News again refuses to register, as reverse decoupling is the only relevant metric in the world: the US will pull the world out of its doldrums, and that's all that matters. That economic "growth" may actually mean the end of QE and the elimination of about 300 S&P point purchased via Brian Sack, is completely ignored.
The one man in finance, who after Buffett and Munger is way overdue for retirement, Blackstone's Byron Wien who at 77 is only made relevant once a year with his atrocious following year forecast, which due to its ongoing track record of being right approximately on zero out of ten predictions, provides Wall Street with an annual bout of uncontrollable laughter. So far this has been an innocuous exercise in worthlessness, but not any more. According to Bloomberg, Wien's latest forecast may have so infuriated the New York pension system that they may no longer invest money with Blackstone. "The New York City Comptroller’s office backed out of a scheduled meeting with Blackstone Group LP and trustees for the city pension funds who want the firm to repudiate chief strategist Byron Wien’s statement that public- employee retirement benefits are too high." The reason: "Last January, Wien, 77, said in his annual forecast that taxpayers 'literally can’t afford the benefits we have given our retirees in state and local governments and we have to change that.'" The result: New York State pension administrators are not amused.
Following this morning’s Monster Employment Index, we have claims, retail chain stores, and the Fed’s balance sheet. Speaking of the latter, there is $6-8 billion in 1/31/2015 – 6/30/2016 bonds to be monetized, which means futures are already levitating.
UK December PMI Plunges To Sub-50 Level, Lowest Since April 2009, As Inflation Slashes UK Margins NextSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/06/2011 - 07:45
That whole reverse decoupling meme, where the US is supposed to bail out the world (courtesy of a "stimulative" payroll tax cut of all things) better work soon, cause after an insolvent Eurozone, and a tightening China where the interbank lending market is all but dead, now we get a UK PMI index which plunged from 53 to 49.7 (on expectations of 53). This was the lowest print in the index since April 2009. And confirming the trend that every single diffusion and manufacturing index in the US has been warning about, is that corporate input costs surged to the highest since September 2008 as average cost inflation accelerated markedly in December. Following in the footsteps of Walmart, Tesco will likely start selling 49 ounce coffee in 33 ounce coffee containers next (at the same price of course), hoping nobody will notice.
RANsquawk European Morning Briefing - Stocks, Bonds, FX – 06/01/
China In Diplomatic Gaffe, Backtracks After Leaked Report Discloses Country Ready To Use Preemptive NukesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/06/2011 - 07:11
This morning China is forced to do some unpleasant diplomatic damage control. After an earlier report in Kyodo News disclosed leaked documents that China has revised its escalation doctrine to initiate a pre-emptive nuclear strike in response to a conventional attack, the country is now furiously scrambling to refute any such "interpretations." After all the last thing the already volatile North-South Korean theater needs is the worry of an unstable big brother next door who may just type in the launch codes if an artillery shell veers a few degrees off course. In its original report Kyodo announced that The Chinese military will consider launching a preemptive nuclear strike if the country finds itself faced with a critical situation in a war with another nuclear state, internal documents showed Wednesday. The newly revealed policy, called "Lowering the threshold of nuclear threats," may contradict China's strategy of no first use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances, and is likely to fan concern in the United States, Japan and other regional powers about Beijing's nuclear capability. Per obtained documents, the People's Liberation Army's strategic missile forces, the Second Artillery Corps, "will adjust the nuclear threat policy if a nuclear missile-possessing country carries out a series of air strikes against key strategic targets in our country with absolutely superior conventional weapons." China will first warn an adversary about a nuclear strike, but if the enemy attacks Chinese territory with conventional forces the PLA "must carefully consider" a preemptive nuclear strike. Of course, there is only one country that has "absolutely superior conventional weapons" and they know it. Which begs the question: why was this leaked now, and considering the recent spike in Chinese stealth fighter sightings, is China trying to send its biggest debtor "ally" a not so secret message?
