The crowd is ready; the pundits are anxious; the country mostly watching American Idol on their DVR but in an understated moment in Washington D.C. Barack Obama is about to begin the 57th Inauguration (retail version following yesterday's 'real' version) to be followed, perhaps, by his "I have a drone..." address in remembrance of MLK Day...
"America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.... The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."
- With array of challenges, Obama kicks off second term at public inauguration (Reuters)
- Uneasy in the Political Climate, Mickelson Talks Like Someone Ready to Step Away (NYT)
- BOJ Should Slow Easing If Yen Weakens Too Much, Hamada Says (BBG)
- Spain Recession Scars Exposed as Jobless Seen at 6 Mln (BBG)
- Davos Doom Loses to Merkel-Draghi as Euro Defies Roubini (BBG)
- Algeria finds dead Canadian militants as siege toll rises (Reuters)
- Beijing tries to clean up its act (FT)
- Investigators probe Boeing 787 battery maker (Reuters)
- Netanyahu Gets Landslide in Markets Masking No Peace Process (BBG)
- Google aims to replace passwords with ID ring (Telegraph)
- Kim Dotcom launches new upload site (FT)
- Dell Said to Hire Evercore to Seek Higher Bids After Buyout (BBG)
- Hostess Bakers Union Hires Investment Bank Gordian in Asset Sale (BBG)
After witnessing the fighting of undeclared never ending wars, passage of freedom destroying legislation like the Patriot Act & NDAA, approval of pork barrel spending to the tune of hundreds of billions, rule by Executive Order, using ZIRP to extract hundreds of billions from senior citizen savers and give it to criminal Wall Street banks, forcing the American people at gunpoint to replenish the Wall Street banks with $700 billion after they had committed the greatest financial fraud in history, and a continuing trampling of the U.S. Constitution, the American people continue to remain willfully ignorant of the truth. The American Dream is dead. We’ve allowed a rich, privileged, elite few to achieve hegemony over our economic and political system with their control of the media and manipulation of our financial markets. They will collapse the country because they will never be satisfied with the amount of wealth and power they’ve accumulated. Their voracious greed will be their downfall.
It seems four years of centrally-planning the US economy wears on a man. As WaPo notes, now his face has deeper creases and crow’s feet, while his hair has turned white. "You look at the picture when they’re inaugurated and four years later, they're visibly older," said Connie Mariano, White House physician from 1992 to 2001. "It's like they went in a time machine and fast-forwarded eight years in the span of four years."
Some discoveries are exciting, joyful, and exhilarating, while others can be quite painful. Stumbling upon the fact that you do not necessarily have a competent grasp of reality, that you have in fact been duped for most of your life, is not a pleasant experience. I came to see a dark side to the Democratic Party that had always been there but which I had refused to acknowledge. During the rise of any despotic governmental structure, there is always a section of the population that is given special treatment, and made to feel as though they are “on the winning team”. For now, it would appear that the “Left” side of the political spectrum has been chosen by the establishment as the favored sons and daughters of the restructured centralized U.S. However, before those of you on the Left get too comfortable in your new position as the hand of globalization, I would like to appeal to you for a moment of unbiased consideration. I know from personal experience that there are Democrats out there who are actually far more like we constitutionalists and “right wing extremists” than they may realize. I ask that you take the following points into account, regardless of what the system decides to label us...
- White House delays 2014 budget after "fiscal cliff" standoff (Reuters) - And Senate will pass this... never?
- Amari Signals Limits to Abe’s Campaign to Weaken Yen (BBG)
- Draghi’s Bond Rally Masks Debt Doom Loop Trapping Spain (BBG)
- Obama backs gun limits, concedes tough fight ahead (AP)
- Bernanke to Weigh QE Costs as Fed Assets Approach Record (BBG)
- Japan to Sell Debt Worth 7.8 Trillion Yen to Pay for Stimulus (BBG)
- France more than doubles forces in Mali (FT) and yet...
- Malian Rebels Take Town and Vow to Avenge French Attack (NYT)
- China’s Li Calls for Patience as Government Works to Reduce Smog (BBG)
- EU berates China over steel subsidies (BBG)
- Number of working poor families grows as wealth gap widens (Reuters)
In the last days of 2012 we penned an article describing the current situation of the market as follows: "Margin Debt Soars To 2008 Levels As Everyone Is "All In", Levered, And Selling Vol." Today, Bloomberg catches up with this rather critical topic, and confirms that the buying power of the biggest marginal traders left in the market who do not recycled deposits into stocks - hedge funds - is nothing more than debt piled upon debt, as "Leverage among managers who speculate on rising and falling shares climbed to the highest level to start any year since at least 2004, according to data compiled by Morgan Stanley." BBG also recaps what our readers already know: "Margin debt at NYSE firms rose in November to the most since February 2008, data from NYSE Euronext show." In other words: everyone is all in and levered. And soon, in about two weeks, Bloomberg will figure out that everyone, or at least a central bank here or there, is, indeed, "selling vol."
