Whether it is to serve as a diversion from the ongoing deterioration in the French economy (purchases of French sovereign bonds by the SNB implying "all is well" notwithstanding), to distract public attention from the recent humiliation (and backfire) of the socialist government's "tax the rich" campaign or for whatever other reason, is unclear for now, but what is clear is that over the past two days France has launched a major airstrike and military campaign against Islamist rebels in northern Mali, the pretext being that control of northern Mali by the rebels posed a security threat to Europe. What is also clear is that even as France is protecting "European interests" deep in the heart of African darkness, elsewhere in Africa, the socialist country, whose military "expertise" is best known for building impassable fortifications all around perfectly crossable forests, suffered yet another offensive humiliation when not only was a hostage held by Somalian insurgents, al Shabaab, killed during an attempted rescue operation, but a commando from the "rescuing" team was allegedly left behind during the bungled operation. The cherry on top in president Hollande's first major foreign policy excursion is that the same insurgents subsequently released a statement that the hostage was perfectly safe, even as a French pilot was killed in the Mali airstrikes early on in the campaign, all of which probably makes France wish it had just stayed home.
- Obama Picking Lew for Treasury Fuels Fight on Budget (BBG)
- Deutsche Bank Bank Made Huge Bet, and Profit, on Libor (WSJ)
- Spain Beats Maximum Target in First 2013 Debt Sale (BBG) - In other news, the social security fund is now running on negative?
- "Icahn is also believed to have taken a long position in Herbalife" (NYPost) - HLF +5% premarket
- Lew-for-Geithner Switch Closes Era of Tight Fed-Treasury Ties (BBG)
- Turkey Beating Norway as Biggest Regional Oil Driller (BBG)
- Greek State Firms are Facing Closure (WSJ)
- Draghi Spared as Confidence Swing Quells Rate-Cut Talk (BBG)
- China’s Yuan Loans Trail Estimates (BBG)
- SEC enforcement chief steps down (WSJ)
- CFPB releases new mortgage rules in bid to reduce risky lending (WaPo)
- Japan Bond Investors Expect Extra Sales From February (BBG)
The world has done everything humanly possible to put off any tough financial decisions and that is especially true in Europe and in America. The leaders on both Continents just cannot take the heat and so everything possible has been pushed forward in the hopes that economies will improve and that growth will cure the ills brought on by the lack of any real leadership. The centerpiece of the success of lower yields in all of the countries in Europe rests squarely upon Draghi’s “Save the World” plan where the ECB will backstop everything. A careful examination of the numbers and the possibilities limit what can be done in 2013 and the countries in question are Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Spain and Italy. The other side of the coin here is social unrest that I believe will surface in the spring so that the present general belief that things have improved in Europe is nothing more than a hope which is fashioned by political design. The debt to GDP ratios for each nation in Europe are nothing more than gimmickry. The central banks, phony accounting and a promise by the ECB may well have saved 2012 from an implosion but 2013 brings a new set of circumstances that are far less appealing than last year. Stay safe!
- A Bold Dissenter at the Fed, Hoping His Doubts Are Wrong (NYT)
- China and Japan step up drone race as tension builds over disputed islands (Guardian)
- How Mario Draghi is reshaping Europe's central bank (Reuters)
- Merkel Economy Shows Neglect as Sick Man Concern Returns (BBG)
- US oil imports to fall to 25-year low (FT)
- China Loan Share at Record Low Shows Financing Risks (BBG)
- Dimon Says Some JPMorgan Execs ‘Acted Like Children’ on Loss (BBG) - children that reveleased who 'excess reserves' are truly used
- Fed injects new sell-off risk into Treasuries (FT) - really? So the Fed will stop monetizing the US deficit some time soon?
- Obama aide presses Republicans to accept more tax revenues (Reuters)
- Ex-SAC analyst named 20 alleged insider traders (FT)
- BOJ easing bets help dollar regain ground vs yen (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Said to Be Part of Fed-Led Foreclosure Settlement (BBG)
- Venezuela postpones inauguration for cancer-stricken Chavez (Reuters)
If you own the debt of Spain; sell it. If you are thinking about buying their sovereign debt; don’t. I hope that is clear enough. I don’t believe that I have left out any corner of my thinking or that there is any wavering on my part. All of the new Spanish debt will carry Collective Action Clauses which gives Spain the right to force bondholders to their knees. This is reminiscent of Greece and we should have all learned the lesson from that experience. It is my opinion that Spain will be forced to the till at the ECB and the EU and that the amount of financing that will be demanded will cause rancor in the fiscally disciplined nations.
