No one ever thinks about the water.. until they have to. Hours ago, the local gas company in Kiev (Kyivenergo) announced that they would be shutting off the hot water supply to most of the city. While the official reason for the hot water shutoff is that Kyivenergo (the energy supplier to Kiev) owes a debt to the Ukrainian state gas company (Naftogaz) of over $100 million; it’s just a quirky little coincidence that this debt suddenly became materially important only one week after Russia shut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine. Funny thing is that Ukrainian politicians for years had been telling people not to worry about this. Clearly this turned out to be a big fat lie.
Ghandi was once asked, "What do you think about Western Civilization?" to which he famously replied "I think it's a good idea." He may as well have been talking about free market capitalism. Capital in the 21st Century has hit the world like a new teen idol sensation. Everybody is drinking the Kool-Aid and it's being held up as the most important book ever written on the subject of how runaway capitalism leads to wealth inequality. Paul Krugman of course, loves it. As does every head of state and political hack in the (formerly) free world. So let's do something different here and accept a core premise of Capital, and say that wealth inequality is increasing, and that it's a bad thing. Where the point is completely missed is in what causes it (ostensibly "free market capitalism") and what to do about it (increase government control, induce more inflation and raise taxes). The point of this essay is to assert that it is not unchecked capital or runaway free markets that cause increasing wealth inequality, but rather that the underlying monetary system itself is hard-coded by an inner temple of ruling elites in a way which creates that inequality.
Perhaps the miserable failure of the bear case on global equities over the past 5 years has more to do with marketing the message than anything actually wrong with the arguments for higher volatility and lower asset prices. As a reminder, ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes the classic "4 P’s" of marketing are: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (Distribution), pointing out that when it comes to getting the bear case out, it is clear which component is missing: Price. Stock markets that churn higher - as they do right now - simply make it too expensive to sit out the rally. The “Product” and “Promotion” are both fine – you can read negative commentary in many reputable places and speak with very intelligent bears. That takes care of “Place” as well; it’s not hard to find cautionary investment opinions. The take-away from this approach is simple: calling the top may not be as hard as you think. The first 10% pullback may be enough to complete the 4 Ps. Until then, however, it’s just too hard a story to sell.
Few, if any, are expecting a dramatic move higher in the price of crude oil. But, could it be that oil prices are heading higher?
Timing matters, as fundamentals have no impact in a euphoric blow-off top or in a panic-driven, bidless crash. It's possible to be right about the fundamentals and lose money trying to trade those fundamentals. It's also possible to be wrong about the fundamentals and make a boatload of money trading Central Planning interventions. Our own advice that we try to live is: "invest in yourself, not Wall Street."
With a nod to the absurd, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen freely admitted earlier this week that the Fed really has no idea what’s going to happen to the economy.
The Most Destructive Presidencies In American History, Part 2: The Fatal Incoherence Of Bush/Obama Foreign PolicySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/18/2014 11:06 -0400
The tragic reality is the Bush II/Obama administrations have made the world a far more dangerous place.
Here’s the good news: 2013 was a record year for Chinese grain production. Here’s the not so good news: “Although the number is huge,” said Nie, “it still could not satisfy domestic consumer demand. In recent years, China’s food imports have been increasing. Agricultural product imports are roughly equivalent to the productive capacity of 47 million hectares of planted area.” To put this number in context, if you could cram together all the farmland and pasture that it takes to grow the food just being imported by China, the total area of this land mass would be larger than the entire state of California. As nations become wealthier, it takes much more land per-capita to feed them. The absolute best case scenario is substantially higher food prices.
About a month ago we showed photos of the Chinese police engaged in a drill designed to crush a "working class insurrection", in which the police did precisely what would be required to end a middle class rebellion. It made us wonder: what does China know that the US doesn't. As it turns out, nothing. Because long before China was practicing counter-riot ops using rubber bullets, all the way back in 2008, the US Department of Defense was conducting studies on the dynamics of civil unrest, and how the US military might best respond. The name of the project: "Minerva Research Initiative" and its role is to " “improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the U.S." The premise behind Minerva is simple: study how violent political overthrow, aka mass civil breakdown, happens in the day and age of social networks, and be prepared to counteract it - by "targeting peaceful activities and protest movements" - when it finally reaches US shores.
Today's financial markets make a mockery out of sanity and logic. The difference between what SHOULD happen and what IS happening is perhaps the greatest it has been in our investing lifetimes. If you're perplexed, flummoxed, frustrated, stymied, enraged, bored, irritated, insulted, discouraged -- any or all of these -- by the ever-higher blind grinding of asset prices over the past several years, despite so many structural reasons for concern, you have good reason to be.
Those who have lost trust in Wall Street or actively hate it and everything it stands for (neofeudalism, unbridled greed, the corruption and collusion of the revolving door between the state and Wall Street, etc.) will never change their minds and hand their money to Wall Street to play with. If the primary assets held by Boomers (houses and stocks) both decline for these fundamental reasons, there may be relatively little wealth left to pass on to Gen-Y... if Gen-Y avoids bank debt/mortgages, buying conspicuous consumption luxury goods on credit and investing in Wall Street's scams and skims, this generational lack of demand for housing, stocks and luxury goods will effectively crash the sky-high valuations of these assets. These factors suggest a generational bet against banks, Wall Street, housing and luxury retail stocks.
This week’s news certainly WASN’T BORING. Big events and small add up to unfolding CHAOS around the WORLD. This week’s subjects: American Empire on FIRE!, Out on a LIMB: Credit Unions facing INSOLVECY, Is rising indebtedness a sign of economic strength?, Bond YIELDS continue to collapse as the race for yield INTENSIFIES, George Orwell in Action, Showdown looming at the OK corral!, Simply UNBELIEVABLE SOVEREIGN credit market action, PHANTOM GDP, Rare INDEED, Must watch video interview with Charles Nenner,European BANKING SYSTEM INSOLVECY
The numbers that you are about to see are likely to shock you. They prove that the global financial Ponzi scheme is far more extensive than most people would ever dare to imagine. The truth is that our financial system is little more than a giant pyramid scheme that is based on debt and paper promises. It is literally a miracle that it has survived for so long without collapsing already. But at some point a day of reckoning is coming, and when it arrives it is going to be the most painful financial crisis the world has ever seen.