Sticker shock. Expect to pay a lot. Hellishly hot in the summer and shockingly less sexy than advertised. But the city and local people, called Cariocas, are clean and the crime is greatly exaggerated. The Marvelous City is amazing in many ways. But if you look closely, you see the same old corruption and thuggery, the same painful poverty and injustice, that plague many states. And then there's the Brazilian prostitutes, called programas, who frequent the bars and brothels of Copacabana and Ipanema as well as Central Rio... People in Rio and Brazil are the same as anywhere. They want the same things. Happiness, diversion, laughter, distraction, the so-called good things in life. A slightly larger piece of the pie. The World Cup is just a showcase and a distraction. Bread and circus on a grander scale.
The fragility of our debt financed oil dependent just in time global supply chain system is beyond the comprehension of the average zombie American. They are too distracted by mass consuming the products dependent on that very same fragile scheme. They are clueless zombie-like dupes who believe $20 bills magically appear in ATMs, Funyuns and Cheetos miraculously materialize on Wal-Mart shelves, gasoline endlessly bubbles up from the ground into the hose they stick in their $40,000 monster SUVs “bought” with a 0% seven year loan from Ally Financial, and that enchanted plastic card with a magnetic strip empowers them to fulfill every craving like a zombie feeding on a dead carcass. However, the cracks in this delusionary foundation are visible for all to see.
Goldman forecasts a gain of 200k non-farm payroll jobs tomorrow (against a 196k consensus +/-25k). Factors arguing for a solid print include the recent trend, an improvement in most employment indicators already released for the month, the compressed holiday hiring period, and a potential "couriers and messengers effect." On the negative side, Goldman warns cold weather is a downside risk. With respect to other aspects of the release, in general they note that the December report has not shown an overwhelming tendency to contain back-revisions in one direction or the other; and forecast an unchanged unemployment rate at 7.0%, and a 0.2% month-on-month gain in average hourly earnings.
While you enjoy your gifts, the traditional Christmas ham and the annual re-gifting of Aunt Meg's 12-pound fruit cake (or go to the movies and eat Chinese food) here are "3 Things To Ponder" regarding the retail shopper this holiday season.
Of course, the reason that retailers are having to so heavily discount in the first place is because of weak wage growth, still high unemployment and rising healthcare costs which are reducing disposable income. Of course, as I discussed yesterday, if healthcare costs due to the Affordable Care Act rise by just $100 per month per capita that is a $72.25 billion diversion of discretionary incomes away from retail spending. This could mean that retailers will be fighting an uphill battle for quite some time to come.
That it has been one of the most lacklustre shopping seasons in recent years has already been repeatedly covered, with average holiday spending expected to decline for the first time since the Great Financial Crisis of 2008, all this despite record promotions and an ever earlier start to Black Friday. However, while the early start to shopping season has missed expectations, driven primarily by an unprecedented weakness in traditional bricks and mortar outlets, there was some hope that the last stretch into Christmas and the New Year would provide a much needed, last minute bump. Those hopes were dashed last night when Shopptertrack reported that retail traffic plummeted by an unprecedented 21% last week, and in-store sales decreased 3.1% from the year before, dashing retailers' hopes that the final stretch before Christmas would offset soft sales numbers earlier in the holiday shopping season.
- Traders Seek an Edge With High-Tech Snooping (WSJ)
- Gold Drops Below $1,200 an Ounce for First Time Since June (Bloomberg)
- SAC Manager Guilty as Insider Focus Turns to Martoma (Bloomberg)
- Why Ukraine spurned the EU and embraced Russia (Reuters)
- Target confirms major card data theft during Thanksgiving (Reuters)
- Zuckerberg is no suckerberg: Company to Sell 27 Million Class A Shares While CEO Will Offer 41.4 Million (WSJ)
- Facebook, Zuckerberg, banks must face IPO lawsuit (Reuters)
- Swiss Christmas Trees Feel Chill as Franc Helps Rivals (BBG)
- Iran, six powers to resume nuclear talks after snag (Reuters)
- Dolphins Suffering From Lung Disease Due to Gulf Oil Spill, Study Says (WSJ)
- J.P. Morgan to Pay Over $1 Billion to Settle U.S. Criminal Probe Related to Madoff (WSJ)
- Ford board aims to pin down CEO Mulally's plans (Reuters)
- Raising Minimum Wage Is a Bad Way to Help People (BBG)
- Japan Lawmakers Demand Speedy Pension Reform (WSJ)
- EU reaches landmark deal on failed banks (FT)
- In which Hilsenrath repeats what we said in August: Fed Moves Toward New Tool for Setting Rates (WSJ)
- Senators Vow to Add to Iran Economic Sanctions in 2014 (BBG)
- Centerbridge in $3.3bn LightSquared bid (FT)
- Banks, Agencies Draw Battle Lines Over 'Volcker Rule' (WSJ)
In the 1st installment of this article – May the Odds Ever Be in Your Favor – The Reaping, we addressed how wealth inequality created by men rigging the system and utilizing media propaganda ultimately leads to rebellion. In Part 2, we will show how hope and defiance can ignite the flame of liberty in the minds of men. Edward Snowden has ignited that flame. A Lot of Hope is Dangerous... Linear thinking old timers are likely to scoff at the notion that some trilogy of novels for teenagers could capture the mood of the time in a way that explains how the people of this country will respond to the current worsening Crisis. History is cyclical and we’ve returned to a time where leaders will step forward to lead and brave heroes step forward to fight. The future of the country hangs in the balance.
