On the back of no news and no fundamental shifts in demand and supply, Silver has cliff-dived 7.5% in the last 3 days, its biggest drop in over a year, as the precious metal heads back towards unchanged on the year. We suspect that, just as with the NatGas story earlier this year (when it went bidless and was justified by endless chatter over what it meant, when in fact it was John Arnold unwinding his positions and closing shop), the moves we are seeing in not just precious metals but copper and across FX are liquidation-related (as we noted yesterday) as fundamentally facts remain the same, given central bank buying of gold into reserves and the Fed set to hit a $4 trillion balance sheet within the next year). Into the 2011 year-end we also saw dramatic 'liquidation-like' plunges in Silver (and gold) as it is very clear that whoever is 'selling' is entirely price-insensitive.
We have discussed the alternate views of the terrible events that occurred in Connecticut from mental health to video games (Adam Lanza obsessively played "Call of Duty"), as opposed to simply attacking assault weapons. All, we are sure, have a share in the blame for this monstrosity but UBS' Art Cashin opines on the influence of video games suggesting this needs to be examined more closely. It seems, judging from FTC and FCC 'discussion drafts' that this is indeed on its way as “Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it. They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians and psychologists know better". The picture, however common-sensically desensitized the argument is, remains unclear as Bloomberg reports from an industry study: "We can’t find any evidence to support this idea that exposure to video-game violence contributes in any way to support the idea that these types of games or movies or TV shows are a contributing factor, it doesn’t need to be studied again."
Three days ago the New York Fed released the December print Empire State index which showed a broad contraction across all key verticals. Today, in fine "keeping them baffled with bullshit" form, the Philly Fed swing precisely the other way, and despite expectations for a second consecutive negative print of -3 to be precise, up from -10.7 last month, the General Business Activity indicator printed at 8.1, the highest print since April, with New Orders at 10.7, the highest since February, and Employment at 3.6, the highest since April. Naturally, the algos pretending to trade on news, took this news and ran futures higher, even though this implies a sooner end to Fed easing (wink wink), having done precisely the same with the NY Fed data on Monday, when inversely it implied an even more infinite QE4EVA. Needless to say, all economic data in the US at this point is completely meaningless, with regional distortions, seasonal adjustments, political pressures and overall central planning making a mockery of the US economic data apparatus. The good news, of course, is that economic data has ceased to matter long ago. The only thing that matters now: how will the House vote later today.
The "worst case" in the sequence of events forecasted two days ago in "The Most Critical 48 Hours In The Fiscal Cliff Melodrama Have Begun" is taking shape, with Obama and Boehner not even remotely close to a compromise despite what the media and fly by night sellside analysts will have you believe. Instead what looks almost certain to happen is a House vote on the GOP-proposed Plan B where it will pass, only to be voted down in the Senate, especially with the pre-veto treatment by Obama. The House vote will be preceded by a Boehner press conference in which he will prepare the general public for this one final PR gambit before the House essentially shuts down for the year, as any hope of further Cliff discussion in the Christmas week can be abandoned. So from a timing standpoint:
- House republicans meet at 12:00 pm to discuss the final act of the 2012 season of the Fiscal Cliff miniseries.
- Boehner holds press briefing at 1:15 pm Eastern
- House scheduled to vote on "Plan B" between 7:30 pm and 9:30 pm
Shortly thereafter Senate votes Plan B down and chaos ensues.
As Greek bonds go from unintended consequence strength to strength, helped by a EU planned buyback, so Cypriot bonds have been monkey-hammered in the last week or so (and dramatically so today) as the IMF withholds support, demanding a haircut is imposed. As Speigel notes, Cyprus did its part on Wednesday night by passing a 2013 budget with far-reaching austerity measures, yet the would-be creditors (providing the bailout funding) are at odds with the IMF playing 'bad cop'. The IMF is demanding a partial default (rather like being half pregnant) involving haircuts for private creditors before it joins the deal. The IMF is concerned that, despite the austerity measures the country has now adopted, it still wouldn't be able to shoulder the interest payments due on its debt - gracious, where have we heard that uncertainty before? "The situation in Cyprus is much worse than it is in Greece," one high-ranking EU official said, and its hard to argue when you note that with a GDP of EUR18bn in 2011, its banking system has 'assets' of EUR150bn, and fiully EUR10bn of the EUR17bn bailout (should it appear) is aimed at propping up the idiocy of the banking system!
Another day, another precious metals' dumpfest. Many have argued that this could not be a sophisticated hedge fund as they would surely 'trade' their position down, as opposed to hit the street with it all at once? Well, it appears whoever keeps doing this 'dumping' does not have the greatest price-sensitivity...
Moments ago the BEA released the final Q3 GDP number, which printed at 3.1%, up from the second GDP guesstimate 2.7% reported last month, the first 3%+ print since Q4 2011 when, just like today, everything was coming up roses and when growth was on the horizon. Sadly, just like then, reading between the lines reveals more of the same disappointing components, with nearly half of the entire 3.1% annualized growth being derived from Government (0.75) and Inventories (0.73%), combined adding 1.48% (more than in the second revision) of the 3.1% print. Annualized Personal Consumption as a portion of the final number rose modestly from 0.99% to 1.12%, but still is well below the 1.42% in the first Q3 GDP estimate. It is this number that will be closely watched once the preliminary Q4 GDP number is released in a one month. Recall that Q4 GDP is currently tracking between 0.5% and 1.5% depending who you ask. Finally, the most important real growth factor for the US economy - fixed investment - remained stubbornly flat, at a mere 0.12%, virtually unchanged from the first revision's 0.10%. In other words, in Q3 companies stubbornly refused to invest in capital investment i.e. CapEx, and will continue to do so as long as the Fed makes "investing" in dividends and buybacks a more rewarding option. Expect the same pattern to continue in Q4 only this time the Sandy and Fiscal Cliff excuses will be espoused by all the economic apologists.
