Having exuberantly reached its highest level since September 2013 last month (despite the total collapse in mortgage applications), it appears the ugly reality of the housing market has peeked its head out once again. As prices rose, existing home sales plunged 6.1% - the most since July 2010 (against an expected 1.1% drop) to 4.93mm SAAR (the lowest in 6 months). As usual there is an excuse for this carnage... NAR's Larry Yun blames the stock market (and rising home values). Quite a conundrum for the Fed...
The private sector – the part that pays the bills – is only $12 trillion. Total debt – government, corporate and personal – in the US is now $58 trillion (misreported yesterday as $59 trillion… but what’s a trillion dollars between friends?). That’s nearly five times the real economy that supports it. Assuming an annual interest rate of 2%, even if you could contain debt increases to 3% of GDP a year, the productive part of the economy would have to grow at 5% just to stay even. If the average interest rate were to rise to that level again – and sooner or later it will – it would take $3 trillion to service America’s debt – or one-quarter of private sector output. That can’t happen. The wings would fall off first.
North Korea Warns Of Attacks Against White House, Pentagon And Entire "Cesspool Of Terrorism" That Is AmericaSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/22/2014 - 09:07
The whole "North Korea hacking Sony" story had gotten so bizarre over the past week, there was nothing stopping it from jumping fully into the rabit hole. Which it did overnight when as the FT reported, North Korea warned of strikes against key sites in the US in retaliation for Washington blaming Pyongyang for the recent Sony cyber attack, saying any US punishment over the incident would lead to damage “thousands of times greater”. The NDC said its 1.2m-member army was ready to use all types of warfare against the US. “Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon, and the whole US mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the ‘symmetric counteraction’ declared by Obama,” said the NDC statement, carried by official news agency KCNA.
It all looked so rosy just a few short hours ago. WTI crude has slipped from over $58.50 (once again testing that upper band of resistance) to back below $56 and down almost 2% from Friday's close (not stabilizing). While the S&P and Dow (futures) remain green, the Nasdaq has tumbled into the red on the heels of Gilead's weakness (the 6th largest name in the Nasdaq 100).
What assures that the relentless low in TSY yields continues is that, courtesy of a market that is so broken and counterintuitive that for a record 6 years bad news is good news, and the worse the economy the higher stocks and bonds go, hedge funds will continue bidding up Treasurys, which they bought on hopes that this time the recovery will be right around the corner. And sure enough, as BofA reports overnight, hedge fund specs "sold 10-yr contracts increasing net short position to largest in three years. 10-yr contracts have now been sold in six of past seven weeks."
- Police officers' slaying raises pressure on New York mayor (Reuters)
- People Call for Cooling of Racial Tensions After Murder of NYPD Officers (BBG)
- The $6.3 Trillion Frenzy That Vanquished Treasury Bears (BBG)
- China Investigates Possible Stock-Price Manipulation (WSJ)
- Citigroup Was Wary of Metals-Backed Loans (WSJ)
- UPS Turns Parking Lots Into Sorting Centers to Add Speed (BBG)
- U.S. Move to Normalize Cuba Ties Boosts Firms’ Asset Claims (WSJ)
- Meredith Whitney’s Fund Said to Drop 11% as Office Put on Market (BBG)
- Railcar Bottleneck Looms for Oil (WSJ)
There are two key events driving overnight risk prices: first, there is the Bloomberg story that "China Offers Russia Help With Currency Swap Suggestion", which was previously covered extensively here a week ago, but now that the algos have official confirmaiton they have sent the Ruble shorts into a panic short squeeze, with the USDRUB tumbling another 5% as of latest. The other key development pushing oil prices modestly higher again, is yesterday's speech by Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi who "expressed confidence prices will pick up", however not due to a drop in supply - because he made it very clear OPEC will never cut output and instead will wait for the high cost producers to exit the game - but amid improved economic growth.
Just a day after the premeditated execution of two NYPD officers in New York by a deranged, suicidal psychopath, two more police officers have been shot in America today. In St.Louis, an off-duty officer was shot multiple times and remains in critical condition while in Tarpon Springs, Florida, 45-year-old officer Charles Kondek - a 17-year-veteran and father of 5 children - was shot and killed early Sunday morning.
Fast forward to today when we are about to learn that Newton's third law of Keynesian economics states that every boom, has an equal and opposite bust. Which brings us to Texas, the one state that more than any other, has benefited over the past 5 years from the Shale miracle. And now with crude sinking by the day, it is time to unwind all those gains, and give back all those jobs. Did we mention: highly compensated, very well-paying jobs, not the restaurant, clerical, waiter, retail, part-time minimum-wage jobs the "recovery" has been flooded with. Here is JPM's Michael Feroli explaining why Houston suddenly has a very big problem.
"The oil-price weapon, in the face of the terminal enfeeblement of the Obama administration, is the last recourse before the Saudis and Turks, whatever their autocues of racist rhetoric, invite Israel to smash the Iranian nuclear program from the air."
While "lowflation" continues to stun central bankers around the world, Zee Germans remain stoic on the sidelines (courtesy of Jens 'nein nein nein' Weidmann's last voice of reason left in the world) in their derision of the ECB's sovereign QE efforts. If you wondered why they are so vehemntly opposed to the printing of money... perhaps the following chart will help explain - just how quickly a nation can swing from 'zee stabilitee' to 'zee hyperinflation'.
Banks are selling a record amount of U.S. structured notes tied to the stocks of fast-growing, volatile technology companies such as Facebook and Twitter. As Bloomberg Briefs reports, sales of securities linked to Facebook soared to $457.6 million this year, more than double the $204.2 million issued during the same period of 2013. Bloomberg notes that investors are flocking to products tied to social media companies, where more volatile share prices help banks improve structured-note terms that have been hurt by low interest rates... and issuers are "trying to put shiny objects in front of the client," as the BTFD mentality gets increased leverage (and downside risk). Investors have purchased $1.88 billion of structured notes linked to the 10 most popular technology stocks so far this year - 31% more than the same period in 2013 - and $32.7bn equity- and commodity-linked notes this year alone (up ~10% YoY). As we warned last week, counterparty risks are rising.
Having confirmed unequivocally, in a statement by the FBI and reiterated by President Obama, that "the North Korean government is responsible" for hacking Sony, it appears the YouTube-less 'evidence' the FBI provided is being questioned by the hacking-collective 'Anonymous' and former Lulzsec hacker Sabu. As The Daily Beast reports, the hackers blasted, the North Koreans "don’t have the technical capabilities," and added "we all know the hacks didn't come from North Korea, and "all of the evidence FBI cites would be trivial things to do if a hacker was trying to misdirect attention to DPRK." Meanwhile, on Saturday afternoon, Guardians of Peace, the hacking group that’s so far claimed responsibility for wreaking havoc on Sony, posted a message online mocking the FBI’s investigation - a series of gyrating animated bodies shrieking, "You are an idiot!"