December 17th, 2012
At a time in the year when the market should be at a standstill, and when all trading should be over, the tension in the S&P is unprecedented, driven by two main factors: the ongoing Fiscall Cliff confrontation, which now appears set to not be resolved by Christmas, and very likely to persist into the new year, and what happens with hotel AAPLfornia, as suddenly it has become a liability to show LPs any holdings of the fruit in the year end statement. The two events combined will likely see furious market volatility persist well through the year end, and since volumes will further die down, we may well see massive stock moves on odd lots. And while AAPL is trading under $500 for the first time since February following last night's Citi downgrade, the confusion over the Fiscal Cliff persists, with The Hill first reporting that Boehner is willing to cave on the debt ceiling extension, even as Boehner himself subsequently tweeted that "Any increase in the debt limit will require a greater amount in spending cuts and reforms." So back to square one, with a red herring proposal that Boehner can say we offered to the president and the president turned down. Japan continues to attract a lot of attention with the ADHD market desperate to hope that the coming of Abe 2.0 will be much better than that of 1.0, when in one year he achieved nothing and then resigned due to diarrhea. Judging by the action in the USDJPY, we may be a few short hours away from closing the gap that sent the pair to 84.30 first thing, and proceeding to unwind the near record JPY commitment of traders short position as the JPY realizes this time will not be different. Quiet calendar in the US, with the Empire State Manufacturing Index expected to print at -0.5 at 8:30 am Eastern, TIC data to show China's ongoing TSY boycott at 9 am, and a hawkish Jeff "Mutiny on the Eccles" Lacker speech at 1 pm.
There was a lively start to trading as the yen gapped lower in immediate response to new of the LDP's victory in the weekend elections in Japan. The greenback traded around JPY84.55, the highest level since April 2011. The euro traded to about JPY111.30, just below the year's high set in March near JPY111.45. The Nikkei gapped higher.
However, as the results were largely as expected. The LDP and its traditional ally, the New Komeito secured a 2/3 majority, which will prevent the upper house, in which the DPJ has a majority, from blocking the new government.
In addition, there is some speculation that the BOJ may stand pat at this week's meeting to enhance its negotiating position with LDP-led government. Before the weekend, the consensus was for the BOJ to expand its asset purchases plan by JPY5-10 trillion in the face of data pointing to the second consecutive quarterly economic contraction.
The terrible massacre committed by a mentally-disturbed man in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday has prompted lots and lots of calls for gun control in the United States, as well as some calls for more help for the mentally ill. There is little doubt that in the coming years the gun-show loophole will be closed and Canadian-style longer waiting periods will be introduced. Semi-automatic weapons may well be banned. Buyback programs may be attempted. The Supreme Court might well even be stacked to achieve a majority that interprets away individual gun rights.But America already has huge quantities of guns, far more than anywhere in the world. Obama might cry for Americans in Newtown, but where are his tears for the Pakistani and Yemeni children he has slaughtered? And what about for the many victims who died as a result of thousands guns shipped by the US government to the Mexican drug cartels via Fast and Furious? America might be ready to implement gun control. I wish America was ready to implement drone control.
In the fall of 1996, John Cassidy arranged to interview Paul Samuelson in his office at M.I.T. for an article he was writing on the state of economics. He began by asking Samuelson whether he was still a Keynesian: "I call myself a post-Keynesian," Samuelson replied. "The 1936 Model A Keynesianism is passé..." He recalled attending an event that was held in Cambridge, England, in 1986 to mark the one-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of Keynes's birth. "Everybody was there. And they all stood up and said, 'I am still a faithful Keynesian. I am still a true believer.' I was a bit rude. I said, 'You remind me of a bunch of Nazis saying, I’m still a good Nazi.' It’s not a theology: it’s a mode of analysis. I think I am a different Keynesian than I was ten years ago."
What happened on December 14, 2012 was obviously a horrific tragedy that my simple mind can’t possibly wrap itself around, but what I can do is send my deepest thoughts, prayers and sympathies to all of those affected. I can’t imagine the level of pain and suffering you are all experiencing. This article; however, isn’t directed at you. There is nothing I can do to ease your pain. This article is for the rest of us who weren’t directly affected by the incident, but may be indirectly affected by certain parties’ emotional response to it and by those that will exploit it to justify agendas.
It seems like it was only yesterday (actually it was 20 days ago) that Citi boldly went where every single other sellside analyst has gone before, and initiated the world's biggest hedge fund hotel stock, AAPL, with a Buy and a $675 price target, only it stunned the world by assigning not one, not two, but three analysts to follow the name (and to generate gobs of soft dollars from Hedge Funds but that's a different story entirely): a chip analyst, a hardware, and a software expert. Well, much has changed in three weeks apparently, because that tag trio just slashed AAPL's price target from $675 to $575, and cut its outlook on the name from Buy to Neutral, once again confirming what everyone knows: sellside research is the most hopelessly useless goalseeking, backward looking product created by Wall Street's brilliant minds whose only prerogative is how to bleed their clients dry.
