Below, we use a mission to Mars to clearly illustrate the insanity of Central Bank-speak.
While funding custom-fit condoms was stretching the government's buck just a little too far for some, the following 5 stunning expenses, earmarks, and pork spending that Bloomberg uncovered are mind-blowing. From over $500,000 on pet shampoo to what to eat on planet Mars; none of these compare with the back-pay for no work paid to Federal employees during the shutdown. Watch this 72 seconds of gluttony without throwing something at your monitor...
With no major macro news on today's docket, it is a day of continuing reflection of Friday's abysmal jobs report, which for now has hammered the USDJPY carry first and foremost, a pair which is now down 170 pips from the 105 level seen on Friday, which in turn is putting pressure on global equities. As DB summarizes, everyone "knows" that Friday's US December employment report had a sizeable weather impact but no-one can quite grasp how much or why it didn't show up in other reports. Given that parts of the US were colder than Mars last week one would have to think a few people might have struggled to get to work this month too. So we could be in for another difficult to decipher report at the start of February. Will the Fed look through the distortions? It’s fair to say that equities just about saw the report as good news (S&P 500 +0.23%) probably due to it increasing the possibility in a pause in tapering at the end of the month. However if the equity market was content the bond market was ecstatic with 10 year USTs rallying 11bps. The price action suggests the market was looking for a pretty strong print.
The overnight session began on a dour mood, with both the Shanghai Composite and Nikkei sliding (the former once again just barely above 2,000, latter once again dropping below 16,000), even though Chinese CPI came below expectations suggesting the PBOC has some more room to ease and not rush into liquidity extraction (which just happens to blow out repo rates like clockwork), while in Japan BOJ board member Shirai implied the Japanese QE can be extended and expanded as needed. Europe had a weak start although shortly after 3 am Eastern staged a dramatic turnaround supported by a bounce in the EUR (and ES driving EURJPY) leading to broadly higher stocks, supported by solid demand for Portuguese 5y bond syndication, as well as oversubscribed debt auctions by the Spanish Treasury which sold above the targeted amount and consequently saw SP/GE 10y spread fall to its tightest level since April 2011. At the same time, having been propped up by touted redemption flows ahead of Spanish and French bond auctions, absorption of supply shortly after 1000GMT resulted in an immediate selling pressure on Bunds. Helping lift spirits was a rumored $1 billion trade order in September S&P futures, as well as chatter by the Greek PM that the country was like Portugal and Ireland, prepared to get back into the bond markets.
One question that keeps popping up, and was addressed to some extent by NAB's recent report, is whether all the elements of the current Bitcoin are necessary for a viable alternative currency. And, as Citi's Steve Englander asks (from a libertarian and pragmatic perspective), if they are not, or can be improved on, where does that leave Bitcoin’s first mover advantage?
The Yen has worked of an overbought condition over the last 7 months. How to play it
Dear old Larry Summers has come over all Zero Bound constipated, fretting that the natural, real rate of interest has somehow become fixed down there at negative 2%-3% where conventional policy (if you can still remember of what that used to consist) cannot get at it – unless we blow serial bubbles, that is, these episodes in mass folly and gross wastefulness now being raised to the level of such perverse desiderata of which Krugman’s only partly-facetious call for a war on Mars forms an infamous example. In fact, this entire notion is another piece of nonsense to spring from the one of Keynes’ least cogent ramblings, the notoriously insupportable notion of ’Liquidity Preference’ – a logical patch fixed over the lacunae in his reasoning when, having insisted that saving must always equal investment, all he could think of to determine the rate of interest was our collective desire to hold money for its own sake. From such intellectually bastard seed soon sprang, fully-armed like Minerva from the head of our economic Jove, the even worse confusion of the ‘Liquidity Trap.’
There are many reasons why the poor are 'poor' or why the middle-class is deteriorating into a state of being 'poor' but as this first-person account of the self-defeating feedback loops of poverty's trap harrowingly suggests, escaping that social strata (as we noted previously) is becoming ever more difficult. Of course, a George Carlin noted previously, "the only true American value is... buying things," which leaves the 'poor' increasingly losing hope. "Rest is a luxury for the rich," the author notes, "planning is not in the mix," as she explains why poverty has forced her to "make terrible decisions."
- What can possibly go wrong: Tepco Successfully Removes First Nuclear Fuel Rods at Fukushima (BBG)
- Japan's Banks Find It Hard to Lend Easy Money (WSJ)
- U.S. Military Eyes Cut to Pay, Benefits (WSJ)
- Airbus to Boeing Cash In on Desert Outpost Made Field of Dreams (BBG); Dubai Air Show: Boeing leads order books race (BBG)
- Sony sells 1 million PlayStation 4 units in first 24 hours (Reuters)
- Russian Tycoon Prokhorov to Buy Kerimov's Uralkali Stake (WSJ)
- Google Opening Showrooms to Show Off Gadgets for Holidays (BBG)
- Need. Moar. Prop. Trading: Federal Reserve considering a delay to Volcker rule (FT)
- Raghuram Rajan plans ‘dramatic remaking’ of India’s banking system (FT)
- SAC Capital's Steinberg faces insider trading trial (Reuters)
Deutsche's Jim Reid has been on quite a flight of fancy in the past few days. His latest comment, mixing the metaphysical and monetary, is merely the latest indication showing just how ubiquitous the Fed's influential tentacles have spread. "We are not alone. After going through the FT this morning it’s clearly a bit quiet as the story that has most caught my attention is the one suggesting that new research has estimated that there are more than 20bn Earth-like planets in our Milky Way with temperatures that could sustain life. A remarkable number. Maybe as we speak 5bn of them are contemplating tapering, 10bn have already tapered and 5bn are simply having too much fun to care!"
- China premier warns against loose money policies (Reuters)
- Brussels forecasts tepid Eurozone growth (FT)
- SAC Case Began With Informant’s Tips on Cohen, Rajaratnam (BBG)
- Dirty Munich Home’s Nazi Loot Estimated at $1.35 Billion (BBG)
- Mortar hits Vatican embassy in Damascus, no casualties (Reuters)
- India Launches Mars Mission (WSJ)
- Lael Brainard to leave Treasury, heading to Fed (FT)
- U.S. Takes Aim at 'Forced' Insurance (WSJ)
- Wife of Jeff Bezos attacks book about Amazon (FT)
- Fall of Brazil’s Batista embarrasses President Dilma Rousseff (FT)
- The One Thing People Still Really Like About BlackBerry (BusinessWeek)
Presented with no comment...
As Warren Buffet openly states that he believes that a default on US debt will be catastrophic and that lawmakers in Congress need to get their act together and get the federal government back to work by passing the budget we might well wonder if it’s just for show or if he really believes that.
There really is very little reason why this "government shutdown" cannot continue indefinitely because almost everything is still running. 63 percent of all federal workers are still working, and 85 percent of all government activities are still being funded during this "shutdown". It turns out that the definition of "essential personnel" has expanded so much over the years that almost everyone is considered "essential" at this point. In fact, this shutdown is such a non-event that even referring to it as a "partial government shutdown" would really be overstating what is actually happening. In the end, this shutdown could turn out to be very good for America. We have a government that is wildly out of control and that desperately needs to be reigned in.
If we analyze inflation by these two metrics (purchasing power - which declines as real income stagnates and prices rise - and by exposure to real costs), we find the middle class is increasingly exposed to skyrocketing real-world prices. Pundits in the top 5% have the luxury of pontificating on the accuracy of the CPI while those protected by government subsidies and coverage have the luxury of wondering what all the fuss is about. Only those 100% exposed to the real costs experience the full fury of actual inflation.