One of the big problems in America today is that a lot of people simply do not seem to care about what they are doing anymore. The level of sloth, laziness and apathy that we are witnessing in this country is absolutely mind-numbing. Of course this is not true of everyone. There are still many Americans that are extremely hard working. But overall, it really appears that people are not taking as much pride in their work as they once did. Some of the examples below are quite funny; others are more than just a little bit disturbing. But they all have a common theme. Americans from all walks of life are simply giving up. Whether they are teachers, delivery people or fast food workers, the truth is that there are a whole lot of people out there that seem to have mentally checked out.
You know it's bad when... Italy's new prime minister Matteo Renzi has decided that around 1,500 non-essential government official cars will be sold off (via eBay). As La Repubblica reports, the cars (among them dozens of BMWs, Alfa Romeos, Lancias, nine Maseratis and a couple of Jaguars) have come to be a symbol of wasteful government spending. Renzi noted, via Twitter, "Why should an under-secretary have an official car? The undersecretary should go by foot."
When you ponder the implications of allowing a small group of powerful wealthy unaccountable men to control the currency of a nation over the last one hundred years, you understand why our public education system sucks. The average American has experienced a fourteen year recession caused by the monetary policies of the Federal Reserve. Our leaders could have learned the lesson of two Fed induced collapses in the space of eight years and voluntarily abandoned the policies of reckless credit expansion, instead embracing policies encouraging saving, capital investment and balanced budgets. They have chosen the same cure as the disease, which will lead to crisis, catastrophe and collapse.
The Idiot Savant has had more than enough. BDI has unequivocally decided to prick Big Bad Ben Bernanke's Bloviated Bubble Butt. I have outlined below seven fine needles and six sharp scalpels that I shall use to slice and slay his sorry sagging ass:
One upon a time everyone got a hearty chuckle when Obama declared, on the very first day of his ascension to the throne, that his administration would be the "most transparent in history." And if they didn't then, they certainly will now following news that it none other than Obama's own administration - made infamous for spying on everyone who uses electronic communication courtesy of one whistleblower - that it has refused a record number of Freedom of Information (don't laugh) requests on the basis of, drumroll, national security. So between the NSA, whose job is to ensure national security, and all those pesky meddlesome investigators, whose only curiosity is to peek behind the secrecy of the Obama administration, there should be precisely zero acts of terrorism on US soil. Like last year's Boston bombing for example. Oh wait...
With Russia's MICEX down another 2% today back at May 2010 lows (and Russian govt bond yields up to 9.41%), it appears investors are anything but confident that the worst is behind us in Ukraine. Russian stocks are -18% in the last 3 weeks. Perhaps the biggest tell is the German stock market which is now the worst-performing European stock market this year and back to lows seen in mid-December. Even the glorious safety of Portuguese stocks is fading in the last few days. Europe's VIX broke 22% - its highest in 5 weeks; and Europe's high-yield credit markets (which are rumored to be heavily biased long) are squeezing wider playing catch-up to stocks. Peripheral sovereigns don't give a crap in their manipulated illiquid way but Bund yields have sluped to 1.54% (lowest since July) - its tightest to US TSYs since 2006!
The world and their pet rabbit was convinced yesterday that today's jobs number was both the most-important-number-in-the-world and didn't matter (because whether it beat or missed it was bullish for stocks). Seconds after the release that appeared to be true as JPY instantly dragged stocks to record highs (and the USD up and bonds and gold down). However, trumped by confirmation that the taper is continuing, Gazprom warnings, Lavrov threats, and finally reports of a Russian invasion, stocks leaked lower to Tuesday's ramp-day closing levels. Thanks to some last-minute JPY and VIX banging, S&P closed green for the 15th of last 16 NFPs. Despite intraday volatility, the USD ended the week unchanged, gold +1%, silver -1.5% and Treasuries +14bps or so (its worst week in 6 months!). Credit markets continue to be non-believers (with the high-yield bond ETF plunging this week). Critically, after last night's default in China, Iron Ore and Copper futures were crushed and we suspect Sunday night's Asia open could see more fireworks.
