The sharpening international geopolitical competition over natural resources has turned some strategic resources into engines of power struggle. Transnational water resources have become an especially active source of competition and conflict, triggering a dam-building race and prompting growing calls for the United Nations to recognize water as a key security concern. With the era of cheap, bountiful water having been replaced by increasing supply and quality constraints, many investors are beginning to view water as the new oil. Political and economic water wars are already being waged in several regions, reflected in dam construction on international rivers and coercive diplomacy or other means to prevent such works. The World Bank estimates that such constraints are costing China 2.3% of GDP. In short, we must focus on addressing our water-supply problems as if our lives depended on it. In fact, they do.
Obama cancels meeting with Putin in Moscow amid tensions over NSA leaker Edward Snowden. http://t.co/Wdy2SYXvSt
— WSJ Breaking News (@WSJbreakingnews) August 7, 2013
There are lot of similarities between the 1920s and today. In fact Livermore’s quote says it all: “There is never anything new on Wall Street, because speculation is as old as the hills.” 1924-1929 bull market was rigged by stock manipulators. Ninety-some years later the market is still (or at least is perceived to be) rigged by ...
As the following two charts show, despite the rest of the world being mired in an entirely lackadaisical muddle-through (in terms of both manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs), the US is representing itself as the new growth engine with an expanding and rising economy (if the 'recovery-is-right-around-the-corner' data is to be believed). Of course, we are hearing the term 'decoupling' and 'cleanest dirty shirt' once again (begging the question Rick Santelli has asked numerous times "so why not remove the Fed's training wheels") but we remind, there is never a decoupling in the highly interconnected global economy (and its stagnant trade volumes). Our simple question is, with all this dramatic divergence from the rest of the world, stagnant income growth, and anemic manufacturing job growth at best, how will the consumer-driven US sustain its exuberance?
It started moments after the release of the Federal Reserve’s latest decision on interest rates. Even though officially they announced maintaining the same policies of low rates and Quantitative Easing, it was a single word change in the official text of their press release from the prior month that sent shockwaves around the world and changed everything forever...
In an important diversion from a pure markets focus, Marc Faber outlines his concerns and hopes for the "economic battle between the US and China," noting that as the gap between the Western world and the US narrows so "through trading links, [China] has more and more influence," especially (he adds) in Africa. His biggest fear, and one stoked every day, is that if the Chinese economy slows down meaningfully, they will depreciate their currency, leaving the world's largest economies "in a mode of protectionism - not just through import quotas - but through currency manipulation." And for now Russia is happy just tp upset the US via diplomatic means, but, Faber warns, should we see commodity prices slide further, low growth in Russia may prompt further actions - especially given US interference in markets and politics.
Greed; corporate arrogance; lobbying influence; excessive leverage; accounting tricks to hide debt; lack of transparency; off balance sheet obligations; mark to market accounting; short-term focus on profit to drive compensation; failure of corporate governance; as well as auditors, analysts, rating agencies and regulators who were either lax, ignorant or complicit. This laundry list of causes has often been used to describe what went wrong in the credit crunch crisis of 2008-2010. Actually these terms were equally used to describe what went wrong with Enron more than twenty years ago. Both crises resulted in what at the time was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history — Enron in December 2001 and Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Naturally, this leads to the question that despite all the righteous indignation in the wake of Enron's failure did we really learn or change anything?
The bigger story is Japan, where the Central Bank dream of doing “enough” is crashing into the wall. Japan has announced a $1.4 trillion QE effort, an amount equal to 21% of its GDP. To put this into perspective, this is the single largest QE in history, the kind of QE Bernanke and his pals could only dream of announcing.
The conventional wisdom of the moment is that a weakening global economy will push the cost of commodities such as oil down as demand stagnates. This makes perfect sense in terms of physical supply and demand, but this ignores the consequences of financial demand and capital flows. The total financial wealth sloshing around the world is approximately $160 trillion. If some relatively modest percentage of this money enters the commodity sector (and more specifically, oil) as a low-risk opportunity, this flow would drive the price of oil higher on its own, regardless of end-user demand and deflationary forces. If we grasp that financial demand is equivalent to end-user demand, we understand why oil could climb to $125/barrel or even higher despite a physical surplus.
There is no doubting the massive reserves of fossil fuels still lying close to or just beneath the earth’s surface. One of the key points made in the first edition of Insight back in February is that we must factor in the cost of processing those fossil fuels before they can enter the energy market. The future of energy production is as much as about the economic cost of processing those supplies as it is about the extraction.
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.
Today's broad "rewriting of history" GDP revision is set to "boost" US GDP by about 3% cumulatively (or about the size of Belgium's economy) and shave off 1-2% from US GDP. That's great. For the sake of the world, however, we hope that the rest of the developed (and less than developed) world's countries promptly follow in America's footsteps and fudge their own numbers post haste because things are rapidly getting out of hand, as the following chart conveniently reminds. Nowhere is this more so than in Japan, where as has been the case now for almost a year, Goldman Sachs, the central bank and local government (in order of decisionmaking importance) have all doubled down on their "all in" bet that the only thing that fixes recorder debt is moar recordest debt.
- "Ooops": Barclays reveals £12.8bn balance sheet hole (FT), Barclays Bows to Pressure With Share Sale (WSJ)
- Bank of Italy Inspecting Top Lenders' Books (WSJ)
- Obama to propose 'grand bargain' on corporate tax rate, infrastructure (Reuters)
- China injects funds into money markets, quelling fears (FT)
- Berlusconi faces verdict that could endanger Italian government (Reuters)
- Shale Threatens Saudi Economy, Warns Prince Alwaleed (WSJ)
- Qatar Finds Revolution Abroad Not as Easy as Stock Picks (BBG)
- Cities Begin Hiring Again (WSJ) - not to mention filing for bankruptcy
- Big Question Hangs Over Small-Caps (WSJ)
- China Politburo Pledges to Press On With Restructuring Economy (BBG)
- Bank Revenues Surge on Trading Over What Fed Will Do (BBG)
Scientists and economic analysts say that the thawing of the Arctic will set off what they have termed an “economic time bomb” in years to come
If our leaders could have recognized the signs ahead of time, do you think that they could have prevented the financial crisis of 2008? That is a very timely question, because so many of the warning signs that we saw just before and during the last financial crisis are popping up again. Many of the things that are happening right now in the stock market, the bond market, the real estate market and in the overall economic data are eerily similar to what we witnessed back in 2008 and 2009. It is almost as if we are being forced to watch some kind of a perverse replay of previous events, only this time our economy and our financial system are much weaker than they were the last time around. We have been living so far above our means for so long that most of us actually think that our current economic situation is "normal."