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Bank Of America's Ethan Harris Explains The Birth Death Adjustment

Yesterday Zero Hedge pointed out that in addition to the 54,000 NFP number missing every single economist estimate, another very troubling statistic was that the BLS added some 206,000 "jobs" courtesy of its monthly birth/death adjustment: numbers which tend to be added on a monthly basis and then subtracted (especially during periods of economic contraction) in one annual benchmark revision which is largely ignored by everyone. In fact, as Peter Tchir pointed out, over the past 4 months, the NFP has added 752k jobs, of which 610k have been birth death jobs. B/D has added 271K jobs YTD in 2011, 510K in 2010, 585K in 2009, 825K in 2008, 883K in 2007, 1002K in 2006, etc, in in the last decade has never once subtracted from the full year tally, which would subsequently be revised lower. You get the picture. Well, yesterday, Bloomberg's Tom Keene sat down with Bank of America chief economist Ethan Harris, who just like every other Wall Street economist has been clueless on the direction of the economy in 2011, and asked him to explain just what the B/D model is, why it exists, and whether it represent data manipulation. The relevant segment begins just over 5 minutes into the clip below.



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Guest Post: The Final Form of Human Government

As Donne reminds us, No man is an island, at least if he attains to the order, the harmony – that “pleasing combination of the elements” – for which he naturally yearns. Alone against the elements, man is as nothing, scratching out an existence unfit for his kind and indeed destructive of it, selfless because, in having no others with whom to associate, no true self exists. But in that convivium – that “living together” – a self emerges, or at least the reflection of a self, into which he gazes and through which he begins not only to act but to act human, the goal of which is always the satisfaction of the acting man’s desires. And that, as we have said, is the source and sustenance of the social enterprise...



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20 Facts About US Inequality That Everyone Should Know (With An Update On The Uber-Wealthy And Global Wealth Inequality)

Courtesy of the Stanford Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality, we bring you the "20 facts about US Inequality that Everyone Should Know". For everything one has always wanted to know about wage inequality, CEO pay, homelessness, education wage premium, gender pay gaps, occupational sex segregation, racial gaps in education, racial discrimination, child poverty, residential segregation, health insurance, inter and intragenerational income mobility, bad jobs, discouraged workers, wealth inequality, labor market deregulation, job losses, immigrants and inequality and productivity and real income, this is the definitive resource.



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On "China Dumps US Bonds" Attempts At Clickbaiting

In the aftermath of last week's disclosure to preempt the massive hoax story sourced by one "Sorcha Faal" involving a whole lot of false allegations pertaining to DSK, Russia and gold, all of it based not one single, sourcable fact, we have now been inundated with emails directing us to a story which has appeared in CNS News (and the fact that it was carried by Drudge Report does make it any easier), titled "China Has Divested 97 Percent of Its Holdings in U.S. Treasury Bills." Once again, while most readers will see right through this superficial attempt at clickbaiting, for the benefit of everyone else, we would like to briefly respond to how this article would look like when one actually looks at the facts.



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Spiegel Reports Greek Bailout #2 To Surpass €100 Billion

It's the weekend, which means another Spiegel hit piece over the solvency and stability of the Eurozone is overdue. Sure enough, the publication comes through admirably with "New Greek aid to cost more than one hundred billion euros." As a reminder, until as recently as 24 hours ago it was expected that the bailout would be at most €80 billion, with half coming from Greek privatization efforts. Naturally, this means that even more money will be transferred from taxpayer pockets to bank capital deficiency accounts. Next up: Greek bailouts 3, 4, 5, by which point Goldman will have hopefully achieved its life long ambition of opening a Goldman Sachs-branded ATM at the main entrance to the Acropolis, which GS will have LBOed using discount window capital.



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Berlin Conference 2.0: Russia To Bail Out Hyperinflationary Belarus As Colonization Scramble Heats Up

Who said that only Germany is allowed to annex Greece (and soon Ireland and Portugal)? (and if Der Spiegel has anything to say about it, again, Bailout #2 is far from certain... more on that shortly). In a surprising move, Russia has decided to remind everyone just how irrelevant the IMF is now that Russia and China run the "sovereign rescue" show, and that it too can play the imperialist game just as well as the Troica. Following the recent hyperdevaluation of the Belarus Ruble as discussed on Zero Hedge, and the country's collapse into a hyperinflationary hell, Reuters has just reported that Putin, that "White Knight" of former USSR imperialist dominance, has decided to "bailout" Belarus. From Reuters: "Cash-strapped Belarus will receive a three-year $3 billion loan from a Russia-led regional bailout fund as it seeks to stabilize its economy, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday. The former Soviet republic on Friday unveiled a series of measures to end the crisis, including a vow to cut its budget deficit in half, after its currency lost 36 percent of its value in May and inflation reached 20.2 percent." It is unclear just how many billions in funds will need to be derived from forced "privatization" of Belarus assets for the benefit of the old KGB guard, or what the interest rate on the rescue loans will be. What is more than clear is that as more and more countries fall into the toxic debt spiral, their neighbors who actually have capital and/or natural resources (ergo the irrelevance of the IMF), will "bail them out" only to remind the world that colonization is what it has always been truly about. Berlin Conference ver 2.0 -  here we come.



