Everyone who lost money on the SNB’s decision to reverse course on their three and a half year policy to cap the exchange rate between the CHF and the Euro made a category error. Simply put, the rules always change as the Golden Age of the Central Banker begins to fade. The SNB decision was a wake-up call, whether or not you were directly impacted, to re-examine portfolios and investment behavior for category errors. We all have them. It’s only human. The question, as always, is whether we’re prepared to do anything about it.
As we detailed previously, the first USD-denominated Chinese corporate bond default last week - of developer Kaisa Group - signals considerably deeper problems in China's economy as one manager noted, "everyone is rethinking risk right now." As Bloomberg reports, Chinese companies comprised 62% of all U.S. dollar bond sales in the Asia-Pacific region ex Japan last year, issuing $244.4 billion and that huge (and illiquid) market "has been too complacent," according to one credit strategist who warned, investors would be “rational to adopt a cautious approach in view of the fact that anything can happen, anywhere, anytime. It would be irrational to continue thinking that after Kaisa none of the companies will see a similar fate."
The gravy train is over for oil workers. All over North America, people that felt very secure about their jobs just a few weeks ago are now getting pink slips. Since 2003, drilling and extraction jobs in the United States have doubled. And these jobs typically pay very well. It is not uncommon for oil patch workers to make well over $100,000 a year, and these are precisely the types of jobs that we cannot afford to be losing. The middle class is struggling mightily as it is. And just like we witnessed in 2008, oil industry layoffs usually come before a downturn in employment for the overall economy.
Once upon a time, there was a saying "no taxation without representation." Well, in America's transition to an utopia of French or even Venezuelan caliber, for half the population taxation became an anachronism from a bygone era, which in turn meant that representation likewise lost its charm. However, in order to preserve a political system in which the votes of the many are bought with the money of the few or, as the case may be these days, with money printed out of thin air by the Federal Reserve, there was one bureaucratic hurdle: one still needed a US passport in order to vote. However if a newly introduced bill in Washington D.C. passes, one won't even need to be a citizen in order to vote in local elections.
The Ministry of Finance just reported that Japan bought JPY 657 billion (over $5.6 billion) of foreign stocks last week. That is the biggest weekly purchase of foreign equities since records began in 2001. The huge size of the purchases- more than double the average size of recent weekly purchases - appears to have been 'spent' on European stocks (and perhaps some Chinese). It is unclear whether this is direct buying by the banks as a proxy for The BoJ's quid pro quo or merely front-running this week's exuberance from Draghi by Mrs.Watanabe now that her Swissy trade exploded...
After 6+ years of deepening poverty and rising stock markets, of creative accounting, of QE and ultra-low interest rates, of extend and pretend and outright propaganda and of what have you, all of which have led us to where we are today, facing yet more rounds of stumbling from crisis into multiple crises, it would seem clear that the model, if not the mold, is broken. In order to fix it, let alone replace it altogether, we need to understand to what extent it is broken. And to do that, we first need to know what exactly the model is. However, the rich-and-powerful in Davos believe in one model only, the one of ever increasing centralization and globalization, because that’s the model that got them where they are.
While the lawyer for Michael Brown’s family, said he did not want to comment on the investigation until the Justice Department made an official announcement, The New York Times reports that law enforcement officials have said The Justice Department has begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against Darren Wilson, the white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., who killed the unarmed black teenager in August. A broader civil rights investigation into allegations of discriminatory traffic stops and excessive force by the Ferguson Police Department remains open, but Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., has said that he plans to have it done before leaving office, probably in the next month or two.
Are you smarter than a 9th grader? Then you will be quite at home with President Obama's latest State of The Union speech. While the Flesch-Kincaid readability test shows SOTU 'smartness' has been plunging Woodrow Wilson, the collapse has accelerated post-Clinton with President Obama's average SOTO speech tailored to the intellect of a 14-year-old - the lowest on record.
Presented with little comment aside to note the ironic timing of the surge in job cut announcements from North American firms since President Obama's "Crisis Has Passed" State of The Union speech...
How does the economy really work? In our view, both energy and debt play an extremely important role in an economic system. Once energy supply and other aspects of the economy start hitting diminishing returns, there is a serious chance that a debt implosion will bring the whole system down. In this first piece of this story, we explain how the economy is tied to energy, and how the leveraging impact of cheap energy creates economic growth.
Having explained to all the 10th graders in the nation how 'everything is awesome' and "the crisis has passed," President Obama starts his roadshow to populise the many myths and factnesses from his State of The Union speech. Speaking at Boise State University, we suspect the call for more research dollars will leads nicely into his package of "middle class economics" fixes...
As everyone knows by now, tomorrow the ECB will announce a QE plan that monetizes some €50 billion (and maybe more) in European government bonds per month, although Greece may be left out in the cold. It is also the reason why while European stocks have priced in more than 100% of the full impact of a €1 trillion QE, those gains are about to be wiped out. Here's why according to Panmure Gordon.
Remember how well JPMorgan's innovative social media experiment #AskJPM went? Well, taking a lesson from the Einsteinian insanity instruction manual, John Kerry and The White House have unleased #AskTheWH ... enjoy...
The EU’s financial watchdog, the European Securities and Markets Authority, will look at whether automated trading adds fake, or ghost, liquidity to markets, said Steven Maijoor, the regulator’s chairman. “There has been a suggestion that the liquidity they are providing is not real liquidity because once you would like to go into the trade and accept an order the offer disappears,” Maijoor said in an interview in Hong Kong on Jan. 20. “We are looking now into the specific issue of what is called ghost liquidity.”