In a crushing blow to socialism, wealth redistribution and purveyors of the "fairness doctrine" (as defined here first) everywhere, the French Constitutional Council ruled on Saturday that Hollande's brilliant idea to tax millionaires at a 75% tax rate - a move which has since seen numerous millionaires leave France and move to Belgium - is unconstitutional. Per Reuters, the Council ruled that the planned 75 percent tax on annual income above 1 million euros ($1.32 million) - a flagship measure of Hollande's election campaign - was unfair in the way it would be applied to different households. Which is ironic because just like in the US, so in France, the selective wealth redistribution campaign waged by the government against the "rich" (which have yet to be properly defined: those making over $250K? Over $400K? Over €1MM?) was based on the premise that it is only "fair" that the rich contribute more. Turns out fairness in the eye of the government beholder, was unfair. But the move begs the question: would the court have struck down the law had it been a merely 50% tax hike? And if the income cut off was, say, €500,000? The far bigger question is, and has been in this year of encroaching socialism, just what is the definition of "rich", what is the definition of "fair redistribution", and where do the two coincide. Finally, how soon until the US Supreme Court weighs in as well on any final Fiscal Cliff tax hike proposal which, like in France, will see the "rich" pay an abnormal share, and will that too be ruled unconstitutional?
Despite the fact that myself and everyone else acting like they know what lays ahead are proven wrong time and time again, we continue to make predictions about the future. It makes us feel like we have some control, when we don’t. The world is too complex, too big, too corrupt, too lost in theories and delusions, and too dependent upon too many leaders with too few brains to be able to predict what will happen next. This is the time of year when all the “experts” will be making their 2013 predictions - but few will address where they were wrong in previous predictions. I’m more interested in why I was wrong. It seems I always underestimate the ability of sociopathic central bankers and their willingness to destroy the lives of hundreds of millions to benefit their oligarch masters. I always underestimate the rampant corruption that permeates Washington DC and the executive suites in mega-corporations across the land. And I always overestimate the intelligence, civic mindedness, and ability to understand math of the ignorant masses that pass for citizens in this country. It seems that issuing trillions of new debt to pay off trillions of bad debt, government sanctioned accounting fraud, mainstream media propaganda, government data manipulation and a populace blinded by mass delusion can stave off the inevitable consequences of an unsustainable economic system. Will 2013 be the year it all collapses in a flaming heap of rubble? I don’t know. Maybe you should ask an “expert”.
Been a while since we had some amusement out of the Bazooko Circus known as Europe, which for the past month has gone completely dormant, not because "it is fixed" but because, just like in Japan where the JPY has plunged on expectations of an action by the BOJ, so Europe has continued to benefit from the threat of the latest and greatest proposed ECB intervention: the OMT, which on one hand keeps the vigilantes in check, but on the other delays any painful reforms even as the underlying Spanish economy continues to deteriorate without any real structural reforms: something which a surge in rates would promptly precipitate (and once expectations turn to reality, it's all over: just see the recent QE3 and QE4 attempts by the Fed). So speaking of Spain, today's recap sentence of the day goes to Reuters' Julien Toyer with the following: "Spanish lender Bankia will wipe out 350,000 shareholders, many of them small savers with little knowledge of financial markets, after it emerged it had a negative value of 4.2 billion euros." Now if only the Spanish wipe out ended with Bankia's shareholders...
Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).
