One word (well technically two) can describe what is going on in the electronic pre-market arena right now: inflationary hysteria. Gold is at a new record, wheat is surging, corn is at highest since 2008, crude at a new 30 month high, silver is at $41.10 - a new fresh post Hunt high, beans surging, etc, etc, etc. Essentially everything is bid, following news first reported on Zero Hedge that PIMCO is betting the farm that either inflation is about to go parabolic and force bondholders to dump everything, or that the Fed will have no choice but to pursue another round of QE, sending gold to $2,000 and unleashing the Weimar endgame.
Gaddafi To "Give Ceasefire A Chance" - Accepts Undetermined "Roadmap To Peace"; Oil Dips To Be Savagely BoughtSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/10/2011 - 18:08
It almost seems like it was yesterday that Hugo Chavez was threatening to steal Obama's peace prize from under the president nose, when one dictator seemed on the verge of ending another dictator's multi-decade rule. But not really. And since nobody remembers that fable any more, it is time to come up with a new rehash on a common theme. Per Reuters, "Muammar Gaddafi has accepted a roadmap for ending the conflict in Libya, South African President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday after leading a delegation of African leaders at talks in Tripoli." Good thing Zuma has so much more credibility in the international community than Chavez. Or else people may see through yet another attempt at push oil prices lower for a day or two while the big boys load up, only for the rumor to dissipate in a day or so. "Zuma, who with four other African heads of state met Gaddafi for several hours at the Libyan leader's Bab al-Aziziyah compound, also called on NATO to stop air strikes on Libyan government targets to "give a ceasefire a chance."" We are not positive, but something tells us the Beatles are about to get a asston of royalties on that particular phrase. And just in case there is no confusion about just what this "roadmap" entails, there damn well should be. "No one at the talks gave details of what was contained in the roadmap. Anti-Gaddafi rebels have said they will accept nothing less than an end to Gaddafi's four decades in power, but Libyan officials say he will not step down." So no actual details, but please sell Brent or else Goldman won't be able to load up. Is that about the gist of it?
A month ago, Zero Hedge first reported that Bill Gross had taken the stunning decision to bring his Treasury exposure from 12% to 0%: a move which many interpreted as just business, and not personal: after all Pimco had previously telegraphed its disgust with US paper, and was merely mitigating its exposure. This time, in another Zero Hedge first, we discover that it is no longer business for Bill - it has now become personal (and with an attendant cost of carry). In March, Pimco's flagship Total Return Fund (TRF) has now taken an active short position in US government debt: -3% on a Market Value basis (or $7.1 billion), and a whopping -18% on a Duration Weighted Exposure basis. And confirming just what PIMCO thinks of US-related paper is the fact that the world's largest "bond" fund now has cash, at a stunning $73 billion, or 31% of all assets, as its largest asset class on both a relative and absolute basis. We repeat: cash is more than PIMCO's holdings of Treasurys and Mortgage securities ($66 billion) combined. To paraphrase: in March PIMCO was dumping everything related to US rates (see chart below). This is the first net short position that PIMCO has had in Government-related debt since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, and going positive in February of 2009 only after it became clear that the Fed would commence monetizing US debt one month later. This is the closest that Gross has come to making a political statement and is now without doubt putting his money where his mouth is. The only event that could possibly derail Gross' thinking is a huge market crash forcing a rush to Treasury safety. Alas, as has been made all too clear recently, US debt is no longer the safe haven it once was. Which begs the question: when will the TRF break out a "gold" asset holdings line item.
China Lashes Out At US "Hypocrisy", Blasts US Human Rights "Double Standard" In Pursuing "World Hegemony"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/10/2011 - 12:50
In what can only be described as a stunning deterioration in foreign relations between the world's two superpowers, following Friday's release by the US State Department of the annual report on human rights, which expressed sharp criticism of the human rights records of China, North Korea, Cuba and Belarus, among others, China decided it has had enough. Less than 48 hours later, it has lashed back at the US with a report that is making headlines at every government controlled, and otherwise, media in mainland China, which makes a mockery of the US double standard when it comes to human rights, and exposes US "hypocrisy" which China (rightly many would claim) asserts is merely a pretext for continued US attempts at world "hegemony". As Xinhua reports on its front page, "The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 was
released by the Information Office of China's State Council, or
cabinet, in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
for 2010 issued by the U.S. Department of State on April. The U.S. reports are "full of distortions and
accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and
regions including China. However, the United States turned a blind eye
to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentioned it,"
China's report said." The war of words hits a new all time record: "The United States has taken human rights as "a political instrument to defame other nations' image and seek its own strategic interests," the report said. While illustrating a dismal record of the United States on its own human rights, China's report said the United States could not be justified to pose as the world's "human rights justice." "However, it released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse and blame other countries for their human rights practices," the report said. These moves fully expose the United States' hypocrisy by exercising double standards on human rights and its malicious design to pursue hegemony under the pretext of human rights, it said. The report advised the U.S. government to "take concrete actions to improve its own human rights conditions, check and rectify its acts in the human rights field, and stop the hegemonistic deeds of using human rights issues to interfere in other countries' internal affairs." While that last sentence may not be an explicit warning for the US to shut the hell up and focus on its own dirty laundry, or else, it sure does sound like one.
