Russia could care less whether Ukraine signs meaningless accession agreements with Europe (as it just did) because at the end of the day, Ukraine needs Russia's gas (if only for the next 4-6 years until Hunter Biden develops Ukraine's shale deposits and the Qatar gas pipeline finally crosses Syria). Russia, however, is very angry when NATO gets ever closer to its borders, which it just did when earlier today, more than 1,000 troops from 15 NATO and non-NATO countries, including the US of course, are taking part in a military exercise in Ukraine.
- Thank you market Chief Risk Officer Bernanke/Yellen: Calpers to Exit Hedge Funds, Divest $4 Billion Stake (BBG)
- World stocks hit one-month low, caution ahead of Fed (Reuters)
- U.S. Efforts to Build Coalition Against Islamic State in Iraq, Syria Are Hampered by Sectarian Divide (WSJ)
- Time to throw away some more good money: Sears Borrows $400 Million From Lampert’s ESL Investments (BBG)
- Wildfires rage in California drought, hundreds forced to flee (Reuters)
- United Offers $100,000 Buyouts to Flight Attendants (BBG)
- Biggest Banks Said to Overhaul FX Trading After Scandals (BBG)
- You mean you have to pay? Administration threatens to cut off ObamaCare subsidies to 360,000 (The Hill)
- RBS Said to Dismiss Most of Team Overseeing Central Europe Debt (BBG) they will be hired by the ECB
If over the weekend we got some terrible economic news out of China, then overnight it was turn for a major disappointment in capital flows, when Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in August crashed by 14%, far below the 0.8% increase expected, attracting just $7.2 billion in FDI, and the lowest in four years. This once again sparked fears of a Chinese hard landing and sent the Shanghai Composite tumbling 1.82%, the biggest drop in six months. In addition to China, there was the German ZEW Survey, which while beating expectations of a 5.0 print, dropped from 8.6 to 6.9 in August, the lowest since 2012. In fact, the gauge has decreased every month since December when it reached a seven-year high. And while there is not much other news today ahead of the blitz assault of data later in the week, including the Fed tomorrow, the TLTRO announcement on Thursday and the Scottish referendum results and the BABA IPO on Friday, we are stunned futures aren't as usual, soaring.
There are plenty of things to worry about these days. However, with enough intelligence, political will, common-sense and perseverance, most challenges we face as a species can be overcome (maybe providing some hope that we can tackle whatever we are facing right now.) So why worry? Well, what will happen if we start losing those qualities and values as a global society? Which is why we believe that the following graphs are the scariest in the world today...
"The West is done, it's over! We screwed it all up. Do you want your great-grandchildren speaking Chinese?"
In the past month, a group of radical Islamic extremists based in the Middle East beheaded at least 23 people and enforced a ban on Christianity by arresting a group of people for practicing the faith in a private home. No, we're not talking about ISIS. The real culprit is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the America’s closest global allies.
In what appears to be an awkward moment of uncomfortable fact, ABC reports satellite imagery reveals an area of about 20 million square kilometres covered by sea ice around the Antarctic continent - the highest level of coverage since records began. This is the 3rd year in a row that the sea ice coverage has reached a record level - increasing at 1.5% each decade since 1979. However, there is another side to this, as the area covered in sea ice expands scientists have said the ice on the continent of Antarctica which is not over the ocean continues to deplete. The climate is changing, one way or the other.
"[A] crash is coming, and it may be terrific... The vicious circle will get in full swing and the result will be a serious business depression. There may be a stampede for selling which will exceed anything that the Stock Exchange has ever witnessed. Wise are those investors who now get out of debt."
UPDATE: It appears the exodus is beginning - China FDI -14% YoY (vs +0.8% exp.)
As China's shift to a consumer economy progresses based on the urbanization of its agrarian 'poor' population, an odd thing is happening at the other end of the demographic wealth spectrum. As WSJ reports, nearly half of wealthy Chinese are planning to move to another country within the next five years, according to a new Barclays survey. The top reasons 47% of these individuals - with net worths over $1.5 billion - cite for fleeing China include educational and employment opportunities, economic security, and climate. Ironically, none mentioned 'running away from potential prosecution for graft'.
Japan's broad TOPIX index is lower this evening after the holiday weekend - following a six-day rise - led by Real Estate, Mining, and Banking sectors as traders suggest "the mood is to hold back ahead of the Fed meeting." China's dismal data and comments about no imminent rate cut have done nothing to tamp down enthusiasm for Shanghai Composite stocks as the Chinese government "unveiled guidelines to support the development of the stock market, pledging to make blue chips bigger and stronger and more actively traded," though HKSE is delayed for now due to Typhoon warnings. MSCI Asia-Pac is down at the open for the 9th day in a row - the longest losing streak since 2002.
Never waste a good crisis. While we already knew a major reason for The West chasing into Africa was to leverage its relatively low credit levels as the last bastion of Keynesian-stimulus-hope in the world (estimated at between $5 and $10 trillion in secured debt, using its extensive untapped resources as first-lien collateral). And so it is little surprise that, as The WSJ reports, The International Monetary Fund on Thursday warned the West African Ebola epidemic requires a "large scale" global intervention to control a crisis that is ravaging economies in the region. All three major Ebola-suffering countries were already in bailout programs ($200mm loan in 2012 for Guinea, $100mm loan for Sierra Leone, and $80mm credit facility for Liberia) but with the "world community taking forever to respond," The IMF is happy to step in and secure some assets / lend over $100mm more to each nation to fill financing gaps.
The rise of Islamic State has upended geopolitics in the Middle East and, as The Economist notes, drawn America's military back to the region. Though ISIS is popular among militants, the group has no allies on the political stage, making it even more isolated than the official al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. As The Economist's "relationship mosaic" above visualizes the rapports among countries, political groups and militant organizations in the Middle East.
"The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan. As soon as you sacrifice this slogan and try to be many-sided, the effect will piddle away, for the crowd can neither digest nor retain the material offered. In this way the result is weakened and in the end entirely cancelled out."
In January we noted 'Smart Restaurant' - the burger-flipping robot - and just last month we reported on China's robotification of the fast-food business; but, as The Washington Post reports, the greatest enemy to the minimum-wage-demanding fast-food worker has arrived: you can now order your own quarter-pound bacon cheeseburger from a welcoming, non-judging machine. With McDonalds sales the worst in almost a decade, it appears their need to maintain profits has stoked a move towards dehumanization. One wonder how long before tabltes are also declared 'unpatriotic'.
Two academic studies of the health dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have produced different conclusions. One, conducted by Yale University, said people living near fracking sites report increased health problems. The other, by Penn State University, says fracking water stays underground, far below the groundwater supplies that people use for drinking, and poses no threat.