As everyone knows, the only reason to become a banker, and be subject to constant derision, abuse, scorn and hatred by the "99%", and potentially to a fate comparable to that of the aristocracy in France circa 1789, is a simple one: money. Specifically, get as much of in as short a time period as possible, be rewarded with a taxpayer bailout or two when massive bets go epically wrong, then convert all your cash into "hard assets" and escape to a non-extradition country before the latest credit bubble pops. In other words, a simple opportunity cost analysis. Which then begs the question: why are there bankers in the following European countries: Slovenia, Romania, Malta, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The one thing in common these countries have is that according to a just released European Banking Authority study, in the year ended 2011 not a single domiciled banker made over €1 million! In other words: bankers working for feudal peasant salaries. What a scam.
In a world of surging youth unemployment, increasingly-wide wealth inequalities, and generation of older citizens working longer implicitly impacting the youth, we thought it perhaps useful to see which nations in the world are the most prone to 'vice'. Bloomberg ranked countries on their propensity for vice, measured by alcohol and cigarette consumption, drug use and gambling levels and found that the Czech Republic and Slovenia top the charts while Zambia and El Salvador are the most virtuous (least vice-prone). The US sits at a 'healthy' 16th in the world overall (just above the UK) but Italy, Spain, and Greece are all more vice-prone; but have no fear as the USA is Number 1 in the world for the annual prevalence of all drug usage.
In the week ahead, we get the usual middle-of-the-month batch of early business surveys, including the New York Empire, Philly Fed and Eurozone Flash PMIs. The second key focus will be a number of important monetary policy meetings, including the FOMC, as well as the Swiss, Norwegian Turkish and Indian policy decisions. The latter two are particularly interesting in the light of the recent EM weakness. The main event this weak will be the FOMC meeting after the recent market focus on the timing of tapering of the QE3 program. Swings in bond markets related to the FOMC meeting could be the primary source of FX volatility this week.
- Obama prepares for chilly talks with Putin over Syria (Reuters)
- G8 opens amid dispute on Syria arms (FT)
- Economists Blame Fed for Higher Bond Yields (WSJ) - wait... what? Isn't the "stronger economy" to blame?
- What a novel concept - In the Czech Republic, a spying scandal has forced the PM to resign (BBG)
- Rigged-Benchmark Probes Proliferate From Singapore to UK (BBG)
- Economists Wary as Fed's Next Forecast Looms (Hilsenleak)
- Banks Balk at New Rules for Small Loans (WSJ)
- Sporadic clashes in Turkey as Erdogan asserts authority (Reuters)
House prices - with respect to both levels and changes - differ widely across OECD countries. As a simple measure of relative rich or cheapness, the OECD calculates if the price-to-rent ratio (a measure of the profitability of owning a house) and the price-to-income ratio (a measure of affordability) are above their long-term averages, house prices are said to be overvalued, and vice-versa. There are clearly some nations that are extremely over-valued and others that are cheap but as SocGen's Albert Edwards notes, it is the UK that stands out as authorities have gone out of their way to prop up house prices - still extremely over-valued (20-30%) - despite being at the epicenter of the global credit bust. Summing up the central bankers anthem, Edwards exclaims: "what makes me genuinely really angry is that burdening our children with more debt to buy ridiculously expensive houses is seen as a solution to the problem of excessively expensive housing." It's not different this time.
All traders walking in today, have just one question in their minds: "will today be lucky 21?" or the 21st consecutive Tuesday in which the Dow Jones has closed green.
All else is irrelevant.
Back in 2010 we started an annual series looking at the (re)distribution in the wealth of nations and social classes. What we found then (and what the media keeps rediscovering year after year to its great surprise) is that as a result of global central bank policy, the rich got richer, and the poor kept on getting poorer, even though as we predicted the global political powers would, at least superficially, seek to enforce policies that aimed to reverse this wealth redistribution from the poor to the rich (a doomed policy as the world's legislative powers are largely in the lobby pocket of the world's wealthiest who needless to say are less then willing to enact laws that reduce their wealth and leverage). Now that the topic of wealth distribution (or rather concentration) is once again in vogue, below we present the latest such update looking at a global portrait of household wealth. The bottom line: 29 million, or 0.6% of those with any actual assets under their name, own $87.4 trillion, or 39.3% of all global assets.
First a big caveat: the following comes from CNN, the world's farce leader, so take it with a quarry of salt. That said, CNN's household access is pervasive and when it comes to setting the social mood based on a news report, be it completely fabricated or not, the news organization is second to none. Which may be precisely why it is CNN that is reporting that in Syria - a place just itching for the proverbial match to be struck on a mountain of geopolitical gunpowder involving all the key actors: from the US, to Russia, Europe, China, and of course Israel, said match may have just been lit. To wit: "Syrian state-run television reported Thursday that forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed three Westerners, including an American woman and a British national, who they claim were fighting with the rebels and were found with weapons and maps of government military facilities."
