With Greek CDS surging to near post-bailout highs (and short-end bond yields back above 11%), it appears the market is anxious of the endgame as tomorrow's 3rd and final 'snap-election'-saving vote looms. Following Samaras fearmongering yesterday, it appears Germany is starting to fear the worst (and play down its effect), as Merkel's bloc states "the prospect of a Greek sovereign default is no longer a concern for euro member countries and financial markets," adding "hope that Greece’s international partners would pay if the country’s policymakers refuse to carry out necessary reforms is misplaced." However, as Bruno de Landevoisin notes, "what is at stake is none other than the prosperity of the common man pitted against the privilege of concentrated power."
On the old continent, this December 29th, a succinct political showdown is scheduled to take place which may well become a defining moment for our entirely unsettled new millenium.
For those wondering where US shale exploration and production companies will be in about 2-3 years, look no further than the gold miners, where the disconnect between undaunted physical demand and relentless paper supply (after rebounding above 0%, GOFO is once again negative through the 3 month mark), and where high production costs and low selling prices, after two years of balance sheet pain, is finally leading many over the cliff. Case in point, Canadian gold-miner San Gold, which had a capitalization of over $1 billion in 2010 just filed for bankruptcy protection. It isn't the first gold-miner to wave the white flag, and it certainly won't be the last.
- Russia says NATO turning Ukraine into 'frontline of confrontation' (Reuters)
- Oil Drillers Under Pressure to Scrap Rigs to Cope With Downturn (BBG)
- Demonstrators Defy NYC Mayor's Call to Suspend Police Protests (BBG)
- U.S. to send more private contractors to Iraq (Reuters)
- ISIS Shoots Down Jet From U.S.-Led Coalition, Syrian Monitors Say (NYT)
- Russians Race to Secure Mortgages Before Costs Spiral (BBG)
- Abe Brings in Former Soldier Nakatani as Defense Minister (BBG)
- At Coke, Newest Flavor Is Austerity (WSJ)
- Fear and retribution in Xi's corruption purge (Reuters)
- UBS Raises Flag on China’s $1 Trillion Overseas Debt Pile (BBG)
In a larger sense, the Fed is already intervening in the oil sector via its zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) and its unlimited liquidity for financial speculation.Should the Fed turn the dial of intervention up by buying futures and oil-based bonds, it is not a new policy--it is simply a matter of degree. The intervention has been going on in every sector since 2008. The implosion of the oil sector is simply the latest outbreak of consequence following cause.
Despite the authorities' best efforts to keep everything orderly, we know how this global Game of Geopolitical Tetris ends: "Players lose a typical game of Tetris when they can no longer keep up with the increasing speed, and the Tetriminos stack up to the top of the playing field. This is commonly referred to as topping out."
"I’m tired of being outraged!"
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
"Mutually assured destruction" now best describes the uneasy stand-off between an increasingly indebted US government and an increasingly monetarily frustrated China. So here's a quiz: 1) Which country is the world’s largest sovereign miner of gold? 2. Which country doesn’t allow an ounce of that gold to be exported? 3. Which country has advised its citizenry to purchase gold? Three questions. One answer. In each case: China. Is it plausible that, at some point yet to be determined, a (largely gold-backed) renminbi will either dethrone the US dollar or co-exist alongside it in a new global currency regime?
The fundamental issue confronting investors is about supply and demand. In recent weeks, as energy prices and other industrial commodity prices fell, investors focused on supply. The stimulative effect of the fall in prices, and the likely policy response by some major central banks, such as the ECB, and possibly the BOJ. This was good for equity markets and weighed on the euro and yen.
Simply put, the US government has reached a point of no return.
"Over the next five years investors now expect inflation to average just below 1.3%. This level of expected inflation has always previously been associated with a decline in US equity prices. There have been no exceptions until today." Russell Napier
It's a miracle... give the worst creditors access to cheap money for longer-and-longer terms and hey presto... 'expensive' stuff is available to everyone. Retail sales modestly beat expectations in November (+0.7% vs +0.6% expectations) - sending USDJPY spiking to confirm what great news this is. The driver of all this exuberance... Vehicle sales +1.7% MoM. Oddly, for all those prognosticators looking for windfall tax cuts from the oil price plunge, gasoline station sales dropped only 0.8% MoM - not exactly the consumption-boosting exuberance every talking head proclaims.. These numbers appear to be clearly in the "Fed wants to hike" narrative.
- China’s Stocks Sink Most Since 2009 as Turnover Jumps to Record (BBG)
- Greek Stocks, Bonds Tumble (WSJ)
- China tightens LGFV funding screws (BBG)
- Crude Rebounds From Five-Year Low Amid Shale-Oil Spending Curbs (BBG)
- Sexual threats, other CIA methods detailed in Senate report (Reuters)
- U.S. Takes Security Precautions Overseas Ahead of CIA Report (WSJ)
- Light-Speed Treasury Trading Governed by Rules Dating to 1998 (BBG)
- Delhi to ban all internet taxi firms after Uber rape claim (Reuters)
- Supreme Group Fined $389 Million for Overcharging Pentagon (WSJ)
"We all are in a Ponzi world right now. Hoping to be bailed out by the next person. The problem is that demographics alone have to tell us, that there are fewer people entering the scheme then leaving. More people get out than in. Which means, by definition, that the scheme is at an end. The Minsky moment is the crash. Like all crashes it is easier to explain it afterwards than to time it before. But I think it is obvious that the endgame is near."
"Today central banks give money to institutions, which are not solvent, against doubtful collateral for zero interest. This is not capitalism."