In a "difficult but necessary" decision, Kraft-Heinz will cut 2,600 jobs in the latest post-mega-merger "synergy" bloodbath. Thanks Warren.
On January 6, 2004, Senator Charles Schumer and I challenged the erroneous idea that jobs offshoring was free trade in a New York Times op-ed. Our article so astounded economists that within a few days Schumer and I were summoned to a Brookings Institution conference in Washington, DC, to explain our heresy. In the nationally televised conference, I declared that the consequence of jobs offshoring would be that the US would be a Third World country in 20 years. That was 11 years ago, and the US is on course to descend to Third World status before the remaining 9 years of my prediction have expired. The evidence is everywhere.
We expect the ultimate outcome of Carl Icahn's Super PAC will be to make it easier for activists to pressure management teams into buying back even more of their shares - perhaps by granting them a tax amnesty on repatriating some of the $2 trillion in offshore cash if used for shareholder friendly activity - but then again we tend to be cynical.
The Export-Import Bank died last night when its charter expired. After 81 years, what is commonly known as Boeing’s Bank is headed toward Washington’s trash bin. When Congress returns it could revive Ex-Im, which primarily subsidizes big business exports. But a proper burial for what Barack Obama once called “corporate welfare” would save Americans money, reduce economic injustice, and promote economic growth. Ex-Im’s closure is a very rare victory for the good guys in Washington. Crony capitalism is running rampant in America, undermining confidence in a market economy.
History has not been kind to major trade blunders. Just as the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 sparked a global trade war that may well have put the “great” in the Great Depression, Congressional enactment of enforceable currency rules today could spark retaliatory actions that might devastate the free flow of trade that a sluggish global economy desperately needs.
Two days ago there was some rejoicing and much surprise when the "Warren-faction" of Senate liberals turned against Obama, and failed to vote for a fast-track approval of the TPP. That surprise lasted for about 48 hours when moments ago, in a 65-33 vote, the Senate finally advanced a measure allowing Obama to expedite approval of trade agreements, a bill with bipartisan support in that chamber which however according to Bloomberg may run into strong opposition from House Democrats.
While there has been no global economic outlook cut today, or no further pre-revision hints of "decoupling" by the appartchiks at the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, both European and US equities are pointing at a higher open, because - you guessed it - there were more "suggestions" of "imminent" QE by a central bank, in this case it was again ECB's Constancio dropping further hints over a potential ECB QE programme, something the ECB has become the undisputed world champion in. The constant ECB jawboning, and relentless central bank interventions over the past 6 years, led to this:
- GERMANY SELLS 10-YEAR BUNDS AT RECORD-LOW YIELD OF 0.74%
The punchline: this was another technically "failed" auction as it was uncovered, the 10th of the year, as there was not enough investor demand at this low yield, and so the Buba had to retain a whopping 18.8% - the most since May - with just €3.250Bn of the €4Bn target sold, after receiving €3.67Bn in bids.
- Ukraine leader denounces coup bid, West weighs sanctions (Reuters)
- Time to buy Imodium calls: Kuroda Easing Doomed as Yen Seen Missing 120 Level (BBG)
- Teens Disappear From U.S. Workforce (BBG)
- Fed Sets Rules for Foreign Banks (WSJ)
- Quant Funds Feel Investor Bite After Underperforming (BBG)
- China Probes Qualcomm, InterDigital Over Monopoly Concerns (WSJ)
- Capital One says it can show up at cardholders' homes, workplaces (LATimes)
- SEC Gains Power to Take Profit Made From Insider Trading (BBG)
In 2008, a mysterious person or group using the apparent pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto unveiled a new digital currency called Bitcoin that appeared to solve some of its predecessors’ problems. As Bitcoin rose in value the number of high-profile crimes and crashes rose apace. Throughout that boom and bust, Bitcoin retained a core user base that saw its possibilities and worked to overcome its flaws by developing point-of-sale hardware and online merchant services while lessening its dependence on a small number of exchanges. And then, just when the outside world had stopped paying attention, Bitcoin recovered. From under $20 at the beginning of 2013 it rose to $240, crashed to below $100, and then in one dramatic arc soared to more than $1,000. In early 2014 Bitcoin’s market value exceeded $10 billion and the number of merchants willing to accept it was soaring. The market appears to have spoken: Bitcoin is for real.
