out, given yields around the world and the fundamentals, "individual investors have excessively optimistic expectations about their future returns," which is terrible news for the record amounts of Greater Fools piling in as professionals pile out.

The State Of The Deep State - The Monster In America's Closet

We’ve been hearing a lot about the so-called Deep State lately. What to make of this shadowy monster? Some observers link it to the paranoid fantasy called the New World Order, a staple of political talk radio (and a hobgoblin I don’t believe in). In popular movies such as the Jason Bourne epics and Mission Impossible, the Deep State launches hyper-complex schemes that work flawlessly and never fail. That is exactly why they have such high entertainment appeal. Viewers are thrilled by the precision, by the conceit of seeming infallibility. The Deep State definitely exists; it just doesn’t work the way it is depicted in the movies. We like to say that we're allergic to conspiracy theories because human beings are generally too inept to carry out schemes at the grand scale, as well as being poor secret-keepers. Insider knowledge is almost always swapped around, even in secretive organizations, often recklessly so, because doling it out confers status, tactical advantage, and sometimes money for the doler-outer. But the Deep State isn’t a secret. It operates in plain sight.

Friday Humor: You Can't Make This Stuff Up

20 years in prison... That’s the penalty you could face for traveling to a country the President has labelled to be “of concern”. Sending any form of monetary assistance to people in the country merits further steep penalties.  While something as innocuous as travelling abroad is enough to get the average American 20 years in prison, the government is using your tax dollars to aid terrorism directly… and using YouTube as their auditor. Sounds about right for a terrorist organization whose leader has a Nobel Peace Prize.

5 Things To Ponder: Sell In May & Go Away

There is an old Wall Street axiom that goes "Sell in May and go away, come again after St. Leger's day."  Of course, as with all Wall Street axioms, they are viewed by the media to be "valid" only if they work every single year. The reality is that no axiom, investment discipline or strategy works all the time. It is the cumulative effect over long periods of time which defines success or failure. Today's selected readings, both for and against this particular "Wall Street wisdom," provide some statistical insight.

FAA Fines Drone Operator For Multiple "Reckless" Crashes In Manhattan

Filed under - WTF Headline of the day. The FAA, for the 2nd time in its history, has fined someone (David Zabdlidowsky) for operating (and crashing) an unmanned drone in Midtown Manhattan:

FAA FINES DRONE OPERATOR FOR FLIGHT OVER MANHATTAN IN SEPTEMBER
FAA RELEASES LETTER CHARGING NY MAN WITH DANGEROUS FLIGHT
FAA SAYS DRONE HIT 2 BUILDINGS IN MIDTOWN NYC THEN CRASHED

The drone was operated in a "careless and reckless" manner, according to the letter below, which is hardly surprising given it took off from 38th near what locals call "Pub Alley."

More Bad News Out Of JPMorgan About The State Of Housing And The Boycott Of The Rigged Market

Based on Markets revenue results to date, which reflect a continued challenging environment and lower client activity levels, expect 2Q14 Markets revenue to be down approximately 20%+/- versus 2Q13.
Higher levels of mortgage interest rates are expected to continue to have a negative impact on volumes
Expect pretax production loss of approximately $100–$150 million in 2Q14 and pretax margins to be negative in 2H14
Expect net servicing revenue of $600–$650 million in 2Q14 and declining by approximately 10% (not annualized) per quarter for 2H14

Bonds & Gold Rip, But Stocks Dip Despite Furious Late-Day VIX-Slip

Stocks just could not figure it out - good jobs data, bad jobs data, WWWIII? But Treasuries and gold did. 30Y yields tumbled to fresh 11 month lows (lot of desk chatter of GPIF buy orders ahead of their holiday), 10Y to 2014 lows, but the short-end sold off as 5s30s flattened to 5 year lows (under 170bps). Despite some smackdowns this week, precious metals bounced back notably today with gold's best day in a month, back over $1300 and unch on the week. Despite yields tumbling, Utility stocks were the week's losers (-1.2%) while homebuilders were best (oh yeah because lower mortgage rates is all that is holding back pent-up demand for homes!!). On the week, Trannies outperformed but Russell 2000 was worst of the major indices (the opposite of today's action). The USD pumped and dumped around the jobs data, but ended the day unch (down 0.25% on the week). Credit markets closed at their wides of the day, notably divergent from stocks on the week. A massive VIX-selling effort began late in the day (because with 38 dead in Odessa who would need to hedge?) - but stocks ignored it.

 

Did The CBOT Get "Overloaded" As Jobs Data Halted Treasury Futures?