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Guest Post: On The Ethics Of Mortgage Loan Default

Is it ethical for the American homeowner whose mortgage has been securitized to default, even If they are not financially distressed? First, consider it is unlikely that marketable, fee simple, insurable title can be obtained as a result of fulfilling the obligations of the related promissory note. On the contrary the titles to some 60 million homes in America are badly clouded. Secondly, encouraging investment in an asset class that has been artificially inflated, then deliberately destroying the price of the asset, as part of a separate profit making scheme is unethical, and any agreement based on this type of fraud is grounds to consider the original debt instrument used in the agreement null and void. Fortunately these grounds are unnecessary, as increasingly US courts are ruling that these mortgages are already invalid for numerous other reasons.



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HFT Stock Manipulation Caught On Tape

It doesn't get any more blatant than this. Once again, courtesy of Nanex we present to our incompetent regulators prima facie evidence of what is outright tape painting via what is an apparent HFT algo trying either to front run an order, to test for the presence of other predatory algos, and in general to take advantage of Reg NMS only protecting displayed liquidity over non-displayed (a topic we discussed two years ago). In the example below, which shows unique trades in the stock of XEL.PR.G, in the span of 30 seconds, 430 shares are bought up on the way up from $90.5 to $102.25, and then sold off once again in another 10 seconds, hitting all bids as soon as they appeared. Now this is not some HFT-darling which trades millions of shares per day (and sees blasts of tens of millions of quote stuffing packets in hours) and thus will likely be ignored by the general population... until it does hit some stock that people do care about. Naturally the implication is that, as Nanex points out, if all stocks traded/quoted at this frequency, even the the SEC could figure this out in a few weeks, after assembling a multi-discipilanary team of course. Is it any wonder that virtually nobody trades on open exchanges anymore (yes, most trading, or what's left of it has shifted to Sigma X and other dark pools) where the only survival tactic for such legacy monsters as the NYSE and Nasdaq is to laterally buy up as many of their peers as they can now that organic growth no longer exists: gotta love a world in which there are 83 different ATS venues, all of which permit some permutation of millions of stock manipulation strategies.



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Weekly Chartology, Or What To Do When You Are Dead Wrong And Every Economic Release Disappoints Relative To Consensus

Goldman's David Kostin is out with his latest chartpack which is as always chock full of pretty pictures, and the usual set of Monday morning quarterbacked recommendations. Just as it was Zero Hedge who first called Goldman's BS out in December of 2010 on their economic "fundamental shift" resurgence call, so it was ZH again first who suggested the QE Unwind compression trade, "Utilities and Consumer Staples as the long led in a compression trade, while shorting Industrials and Consumer Discretionary." Sure enough here comes Goldman observing "The rotation away from Cyclicals (Financials, Industrials, Materials) and into Defensive sectors (Health Care, Utilities, Consumer Staples, Telecom) continues to follow closely the historical trading pattern typically exhibited when the ISM index is declining from a peak back to 50" following a week in which  "every US economic data release disappointed relative to consensus expectations. ISM manufacturing index (53.5 actual vs. median consensus expectation of 57.1), consumer confidence (60.8 vs. 66.6), nonfarm payrolls (54,000 vs. 165,000), and unemployment rate (9.1% vs. 8.9%) all posted negative surprises and pushed the cumulative 22-day rolling US MAP (macro data assessment) score to its lowest level since  the beginning of our data in 2001. Domestic vehicle sales (9.2 million vs. 9.7) and home prices as measured by S&P/Case-Shiller index also disappointed." Perhaps it is time to launch the REDI Zero soft dollar machine: if Goldman makes billions and is dead wrong all the time, we would be trillioniares...So naturally, here's Goldman, pitching the high "Sharpe Ratio" basket, or back to defensives. Of course, anyone who listened to use almost three weeks ago already has this on.



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Dow 20,000 Or Bust; Or How James Altucher Stole Birinyi's Ruler

In tonight's episode of "Friday night comedy with Zero Hedge", instead of name play (also here) or almost factual Bloomerg [sic] stories we present 6 minutes of stand up comedy from the one, the only James Altucher who brings the mysterious case of the missing Birinyi ruler, to a close. Since we are laughing too hard to be able to type for any extended period without fatfingerdly sending the ES to 0, we open up to our readers the following clip of pure comedic bliss in which Altucher makes the trivial case for Dow 20,000 using the very same arguments you have heard elsewhere at least a thousands times, though with such conviction, dedication, and passion, that one not help but stare mesmerized, mouth agape, and hypnotized submitting a limit buy order for the DO at 19,999 (because, ultimately, it is a good deal - just ask James).