Chinese Imports Surge To Record $152 Billion In March Despite "Weak" Yuan As $140 Million Trade Surplus PostedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/10/2011 - 12:31
Despite relentless calls that the Chinese currency is undervalued, and that it really is China's fault that Brent is nearly at $130, in March the world's fastest growing economy posted an import number of $152 billion: an absolutely monthly record. Still, this was almost precisely offset by total exports which at $152.2 billion represent the third highest monthly total ever (following only November and December of 2010), and leading to a trade surplus of $140 million, in essence implying that the CNY is rather correctly priced (at least per the Politburo's calculations of imports and exports). This is substantially stronger than the consensus which was looking for a trade deficit of $3.35 billion in March, arguing that following February trade deficit which came at a multi year high, in part blamed on the Chinese New Year, the country is once again in aggressive inventory restocking mode. A detailed look at China's two main trade partners, the US and EU, shows that exports to the US surged back to $25.1 billion from $15.8 billion in February, while imports from the US were $12.1 billion. Yet despite a strong euro, it is the EU that exported a record amount of goods to China in March: an all time high of $19 billion. Still, this was more than offset by $28.5 billion in imports from China for a trade surplus of $9.5 billion with the European Union. Ironically, it was the Rest of the World (excluding the US, EU, Japan, ASEAN, Korea, Hong Kong, Australia and Taiwan) which benefited the most, after it exported a record amount of goods to China, or $53.9 billion in March. At least someone (who actually has worthwhile goods to export) is seeing their economy grow, regardless of just how undervalued, or fairly priced, the CNY may be.
In a shining example of how it can be done, Iceland, for the second time in as many years, by popular vote refused to provide up to $5 billion to Britain and Netherlands banks. The just completed referendum once again rejected a $5 billion Icesave debt deal, pushed on Iceland by its European banking brethren. "The debt was incurred when Britain and the
Netherlands compensated their nationals who lost savings in online
"Icesave" accounts owned by Landsbanki, one of three Icelandic banks
that collapsed in late 2008." And while Iceland PM Johanna Sigurdardottir did a brief Mutual Assured Destruction tour claiming "economic and political chaos could follow" we can't help but think we are witnessing the early stages of Europe's most flourishing economy over the next decade, while all other countries in Europe fail one after another due to their inability, unwillingness and cowardice to force bankers to experience, gasp, losses for fear of "reprisals." As for the "isolation" that Iceland is threatened with experiencing should it give banksters the finger, we are certain it is just a matter of a few months before some enterprising hedge funds, scrambling for yield career risk offsets, decide to take on the role of the IMF or of repeatedly insolvent Dexia, and lend directly to Iceland.
Lately, there has been a lot of chatter by virtually everyone with some soapbox to stand on, about this and that. That's swell... if mostly irrelevant: by now everyone should be aware that only two charts actually matter, both of which are painfully self-explanatory.
Intragovernmental debt holdings have been one of the more underreported topics during the last few economic cycles. This isn’t surprising. We’ve turned the federal debt argument into a legal, rather than financial or moral, debate where the fairness doctrine of universal applicability means any inconsistency of logic on the part renders the whole invalid. The result of this is the public grossly misunderstands the burden of proof to be the lack of controvertible evidence, and with it any hope of meaningful discourse is lost in the chicanes of grandiose political gestures. Arguments get boiled down into easy-to-swallow pills ready for mass consumption. We rally against illegal immigration without questioning who built our houses, and condemn illegal drug use while washing down an oxycodone with a highball of scotch. National debt is now far too high and government spending and waste far too pervasive. We must stop at nothing to rid ourselves of this indentured servitude... Oh, dear Faust, if it were only that easy.
Remember how happy the Egyptain population was to depose one dictator only to have him replaced with a ruling military junta, and how prosaic, not to mention cynical, our assumption was that the newly "democratic" country has three months before the country experiences another post-Thermiodrian revolution? Well, our estimate was three weeks off. As the video shows, Tahrir Square (remember it? the second black swan of 2011 after that whole Tunisia thing...) is once again the latest and greatest place to go, be seen, and occasionally, shot at.
Putting It All In Perspective: Bernanke Does More For The Budget In 15 Minutes Than The Government Does In A YearSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/09/2011 - 14:19
At a time where the government has demonstrated a complete lack of will over $38 billion, we are left in the hands of Ben to determine short term rates, influence the curve, and Timmy to determine what maturity profile that 'best meets our needs'. The actions of either of these two unelected individuals could dwarf the $38 billion as every 1% of increased borrowing costs would cost $143 billion. Since the government could barely deal with $38 billion, how will they deal with increased borrowing costs? Does even congress know just how trivial their cuts look relative to the potential increases in debt cost?