As we pointed out earlier today, Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is really Japan's old Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who in September 2007 quit after precisly one year in the PM post, despite having been groomed his entire life for the position. His tenure was, in short, a sheer disaster. The Economist summarizes it as follows: "Mr Abe's government was initially very popular. Yet the tide in Mr Abe's affairs only ebbed. True, early on he made a notable opening towards China, with whom relations had been strained under Mr Koizumi. Other than that, Mr Abe proved unable to impose discipline upon a cabinet of the corrupt and incompetent.... Mr Abe's inert response to a bureaucratic scandal involving 50m missing pensions records underscored how out-of-touch he was. In late July voters punished his government in elections for the Diet's upper house: for the first time in its half-century life, the LDP and allies lost the upper-house majority, to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Not just the opposition but LDP heavyweights too began calling for Mr Abe's resignation." And thus began the slide of the LDP, which soon thereafter saw its uninterrupted run of 50 years at the helm of Japan end, with power handed over to the DPJ. Yet what was the gracious "exit" pretext that Abe used to evacuate his leadership spot without admitting defeat? Diarrhea. Yup: diarrhea.
While pundits argue about the whys and motives of the Sandy Hook shooter, our children are vulnerable to more attacks. Studies show that these mass murders are becoming more common. It seems now that one event inspires (if that is the right word) others to commit heinous acts of violence. Ignore the arguments about gun control, mental health intervention, and the need for the safety of our schools because the powers that be will debate them to no practical end. Here are two suggestions to protect our children NOW.
Just as Byron Wien publishes his ten surprises for the upcoming year, Morgan Stanley has created a heady list of seventeen macro surprises across all countries they cover that depict plausible possible outcomes that would represent a meaningful surprise to the prevailing consensus. From the "return of inflation" to 'Brixit' and from the "BoJ buying Euro-are bonds" to a "US housing recovery stall out" - these seventeen succinctly written paragraphs provide much food for thought as we enter 2013.
These two charts suggest a major decline is ahead in 2013; but we are told "Don't fight the Fed," blah blah blah. Really? What did the market do after QE3 and QE4 were duly announced? It tanked. What if the Fed is out of tricks? It's not really a question; Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said as much in his press conference. It's not clear if the Ibogaine was wearing off or just kicking in, but the Chairman had an apologetic deer-in-the-headlights look of, "Gee, we're out of tricks and I'm sorry to have to tell you what is painfully obvious to everyone who isn't stoned silly on Delusionol (tm)."
Last week the big story in French headlines has been the tax exile of Gerard Depardieu in Nechin, Belgium, half a mile from the French border. French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault called the French movie star’s behavior “minable” (pathetic). A socialist MP, Yann Galut, even suggested that M. Depardieu loses his French nationality. In an open letter in the Journal Du Dimanche on December 16, Depardieu, who famously starred as Obélix, the big Gallic fellow of Astérix, carrying menhirs on his back – and sometimes throwing them at the Romans, replies. With a taste of Ayn Rand’s famous character John Galt. Gerard shrugged.
There was a time when it was nothing short of economic blasphemy and statist apostasy to suggest three things: i) that the Fed's canonic approach to monetary policy, in which Stock not Flow was dominant, is wrong (as we alleged, among many other places, here); ii) that the Fed is monetizing the deficit, thus enabling politicians to conceive any idiotic fiscal policy: the Fed will always fund it no matter how ludicrous, converting the Fed effectively into a political power and destroying any myth of its "independence" (as we alleged, among many other places, most recently here in direct refutation of Bernanke's sworn testimony); and iii) that by overfunding bank reserves, the same banks are left with one simple trade - to frontrum the Fed in its monetization of the long-end, in the process destroying the bond curve's relevance as an inflationary discounting signal, with more QE, leading to tighter 10s, flatter 10s30s, even as the propensity for runaway inflation down the road soars, in the process eliminating any need for the massively overhyped, and much needed to rekindle animal spirits "rotation out of bonds and into stocks" trade (as we explained, first, here). Well, that time is now officially over, with that stalwart of statist thinking, JPMorgan, adopting all of the above contrarian views as its own, and admitting that once again, the Fed and conventional wisdom was wrong, and fringe bloggers were right all along.
“The Government Has Bought Into the Notion that Too Big to Fail Is Too Big to Jail”
The United States is the only country that taxes American citizens even if they have never lived in the United States at any time. Once born American, you owe taxes as an economic slave even when you receive nothing and have never lived in the USA. This law passed last December that authorizes the confiscation of any firm’s assets if they do not report what an American citizen does overseas has been devastating. How Americans are being treated by their own country is not as a free individual, but as economic property to pay revenue to the government regardless of where they live. No other nation does this but the USA. We are in such serious trouble with this Sovereign Debt Crisis that all liberty is being lost. The desperate need for revenue to pay the bond holders has destroyed everything the constitution was intended to secure.
The following is a list of key events to watch over the next several weeks and months – events that could have bearing on how the euro sovereign debt crisis evolves.