Yesterday, Citigroup floated the idea that a temporary government shutdown once the full array of debt ceiling extension measures expires some time in mid/late February, is possible, which would also mean the first technical default of the US depending on the prioritization of US debt payments. Now, Politico reports that this idea is rapidly gaining support within the GOP and that "more than half of GOP members are prepare to allow default unless Obama agress to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes." It gets better... or worse depending how many ES contracts on is long: "Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”" Of course, at this point not even a US government bankruptcy may send the ES more than one or two ticks lower. After all, there is no risk of anything happening anywhere, any time.
Almost a year ago, in February 2012, Zero Hedge decided to "think outside the box" and take Keynesianism and post-Chartalism (or whatever three letter acronym it is better known as these days) to their absurd, thought-experimental limits with "A Modest Proposal To Boost US GDP By $852 Quadrillion: Build The Imperial Death Star" - a suggestion that instead of growing US debt in dribs and drabs (because as any Ivy league tenured econ Ph.D will tell you, "debt is wealth"), that the US should go the whole hog and just splurge some $852 quadrillion in new debt (don't worry, MMT says that's just a token, no pun intended, amount) to build an Imperial Death Star, a project that would immediately hike US GDP by a factor of 56,000 and create several trillion new jobs, ensuring economic utopia in perpetuity, not to mention galactic dominance. We were mostly joking. We also assume that the creator of a White House petition launched in November to "Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016" was also mostly joking. However, as that petition promptly accumulated well over 34,000 signatures, the White House had no choice but to respond. Here are the White House's thoughts on becoming the next iteration of the Galactic Empire (and, by implication, Barack Obama becoming Emperor Palpatine reincarnated).
What will the world look like two decades from now? Obviously, nobody knows, but some things are more likely than others. Companies and governments have to make informed guesses, because some of their investments today will last longer than 20 years. In December, the United States National Intelligence Council (NIC) published its guess. The NIC foresees a transformed world, in which “no country – whether the US, China, or any other large country – will be a hegemonic power.” This reflects four “megatrends”: individual empowerment and the growth of a global middle class; diffusion of power from states to informal networks and coalitions; demographic changes, owing to urbanization, migration, and aging; and increased demand for food, water, and energy.
The Constitution of the United States is an undeniably powerful document. So powerful in fact, that it took establishment elitists with aspirations of globalized governance over a century to diminish the American people’s connection to it. It’s been a long time coming, but in the new millennium, there is now indeed a subsection of the masses that not only have no relationship to our founding roots, they actually despise those of us who do! There are a number of reasons for this dangerous development in our culture...
As reported previously, when Bloomberg broke the news two days ago, it now appears that the official appointment of Jack Lew as the new SecTres will take place tomorrow. From Bloomberg: "President Obama will announce tomorrow that White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew is his pick for Treasury secretary, person familiar with the matter tells Bloomberg’s Han Nichols." In other words - goodbye Timmah: best of luck writing your new book, which in the tradition of every ex-public servant who departs the government where they kept their mouths firmly shut, we assume will be all about bashing Tim Geithner.
In two pictures...
- London Quantitative Hedge Funds Report Second Year of Losses (BBG)
- Berlusconi Forms Alliance in Comeback Bid (WSJ)
- Japan to Buy ESM Bonds Using FX Reserves to Help Weaken Yen (BBG)
- Japan Mulling BOJ Accord Linked to Employment, Mainichi Says (BBG)
- Samsung Expects Record Operating Profit (WSJ)
- Boeing 787 Dreamliner Fire Probed, Blaze Adds to Setbacks (BBG)
- BOJ's Shirai: Open to Firmer Inflation Target (WSJ)
- HSBC N.J. Client Admits Conspiracy in Offshore Tax Case (BBG)
- Lampert to Assume CEO Role at Sears (WSJ)
- Abe prepares fresh stimulus measures (FT)
- U.S. Set for Biggest State-Local Jobs Boost Since 2007 (BBG)
- Pakistan Seen Needing IMF Bailout as Rupee Drops Before Vote (BBG)