Everywhere you look these days, central planning just can't stop reaping failure after failure. First it was Japan's Q3 GDP rising just 1.1%, well below the 1.9% in the previous quarter and the 1.6% expected, while the Japanese current account posted its first decline since of €128 billion (on expectations of a JPY149 billion increase) since January. What's worse, according to Asahi, Abe's approval rating tumbled to 46% in the current week, down from the low 60s as soon as early 2013, while a former BOJ member and current head of Japan rates and currency research, Tohru Sasaki, said that the high flying days of the USDJPY (and plunging of the JPY respectively) is over, and the USDJPY is likely to slide back to 100 because the BOJ would not be able to expand monetary easing by enough to repeat this year's "success." He definitely uses that last word rather loosely.
As fear and nationalism rise in Japan (and Abe's grip on the people founders amid falling approval ratings and underperforming economic indicators such as GDP tonight), so another party has joined the debacle in the East China Sea. As NHK World reports, South Korea has officially announced that it will expand its air defense identification zone, making it partially overlap those of Japan and China. The game of chicken over small islands (and submerged rocks!) in the middle of nowhere continues...
Just out from the NYT's Fed watcher Appelbaum:
Fed’s Plan to Taper Stimulus Effort Not Expected Until Next Year
At the same time, out from the WSJ's Hilsenrath:
Fed Closes In On Winding Down Bond Purchasing
Who is right? Are both right? Are both wrong? Does anyone even care? Far more relevant is what is the Fed's price target for the Monday and year end close.
BREAKING: Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolves Parliament, calls for elections.
— The Associated Press (@AP) December 9, 2013
The American people are coming to the realization that everything Ron Paul has stood for in the last 40 years is true. He has been proven right regarding the Federal Reserve, the Military Industrial Complex, and the Warfare/Welfare Surveillance State. The American people have grown weary of inflation, wars of choice and being spied upon. Ron Paul’s consistently right message is finally making headway... The corporate media will avoid reporting it. They try their best to ignore Ron Paul’s 30 plus year intellectual march through our institutions. But the facts in Pew Research’s 50 year survey of US views of “America’s place in the world” do not lie: This year the highest percentage of Americans ever — 53 percent — agree with the statement that “the US should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.”
While some may think trading these manipulated capital markets has become a leading cause of premature death over the past year, that is not the case. At least not yet. Instead, the leading causes of early death are shown on the chart below compiled by Wired. It maps "the global cost of early mortality - some 1.7 billion years of potential human life forefited annually - sorted by cause of death."
Following yesterday's polls, we suspect this cartoon sums up the view of many 'faithful' as they head into the new year. Of course, no matter what faces change next year, the Fed will always be there...
Following China's unveiling of its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, overlapping a large expanse of territory also claimed by Japan, the Japanese media has, as The Japan Times reports, had a dramatically visceral reaction on the various scenarios of a shooting war. From Sunday Mainichi's "Sino-Japanese war to break out in January," to Flash's "Simulated breakout of war over the Senkakus," the nationalism (that Kyle Bass so notably commented on) is rising. Which side, wonders Shukan Gendai ominously, will respond to a provocation by pulling the trigger? The game of chicken between two great superpowers is about to begin has begun.
Regardless of the arbitrage opportunities available to "all cash" buyers, who would be happy to park some cash in real estate, the fact that ultraluxury foreclosures are soaring also means that even the "1%" is starting to succumb to reality and beginning to feel the pressure of a financial reality in which only the "too biggest" can never fail. So what are the properties in question? The photo gallery below, courtesy of RealtyTrac, shows just where any given $5 million + property stopped making its mortgage payments.
"The shale oil plays are going to be probably much less than a 10-year flash in the pan. They are very dependent on a lot of different things, including low interest rates and the ability to keep borrowing - which could turn around very quickly. Lower oil prices would tend to do the same thing. But even if you hypothesize that we can keep the low interest rates and that the oil price will stay up there, under the best of circumstances, the Barnett data says they probably will not go for very long... And so these companies put together optimistic financial statements that have the benefit of these extremely low interest rates. They keep adding debt onto debt onto debt. How long can they continue to get more debt to finance this whole operation? It's not a model that anybody who is very sensible would follow."
Having discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the crypto-currency and noted the extreme volatility of the last few weeks, it seemed only a matter of time before some ambitious entrepreneur tried to monetize the volatility. What better way to "manage the risk" of your virtual currency horde than buying (or selling) options (in a more levered way). Predictious, the Dublin-based prediction market, this week unveiled Bitcoin Option Spreads enabling both long- and short-positions to be constructed on the already extremely volatile 'asset'. Regulatory clamp-down in 3..2..1...
According to Hong Kong customs data, in the month of October (with the usual one month delay), China imported 148 total tons of gold in a month in which the price of gold, once again plunged. Curiously, unlike momentum chasers of paper ETF promises to get gold delivery, China continues to BTFD in gold, and the 148 tons of import in the past month was the second highest monthly import ever through Hong Kong, second only to the 224 tons imported in March of 2013. Compared to a year ago, when the price of gold was over 30% higher, China has imported over 200% more than the 48 tons it bought through Hong Kong a year ago. At least someone is grateful for plunging gold prices.
Thinking like the Fed
To know your enemy, you must become your enemy -Sun Tzu
In war, poker, chess and many other endeavors, wise old hands will advise you to think like your opponent. We’ll try a related idea here by seeing if we can think like the members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Specifically, we’ll pretend to write part of the statement for the FOMC’s December 17/18 meeting.
Now that Athens' Syntagma square has been put on indefinite hiatus since everyone has finally figured out the game between Greece and Athens (Greece grudgingly promises to reform but doesn't, at the same time Troika grudgingly threatens to cut off funding for Greece unless reforms are implemented but doesn't... even as the fate of the people gets worse), a new square has emerged as the focal point in the fight for (and against) Europe - Kiev's Independence Square.