Why Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program Failed (Spoiler Alert: Thank Bank Of America et al)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/16/2013 19:41 -0500
Back when the Executive and Congress at least pretended not to abdicate all power to the Fed, one of the centerpiece programs designed to boost the housing market for the benefit of the poor (as opposed to letting Ben Bernanke make marginal US housing a rental industry owned by a handful of private equity firms and hedge funds), was Barack Obama's Home Affordable Modification Program or HAMP, which attempted to prevent foreclosures by lowering distressed borrowers’ mortgage payments. Under the program, homeowners would be given trial modifications to prove they can make reduced payments before the changes become permanent. The program was a disaster as of the 3 million foreclosures that were targeted for modification in 2009, only 905,663 mods have been successful nearly five years later - a tiny 13% of the 6.9 million who applied (still, numbers which Obamacare would be delighted to achieve). Part of the reason: the program's reliance on the same industry that sold shoddy mortgages during the housing bubble and improperly sped foreclosures afterward. But there was much more. For the definitive explanation of everything else that went wrong, we go to Bloomberg's Hugh Son whose masterpiece released today explains how and why once again the banks - and especially one of them - won, and everyone else lost.
"It’s time to put that power back where it belongs," explains Jonathan Zimmerman in today's Washington Post, "Barack Obama should be allowed to stand for re election just as citizens should be allowed to vote for — or against — him. Anything less diminishes our leaders and ourselves." The 22nd Amendment, limiting the Presidential term, according to Zimmerman, reflected "a shocking lack of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the people." Of course, in the increasingly 'entitled' America, it would only cost a few hundred million to bribe all the newly downgraded Middle-to-Lower class Americans with Obamaphones in order to finally get a "dictatorial democracy" by indirectly funding the lower common denominator with $400 in free money every election cycle.
We commend Senator Schumer for being the first Senator to openly step up and admit that the worst case scenario in the whole Congressional 3D IMAX farce is not about keeping the economy afloat, is not about preserving jobs, but merely keeping the stock market at or near its all time highs:
- Schumer Says He Worries About Monday Stock Drop on Default Risk. "This is playing with fire," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., tells reporters. Says he worried whether “the stock market will go down”
For those confused, Schumer has merely admitted what the vast majority of the Senate, where two thirds are millionaires, and nearly half the House, think: don't you dare let the manipulated precious, which at last check was just 1% below its all time Fed-balance sheet derived highs, drop.
Overnight trading over the past week has been a bipolar affair based on algo sentiment about what is coming out of D.C. But which the last session was optimistic for some inexplicable reason that a deal on both the government shutdown and the debt ceiling out of DC was imminent, today any optimism is gone in the aftermath of the latest comments by Boehner on ABC, in which he implied that a US default is not unavoidable and that it would be used as more political capital, as it would be once again blamed on Obama for not resuming negotiations. As a result both global equities and US futures are down sharpy in overnight trading. And since the government shutdown, better known as a retroactively paid vacation, for everyone but the Pentagon (whose 400,000 workers have been recalled from furlough) continues it means zero government economic statistics in today's session with the only macro data being the Fed-sourced consumer credit report at 3 pm. This week also marks the unofficial start of the Q3 reporting season in the US with Alcoa doing the usual opening honous after the US closing bell tomorrow. JPMorgan’s and Wells Fargo’s results on Friday are the other main ones to watch to see just how much in reserves are released to pretend that banks are still making money. As usual, expect disinformation leaks that send the market sharply higher throughout the day, which however will only make the final outcome that much more painful, because as during every US government crisis in the past, stocks have to plunge so they can soar again.
Men have had their stab at making the world into what they wanted and they made a pretty poor show of it all we might say when we look at the economy.
- Bernanke Resets Policy by Doing Nothing as Markets Soar (BBG)
- Stocks Jump to Five-Year High as Metals Rally on Fed (BBG)
- Centre-left bigwig says hard to stay allied with Berlusconi (ANSA)
- J.P. Morgan 'Whale' Fine Put at Over $900 Million (WSJ)
- Banks’ $10 Billion Sweet Spot Sets Off Buying Spree for Lenders (BBG)
- Time to taper? Not if you look at bank loans (Reuters)
- Mortgage Lending Reaches 5-Year High (WSJ) ... and then plunges as Fed gives "all clear" for a few months
- Yellen Chances Grow as Obama Aides Test Senate Support (BBG)