- Glass-Steagall Fans Plan New Assault If Volcker Rule Deemed Weak (BBG) ... "if"? The banks control the legislators and regulators...
- Cellphone data spying: It's not just the NSA (USA Today)
- Major tech companies push for limits on government surveillance (Reuters)
- Shanghai Warns Kids to Stay Indoors for Seventh Day on Smog (BBG)
- Protesters fell Lenin statue, tell Ukraine's president 'you're next' (Reuters)
- Everyone must be flying private these days: EADS to cut 5000-6000 jobs, close Paris HQ in restructuring (FT)
- Big Players Trade 'Upstairs' (WSJ)
- There’s no way to tell how many people who think they’ve signed up for health insurance through the U.S. exchange actually have (BBG)
- Slower China inflation reduces worries of tighter policy (Reuters)
The winter holidays are traditionally supposed to embody a certain ideal of that which is best in the hearts of human beings. Unfortunately, this process has all but vanished today, twisted and mutilated into something sinister and poisonous. Those of us who pay attention are well aware of a trend of cultural decline within our nation, and this problem is disturbingly visible from Thanksgiving to Christmas. The idiocy and barbarism seems to span all economic “classes” - The dark side truly knows no social or financial bounds.
Overbuilding and overconsumption as models of "growth" have reached exhaustion. Various propaganda attempts are being made to air-brush lackluster holiday spending into a happy story of strong "growth," but the over-all picture is of stagnation, not "growth." The propaganda will soon shift to predicting "strong after-Christmas sales" and gift card redemptions in January; if after-Christmas sales are the foundation of "growth" and earnings, the U.S. economy is in real trouble. Santa, please, please, please strangle the idiotic fantasy that Americans buying a bunch of junk (or gift cards for after-Christmas purchases of junk) will "save" the U.S. economy.
The era of bondholder bailouts is ending and that of depositor bail-ins is coming.
In that context a move to increased allocation of savings including a prudent allocation of some 5% to 10% to precious metals, is a sensible policy.
- EU Fines Financial Institutions Over Fixing Key Benchmarks (Reuters)
- Euro-Area Economic Growth Slows as Exports, Consumption Cool (BBG) - someone has a very loose definition of growth
- Ukraine Officials Scour Globe for Cash as Protests Build (BBG)
- Oops: Franklin Boosted Ukraine Bet to $6 Billion as Selloff Began (BBG)
- Japan Plans 18.6 Trillion Yen Economic Package to Support Growth (BBG) - or about 2 months of POMO
- How Peugeot and France ran out of gas (Reuters)
- Iran threatens to trigger oil price war (FT)
- Abe Vows to Pass Secrecy Law That Hurts Cabinet’s Popularity (BBG)
- Brazil economy turns in worst quarter for 5 years (FT)
- Australia’s Slowdown Suggests RBA May Need to Do More (BBG)
- Biden calls for trust with China amid airspace dispute (Reuters)
- With website improved, Obama to pitch health plan (Reuters)
- Joe Biden condemns China over air defence zone (FT)
- Tally of U.S. Banks Sinks to Record Low (WSJ)
- Black Friday Weekend Spending Drop Pressures U.S. Stores (BBG)
- Cyber Monday Sales Hit Record as Amazon to EBay Win Shoppers (BBG)
- Ukraine's Pivot to Moscow Leaves West Out in the Cold (WSJ)
- Investment banks set to cut pay again despite rise in profits (FT)
- Worst Raw-Material Slump Since ’08 Seen Deepening (BBG)
- Democrats Face Battles in South to Hold the Senate (WSJ)
- Hong Kong reports 1st case of H7N9 bird flu (AP)
- In Fracking, Sand Is the New Gold (WSJ)