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":
Update: The focus now shifts to the mother, the first casualty of her son's murderous rampage, who was a "big, big gun fan" as the NYT explains, and who went target shooting with her children, one of whom had Asperger's.
As we reported last night, buried inside the NYT biopic of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza was arguably one of the most important missing pieces in the story, at least so far, which could provide clues into partially explaining yesterday's tragic loss of young life, namely that the 20 year old man suffered from Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism (two conditions which are being merged in the upcoming update of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) manual of mental disorders), which has been traditionally associated with social communication difficulties, including flat affect, and one which in some clinical studies has been shown to have a causal link to violence. In other words, in addition to the surge in the debate over national gun control and access limitations (ignoring that the perpetrator of the biggest school mass murder in US history - the Bath School disaster - used openly purchased dynamite and no guns, also ignoring that in the US there are roughly 300 million firearms), perhaps there should also be a broad discussion as to the risks of social misadoption of children with autism and other social and behavioral disorders.
"They say this is not massive money printing, but first they are wrong; and second, monetary authorities in the United States did not see the crash coming and the unsoundness of the financial system. In fact, right up until the crash they were saying that nothing like what happened could ever happen... This monetary policy, $3 trillion of bond buying in the United States, $3 trillion in Europe and another $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion in Japan, is unprecedented. ... If and when people lose confidence in paper money because of repeated bouts of quantitative easing and zero-percent interest rates—it could happen suddenly and in a ferocious manner in the commodity markets, in gold, possibly in real estate—interest rates could go up at the long end by hundreds of basis points in a very short time. I’m quite concerned as a money manager that we have to manage money, not just for the boundaries of what’s in front of our faces—maybe we’ll have a little tax increase or not, the fiscal cliff, or the stock market might go up or down 10% or 15%—but for a basic shift. The thing that scares me most is significant inflation, which could destroy our society."
Chicken race update...
Secession: Exploding Movement, Tempest In a Teapot … Or Something Else?
The questions of who are the 1% and what level of income demarcates the fat cats from the rest of Americans are likely to become more and more polarizing in the coming weeks. What is perhaps the most intriguing is the apparent dichotomy between the demographics (youth - who face considerably worse employment trends) and state-wealth who voted for Obama. As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, of all the U.S. states with an above-average incidence of their citizens earning over $200,000 (14 in total), all but one (Alaska) went for President Obama in last week’s election. At the other end of the income spectrum, only 2 states in the bottom 10 for +$200K earners (Maine and Iowa) had a majority of voters who sided with the President. The central irony of this straightforward math is that any increase in income taxes on the “Wealthy” will be disproportionately borne by the states which secured the President’s reelection. Perhaps, just an intriguing is the fact that - if you look at the GINI Index – a measure of income inequality – Republican leaning states enjoy more equality on these terms than the citizens of traditionally Democratic areas of the country.