John Taylor On Why "Gridlock" Will Lead To A Slowing US Economy, A Drop In Equities And Commodities, And A Spike In The DollarSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/06/2011 - 06:53
"The 112th Congress just began today, but House Republicans have already laid out plans that are aimed at rolling back or not funding as many of the Obama programs as they can. As the Democrats control the Senate and the President has the veto as well, the programs are likely to survive the House challenges. However, these divisive tactics assure that pleasantries will be hard to come by in the Congress during the next year. Even the Fed looks like it will be dragged into this mud. If some decisions are necessary – the financial crises in state and municipal financing comes to mind – who is going to make the compromises to get the job done? God help the US if it goes into a recession and some real economic decisions, benefiting the workers or supplying capital or spending money, need to be made. It will be almost impossible to get a decision. Trench warfare is what we see and a deep recession is what we fear. Even growth below 2.5% would be very problematic and a big disappointment for the markets. Although we see equities down significantly, the dollar should rally and commodities decline as the US economy slows."
Spanish, Belgian CDS Hit Record Wides, Even As China Announces Plans To Buy €18 Billion In Spanish, Greek And Portuguese BondsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/06/2011 - 06:34
Today, despite the announcement by Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiangin in Madrid that China is willing to buy as much Spanish debt as that of Greece and Portugal (but not Ireland), or roughly €6 billion each, CDS in both the core and the semi-periphery, are back to record levels (El Pais and Reuters sources). Spain was last seen trying to catch up with Illinois, somewhere in the mid 300s, while Belgium also took out record wides at 225 bps. On one hand this is beneficial news for Spain, now that China is seemingly instituting its latest sphere of influence, but in reality is just doing all it can to precent the euro from collapsing (and thus killing Chinese exports to its second largest trading partner, the EU) and with net issuance in the country expected at just €47.2 billion, Spain may have well gone the distance to plugging as much as 13% of its net funding needs for the year. However, and what is spooking markets more, is that, as we reported yesterday, today European Commissioner Michael Bernier will publish a “consultation
paper” outlining ways to shield taxpayers from banking crises, chief among which is the renewed floating of the debt haircut idea.
Well, that lasted all of 3 weeks: after ICI reported outflows in taxable bond funds for all of the prior four weeks (for a whopping combined $5 billion after hundreds of billions in inflows in the past year), the bond inflows are once again back in the last week of 2010, as bond investors placed $2.5 billion with taxable bond funds. The only category that saw outflows was mutual bond funds, which in itself is obviously quite troubling as it indicates that the state funding situation is about to get rather dire especially in light of the non-renewal of the BAB program. Basically this is exactly as we suspected would happen: following the major drop in bond prices in December, investors are now back and are in fact more interested in buying bonds at more attractive prices. Which of course means that that other trend: inflows into equities is about to taper off as well, as money flows shift out from equities and into bonds once again. Indeed, last week's inflow of $335 million in domestic equity funds was revised to just $14 million, and the last week of 2010 saw another token (and probably soon to be revised downward again) inflow of just $493 million. Should the equity inflow indeed reverse to an outflow shortly, the propganda machine will be doubly confused to explain how, a mere few weeks after it made such a story out of the first inflow in 33 weeks, outflows are again back.
Harley Bassman's Model Portfolio For 2011, And Why "It Is Just A Matter Of Time" Before The Fed Creates InflationSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/05/2011 - 21:08
Harley Bassman, who used to head Merrill's RateLab, and who was one of the most erudite sellside voices on rate matters, and doubly so on mortgage issues, and subsequently moved to Merrill's prop side, has kept a low profile recently. Which is why we are happy to present his model portfolio for 2011. Bassman is a firm believer in inflation (synthetic or real), and we for one would pay good money to see the redux of the Rosenberg vs Grant debate in 2011 be Rosenberg vs Bassman. Bassman's conclusion, even though obtained in a circuitous way to our own, is comparable to the Zero Hedge thesis that the Fed will have no choice but to eventually create inflation. "In a nutshell, the FED (with the help of the Govt), is going to
engineer some type of Inflation to reduce the value of both our Private
and Public Debt. Since Inflation is the only solution, it will happen;
it is just a matter of time. Since the entire G-7 is in the same boat,
trading in Euro or Yen is purely a short-term speculation since all
these currencies will be heading south." Where Zero Hedge and Bassman, however, differ, is that we are certain that the Fed will be unable to contain said inflation once it has finally been unleashed, resulting in a complete wipeout of all assets that are directly or indirectly a rate derivative (ref: a very notable reparation paying, post-WW1 central European state), which means all fiat derivatives, leaving only hard assets in the wake.
