Contrary to some expectations, the budget deal has done absolutely nothing to push global markets or US futures higher which was to be expected: markets are no longer driven by fundamentals but by such things as carry pairs which signal monetary policies. Sure enough, as a result of the strength in the Yen, overnight markets have reacted with a mixture of cautiousness and optimism. On the cautious side, Asian equities are down across the board which can at least be partially attributed to nervousness at the prospect of a December Fed taper. If Congress passes the budget over the next few days, the probability of a taper next week increase at the margin, given that we have lower fiscal uncertainty (and higher spending) over the next two years. Losses in equities are being led by the Nikkei (-0.7%) and the Hang Seng (-1.3%). Asian credit shows no sign of taper nervousness this morning with the Asia IG index 4bp tighter and high beta EM names such as Indonesia trading firmer (5yr CDS -10bp). 10yr UST yields are unchanged at 2.80% and the US dollar is slightly stronger against the major crosses. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index is down 2.3% ahead of the results of China’s central economic work conference which is expected to end tomorrow and may set a number of economic targets for 2014.
A recent report released by U.S. computer security firm FireEye revealed that Chinese hackers had accessed computers at the foreign ministries of five European countries. The report concluded that these “seemingly unrelated cyberattacks” could actually be “part of a broader offensive fueled by shared development and logistics infrastructure.” The laundry list of hacking targets mirrors the recent avalanche of accusations leveled at the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). As we move further into the 21st century, the U.S. and China will be the major rule-makers for the new global order. As such, the U.S. and China will together help define what is acceptable behavior in the cyberspace. There have already been calls for the U.S. and China to discuss limits on hacking activities and to define clear “rules of the road” for cyberspace. Unfortunately, it seems that (though neither would admit it) the U.S. and China have very similar ideas on cyberspace — anything goes.
"The attitudes toward cannabis are shifting rapidly," says a former DEA-agent-turned-pot-growing-company-lawyer, adding that "the potential social and financial returns are enormous." As ironic as that maybe, perhaps it is why Uruguay has just become the first nation in the world to allow its citizens to grow, buy and smoke marijuana. As Reuters reports, the pioneering government-sponsored bill establishes state regulation of the cultivation, distribution and consumption of marijuana and is aimed at wresting the business from criminals. "Our country can't wait for international consensus on this issue," said one politician as demand is rising globally as the following chart shows...
If you understand the difference between the first pair of shoes and the 25th, and the increasing diversion of income to interest payments that results from debt-based consumption, then you understand why America's debt-dependent consumer economy is doomed.
BlackRock said there is a 20% risk that world events could go badly wrong, either because the eurozone acts too late to head off deflation or because of a chain reaction as the Fed starts to wind down stimulus in earnest. As The Telegraph notes, BlackRock’s risk indicator is almost as high as it was just before the dotcom bust. "The ratio of the two is the key. High valuations combined with low volatility can make for a lethal mix. This market gauge sounded the alarm well before the Great Financial Crisis." Furthermore, the largest asset manager in the world warns, "troubling trends of growing inequality and weak wage growth, bring into question the sustainability of profit margins." What is good for investors is corrosive for societies, hardly tenable equilibrium.
Investors all over the world are confronted by markets that have been dressed up for the amusement of the crew in charge of the ship, and nobody seems to recognize what they are looking at. Sure, they look like markets, but at the same time there is an unfamiliarity that is extremely unnerving to at least a few in the gathering crowd. The majority of the mob, however, have decided that they look enough like markets to charge in blindly in the expectation that all will be as it should. Things are not as they should be. Far from it.
We’ve spent the last five decades learning to love our oppression, adoring our technology, glorying in our distaste for reading books, and wilfully embracing our ignorance. Huxley’s vision of a population, passively sleep walking through lives of self- absorption, triviality, drug induced gratification, materialism and irrelevance has come to pass. Only in the last two decades has Orwell’s darker vision of oppression, fear, surveillance, hate and intimidation begun to be implemented by the ruling class. We’ve become a people controlled by pleasure and pain, utilized in varying degrees by those in power. Stay tuned for our modern day Hunger Games after this commercial for your very own Duck Dynasty Chia Pet.
Probably the largest and most watched funeral (memorial service) of the modern era and it appears President Obama just could not resist a selfie with Denmark's leggy blond PM (oh and David Cameron)... as an aside, it seems FLOTUS was not amused.
In “Why the Fed Won’t Taper in December,” we pretended to write the first paragraph of the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) statement for next week’s meeting. By thinking about the likely mix of upgrades and downgrades to its assessment of the economy, which is the crux of that paragraph, we argued that we can find clues to policy decisions. Our results tell us to expect a deferral of the committee’s tentative plans to taper its securities purchase program. You may suggest, though, that economic data doesn’t always tell you what the FOMC will do. Because we agree, we’ve also taken a different approach: listening to Fedspeak and working through the math on the committee’s consensus view. This, too, leads us to think there won’t be a taper this month. Here’s our math, starting with the biggest QE supporters and ending with Chairman Bernanke...
It will be a long night in Kiev, where as warned previously, once things start rolling downhill, they will deteriorate rapidly. Via Bloomberg:
RIOT POLICE ARMED WITH CHAINSAWS APPROACH KIEV BARRICADES
UKRAINIAN POLICE MASS NEAR BARRICADES AT KIEV SQUARE
POLICE STORM PROTEST CAMP IN CENTER OF KIEV, AP REPORTS
UKRAINIAN POLICE INSIDE KIEV PROTEST CAMP
Bipartisan Budget Deal Reached; No Extension Of Unemployment Benefits Means Unemployment Rate Set To... PlungeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/10/2013 - 18:01
Moments ago, news hit that democrat negotiators Patty Murray, and republican Paul Ryan reached a bipartisan deal to ease the automatic budget cuts by $60b. The deal calls for auctioning of govt airwaves, increased premiums for pensions backed by PBGC, a congressional aide told Bloomberg’s Heidi Przybyla. A press conference will be held at 6pm to unveil the bipartisan budget agreement, according to e-mailed statement. As a result, a January 15 government shutdown will be avoided. The agreement would require federal workers to contribute more to their pensions, increase premiums on companies whose pension plans are insured by the federal government and increase security fees paid by airline travelers.
And as a result of the implicit $5 billion a month fiscal boost, a near-term modest taper is now even more likely.
Despite rumors of a 'deal', "The major issues that we think are necessary to jump-start the American economy continue to languish," reflects one lobbyist on what Bloomberg reports will be Congress's least productive year ever, with just 56 pieces of legislation signed into law so far. The former record low, reached in 1995, was 88 new laws. 2013 was supposed to be the year lawmakers, free of immediate election pressures, would revamp U.S. immigration policy, pass a debt-lowering budget and expedite a pair of trade deals. Instead, partisan rancor grew deeper; and to make matters worse, the politicians took plenty of time off - the House has been out 191 days, and the Senate 199 days.
There has been quite a bit of discussion lately over the rapid reduction in the government's budget deficit as it relates to economic growth going forward. There are 3 issues that will likely impede further progress on the deficit reduction in the months ahead; 1) lower rates of tax revenue, 2) weaker economic growth and 3) greater levels of spending. The good news for stock market bulls is that deepening budget deficits increase the amount of bonds that the Treasury will need to issue to cover the shortfall in spending. This will give the Federal Reserve more room to continue their current monetary interventions which have inflated asset prices sharply over the last year. Creating financial instability to gain economic stability has been an elusive dream of the Federal Reserve since the turn of the century; yet someday it is hoped that they may just be able to "catch their own tail."