Frontrunning: May 8

  • Pentagon Plans for the Worst in Syria (WSJ)
  • Russia and US agree to Syria conference after Moscow talks (FT)
  • Hedge Funds Rush Into Debt Trading With $108 Billion (BBG)
  • Detroit is the new "deep value" - Hedge funds in search of distress take a look at Detroit (Reuters)
  • Commodities hedge funds suffer weak first quarter (FT)
  • But... but... Abenomics - Toshiba posts 62% decline in Q1 net profit (WSJ)
  • Americans Are Borrowing Again but Still Less Than Before Freeze (WSJ)
  • Man Utd announce Alex Ferguson to retire (FT)
  • Asmussen Says ECB Discussed ABS Purchases to Spur SME Lending (BBG)
  • Benghazi Attack Set for New Review (WSJ)
  • Belgium Says 31 People Arrested Over $50 Million Diamond Theft (BBG)
  • Brazilian diplomat Roberto Azevêdo wins WTO leadership battle (FT)
  • Bangladesh Garment Factory Building Collapse Toll Reaches 782 (BBG)

11 Reasons Why The Federal Reserve Should Be Abolished

If the American people truly understood how the Federal Reserve system works and what it has done to us, they would be screaming for it to be abolished immediately.  It is a system that was designed by international bankers for the benefit of international bankers, and it is systematically impoverishing the American people. The Federal Reserve system is the primary reason why our currency has declined in value by well over 95 percent and our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger over the past 100 years. The Fed creates our "booms" and our "busts", and they have done an absolutely miserable job of managing our economy. So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?  Sadly, this is the way it works all over the globe today.  In fact, all 187 nations that belong to the IMF have a central bank.  But the truth is that there are much better alternatives.

JOLTS Jolts Jobs Report Cheerleaders, Implies Worst Job Growth Since September 2010

The biggest surprise from the JOLTS report is not in any of the standalone series, but in the time progression of the Net Turnovers number, which is simply the total new hires less total separations. Historically, the Net Turnover number tracks the total monthly nonfarm payroll change (establishment survey) on a almost tick for tick basis. Not this time. In fact as the chart below showed, the upward revised March NFP number to 138K, which preceded the even more optimistic, and much cheered April print of 165K, which sent the S&P and the DJIA soaring to new all time highs on Friday, not only did not get a confirmation, but in fact the JOLTS survey for Net Turnovers  - which came at only 46K in March compared to a revised 138K jobs added per the establishment survey - implied that the real NFP number in March should have tumbled to a level last seen in September of 2010!

Bright Lights, Big City, Bigger Prices - Where Inflation Hides

Subdued headline inflation hides the inimitable rise of prices across the country; but ConvergEx's Nick Colas examines the pace of inflation in four large cities across the US – Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco.  All are home to multitudes of urban working professionals, share the same currency and have similar macro economies, though, Colas notes, the trend of price increases varies considerably (particularly with regards to NYC vs. the rest).  The cost of living is up in all four cities since 2008.  Incomes, too, are generally higher – although not in New York, likely a result of the Big Apple’s unique micro economy. Comparatively, New Yorkers have experienced the steepest price increases in transportation (higher cab and subway fares give this category a boost) and groceries, meanwhile rent, dinners out and cocktails continue to be more and more costly.  So what gives?  Rising inflation despite lower incomes?  The answer lies in the tug of war between less cash pay on Wall Street and a very active foreign investment market that is driving up real estate prices.

Guest Post: A Short History Of Currency Swaps (And Why Asset Confiscation Is Inevitable)

With equity valuations no longer levitating but in a different, 4th dimension altogether, and credit spreads compressing dramatically (and unreasonably)... It is in situations like these, when the crash comes, that the proverbial run for liquidity forces central banks to coordinate liquidity injections. However, something tells me that this time, the trick won’t work. Over almost a century, we have witnessed the slow and progressive destruction of the best global mechanism available to cooperate in the creation and allocation of resources. This process began with the loss of the ability to address flow imbalances (i.e. savings, trade). After the World Wars, it became clear that we had also lost the ability to address stock imbalances, and by 1971 we ensured that any price flexibility left to reset the system in the face of an adjustment would be wiped out too. From this moment, adjustments can only make way through a growing series of global systemic risk events with increasingly relevant consequences. Swaps, as a tool, will no longer be able to face the upcoming challenges. When this fact finally sets in, governments will be forced to resort directly to basic asset confiscation.

GoldCore's picture

Physical demand for coins and bars internationally continues and is the strongest since the immediate aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse on September 15, 2008, and the consequent global financial crisis.

Government mints, refiners and bullion dealers internationally are reporting demand as high as in the aftermath of the Lehman crisis.

Sentiment Muted Ahead Of Payrolls Report

While everyone's attention this morning will be focused on the sheer, seasonally-adjusted noise that is the monthly NFP report (keep in mind that any number +/- 200,000 of the actual, is entirely in the seasonal adjustments and is thus entirely in the eye of the Arima X 13 beholder), which is expected to print at 140,000, resulting in an unemployment rate of 7.6%, there were some events overnight worth noting. First, the China non-manufacturing PMI printed at 54.5 in April, down from 55.6, and tied with the lowest such print in two years. The biggest red flag was that New Orders dropped below 50, with the price index also declining sharply, indicating that either the Chinese slowdown is for real, and the national bank will have no choice but to ease unleashing inflation, or that the politburo wishes to telegraph to the world that China is slowing, because what goes on in China, and what data is released out of China are never the same thing. Elsewhere, in Europe Mario Draghi's henchmen were stuck in damage control mode, and Ewald Nowotny said markets over-interpreted a signal yesterday that the ECB would consider a deposit rate below zero. Policy makers have “no plan in this direction,” Nowotny said in an interview with CNBC today. This helped boost the EUR from its languishing levels in the mid 1.30s higher by some 50 pips following his statement.

