One month ago we showed that when it comes to the cost of basic (and not so basic) health insurance, the US is by far the most expensive country in the world and certainly among its "wealthy-nation"peers. It would be logical then to think that as a result of this premium - the biggest in the world - the quality of the healthcare offered in the US among the best, if not the best, in the world. Unfortunately, that would be wrong and, in fact, the reality is the complete opposite: as a recent study by the Commonweath Fund, looking at how the US healthcare system compares internationally, finds, "the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity." In other words: most expensive, yet worst in the developed world.
- Currency Probe Widens as U.S. Said to Target Markups (BBG)
- Battle for Iraq refinery as U.S. hesitates to strike (Reuters)
- Ukraine forces battle separatists after truce 'refused' (Reuters)
- Fed Dots Ignored as Investors Focus on Yellen’s Message (BBG)
- Retirees Suffer as $300 Billion 401(k) Rollover Boom Enriches Brokers (BBG)
- American Apparel ousts CEO; source says Dov Charney 'will fight like hell' (LA Times)
- House Panel Is Subpoenaed as Trading Probe Heats Up (WSJ)
- GM Officials Ignored Alert on Car Stalling (WSJ)
- Russia’s $20 Billion Bond Void Filled by China to Mexico (BBG)
She came, she spoke, and she sent stocks to a new all time high. That is perhaps the simplest summary of what Janet Yellen did yesterday when, as a result of her droning monotone, she managed to put the VIX literally to sleep, which closed at the lowest since 2007 and the resulting surge in the S&P was a fresh record high, because despite the "concerns" Fed member have about record high complacency, all they are doing is adding to it. And now that apparently the Fed has a market "valuation" department, and Yellen can issue fairness opinions on whether the S&P is overvalued, the only question is whether today, as a follow through to yesterday's "buy everything, preferably on leverage, sincerely - the Fed" ramp, the VIX will drop to single digits today.
China Gold, China’s largest gold conglomerate with primary interests in mining and also refining, is on the hunt for global acquisitions and partnerships and appears to have designs on becoming a kingmaker in the global gold market ... We are witnessing a paradigm shift as gold moves from the West to China and the East. The ramifications of that paradigm shift have yet to be appreciated.
This week brings some key events and releases in DMs, including US FOMC (Goldman expects $10bn tapering, in line with consensus), IP, CPI, and Philly Fed (expect 13.5), EA final May CPI (expect 0.50%), and MP decisions in Norway and Switzerland (expect no change in either).
Yesterday, the IMF and World Bank issued warnings about rising interest rates, housing crashes and the global economy. The World Bank’s chief economist is inadvertantly offering important advice to investors and savers when he said that "now is the time to prepare for the next crisis ..."
‘Creativity’ isn’t usually a word associated with ‘government’. Words like stodgy, bureaucratic, and incompetent are typically more appropriate. But there is at least one area where bankrupt governments in particular tend to be exceptionally creative - finding unique ways to steal people’s money... and among the most unique just hit the great state of Georgia.
Over 1 in 5 homes (with $674 billion of mortgages) in China stand empty... and if you think that urbanization will fix that, as WSJ reports, a 10 percentage point rise in the urbanization rate (already at 54%) would result in only a 2.6% drop in vacancy rates. China has a major over-supply issue thanks to property developers who had rushed into the market to build homes, which have been a popular investment as prices seemed bound to keep rising. But now, as Vanke recently warned, things are changing and "the golden era" of China's property market are over. The vacancy rate of sold residential homes in urban areas reached 22.4% in 2013 and as new home prices are slashed to move product, a 30% drop would leave 11.2% of Chinese homes underwater on their mortgages...
As each of the following seven towns from history around the world boomed on the back of resource-hungry bubbles, no one could have foreseen (or even believed) that it would ever end... but as the following dismal images show - end it did. Is this the future for North Dakota or Texas? or Silicon Valley? (of course not stupid... it's different this time).
Two years ago, stories of fake tungsten-filled gold coins and bars began to spread; it appears, between the shortage of physical gold (after Asian central bank buying) and the increase in smuggling (courtesy of India's controls among others) that gold fraud is back on the rise. As SCMP reports, a mainland China businessman, Zhao Jingjun, discovered that HK$270 million of 998kg of gold bars he bought in Ghana had been swapped for non-precious metal bars. What is perhaps even more worrisome, given the probe into commodity-financing deals and the rehypothecation evaporation; these gold bars were shipped to a Chinese warehouse before Zhao was able to confirm the fraud.
It is highly likely that bond markets come under pressure and interest rates rise within the next five years. Do you have an insurance policy against that?
Nothing lasts forever: Why the perceptions of North Korea may be different from reality
In today's abnormally quiet overnight session one could hear a pin, or the USDJPY, drop: with everyone focusing on the ECB announcement in one hour, not a single algo is willing to make any big moves, or even start some momentum ignition, ahead of Draghi's announcement, which absent launching full scale QE, which it won't, will be a disappointment which means the EUR will ultimatly move higher after a kneejerk lower as the market forces Super Mario to do even more next time. As Bloomberg adds, a cut in refi and deposit rates is fully priced in and latest price action suggests investors brace for disappointment if ECB stops short of signaling asset purchases or other liquidity measures to combat deflation.
How The West Spies On The Middle East: The Location Of The GCHQ's Top Secret Internet Spy Base RevealedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/04/2014 21:44 -0400
Until yesterday, a piece of the global spying puzzle was missing: not because it did not exist, but because certain of Snowden's preferred outlets had refused to reveal it. That piece, as Duncan Campbell of The Register (incidentally Campbell has been breaking exclusives for more than three decades: he was the first journalist to reveal the existence of GCHQ in 1976) revealed yesterday, is the GCHQ's (and thus indirectly the NSA's) top secret middle eastern Internet spy base located in Seeb, Oman (officially known as Oman Comms Link Site 1), smack in the middle of the middle east, located southwest of the Straits of Hormuz, and in close proximity to America's closest petroleum-exporting "friends": Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Topics discussed in the interview were - China and Russia’s gold hoarding - - Do not trust government ‘headline inflation’ - Importance of owning physical gold internationally - Likelihood of bank bail-ins in G20 countries - Cyprus bail-in did not hurt Russians; Hurt Cypriot savers - You have to be prepared ... Better to be a year early than a day late