When Arthur Levitt's SEC adopted Rule 2a-7 in 1998, it handed the TBTF banks and GSEs a mortgage monopoly on a silver platter.
Would you like to buy a house for one dollar? If someone came up to you on the street and asked you that question, you would probably respond by saying that it sounds too good to be true. But this is actually happening in economically-depressed cities all over America. Of course there are a number of reasons why you might want to think twice before buying any of these homes...
Most are aware of Alan Greenspan’s 1966 essay - written when he was an acolyte of Ayn Rand - in which he sang the praises of the gold standard. Obviously, that early work would later prove awkward for Greenspan, as he held the reins of the fiat money engine known as the Federal Reserve. However, a reporter for Barron's unearthed a copy of Greenspan’s NYU doctoral dissertation, which he took great pains to bury, showing that when his professional ambition wasn’t involved, Greenspan could understand perfectly well (a) the virtues of a commodity money and (b) the dangers of a housing bubble. If the Austrians are right in laying the blame for the housing bubble on Greenspan’s loose monetary policy following the dot-com crash, then Greenspan can’t plead ignorance: He knew what he was doing.
Now that even Bridgewater has joined the Twitter craze and is using user-generated content for real-time economic modelling, and who knows what else, the scramble to determine who has the most market-moving, and actionable, Twitter stream is on. Because with HFT algos having camped out at all the usual newswire sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Dow Jones, etc. the scramble to find a "content edge" for market moving information has never been higher. However, that opens up a far trickier question: whose information on the fastest growing social network, one which many say may surpass Bloomberg in terms of news propagation and functionality, is credible and by implication: whose is not? Indeed, that is the $64K question. Luckily, there is an algo for that.
The economist Herbert Stein once said that if something can't go on forever, it will stop. The pattern of the last few decades, in which higher education costs grew much faster than incomes, with the difference made up by borrowing, can't go on forever... There is no point in trying to preserve the old regime as "working your way through college" is now impossible. For an 18-year-old, investing such a six-figure sum in an education without a payoff makes no more sense than buying a Ferrari on credit.
As more and more amateurs have piled into Twitter, the data stream has been subject to the "Yahoo Finance effect" - there is far too much noise, and not nearly enough actionable signal, especially when one tries to strip away the bias behind any given message (see "Trading Twitter: Where Noise Becomes Signal"). Yet one entity that appears to have found significant functionality in Twitter is none other than the world's biggest hedge fund: Bridgewater.
As an experiment, Bloomberg Businessweek typed the names of the 50 states into Google to see what people most frequently ask about them. The questions range from dumb (well, mostly dumb) to revealing, both about the states and about the people doing the searching. Lots of questions about carrying a gun, buying alcohol, getting divorced, and fighting union organizers. Whether a state is in the Midwest or South seems to be a particular obsession. But the most common question about the states is even more basic: Is it a state? or Is it racist?
Obamacare's health exchanges opened on October 1. Hopefully you weren't one of the unlucky guinea pigs who attempted to sign up with a system so crummy that even the Washington Post is calling it a disaster. It's been clear to anyone paying attention that the October "rollout" of Obamacare has been a turbulent, confusing mess. Sloppy IT systems and technological failures combined to cripple Obamacare's sign-up systems. Security flaws put Americans at risk for identity theft. Like a parasite taking over its host, Obamacare will commandeer almost 20% of our economy, crowding out private options. With 2014 fast approaching, what should we expect in its next phase?
Over two years after Zero Hedge first accused Goldman and JPMorgan of becoming monopolists in the commodity warehousing business (see "Goldman, JP Morgan Have Now Become A Commodity Cartel"), and two weeks after the NYT's reminder the world of just this leading to the latest Kangaroo Court congressional hearing on the matter, which may or may not have resulted in JPMorgan announcing it would exit the physical commodities business, the long overdue legal fight began this Friday when lead plaintiff Superior Extrusion sued Goldman and London Metal Exchange owner HKEx for engaging in "anticompetitive and monopolistic behaviour in the warehousing market in connection with aluminium prices" and accusing the firms of violating the Sherman anti-trust act. Precisely what Zero Hedge said, some 26 months ago.
In a nutshell:
- Relatively low unemployment rates for the “Western Leaders” aren’t just an artifact of recent strength in, say, energy production and commodities. These states have consistently outperformed the rest of the country.
- Abysmally high unemployment rates for the “Eastern Super-laggards” have also persisted for over two decades, exceeding all other parts of the country.
- The “Northern Coastal and Great Lakes Laggards” and “Western Laggards and Southeast” fall somewhere between the other two regions, but always favoring the southern states over the northern states.
Not surprisingly, California, Nevada and Florida are more volatile than the other regions, cycling well above and then back toward the Western Leaders in each of the past two decades. Also, the unemployment problems in California and Nevada have been consistently worse than Florida’s unemployment. These trends may or may not persist in coming years. But if your goal is to anticipate the next Stockton, San Bernardino or Detroit, watch the unemployment data closely and pay particular attention to the cities listed here.
It wasn't exactly like rubbing salt into the wounds of a US population that over the past month has learned it has no electronic communication privacy left, but it was close, when last night the US government's Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced that it was granting the secret FISA court - the same 11 people who decide behind closed doors whose email, phone or browser history is of national interest and thus subject to further "examination" - an extension of its telephone surveillance program. This is one of the two data surveillance efforts by the US (in conjunction with all major private telecom and internet companies) that Snowden leaked about. Why do we know this? Because the Obama administration is suddenly serious about being the most transparent ever: "The ODNI said in a statement it was disclosing the renewal as part of an effort at greater transparency following Snowden's disclosure of the telephone data collection and email surveillance programs." In short: "we will continue spying, but at least we are fully transparent about it."
And the Temple of Asylums...
While arguments will likely flare over just how 'miserable' the occupants of Louisiana are relative to those of Minnesota, based on Bloomberg's quantification of 'misery' these two states are the most and least miserable in our Union. Based on thirteen factors, ranging from child poverty rates to pollution, income inequality, and mental health it seems New Mexico and West Virginia are moving up the most miserable ranks most rapidly year over year.