News may come, and news may go, but the fiscal policy implementation vehicle known as the market, and now controlled by the Political Reserve don't care. For those who do, here is what has happened in the past few hours and what is on deck for the remainder of the week.
Here is a summary of where the world stands:
- Unable to reach a compromise over the weekend, South Africa is now in an all out labor strike, with the police again firing rubber bullets at miners with lethal escalation guaranteed
- Back from vacation, the once again penniless citizens of Spain, Greece, and Portugal have resumed protesting austerity
- US embassies attacked, in many cases with numerous casualties, in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Lebanon, India, Balgadesh, Indonesia, and others.
- Japan "appropriating" China-contested islands provoking a firestorm of retaliation including demands for "war with Japan"
- The Japanese ambassador to China dying mysteriously
- Netanyahu telling Meet the Press Iran will have a nuke in six-seven months and must be stopped beforehand
- Warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, launching a military exercise in the Straits of Hormuz
- A third US aircraft - the CVN-74 Stennis - carrier is en route to Iran with an ETA of about 10 days
- And finally, a potential catalyst to light this whole mess on fire, Iran's Revolutionary Guard announcing that its troops are now on the ground in Syria.
Whether the optics of a jobs-related target for the Fed's QEternity are election-based public relations, from-the-heart sentiment of an ivory tower academic neck-deep in the reality of his failed ethos, or well-intentioned more-of-the-same Krugmanite 'we need a bigger boat' print til-we-stink policy; it is relatively clear that the Fed has changed course. The longstanding problem at the Fed has been that while each policymaker more or less agreed that guiding policy by a rule made sense, they could not collectively agree on the rule. Morgan Stanley's Vince Reinhart notes perfectly that at its September meeting, the Fed effectively evaded the issue by setting QE off in a general direction, much in the same way Columbus pointed his three ships West and expected eventually to land in India. The history books admire the audacity of a man with a vision. Columbus sailed in the direction toward the known world’s end. Of course, he also sailed further than expected and landed on a completely different continent than planned. If the Fed has not acted consistently over the past few meetings, how will market participants infer future action?
What is it that makes Keynesians so insanely self destructive? Is it their mindless blind faith in the power of government? Their unfortunate ignorance of the mechanics of monetary stimulus? Their pompous self-righteousness derived from years of intellectual idiocy? Actually, I suspect all of these factors play a role. Needless to say, many of them truly believe that the strategy of fiat injection is viable, even though years of application have proven absolutely fruitless. Anyone with any sense would begin to question what kind of madness it takes to pursue or champion the mindset of the private Federal Reserve bank… Quantitative easing has shown itself to be impotent in the improvement of America’s economic situation. Despite four years of free reign in central banking, employment remains dismal in the U.S., the housing market continues its freefall, and, our national debt swirls like a vortex at the heart of the Bermuda Triangle. Despite this abject failure of Keynesian theory, the Federal Reserve is attempting once again to convince you, the happy-go-lucky American citizen, that somehow, this time around, everything will be “different”.
Did we say Arab Fall? We meant global fall. From the Star Tribune: "Thousands of Kashmiri Muslims protested Friday against an anti-Islam film, burning U.S. flags and calling President Barack Obama a "terrorist," while the top government cleric here reportedly demanded Americans leave the volatile Indian-controlled region immediately. In the southern Indian city of Chennai, protesters threw stones at the U.S. Consulate, shattering some windows and burning Obama in effigy. Police quickly cleared the area, arresting more than 100 protesters. U.S. Embassy officials in Delhi did not immediately comment." And elsewhere: "In Bangladesh, about 5,000 hardline Muslims marched in Dhaka's streets after Friday prayers, burning U.S. and Israeli flags and calling for the death of the filmmaker. Police prevented them from marching toward the U.S. Embassy several miles away." And elsewhere: "In Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, about 200 protesters chanted slogans and held up signs in a largely peaceful protest outside the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy in Jakarta. American diplomatic outposts increased security worldwide this week after clips of the film went viral online and sparked violent protests in the Middle East. About 20 protesters outside the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, shouted "Allahu akbar!" and handed reporters a letter addressed to the U.S. ambassador expressing their anger over the movie and calling for greater respect for religions."