- Republicans put squeeze on Obama in "fiscal cliff" talks (Reuters)
- Inquiry harshly criticizes State Department over Benghazi attack (Reuters)
- Banks See Biggest Returns Since ’03 as Employees Suffer (BBG)
- Italy president urges election be held on time (Reuters)
- Bank of England Says Sterling Hurting Economy (WSJ) - there's an app for that, it's called a Goldman BOE chairman
- China slowdown hits Indonesian farmers (FT)
- China dispute hits Japanese exports (FT)
- Market to get even more monopolized by the HFT king: Getco wins Knight with $2 bln sweetened offer (Reuters)
- MF Global Cases Focus on 'Letters' (WSJ)
- UBS fined $1.5 billion in growing Libor scandal (Reuters)
- Spotlight swings to interdealer brokers (FT)
- China Widens Access to Capital Markets (WSJ)
- With Instagram, Facebook Spars With Twitter (WSJ)
Our biggest concern here on the cusp of 2013 is the current odd combination of extreme complacency about the risks presented by extend-and-pretend macro policy making and rapidly accelerating social tensions that could threaten political and eventually financial market stability. Before everyone labels us ‘doomers’ and pessimists, let us point out that, economically, we already have wartime financial conditions: the debt burden and fiscal deficits of the western world are at levels not seen since the end of World War II. We may not be fighting in the trenches, but we may soon be fighting in the streets. To continue with the current extend-and-pretend policies is to continue to disenfranchise wide swaths of our population - particularly the young - those who will be taking care of us as we are entering our doddering old age. We would not blame them if they felt a bit less than generous. The macro economy has no ammunition left for improving sentiment. We are all reduced to praying for a better day tomorrow, as we realise that the current macro policies are like pushing on a string because there is no true price discovery in the market anymore. We have all been reduced to a bunch of central bank watchers, only ever looking for the next liquidity fix, like some kind of horde of heroin addicts. We have a pro forma capitalism with de facto market totalitarianism. Can we have our free markets back please?
The longer you delay needed “radical measures,” the more private investors will be able to sell “their toxic paper without haircut to governmental bailout funds, and then hightail.”
Gold fell nearly 1% in illiquid markets in Asia overnight. Some traders may have decided to take profits on the short term long the FOMC announcement trade. Gold bullion prices had already ran up to $1,723 in the 2 weeks prior to the policy statement. Overnight, as prices fell below the 100-day moving average at $1,705, stop-loss selling was triggered which pushed prices lower quickly. Yesterday, the Federal Reserve took the bold, some would say reckless step, of linking its monetary policy to unemployment, creating concerns that the U.S. dollar will be debased even more in the coming months. The US Federal Reserve will keep interest rates at close to zero until unemployment falls below 6.5%. This is a historic and very radical change to monetary policy. It is the first time a large central bank has ever tied its interest rate policy directly to one facet of the economy – unemployment.
- Bernanke Wields New Tools to Reduce Unemployment Rate (BBG)
- Home Seizures Rise as Banks Adjust to Foreclosure Flow (BBG)
- EU Backs Release Of Greek Aid (WSJ)
- Democrats Confident They Have 'Cliff' Leverage (WSJ)
- Americans Back Obama Tax-Rate Increase Tied to Entitlement Cuts (BBG)
- Goldman flexes tentacles: Treasury open to Carney radicalism (FT)
- Launch Fuels Asia Security Concerns (WSJ)
- BOJ’s Unlimited Loan Program Seen Open to Use by Hedge Funds (BBG) - there are Japanese hedge funds?
- Abe Set to Face Manufacturing Gloom as Japan Contracts (BBG)
- US and UN condemn N Korea rocket launch (Guardian)
- Eurozone agrees common bank supervisor (FT)
- Berlusconi Adds to Italy Turmoil by Signaling He’d Step Aside (BBG)
Turkey’s trade balance may turn on whether President Barack Obama vetoes more stringent sanctions against Iran after the U.S. Senate passed a measure targeting loopholes in gold exports to the Islamic Republic. Turkey’s gold trade with neighbouring Iran has helped shrink its trade deficit over the past year according to Bloomberg. Incredibly, precious metals accounted for about half of the almost $21 billion decline. That’s calmed investor concern over its current-account gap, and helped persuade Fitch Ratings to give Turkey its first investment-grade rating since 1994. The U.S. Senate voted 94-0 on Nov. 30 to approve new sanctions against Iran, closing gaps from previous measures, including trade in precious metals. Obama, who opposes the move on the grounds it may undercut existing efforts to rein in the nation’s nuclear ambitions, signed an executive order in July restricting gold payments to Iranian state institutions. Turkey exported $11.9 billion of gold in the first 10 months of the year, according to the Ankara-based statistics agency’s website. A very large 85% of the shipments went to Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Iran is buying the gold with payments Turkey makes for natural gas it purchases in liras, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan told a parliamentary committee in Ankara on Nov. 23.