- Cyprus works on Plan B to stave off bankruptcy (AP)
- Cyprus seeks Russian bailout aid, EU threatens cutoff (Reuters)
- Freddie Mac Sues Multiple Banks Over Libor Manipulation (BBG)
- Bernanke Seen Keeping Up Pace of QE Until Fourth Quarter (Bloomberg)
- Italian president seeks way out of political stalemate (Reuters)
- Chinese factories struggle to keep staff (FT)
- South Korean banks, media report network crash (CBC)
- BlackBerry Inventor Starts Fund to Make Star Trek Device Reality (Bloomberg)
- Osborne Should Be Fired, Voters Say in Pre-Budget Poll (Bloomberg)
- Obama Begins First Visit to Israel as President (WSJ)
- Anadarko finds ‘potentially giant’ oilfield (FT)
- Britain's Osborne boxed in by austerity on budget day (Reuters)
- MF Global reaches agreement with JPMorgan (FT)
While Spain's economy minister Luis De Guindos proclaimed in the Senate today that bank deposits under EUR100,000 are "sacred"and that "Spanish savers should stay calm," Spain, it would appear, has changed constitutional rules to enable a so-called 'moderate' levy on deposits - as under previous Spanish law this was prohibited. For now, they claim the 'levy' will be "not much higher than 0%" and is mainly aimed at regions in Spain that have "made no effort to collect taxes" based on new revenue expectations. As El Pais reports, the minister of finance and public administration, Cristobal Montoro, defends the need for such a 'levy' in their constitution on the basis of standardizing taxes across regions (and is preparing a proposal on the amounts to be paid) and although it would appear that while the European Commission could previously argue that such a 'tax' would violate the free movement of capital in Europe, it now leaves the door open to eventually effectively taxing the deposits. We can't help but remember the Tequila crisis and the constant reassurances from Zedillo up until even the night before Mexico devalued...
If any person is too big to prosecute then your justice system is a sham, a lie, a farce, a joke, a bastardization of all that America used to stand for.
The United States is expected to lead the pack among non-OPEC members in terms of oil supply growth for 2013. That's the assessment from this month's market report from the Vienna-based cartel. OPEC, in its forecast, said U.S. oil supply growth is projected at 600,000 bpd this year. That figure, however, is 40,000 bpd less than the previous year. The Vienna-based cartel said U.S. oil growth could go either way for 2013, but noted growth from tight oil developments in states like North Dakota is expected to slow down. While improved drilling technology may offset some of that decline, OPEC said that factors like price issues may dampen the oil boom in the United States.
While "this time may be different" for the centrally-planned stock market, every historic example of subsequent ruin notwithstanding, the very recent past is again hitting Carnival Cruise Lines with a vengeance, as one short month after its disabled Triump cruise ship fiasco, in which passengers were trapped on board a filthy ship for five days, the cruise company is forced to suffer through a very humiliating case of deja vu. Reuters reports, "A Carnival Cruise Lines ship was stuck at port in St. Maarten in the Caribbean on Thursday with equipment trouble, a month after another Carnival vessel was disabled in the Gulf of Mexico by a fire, trapping thousands of passengers for nearly five days. The captain of the Carnival Dream reported a problem with the emergency diesel generator, which controls the ship's propulsion, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said. "Right now the passengers are being kept on board the ship for accountability reasons," Doss said. "They were scheduled to leave today so the captain has decided to have everybody remain on board at this time. CNN reported that passengers aboard the Carnival Dream had contacted the cable news channel complaining of power outages and overflowing toilets, tales reminiscent of the troubles on the Carnival Triumph." And to think the passengers could have just stayed home, opened their E-trade accounts, BTFD, and basked in the glow of the wealth effect, knowing full well at the current rate of Fed liquidity injections they could all soon afford their own private island.
- Dimon’s ‘Harpooned’ Whale Resurfaces With Senate Findings (BBG)
- Greece and lenders fall out over firings (FT) - as predicted 48 hours ago
- Dallas Fed Cap Seen Shrinking U.S. Banking Units by Half (BBG) - which is why it will never happen
- Xi elected Chinese president (Xinhua)
- Russia Bond Auction Bombs as ING Awaits Central Bank Clarity (BBG)
- U.S. and U.K. in Tussle Over Libor-manipulating Trader (WSJ)
- Chinese firm puts millions into U.S. natural gas stations (Reuters)
- In Rare Move, Apple Goes on the Defensive Against Samsung (WSJ)
- Berlin Airport Fiasco Shows Chinks in German Engineering Armor (BBG)
- Ex-PIMCO executive sues firm, says was fired for reporting misdeeds (Reuters)
- Bank of Italy Tells Banks in the Red Not to Pay Bonuses, Dividends (Reuters)
In August 2011, while undergoing cancer treatments that ultimately failed him, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez began withdrawing 160 tons of gold from U.S., European and Canadian banks. “It’s coming to the place it never should have left. ... The vaults of the central bank of Venezuela, not the bank of London or the bank of the United States. It’s our gold,” he said on national television as crowds cheered armored trucks carrying an initial bullion shipment to the central bank. The Caracas hoard would today be valued at around $9 billion, were it not for the fact that Venezuela has been selling it — about $550 million worth in the first eight months of 2012, according to the IMF. Did further sales follow over the past six months, with proceeds partly paying for the public largesse that helped fuel Chávez’s victorious up-from-the-sickbed presidential run? Thus, there is something less than $8.5 billion in untraceable gold bullion stashed in an extremely politicized city that’s simmering with grudges and dreams. Physical gold is modestly short of priceless to a criminal. What mala gente or dissident generals wouldn’t want some of Chávez’s rich legacy?