There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false. The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category... But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized. What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time.
Ukraine Acting President Calls Emergncy Meeting Of Security Chiefs; Russia Threatens To Cut Off The GasSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/01/2014 11:35 -0400
All the dominoes are tumbling now. Moments after the Russian upper house of parliament approved the decision to use Russian troops in the Ukraine as expected, Ukraine's acting president called an emergency meeting of security chiefs according to his spokeswoman. Oleksander Turchinov summoned his Security Council after Russian President Vladimir Putin sought parliamentary approval to deploy Russian forces in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. At this point the biggest and perhaps final wildcard is whether NATO does or does not get involved. If it does, and if Russia does not back off - which it has clearly telegraphed it won't - futures may be looking at a limit down open on Sunday.
Ukraine and Thailand are in the midst of chaotic turmoil right now, characterized by riots and violent clashes between protestors and police. It reminds us of the old quote from Louis XVI upon being informed in 1789 that the French people had stormed the Bastille. “Is it a revolt?”, the King asked; “No, sire,” the duke replied, “It is a revolution.” History is packed with examples of how people rise up in the streets whenever economic conditions deteriorate. The French Revolution in 1789 is one famous example where the people finally reached their breaking points after nearly starving to death. In our system we award a tiny elite with the power to kill, steal, wage war, educate our children, and conjure unlimited quantities of paper money out of thin air. This is just plain silly. The real answer is within ourselves.
While the eyes of the world were focused on the now infamous "Credit Equals Gold #1" Chinese wealth management product - it's imminent default and last-minute bailout by 'investors' unknown - the coal industry in China continued to collapse (as we noted here). We noted at the time how bailing out current high-yield product investors would merely amplify the problems down the line and it seems that Chinese authorities have heard that message. As Reuters reports, a high-yield investment product backed by a loan to a debt-ridden coal company failed to repay investors when it matured last Friday, state media reported on Wednesday.
Last year we exposed the reasoning for the extremely predictable cyclicality in US macro-economic surprise data. Each year of the last few, the third quarter has exhibited unusual "strength" surprising 'economists' - thanks to government agencies executing their final budgets to use up all their allotments - only to stabilize in Q4 and the fade rapidly in Q1. 2013 was "different" as we had the government shutdown which threw the seasonal pattern off... but once the agencies were re-opened, the spice did flow and we got what is now clearly not a sustainable 'surprise' in growth but a lagged cyclical bounce. However, the lag introduced by the shutdown is now catching up to us - so it is different this time (2mo. lag) but the same...
While The White House crows of the falling unemployment rate (which everyone now knows is entirely useless as an indicator of anything), the rapid-drop in this indicator is a major headache for the Fed. While forward-guidance is crucial in replacing the "common knowledge" that the Fed remains easier-for-longer as bond-buying is tapered, despite it's dismissal by vice-chair Stan Fischer and BoE's Carney (and even an almost admission of its weakness by Bernanke), Yellen faces a market that is betting massively (actually in record size) that short-term rates will rise and Fed heads like Lacker shift to "more qualitative ways" of maintaining the punchbowl.
Is it any wonder Mario Draghi didn't lift a quantitative-easing finger this week? Despite record unemployment, record (and disastrous youth unemployment), record suicide rates, record non-performing loans, and an inextricably-linked banking system facing $3 trillion in exposure to emerging markets... Spanish bond yields have collapsed to their lowest since 2006 (and Italian close behind). With an entirely broken transmission mechanism of monetary policy, it seems the "market" for European bonds knows no bounds as spreads on the riskiest sovereigns drop to pre-crisis levels and 10Y Spain yields are now lower than 30Y US Treasuries.
I predicted this clearly, with loads of evidence, last spring. I even tipped the SEC/UK authorities. Tthe chickens come home to roost. Let it be known, Wall Street's margin IS my business model!!!