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.
The devastation from what is being described as a mile-wide tornado is horrifying according to local news. The live feed and raw footage of the aftermath suggests casualty rates will be significantly higher as the evening progresses... "The tornado on the ground right now is huge and has hit through populated areas,"
- Controversies give Obama new governing headaches (Reuters)
- About that Capex... BHP to Rein In Investment, Chief Says (WSJ), considers returning cash to shareholders (FT)
- Bloomberg users’ messages leaked online (FT)
- Japanese mayor sparks China outrage with sex-slave remarks (Reuters)
- Economists Cut China Forecasts (WSJ)
- U.S. oil boom leaves OPEC sidelined from demand growth (Reuters)
- U.S. banks push back on change in loan loss accounting (Reuters)
- Fed’s Plosser Says Slowing Inflation No Concern for Policy (BBG)
- Watchdog probes 1m US swap contracts (FT)
- Used Gold Supply Heads for ’08 Low as Sellers Balk (BBG)
- Ex-BlackRock Manager Said to Be Arrested in U.K. Probe (BBG)
With the mainstream media becoming increasingly worked up about the pending real-estate 'parabolic' surge and 'now is the time to buy', the reality of 'zombie foreclosures' and 'foreclosure stuffing' that we discussed six months ago continues to grow. While most prefer to ignore inventory as an issue (apart from Bob Shiller and Karl Case who have adamantly refused to 'bless' this 'exuberant' housing recovery), knowing full well that at some point these huge volumes of vacated but still 'owned' homes must come to market (once the foreclosure process picks up). The reality is that with Nevada, Kentucky, Maine, and Indiana having over 50% of homes in vacant foreclosure, there is plenty of supply to come (and with it the accompanying downward pressure on prices)...
The 2011 changes by the FDIC to the safe harbor for "true sales" may have been the end of "Too Big To Fail."
- Office Depot Agrees to Buy Officemax for $13.50/Shr in Stock
- Bulgarian Government Resigns Amid Protests (WSJ)
- Rome will burn, regardless of Italian election result (Reuters)
- Abe Says No Need for Foreign Bond Buys Under New BOJ Chief (BBG)
- Rhetoric Turns Harsh as Budget Cuts Loom (WSJ)
- Muddy Waters Secret China Weapon Is on SEC Website (BBG)
- Business Loans Flood the Market (WSJ)
- Staples May Be Winner in Office Depot-OfficeMax Merger (BBG)
- Fortescue Won't Pay Dividend, Profit Falls (WSJ)
- Key Euribor rate on hold after rate cut talk tempered (Reuters)
- FBI Probes Trading in Heinz Options (WSJ)
- Spain Said to Impose Yield Ceiling on Bond Sales by Regions (BBG)
- BOK’s Kim Signals No Rate Cut Needed Now as Outlook Improves (BBG)
While the popular meme is that jobless claims have been indicating an albeit modestly growing economy, it would appear that facts simply do not reflect that reality. Jobless claims surged this week, missing expectations by the most since Sandy as seasonal affectations are in the rear-view mirror. For 13 months, we have meandered around a flat-line initial claims number in the 365k range - and we remain there. What is most troubling about this total catastrophe that occurred in Emergency Unemployment Compensation. After last week's record-breaking plunge of over 350k, this week saw a surge of over 418k added to the EUC rolls - the biggest 2-week jump in two months. The noise in this data remains impressive and yet it is the correlated macro data that appears to be at the heart of so many people's belief in the equity market's strength...
I used to like DealBreaker, I really did. Alas that was in my younger years before I made a (very) small name for myself and before I took the red pill offered to me by ZeroHedge's Tyler Durden. Now I realize that sarcastically apologizing for the nefarious character of the financial world is pretty much the same as just plain-old apologizing for it... except funnier. Case in point, here is an excerpt from an article published on DealBreaker a few hours ago entitled "Regulators Close Aquarium Door Behind Escaped Whale":