- Weeks before U.S. election, Mideast gives Obama perfect storm (Reuters)
- Clashes intensify near US embassy in Cairo (Al Jazeera)
- Puppet governments in trouble: Mursi Risks Rift With U.S. or Voters as Islamists Rally (Bloomberg)
- Protests Put Egypt Relations on Edge (WSJ)
- Fed insists politics had no role in decision (FT)
- UBS "rogue trader" fraudulently gambled away $2.3 billion, court told (Reuters)
- Obama Holds Lead in Three Key States (WSJ)
- China's Xi recovering from bad back, could appear soon - sources (Reuters)
- Japan voices anger over Chinese incursion after vessels entered waters around disputed Senkaku islands (FT)
- Goldman Scales Back Junior-Analyst Program; No Contracts for College Hires (WSJ)
- China commentary slams Romney's "foolish" China-bashing (Reuters)
- Aging Baby Boomers Face Losing Care as Filipinos Go Home (Bloomberg)
Firm That Brought You Holo-Tupac Dies Less Than A Year After IPOing, Taking Millions In Taxpayer Subsidies With ItSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/11/2012 18:23 -0500
Most people know that during this year's Coachella festival, Tupac made a surprising appearance, if not in the flesh for obvious reasons, then in hologram form. What fewer people know is that the firm that created Holo-Tupac is special effects producer Digital Domain Media, which after years of failed attempts to do so, finally went public in November with Roth Capital as underwriter (there is now an Urban Dictionary definition for 'Rothed') at a price of $8.50 (well below the preliminary range of $10-12/share) and at a time when its burn rate was well above 50% of revenues, and which filed for bankruptcy hours ago. In other words, the company destroyed over $400 million in market cap in under 10 months. What is known by very few is that this is yet another public equity disaster of this administration: as filed in the bankruptcy Affidavit, "the Company has worked closely with State and local government authorities in Florida to execute economic stimulus contracts designed to create jobs and stimulate Florida’s economy. As of the Petition Date, the Company had contracted to receive a total of approximately $135 million in such government stimulus financing, including $19.9 million in tax credits. This financing consists of cash grants, land grants, low-interest financing, and tax incentives." In other words, in addition to the government's remarkable track record in the alternative energy field, public equity is now in the digital movie studio subsidization business. End result: bankruptcy, of a publicly funded company, shortly after IPO and sadly the realization that US capital markets are now so broken that the combination of private and public funding can sustain a company for less than one year.
The chart below shows 2050 years of relative global GDP, during which there was a surprisingly flat distribution of the major economic powers: China, India, and the "West", at least until the mid-1800s, when the "Western" Golden Age began primarily courtesy of the industrial revolution, followed by the arrival of the Fed and virtually endless leverage (i.e., borrowing from the future until such time as no more debt capacity remains at either the public or private sectors), only to end in the late 1900s when the marginal balance of power shifted back to Asia, which became the next nexus of debt accumulation (see our earlier post on The Great Recoupling for some additional perspectives). And while the chart, from Deutsche Bank and PWC, attempts to predict the next 40 years of relative GDP distribution by eventually regressing back to the the long-term trendline, we feel that this is quite an optimistic assumption for a world in which virtually every "developed" country is insolvent, begs for China to ease whenever western inflation sends gas prices soaring making reelection of the incumbent impossible, and is reliant on the indefinite continuation of the USD's reserve status to preserve the last traces of western superiority (not to mention cheap funding of $-trillion deficits as far as the eye can see).
While the plight of precious metal mining in the 3rd largest gold producer in the world has been well-documented here, as on ongoing strike in various South African mines has crippled precious metal supply, so far the mining shut down had not spread outside the continent of Africa (excluding the occasional Bolivian and Venezuelan mine nationalization). Today, however, even more mining capacity was taken offline, as India's Goa, the country's second largest iron ore producer, announced it was temporarily ceasing all mining activity "after an expert panel formed by the central government found "serious illegalities and irregularities" in mining operations." While no gold production has been impacted yet, this move, which likely has political overtones, will likely shift to other extractors soon, as more production capacity is taken offline, for either labor or kickback reasons. And as reported previously, demand by the now largest importer of gold in the world China, refuses to decline with supply, which has clear implications for the equilibrium price. It remains to be seen if Goa going dark will push iron-ore prices higher. It is quite likely that the collapse in Chinese iron-ore demand offline is far greater than anything Goa will remove from the market and as such will hardly push iron prices higher.
