April 23rd, 2014
Another day, another indication that 'real' inflation - the kind that reduces standards of living and leeches away purchasing power for 'real' people - is anything but under control... and anything but stable. With the Oz-ians in the Eccles Building pulling levers to run the world based on their "inflation" measures, it seems that if the price of 'things that matter' soars but the Fed doesn't see them, there is no need to tighten. Last week we discussed the surge in the price of beef, pork, eggs, and shrimp, but this week, as Bloomberg notes, the price of breakfast is soaring. Between droughts affecting coffee prices and insects spreading disease in Florida, the "breakfast beverage" index is at its highest in over 2 years.
Moments ago CAT stock touched 52 week highs, or a level not seen since April 2012. Why? The chart below which shows Caterpillar dealer retail sales by region surely has something to do with it. With global sales sliding again now that the third consecutive dead cat bounce is over, and dumping the most since February of 2013 or 12% from a year ago, when sales had in turned dropped 11% from 2012, driven by a collapse in Asian-Pacific, Latin American and EMEA sales, all of which crashed by more than 20%, we can only assume the company is well on its way to an epic collapse in its top and bottom lines as well.
UPDATE: Dutch fighter jets were scrambled after Russian bombers approached Dutch airspace; the Russian planes turned away
With both sides appearing to have entirely un-de-escalated and the truce deal now a thing of the past (besides a few hundred Dow points), the Russians are speaking up today - and are not happy:
RUSSIA IS EXTREMELY SURPRISED BY KIEV AND WASHINGTON'S "DISTORTED" INTERPRETATION OF AGREEMENT REACHED IN GENEVA LAST WEEK ON DE-ESCALATION OF UKRAINE CRISIS - FOREIGN MINISTRY SAYS KIEV AND WASHINGTON "CLOSING THEIR EYES" TO PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS BY NATIONALIST FORCES IN UKRAINE
And, on the heels of Turchynov's official restart of the so-called anti-terrorist operation, Russia is calling on Ukraine to pull back military from Ukraine's southeast... and rattles its sabre by undertaking a military exercise on the border.
So, I'm off to the races to raise money for UltraCoin, my uber-disruptive startup, and I come across the resistance of certain parties to take common stock. Now, the standard in the professional VC community is to take preferred stock with a stack of anti-dilutive measures, control premiums and liquidation preferences.
This is our best attempt at playing clueless propaganda cheerleaders also known as economists:
Q. Why did new home sales crash in all regions except the traditionally coldest, wettest, and snowiest Northeast, where sales rose?
A. Uhm, because it obviously snowed everywhere except in the Northeast.
And there you have it: spin 101 for braindead zombies and vacuum tubes.
New Home Sales collapsed 14.5% month-over-month to its lowest since July 2013. A mere 384k versus 450k expectations is the biggest miss since July. So much for the Spring buying season... This is a 7 standard deviation miss against the smart economists' estimates! Whocouldanode that when the free-money sponsored fast money leaves the game that real people with real debt and real wages are simply priced out of buying a new home? Supply of unsold new homes jumps to 6 months, its highest since Oct 2011 (as once again the visible hand's interference has produced yet another mal-investment boom as the 'if we build it, they will come' builders face an ugly reality).
That February spike that was the catalyst for oh so much aggressive JPY selling and US equity buying and "see, we told you so, here comes the post-weather pent-up-demand exuberance" has been crushed by the sad and painful truth of reality. For the 2nd month in a row, Markit's US PMI dropped and missed expectations... despite weather being a thing of the past. Sadly the story gets worse, as Markit notes "on the inflation front, manufacturers experienced a further solid increase in average cost burdens in April," adding that pricing pressures, "will feed fears that the recovery remains on a weak foundation of intense price competition." Need moar snow...
Allergan on Tuesday night said that its board of directors had adopted a one-year stockholder rights plan to give it more time to consider takeover proposals. The Valeant offer was made with Pershing Square Capital Management hedge fund, which built up a stake in the company. The chief executive officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which made a $47 billion unsolicited offer for competitor Allergan Inc. on Tuesday, said during an interview on CNBC that he was "disappointed" with Allergan's so-called poison pill. "We are disappointed but on the other hand, I think this deal will get done," Valeant CEO Michael Pearson said on Wednesday.
