India

So, You Thought Slavery Was Dead? Think Again

Nearly 46 million human beings are subject to slavery, a new report released this week concluded. According to the third annual Global Slavery Index, which gathers and analyzes surveys conducted by Gallup, the number of people forced into “modern slavery,” or “human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage or commercial sexual exploitation,” rose from 35.8 million to 45.8 million since 2014 — a 28 percent increase.

Saudi Arabia Sovereign Wealth Fund Buys 5% Stake In Uber For $3.5 Billion

Just days after Toyota became the latest investor in Uber, in hopes of boosting car lease transactions, moments ago FT reported that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, is investing $3.5 billion in the ride-sharing company. This would be the largest single investment ever made in a private company. As the FT notes, this brings Uber's cash holding to more than $11billion at a time when the company is aggressively expanding in nearly 70 countries worldwide. 

Greece To Manufacture Kalashnikovs For Russia... On One Condition

Amid rising social unrest as yet another bailout is negotiated to pass-through Greek government hands to the banks, this week brought some potentially good news for the Greek economy. Following Tsipras and Putin's meetings this week, ekathimerini.com reports that Defense Minister Panos Kammenos unveiled a new partnership with Russia to manufacture Kalashnikov rifles "ending the prospect of Greece's defense industry shutting down." There's just one small condition.

Global Stocks, US Futures Slide On Mediocre Manufacturing Data, Yen Surge

Following the latest set of global economic news, most notably a mediocre set of Chinese Official and Caixin PMIs, coupled with a mix of lackluster European manufacturing reports and an abysmal Japanese PMI, European, Asian stocks and U.S. stock index futures have continued yesterday's losses. Oil slips for 4th day, heading for the longest run of declines since April, as OPEC ministers gather in Vienna ahead of a meeting on Thursday to discuss production policy. The biggest winner was the Yen, rising 1%, with the USDJPY tumbling overnight and pushing both the Nikkei 1.6% lower and weighing on US futures.

Japan Is First To Panic; Won’t Be The Last

The most widely-reported result of the recent G-7 meeting was Japan’s attempt to convince the other major economies to admit that a crisis is imminent and take appropriately radical steps. The response seems to have been a bunch of blank stares. What does this mean? In a nutshell, the next phase of the global economic crisis has begun.

The Stunning Idiocy Of Steel Tariffs

It took these several centuries of learned debate to finally get rid of most of Charlemagne’s extensive and absurd price controls. So essentially, today’s bureaucrats are assuming the role  once played by kings, popes and their representatives in determining “just” prices. It sounds almost as though more than a thousand years of progress have just gone “poof”. Obviously though, the governments involved in this trade spat are only acting in the best interests of steel workers. Just as they are only acting in the best interests of taxi drivers when regulating Uber out of existence in a city. Why, we should actually consider bringing back VHS video while we’re at it. Someone must have made those tape machines and tapes, and obviously they’re all out of a job as well. How are we ever going to have jobs if we don’t stop progress?

Chicago PMI Slumps Back Into Contraction; Election Blamed

Having wavered around the magical '50' level for much of the last year, bouncing off December plunge lows, Chicago PMI printed below expectations of 50.5 at a contractionary 49.3 - the 6th month of contraction in the last 12 months. With weakness in new orders (lowest since Dec 2015) and production (both back into contraction), MNI notes that on the heels of April's decline, the latest results show activity stumbling in the second quarter, following only moderate growth in Q1.

Unintended Consequences: Easy Money = Overcapacity = Trade Wars

So what happens to all that Chinese steel that was on its way to the US and EU before slamming into those prohibitively high tariffs? One of three things: Either it’s sold elsewhere, probably at even steeper discounts, thus pricing US and EU steel exports out of those markets. Or it’s stockpiled in China for future use, thus lowering future demand for new steel production and, other things being equal, depressing tomorrow’s prices. Or many of China’s newly-built steel mills will close, and China will eat the losses related to this malinvestment. Each scenario results in lower prices and financial losses somewhere. Put another way, as far as steel is concerned, the world’s fiat currencies are rising in value, which is the common definition of deflation.

Losing Ground In Flyover America, Part 2

There has never been a more destructive central banking policy than the Fed’s current maniacal quest to stimulate more inflation and more debt. That’s what is killing real wages and economic vitality in flyover America - even as it showers prodigious windfalls of unearned wealth on Wall Street and the bicoastal elites who draft on the nation’s vastly inflated finances. Indeed, Fed policy has had a double whammy effect on the flyover zone economy. It drove inflation up when down was needed; and its strip-mined capital from American business when increased capital investment was of the essence.

The Consequences Of $50 Oil

If U.S. shale stays competitive, it could trigger another round of production increases from Saudi Arabia, which is determined to do its utmost to hold on to market share even as it boasts of long-term plans to build an “oil-less” economy by 2030. The Saudi bottom line has been ravaged by years of low prices, generating huge budget deficits and debts to contractors (which the Saudi government will attempt to cover through IOUs). Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia remains uniquely positioned to weather such storms; should the price fall again, it is better-placed to retain market share than the high-cost producers in the U.S. and elsewhere.

"We’re Moving To Tackle Systemic Risk" - India Cracks Down On HFT Scourge

While the corrupt and criminal US regulators are unable to do anything to stifle the market domination of algos which have totally destroyed the US equity market, and sucked up enough liquidity where neither buy nor sellsiders can generate a profit, India is already well on its way to crushing the parasitic - and perfectly legal - frontrunners of virtually ever trade. It will do so by increasing penalties on high-speed trading firms that flood exchanges with orders that don’t result into actual transactions, as part of steps aimed at strengthening its oversight of computerized trading.

Furious China Slams "Irrational" US Trade War, Warns "Will Take Steps"

Overnight the Commerce Department escalated its trade war with China when it implemented the latest clampdown on a glut of steel imports, when it announced that corrosion-resistant steel from China will face final U.S. anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties of up to 450%. China's Commerce Ministry said it was extremely dissatisfied at what it called the "irrational" move by the United States, which it said would harm cooperation between the two countries. "China will take all necessary steps to strive for fair treatment and to protect the companies' rights," it said, without elaborating.

Add It Up... And It Doesn't Add Up

Continuing deceleration of population growth offset by rate cuts incentivizing ever greater debt loads (with continually underperforming GDP) was the central banks only play. And now as population growth and decelerating demand really begin to wane...the playbook is basically exhausted save for one play...simply print money with which to buy and "permanently retire" those assets. Think Treasury's, think MBS, think equity's...think anything that can be digitally created and digitally destroyed all to perpetually shrink the outstanding float (think perpetual short squeeze). How long this can maintain asset values northward march in the face of the populations southward divergence is anybody's guess.