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Asset Ownership And Our System Of Deepening Debt-Serfdom

Debt-serfs who make the difficult and risky transition to small-scale business owners find they have simply moved to another class of serfdom. The net result is a system in which the vast majority of productive assets are owned by the few who then have the means to exploit the many.

Market Wrap: Global Markets Rebound On ECB QE Hopes After IMF Cuts Global Growth Forecast Again

Hours after the IMF cut its global economic growth forecast yet again (which for the permabullish IMF is now a quarterly tradition as we will shortly show), now expecting 3.5% and 3.7% growth in 2015 and 2016, both 0.3% lower than the previous estimate (but... but... low oil is unambiguously good for the economy) and both of which will be revised lower in coming quarters, and hours after China announced that its entirely made up 2014 GDP number (which was available not 3 weeks after the end of the quarter and year) dropped below the mandatory target of 7.5% to the lowest in 24 years, it only makes sense that stock markets around the globe are solidly green if not on expectations of another year of slowing global economies, which stopped mattering some time in 2009, but on ever rising expectations that the ECB's QE will be the one that will save everyone. Well, maybe not everyone: really only the 1% which as we reported yesterday will soon own more wealth than everyone else combined and who are about to get even richer than to Draghi.

Who Benefits When Bubbles Burst?

An astute reader recently posed an insightful question: we all know who benefits from asset bubbles in stocks, bonds and real estate--owners of assets, banks, the government (all those luscious capital gains and rising property taxes), pension funds, brokers and so on. But who benefits from the inevitable collapse of these asset bubbles? If asset bubbles end badly for virtually every participant, then why does the system go to extremes to inflate them? This is an excellent question, as it goes right to the heart of our dysfunctional Status Quo.

Market Wrap: Chinese Stocks Crash As Financials Suffer Record Drop; Commodities Resume Decline; US Closed

Following last week's Swiss stock market massacre as a result of a central bank shocker, and last night's crack down by Chinese authorities, it almost appears as if the global powers are doing what they can to orchestrated a smooth, painless (as much as possible) bubble deflation. If so, what Draghi reveals in a few days may truly come as a surprise to all those- pretty much everyone - who anticipate a €500 billion QE announcement on Thursday.

SocGen Warns "Hide In Cash" - Avoiding Risk Will Be Pivotal In 2015

Quality stocks along with everything else are expensive. Increasing risk while valuations in the equity market are so elevated seems dangerous, so the obvious answer is to hide in cash. Given valuation dispersion is so tight, avoiding risk will be pivotal in 2015. To that end, avoiding or even shorting companies with a high degree of earnings manipulation seems sensible. This style was a particular strong performer in Europe and Japan last year. We expect to see similar effects emerging in US stocks this year. Simply put, the lack of quality income stocks to invest in is often a precursor to a market downturn.

The Next Victim Of Crashing Oil Prices: Housing

While a record amount of ink has been spilled praising the benefits of plunging crude price on the US consumer, so far this has manifested merely in soaring consumer confidence, if not in an actual boost to retail sales. Less has been written about the adverse side-effects of plunging oil, even though by now even the most “undisputed” permabulls have been forced to admit that the imminent collapse in capital spending is truly “unprecedented”, a phrase Goldman uses in the chart below.  So what does plunging CapEx actually mean for the economy, aside from a major haircut to 2015 GDP, and what other areas of the economy will be affected by the Saudi Arabian scorched earth war on the US shale industry?

"The Consequences Of The SNB Decision Will Not Be Limited To Switzerland"

Since the European sovereign-debt crisis erupted in 2009, everyone has wondered what would happen if a country left the eurozone. The risks created by the SNB’s decision – as transmitted through the financial system – have a fat tail - and the consequences will not be limited to Switzerland. After years of wondering whether the exit of a small, fiscally weak country like Greece could undermine the euro, policymakers will have to deal with an even bigger shock stemming from the exit of a small, fiscally strong country that is not even a member of the European Union.

Market Wrap: Global Markets Weighed As Damage From SNB Evaluated, FX Brokers Carried Out

One day after the SNB stunner roiled markets, overnight global markets have seen - as expected - substanial downward pressure, with the Swiss market slide resuming post open, while European stocks have seen some pressure despite what is now an assured ECB QE announcement next week. However, the one trade that can not be mistaken is the global rush into the safety of government paper, with every single treasury yielding less today than yesterday (the Swiss 10Y was trading below 0% at last check), except for Greek 10Y which are wider on deposit run fears. That said, with capital market liquidity absolutely non-existent even the smallest trade has a disproportionate effect on futures, and expect to see much more rangebound trading until the damage report from the SNB action is fully digested, something which will take place over the weekend.

"Volatile Volatility"

As a one-day upward move in a major currency its had few peers through history and is firmly in the top 10 of daily upward moves for any currency (vs the dollar) that we have data for which in many cases goes back into the nineteenth century. Most of the others in this top 10 are EM countries. So this is a rare event as when a peg gets abandoned and a big move ensues it’s usually a devaluation from a fixed rate system.What makes this move shocking is that just last month the SNB committed themselves to preventing their currency appreciating beyond 1.20 to the Euro and vowed they would enforce the policy with "the utmost determination". The risk for the global financial system is that if the SNB can make such a dramatic u-turn could other central banks follow at some point. We're not so concerned here as their situation is arguably a lot different to the ECB. The ECB might actually look at the wider market moves yesterday and be scared to disappoint.

Guest Post: The Impact Of Crude's Collapse On The Islamic State

As oil prices continue to fall, flirting with the US$40/bbl floor, there has been much talk of cheap oil’s winners and losers. The discussion has focused on big producer and consumer countries, but there may be another contender in the loser category – namely, the Islamic State (IS). In its gambit to become a state, it unwittingly became a hydrocarbon state, and as such has exposed itself to the same economic volatility that plagues other rentier states.

Market Wrap: "It's Turmoil" - Overnight Gains Wiped Out, Futures Trade Below 2000 On SNB "Shock And Awe"

To paraphrase a trader who walked into the biggest FX clusterfuck in years, "it's total, unprecedented market turmoil."  So while the world gets a grip on what today's historic move by the SNB means, which judging by the record 13% collapse in the Swiss Stock Market shows clearly that the SNB market put is dead and the SNB may be the first central-banking hedge fund which just folded (we can't wait to see what the SNB P&L losses on its EURCHF holdings will be), here is what has happened so far for anyone unlucky enough to be walking into the carnage some 2 hours late.

Is Hugh Hendry A Greater Fool?

The current premise is that global equities markets will rise regardless of economic fundamentals. Money must flow into equities [perceived as the only asset class capable of producing “acceptable” returns] because the alternatives offer virtually no return…with interest rates pinned near zero in most western economies. Just buy any equity [akin to dart throwing] and a “greater fool than you” will buy after your purchase, at a higher price, ad infinitum... thus ever increasing the asset’s value This is such an obviously flawed argument on so many levels... albeit, like almost any strategy, is surprisingly effective from time to time.