Gold has risen to new record highs in euro terms overnight in Asia when gold consolidated on last week’s 3% gains and rose above €1,360/oz for the first time. Significant consolidation has been seen in the last year between €1,200/oz and the previous record high at €1,359.01/oz. This record high was seen almost exactly a year ago on September 9th 2011. Gold is being supported by the unrest in South Africa which continues to destabilise the mining sector. Gold Fields said this morning that some 15,000 workers were still on strike at one of its gold mines outside of Johannesburg. The tally of workers on strike at the West Section of the KDC Gold Mine is about 3,000 higher than last week. All production at the mine has been brought to a standstill. With the US job growth contracting significantly in August, investors see that the Fed will be inclined to announce QE3 at this week’s policy meeting on the 12th & 13th. US gold futures and options climbed to 6-month high 144,775 contracts in the week ended September 4, according to data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Gold ETF’s grew to a record high of 72.125 million ounces on Friday. Also, Hong Kong's July gold shipments to China was almost double on the year and exports for the first 11 months were greater than 2011, suggesting China will overtake India as the world's top gold consumer.
Suddenly the delicate balancing of variables is once again an art and not a science, ahead of a week packed with binary outcomes in which the market is already priced in for absolute perfection. Per DB: We have another blockbuster week ahead of us so let's jump straight into previewing it. One of the main highlights is the German Constitutional Court's ruling on the ESM and fiscal compact on Wednesday. On the same day we will also see the Dutch go to the polls for the Lower House elections. Thursday then sees a big FOMC meeting where the probabilities of QE3 will have increased after the weak payrolls last Friday. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet on Thursday in Mexico before the ECOFIN/Eurogroup meeting in Cyprus rounds out the week on Friday. These are also several other meetings/events taking place outside of these main ones. In Greece, PM Samaras is set to meet with representatives of the troika today, before flying to Frankfurt for a meeting with Draghi on Tuesday. The EC will also present proposals on a single banking supervision mechanism for the Euro area on Tuesday. If these weren't enough to look forward to, Apple is expected to release details of its new iPhone on Wednesday. In summary, it will be a good week to test the theory that algos buy stocks on any flashing red headlines, no longer even pretending to care about the content. Think of the cash savings on the algo "reading" software: in a fumes-driven market in which even the HFTs no longer can make money frontrunning and subpennyiong order flow, they need it.
Miracles of cosmetic surgery.
China and India have always been crazy for gold, and the yellow metal remains the choice store of value in those two countries, says Don Coxe, a strategic advisor to the BMO Financial Group. In an exclusive interview with The Gold Report, Coxe explains how demographic shifts are affecting the price of gold and delves into the logic of investing in gold as a long-term strategy. Coxe also draws an important lesson in economics from his reading of Lenin.
- Draghi Credibility At Stake As ECB Tries To Save The Euro (Bloomberg)
- Clinton Returns to Back Obama (WSJ)
- Taxi fares up 17% in New York City (Toronto Sun)
- High Speed Scandal: Ferrari Incident Rocks China (Daily Beast)
- China’s Richest Man Benefits From Thirst For Soft Drinks (Bloomberg)
- China August export growth seen weak, imports slow (Reuters)
- Death to PowerPoint! (BusinessWeek)
- Sweden surprises with interest rate cut (WSJ)
- IMF demands greater clarity on Irish austerity plans (Reuters)
- At Abercrombie & Fitch, Sex No Longer Sells (Bloomberg)
- And the best for last: California Treasurer Backs Law to Ban Costly Long-Term Bonds (Bloomberg) -> legislating low, low yields
And NOTHING Has Changed ...