• Pivotfarm
    04/18/2014 - 12:44
    Peering in from the outside or through the looking glass at what’s going down on the other side is always a distortion of reality. We sit here in the west looking at the development, the changes and...

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Video Of Tsunami Smashing Into Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant; Reactor 1 Radiation Counter "Breaks" After Reporting 100 Sieverts/Hour

Better late then never. Almost a full month after the March 11 earthquake generated a tsunami strong enough to cripple the Fukushima nuclear power plant, TEPCO has finally released a video of the 45 foot waves coming to land and resulting in the biggest nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl. As CNN explains what is patently obvious, the video shows the giant wave generated by the historic March 11 earthquake crashing over the plant's seawall and engulfing the facility, with one sheet of spray rising higher than the buildings that house the plant's six reactors. Tokyo Electric Power, the plant's owner, told reporters the wall of water was likely 14 to 15 meters (45 to 48 feet) higher than normal sea levels -- easily overwhelming the plant's 5-meter seawall.



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The Government Shutdown Battle Is Over; Now The Real Soap Opera Ratings War Begins

For some reason, much ado is being made about the nothing that is last night's 11th (or technically 10th) hour aversion of a government shutdown. As we pointed out last week, it is not as if this strawman outcome, or for that matter the raising of the debt ceiling was ever in doubt: "look for both of these events to be consistently spun as key positive outcomes, even though the chance of these things actually not transpiring in a non-favorable light is non-existent." And sure enough, we are confident that the spin of this outcome will be extremely bullish even if in reality it is the perpetuation of a baseline status quo, while the alternative would have been unthinkable. In the grand scheme of things, this was nothing more than a free episode of political soap opera. The markets largely shrugged, because the Treasury Department still would have been able to issue and service debt and the Fed would continues to goose markets higher courtesy of POMO. Yet as Reuters points out astutely: "The battle over the U.S. budget has ended. Now the war begins. The debate over this year's budget that took the U.S. government to within an hour of a shutdown is only a dress rehearsal for bigger spending clashes to come." Here is what to look forward to, as the beltway entertainment spigot is cranked out to the max.



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Guest Post: A Day In The Life Of A “Homegrown Terrorist”

There was a time when having one’s name listed in the despised ranks of those villains that governments often categorize as “terrorists” involved quite a bit of leg work, as well as an ominous running resume of death, destruction, and general mean spiritedness. Of course, if one examines the history of every modern country which eventually disintegrated into despotism, the definition of who the “enemy” is tends to become rather broad rather quickly. That is to say, the more criminal the leadership of a country becomes, the easier it is for the average person to find himself labeled a criminal by that same leadership. Today, one does not need to blow up buildings, take hostages in political motivation, send anthrax through the mail, or even wave a gun around in a public place to be considered a terrorist threat. In fact, a man could never leave his house and still find himself under suspicion as an enemy of the state. The Department of Homeland Security has released numerous standardized guidelines to law enforcement offices across the country which are meant to make it “easier” for police and others to identify a possible terrorist. If you were to take at face value such documents as the now famous MIAC Report, the Virginia Fusion Center Report, the DHS’ “see something, say something” campaign, the Enemy Belligerents Act, the post trial statements of the Department Of Justice in the Liberty Dollar case, or the wild spewing rhetoric of establishment mouthpiece organizations like the SPLC, then you would discover that a likely terrorist is...



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Will Obama Rescue Netflix After Congress Rejects Net Neutrality?

Back in December, the FCC decided, in a 3-2 vote, to take it upon itself to regulate broadband internet access, also known as "Net Neutrality" - in other words the FCC essentially decided to give itself the authority to impose rules that bar Internet providers from blocking or "unreasonably discriminating" against Web content, services or applications. As previously explained: "That means Time Warner Cable can't take payments from Google to make YouTube come over the network faster than Hulu. Comcast, [which recently bought 51% of NBC-U], is also forbidden from favoring its own content over others'." The biggest winners were broadband video content distributors who have rapidly become the biggest traffic hogs on the Internet. Names such as Netflix come to mind. So it came as a bit of a shocker that late this afternoon, while everyone was staring at the countdown clock to government shutdown, that House republicans, in a 240-179 vote, "pushed through a measure disapproving the Federal Communications Commission's rules" - in other words rejecting Net Neutrality, and throwing broadband video companies for a loop. Since the triple play companies such as Comcast have become increasingly concerned about the encroaching threat that is Netflix, it is almost guaranteed that if indeed the House vote passes the Senate, where a similar measure has 39 co-sponsors, and becomes law, then Netflix already razor thing cash flow margins are about to get "razor thinner" as the triple plays extract their pound of flesh. There is one out, though: an Obama veto: per Reuters, "the White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama's advisers would recommend that he veto any such resolution." Which begs the question: will Netflix' momo longs have Obama to thank for the continuation of the most ridiculous move in stock market history, or will the fairy tale promptly come to an end.