Richard Koo On The Ineffectiveness Of Monetary Expansion

Nomura's Richard Koo destroys the backbone of the modern central bankers only tool in the tool-box in his latest paper. "As more and more people began to realize that increases in monetary base via QE during balance sheet recessions do not mean equivalent increases in money supply, the hype over QEs in the FX market is likely to calm down ...The only way quantitative easing can have a positive impact on economic activity is if the authorities’ purchase of assets from the private sector boosts asset prices, making people feel wealthier and thereby encouraging them to consume more. This is the wealth effect, often referred to by the Fed chairman Bernanke as the portfolio rebalancing effect, but even he has acknowledged that it has a very limitmed impact... In a sense, quantitative easing is meant to benefit the wealthy. After all, it can contribute to GDP only by making those with assets feel wealthier and encouraging them to consume more."

Desperately Seeking $11.2 Trillion In Collateral, Or How "Modern Money" Really Works

Over a year ago, we first explained what one of the key terminal problems affecting the modern financial system is: namely the increasing scarcity and disappearance of money-good assets ("safe" or otherwise) which due to the way "modern" finance is structured, where a set universe of assets forms what is known as "high-quality collateral" backstopping trillions of rehypothecated shadow liabilities all of which have negligible margin requirements (and thus provide virtually unlimited leverage) until times turn rough and there is a scramble for collateral, has become perhaps the most critical, and missing, lynchpin of financial stability. Not surprisingly, recent attempts to replenish assets (read collateral) backing shadow money, most recently via attempted Basel III regulations, failed miserably as it became clear it would be impossible to procure the just $1-$2.5 trillion in collateral needed according to regulatory requirements. The reason why this is a big problem is that as the Matt Zames-headed Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (TBAC) showed today as part of the appendix to the quarterly refunding presentation, total demand for "High Qualty Collateral" (HQC) would and could be as high as $11.2 trillion under stressed market conditions.

Why Is The VIX Not Higher (Or Much Lower)?

People always stop and stare at traffic accidents (no matter how minor) and arguing couples (no matter how unattractive); ConvergEx's Nick Colas has the same problem with the ever-moribund CBOE VIX Index, even though it’s essentially the exact opposite of the proverbial train wreck.  Even with the zombie-like march higher for US stocks, surely the uncertain state of the world would demand more than a 13-handle VIX?  Well, it doesn’t; and Nick offers up some off-the-beaten track explanations for why “13” isn’t the right answer.  Implied volatility should either be higher or…  (gulp)… much lower.  The biggest overlooked factor for both directions: the role of technology in society and commerce.

Perth Mint Demand Highest Since Lehman Brothers, Refines Coins, Bars During Weekend

Australia’s Perth Mint, the largest refinery in Australia and one of the largest in the world, said that demand has jumped to the highest level since the Lehman crisis in 2008. Demand has been robust due to currency devaluation concerns and then the 15% price fall led to a massive surge in demand as store of wealth buyers leapt at the chance to acquire physical bullion at much cheaper prices. This led to the Perth Mint which refines nearly all of the nation’s bullion, having to stay open over the weekend to meet orders. There’s been strong interest, including from the U.S., with buyers confident that the metal will rebound from the decline, Ron Currie, sales and marketing director, told Bloomberg in a phone interview from Perth.  “We haven’t seen levels like this since the 2008 global financial crisis,” Currie said yesterday. “Compared to March sales, April sales have doubled or tripled,” he said. “We worked all weekend to keep the factory running to make more stock and that was only to fill orders,” Currie said from the facility founded in 1899. “We’re being inundated with people buying products.”

Chief Advisor To US Treasury Becomes JPMorgan's Second Most Important Man

The man who is the chief advisor to the US Treasury on its debt funding and issuance strategy was just promoted to the rank of second most important person at the biggest commercial bank in the US by assets (of which it was $2.5 trillion), and second biggest commercial bank in the world. And soon, Jamie willing, Matt is set for his final promotion, whereby he will run two very different enterprises: JPMorgan Chase and, by indirect implication, United States, Inc.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you take over the world.

Italy's Monte Paschi Got A Sovereign Bailout To Avoid Being Corzined

Those who think back to November 2011 will recall that it wasn't Jon Corzine's wrong way bet on Italian bonds that ultimately led to the bankruptcy of MF Global, well it did in part, but the real Chapter 11 cause was the sudden liquidity shortage due to the way the trades were structured as a Repo To Maturity, where the bank had hoped to collect the carry from the bond coupons, thereby offsetting the nominal repo cost of funding. The kind of deal which is the very definition of collecting pennies in front of a steamroller, as while the funding cost may be tiny and the capital allocated negligible (due to the nearly infinite implied leverage involved when using repo), when the underlying instrument crashes, and the originating counterparty has to fund a massive variation margin shortfall, that is when the shadow transformation cascade triggers an immediate liquidity crisis, which can result in liquidation cascade in a few brief hours. It happened with MF Global, it happened with Lehman too. And, we now learn, it also happened with Italy's most troubled and oldest bank, Monte Paschi (BMPS), whose endless bailouts, political intrigue, depoit runs, and cooked books have all been covered extensively here previously.