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Guest Post: Two Clear Warning Signs In The Credit Markets

Credit markets have been performing well all year. The returns, while not outstanding have been incredibly consistent. There has been an eerie calm to the market. Most people are bullish on corporate credit - even those who don't like the overall yields argue that the spreads are attractive. That may be true, but two leading indicators of potential trouble in the credit market have popped onto my radar screen



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CME Saves The Best For Friday 6 PM Last, Lowers Treasury Bond Margins

Just in case the broad speculator public did not get the message earlier this week after the CME lowered ES margins, just in time for the market to sell off and send realized vol surging (while of course ignoring plunging vol in gold, silver and all other commodities), the CME has completed the "paint by Rahmian numbers" puzzle, and has made clear which other asset class has the investment "go ahead" by the administration. As of a few minutes ago, the initial and outright margins for 10Y and 30 Y Treasury Bond Futures, 10 Year On The Runs, 7 Year Interest Rate Swaps and LT US Treasury Bond Futures were all lowered by up to 19%. Good thing the move comes 4 weeks before the end of QE 2. Were it to just precede, or, gasp, coincide with June 30, one may get ideas that this is not quote unquote risk management, such as that expressly not exhibited by the CME's refusal to hike ES margins following their cut, but is nothing but another glaringly obvious means of directing speculative capital into preferred asset classes.



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Attention Marxists: Labor's Share Of National Income Drops To Lowest In History

Probably the most imprtant secular trend in recent employment data, one that has a far greater impact on the macroeconomic themes than Birth/Death and seasonal adjustment manipulated month to month shifts in the employment pool per either the household or establishment surveys, is the labor share of national income. In a 2004 paper from the St. Louis Fed, the authors make the following statement: "The allocation of national income between workers and the owners of capital is considered one of the more remarkably stable relationships in the  U.S. economy. As a general rule of thumb, economists often cite labor’s share of income to be about two-thirds of national income—although the exact figure is sensitive to the specific data used to calculate the ratio. Over time, this ratio has shown no clear tendency to rise or fall." It would be wonderful if this was true, and thus if the US population really had a stable distribution of income between laborers and capital owners. Alas it is dead wrong. In fact, as the latest note from David Rosenberg points out, the "labor share of national income has fallen to its lower level in modern history - down to 57.5% in the first quarter from 57.6% in the fourth quarter of last year, 57.8% a year ago, and 59.8% when the recovery began." And here is where the Marxist-Leninist party of the US should pay particular attention: "some recovery it has been - a recovery in which labor's share of the spoils has declined to unprecedented levels."



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Arnie Gundersen Interview: The Dangers Of Fukushima Are Worse And Longer-lived Than We Think

"I have said it's worse than Chernobyl and I’ll stand by that. There was an enormous amount of radiation given out in the first two to three weeks of the event. And add the wind and blowing in-land. It could very well have brought the nation of Japan to its knees. I mean, there is so much contamination that luckily wound up in the Pacific Ocean as compared to across the nation of Japan - it could have cut Japan in half. But now the winds have turned, so they are heading to the south toward Tokyo and now my concern and my advice to friends that if there is a severe aftershock and the Unit 4 building collapses, leave. We are well beyond where any science has ever gone at that point and nuclear fuel lying on the ground and getting hot is not a condition that anyone has ever analyzed." So cautions Arnie Gundersen, widely-regarded to be the best nuclear analyst covering Japan's Fukushima disaster. The situation on the ground at the crippled reactors remains precarious and at a minimum it will be years before it can be hoped to be truly contained. In the near term, the reactors remain particularly vulnerable to sizable aftershocks, which still have decent probability of occuring. On top of this is a growing threat of 'hot particle' contamination risk to more populated areas as weather patterns shift with the typhoon season and groundwater seepage.



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The Collapse In EUR Spec Longs Ends As Dollar Short Covering Has A Little More To Go

As we predicted last week, the tide has turned in the futures market, where after 4 weeks of steep declines, the net EUR non-commercial specs have finally posted a pick up. And considering they are delayed by about 700 pips, after the pair has surged since May 23, expect what will likely be the biggest surge in net long EUR exposure next week. In the week ended May 31, there were 21,970 net longs, compared to 19.129 in the week prior, and 99,516 on May 3, when the EURUSD was flirting with the 1.50 mark. We expect a pick up of at least 30-40k contracts in the next week as all latecomer shorts promptly cover. Elsewhere, the short covering spree in the USD continues but not for long: look for the most recent net long exposure of 4,787 to promptly flip and go negative once again as more and more begin anticipating another Monetary Easing episode. And out east, the net JPY exposure went bearish fror the first time sine May 3, with net exposure dropping from 8,006 contracts to -1,648. The technicals at this point indicate a break of recent EURUSD resistance in the 1.50 area is very much possible.



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