Gross Domestic Product
A specter is haunting Washington, an unnerving vision of a Sino-Russian alliance wedded to an expansive symbiosis of trade and commerce across much of the Eurasian land mass - at the expense of the United States.
Confirming yet again that the global "recovery" benefits some (very few) more than others (the non-very few), is the latest news out of the UK where the Sunday Times reports that the 1000 richest Britons now hold a cumulative £519 billion in wealth: a number which increased by 15% in the past year as the real disposable incomes of the non-richest declined. Putting this number in context, the "most well-off Britons now own the equivalent of a third of the country's gross domestic product (GDP)." Another way of looking at it: the wealth of 1000 Britons is 3.5x greater than the GDP of Greece.
- Qatar Bank: Deutsche Bank to raise $11 bln with help from Qatar (Reuters)
- AstraZeneca rejects Pfizer's take-it-or-leave-it offer (Reuters)
- China Home-Price Growth Slowdown Spreads as Sellers Discount (BBG)
- The new face of NSA: Mike Rogers (Reuters)
- Putin orders troops near Ukraine to return home (AP)
- Wall of Worry Rebuilt as Nasdaq Rout Sends Cash to High (Nasdaq)
- Bank of England's Mark Carney highlights housing market's risk to UK economy (Guardian)
- Greek Selloff Shows Rush for Exit Recalling Crisis (BBG)
- Anti-austerity Greek radicals ahead in Athens local election (AFP)
Thank god for Germany, whose Q1 GDP printed at 0.8%, above the expected 0.7%, and higher than Q4's 0.4%, or else the Eurozone's very disappointing Q1 GDP, which printed at 0.2% or half the expected 0.4%, could have been flat or negative.
Having questioned whether Tim Geithner leaked every Fed announcement to the banks during his tenure (but did not mention it in his memoirs) and shown that traders acted on information at faster than the speed of light (and thus were indeed aware of leaked decisions ahead of time), it should be no surprise that a new research paper has found “robust evidence” that some traders have been getting early news of U.S. Federal Reserve rate announcements and then trading on it during the Fed’s media lockup. The trading anomalies that Bernile and his colleagues spotted begin about 15 minutes before the news embargo is lifted and continue at a fairly even pace and are "statistically significant and in the direction of the subsequent policy surprise." So - are the markets rigged?
There's not much good news for housing these days. For a little while, the Fed's suppression of interest rates juiced housing enough to distract Americans from weak job creation and stagnant real wages. Don't have a job? No problem! Just borrow against the appreciation of your house to feed your family. But Yellen's interest rate wand looks to be out of magic. The government had a pipe dream of white picket fences for everyone. But Americans can't refinance their way to wealth. Especially in the Greater Depression.
Every wondered why the rest of the world envied the US middle-class? There were many reasons once, a long time ago and one of them was their affluence, their wealth, their ability to be able to afford whatever they wanted.
As the nation shivered through February and March and saw it's gross domestic product collapse as humans hibernated, President Obama sought sunnier climes to ensure US supremacy on the world-leader's golf handicap rankings. As The Washington Times reports, however, Obama’s trips this year to the golfing playgrounds of Palm Springs and Key Largo cost taxpayers nearly $3 million for flight expenses alone on Air Force One.
As tensions between all parties in Eastern Europe boil over, Chris Martenson provides a brief tour through just some of the antics surrounding the US' involvement in bringing about change (you can believe in!) in Ukraine. We raise these items to counter the usual clutter and complete lack of context being provided in the US press and to illustrate that the US is already in pretty deep and therefore unlikely to back down now. Before we move on, do you not find it at all strange that the US media, usually extremely sensitive to anti-semitism, has given the McCain and Nuland support of the Svoboda party a complete pass? I find it to be like the case of "the dog that did not bark", meaning the silence reveals a very fickle moral compass at the heart of the western press. The demonization of Putin as the bad guy here is near complete in western media. But there’s plenty of mischief all around and, as usual, the US finds itself with some pretty strange bedfellows as it seeks an outcome it likes.
After 'billing' Ukraine this morning, Gazprom must be jubilant this evening as news exudes from Washington that...
- *IMF APPROVES UKRAINE LOAN OF $17 BLN OVER TWO YEARS
- *UKRAINE EXPECTS FIRST TRANCHE OF IMF AID MAY 5-MAY 8: FIN MIN
- *IMF SAYS IMMEDIATE UKRAINE LOAN DISBURSEMENT TO BE $3.2 BLN
So that won't even cover the $3.49bn they already owe to Gazprom? (In fact, $2.2bn is approved for dissemination to Gazprom)
Moments ago, Russia casually hinted that Ukraine should use part of the IMF aid (which has been promised in virtually all increments between $1 billion up to $18 billion, but at last check not one penny has been wired) to repay Gazprom's debt, which is anywhere between the $2.2 billion Gazprom has said Ukraine is delinquent on for 2014 gas supplies, and an additional $11.4 billion which is what Gazprom said Ukraine's state-owned energy firm Naftogaz owes for unused take-or-pay arrangements in 2013. This happened just hours after Ukraine reportedly used the 'nuclear option' and halted the bulk of water supply to Russia's newest territory: Crimea. Tit for tat?
- Ukraine forces kill up to five rebels, Putin warns of consequences (Reuters)
- Obama to Russia: More sanctions are 'teed up' (AP)
- Vienna Banks Bemoan Russia Sanctions Testing Cold War Neutrality (BBG)
- GE’s $57 Billion Cash Overseas Said to Fuel Alstom Deal (BBG)
- GM posts lower first-quarter profit after recall costs (Reuters)
- Apple Stock Split Removes Obstacle to Inclusion in Dow (BBG)
- U.S. regulators to propose new net neutrality rules in May (Reuters)
Distilling an economy's success in delivering "prosperity" to a single number has outlived its purpose. Political authorities knew exactly what was happening: they realized that their own credibility could be boosted by a rigged GDP number. Thus we have the central government of China issuing blatantly bogus claims of 7+% annual GDP, as anything less will severely erode their claim of managerial brilliance. In our own propaganda-dependent state, GDP is almost always positive, much like corporate earnings always beat expectations by a penny. But we should be paying attention to an even deeper critique of GDP: that prosperity no longer depends of the "growth" of consumption, financialization, etc. but on the Degrowth of narcissistic consumerism and more efficient use of resources and capital.
You know when you want to read that last page of the book just before you fall off into the Land of Nod and the Sandman comes and sandbags you to fall asleep?
Tax time, but not pay-up time.