the major story for us right now is that the broad concept incorporated in “Exter’s Pyramid” is in operation. This something we mentioned in Autumn last year and it’s occurring across currency and credit markets and, to some extent, in equities. To recap, John Exter (a former Fed official, ironically) thought of the post-Bretton Woods financial system as an inverted pyramid resting on its apex, emphasizing its inherent instability compared with a pyramid resting on its base. Within the pyramid are layers representing different asset classes, from the most risky at the top down to the least risky at the bottom. He foresaw a situation where capital would progressively flow from the top layers of the pyramid towards the bottom layers. “…creditors in the debt pyramid will move down the pyramid out of the most illiquid debtors at the top of the pyramid…Creditors will try to get out of those weak debtors & go down the debt pyramid, to the very bottom."
After yesterday's report that two Greek banks had suffered sufficiently material deposit withdrawals to force them to apply for the unpopular and highly stigmatizing Emergency Liquidity Assistance program with the ECB, now the other two of Greece's largest banks have also succumbed to reserve depletion after the Greek bank run appears to have gone viral. As Greek Capital.gr reports, now all four Greek banks have requested ELA assistance from the ECB.
If 2014 was the year of militarized police, armored tanks, and stop-and-frisk searches, 2015 may well be the year of technologized police, surveillance blimps and scan-and-frisk searches. Just as we witnessed neighborhood cops being transformed into soldier cops, we’re about to see them shapeshift once again, this time into robocops, complete with robotic exoskeletons, super-vision contact lenses, computer-linked visors, and mind-reading helmets. Similarly, just as military equipment created for the battlefield has been deployed on American soil against American citizens, we’re about to see military technology employed here at home in a manner sure to annihilate what’s left of our privacy and Fourth Amendment rights.
Success, we’re constantly told, breeds success. And success breeds stability. The way to avoid failure is to copy successful people and strategies. The way to continue succeeding is to do more of what has been successful. This line of thinking is so intuitively compelling that we wonder what other basis for success can there be other than 'success'? As counter-intuitive as it may sound, success rather reliably leads to failure and destabilization. Instead, it’s the close study of failure and the role of luck that leads to success. In the macro-economic arena, we think it highly likely that the monetary and fiscal policies of the past six years that are conventionally viewed as successful will lead to spectacular political and financial failures in 2015 and 2016. How can success breed failure? It turns out there are a number of dynamics at work.
On the heels of Russia's decision, as we reported here, to "increase [their] combat units in accordance with the new military doctrine," particularly focused on Crimea, NATO responded with threats/promises of more military drills and patrols. Having used their airspace but condescended their perspective as "hysterical," Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves is calling for much stronger NATO presence as he rages that "the world order found after the Cold War has been destroyed," by Putin.
For anyone who has actually worn Google Glass, the news today will not be a surprise, but as The Wall Street Journal reports, Google will stop selling the initial version of Glass to individuals after January 19th and is moving it from the Google X research lab to be a stand-alone unit reporting to Tony Fadell, a former Apple executive who heads Nest Labs. Analysts remain confident it will be a cajillion dollar business at some point in the future (along with Apple Watch).
Thing is, that whole line about how lower oil prices were going to be a boost for our economies was ignorant from the start. And there’s still plenty people believing just that. That may explain those EU stock exchange gains. That sort of thing all comes from people who don’t understand to what extent oil is pivotal to our societies. We’re not in 2008 anymore, when an oil price drop actually helped us crawl out of a tight spot. We’re $50 trillion down the road, and there won’t be another $50 trillion, or another road. For all intents and purposes, we are the center today, and we cannot hold this way.
Do you know what an “extremist” is? In the wake of the horrible terror attacks on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in France, Barack Obama is speaking very boldly about the need to win the war against “extremists”, and he has announced plans to host a major global summit on “extremism” next month. And on the surface that sounds great. But precisely how are we supposed to determine whether someone is an “extremist” or not? What criteria should we use?
- Earnings Pessimism Jumps as Oil Threatens S&P 500 Growth (BBG)
- It’s Amateur Hour in the Booming Chinese Stock Market (BBG)
- France mobilizes 10,000 troops at home after Paris shootings (Reuters)
- European Stocks Gain With S&P 500 Futures While Oil Drops (BBG)
- Nasdaq Looks to Operate Dark Pools for Banks (WSJ)
- This Guy Called Bonds in ’14. You Listening This Time? (BBG)
- Paris attacks boost support for Dutch anti-Islam populist Wilders (Reuters)
- OPEC price war in Asia intensifies as oil falls below $50 (Reuters)
"This is why Putin is Public Enemy Number 1. It’s because he’s blocking the US pivot to Asia, strengthening anti-Washington coalitions, sabotaging US foreign policy objectives in the Middle East, creating institutions that rival the IMF and World Bank, transacting massive energy deals with critical US allies, increasing membership in an integrated, single-market Eurasian Economic Union, and attacking the structural foundation upon which the entire US empire rests, the dollar." Up to now, of course, Russia, Iran and Venezuela have taken the biggest hit from low oil prices; but what the Obama administration should be worried about is the second-order effects that will eventually show up...
Make no mistake: the Internet of Things is just Big Brother in a more appealing disguise. Even so, we're not suggesting we all become Luddites. However, we need to be aware of how quickly a helpful device that makes our lives easier can become a harmful weapon that enslaves us.
Today's WTF moment of the day comes courtesy of The Daily Signal, in which we read that while speaking at his first press conference since being narrowly reelected as House speaker after some 24 republicans defected, the Ohio Republican argued he is the "most anti-establishment speaker we’ve ever had." Actually... no. And here's why...
- French policewoman killed in shoot-out, hunt deepens for militant killers (Reuters)
- The Bold Charlie Hebdo Covers the Satirical Magazine Was Not Afraid to Run (BBG)
- Evans Says Fed Shouldn’t Rush Rate Rise as Inflation Undershoots (BBG)
- Oil holds above $51 as traders search for floor (Reuters)
- Gross Helps Fuel New Fund With His Own Cash (WSJ)
- ECB warns Greek funding access hinges on keeping bailout (Reuters)
- Greece Jolts QE Juggernaut as ECB Gauges Deflation Risk (BBG)
- Analysts Say There's No Telling How Low Oil Prices Could Go (BBG)
- Scientists find antibiotic that kills bugs without resistance (Reuters)
"We’ve read a lot of silly articles since oil prices started falling about how U.S. shale plays can break-even at whatever the latest, lowest price of oil happens to be. Doesn’t anyone realize that the investment banks that do the research behind these articles have a vested interest in making people believe that the companies they’ve put billions of dollars into won’t go broke because prices have fallen? This is total propaganda."
Yesterday, to much fanfare, the White House blasted that it was Obama's desire to appoint Allan R. Landon, a Hawaiian community banker, to serve on the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. To wit: "President Obama said, “Allan Landon has the proven experience, judgment and deep knowledge of the financial system to serve at the Federal Reserve during this important time for our economy. He brings decades of leadership and expertise from various roles, particularly as a community banker.” Apparently what he also brings as Bloomberg's Dawn Kopecki reminds us, is the usual near-criminal cronyism and corruption that we have all grown to love and expect from every single Fed governor in recent history. It turns out in 2005 Landon agreed to step down as SFHLB board member due to the "appearance of impropriety" when he "failed to comply with a rule requiring the disclosure of conflicts of interest by a director."