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Mail From Japan

A reader writes us from Japan...



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Soros Speaks

Unlike the last time a bunch of men gathered at Bretton Woods to determine the monetary fate of the world and set the stage for globalization, this time around the prevailing activity was a casting call for the role of the new Emperor Palpatine. Yet despite that (or maybe because of) George Soros appeared in full Open Society regalia and spoke to Bloomberg TV about how importing foreign asset collateral (also known as exporting debt) through "globalization" is still the name of the game. And obviously while the Hungarian billionaire would not disuss the true purpose for his presence in Bretton Woods, he did have some words of caution for China bulls: "while the big banks under direct central control are in fact refusing to
lend, there is a shadow banking system that is growing out of control.
There is a real danger there of wage price inflation because prices have
gone up, particularly real estate prices have gone up because there was
a real estate boom." But to those concerned about the key issue at play, namely the future of the reserve monetary system, some could interpret the following statement by Soros, as a tacit agreement that the end of the dollar is fast approaching: "cautionary words for the dollar: "There's a big question whether the U.S. dollar should be the main
reserve currency and in fact it no longer is because it maybe accounts
for two-thirds of the monetary reserves. The euro is an alternative and
there's a lot of diversification into other currencies and even more
into commodities. Not only gold, but actually oil is now an asset class
for investors.
That has put some upward pressure on the commodities." Of course what actually is decided in B-W will be made clear over the next year or so, once the decision makers have already placed their bets accordingly and pull the rug from under the market.



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Presenting The Administration's Spin On The Dying Dollar

Wondering what chart is in the memo that expert Fed reporter Steve Liesman just may have received with instructions to spin (literally) for public consumption? Wonder no more.



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This Is What Currency Failure Looks Like

Somewhere, someone is furiously drafting the impeachment proceedings for Chairsatan Bernankebub and TurboTaxTinyTim.



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Treasury Closed Thursday With $34.9 Billion In Cash, Friday Likely $12 Billion Lower

And since Friday is always a heavy refund issuance day, it is probably safe to say that Treasury cash is now down in the lower $20 billion. Although we probably won't know: if the FMS is shutdown on Monday there will be no DTS debt report. Why is this important? Because in 8 hours this may be the snapshot cash for the US Treasury for a long time, or as long as it takes for the two parties to find a resolution over the glaring hole that is 0.001% of the budget deficit. Luckily, auctions will continue... For so long as the formal debt ceiling is finally breached, in a few weeks. Good luck with that negotiation.



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On Silver's Exponential Price Feedback Loop

And as if silver bulls needed some more good news, here is a report from the Morgan Stanley metals desk...



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IMF Announces Receipt Of Bail Out Request From Portugal: "First We Take Your Money Gringos..."

Two weeks ago, we when we disclosed the most recent expansion in the IMF's funding with the announcement of the activation of a "Special Funding Pool" we predicted:  "Bottom line: there is a new threat to the international monetary system which means Europe May 2010 redux is imminent. US taxpayers: our condolences." Alas, as tends to happen in these cases, we were right. The IMF, whose number one source of funding is you, dear US taxpayer, has just received a bailout request from Portugal. 



