Everyone is aware of a multitude of problems that besets our world, however the nature of these problems and why they exist is distorted by the media and by governments all over the world. Our leaders, corporate heads, military top-brass etc. all have a fairly good idea of what is really happening, they just don’t want us – the ignorant masses known as the general public to know what they know. The multiple crises on this planet are caused by our insane mode of living – one that seems to be dominated by economics. Our way of life (unfortunately now for most of the world) depends on an ever-expanding economic system, for if it is not expanding it is contracting. This system was all well and good while there was plenty of capacity for continued expansion, but unfortunately for all of us the limits of expansion are not far off.
Obama may want to throw this one in the unsolicited communist dictator endorsement pile. From CNN: "President Barack Obama received one endorsement he definitely did not ask for Monday: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The leftist leader and strong man, who has used strong anti-United States language in his political rallies and official speeches, told state-owned VTV, "In the point of view of his politics, if I were voting, I would vote for Obama and I believe that if Obama was from Caracas, he would vote for Chavez." Whatever one says or thinks about the Caracas head guy who recently is quoted as saying that "perhaps Mars had life at one time but then evil capitalism showed up and finished the planet off" (and Mars didn't build that life he forgot to add) or his foray into US elections, where he now shares the view of socialist Europe, he sure knows a gold bar in the local safe is worth two in the LBMA vaults in London.
- The bankers are coming: Banker Plan Would Fund Super-PACs to Sway U.S. Senate Elections (Bloomberg)
- Risk Increases of Prolonged World Slowdown, BOJ’s Miyao Says (Bloomberg)
- Spain Seeks to Stem Its Banking Crisis (WSJ)
- Deadly shooting mars new Quebec premier's victory rally (NBC)
- Democrats Keep Tax-Raising Focus On Top 2% Of Households (Bloomberg)
- Merkel Swings Into 2013 Election Mode Evoking Crisis, China (Bloomberg)
- Europe’s money market funds future in focus (FT)
- Pressure Mounts on ECB to Bring Down Bond Yields (Reuters)
- Swiss bank vows to hold franc down (FT)
- Australia economy still solid in Q2 despite GDP miss, but threats mount (Reuters)
- Clinton Brings to Beijing Plea for Maritime Solution (Bloomberg)
- The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business (BusinessWeek)
Otherwise… No titbits…
Nada. Rien. Nichts. Nothing.
ECB to EU governments: “Guys, we won’t fly solo…”
Bond Market to ECB “Show me the money!”
Equity market “Someone said Money? Buy!”
To be correct, it is a series of games of chicken, as next to the different sovereigns, the ESM/ESFS, the ECB, and why not the IMF, below the sovereigns there are the regions, be it in Spain or, as it stands, in Germany.
- Standard Chartered Falls Most in 24 Years on U.S. Iran Probe (Bloomberg)
- Iran accusations wipe $15 billion off StanChart shares (Reuters)
- Hilsenrath tells us that Fed Official Calls for Open-Ended Bond Buying (WSJ) - shocking indeed
- German opposition backs fiscal union, demands constitutional change and referendum (FT)
- Gary Gensler speaks: Libor, Naked and Exposed (NYT)
- IMF Pushes Europe to Ease Greek Burden (WSJ)
- Second TSE System Error in Seven Months Halts Derivatives (Bloomberg)
- Rice Hoard Offers World Respite as Food Costs Surge (Bloomberg)
- UK coalition in crisis over parliamentary reform (Reuters)
- Ethics probe could deal losing hand to Nevada Democrat (Reuters)
As it dawns upon the world that Ms. Merkel means exactly what she says and is not going to back down you may expect a quite negative reaction in the equity markets and a widening of spreads for some risk assets along with a strengthening of the Dollar. I am talking about the “Trend” here and not some trading strategy for today’s business. Germany is not going to flinch and cannot both due to local politics and to the now obvious fact that Germany has just about reached the limits of what she is financially able to do with a $3.2 trillion economy. To put it quite simply; they have run out of excess cash and more European contributions are only going to weaken the balance sheet of the nation and seriously imperil Germany’s financial condition. I say, one more time, Germany is not going to roll over and all of the pan European schemes brought forward by the bureaucrats and the poorer nations are not going to go anywhere. There is one novel possibility here and that is that the Germans, like the British, may opt out. Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Finland et al may just say, “Fine, go ahead if you wish to have Eurobonds and the like but we will not guarantee them.” All plans do not need to have an either/or solution and this may well be Germany’s position in the end which would place the periphery nations and France in quite an interesting, if unenviable, place.
While men are from Mars, and women from Venus, it would appear Europe's major political leaders are on totally different orbits when it comes to the future of the European experiment. Though there are come commonalities there is one glaring divide - the speed of deficit reduction - as Mont-and-oy differ from Merkel quite vehemently.
