- Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope for troubled Church (Reuters)
- Hyperinflation 'Unthinkable' Even With Bold Easing: Abe (Nikkei)
- Ryan Plan Revives '12 Election Issues (WSJ)
- Italy 1-yr debt costs highest since Dec after downgrade (Reuters)
- Republicans to unveil $4.6tn of cuts (FT) - Obama set to dismiss Ryan plan to balance budget within decade
- CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq (WSJ)
- Hollande Hostility Fuels Charm Offensive to Show He’s No Sarkozy (BBG)
- SEC testing customized punishments (Reuters)
- Judge Cans Soda Ban (WSJ)
- Hungary Lawmakers Rebuff EU, U.S. (WSJ)
- Even Berlusconi Can’t Slow Bulls Boosting Euro View (BBG) - luckily the consensus is never wrong
- Funding for Lending ‘put on steroids’ (FT)
- Investigators Narrow Focus in Dreamliner Probe (WSJ)
- With new group, Obama team seeks answer to Karl Rove (Reuters)
When we first reported on China's "hogwash" yesterday, the number of floating pigs in Shanghai's water supplying Huangpu River was a "modest" 1200. It has since tripled to 3300. From SCMP: "The agriculture and environmental protection departments in Shanghai's Songjiang district have pulled more than 3,300 dead pigs out of the Huangpu River, which flows through the municipality, in the past week." What is worse is that at least one pig-related virus has been found in a water sample: "Porcine circovirus, a common hog disease that is not known to be infectious to humans, was found in a sample taken from the water, Shanghai's animal disease control department was quoted as saying by eastday.com a major Shanghai news portal." The good news is that tests by the Shanghai Animal Disease Prevention and Control Centre on five sets of internal organs taken from the dead pigs has ruled out five other diseases including foot-and-mouth, hog cholera and blue-ear. Of course, this is China, whose disclosure record is second only to Japan, where as a reminder the government said the radiation level was under control days after the Fukushima explosion, even as the reality was far grimmer.
Just like yesterday, it will be up to the US session to provide the perfectly expected, VIXterminating, volumeless ramp as the rest of the world just did not have it in i to take the S&P to all time highs in overnight trading. To summarize: currency talkfare out of Asia, hope springs eternal out of Europe despite the usual spate of ugly numbers, PIIGS bond auctions backstopped by the ECB and always "that much better" than the expected, a UK economy that is just imploding to provide an alibi for more open-ended QE and a crushed pound, and with the US due to make everything better by sending the SP to its all time high (just 9 points away) on the one week anniversary of the record high DJIA, as the NY Fed clobbers the VIX to a 10 handle or lower on even more ugly, unadjusted economic data.
If you recall, Winston Smith’s job in George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 was to go into historical records and literally change history. He would alter photographs and text in the archives so that history would always portray “The Party” in a positive light and as omniscient. Well folks, this behavior has arrived in America and we better nip it in the bud fast before one of these drones is flying right over our heads. "As scrutiny and debate over the use of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) by the American military increased last month, the Air Force reversed a policy of sharing the number of airstrikes launched from RPAs in Afghanistan and quietly scrubbed those statistics from previous releases kept on their website. On Sunday, U.S. Central Command said in a statement that the decision was made to remove the statistics because the data disproportionately places emphasis on the airstrikes. The majority of the RPA missions are for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, with a small percent involving airstrikes."
The topic of Illinois' various insolvent pension systems is not news to regular Zero Hedge readers. One needs but to recall our articles from mid/late 2010: "61% Underfunded Illinois Teachers Pension Fund Goes For Broke, Becomes Next AIG-In-Waiting By Selling Billions In CDS", "Illinois' Pension Fund Death Spiral Revisited: "10 Years Of Money Left" or "Illinois Teachers' Retirement System Enters The Death Spiral: AIG Wannabe's Go-For-Broke Strategy Fails As Pension Fund Begins Liquidations" in which we clearly explained how the state's teachers pension fund was systematically doing everything in its power to mask its massive underfunding, and the fact that it was rapidly running out of money. The retiremnet fund, in turn, took things very personally, prompting Dave Urbanek, Public Information Officer at the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois (TRS), to write an impassioned response to Zero Hedge denying all allegations. Today, over two years after the above news, the SEC finally concluded their analysis of one part of the massively underfunded Illinois Pension system and found the Illinois failed to inform investors about the impact of problems with its pension funding schedule as the state offered and sold more than $2.2 billion worth of municipal bonds from 2005 to early 2009. The SEC also said Illinois failed to disclose that it had underfunded the state's pension obligations, increasing the risk to its overall financial condition.
