If yesterday's markets closed broadly unchanged following all the excitement from the latest "buy the rumor, sell the news" European stress test coupled with a quadruple whammy of macroeconomic misses across the globe, then today's overnight trading session has been far more muted with no major reports, and if the highlight was Kuroda's broken, and erroneous, record then the catalyst that pushed the Nikkei lower by 0.4% was a Bloomberg article this morning mentioning that lower oil prices could mean the BoJ is forced to "tone down or abandon its outlook for inflation." This comes before the Bank of Japan meeting on Friday where the focus will likely be on whether Kuroda says he is fully committed to keeping current monetary policy open ended and whether or not he outlines a target for the BoJ’s asset balance by the end of 2015; some such as Morgan Stanely even believe the BOJ may announce an expansion of its QE program even if most don't, considering the soaring import cost inflation that is ravaging the nation and is pushing Abe's rating dangerously low. Ironically it was the USDJPY levitation after the Japanese session, which launched just as Europe opened, moving the USDJPY from 107.80 to 108.10, that has managed to push equity futures up 0.5% on the usual: nothing.
Though there is some debate over the exact income a middle class household brings in, USA Today notes that we do have an idea of who the middle class are — most working class people. Today's bourgeoisie is composed of laborers and skilled workers, white collar and blue collar workers, many of whom face financial challenges. Bill Maher reminded us a few months back that 50 years ago, the largest employer was General Motors, where workers earned an equivalent of $50 per hour (in today's money). Today, the largest employer — Wal-Mart — pays around $8 per hour. The middle class has certainly changed. USA Today's Cheat Sheet has ranked a list of things the middle class can no longer really afford.
The worst thing about the government’s reckless response to the financial crisis of 2008, even worse than the trillions in taxpayer bailouts and backstops granted to the financial criminals that created the disaster, is the primary lesson that it sent to American society as a whole. Some people like to call it “moral hazard,” but in more pedestrian terms it really just boils down to: The Bad Guys Got Away with It... "The California Highway Patrol officer accused of stealing nude photos from a DUI suspect’s phone told investigators that he and his fellow officers have been trading such images for years, in a practice that stretches from its Los Angeles office to his own Dublin station."
"If we have what everyone would hail as a soft landing, with growth remaining above 6-7% for another two years, it would just mean that credit was still growing too quickly. And once we reach debt capacity constraints, the so-called soft landing would be followed by a very brutal hard landing... Growth miracles have always been the relatively easy part; it is the subsequent adjustment that has been the tough part."
The head of Japan's Central Bank kept a straight face while unleashing a torrent of comedic genius this evening with regard the Japanese economy and its monetary and fiscal policy success... Enjoy...
"They laud and promote the myth of American democracy - even as we are stripped of civil liberties and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of patriotism. They select the specialists and experts, almost always drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain policy. They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations, for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia." The role of the mass media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses.
Nowhere is The American Dream more prevalent than... In Asia?
Elliott Capital's Paul Singer has previously raised his concerns that "there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence" - an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). In 1859, a particularly strong solar disturbance (the “Carrington Event”) caused disruption to the nascent telegraph network. It happened again with similar disruptions in 1921. Now, as Dr. Lika Guhathakurta discusses, "to bring our modern society to a halt, I don't think we need an event that is as large as a Carrington Event. It could be much smaller, simply because of the connectedness of our power grid and also the entire technological system."
Winston Churchill once said that "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else." By 'everything else' apparently he also meant hiring thousands of Nazis as Cold War spies and informants and, according to the NYT, "as recently as the 1990s, concealing the government’s ties to some still living in America."
"Western economies have lost the ability to generate real new wealth of the type that their debt-based monetary systems require for ongoing operations (such as paying interest on old debt). I suspect the subject will force itself on the national consciousness in the year ahead as one company after another in the shale oil regions craps out on a shortage of available investment capital. That’s the inflection point where fake wealth is unmasked for what it really is: crippled capital formation. The disappointment from that looming event will thunder through our society." In the meantime, the distractions are many and powerful.
The 76% retracement S&P 500 rebound was so quick and so steep that Sterne Agee's Carter Worth warns it "suggests that the mentality that fosters complacency and excess in the first place, remains in effect. And that means, of course, that nothing has been corrected." As Bloomberg reports, Worth adds that uptrends have been broken worldwide and rebounding stocks are back to "difficult" levels where sellers may re-exert control.
Shortly before leaving the Fed this year, Ben Bernanke rather pompously declared that Quantitative Easing "works in practice, but it doesn’t work in theory." There is, of course, no counter-factual. But to suggest credibly that QE has worked, we first have to agree on a definition of what "work" means, and on what problem QE was meant to solve. We think the QE debate should be reframed: has QE done anything to reform an economic and monetary system urgently in need of restructuring? We think the answer, self-evidently, is “No”.
Just a few short weeks ago, Maryland Democratic Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown had a 16 point lead over Republican small businessman Larry Hogan in the state's Gubernatorial debate. Things have slipped since then. Following last week's dismal appearance by President Obama stumping for Brown - which saw crowds streaming out of the event leaving bleachers empty, his lead has collapsed to just 2 points (according to apossibly partisan leaked poll reported by The Daily Caller)... We suspect the growing unwelcomeness of the president on the campaign trail looks a little like this...
While overall Twitter's just released Q3 numbers were more or less in line as expected, with Q3 EPS printint at just a penny, the same as expected on $361 million in revenues, $10 million higher than the $351 million expected, and even EBITDA of $68 million beat estimates of $52.8 million, the stock after hours has tumbled by some 12%. And while the headline data appear normal, it is one of the gimmicky, non-GAAP "twitter-specific" indicators that the company came up with just to validate its growth story that appears to be the cause of the drop afterhours, namely TWTR's Timeline Views/MAU, which declined across the board, and were down in both the US and Worldwide not only Y/Y (by -6% and -7%, respectively), but also down compared to the second quarter.
Despite the best efforts of ECB QE rumor-mongering, US equities could do no better than end unch (though Trannies are no rallying on lower oil prices). The early tumble on a quadruple whammy of bad macro data (misses for Service PMI, Dallas Fed, Pending Home Sales and IFO) was ramped into the European close and beyond after Reuters dropped a QE-headline. The initial jump in stocks was ignored by bonds but once they recoupled, bonds, stocks, and JPY moved in sync for the rest of the day on low volumes and extremely low liquidity.Treasuries rallied from overnight weakness to close very modestly lower in yield. Early weakness in oil (under $80) was rapidly recovered as despite USD weakness (-0.2% on the day), gold, silver, and oil ended down modestly (and copper higher after the cornering news). VIX continues its path of ignoring recent equity exuberance ending the day modestly higher.