For the past five years of suppressed crisis, central states around the world have chosen to create an artificial sense of abundance by printing or borrowing trillions of dollars of fiat money and flooding their economies with this false abundance. This false abundance has led to a continuation of bad decision-making, as it has nurtured a magical-thinking faith that the era of abundance can be conjured up with monetary tricks. This is the essential feature of cargo cults, the magical-thinking belief in the return of abundance without having to chart a new path of authentic reforms. Creating the monetary illusion of abundance is not the same as authentic abundance. Fostering illusions of prosperity only further cripples our ability to make the necessary difficult decisions.
In the latest installment of another long-running series, we look at the age bracket distribution of those who are lucky enough to get new jobs each month, versus those who aren't. It should come as no surprise that once more the majority of new jobs created in the month of May went to the oldest age-group cohort, those 55 and older, which saw an increase of 203,000 jobs in May, more than every other age group bracket. The result: with an all time high 31,488,000 workers aged 55-69, Americans are far more busy working in their older years than retiring (or gambling in the rigger stock market casino).
It may come as a surprise to some that the total level of commercial bank loans outstanding as of the most recent week, May 22, was "only" $7.303 trillion. We say only because this number is $20 billion less than the total commercial loans outstanding as of the weeks following the Lehman failure, just before the most epic deleveraging episode in recent US history began. It is also just $600 billion higher than the cyclical lows of $6.7 trillion (net of the February 2010 readjustment of the commercial loan terminology). So does this mean that deposits in the US financial system have been unchanged in the past nearly 5 years? Not at all. As the chart below shows, while commercial loans have flatlined, deposits, which previously used to track loans on a dollar for dollar basis, took off, and are now at $9.4 trillion (as per the latest H.8), or $2.2 trillion more than the $7.2 trillion when commercial banks loan hits a record in October 2008, just after Lehman filed. What's more notable, is that as of the latest week, the excess of deposits over loans just hit an all time record of $2.079 trillion
Today, another one of the original "big boys" has called it curtains on the landlord business: "We just don’t see the returns there that are adequate to incentivize us to continue to invest", according to the CEO Bruce Rose of Carrington, one of the first investors to use deep institutional pockets (in this case a $450 million investment from OakTree) and BTFHousingD. Rose's assessment of the market? "There’s a lot of -- bluntly -- stupid money that jumped into the trade without any infrastructure, without any real capabilities and a kind of build-it-as-you-go mentality that we think is somewhat irresponsible.... We’ll sit back in the weeds for a while and wait for a couple of blowups,” he said. “There’ll be a point in time when we’ll be happy to get back into the market at levels that make more sense.”
While China's economy is sputtering and its stock market is lagging the exuberance of the rest of the world's largest centrally-planned economies, it seems life is good for the richest of the rich. In Macau, "the VIP market is gaining momentum," with the industry’s April revenue the second-highest in history. About two-thirds of Macau’s casino revenue comes from high rollers who gamble on credit due to restrictions on taking cash out of China but as Bloomberg reports, last year, the big bettors pulled back across the industry amid speculation that China’s new government might restrict junkets and curb cash flowing from the mainland into Macau. With the political transition completed, the VIP business is back to normalcy - as evidenced by Sky 32, an elite oasis of luxury on the 32nd floor of the Galaxy Macau casino, offers commanding views, a waterfall, a bar with vintage single malt whiskeys - and six sumptuous rooms where players must commit to betting at least 10 million yuan ($1.6 million).
European Union Launches Investigation Into Manipulation of Oil Prices Since 2002
Whoever orchestrated the last two hour closing ramp sure has a satanic sense of humor, opting to close the S&P at 1666 or exactly 1000 points above the "generational" low. A late-day desperation to buy-buy-buy, triggered by an avalanche of stops being triggered in the DAX futures market (as it broke all time highs), sent stocks soaring. Treasuries had been weak all day (giving back yesterday's gains and more). The equity spurt was not accompanied by VIX or Credit or Oil or Copper but JPY's break of 103 was another trigger supporting the rise. But that doesn't matter. The release of weak IP and in-line CPI data on Wednesday seemed to trigger the 'change' as gold and silver diverged lower from copper and oil's surge, Treasuries rallied, and stocks and the USD surged thereafter. WTI crude ends the week unchanged (against a USD gain of 1.37%) with PMs down 6-7%. Volume was light today but that doesn't matter either.
