While equities are hugging the flatline, a bigger story was the overnight crash in the Nikkei225 and the Topix both of which plunged at the fast pace in months, with the Yen spiking, pushing the USDJPY as low as 108.35 after Japan's Vice Finance Minister, Nobuhide Minorikawa, earlier today told reporters that no further increases in the USDJPY wil be tolerated saying that "there are companies negatively affected by the weak yen." In other words, as we have been saying since December of 2012. But the biggest market development overnight is the plunge in crude, with both Brent and WTI plunging, the latter sliding under $90 for the first time in 17 months, extending yesterday's selloff after Saudi Aramco cut Arab Light OSP in Asia to 2008 levels. Brent drops to lowest since June 2012. This also confirms that the global slowdown whose can is kicked every so often in a new bout of money printing, is arriving fast. That, and the imminent crackdown on today's Hong Kong protest will likely be the biggest stories of the day, even as the spread of Ebola to the US is sure to keep everhone on edge.
"Crowds pin police against wall, shouting "you can not enter". Police shuttling in huge wooden crates. More gas tonight?!... Wow, crowds surging. Police trying to maintain supply line. Protesters are gearing up for gas - goggles are being passed around.... Police are carrying a boxes labelled "batons" and metal "flammable" tins. Tonight is going to get messy." - SCMP's Bryan Harris
Define irony. Literally hours after financial entertainment outlet CNBC wrote an article in which it said that "As fourth quarter kicks off, there's one market in Asia that has investors excited: Japan" the Nikkei crashed.
Now that Ebola is officially in the US on an uncontrolled basis, the two questions on everyone's lips are i) who will get sick next and ii) how bad could it get? We don't know the answer to question #1 just yet, but when it comes to the second one, a press release three weeks ago from Lakeland Industries, a manufacturer and seller of a "comprehensive line of safety garments and accessories for the industrial protective clothing market" may provide some insight into just how bad the US State Department thinks it may get. Because when the US government buys 160,000 hazmat suits specifically designed against Ebola, just ahead of the worst Ebola epidemic in history making US landfall, one wonders: what do they know the we don't?
Václav Klaus has made a habit of saying things others shy away from saying, but it doesn’t seem to have done him much harm in the popularity stakes. So here is his latest dose of inconvenient truthiness: "those who are not able to understand the difference (between the Soviet Union and Russia) are simply not looking with open eyes... The US/EU propaganda against Russia is really ridiculous." Yet he feels the freedom to hold - and express - ‘unfashionable’ views in the West is now under increasing threat.
As the threat of the ebola virus looms large and the Center for Disease Control issues what are undoubtedly hyperbolic projections of over a million casualties to the disease by January, we owe it to ourselves as libertarians to ask a few questions about the ethics of disease control. Is it acceptable to use force to isolate a person with a contagious disease from society, and if so, under what circumstances? How far are we permitted to go in the invasion of another person’s personal liberty in order to secure a safe environment for the rest of us?
Joshua Wong is too young to drive or buy a drink in a bar – let alone vote – yet, as The Guardian reports, has become the face of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and an inspiration to citizens three times his age.
The meaning of events and market signals differ hugely from country to country, tribe to tribe, generation to generation. Ferguson does not mean the same thing as Hong Kong. Hong Kong does not mean the same thing as Tahrir Square or even Tiananmen Square. Monetary policy does not mean the same thing in Beijing as monetary policy means in Washington, which in turn does not mean the same thing as monetary policy in Paris or Rome. But we have an innate tendency to act as if these signals DO mean the same thing, and we can totally wrong-foot our investments as a result. The biggest thing happening in the world today is the growing divergence between US monetary policy and everyone else’s monetary policy with three HUGE implications: one for investment strategy selection, one for global growth, and one for … (gulp!) gold.
"Many have used the analogy of a fire burning out of control to describe this unprecedented Ebola outbreak," Dr. Kent Brantly said, adding "Indeed it is a fire - it is a fire straight from the pit of hell. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that the vast moat of the Atlantic Ocean will protect us from the flames of this fire. Instead, we must mobilize the resources... to keep entire nations from being reduced to ashes."
Just days after President Obama infuriated some in the intelligence and defense communities with comments that "they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria," The Government Accountability Institute, a watchdog non-profit organization, found that as of Sept. 29, the President had attended only 42.4% of Presidential Daily Briefs (PDB) during his first term and 41.3% during his second term. As one former official blasted, "either the president doesn't read the intelligence he's getting or he's bullshitting."
As PMI manufacturing surveys are released around the world, we get an early read on the state of glkobal manufacturing. As the below table shows, out of the 25 countries that have reported so far, 8 reported improvements in their manufacturing sectors in September, while 15 recorded a weakening, and 2 remained unchanged.
Just a day after Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, in a televised speech, accused central bank employees of helping local bankers to speculate against the Argentine peso in hopes of forcing the government to devalue the currency, Juan Carlos Fabrega - the head of Argentina's Central Bank - has quit. As WSJ reports, unable to borrow abroad due to a legal dispute with creditors, Mrs. Kirchner has relied on money printing to cover spending deficits at the expense of inflation that is thought to be around 40%; and it appears the sanity of Mr. Fabrega was too much to bear for Kirchner (and Kiciloff - who had reportedly clashed with the Central Banker also). The reaction - not good - the stock index collapsed over 8%, bond yields spiked and the black-market peso dumped to record lows at 15.65 to the USD (drastically worse than the 8.51 official peso rate).
We warned five weeks ago of the potential economic damage that the Ebola virus could do to West African economies, and now it appears The IMF, The World Bank, and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization have warned that Liberia and other West African economies, as WaPo reports, begun a frightening descent into economic hell. Fear that "that people would abandon the fields and factories, that food and fuel would become scarce and unaffordable, and that the government’s already meager capacity to help, along with the nation’s prospects for a better future, would be severely compromised" are no longer scenarios - they are real! Annual inflation rates have doubled, fuel sales are down 35%, Liberia's productivity is down 50-75%, and "micro-trade" financing is "completely depleted."
Another day, another unintended consequence of the socialist state's eagerness to "make things better" for everyone, blowing up in its face.
Today in the Land of the Free, everyone is required to pay into the Social Security system, and over 90% of students go to public schools. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the state is exerting its control over your medical care. And now with a new bill comes the crown jewel of state employment. Presenting Senate Bill 2726: the Strengthening Forgiveness for Public Servants Act. If passed, the bill aims to get young people into government employment by promising to forgive their student loan debt. Somewhere Otto von Bismarck is smiling.