Soaring student debt, competition from online programs and poor job prospects for graduates are shrinking the applicant pools for many universities and, as Bloomberg reports, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities warns "there will clearly be some institutions that won’t make it..through these difficult steps." Rather stunningly, Moody’s found that expenses are outpacing revenue at 60 percent of the schools it tracks even as many try to slash their way to balanced budgets," and concluded "what we’re concerned about is the death spiral... this continuing downward momentum for some institutions." As Harvard professor Clayton Christensen has warned, as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years, and is "not sure a lot of these institutions have the cushion to experiment with how to stay afloat."
Combining China's aggregate domestic production and apparent imports indicates that she has now over 3,514 tonnes. Assuming the U.S. still owns all the gold held by the Fed, this would make China the world's second largest national owner... but it remains unclear whether the Fed's published Gold holdings are actually the property of other nations. Clearly the recent price rise in gold owes something to inflation fears, repressed interest rates and to the Ukrainian situation. In the meantime, a growing awareness of a possible serious and increasing shortage of physical gold and a decline in the power of western central banks to suppress the price, point to a resumption of the fundamental bull market in gold, despite a possible increase in fears of recession.
And still the mainstream media's discussion of the collapse in the Baltic Dry shipping index is entirely absent. As we have been pointing out for weeks now, something extreme is occurring in the cost of shipping dry bulk around the world. 2014 is now witnessing the biggest drop in price (a typical seasonal pattern) to start the year since records began. Today's drop to $989 (the first time below $1000 since June 2013) is the 15th drop in a row and it's not just this index that is fading: Capesize, Panamax, and Supramax rates are all falling. As we noted previously, the shipbuilding industry is already feeling the pain.
While Grant Williams can’t speak for anybody else, his nearly thirty years immersed in equity, bond, and commodity markets all around the world, have shown him enough to absolutely confirm in his own mind that the markets are rigged. Not just some of them. All of them. In different ways, to be sure, but they’re all rigged. Not only are they rigged, but they are rigged in ways that beggar belief; and in many places they are rigged by the very people who ought to be responsible for stopping any rigging... Whether Bill O’Brien (or Bob Pisani) likes it or not, Michael Lewis was speaking the truth when he said the market was rigged. He was talking about US equity markets, but rigging goes much, much deeper.
Sixth Phone Conversation: Obama Warns Putin "Costs" Will Increase; Kremlin Tells Obama To "Prevent Bloodshed"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/14/2014 - 20:01
A few hours ago, Obama and Putin held their sixth phone conversation since the fate of Ukraine rekindled the second cold war. As usual, much was said, the generic talking points were uttered, and nothing was resolved nor will anything change.
"Copper is on the edge of resuming its downtrend," is how BofA begins it brief note on the evolution of China's crucial credit-collateral commodity (as we noted earlier). Copper futures limped lower today - fading even as the exuberant stock market ripped on 330pm fundamentals today.
Ukraine is quickly turning into a Vietnam moment for the US political scene. When will parties in the USA (including Obama camp “progressives”) stop cheerleading for a showdown over this hapless doormat of a faraway nation whose destiny is not entwined with the people of Ohio, Nebraska, Rhode Island, or any of the other fifty states? We have enough to do in our own country to adjust to the new realities of the unraveling turbo-industrial global economy — and, by the way, we are not doing a damn thing to address any of it. Our domestic political conversation at all levels is juvenile and idiotic.
With Italian and Spanish bond yields at record lows (and spreads - risk premia - near record lows) one can only ascertain that Europe is fixed, Draghi has no need to do QE, and everything in the world is fine again. Except it's not... Draghi is cornered from QE by a lack of uncommitted collateral and a banking system glued at the hip to the sovereign bond markets. But perhaps, for those who are buying Italian and Spanish bonds, it is not enough to see record high unemployment, record loan delinquencies, and record low credit creation... In order to help further with the BTFD, we offer the following chart - showing Spanish and Italian home prices continue to slump (along with Cyprus).
While the CIA-staged government coups in Libya and Egypt at least managed to last nearly a year before the inevitable "Thermidorian reaction" resulted in a blowback response that saw the overthrow of the interim US-handpicked rulers, Ukraine may not last nearly that long. According to reports by both Russian Interfax and Ukraine's Unian press services, for the first time since the coup that overthrew Ukraine's president Yanukovich in late February, hours ago a group of protesters assembled in front of the parliament building and on Independence Square in central Kiev, with demands for the resignation of both the interior minister Avakov as well as the acting president Turchinov.
Martin Armstrong "It's Not the Rich – It's The Total Cost Of Government That Is Killing The Economy"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/14/2014 - 18:15
"It is not what an individual needs that is the issue. Take all the money away from Bill Gates. How will this improve your life at all? The issue is how much is government consuming. But as long as they point to the 'rich' they get to waste your money.
The solution is not to raise taxes on the rich, for government will still spend more than it takes in regardless of who pays... It is taxes that we must address – not how much someone else makes."
On the 'growth' side, Commercial and Industrial loans are rising at a double digit annual rate of change (although it is unclear whether this is an indication of business optimism or stress - after all, we did see a big jump in these loans leading into the last recession). On the flip side, the bond market and the US dollar index seem to be flashing some warning signs about future growth. Simply put, the outlook for the economy is decidedly uncertain right now and we think so is the confidence in Janet Yellen. We think the more dire outcome for stocks would be if Toto fully pulled back the curtain on monetary policy and revealed it to be nothing more than a bunch clueless economists sitting in a conference room with no ability to control the economy or the markets. If US growth disappoints after all the Fed has done, how could anyone continue to view the Fed wizards as omnipotent? That would send the stock market back over the rainbow to the reality of an economy with big structural problems that can only be solved through political negotiation, something that has been notable only by its absence over – at least – the last 6 years. Are we headed back to Kansas?
After years of being mocked by the establishment and the majority of the herd, today millions of "conspiracy theorists" can pat themselves on the back because this Pulitzer's for you. Well, technically it is for the Guardian and WaPo, since these were the media outlets that Edward Snowden picked to release his trove of whistleblowing treasures, which the Pulitzer committee decided were "worthy" of the prize for their "revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security."
The US open was enough of an event to decouple stocks (up) from USDJPY (down) but as we approached the crucial 330ET "fundamental" stocks had caught down to USDJPY weakness (worth noting that USDJPY tagged 102 in the pre-open and plunged). The 330 Ramp - JPY and VIX driven - was right on time getting S&P to VWAP and up to its 100DMA and Nasdaq back above 4000. Away from the roller-coaster ride in hope, faith, and BTFD charity in stocks, Treasuries leaked higher in yield all day (with 5Y underperforming and 30Y unch). The USD was bid (+0.3%) led by EUR weakness. USD strength pressured commodities but Gold was bid (closing above $1325 at 3-week highs). Credit markets did not buy the late-day spike exuberance... All major equity indices remain red year-to-date (and negative from 3/19's FOMC). All "normal" and full of unriggedness.
Just a few short hours ago we were treated to a plethora of talking-heads proclaiming "see, this is it... the dip to be bought." But now, led by Biotechs as well as more 'growth' weakness, the Nasdaq has piled back below the critical 4000 level and broken to new cycle lows... we anxiously await the 330 Ramp to see just how much damage they can do (though stocks did catch perfectly down to USDJPY's early weakness)