Those damn Egyptians are so inconsiderate: first they non-coup just when John Kerry is busy honing his sailing skills. Now, the non-coupy country breaks out in civil war just as Obama is on vacation in Martha's Vineyard. Well, Egypt may be important enough to serve as a middleman when the US pays Lockheed Martin using Egypt as a dumb intermediary, but is obviously not important enough for Obama to cancel his vacation. Moments ago in an audio-only presentation (couldn't russle enough Martha's Vineyardians for the podium behind him? Were his sleeves rolled up? Was he reading from paper or a teleprompter? The people demand to know), Obama joined Kerry in "strongly condemning" the violence that according to some has already spilled over into all out civil war.
“For my own part I did not see and did not appreciate what the risks were with securitization, the credit ratings agencies, the shadow banking system, the S.I.V.’s — I didn’t see any of that coming until it happened.” - Janet Yellen, 2010
As was reported over the weekend, it was only a matter of time before the Egyptian police began its violent crackdown on protesting pro-Mursi supporters across Egypt. But after the specified ETA came and went on Monday morning, most thought that this was yet another false alarm. It appears it was only delayed until Wednesday. Overnight, depending on the source one reads, Egyptian security forces killed anywhere between 43 and hundreds people when they cleared a camp of Cairo protesters who were demanding the reinstatement of the deposed Mohamed Mursi. There was no official confirmation of the deaths at Rabaa al-Adawiya, in northeast Cairo, where thousands of Mursi supporters awoke to police helicopters circling over the site. A second camp near Cairo University was swiftly cleared in the early morning. So is this the final step that will ultimately catalyze what has been an almost preordained civil war, with or without but most likely with America's blessing (after all the deficit spending surge so needed for the untaper won't happen on its own)? The answer should be appearing promptly.
While there was little macro news to report overnight, the most notable development was yet another USDJPY-driven crash in the Nikkei 225 which plunged by a whopping 576 points, or 4%, to 13825, while the Yen soared to under 96.80 in the longest series of gains since mid-June before recouping some of the losses on pre-US open program trading. The reason attributed for the move were reports that Japan would adhere to pledge to cut its deficit which is the last thing the market wanted to hear, as it realizes that boundless QE is only possible in a context of near-infinite deficit spending. The index, which has now become a volatility joke and woe to anyone whose "wealth effect" is linked to its stability, pushed not only China's Shanghai composite lower by 0.7% but led to losses across the board and as of this moment is seen dragging US equity futures lower for the third day in a row.
As Detroit begins to sort through the ill-begotten public liabilities that have driven it to bankruptcy, an important opportunity is at hand to revitalize the city that was once the epicenter of American entrepreneurship and manufacturing, while setting an example for other municipal governments that appear to be headed toward a similar fate. Here is an “Austrian moment” in the making, a potential libertarian awakening guided by the market-oriented, non-interventionist principles of the Austrian school of economics. For years, Detroit’s expenditures vastly exceeded its revenues. But, as long as investors were willing to purchase risky bonds, neither politicians nor unions would admit how unsustainable Detroit’s situation was. Detroit’s bankruptcy is thus exactly what the financial system needs.
Better to engineer a mini-crisis while you're still in control than let a crisis you can't control run away from you. One of the most widespread misconceptions about the Federal Reserve is that its policies are based solely on economic data and models. This misconception is not accidental but the result of carefully managed public relations: The Fed fosters a public image of dispassionate experts working econometric magic that mere mortals (i.e. non-PhDs in Economics) cannot possibly understand. The reality is the Fed is as much a political and PR machine as it is a financial institution.
Wall Street bankers, Washington politicians, economists and the media trumpet a substantial rebound in the U.S. economy, in the second half of 2013 and beyond, as a result of the Federal Reserve’s continued and open ended use of $85 billion dollars a month in quantitative easing. Learn why this is wishful thinking. Rather than do want is necessary to solve the ongoing 2008 credit crisis, those in power stoop to public relations tricks and propaganda.
With US leaks about Israeli air strike on Syria, John Kerry stirring the civil war pot in Egypt, and the closure of US embassies across the Muslim world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, UAE, Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan, Israel (Tel Aviv) and Jordan), it appears something is afoot. To add to the intrigue, the US State Department just issued a worldwide travel alert for US citizens.