First, the important news: in a few hours the Fed will inject between $1.25-$1.75 billion into the stock market. More importantly, it is a Tuesday, which means that in order to not disturb a very technical pattern that will have held for 20 out of 20 Tuesdays in a row, the Dow Jones will close higher. Judging by the futures, this has been telegraphed far and wide: it is a Ben Bernanke risk-managed market, and everyone is a momentum monkey in it. In less relevant news, the underlying catalyst for the overnight rip higher in risk was the surge in the USDJPY, which left the gate at precisely Japan open time, and after languishing at the round number 101 support for several days, did not look back facilitated by what rumors said was a direct BOJ intervention via a Price Keeping Operation in which banks bought ETFs directly. This was catalyzed by the usual barrage of BOJ and FinMin individuals engaging in post-crash damage control and chattering from the usual script.
Bitcoin has made significant progress towards becoming the world's first truly global currency over the past few years. To gain better perspective on bitcoin’s impact, we took a look at global wallet downloads, demonstrated interest by region, exchange volumes across currencies, mining node locations, real-world interactions around bitcoin, and the major companies and investors pushing the bitcoin economy forward. Perhaps most intrguingly, interest from China has grown extremely rapidly in the last 30 days.
Just Say Non To The New "Sick Man Of Europe" - Support For EU Plunges In France And Most European CountriesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/13/2013 20:32 -0400
In some surprising news, and quite contrary to what its record low bond yields would indicate (for a key reason for said artificial demand for French, see The Greater Fool) today the Pew Research center released results from a poll of 7646 EU citizens in March 2013, showing that the new sick man of Europe is Europe itself, or rather the great unification project itself: the European Union. Perhaps most surprisingly, nowehere is this more evident than in France itself - the country where the idea of a European Union germinated in the first place - and where the decline in support for the EU has been the greatest in the past year, with just 22% responding affirmatively to the question whether 'economic integration strenghtened the economy', down from 36% a year ago, and the biggest drop of all surveyed EU member states.
In the US, retail sales are expected to continue to slow in the headline, while retail sales ex autos, building materials, and gas should turn positive in April according to Wall Street analysts. Goldman remains below consensus for Thursday's Philadelphia Fed survey, forecasting a slight improvement on the previous month. The firm also expects the flash reading for Euro area Q1 GDP to come in slightly below consensus, consistent with a shallow contraction. We forecast German GDP will turn positive in Q1 after Q4 2012's negative reading. In Japan, GS sees Q1 GDP at 2.8% qoq ann., slightly above consensus, with stronger consumer spending the main driver. Among the central bank meetings this week, Russia, Chile, and Indonesia are expected to remain on hold, in line with consensus.
The week ahead will be driven by the heavy end-of-month data schedule. In addition to the usual key releases like ISM and payrolls and ECB meeting, this week we also get an FOMC meeting - though it will hardly see much more than a nod to the weaker activity data of late. For the ECB meeting a full refi but not a deposit rate cut are priced now. Outside the FOMC and the ECB meeting there will be focus on the RBI meeting in India, with a 25bp cut priced in response to lower inflation numbers recently.
When tin-foil-hat wearing digital dickweed blogs first suggested that Central Banks were actively buying stocks, the mainstream media scoffed at the idiocy and un-independence of such an idea. However, it is clear the central banks themselves are now not only actively buying stocks but are activley encouraging it and propagandizing their efforts to lever this last policy tool left in the toolbox. As Bloomberg reports, 23% of central bankers surveyed said the bank owns shares and plans to buy more. From the Bank of Japan to the Bank of Israel and with the SNB and the Czech National Bank now at over 10% allocation of reserves to stocks, is it any wonder there is an inexorable bid under the 'free' markets. Rick Santelli is rightly concerned that, "there is a danger that everyone is loaded in the same direction," asking what happens if all the Central Bank pump-priming does not work, given these equity valuations, "who gets caught holding the bag? What chairs are left when the music stops?"
- The Inland Empire bubble is back: BMW to Amazon Space Demand Spurs Rush to Inland Empire (BBG)
- Tamerlan Tsarnaev was on classified government watch lists (Reuters)
- Brothers in Boston Bombing Case Said Drawn to Radicalism (BBG)
- Germany Spurns Calls to Loosen Austerity Stance (WSJ)
- Spain poised to ease austerity push (FT)
- What ever happened to France's voice in Europe? (Reuters)
- U.S., South Korea Reach Nuclear Deal (WSJ)
- U.S. Sees No Hard Evidence of Syrian Chemical Weapons Use (BBG)
- RBA Set to Invest Foreign Currency Reserves in China, Lowe Says (BBG)
- FedEx Wins $10.5 Billion Postal Contract as UPS Shut Out (BBG)