Emerging from a hearing with NSA Director Keith Alexander, Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.), the senior Democrat on the panel, said Snowden simply wasn't in the position to access the content of the communications gathered under National Security Agency programs, as he's claimed. "He was lying," Rogers said. "He clearly has over-inflated his position, he has over-inflated his access and he's even over-inflated what the actually technology of the programs would allow one to do. It's impossible for him to do what he was saying he could do... I hope that we don't decide that our national security interests are going to be determined by a high-school dropout who had a whole series of both academic troubles and employment troubles," Rogers said.
We now know that the US is not the cleanest dirty 'economic' shirt but it seems that the "well, where else are you going to put your money?" argument remains in full 'myopic' swing. The problem - we've seen this suspension of belief before...
Being poor is like a game of poker where if you lose, the other players get to screw you. And if you win, the dealer screws you. A bunch of you reading this are among the 45 million “working poor” in America, and if you’re not, you know somebody who is. People are quick to tell you to pick yourself up by your bootstraps and just stop being poor. What they don’t understand is the series of intricate financial traps that makes that incredibly difficult...
Following the 3 and 10 year auctions in the last two days, today's 30 Year $13 billion reopening completed the trifecta of ugliness, pricing at a surprisingly wide 3.355%, or three whole basis points above the When Issued, which traded at 3.324% at 1pm - the biggest tail in a long time. It was also the highest yield for a 30 Year since March 2012. The internals were not pretty either - the Bid To Cover coming at 2.47, well below the TTM average of 2.59 but hardly the massive BTC collapse that we saw in yesterday's 10 Year. And just like yesterday, the Directs ran for the hills taking down just 8.5%, compared to 15.2% in the past year average, Indirects taking 40.2% and 51.3% or so left for the Dealers who will be happy to stock up on some more collateral.
There's no way to sugarcoat the dismal performance of the precious metals in recent months. But a revisitation of the reasons for owning them reveals no cracks in the underlying thesis for doing so. In fact, there are a number of new compelling developments arguing that the long heartbreak for gold and silver holders will soon be over.
When it comes to the validity, accuracy and honesty of government-sourced data, sadly there is much to be desired in the time of the New Normal, when governments have made it very clear they will resort to any measure to boost confidence - from the wealth effect to flagrantly doctoring economic (dis)information. Luckly for now at least, the private sector provides a somewhat credible alternative, although even that is rapidly being subsumed by the government apparatus (see ADP morphing into BLS-lite). Still, it is a useful data point for those who still care about the anachronism known as "fundamentals." So in order to supplement the retail data disclosed earlier which according to some was the "most important retail spending" report in years, one useful counterpoint is sales data as disclosed by credit card processors such as MasterCard (sadly often hiding behind subscription paywalls). Here are some highlights of what a parsing such a recent report reveals, courtesy of Bloomberg.
World trade volume growth is languishing at a mere 1.3% YoY - a level only seen worse during the 2000/1 and 2008/9 global crises. Central banks have shot their wads to the point of no return. Governments have hit a peak-debt wall of fiscal irresponsibility. So what's left in the great depression playbook... why protectionism of course. As Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, global trade protectionism has surged to its highest since the financal crisis according to Global Trade Alert. As Simon Evenett notes, the past 12 months have seen a quiet, wide-ranging assault on the commercial level playing field. When protectionist dynamics were viewed as a compelling threat to the world economy in early 2009, defenders of an open trading system took up arms. They would be wise to do so again before international commerce fragments further along national lines.
Four days ago we timed the Nikkei short perfectly: after all we had the irrefutable top indicator - a Goldman "buy" recommendation, which hit the tape on Sunday night when the Nikkei was at 13250. Here is what Goldman said. "Nervousness over local bond market volatility, amplified by concerns about Fed tapering, has raised fears about whether QE policies can be effectively delivered. We think those fears are overdone and are recommending long positions in Nikkei September futures (NKU3) with a target of 14,500 and a stop on a close below 12,700." We, in turn, were cautiously optimistic on the imminent collapse in the Nikkei which however surpassed our wildest expectations, plunging by 800 points in under 4 days and hitting 12400 a few hours ago where the Nikkei closed. One would think that following this horrible trade, whose catalyst never panned out ("Our central expectations for Tuesday’s BOJ meeting are relatively modest – we expect the term period for fund-supplying operations against pooled collateral will be extended to two years"), Goldman would have the dignity to spare the muppets further losses. Alas, no such luck.
Let's start with the oldest economics joke in the book: "assume there is a housing recovery."
"The Market Would Have Collapsed" Had The PBOC Drained: Chinese Liquidity Shortage Hits All Time HighSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/13/2013 - 09:41
Those who have been following our coverage of the bipolar Chinese liquidity situation (most recently here and here) are well aware of the unique position the world's fastest (if only on paper) growing economy finds itself in: on one hand, it is the target of massive external hot money flows from both the Fed and the BOJ, which are pushing select inflation in the country higher, manifesting itself best in the real-estate market now higher for 12 consecutive months. On the other hand, the local banking system is in such dire need of liquidity, that not only have various short-term SHIBORs soared to multi-year highs but as Market News reported last week, China Everbright Bank failed to repay 6b yuan ($977m) borrowed from Industrial Bank on time yesterday because of tight liquidity, leading to “chain effect” borrowing in the market overnight and almost ushering in the first bank failure in China. The unprecedented liquidity shortage in China is seen best on the overnight SHIBOR chart below which just hit an all time high. In a nutshell there is zero free liquidity in the system. So what would have happened if the PBOC had continued on its merry way of withdrawing liquidity from the interbank market? Very bad things. “If the PBOC sold repos or bills today, the market would have collapsed.”
Just as during the Great Moderation, buying financials has become the no-lose trade for any and all momo junkies. From their 'fortress' balance sheets (prone to total leveraged collapse at any moment from giant over-zealous trades and mismarking of assets) to their 'can't lose' scenario analysis if rates rise because NIM will make them rich (aside from the fact that it won't), bank stocks have been among the best performers in recent months (dramatically outperforming credit in the last few weeks). So we have a simple question. If things are so great... if the outlook so rosy... if the price-to-book so misvalued... why are the bank laying off people in 2013 at a rate almost as fast as they did in 2009?
Liquidity overcame common sense and economic fundamentals for a time. A lot of money was made and a huge amount of leverage was put on. Everything rose with the tide. Look around you though; look carefully. We think the tide is beginning to go out. We believe recession in Europe will spread to America as the severity of the European crisis becomes more and more apparent. Upcoming economic data in France is also going to be quite troubling in my opinion and the contagion will become apparent in the United States.