"We are living in an aberrational world. It’s all driven by an orgy of money printing...it sure feels to me that we’re nearing the day that it spins out of control. By the end of this year or by the start of next year, without QE, the market is going down."
"To maintain your sanity, you need to turn off the hype machines of some of the financial media like CNBC."
Halliburton’s takeover of Baker Hughes is setting out to be the oil and gas merger of the year. One of the largest such deals in years, it has not, however, met with unanimous approval. From antitrust concerns to management frictions and negative market forces, this has not been a smooth ride. And with a $3.5 billion break-up fee promised to Baker Hughes by Halliburton should the merger fall through, failure would come at a hefty price. Here are five reasons why the deal might still capsize.
If you could stay home and watch television, play video games and hang out with your friends all day at government expense, would you do it? Of course most Americans that collect money from the government each month are not abusing the system. Many truly are incapable of taking care of themselves, and others are just receiving government benefits (such as Social Security) that they feel that they have earned by a lifetime of hard work. But with each passing year the number of Americans jumping on board “the safety net” continues to grow rapidly, and a lot of these people should be able to take care of themselves. What would our forefathers say about us today? The following are 21 facts that prove that dependence on the government is out of control in America…
The global power shift from the West to the East is alive and well
Despite the apparent economic and profit news improvements recently, JPMorgan CIO Michael Cembalest notes there are a few instances where people are still flipping out. It’s worth reviewing them, he suggests, as they're indicative of risks and opportunities in financial markets heading into 2015, and of the continued presence of central banks affecting asset prices.
According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, nearly a third of all female prisoners worldwide are incarcerated in the United States of America. There are 201,200 women in US prisons, representing 8.8% of the total American prison population. As Forbes' Niall McCarthy reports, China comes a very distant second to the US with 84,600 female prisoners in total or 5.1% of the overall Chinese prison population. Russia is in third position – 59,000 of its prisoners are women and this comes to 7.8% of the total. Either American women are the worst-behaved in the world, or the politically-expedient "prisons-first" culture has gone too far.
If there were no puppet masters in Washington DC or the Kremlin, what would happen next week?
The markets have been pushing new all-time highs this past week as earnings season begins to wind down. Starting next week, much of the focus will shift back to the economy and holiday retail sales. Expectations are for a robust season but the early arrival of winter could have a more negative effect on the economy than anticipated should current weather patterns persist.
- "The hate us for our..." Americans’ Cellphones Targeted in Secret U.S. Spy Program (WSJ)
- Ukraine and Russia take center stage as leaders gather for G20 (Reuters)
- Moscow and Kiev trade accusations; U.S. warns Russia against escalation (Reuters)
- Heartland Central Banker Calls Asset Bubbles Top Concern (BBG)
- U.S. Said to Give Banks December Deadline in FX Probe (BBG)
- Series of Failures Enabled White House Breach, Report Finds (WSJ)
- Yen plumbs seven-year trough on likely Japan sales tax delay (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Chase Bankers Said to Lead Moscow Departure (BBG)
The key event overnight was the release of European Q3 GDP data, which saw Germany averting a recession by the narrowest of margins when following a -0.2% drop in Q2 economic growth, Germany grew by the smallest amount possible in Q3, or 0.1%, in line with expectations, thus averting two consecutive quarters of decline, the technical definition of a recession. The French economy likewise posted a modest increase in Q3, although one wonders how aggressively the data had to be fudged for a country whose PMIs all indicate a -1% or greater contraction. Italy however was less creative with its use of "hookers and blow", and continued its recession with a 3rd negative print, contracting at -0.1% as expected, while Portugal also missed third quarter growth estimates.
Caution should be advised next week.
WTI Crude oil prices tumbled to a $75 handle this morning as Saudi oil minister al-Naimi dismissed claims of a price-war as having "no basis in reality" noting that "Saudi oil policy has remained constant for the past few decades and it has not change today," suggesting expectations of a supply cut at the looming OPEC meetings are overdone. This comment comes after Qatar said it "may" cut output by 500k barrels/day.
While talking heads proclaim - incorrectly - that low oil prices are unequivocally good for the US economy, it is very much not the case for oil producers around the world. Most notably, Venezuela - which 'needs' oil prices above $100 to maintain its socialist utopia - and currently ranks at a lowly 100th on the world's prosperity index, is in grave trouble if this trend continues. Venezuelan bonds plunged to new record lows today as oil prices hit fresh cycle lows, strongly suggesting default or currency devaluation is imminent. However, as is usual (think Mexico) Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres ruled out devaluation even as oil price drop exacerbates country’s finances. As one analyst noted, "there's broad understanding that in the absence of any corrective policy measures that these guys are going to be in serious trouble." It appears they already are. The Maduro government desperately needs a rise in oil prices, but Saudi Arabia has so far rebuffed calls for an emergency meeting as it pursues a strategy of waiting out higher cost competitors. OPEC does not plan on meeting until Nov. 27. That is still an eternity for a country that is beginning to unravel.
While the west is seemingly eager to once again restart the military escalation, if only in rhetoric for now, surrounding the east-Ukraine conflict, leading to a report that the "European Union and the U.S. will weigh further sanctions against Russia’s economy and Ukrainian separatists, after the reported movement of tanks, artillery and combat troops into eastern Ukraine", Russia has chosen to change track completely and give the US a dose of its own cooking, by bringing the military threat next to the borders of the US itself. "In this situation, we have to maintain a military presence in the western part of the Atlantic and the eastern part of the Arctic Ocean, in the Caribbean and in the Gulf of Mexico" Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said.
Wal-Mart's Q3 earnings, reported minutes ago, were a masterclass in bottom-line fudgery.