“Things always become obvious after the fact” – Nassim Nicholas Taleb
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley
- China’s Record Capital Outflows Spark Financial Stability Fears (FT)
- U.K. Inflation Falls Below Zero for First Time Since 1960 (BBG)
- Islamic State Solidifies Foothold in Libya to Expand Reach (WSJ)
- Judge sentences 11 Afghan police over lynching of woman in Kabul (Reuters)
- The $18 Trillion Global Economic Boost If Everything Went Right (BBG)
- Eurozone Prices Confirmed Flat Year-on-Year in April, Core Inflation Inches Higher (Reuters)
- Greek Finances to Stagger On Longer Than You Think (BBG)
- Athens sees EU deal soon, Greeks' approval of government stance dwindles (Reuters)
Sitting in Silicon Valley, it feels like we’ve reached the peak again. Hot money is chasing deals at ridiculous valuations. Housing prices are more than incomes can cover. Optimism is high. Jobless Claims are at cyclical lows. We’ve seen this before, in 2000 and 2007.
The 20th century could be categorized as THE century when communications took off and we started living in each other’s pockets. Lives had been ruined by war, trouble and strife. Wealth had been redistributed beyond belief.
Following the default on major Chinese developer Kaisa this week, and with the continued softness in the Chinese property market, many are asking who's next among the highly-leveraged firms. However, as The Real Deal's Konrad Putzier notes, Kaisa’s default carries significance for New York’s real estate industry. Chinese investors spent $3 billion on New York properties in 2014. Many in New York continue to associate Chinese real estate companies with limitless funds and a never-ending ability to invest... But what if they are wrong?
We recently revealed that $5.3 trillion of government debt trades at subzero interest rates. In today’s fiscally profligate world that is a thundering tell. What it signifies is nothing less than financial regime change. There are no markets left in any meaningful sense of the word - just a raging casino infected with the madness of the crowds and the central bank pied pipers who mesmerize them. Every day there are new confirmations of the mania.
In January when we first brought news of one of China's largest developer's inability to cover interest payments on its debt, we raised the question of who's next. Now that it is official - China's first major developer to default on its US currency debt - and property prices are falling at a record rate, we suspect the likes of Wanda and Agile will also start to collapse once again (after being bid up incredibly amid China's latest exuberant bubble). Kaisa’s debt problems underscore the slump in China’s property sector, which has been hit by the slowing economy and a series of cooling measures instituted by Beijing to avoid a bubble in what had been an overheated housing market.
Greek FinMin Varoufakis is meeting sovereign debt lawyer Lee Buchheit today, the ‘fairy godmother to finance ministers in distress’... The big questions concern not just the difference between on the one hand, economic issues and on the other, political ones. Syriza doesn’t have the mandate to take Greece out of the eurozone. That is a huge point. But neither does it have the mandate to give in to the troika’s insistence on pensions cuts. At a certain moment, it may come down to what can be explained to the Greek people, and how well it can be explained. This explanation will almost certainly have to come after the fact, since holding a referendum pre-Grexit would carry far too much potential risk of uncontrolled demolition of the entire Greek economy and banking system.
The fairy dust peddlers who moonlight as Wall Street economists were out in force yesterday after March retail sales came in with a positive m/m change for the first time since November. This purportedly confirms that we’re back on track for a big rebound in Q2. In any event, what happens next is not too hard to figure. Unless you are a Wall Street economist.
GE’s announcement that its getting out of the finance business should be a reminder of how crony capitalism is corrupting and debilitating the American economy. The ostensible reason the company is unceremoniously dumping its 25-year long build-up of the GE Capital mega-bank is that it doesn’t want to be regulated by Washington as a systematically important financial institution under Dodd-Frank. Oh, and that its core industrial businesses have better prospects. We will see soon enough about its oilfield equipment and wind turbine business, or indeed all of its capital goods oriented businesses in a radically deflationary world drowning in excess capacity. But at least you can say good riddance to GE Capital because it was based on a phony business model that was actually a menace to free market capitalism. Its deplorable raid on the public purse during the Lehman crisis had already demonstrated that in spades.
Can't Wait To Read Bernanke's Memoirs? Here Are All The Timeless Statements By The Former Fed ChairmanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/09/2015 16:13 -0400
We know it will be next to impossible to wait until October when this book of toner repair and printer cartridge replacement wisdom comes out, here is a sampling of timeless soundbites by the former Fed Chairman and current blogger, that should be enough to hold readers over.
"For many Americans, the rise in food and housing prices is a tough squeeze. That’s because even in an era with low overall inflation low-income Americans spend a disproportionate share of their money on food and housing," WSJ notes, proving that once again, poor people aren't allocating their funds correctly.
Today’s clueless Keynesian central bankers essentially believe that they can keep the pedal-to-the-metal until a 1970’s style inflationary spiral arises. But none is coming because the worldwide central bank money printing spree of the last two decades has generated massive excessive capacity and malinvestment all around the planet. What is coming, therefore, is not their father’s inflationary spiral, but an unprecedented and epochal global deflation. So the central banks just keep printing, thereby inflating the asset bubbles world-wide. What ultimately stops today’s new style central bank credit cycle, therefore, is bursting financial bubbles. That has already happened twice this century. A third proof of the case looks to be just around the corner.
Current policy coming from the Fed seems to be geared to create a never-ending series of booms and busts, with the hope that the busts can be shortened with more debt and easy money. Yet one major driver behind the financial crisis in 2008 was too much debt - much of which led to taxpayer-funded bailouts. In spite of this, the best the Fed can come up with now is to lower interest rates to boost demand to induce households and governments to borrow even more. Interfering with interest rates, however, is by far the most damaging policy. The economy is not a car, and interest rates are not the gas pedal. Interest rates play a critical role in aligning output with society’s demand across time. Fiddling with them only creates an ever-growing misalignment between demand and supply across time requiring an ever larger and more painful adjustment.
Bad News For America's Biggest Housing Bubble: San Francisco Home Prices Suffer Biggest Drop In Three YearsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/31/2015 13:50 -0400
It was not only the annual growth rate of only 7.9%, matching the lowest since the European debt bubble burst in 2010, but also the sequential rate of price drops, at -0.9% - the biggest monthly drop in three years, or since January 2012 - that will once again be a subject for concern of housing watchers. Because should the price decline resume its acceleration without any emerging tailwinds to prop up the local housing market, then there will surely be some severe fallout such as this peak housing bubble example, in which as Curbed reported last week, a run down shack which listed for $799,000 sold for 50% more, or $1.2 million a few weeks later!