Archive - 2012

December 30th

2012 Greatest Hits: Presenting The Most Popular Posts Of The Past Year

For the fourth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined simply by the number of page views. Those first eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to where the top articles of 2009, 2010 and 2011 are recapped. With that out of the way, here is what readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days..

Boehner Responds To Obama: "Stop Blaming And Lead"

If earlier media speculation that the cliff debate was seeing some progress would have sent stocks higher (assuming it was not a Sunday), the speaker's just released response to Obama's Meet The Press appearance would have deflated all hope of any progress. Remember: all is fair in political circus and Beltway theater.

Obama's Meet The Press Interview

More GOP-bashing, more scapegoating, more "we need to raise taxes to cover a few days of spending" (and pray America's rich have never heard of Belgium), more hope and optimism, in other words more of the same, yet nothing on the last minute executive order hiking Federal spending, nothing on the myth of what really constitutes the spending "cuts", or why it is all really all about preserving the lie of a fair and efficient market: as if more than 10% of the US population actually cares where the DJIA closed on Friday. The full Obama Meet the Press interview below.

Cliff Rumors Start Early As Lindsey Graham Says "Obama Has Won"

As largely expected, Sunday would be a day marked by rumors, anti-rumors, denials, counter-denials, and much more groundless speculation if zero facts, however without an open market reacting to every single headline like a collocated stung dog. Sure enough, in the first such rumor of the day, we just had Republican Senator - a long time opponent of the Norquist tax pledge - Lindsey Graham, pushing for his agenda in the same way that the Greek finance ministry would unleash perfectly wrong rumors to the FT and Reuters, who said on Sunday that chances for a small "fiscal Cliff" deal in the next 48 hours were "exceedingly good" and that President Barack Obama had won: i.e., taking an opinion and making it fact - something seen so often in the European negotiating tactics. "I think people don't want to go over the cliff if we can avoid it," Graham said on Fox News Sunday. Of course, how Graham views the world, and how potentially filibustering Senators do, not to mention the majority of Congress do, is a totally separate matter.

December 29th

Stephen Roach On Why Abe's Aggression Won't Save Japan

The politicization of central banking continues unabated. The resurrection of Shinzo Abe and Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party – pillars of the political system that has left the Japanese economy mired in two lost decades and counting – is just the latest case in point. He argued that a timid BOJ should learn from its more aggressive counterparts, the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. But will it work? Unfortunately, it appears that Japan has forgotten many of its own lessons – especially the BOJ’s disappointing experience with zero interest rates and QE in the early 2000’s. Not only is QE’s ability to jumpstart crisis-torn, balance-sheet-constrained economies limited; it also runs the important risk of blurring the distinction between monetary and fiscal policy. Massive liquidity injections carried out by the world’s major central banks – the Fed, the ECB, and the BOJ – are neither achieving traction in their respective real economies, nor facilitating balance-sheet repair and structural change. That leaves a huge sum of excess liquidity sloshing around in global asset markets. Where it goes, the next crisis is inevitably doomed to follow.

 

48 Hours Away From The Cliff: "No [Major] Progress"

Surprise! As we all wait on tenterhooks for tomorrow's messianic 'Meet the Press' appearance, The Hill reports that a Senate aid with knowledge of the talks said late Saturday afternoon there is "no major progress." The rare weekend negotiations continue with the sticking point still taxes - which will come as no surprise to any who read/listened to Ron Paul's clear analysis of the idiocy taking place - but differences on other issues, including spending cuts, linger. Reid has scheduled a Democratic caucus meeting for Sunday afternoon to give his colleagues a chance to weigh in on a potential deal. McConnell has said he would do the same. "I believe such a proposal could pass both houses with bipartisan majorities – as long as these leaders allow it to come to a vote," Obama said in his weekly address. "If they still want to vote no, and let this tax hike hit the middle class, that’s their prerogative – but they should let everyone vote. That’s the way this is supposed to work." If the Senate passes the legislation, it would then force the House to take up the bill on the eve of the looming deadline - leaving the 'blame' at the foot of Boehner's Republicans should they not support it. The games continue... but in the meantime, consider what the debate would have looked like (literally) if Elizabeth Hasleth was still in the Senate.

