The too big to fail banks have a larger share of the U.S. banking industry than they have ever had before. So if having banks that were too big to fail was a "problem" back in 2008, what is it today? The total number of banks in the United States has fallen to a brand new all-time record low and that means that the health of the too big to fail banks is now more critical to our economy than ever. In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States. Today, there are only 6,891 left, and that number continues to drop every single year. That means that more than 10,000 U.S. banks have gone out of existence since 1985. Meanwhile, the too big to fail banks just keep on getting even bigger.
Japan – Like the U.S. – Turns to Censorship
More than 100,000 protesters congregated at Democracy Monument in Bangkok yesterday to protest Thai PM Yingluck Shiniwatra’s consideration of an amnesty bill to pardon her banned brother Thaksin Shiniwatra, the former Thai PM ousted from the country in a 2006 coup.
- When it fails, do more of it - Bank of Japan hints at extending ultra-loose monetary policy (FT)
- PBOC Says No Longer in China’s Interest to Increase Reserves (BBG)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (Hilsenrath)
- Big trucks still rule Detroit in energy-conscious era (Reuters)
- Debt Limit Rise May Not Be Needed Until June, CBO Says (BBG)
- Some Insurance Regulators Turn Down White House Invitation (WSJ)
- Say Goodbye to the Car Salesman (WSJ)
- U.S. drone kills senior militant in Pakistani seminary (Reuters)
- French business sector contracts sharply (FT)
- How Germany's taxman used stolen data to squeeze Switzerland (Reuters)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (WSJ)
- France, Italy call for full-time Eurogroup chief (Reuters)
Economics is all about making rational decisions given some set of likes and dislikes. It doesn’t presume to tell you what you should like or dislike, and it assumes that you do in fact know what you like or dislike. Or at least that’s what economic theory used to proclaim. Today economic theory is used as the intellectual foundation for a political stratagem that goes something like this: you do not know what you truly like, and in particular you do not know your economic self-interest, but luckily for you we are here to fix that. This is the common strand between QE and Obamacare. The former says that you are wrong to prefer safety to risk in your investments, and so we will fix that misconception of yours by making it extremely painful for you not to take greater investment risks than you would otherwise prefer. The latter says that you are wrong to prefer no health insurance or a certain type of health insurance to another type of health insurance, and so we will make it illegal for you to do anything but purchase a policy that we are certain you would prefer if only you were thinking more clearly about all this.
Just in case anyone thought the entire world's wasn't going to the tenth, centrally-planned circle of hell in a handbasket, here comes the head of the Indian FBI to disabuse everyone out of such childish sentiments, thanks to a comment that not even the PR brain trust behind #AskJPM could have conceived. To wit: "India’s top police official was under fire Wednesday for saying, “If you can’t prevent rape, you might as well enjoy it.” And scene.
"Debt matters... even if it is possible to pretend for many years that it doesn't," is the painful truth that, author of "Avoiding The Fall", Michael Pettis offers for the current state of most western economies. Specifically, Pettis points out that Japan never really wrote down all or even most of its investment misallocation of the 1980s and simply rolled it forward in the form of rising government debt. For a long time it was able to service this growing debt burden by keeping interest rates very low as a response to very slow growth and by effectively capitalizing interest payments, but, as Kyle Bass has previously warned, if Abenomics is 'successful', ironically, it will no longer be able to play this game. Unless Japan moves quickly to pay down debt, perhaps by privatizing government assets, Abenomics, in that case, will be derailed by its own success.
If ever there was a symptom of the instant gratification meme of the new normal (why wait when you can have it all now?), it is 'vice'. That is why Southbay Research's Vice Index (composed of prices paid, volume, and frequency of sales in liquor sales, gambling, and prostitution) is so worrisome, as WSJ reports, "it's signalling that consumer spending growth is about to drop and stay subdued for a few months." Southbay's Zatlin notes that measuring this kind of discretionary spending provides a window into the true state of the economy - which fits with recent macro data on retail sales (and forecasts for the holiday season as hope of the 'second-half' recovery fade quietly into next year.