- Mine union threatens to bring South Africa to 'standstill' (Reuters)
- Russia Raises Stakes in Syria (WSJ) - as reported here yesterday
- Japan buys into US shale gas boom (FT)
- Bill Gates Retakes World’s Richest Title From Carlos Slim (BBG) - so he can afford a Tesla now?
- China Wages Rose Sharply in 2012 (WSJ)
- Regulators Target Exchanges As They Ready Record Fine (WSJ)
- Citi Takes Some Traders Off Bloomberg Chat Tool (WSJ)
- After Google, Amazon to be grilled on UK tax presence (Reuters)
- Apple CEO Cook to Propose Tax Reform for Offshore Cash (BBG)
- French, German politicians to pressure Google on tax (Reuters)
- Gold Bears Revived as Rout Resumes After Coin Rush (BBG)
- A stretched Samsung chases rival Apple's suppliers (Reuters)
Recently in the United States we’ve heard news that the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) is guilty of discriminating against conservative “non-profit” or not-for-profit entities. Any group with the name “Patriot” or “Tea Party” in their name was immediately held as suspect and the IRS in essence dragged their feet in terms of granting them a non-profit status.
It will come as a shock to all of you to know that such daylight robbery is perfectly legal and this has been so for hundreds of years.
Despite the aura of control, Fed officials (and casual observers) may sense things spinning out of control. Of course, hyper-fragility is exactly the effect that all the Fed’s own actions would predictably lead to. When you divorce truth from reality, strange things are bound to happen. There is one thing that we know for sure in this strange period when bankers have tried to manage reality in the absence of truth: that advanced industrial-technological economies designed to run on $20-a-barrel oil can’t run on $100-a-barrel oil, and that is why the US economy was subject to financialization in the first place - to offset declining productive activity by an attempt to get something for nothing. The world is about to find out that you really can’t get something for nothing. It will be a harsh lesson.
- Lesson From Buffett: Doubt Yourself (WSJ)
- Gold Bulls Split With Buffett as Traders Say Sell (BBG)
- Apple Misses IPhone Customers as Global Carriers Balk (BBG)
- Russia extends Cypriot loan by 2 years, cuts interest: troika document (Reuters)
- Tax Rewrite in Play in Capitol (WSJ)
- No early warning for U.S. on Israeli strikes in Syria (Reuters)
- Germany riveted at start of neo-Nazi murder trial (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Investors Urged to Split Chairman Role, Oust Directors (BBG)
- Leniency for Offshore Cheats (WSJ)
- Brussels steps up efforts over tax avoidance (FT)
- Ambulance chasing: Mesothelioma Doctors, Lawyers Join Hunt for Valuable Asbestos Cases (WSJ)
- Web Sales-Tax Bill Set to Face Bumps (WSJ)
- Colleges Cut Prices by Providing More Financial Aid (WSJ)
When it is on the receiving end of coure.
Think frontrunning clients, trading against recommendations, manipulating LIBOR, and slamming gold at the London fixing is all investment bankers do? Wrong. What really happens in banker life is far more exciting and enjoyable (at least for preferred banker clients) as the following story by the WSJ's David Enrich shows. In reality, the activities that bankers seem to spend the most time on, is treating their "preferred clients" with free gambling trips to Las Vegas, skiing in Chamonix, flying wives and girlfriends in helicopters, doing blow in industrial amounts, and, of course, cavorting with strippers and hookers. All paid for by some unwitting clients of course. It is this environment of utter and perfectly permitted, if not encouraged, debauchery that allowed scandals such as the Libor fixing "conspiracy" (first theory, then fact of course), to flourish, and which makes being a banker still the most desired job in the world (contrary to beliefs that it was all about the passion of crunching goalseeked DCFs at 2 am in the morning).