Once the domain of society – of the cooperative interaction that is its natural mode of economic organization and integration – the control of money has been usurped by the state and accordingly monopolized. Moreover, the monopolization is now a fait accompli due the state’s abandonment of gold, or any other commodity, as the monetary standard. Money has been positivized, in other words, in that it is now created not by “voluntary agreement between the parties immediately affected” but by the authoritarian degree of a third party. And it is because of this positivization that society’s money has effectively been stolen from it, toppling the first of civilization’s twin pillars.
PIMCO, which was one of the firms spearheading the putback push against BofA, has put together a useful and rather objective analysis though Executive Vice President, Global Structured Finance Specialist, Rod Dubitsky, titled "Foreclosure Flaws Trigger New Round of Uncertainty." While not surprisingly the baseline case presented by PIMCO is a moderate one, as the asset manager claims the most likely impact is "moderate" it does acknowledge that there is a possibility for substantial complications (although Fannie's recent bail out of BofA pretty much takes cares of that). The two main adverse consequences are "corrupted title" - a topic beaten to death previously, and, more importantly, "Tax issues relating to RMBS issuance entities" on which PIMCO says "Some have argued that assigning the note for the mortgage loan so long after closing would run afoul of REMIC rules, which could subject RMBS deals to adverse tax consequences." Of course, as an escalation of these developments would bring the entire $8 trillion RMBS structured finance industry to a halt, we are fairly confident that as more and more settlements are instituted, that the whole fraudclosure issue will be very soon completely forgotten.
Since CNBC has been issuing a non-stop barrage of its own version of reality vis-a-vis gold and other precious metals, it may be time for some counterpoint. For all those who believe that the drop in gold from levels which were virtually all time highs on Monday, is the equivalent of theapocalypse , we urge that you sell: volatility will be a key part of the game, and it may be prudent for timid elements to run into the levered safety of 5x beta stocks, trading at 100x forward P/E multiples, which are guaranteed to never go down. It will also likely shake out the weak hands, and certainly provide some cheaper entry points (something which we are confident Cramer's endless prattling on gold will do on its own sooner or later). That said, here are some amusing observations by Jeff Clark of Casey Research on how high gold could go in 2011. Keep in mind that just as all the program content on CNBC, this is nothing but pure abject speculation. In a world of central planning, none can predict the future with any does of certainty.
More Bad News For States: State Revenue Plunges By 31% In 2009 To $1.1 Trillion As Spending IncreasesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/05/2011 - 18:25
The Meredith Whitney "ubiquitous state default" case may have just gotten another leg up. According to just released Census Bureau data, in 2009 total state revenue plunged by 31%, from $1.6 trillion to $1.1 trillion. "The large decrease in total revenue was mainly caused by the substantial decrease in social insurance trust revenue. Social insurance trust revenue is made up of four categories — public employee retirement, unemployment compensation, workers compensation and other insurance trusts (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, veteran's life insurance)." But the drop in the top line did not stop states from spending more: in the same year, state government spending rose by 3%, while that pervasive source of backstop funding, the US government, saw its grants to states increase by 13% to $477.7 billion. At this point it is safe to say nobody believes there is a deficit that the US government can not fill.
The ongoing collapse in bond prices is making John Meriwether blush with envy at the wholesale wanton destruction of capital undertaken by Ben Bernanke. Keep in mind LTCM - the organization which proved definitively that Nobel prizes in economics are given only to the most consummate destroyers of value, logic, reason and humility - lost "just" $4.6 billion from its peak before it became the biggest systemic risk in the world back in 1998 and had to be rescued by a consortium of banks. The bottom line: with about $10 billion in SOMA losses today alone, Ben Bernanke has generated more than double the losses that nearly destroyed western finance 13 short years ago. And nobody cares.