"The best environment for man is the environment of liberty." - former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus
Liberty is a fundamental human right; it is the cornerstone of our existence. But liberty is under attack from all directions, whether through higher state control or individuals themselves. Liberty is in search for its protector.
With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide drastic decline in freedom of information in 2014. The rise in overall violations of freedom of information was evident in all continents, but for America - the bastion of press freedom in the land of the free and "the most transparenet administration ever" - fell once again... to 49th!!
It is very difficult for governments to control the progress of a monetary union break-up because the example of one country exiting will create a precedent in the eyes of other members of the monetary union. The transmission channel is not government bonds, nor equities, not currency markets, but banks. In the event of a Greek exit from the euro, the loss in the real value of Greek bank deposits would encourage bank depositors in other countries to withdraw their funds.
The process can be very rapid indeed.
During the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2014, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) deployed to 133 countries - roughly 70% of the nations on the planet - according to Lieutenant Colonel Robert Bockholt, a public affairs officer with U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). And this year could be a record-breaker, just 66 days into fiscal 2015 - America’s most elite troops had already set foot in 105 nations, approximately 80% of 2014’s total. Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans…”We want to be everywhere,” said Votel at Geolnt...
Austrian "Freedom" Party Demands Bailout For Swiss Franc Speculators (From "Monstrous Monetary Policy")Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/26/2015 22:10 -0500
The phrases "it's just not fair" and "waa waa waa" were not seen in Austria's Freedom Party's statement demanding a bailout for Swiss-Franc-denominated borrowers (i.e. people who were willing to speculate on FX rates with their house as collateral in order to get a lower interest rate in order to afford a bigger home that they really couldn't afford in real risk-adjusted terms). What Austria needs, general secretary Franz Kickl exclaimed is "a general regulation and an offer to all Franc borrowers," adding that "it cannot be that Austrian borrowers are the only ones who keep their losses even they are indemnified in Hungary, Croatia and perhaps even in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia." Which does sound oddly like 'waa waa waa'?
The Japanese fire at the Europeans. The Europeans fire at the Japanese & Chinese. The Chinese fire scattershot at everybody else in Asia. England & America prep to teach those they consider muppets not to play with guns. It's World War Money, if you know what I mean...
"The Ruble has fallen by 50% in a year. The price of oil has halved, the price of copper, iron ore and many other commodities has tumbled. The Swiss franc has been de-floored and the uproar was huge. All random events, all part of a pattern. Financial markets are feeling the effects of a pick-up in volatility that has followed the end of Fed QE. While zero rates were augmented with Fed bond-buying, investors went around the world in search of higher yields, in all sorts or assets and currencies. Traders and investors of one kind or another resorted to leverage to reach the yield targets they needed to match their required investment returns. All of which was fine while the party went on forever, but now that it’s ending, the outcome is anything but fine."
Central bank policy is creating liquidity. Wrong --- the growth in broad money is slowing across the world.
Central bank policy is allowing a frictionless de-gearing. Wrong --- debt to GDP levels of almost every country in the world are rising.
Central bank policy is creating inflation. Wrong --- inflation in most jurisdictions is now back to, or below, the levels recorded in late 2009.
Central bank policy is fixing key exchange rates and securing growth. Wrong --- in numerous jurisdictions this exchange rate intervention is slowing the growth in liquidity and thus the growth in the economy.
Central bank policy is keeping real interest rates low and stimulating demand. Wrong --- the decline in inflation from peak levels in 2011 means that real rates of interest are rising.
Central bank policy is driving up asset prices and creating a positive wealth impact which is bolstering consumption. Wrong --- savings rates have not declined materially.
Central bank policy is creating greater financial stability. Wrong --- whatever positives impact central banks are having on bank capital etc they have failed to prevent the biggest emerging market debt boom in history.
The possibility of the ECB announcing sovereign asset purchases on 22 January already led Switzerland’s SNB to move pre-emptively last month and introduce negative interest rates. As SocGen's FX Research group notes, as disinflationary pressures spill over from the eurozone to trading partners in the north and east of Europe, we parse over the central banks that stand ready to act should the ECB announce QE.
- U.S. agency gives quiet nod to light oil exports (Reuters)
- China’s Stocks Fall to Pare Biggest Monthly Advance Since 2007 (BBG)
- The Cartel: How BP Used a Secret Chat Room for Insider Tips (BBG)
- BRICs Busted as Stocks Diverge Most on Record on Outlook (BBG)
- Petrobras deadline prompts some bondholders to push for default (Reuters)
- AirAsia Captain at His Happiest When Flying, Family Says (BBG)
- UK housing crisis: brick stocks hit record low (Telegraph)
HELLO ... MAINSTREAM MEDIA ... ANYONE HOME?
.Gov Tortured and Killed Innocent People for the Specific Purpose of Producing False Propaganda (U.S. Used C-O-M-M-U-N-I-S-T Techniques Specifically Designed to Produce F-A-L-S-E Confessions)
It has been centuries since the Portuguese last dominated the world's seaways, but in glancing over recent headlines one would be forgiven for thinking that their pirates are still running around. With the economy still reeling from the effects of the devastating financial crisis in 2010-11, Portugal has been rocked by a series of corruption scandals which go to the very core of the political and financial establishments. Portugal's economic divergence relative to Europe’s core is striking; it has even been overtaken by an average of the newcomers that joined the European Union in 2004, many of which are former communist countries. This in spite of Portugal receiving billions in structural reform funds from Brussels for almost three decades now – a process which is still ongoing. So how did this significant underperformance come about?
Following last week's holiday-shortened week, which was supposed to be quiet and peaceful and was anything but thanks to OPEC's shocking announcement and a historic plunge in crude prices, we have yet another busy week of macroeconomic reports to look forward to.