- U.S. spy chiefs face Congress amid spying rift with Europe (Reuters)
- Deutsche Bank income hit by €1.2bn of legal provisions (FT)
- China's second tapering attempt fails: China central bank seeks to reassure money markets after rate spike (Reuters)
- UBS Takes Action Against Staff in Foreign-Exchange Probe (WSJ)
- Saudi Arabia frees man jailed for Mohammad tweets (Reuters)
- Tax Revolts Hit Hollande as Farmers, Soccer Clubs Protest (BBG)
- German parliament to meet over U.S. spying scandal (Reuters)
- Google Nears Smartwatch Launch (WSJ)
- How to end gridlock in DC? Pork projects (Reuters)
- UBS ordered to increase capital reserves (FT)
While commission-takers the world over attempt to dispel the fact that throwing your hard-earned money into the US equity market is absolutely not gambling, Bloomberg has decided that the time is right to relaunch "Poker Night On Wall Street." Hosted by Trish Regan, David Einhorn, Jim Chanos, and Mario Gabelli are among the top-ranked investors and hedge fund managers facing-off in a winner-takes all charity poker tournament at the Borgata in Atlantic City. By way of guidance, we include what investors and gamblers have in common...
For the greater part of human history, leaders who were in a position to exercise power were accountable for their actions. The problem we are faced with today is that our political and (frequently) business leaders are not being held responsible for their actions. Thomas Sowell sums it up well: "It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong." Fortunately, there is an institution that exercises control over the academics at the Fed; it is called the 'real' market economy... and it has badly humbled the professors at the Fed.
David Stockman, author of The Great Deformation, summarizes the last quarter century thus: What has been growing is the wealth of the rich, the remit of the state, the girth of Wall Street, the debt burden of the people, the prosperity of the beltway and the sway of the three great branches of government - that is, the warfare state, the welfare state and the central bank...
What is flailing is the vast expanse of the Main Street economy where the great majority have experienced stagnant living standards, rising job insecurity, failure to accumulate material savings, rapidly approach old age and the certainty of a Hobbesian future where, inexorably, taxes will rise and social benefits will be cut...
He calls this condition "Sundown in America".
Be it BBQ judging, investing, picking out an outfit, or even choosing whether or not you’re going to show up for work tomorrow – ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes that there’s a decision making process occurring. Quite simply, decision making is the cognitive process resulting in the selection of a final choice among several alternative scenarios. Final choices can be opinions (as in “This brisket is an 8”) or actions (such as “I will invest in tech stocks”), and decisions are both conscious and unconscious. For investors, financial decisions and how we tend to arrive at them are of particular importance. The following is a cautionary tale of the 'Top 10' common biases that creep into the decision making process. Recognizing and eliminating these biases from your financial choices will make you a sharper and smarter investor... or BBQ judge... or whatever it is that you do.
- Mounting Wall Street fears of US default (FT)
- This is what the US government does when it is "shut down" - CIA ramping up covert training program for moderate Syrian rebels (WaPo)
- SEC Weighs Overhaul of Exchanges’ Self-Regulatory System (WSJ) - just let Goldman and JPM do all the policing; not like anyone cares anymore
- Reid Sets Tone for Democrats in Shutdown Fight (WSJ)
- No Movement in Shutdown Standoff (WSJ)
- Shutdown will not slow Fed nomination, says Obama (FT)
- Syrian Regime Chokes Off Food to Town That Was Gassed (WSJ)
- Tesla Says Car Fire Began in Battery (AP)
- China Services Index Increases in Sign of Sustained Rebound (BBG) or sustained data manipulation
This is The System Of The World. It lays out in logical frankness how the various layers of the facade we call “democracy” and “free markets” interoperate and together create a grotesque caricature of the ideals they purport to serve and keep us all enslaved. Join us on a trip through The System.