The Biggest Welfare Queens of All ...
Today is the day all Robert Langdon fans have been feverishly waiting for: the 115 voting cardinals of the Catholic church begin today their secret conclave to choose the successor to Pope Benedict XVI. As Bloomberg puts it succinctly, "he who enters the conclave a pope exits as a cardinal" and it is notoriously tricky to try to handicap the papal vote. In processional next steps, the Cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel, hailing from as far as the Philippines, and may hold a single vote today with as many as four ballots on succeeding days. Politically, this conclave has been presented as a "struggle between cardinals looking to overhaul the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia, and those trying to maintain its influence, according to Vatican analysts. Electing a non-European, while a novelty, would not necessarily presage a change of course for the millennia-old institution shaken by the abdication of German-born Benedict." Realistically, it will be a free for all for the scandal-riven church, and it is very much an open question who the next pope will be. So while we await the puffs of white smoke, courtesy of Bloomberg here are brief biographies of some of the men who may be in the running, based on betting websites and consulting Vatican watchers.
- Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope for troubled Church (Reuters)
- Hyperinflation 'Unthinkable' Even With Bold Easing: Abe (Nikkei)
- Ryan Plan Revives '12 Election Issues (WSJ)
- Italy 1-yr debt costs highest since Dec after downgrade (Reuters)
- Republicans to unveil $4.6tn of cuts (FT) - Obama set to dismiss Ryan plan to balance budget within decade
- CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq (WSJ)
- Hollande Hostility Fuels Charm Offensive to Show He’s No Sarkozy (BBG)
- SEC testing customized punishments (Reuters)
- Judge Cans Soda Ban (WSJ)
- Hungary Lawmakers Rebuff EU, U.S. (WSJ)
- Even Berlusconi Can’t Slow Bulls Boosting Euro View (BBG) - luckily the consensus is never wrong
- Funding for Lending ‘put on steroids’ (FT)
- Investigators Narrow Focus in Dreamliner Probe (WSJ)
- With new group, Obama team seeks answer to Karl Rove (Reuters)
A few observations about growth and policy backdrop that is shaping the investment climate. It is a large overview that may be helpful to start the week.
The US dollar rose to new multi-month highs against several of the major currencies, including the euro, Swiss franc, British pound and the Japanese yen. The BOJ, BOE and ECB meet last week and none changed policy. The Swiss National Bank meets on March 14 and is also unlikely to change policy. The Federal Reserve meets the following week and is widely expected to stay its course. It is not monetary policy then providing the new trading incentives.
Nor can the dollar's gains be attributed to political uncertainty in Europe stemming from the inconclusive Italian elections, as was the case previously. The immediate shock has worn off and Italian stocks and bonds have recovered the lion's share of those initial losses.
- Firms Send Record Cash Back to Investors (WSJ)
- And in totally opposite news, from the same source: Firms Race to Raise Cash (WSJ)
- China warns over fresh currency tensions (FT)
- Hollande faces pressure over jobs pledge (FT)
- Obama efforts renew ‘grand bargain’ hopes (FT)
- Shirakawa BOJ Expansion Gets No Respect as Stocks Cheer Exit (BBG)
- Japan’s Nakao Defends Easing as China’s Chen Expresses Concern (BBG)
- Boeing Had Considered Battery Fire Nearly Impossible, Report Says (WSJ)
- ECB Chief Plays Down Italy Fears (WSJ)
- China moves to make its markets credible (FT)
- Euro Group head says UK at risk of 'sterling crisis' (Telegraph)
So much for that December plunge in the US trade deficit, which plunged from $48.6 billion to three year low of $38.5 billion supposedly on a drop in energy imports, but in reality was due to a drop in broad imports as the US economy ground to a halt ahead of the Fiscal Cliff. In January, or after the stop gap measure to allow the economy to continue, things went back to normal, with the US returning to doing what it does best: importing, especially importing expensive energy, and sure enough the deficit spiked promptly back to $44.4 billion - it recent long-term average - as exports were $2.2 billion less than December exports of $186.6 billion while January imports were $4.1 billion more than December imports of $224.8 billion. Immediate result: look for banks to trim 0.2-0.3% GDP points from their Q1 GDP forecasts.
- French unemployment rises again to highest since 1999 (Reuters)
- BoJ rejects call for monetary easing (FT)
- North Korea threatens pre-emptive nuclear strike against US (Guardian)
- Firms Race to Raise Cash (WSJ)
- Time Warner Will Split From Magazine Unit in Third Spinoff (BBG) - slideshows, kittens, "all you need to knows" coming to Time
- U.S. economy, world's engine, remains in "neutral": Fed's Fisher (Reuters)
- BOE Keeps QE on Hold as Officials Weigh More Radical Measures (BBG)
- Jobs start to go as US sequestration cuts in (FT)
- BofA Times an Options Trade Well (WSJ)
- Congress Budget Cuts Damage U.S. Economy Without Aiding Outlook (BBG)
- Dell’s Crafted LBO Pitch Gets Messy as Investors Circle (BBG)
- Dell says Icahn opposes go-private deal (Reuters)
- Portugal Rating Outlook Raised to Stable by S&P on Budget Plan (BBG)
- China’s Richer-Than-Romney Lawmakers Reveal Reform Challenge (BBG)