*STATE DEPARTMENT WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2013
*STATE DEPT ISSUES WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT FOR U.S. CITIZENS
An Al-Qaeda threat has been posited but with no follow-up but we can't help but fear what we wondered about previously - the need for deficits to re-awaken (via some external event that no-one can 'un-patriotically' demur) providing more room for Bernanke to avoid his need for Taper.
Elliott Management's 22-page letter to investors has something for everyone as Paul Singer ascribes his uniquely independent wisdom. From the fragility of the financial system to the hubris of academic pretenders; from inflation's various devious impacts on assets and reality to the floundering of the world's bankers; from America's "cooked data" to the pending social unrest in Europe and the perils of centralized power, Singers stresses "the temptation to debase fiat currencies... means owning claims on paper money is an act of either faith or denial." Recent market movements, Singer warns "indicate a world on life-support," and "for every day, month and year that policymakers try to substitute failed, inappropriate and risky QE policies for pro-growth policies, the debt mounts, as does resentment among middle-income families that their situation is not improving." The fact of the matter is that "no government has ever reached fiscal 'nirvana,' yet our central bank (and its peers) continues to push the envelope of risk, confidence and inflation." Despite the confident and brave words in which they are wrapped, central bank actions currently seem underscored by quiet panic.
Indian philanthropist and cardiac surgeon, Devi Prasad Shetty is obsessed with making heart surgery affordable for millions of Indians. As Bloomberg notes, Shetty is not a public health official motivated by charity. He’s a heart surgeon turned businessman who has started a chain of 21 medical centers around India. By trimming costs, he has cut the price of artery-clearing coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees ($1,583), half of what it was 20 years ago, and wants to get the price down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic. Of course, this will come as no surprise after we showed the incredible spread of the price of an appendectomy. “It shows that costs can be substantially contained,” notes the World Heart Federation, "it’s possible to deliver very high quality cardiac care at a relatively low cost." But, for Americans of course, when you have government footing the cost (and deficit spending), who cares?
As the President prepares to address Congress (and the nation) with his next new new 'better bargain' deal to secure the economic future for the US, we thought it appropriate to dust off the economic scorecard for how things are going under his old new deal. Obviously, the President of the United States is not really solely responsible for where we are economically. The condemnation, or praise, must be applied equally to all branches of government responsible for the fiscal and monetary policy decisions made. The problems that exist today were not due to just the last few years of excess but rather come as a result of more than 30 years of fiscal irresponsibility that spans both Republican and Democratic Administrations alike. However, since President Obama has taken the position of responsibility for "clearing away the rubble and getting us back to where we were", we can review the economic data to see whether, or not, this is indeed the case.
Last year, Senator Schumer (Democrat, N.Y.) famously told Fed chairman Ben Bernanke "You are the only game in town." Really, Senator? What about the real economy? Bernanke and the Fed's machinations are indeed the only game in town for the parasitic financiers, but unnoticed by the Senator, America's real economy is innovating away from the dead hand of the Fed and its toxic spew of free money to the predatory class. There's actually three games in town: the financier game the Fed is playing that will end in collapse, the Federal government's borrow-and-blow trillions of dollars game that will also end badly, and the real economy, where millions of people don't give a rat's rear-end about Bernanke's latest attempt to placate the financial Monster Id he has created.
"Perhaps the success that central bankers had in preventing the collapse of the financial system after the crisis secured them the public's trust to go further into the deeper waters of quantitative easing. Could success at rescuing the banks have also mislead some central bankers into thinking they had the Midas touch? So a combination of public confidence, tinged with central-banker hubris could explain the foray into quantitative easing. Yet this too seems only a partial explanation. For few amongst the lay public were happy that the bankers were rescued, and many on Main Street did not understand why the financial system had to be saved when their own employers were laying off workers or closing down." - Raghuram Rajan
If there is one chart that shows just how addicted the market has become to the Fed's soothing monthly bond bid come hell or high water, it is the following. It shows that on a rolling 6 month average, the Fed is now responsible for monetizing a record 70% of all net supply issued measured in 10 year equivalents. This represents a reliance on the market that is greater than ever before in history. It is somehow in this environment - when the Fed is monetizing more duration than ever on a relative basis - that the Fed believes it can wean the market off its support: a market that has never been more reliant on the Fed than it is now. And, hence, the Fed's Catch 22 - damned if you taper, damned if you don't.