If you want to get an idea of where the rest of America is heading, just take a trip through the western half of West Virginia and the eastern half of Kentucky some time. Once you leave the main highways, you will rapidly encounter poverty on a level that is absolutely staggering. Overall, about 15 percent of the entire nation is under the poverty line, but in some areas of eastern Kentucky, more than 40 percent of the population is living in poverty. After decades of decline, vast stretches of impoverished Appalachia look like they have been through a war. Those living in the area know that things are not good, but they just try to do the best that they can with what they have.
Mess with us, we'll mess with you. That is the message one can derive from JPMorgan's surprise announcement that it plans to "sell or wind down its business of issuing prepaid cards for corporate payrolls and government tax refunds and benefits." Which also includes the infamous Electronic Benefits Transfer, or foodstamps, card. According to Reuters, the product, which has been offered with cash and treasury services to companies and governments, "had become a headache of risks in operations and regulations, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly." In other words, JPM just told the government which has been going after it relentless for the past year, forcing JPM to rack up some $25 billion in litigation reserves, you can find someone else to manage your wholesale welfare program for nearly 50 million Americans.
It’s NEVER to Protect Us From Bad Guys
The polar vortex came, saw, and is on its way out, and now comes the time for the damage report. As Reuters reports, "At least nine deaths have been reported across the country connected with the polar air mass that swept over North America during the past few days. Authorities have put about half of the United States under a wind chill warning or cold weather advisory.... Homeless shelters and public buildings took in people who were freezing outside. Daniel Dashner, a 33-year-old homeless man who typically sleeps under a bridge on Milwaukee's south side, said he opted to seek a spot at a shelter on Monday night. "Usually if I have four or five blankets, I can stay pretty warm, but when that wind is blowing, I don't care how many blankets I have, the wind blows right through me," he said, as temperatures dropped to minus 6 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 21 degrees Celsius)." On the other hand, there was some levity in the newsflow, when as AP reported, an escape inmate opted for the familiar warmth of prison and turned himself in.
- Yellen’s Record-Low Senate Support Reflects Fed’s Politicization (BBG)
- Euro-Zone Inflation Rate Falls in December, even further below ECB's target (WSJ)
- Zambia politician charged for calling president a potato (AFP)
- Blame gold: India Savings Deposit Scam Collapse Leaves Thousands Penniless (BBG)
- Hedge Funds Raise Gold Wagers as Yamada Sees $1,000 (BBG)
- George Osborne limits cuts options with pensions promise (FT)
- Vietnam Raises Foreign Bank Ownership Caps to Aid System (BBG)
- But they said buy a year ago... Goldman to JPMorgan Say Sell Emerging Markets After Slide (BBG)
- SAC Trial Seen by Probe Convict as Latest Abusive Tactic (BBG)
Having doubled off the post-PBOC-ban-and-Fed-Taper lows, Bitcoin, trading at USD910 currently is becoming increasingly ubiquitous as a payment method for many businesses. The latest, as NY Post reports, is Manhattan-based real-estate broker Bond New York, is "using Bitcoins to help facilitate transactions." With overseas money-laundering as a key support, and Manhattan apartment sales setting a record in Q4 for volume of transactions (+27% YoY), we suspect the acceptance of Bitcoin will merely ease the Chinese (or Russian) ability to transfer funds directly into NYC housing - blowing an even bigger bubble.
Despite his various "nanny-state" failings (all of which have been prominently featured on these pages in the past) outgoing New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg has had an impressive track record: New York crime rates are at historic lows, the $72.7 billion budget is balanced, jobs are at an all-time high and a record 54 million tourists pumped money into the economy this year. Homicides have declined by almost 50 percent since Bloomberg became mayor in 2002, and this year’s total of 333 through Dec. 29 is 20 percent below last year’s record low. Of course, how much of this is due to Bloomberg's own actions and how much due to the "rising tide" wealth effect resulting from the Fed's actions that gentrified New York over the past 20 years thanks to Fed wealth-effect boosting policies and which have led to a perilously unstable financial system, is a different question. Regardless, as of midnight the billionaire mayor is no more. His replecament, Bill de Blasio, 52, is the first democrat to run City Hall in 20 years.
In America today, there are close to 50 million people living in poverty and there are more than 100 million people that get money from the federal government every month. As the middle class disintegrates, poverty is climbing to unprecedented levels. Even though the stock market has been setting record high after record high, the amount of anger and frustration boiling just under the surface in our nation grows with each passing day. And now extended unemployment benefits have been cut off for 1.3 million unemployed Americans, and it is being projected that a total of 5 million unemployed Americans will lose their benefits by the end of 2014. In addition, 47 million Americans recently had their food stamp benefits reduced. The conditions for a "perfect storm" are certainly being created. So how much longer will it be until we see all of this anger and frustration boil over in the streets of our major cities? Is America about to reach a breaking point?
The noise in the jobless claims data over the past few months has been unprecedented and yet the impressive jump lower in recent weeks has been trumpeted as the all-clear for Tapering and as a signal that the recovery is 'real' this time. Except, thanks to a huge 'glitch' in Florida's new CONNECT unemployment claims website, the data is completely FUBAR...
Even Before 9/11, NSA Knew In Real-Time Which Countries Both Parties to Phone Calls Were In
HFT Pays: CEO Of Firm That Accounts For 5% Of US Equity Volume Selling His NY Mansion For $114 MillionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 12/23/2013 19:22 -0400
Everyone knows that the most parasitic form of trading, that would be high frequency trading for those who may not have followed this website since 2009, is very profitable. Well, it is certainly profitable for those who operate the momentum-igniting, quote churning, HFT firms in control of what's left of the "market", if not so much for anyone else. Just how profitable is it? Judging by the house that Vincent Viola, head of Virtu Financial, one of the largest high frequency electronic trading and market making firms, which according to Cifu accounts for more than 5% of US equities volume and over 10% of the of the average daily volume of MSFT, and which tried to expand even more aggressively with a failed bid for Knight Capital last year, has just put on the block.
As students vie for 2014 internships, Bloomberg finds a fraternity-based network whose Wall Street alumni guide resumes to the tops of stacks, reveal interview questions with recommended answers, offer applicants secret mottoes and support chapters facing crackdowns. Despite apparent crackdowns on cronyism, nepotism, and fraternism; it seems nothing has changed as "secret handshakes" and the fraternity pipeline helps undergraduates beat odds three times steeper than Princeton University’s record-low acceptance rate... "People like people who are like themselves," notes one recruiter, seemingly proven by the fact that JPMorgan employs 140 Sigma Phi Epsilon members with BofA and Wells Fargo even more.
Real estate is currently a tale of two distinct trends. In formerly hurting markets such as Arizona, Nevada and Florida, private equity investors have flooded into what is a now gigantically crowded to “buy-to-rent” trade. Meanwhile, in the prime markets such as New York City and San Francisco, we have seen the “money laundering trade,” where rich oligarchs move their often ill-gotten gains into trophy real estate assets abroad. We have seen many signs all year that the first key pillar to the manufactured rise in housing was becoming strained, as rents continued to rise while incomes continued to fall. As far as the second pillar, well at some point the oligarchs will have purchased enough homes in London and Manhattan and then what? Interestingly, the seemingly unstoppable rental market in Manhattan is showing signs of cracking...
Zero Hedge users mostly agree the financial system will implode. It doesn't take more than high school math skills to calculate that the current debt based money system has implosion built in, and it's guaranteed (this is one rare case we can use such a word in finance!), because at some point, not enough new money can be created to pay off an ever increasing debt base. Collapse is a mathematical certainty.