Case-Shiller Says "Housing Recovery Is Faltering" Despite December Home Prices Jumping Most Since MarchSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/24/2015 - 09:09
Home prices, according to Case-Shiller, rose 0.87% MoM in December (better than the expected 0.6% gain) for the biggest seasonally adjusted monthly gain since March, likely bringing the 'housing recovery is back on track' meme back into play (despite affordablity being a major driver of the slump in home sales). However, non-seasonally-adjusted the rise was a mere 0.1%, which nonetheless managed to snap the 3 consecutive months of sequential price declines. And yet, despite all this, Case Shiller was anything but optimistic: “The housing recovery is faltering. While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak. Before the current business cycle, any time housing starts were at their current level of about one million at annual rates, the economy was in a recession”
Just over a week ago, Yanis Varoufakis would have crushed and mangled anyone who would dare suggest that Greece would extend its current bailout program, because, the myth went, the new Syriza government had a mandate to end the Troika (since renamed to "Institutions") and to crush the Memorandum (aka "existing bailout programme"). Since then much has changed, and confirming that the new government is really the old government, Europe can now rejoice, because as Bloomberg blasted moments ago:
- GREEK BAILOUT EXTENSION SAID TO BE APPROVED BY EURO AREA
Which means that as the "valiant" in words, if not deeds, new Greek government rolls over, the DAX is about to jump to new all time highs making rich Germans even richer. As for Greeks, not so much.
As the market anxiously await Janet Yellen's Humphrey-Hawkins testimony this morning, hanging on every word and intonation, ConvergEx's Nick Colas is reminded of Harry Truman’s famous request: “Give me a one-handed economist!” The U.S. central bank clearly feels challenged by the cross currents of the global economy even as it reiterates confidence in domestic growth prospects. In an effort to help clear things up, Colas brings some 21st century data to the Fed’s distinctly old-school toolset and looks at the historical popularity of 10 Google search terms with a decidedly economic twist. Bottom line: the Google data is clear. The Fed needs to wait a while longer before raising interest rates.
The nebulous threat of NIRP in the US "some time in the future" became tangible after J.P. Morgan Chase, the largest US bank by assets (and second largest in the US by total derivative notional) is preparing to charge large institutional customers for some deposits. WSJ adds that JPM "is aiming to reduce the affected deposits by billions of dollars, with a focus on bringing the number down this year. "The moves have thrown into question a cornerstone of banking, in which deposits have been seen as one of the industry’s most attractive forms of funding."
What happened over the past week to the Syriza "mandate" is that the new government's list of unfulfillable promises to the Greek people has been replaced with a new list of unfulfillable promises to the Troika.
Update: EU COMMISSION SAYS GREEK LIST `SUFFICIENTLY COMPREHENSIVE'
- Yellen faces Senate grilling on Fed rate policy, transparency (Reuters)
- Big Banks Face Scrutiny Over Pricing of Metals (WSJ)
- Greece makes more concessions to euro zone, Germany sets vote (Reuters)
- Time for another executive order: Longer Lives Hit Companies With Pension Plans Hard (WSJ)
- The Syria invasion "false flag" approaches: Islamic State in Syria abducts at least 90 from Christian villages (Reuters)
- Why Lenders Love the $2.5 Million Home Loan (BBG)
- Reuters journalist Maria Golovnina dies in Pakistan aged 34 (Reuters)
- Qatar’s Ties to Militants Strain Alliance (WSJ)
There was an expectation that today's receipt by the Troika of the revised Greek "reform proposal" would send risk and the EUR higher, which is probably precisely why nothing has happened so far, and US equity futures are unchanged ahead of what the HFT algos' new attention focus is today, namely Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress. As a result, the only thing that has seen notable strength this morning is the USD, which has surged to 119.50 against the Yen, and briefly pushed the EURUSD under 1.1300. which also means that WTI has also gone nowhere overnight and remains under $50. One wonders just what OPEC "rumor" those long crude will leak today.
According to the WSJ, "prosecutors in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are scrutinizing the price-setting process for gold, silver, platinum and palladium in London, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has opened a civil investigation, these people said. The agencies have made initial requests for information, including a subpoena from the CFTC to HSBC Holdings PLC related to precious-metals trading, the bank said in its annual report Monday. Who is involved in this latest gold-rigging scandal? Why everyone! ... which makes it immediately obvious why the European regulator had to promptly cover up the whole affair. Under scrutiny are Bank of Nova Scotia , Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Société Générale SA, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and UBS AG , according to one of the people close to the investigation.
Ex-Plunge Protection Team Whistleblower: "Governments Control Markets; There Is No Price Discovery Anymore"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/23/2015 - 23:42
Conspiracy 'Theory' becomes Conspiracy 'Fact.
"There's no price discovery anymore by the market... governments impose prices on the market." - Pippa Malmgren, former member of the U.S. President’s Working Group on Financial Markets.
Photographs indicate that massive construction projects are underway on the newly build islands at Fiery Cross and Johnson South Reefs, while less extensive but still serious construction is ondoing at Hughes, Gaven, and Cuarteron Reefs. Given the extent to which future control over the shipping lanes of the South China Sea will impact the global balance of power, China’s island construction is worthy of our attention.
Oops! Amid new money-laundering allegations against HSBC's Swiss arm, The Guardian reports that leaked files show that CEO Stuart Gulliver sheltered US$7.6 million in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company. While a spokesperson for the bank said that taxes were paid on these funds in Hong Kong, when asked why he used a Panamanian company to hold the funds, given Swiss accounts already offer secrecy, they declined to comment. With Gulliver stating, "the business has been transformed and standards are now up to scratch," we prsume, of course, that the PR spin will be: who better to refocus the 'new' HSBC on battling tax fraud than someone who has been there and done that...
"The economy is booming, according to recent data. GDP grew by 2.6% annualized in the last quarter. And yet oil prices have dropped faster than they did in the crisis of 2008. The US dollar is at record strength. And the gold price has spiked in many currencies ... Something’s not right here." So says Eric Sprott in his latest report observing what may lie in store for oil and gold in the near future.
With proxy wars mounting and "isolated" Russia ratifying The BRICS Bank this week, we are sure Washington is preparing to double-down on 'costs' (to Europeans) as Reuters reports, Russia has offered Iran its latest Antey-2500 missiles (ironically after a deal to supply less powerful S-300 missiles was dropped under Western pressure in 2010). While the United States and Israel lobbied Russia to block the missile sale, the head of Russian state defense conglomerate, Sergei Chemezov, says, "as far as Iran is concerned, we offered Antey-2500 instead of S-300. They are thinking. No decision has been made yet."
This is the biggest problem facing the world today, namely that at least 9 countries have debt/GDP above 300%, and that a whopping 39% countries have debt-to-GDP of over 100%!