As Many Have Predicted for Years
While details are largely missing in the aftermath of yesterday's historic announcement from Spain, the one thing that we did catch inbetween the various conferences and announcements, and probably the most important thing, is that the ESM/EFSF funded bailout loan, whose use of proceeds will go to fund the FROB, not one which will rank pari passu with the FROB, will have "terms better than market" - always a code word for priming and cramdown of other debt classes. Today, we learn that this is precisely the case, and the worst case outcome from Spain's pre-primed sovereign creditors.
"Risk on, risk off" might be the most essential hallmark of the current market, but just focusing on the day-to-day whims of capital markets ignores longer term changes to investor risk preferences. Nic Colas, of ConvergEx looks at the topic from the vantage point of gender-specific investment choices. For example, more women are participating in deferred compensation (DC) plans, and the data from millions of 401(k) accounts tells a useful story. Their retirement accounts still lag those of their male counterparts in total value and they remain a bit more risk-averse. But for the first time in at least a decade they are more likely than men to contribute to a retirement account and are contributing a greater percentage of their earnings. You’ll never see pink or blue dots on the “Efficient Frontier” of academic models, to be sure. However, both empirical data and psychological studies do point to subtle – but notable – differences in how men and women consider the classic risk-reward tradeoff inherent in the challenge of investing. Nick suggests it may make sense to reconsider the notion that continued money flows into bonds and other safe haven investments are really "Risk off" market behavior. At least a piece of it may well be "Risk shifting," driven by the demographic and psychological factors as assets controlled by women are clearly increasing. "Risk off" may well be "risk shift."
We start today's story of the day by pointing out that Deutsche Bank - easily Europe's most critical financial institution - reported results that were far worse than expected, following a decline in equity and debt trading revenues of 23% and 8%, but primarily due to Europe simply "not being fixed yet" despite what its various politicians tell us. And if DB is still impaired, then something else will have to give. Next, we go to none other than Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid, who in his daily Morning Reid piece, reminds the world that with austerity still the primary driver in a double dipping Europe (luckily... at least for now, because no matter how many economists repeat the dogmatic mantra, more debt will never fix an excess debt problem, and in reality austerity is the wrong word - the right one is deleveraging) to wit: "an unconditional ECB is probably what Europe needs now given the austerity drive." However, as German taxpayers who will never fall for unconditional money printing by the ECB (at least someone remembers the Weimar case), the ECB will likely have to keep coming up with creative solutions. Which bring us to the story du jour brought by Suddeutsche Zeitung, according to which the ECB and countries that use the euro are working on an initiative to allow cash-strapped banks direct access to funding from the European Stability Mechanism. As a reminder, both Germany and the ECB have been against this kind of direct uncollateralized, unsterilized injections, so this move is likely a precursor to even more pervasive easing by the European central bank, with the only question being how many headlines of denials by Schauble will hit the tape before this plan is approved. And if all eyes are again back on the ECB, does it mean that the recent distraction face by the IMF can now be forgotten, and more importantly, if the ECB is once again prepping to reliquify, just how bad are things again in Europe? And what happens if this time around the plan to fix a solvency problem with more electronic 1s and 0s does not work?
Economic Debunker Steve Keen is interviewed by outspoken Irish journalist Vincent Browne and no holds are barred as he describes the Maastricht Treaty as a suicide pact of critically poor central-planning design of a supposed market-economy, based on financial crises never occurring, locking European governments into an austere path when stimulus is required. "Ultimately the Euro has to fail and the longer we continue the farce of believing we can make it function the larger the ultimate crash will be" is how Keen portrays the situation and describes the foreign-exchange, fiscal policy, and monetary policy shackles that have created and exaggerated the situation. This leads into a longer discussion of the state of the World and its inability to 'export into the ponzi' like Japan could from 1990 to 2010 since the entire developed world is trying to do the same thing and "there is no ponzi scheme on Mars that we can export to" leaving the globe without Japan's initial way out. The must-watch 10 minute interview goes on to discuss the endgame (a break in the political compact based on austerity pressures and military or political coups) as Keen sums up "it's amazing to see us repeating the same mistakes that were made during the 1930s but we are doing just that." ending with some potential solutions noting that there is no easy way out of this.
Leading neoconservative (read “closet Trotskyite“) commentator Charles Krauthammer’s latest Washington Post editorial pays homage to the glory days of NASA and the retirement of the space shuttle Discovery. Titled “Farewell, the New Frontier,” the piece evokes mental images of Uncle Sam losing his international prestige as President Obama scales down NASA’s space exploration endeavors. Contrary to Krauthammer, NASA has never represented America’s collective vision of frontier exploration. It has been just another bureaucratic black hole for Washington to throw dollars at in hopes of buying reelection. Because one of the main tenets of economics is considering the unseen, then it can be assumed that space exploration would very well be advanced far beyond what we see today if it was left completely out of the hands of the state. If Krauthammer truly wished the human race capable of traveling into the new frontier of the stars, he would welcome NASA cuts rather than lament. How ironic then is today's news of Planetary Resources as investor and avowed anarchist Doug Casey thoughtfully observes on the inefficiency of NASA: "We should have colonies on the moon by now, and more: We should be mining the asteroids and developing real estate on Mars."