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As Chinese Beer Prices Surge, CPI Is Set To Pass 6%; Here Comes Shrinkage

Yesterday we reported that China just hiked its fuel prices for only the second time in 2011. Now, again courtesy of Business China, we find that something far more important to the Chinese population is about to surge in price: beer. "The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planner, has hauled in representatives from China’s four largest beer makers (China Resources Snow Breweries Co. Ltd., Tsingtao Brewery Co. Ltd., Beijing Yanjing Brewery Co. Ltd. and the China unit of Belgian Anheuser-Busch InBev NV ) for talks over their price hikes, as it looks to tackle public concerns over soaring inflation. " Since February, the cost of beer production has risen by RMB 94 per ton, which explains the beer makers’ unanimous price hikes,” the person said. Since January, CR Snow Breweries, China’s largest brewer by volume, has raised prices by more than 10% in Sichuan, Liaoning and Anhui provinces, where it enjoys a dominant position in the market. Tsingtao Brewery also hiked prices of several products in the following months by an average of 10%, the company announced earlier." This follows news from the China Securities Journal that Chinese CPI, which recently dipped again below 5%, is about to have a breakaway month in March. "Chinese consumer prices are likely to rise more
than 5% year-on-year in each month in the second quarter and the
inflation rate may even surpass 6% in some months,
the official China
Securities Journal warned in a front page editorial published Wednesday." And while energy is energy is a major component of Chinese CPI, it is food that is the main variable: as was discussed previously on Zero Hedge, whereas food is merely 7.8% of total CPI, in China it is about 30% (this is before the recent CPI weighting adjustment). Which means a desperate China is now forced to resort to that ultimately last ditch attempt at covering surging prices- Shrinkage "Resigned to rising raw materials prices, brewers are figuring out new ways to offset higher costs. “One way of countering the costs is to reduce beer capacity by as much as 100 milliliters for a 660-ml bottle,” said the head of a local beer company." Surely, the dumb local peasantry will never figure this cheap trick out.



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Paul Tustain: Gold Is Sending A Signal That The Monetary System Is In Grave Danger

"When a country's public debt exceeds 90% of GDP, that is the magic number. You get to 90%, there is no way back, and that is the number that the U.S. is going through pretty much as we speak. It is also the number which the UK has gone through; all of the PIGS are going through it, as well. They are all going past the 90% debt to GDP ratio. Obviously, Japan is miles past it already. It's up to 200%+. There does not appear, in the historical analysis, to be any great likelihood of getting back from that level of debt safely. There is this strong evidence that above 90% debt to GDP, you will experience either a cataclysmic default or some form of very serious inflation." So observes Paul Tustain, gold market analyst and founder of BullionVault. In his view, gold serves as a beacon who's price is currently signalling the monetary system is in grave danger. He and Chris Martenson discuss the primary factors driving the price of gold and smart strategies for investors looking to build or maintain their holdings of the metal.



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"I Print Therefore I Am" - The Fed Justifies Its Existence, Fails

In an brief two paragraph blurb on its brand spanking new blog Liberty Street Economic, a post by "Blog Author" (one wonders if the New York Fed is as cheap in providing its bloggers with a blogging facilities as it is when "giving" the POMO interns Bloomberg terminals), the FRBNY provides a trite if enjoyable summary of the thinking that prompted the creation of the Fed, courtesy of one F.A. Vanderlip, president of Citibank, which apparently was as insolvent back in 1907 as it is now. The premise: the Fed is the cause of monetary stability and the prevention of "disorderly retreats or advances." That's actually supremely ironic because as John Lohman points out the main trade off, namely the 2,313% increase in CPI, ended up shafting the market to an even bigger crash in 2008 than the panic of 1907. But at least in the interim 101 years the Fed's overlords from Wall Street, managed to steal over 98% of the wealth of Americans in the form of shadow currency devaluation better known as inflation. So who cares about facts when that 5th private Polynesian island for Jamie Dimon has been fully paid for and all three underground cellars are stocked with gold...



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Mall Vacancies At Highest In 11 Years; Strip Malls Vacancy Rate Highest Since 1990

When buying story stocks, one can believe the hype behind the story, or actually look at the facts. And when it comes to malls, and commercial real estate in general, the double dip, despite that whole consumer is recovering myth, is here. The WSJ report that "mall vacancies hit their highest level in at least 11 years in the first quarter, new figures from real-estate research company Reis Inc. showed. In the top 80 U.S. markets, the average vacancy rate was 9.1%, up from 8.7%." But wait: wasn't the resurging US consumer supposed to be able to carry the overbloated US retail front? That's part of the "story" - as for the "fact" Howard Davidowitz summarized it best: "We've got 21 square feet of selling space for every man, woman and child in this country." Perhaps it is time for the Fed to (again) start buying up empty retail boxes: because even the Fed knows what happens to equilibrium price when every bank is trying hard to reignite the CMBS market.



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