It is clearly not in the interests of the long-standing members of the EU to escalate a 'sanctions and financial conflict' with Russia. This is why politicians are walking on eggshells, paying lip-service to America and the scared Eastern fringe members of NATO while hoping this goes no further. So long as this is the case it is clear that NATO members are powerless to stop Russia from wresting control of all or parts of Ukraine from the government in Kiev. Putin knows this; unfortunately it is not clear to us that the American government does. All in all it seems likely that after a period of slow-burn as Putin dictates the pace of developments, the political situation in Ukraine will deteriorate with some unhelpful nudges from Russia.
In a historic first, three days ago, South Africa's Rand Merchant Bank, a division of FirstRand Bank Limited, announced it would issue the FirstRand Gold Bond, or a bond denominated in South African Krugerrand gold coins. In other words, for the first time "holding" gold will pay a dividend (or in this case, interest). Sound odd? Maybe because it is.
With USDJPY algos, and thus the S&P, reacting as if stung like bees by every fabricated headline emerging out of Ukraine (only to reverse the move promptly after once the market realizes the biggest war in Ukraine continues to be one of disinformation), there appears to be far more confusion about how the Ukraine conflict will play out than what the Fed will do (recall that everyone is certain today Yellen will release even more dovishness). So to help out with the confusion here are three scenarios and trades from JPM, on how the Ukraine conflict may play out, if only in capital markets.
- Ukraine accuses Russia of invasion after aid convoy crosses border (Reuters)
- Hunt for Foley’s Killer Spans Old Policing and Tech Tools (BBG)
- U.S. Probe Examines GM Lawyers (WSJ)
- Argentina accuses U.S. Judge Griesa of "imperialist" attitude (Reuters)
- Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm (Reuters)
- Geneva Banks Break 200-Year Silence to Unveil Earnings (BBG)
- Richest Jailed Putin Foe Says Ukraine Fears Sparked Prosecution (BBG)
- Disclosure of Failed Attempt to Rescue James Foley Is Criticized (WSJ)
- Execution of U.S. journalist reveals the changing business of war coverage (Reuters)
With the impasse over the latest Argentina default going nowhere fast, late last night president Kirchner stunned its creditors when she announced what amounts to a cramdown plan for holdouts, in which all bonds would be stripped of their existing indentures and converted to local law bonds. Or, as some would call it, a "scorched earth" transaction that burns all bridges, and goodwill, with the international creditor community and likely leaves Argentina unable to access global capital markets for the foreseeable future.
The algos and chart traders are making another run at 2000 on the S&P 500, attempting to convince the wary investor one more time that buying on the dips is a no brainer. And in that proposition they are, ironically, correct. To buy this utterly manipulated market at these nosebleed valuation levels is about as brainless of an undertaking as is imaginable.
Nobody really believes the official narrative that the "recovery" is powering the remarkable strength of U.S. stocks, bonds and real estate. The real Main Street economy is quite obviously struggling, outside the energy and Federal government sectors, and so many see the Federal Reserve's free money for financiers (a.k.a. quantitative easing) bond and mortgage-buying programs as the real reason bond yields have declined and stocks have soared. This leads us to wonder if capital inflows into the U.S. aren't a largely overlooked driver of rising U.S. markets.
I was left slack-jawed as I listened to an interview on financial media between the host and guest. I have always enjoyed as well as respected the host even though many times I may totally disagree. However, as for the guest being interviewed, not only did I disagree: I lost quite a bit of respect for. During the interview the questions were posed as to why people (investors et al) harbor these feelings of angst as to whether or not they should get in, get out, etc,, etc. The guest then went on to use data points, math, trend references, and any other metric available within a snake oil sales bag as to prove his point: Where people not believing in this market rally along with those who’ve not participated are, (and I quote) “Idiots.” I have only one answer to that statement: What you’ve just demonstrated is exactly why people with more than half a brain aren’t buying your message: You are insulting their/our intelligence.
Non-ideologically laden overview of the key issues shaping the investment climate in the week ahead.
The ragged Keynesian excuse that all will be well in Japan once the jump in the consumption tax from 5% to 8% is fully digested is false. Here’s the problem: this is just the beginning of an endless march upwards of Japan’s tax burden to close the yawning fiscal gap left after the current round of tax increases, and to finance its growing retirement colony. There is no possibility that Abenomics will result in “escape velocity” Japan style and that Japan can grow its way out of it enormous fiscal trap. Instead, nominal and real growth will remain pinned to the flatline owing to peak debt, soaring retirements, a shrinking tax base and a tax burden which will rise as far as the eye can see. Call that a Keynesian dystopia. It is a cautionary tale for our times. And Japan, unfortunately, is just patient zero.
The irony of maintaining a veneer of authenticity over a fundamentally inauthentic market is rich: the more the authorities manipulate the market to maintain high valuations and suppress turbulence, the greater the odds of a collapse of trust as inauthentic markets cannot self-correct or discover the price of assets, capital and risk. Once risk has been effectively hidden by perception management, participants lack the essential information they need to make informed decisions. And so their decisions will be catastrophically mis-informed. This is how declines morph into crashes.
Suppresses true money velocity concealing real inflation risk to the economy
From Ukraine to Gaza, geopolitical risks are weighing heavily on investors’ minds. But there are plenty more out there that may not be getting headlines.
Phantom wealth cannot possibly fund unprecedented retirement and healthcare promises. Only real wealth can do that, and central bank liquidity and the asset bubbles it inflates are not real wealth.
With record rental expenses already forcing millions of Americans to have far less disposable income for everything else once the monthly bill for the roof above one's head is paid, here is a breakdown of 25 selected US metropolitan areas, ranked from most to least expensive, how much it costs to rent a two-bedroom apartment (one can only assume the $1,440 price listed for New York is based on some non-GAAP, magical numbers that exclude reality).