"I will pursue Herbalife to the end of the earth," is the threat Bill Ackman made and the hedge fund manager acknowledges spending more than $20 million in a lobbying and media campaign against the health product company. But on the heels of his non-front-running non-insider-trading transactions in the Allergan deal, details about the Herbalife whistleblower's "deal" raise more questions about ethics. Giovanni Bohorquez has now been named as Ackman's inside-man and the $3.6 million secret deal he will receive for spilling inside information about Herbalife's actions is raising significant questions about conflicts of interest. Having flatly denied being paid, "I'm not getting any benefit," during an on-camera ABC interview, ABC now reveals that Ackman agreed to the deal after Bohorquez balked at going public because he feared his disclosures could make it difficult for him to find work at an executive level. It seems $3.6 million promptly relieved any fears of not being able to get a job.
The chart below, which summarizes 5 years of Fed "forward guidance" on that most critical of variables - the Fed Funds rate - proves two things:i) there is nothing worse in this world than being a Fed Funds, or Eurodollar, trader, considering 5 years of forecasts have been systematically destroyed by a Fed which has failed time and time and time again to stimulate the economy enough to push it away from ZIRP (and why any hope for the first rate hike in mid-2015 are idiotic), and ii) when it comes to central planning, the economists that now openly control the bond and stock market and increasingly more of global capital flows, have absolutely no idea what tomorrow brings perversely, since it is their actions that have made the required outcome - a self-sustaining, economic recovery - impossible.
- Ukraine's leaders say have U.S. backing to take on 'aggressors' (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Stands Firm as Banks Exit Commodity Trading (BBG)
- Obama reassures Japan, other allies on China as Asia trip begins (Reuters)
- China Challenges Obama’s Asia Pivot With Rapid Military Buildup (BBG)
- Google’s Stake in $2 Billion Apple-Samsung Trial Revealed (BBG)
- No bubble here: Numericable Set to Issue Record Junk Bond (WSJ)
- 'Bridgegate' scandal threatens next World Trade Center tower (Reuters)
- Supreme Court Conflicted on Legality of Aereo Online Video Service (WSJ)
- Barclays May Cut 7,500 at Investment Bank, Bernstein Says (BBG)
It has been exactly six days in which algos, reversing the most recent drop in the S&P with buying sparked by a casual Nikkei leak that the BOJ may, wink wink, boost its QE (subsequently denied until such time as that rumor has to be used again), have pushed the market higher in the longest buying streak since September, ignoring virtually every adverse macroeconomic news, and certainly ignoring an earnings season that is set to be the worst since 2012. Today, the buying streak may finally end on rumors even the vacuum tubes are scratching their glassy heads if more buying on bad or no news makes any sense now that even the likes of David Einhorn is openly saying the second tech bubble has arrived. Keep an eye on the USDJPY which has had seen some rather acute "trapdoor" action in early trading and is approaching 102 after breaching its 55-DMA technical support of 102.38. If the support is broken here we go again on the downside. Keep an eye on biotechs and GILD in particular - if the early strength reverts into more selling again (after the two best days for the biotech space in 30 months), the most recent euphoria phase is now over.
Ask any European why their standard of living is so atrocious (after years of freeflowing debt-funded largesse) and the answer is well-known: austerity.Also ask any European if austerity means public debt should go up or down and the answer is also as clear: down. Which is why most Europeans will likely be confused to very confused when presented with the latest Eurostat data according to which not only did Eurozone debt rose remain just shy of all time record highs and certainly increasing from a year ago, but those PIIGS nations which are the first to blame austerity for everything, such as Greece (net of the debt wiped out as part of its 2012 bankruptcy of course), Portugal, Spain and Italy, all saw their public debt hit all time highs.
Bloomberg Television’s “On The Move Asia” had a fascinating interview with Albert Cheng, the World Gold Council’s Managing Director, Far East. He discussed China’s gold market and what’s driving the country’s demand with Rishaad Salamat.
Since 2003, we have pointed out how China’s liberalization of its gold market would have enormous ramifications for the global gold market in terms of a huge new source of demand and would ultimately lead to higher prices in the long term.