Treasury Futures markets on the CBOT were halted this morning for about 10 seconds following the release of the April payrolls data. While somewhat stunning all by itself, given that the move was not massive, Nanex notes that what is unsual about this event is that quotes also stopped updating - indicating a possible system issue at the exchange. Of course, in these "unrigged" markets, what more would we expect?

Nordea Warns Of EU Recession And $150 Oil If Russia Retaliates

Oil prices have increased recently as tension in Ukraine has escalated and raised concerns about the risks of disruption in Russian energy exports. There is a risk that the security situation in the east Ukraine will worsen even further ahead of the 25 May elections. As Nordea notes, Russia is as important an oil exporter to Europe (of both crude and refined products) as it is a gas exporter, and the consequences of a cut in Russian oil supplies could be as grave since the global oil market has little back-up capacity to lean on. As a result, a halt in the oil deliveries from Russia to Europe will spark a sharp spike in oil prices (potentially to $150/bbl) and in a worst case scenario an oil crisis and European recession (and major slowdown in global growth) and US shale oil or an SPR release will prevent the spike.

Leaked Recording Reveals True State Of Chinese Housing Market

A leaked recording by the vice-chairman of Vanke Group (China’s biggest property developer), confirms, as The Telegraph's Amrbose Evans-Protchard reports, what the bears have been saying for months, 'it is a dangerous bubble, and already deflating'. Mao Daqing's words, translated, are ominous: "In 1990, Tokyo’s total land value accounts for 63.3% of US GDP, while Hong Kong reached 66.3% in 1997. Now, the total land value in Beijing is 61.6% of US GDP, a dangerous level... China has reached its capacity limit for new construction of residential projects... and I don’t see any possibility for a rise in home prices." The simple chart below highlights all one needs to know - inventory is exploding - and as Mao concludes: "housing production per 1000 people reached 35; even when the housing market is hot, no country has a figure of greater than 14 - this should cause alarm."

The Odessa Images Spooking The Market Ahead Of The Weekend (Up to 38 Reported Dead)

UPDATE: Up to 38 reported choked to death in the burned buildings of Odessa.

Wondering why Treasury yields plumb new depths, gold's having its best day in a month, and stocks can't keep a bid no matter how many times JPY or VIX is slammed? The answer lies in these disturbing images from Odessa which show Pro-Russian forces under attack by Ukrainian forces, buildings burning, deaths, and of course - most critically - the kind of anti-Russian actions that Vladimir Putin said was the red-line for him taking action... it's a long way to Tuesday

Italy May Have Over 1,000 Tonnes Of Gold At The New York Fed

Italy’s central bank, the Banca d’Italia, has recently published an important document detailing the storage locations and composition of the country’s gold reserves. The document confirms that Italy’s gold is held across four vault locations, three of which are outside Italy. This is a significant announcement given that the Banca d’Italia is the world’s third largest official holder of gold after the U.S. and Germany. Italy officially holds 2,451.8 tonnes of gold, worth more than €72 billion (US$ 100 billion) at current market prices. In the detailed three page report focusing exclusively on its gold reserves (and only published in Italian), the Banca d’Italia reveals that 1,199.4 tonnes, or nearly half the total, is held in the Bank’s own vaults under its Palazzo Koch headquarters on Via Nazionale in Rome, while most of the other half is stored in the Federal Reserve Bank gold vault in New York. The report also states that smaller amounts are stored at the Bank of England in London, and at the vaults of the Swiss National Bank in Bern, Switzerland.

"Eastern European" Buyer Scoops Up World's First Quarter-Billion-Dollar Apartment

The world's most expensive apartment sale has been 'consumated'... in London (of course). As The Evening Standard reports, an Eastern European buyer (has anyone seen Yanukoych recently?) is believed to have paid £140 million (~$235 million) for the 16,000  square feet apartment — more than 10 times the size of a typical London three-bedroom home — at the One Hyde Park scheme near Harrods. This values the apartment at a 'mind-blowingly-desperate-to-launder-my-money-and-get-my-assets-away-from-potential-bank-freezes' $17,000 per square foot.

EU Commissioner Warns "Any 'Sensible' Person Should Oppose Further Russia Sanctions"

Obama won't be happy! "It would harm everybody, the Europeans and the Russians," warned Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs, adding that "any 'sensible' European Union citizen should oppose further sanctions on Russia because of the economic cost for Europe." As Merkel and Obama cozy'd up for discussions this morning, we can only imagine the promises being made if only she would support his crusade (which she clearly indicated she did not want to). Perhaps she should check in with her nation's CEOs (who have vociferously demanded no more sanctions) and, as Rehn acknowledges, the slowing Russian economy is already having a “negative impact” on Finland and Austria, and "that economic fallout probably will spread to Germany, Poland and the Baltic countries."