And for today's exercise in surreality, in your best Agent Cooper voice repeat after us: "The margins are not what they seem." Why? Because in his latest Weekly Kickstart, the next incarnation of A Joseph Cohen, David Kostin appears to be channelling David Lynch when he says: "Company-level margins can fall while aggregate margins for the market continue to rise. If high margin stocks grow sales faster than low margin stocks, the index-level margin still expands." We won't even parse the logic of the first sentence. As for the big "if", so that's what Goldman bets its FYE 2011 S&P 1,500 target on - now we know. "The apparent fallacy of composition may be explained by the simple fact that revenue growth matters." See, David, that's why you get paid the big bucks. But it does not end there: "Analysts expect 66% of S&P 500 ex Financials and Utilities stocks will expand margins in 2011." Now that with Brent at nearly $130 makes absolute sense. In other news, we now know who killed Laura Palmer.
Video Of Tsunami Smashing Into Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant; Reactor 1 Radiation Counter "Breaks" After Reporting 100 Sieverts/HourSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/09/2011 - 12:57
Better late then never. Almost a full month after the March 11 earthquake generated a tsunami strong enough to cripple the Fukushima nuclear power plant, TEPCO has finally released a video of the 45 foot waves coming to land and resulting in the biggest nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl. As CNN explains what is patently obvious, the video shows the giant wave generated by the historic March 11 earthquake crashing over the plant's seawall and engulfing the facility, with one sheet of spray rising higher than the buildings that house the plant's six reactors. Tokyo Electric Power, the plant's owner, told reporters the wall of water was likely 14 to 15 meters (45 to 48 feet) higher than normal sea levels -- easily overwhelming the plant's 5-meter seawall.
For some reason, much ado is being made about the nothing that is last night's 11th (or technically 10th) hour aversion of a government shutdown. As we pointed out last week, it is not as if this strawman outcome, or for that matter the raising of the debt ceiling was ever in doubt: "look for both of these events to be consistently spun as key positive outcomes, even though the chance of these things actually not transpiring in a non-favorable light is non-existent." And sure enough, we are confident that the spin of this outcome will be extremely bullish even if in reality it is the perpetuation of a baseline status quo, while the alternative would have been unthinkable. In the grand scheme of things, this was nothing more than a free episode of political soap opera. The markets largely shrugged, because the Treasury Department still would have been able to issue and service debt and the Fed would continues to goose markets higher courtesy of POMO. Yet as Reuters points out astutely: "The battle over the U.S. budget has ended. Now the war begins. The debate over this year's budget that took the U.S. government to within an hour of a shutdown is only a dress rehearsal for bigger spending clashes to come." Here is what to look forward to, as the beltway entertainment spigot is cranked out to the max.
There was a time when having one’s name listed in the despised ranks of those villains that governments often categorize as “terrorists” involved quite a bit of leg work, as well as an ominous running resume of death, destruction, and general mean spiritedness. Of course, if one examines the history of every modern country which eventually disintegrated into despotism, the definition of who the “enemy” is tends to become rather broad rather quickly. That is to say, the more criminal the leadership of a country becomes, the easier it is for the average person to find himself labeled a criminal by that same leadership. Today, one does not need to blow up buildings, take hostages in political motivation, send anthrax through the mail, or even wave a gun around in a public place to be considered a terrorist threat. In fact, a man could never leave his house and still find himself under suspicion as an enemy of the state. The Department of Homeland Security has released numerous standardized guidelines to law enforcement offices across the country which are meant to make it “easier” for police and others to identify a possible terrorist. If you were to take at face value such documents as the now famous MIAC Report, the Virginia Fusion Center Report, the DHS’ “see something, say something” campaign, the Enemy Belligerents Act, the post trial statements of the Department Of Justice in the Liberty Dollar case, or the wild spewing rhetoric of establishment mouthpiece organizations like the SPLC, then you would discover that a likely terrorist is...
Back in December, the FCC decided, in a 3-2 vote, to take it upon itself to regulate broadband internet access, also known as "Net Neutrality" - in other words the FCC essentially decided to give itself the authority to impose rules that bar Internet providers from blocking or "unreasonably discriminating" against Web content, services or applications. As previously explained: "That means Time Warner Cable can't take payments from Google to make YouTube come over the network faster than Hulu. Comcast, [which recently bought 51% of NBC-U], is also forbidden from favoring its own content over others'." The biggest winners were broadband video content distributors who have rapidly become the biggest traffic hogs on the Internet. Names such as Netflix come to mind. So it came as a bit of a shocker that late this afternoon, while everyone was staring at the countdown clock to government shutdown, that House republicans, in a 240-179 vote, "pushed through a measure disapproving the Federal Communications Commission's rules" - in other words rejecting Net Neutrality, and throwing broadband video companies for a loop. Since the triple play companies such as Comcast have become increasingly concerned about the encroaching threat that is Netflix, it is almost guaranteed that if indeed the House vote passes the Senate, where a similar measure has 39 co-sponsors, and becomes law, then Netflix already razor thing cash flow margins are about to get "razor thinner" as the triple plays extract their pound of flesh. There is one out, though: an Obama veto: per Reuters, "the White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama's advisers would recommend that he veto any such resolution." Which begs the question: will Netflix' momo longs have Obama to thank for the continuation of the most ridiculous move in stock market history, or will the fairy tale promptly come to an end.