It seems some sense of normality has returned to the initial claims numbers, if that could ever be the case, as NY and Penn saw initial claims drop 11,295 and 11,247 respectively this week. However, this 22,000-plus improvement was not enough to stall the rest of the nation as we saw a 17,000 rise in initial claims over last month. This week's data remains below the year's average, though not by much, and the trend of claims falling appears to have almost entirely stalled this year from the hope-driven moves of the previous two years.
Just about a year after the failed attemped by the Deutsche Bourse to acquire the NY Stock Exchange, we get a friendly reminder that stock trading is a dying business, and venues that engage in it must consolidate or die. Sure enough, moments ago the Intercontinental Exchange, or ICE, announced it would acquire the NYSE for $33.12 or roughly $8.2 billion in stock and cash.
- ICE TO BUY NYSE EURONEXT FOR $33.12-SHR IN STOCK, CASH
- ICE PACT IS FOR ABOUT 67% SHRS, 33% CASH
- INTERCONTINENTALEXCHANGE TO ACQUIRE NYSE FOR ABOUT $8.2 BLN
- ICE TO FUND CASH IN DEAL WITH CASH ON HAND, EXISTING CREDIT
- NYSE EURONEXT HOLDERS TO OWN ABOUT 36% OF ICE SHRS POST DEAL
- ICE SAYS NIEDERAUER TO BE PRESIDENT COMBINED CO, CEO NYSE GROUP
It is unclear if the combined exchange will be called N-ICE.
Confirming what we all know, here is Bloomberg's "most improved for 2012" (in our humble opinion) commentator, Michael McDonough, on China: "Fiscal stimulus has bought China’s new leadership time to pass critical reforms to spur domestic consumption and rebalance the economy, though there is little room for error. Central banks from U.S. to Japan, through unprecedented levels of quantitative easing, are influencing global markets more than ever. Concerns have arisen over China’s manufacturing sector losing competitiveness; companies including Apple and General Electric have moved some manufacturing lines back to the U.S." The Bloomberg Brief note continues: "Growth in China, which is currently being supported by government fiscal stimulus targeting infrastructure investment, will probably remain between 7.5 and 8 percent. This will buy time for the new leadership to continue with reforms, including interest-rate liberalization, designed to help stoke final demand in China and properly rebalance the nation’s economy."
Silver will rise as much as 29% to $40.25/oz, from $31.10/oz today, in 2013. This is based on the median estimate of 49 analysts, traders and investors compiled by Bloomberg. Global investment through silver backed exchange traded products reached a record 18,854 metric tons in November, or more than nine months of mine output, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Holdings are now valued at about $19.2 billion. Bullion dealers all over the world report robust demand for silver and there has been a shift in many Asian and Middle Eastern markets from gold to silver - due to silver's relative cheapness and undervaluation versus gold. According to Bloomberg, one of Singapore’s largest suppliers of coins and bars to retail investors, says sales tripled since October, part of a global surge in demand for silver that drove holdings to a record.
- IMF Demands Partial Default for Cyprus (Spiegel)
- Boehner's 'Plan B' Gets Pushback (WSJ)
- Beijing criticises US ‘political checks’ (FT)
- White House Said to Tell Business Groups Talks Stall (BBG)
- NYSE tries to get hitched again: IntercontinentalExchange in talks to buy NYSE (Reuters) -> N-Ice coming?
- Greece faces ‘make or break’ year (FT)
- Fed rejects idea of consensus forecasts, "maybe forever": Fisher (Reuters)
- Rajoy Drives Spanish Revolution With Low-Cost Manufacture (BBG)
- Italian Senate Set for Budget Vote Before Monti Resigns (BBG)
- BOJ Loosens With Pledge to Review Inflation Objectives (BBG)
- Bowing To Abe, BOJ To Review Price Goal (WSJ)
Very much in keeping with the tradition of Japan's now monthly QE8 (September) and QE9 (October), last night's announcement of what is effectively QE10, left a bitter taste in the mouth of salivating habitual gamblers (f/k/a traders), after Shirakawa showed he would not bend over to Abe's political demands just yet, and left out any mention of inflation targeting, whether 2% or 3%, out of the QE10 announcement. What he did include was yet another JPY 10 billion increase in the total asset purchase fund to a total of JPY 76 trillion, increasing the size of eligible JGB and Bill purchases by JPY 5 billion each. However, since this approach has proven to be a total failure in recent months, the market immediately faded the move and the USDJPY tumbled to under 84.00 overnight. Of course, this an all other overnight news items are, of course, completely irrelevant, as the market now observes the Cliffhanger drama in what may be its last day. As we expected several days ago, if the GOP indeed proceeds to vote Plan B in the House today (and is subsequently voted down by the Senate), you can drop any hope of a compromise deal in 2012.
After a significant slowdown in the years before the crisis, Goldman Sachs notes that the number of immigrants coming to Germany is rising strongly again. While it is not clear at this point how sustainable this development is, it will nonetheless help to ease the strains in the German labour market. But, given the underlying demographics, we suspect, like Goldman, that an increase in immigration by itself is unlikely to prevent a meaningful decline in the labour force after 2020. Only a continuous rise in the participation rate can offset these demographic trends.