Guest Post: Monetary Malpractice: Moral Malady

We have a Crisis of Trust in America and it has become so pervasive that it is paralyzing America's natural inclination towards risk taking and innovation. This Crisis in Trust is a direct result of Monetary Malpractice and the Moral Malady which it has inflicted on America. Trust fosters certainty and a sense of security. Uncertainty is the death knell for business investment and finance. Today's plummeting capital investment in America means slower growth and an even tougher job market lay ahead. So where does a Crisis of Trust stem from and why do we suddenly have one?

drhousingbubble's picture

California home prices experienced a big surge in 2012. This might fly in the face of stagnant household incomes but the incredible push for lower interest rates and reliance on low down payment FHA insured loans has brought many people off the fence. In Southern California home sales are up by 14 percent over the last year and the median price is now up by 16 percent. The median price is largely being pushed by the mix of home sales. Distressed properties are making up a smaller pool of sales. With low inventory, you have regular home buyers competing also with house flippers, big Wall Street buyers, and foreign money with limited supply on the market. The result has been to push home prices much higher making it more difficult for middle class families to afford a home. As we approach the end of 2012, let us look at the data for Southern California.

Obama Grants Pay Increase For Members Of Congress, Federal Workers In Executive Order

When it comes to US austerity, a very sensitive topic as framed best by the "spending cuts" portion in the Fiscal Cliff debate, the ideas range from the surreal to the outright idiotic: as an example in the most recent Obama proposal spending would be "reduced" in the form of $290 billion in interest savings - not an actual spending reduction, but a hope and a prayer that because rates are lower, the government will "save" money with rates continuing to be lower (something which immediately causes a #Ref! explosion for anyone not using government math), $130 billion in savings that would come from once again rejiggering the definition of 'inflation', as well as "savings" from not funding extra defense spending because the US is not engaged in a pro forma war. Like we said: surreal and idiotic, or in other words, no actual real cuts to spending. Yet even as the nation is gripped by the melodrama of fake spending cuts offset by the threat to tax millionaires more (all of whom will merely find more creative and effective ways to hide their wealth and income offshore), spending increases are all too real, such as last night's order by Obama's just issued an executive order to end the pay freeze for federal employees, which is the equivalent of a wage increase. A truly deserved rise in wages for a job well done by the most dysfunctional Congress America has ever seen.

Ron Paul On The Fiscal Cliff: "We Have Passed The Point Of No Return"

In a little under three minutes, Ron Paul explains to a somewhat nonplussed CNBC anchor just how ridiculous the charade that is occurring in D.C. actually is. This succinct spin-free clip should be required viewing for each and every asset-manager, talking-head, propagandist, and mom-and-pop who are viewing the last-minute idiocy of the 'fiscal cliff' debacle with some hope that things will be different this time. "We have passed the point of no return where we can actually get our house back in order," Paul begins, adding that "they pretend they are fighting up there, but they really aren't. They are arguing over power, spin, who looks good, who looks bad; all trying to preserve the system where they can spend what they want, take care of their friends and print money when they need it." With social safety nets available to rich and poor, there is no impetus for change and "the country loses," but Paul concludes, the markets are starting to say "there is a limit to this."

Margin Debt Soars To 2008 Levels As Everyone Is "All In", Levered, And Selling Vol

There were some readers who took offense at our "bloodbath" recap of yesterday's market action (modestly different from that provided by MarketWatch). And, all else equal, a modest 28 step drop in the E-Mini/SPX would hardly be earthshattering. However, all else was not equal, and based on peripheral facts, the reason for our qualifier is that as of last week virtually nobody was prepared for a move as violent and sharp as the one experienced in the last minutes of trading yesterday. In such a context a "mere" 1.5% drop in the futures market has a far more pronounced impact on participants than a 10% or even 5% drop would have had, had traders been positioned appropriately. They weren't. So what was the context? Let's find out.