Because having legal authority to buy corporate bonds, ETFs and REITs, in addition to everything else the Fed now buys, is apparently not enough to crush, mangle and suicide its currency, the BOJ is now considering adding yet another "asset" to its cocktail of eligible securities for purchase: those which Buffett once declared weapons of mass financial destruction - derivatives.
Foodstamp Recipients Hit Record, Alongside Record Dow Jones And Record Debt: 20% Of Eligible Americans On EBTSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/11/2013 - 17:16
Record Dow Jones, record US debt ($16,701,846,937,879.74), and now, once more, record number of Americans on foodstamps. According to the USDA, an all time high of 47,791,966 Americans closed 2012 in possession of the highly desired Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, managed by who else but JPMorgan. And with a civilian non-institutional population of 244.4 million in December, this means that a record 19.56% of eligible Americans are on Foodstamps.
Presenting the VIX. Or rather, highlighting the grotesque and blatant last second "banging the close" of the VIX. Thank you Simon Potter and your protege, Kevin Henry, for providing countless hours of sideline entertainment, and lamentation for what was once a stock market.
When we summarized the overnight session just before 7 am, we titled it appropriately enough, "No Melt Up (Yet) In Boring Overnight Trading." Little did we know, actually scratch that - we knew full well that moments later the ramp would make its now daily reappearance. Because if it weren't for the 7th straight day of no volume, no news levitation, someone, somewhere may have gotten the impression that the market is desperately manipulated and artificial, and that if it weren't for a constant ramp higher, confidence in authoritarian "markets" may disappear, and the retail investor may pull even more than was pulled last week, following a brief inflow in the market in early 2013.
Bloomberg To Appeal Halt Of "Arbitrary And Capricious" Decision, Will Fight Valiantly To Curb New York ObesitySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/11/2013 - 15:53
We believe @nychealthy has the legal authority and responsibility to tackle causes of the obesity epidemic, which kills 5,000 NYers a year.
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) March 11, 2013
Just hitting the tape ahead of tomorrow's scheduled hit of Bloomberg's ban on "large sugary drinks":
Judge invalidates New York City's ban on large sugary drinks; ban had been scheduled to take effect tomorrow.
Judge says sugar drink limit "illegal"
Judge finds ban to be arbitrary and capricious.
Has the time come to ban independently thinking judicial authorities who don't agree with multi-term Spanish-speaking authoritarians?
Oil? Financials? Aerospace? When someone asks who the biggest sources of lobby dollars for DC's politicians-for-purchase are, these are the three usual suspects that come to mind. Some may, therefore, be surprised to learn according to the database kept by OpenSecrets between Pharmaceutical and health product industry, hospital and nursing homes, health professionals and health services, HMOs, or more broadly Pharma/Healthcare/HMO, the total lobby dollars spent between 1998 and 2012 was a staggering $5.3 billion, or nearly three times greater than the second most generous industry: insurance, and well above Oil and Gas at $1.4 billion, and Securities and Investment at $1.0 billion. Is it becoming clearer why the US government has few qualms about unsustainable taxpayer funded healthcare spending, especially when there are so many current benefits accruing to the politicians who see so many billions in benefits from passing lobby-friendly laws now (by which we mean generous taxpayer funding, the bulk of which benefits the healthcare industry's bottom line)? As for the costs: who cares - just dump them on future generations. It's not like anyone expects the $16.7 trillion in US debt to be ever repaid.
In just a week's time, the political elite in the Land of the Free gave us bills which:
- ensure the government cannot assassinate its own citizens with drones
- impose price controls with insurance premiums
- award the government with more power to initiate biosurveillance operations
- create a quota system in the labor market
It really makes me wonder... how much more will it take for people to notice how rapidly they're losing freedom, or how destructive the political leadership is?