Much has been made of the "sharp acceleration" in bank lending in the last few months promulgated by the status quo huggers that 'animal spirits are reviving' and, despite a collapse in equity market valuations for 'growth' stocks, that escape velocity growth and that so-longed-for surge in Capex is just around the corner. However, when put in context... when looked at over more than a few months, and when considered against the typical economic cycle... this is anything but sustainable and merely reflects on the inventory-stacking mal-investment debacle of Q4 that is now unwinding en masse as hoped for 'aggregate demand' shows no signs of appearing.
Following Fed Governor Tarullo's comments this week on central bank policies and the recovery benefiting high-income earners disproportionately - potentially damaging the "nation's democratic heritage", we thought it ironic that this week's Bloomberg Comfort Index data showed that the rich (high incomes) just got a whole lot more comfortable and the poor (low incomes) got a whole lot less comfortable. In fact, the rich-poor comfort divide jumped back to 2-month highs.
Almost 10 million out of 43.7 million part-time workers in the European Union were under-employed in 2013. As Bloomberg Brief's Niraj Shah notes, based on Eurostat's Labour Forces Study, a record 72 percent of Greek part-time workers wished to work more hours compared with 4.2 percent in the Netherlands. As we explained in great detail here, the Greek "recovery" is a mirage and these numbers do not lie.
Following more firefights and government building seizures amid the so-called "liberation of Southeast Ukraine," the Maidan's demands that the government not "give up like in Crimea" appear to be resonating woth leadership. Ukraine's interior minister Arsen Avakov has declared: "The Ukrainian authorities consider the events of the day as a display of external aggression from Russia," adding that, ""Units of the interior and defense ministries are implementing an operational response plan." Russia was quick to respond with threats of war action if Ukraine suppresses pro-Russia 'self-defense' forces. As Reuters adds, with the crisis escalating militarily, the specter of "gas wars" is looming with Ukraine's Energy Minister declaring, "we are probably steering towards Russia turning off its gas provision."
Despite bond yields at record lows, stock markets at record highs, and a general 'faith' that we are heading towards a Keynesian utopia of escape velocity growth (despite IMF downgrades and the reality of current data), the following table of the world's PMIs is your handy cocktail-party cheat sheet for 'smart' discussion of soft-survey-based economic progress... UK, Ireland, and UAE are the fastest growers while France, Italy, and the broad Eurozone are contracting at the fastest pace.
Still unconvinced? Even Jim Bullard told investors that 'tapering' is tightening - but don't take his (or our) word for it... the following chart says it all...
UPDATE: The Maidan are calling for the leaders to react "Don't give up like in Crimea"
On the day in which "pro-Russian separatists" are again claiming one after another city in east Ukraine, and when Russia has formally warned that any crackdown on protesters is "unacceptable" implicitly threatening retaliation should the promised use of special forces be implemented, moments ago Rustan Temirgaliev, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Miniisters of recently annexed by Russia Crimea, poured some more fuel into the fire and announced on his Facebook page that "the liberation of Southeast Ukraine has begun."
Anyone who understands the basics of capitalism knows taxation acts as a hindrance. There is no question about this. Capitalism is the free trading of goods and services; taxation is the violent extortion of the gains of voluntary trade. Anything that gets in the way of the capitalist process necessarily hinders it. In no possible way will higher taxes make capitalism “work better.” Those who claim otherwise are either one of two things: ignorant of what capitalism is, or insidiously plotting its demise.
Ukraine may have drawn its own red line overnight by saying it will send "special forces" into the latest east Ukraine city captured by "pro-Russia separatists" as we just reported, but Russia wasted no time in explaining how it would deal with it. Bloomberg cites Russian foreign minister Lavrov who stated that, "Russia Won’t Accept Ukraine Force Versus Demonstrators.
While the primary story regarding the Ukraine remains the stand off between Russia and Ukraine over nat Gazprom's gas deliveries and Kiev's overdue, and as of today - officially halted payments - not a weekend passes without some city in eastern Ukraine falling to what are now called "pro-Russian separatists" and this Saturday is no different. While last week it was the eastern cities of Luhansk, Donestk and Kharkiv that saw their government building taken over and occupied by the "separatists", today it was the turn of Slaviansk, where masked men armed with pistols and rifles stood guard near the police station as hundreds of locals gathered around, some building barricades with car tyres.
The gap between current Q1 reality and forward-looking, hope-stuffed, unicorn-tear-fueled expectations for US economic growth has reached a new peak of Keynesian 'faith'. This week saw "economists" downgrade Q1 GDP expectations once again to a mere 1.6% growth (from 2.6% in January) - meaning that cold weather is responsible for a 46% collapse in US economic growth expectation. As the chart below 'hints' at, it appears we have reached "peak hope."
The silence is deafening still about the ongoing collapse in the Baltic Dry Index among mainstream media types (as it just might challenge the hope/hype that growth is coming back). At the dismal level of 1002, BDIY is at 8-month lows and has fallen 14 days in a row... but now it is having a real world impact. As Sea News reports, Korean shipping companies are failing to place orders for large vessels and anxiety over the future is forcing some local companies to dispose of their assets despite the relatively low shipbuilding costs as of late.