Today's consumer credit report did not tell us anything we didn't already know: in October, total consumer credit rose by $18.2 billion, the most since May 2013, with the usual massive historical revisions. However, of this $18.2 billion, $13.9 billion was non-revolving credit, while revolving (credit card) debt rose by $4.3 billion. Which means revolving credit is still a woefully low $856.8 billion, or well below the $1.02 trillion when Lehman failed, even as credit issued mostly by Uncle Sam to fund car purchases and liberal educations, has exploded. Finally, and most troubling, in the past year over 95% of all consumer credit has been used to purchase rapidly amortizing cars and even more rapidly amortizing college educations.
Obamacare is a catastrophe that cannot be fixed, because it doesn't fix what's broken in American healthcare. It is a phony reform that extends everything that makes the U.S. healthcare unsustainable sickcare.
Bitcoin is being sold aggressively on heavy volume as this headline hits:
*BAIDU SUSPENDS BITCOIN PAYMENT ACCEPTANCE ON VALUE FLUCTUATION
This is one of the reasons Citi and BofAML noted as 'disadvantages' and it seems Baidu agrees (for now). Remember when Baidu "accepted" Bitcoin in Oct it was trading at USD150 - it has rallied 8x since then...
SEC Officially Above The Law: Prosecutors Decline To Charge SEC Employee For Violating Internal RulesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/06/2013 - 14:03
Two weeks ago we wrote of SEC compliance examiner (yes, compliance examiner) Steven Glichrist who was arrested for being non-compliant with the SEC's ethics requirement to disclose his financial holdings. "New York-based SEC employee Steven Gilchrist was charged with three counts of making false statements regarding the nature of his personal financial holdings. As WSJ reports, the 48-year-old compliance examiner at the agency, allegedly certified that his stock holdings were in compliance with the agency's ethics rules, when in reality he had held shares of six companies that agency staffers are barred from holding. The SEC is "very disappointed that an employee allegedly made false statements to conceal prohibited holdings after being told by our ethics office to divest." Fast forward to today when we learn that not only was the SEC not disappointed when another SEC employee was found to have flouted virtually the same rules, but that, inexplicably, federal prosecutors decided not to prosecute.
End America’s central bank because it caused the crashes of 2008, 1987, and 1929 and will blunder again. That’s what many critics are saying about the Federal Reserve System (the Fed), which turns 100 on December 23. They note that on the Fed’s watch America has endured numerous bubbles, crashes, and inflationary cycles that have greatly devalued the dollar. The Fed, they say, has caused or aggravated several crashes. “If you say the goal of the Fed was to prevent calamities, then you have to say that it has been a failure,” says William A. Fleckenstein. “History and current experience,” Joe Salerno adds, “reveal to us that groups endowed with a legal monopoly over any area of the economy are prone to use it to the hilt to enrich themselves, their friends and allies.”
Along with the USD and JPY, Bitcoin is having a bad day. For the second time, following a 'touch' of the Gold, Bitcoin has fallen dramatically in the day after. Volume is also relatively heavy. It would seem that this drop in USD BTC has compressed the "arb" against China BTC to zero (from over $100 earlier in the week). USD BTC $940, China BTC 5771 (USD equiv. $946)
Shinzo Abe secured final passage of a bill granting Japan’s govt sweeping powers to declare state secrets. The Bill won final approval of the measures at about 11:20 p.m. Tokyo time after opposition parties first forced a no-confidence vote in Abe’s govt in the lower house. The first rule of the pending Japan’s Special Secrets Bill is that what will be a secret is secret. The right to know has now been officially superseded by the right of the government to make sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know. It might all seems like a bad joke, except for the Orwellian nature of the bill and a key Cabinet member expressing his admiration for the Nazis, "just as Germany needed a strong man like Hitler to revive defeated Germany, Japan needs people like Abe to dynamically induce change."
As equities celebrate today's better than expected jobs report (for now), apparently comfortable in the knowledge that it's good-enough-but-not-too-good, we are reminded that just six short months ago, none other than the Fed chairman himself uttered these crucial words during his June 19th press conference:
"...when asset purchases ultimately come to an end the unemployment rate would likely be in the vicinity of 7%"
So here we are at 7.0%... and no taper in sight as excuse after excuse is rolled out for keeping the floodgates open. Whocouldanode? This appears to right up there with "subprime is contained", "nobody really understands gold", and "tapering is not tightening." But still we are supposed to give great credibility to their forward guidance?
While we don't want to detract in any way from the world's mourning the passage of one of 20th century's most luminary personalities, we can't help but be confused by the hypocrisy exhibited by certain members of the US government. The reason: it was none other than the US government-controlled Central Intelligence Agency that was instrumental in Nelson Mandela's 1962 arrest that resulted in his 27 year imprisonment on Robben Island.
Applying a realistic labor force participation rate to the unemployment rate series, shows that the real US unemployment rate is now 11.5%, a 4.5% difference from the reported number, and the second highest ever, only better compared to October's 4.7%.
Just when you thought it was safe to step back into the water of the "fixed" Obamacare website, another glitch, this time in sending data on Medicaid, has The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services writing a memo to the 36 states using the federal website last week acknowledging the information wasn't being transferred automatically and saying another system was being developed to send it. Potentially affecting tens of thousands of Medicaid recipients, ABC reports, "Essentially, if you're a consumer on healthcare.gov, it will tell you you're eligible for Medicaid and the state agency will take care of it, but there's no real way for the state Medicaid agency to know anything about it." The information, according to AP, is incomplete with regard to verifying eligibility and as South Carolina's HHS Director notes, "it's going to be a gigantic logistical mess."
Of course, why not. University of Michigan Consumer Confidence jumped from 75.1 to a preliminary 82.5 beating expectations by the most on record. While we remain below the July 2013 highs, current conditions soared to the highest since May and the economic outlook spiked to the highest since August. This is the biggest absolute improvement in current conditions since December 2008.... and that ended well eh?
“It’s horrible out there,” notes one resident as an orange-level haze alert, the second highest, remained in effect broadly across China and, as Bloomberg reports, the heavy fog shrouding Shanghai caused widespread flight cancellations and sent the air quality index surging past 500 to the “beyond index” category. “The pollution is worse today and the fog is getting heavier,” another noted, and despite the WHO concerns that outdoor air pollution can cause lung cancer, he is "not prohibiting my kids from going outside because we have to learn to grow up in all kinds of environment. But they are definitely wearing face masks.” The government has ordered 30% of government-used vehicles off the road and industrial companies to reduce or halt production.