The seemingly endless GOP primary goes through the states of Michigan and Arizona tonight, where Romney and Santorum are the key competitors, while Gingrich and Paul focus elsewhere. BBC reports: "Both men have been campaigning intensively over the past few days. Pre-primary polls gave Mr Romney a marginal lead in Michigan, and a stronger advantage in Arizona. Analysts say a victory in his home state of Michigan is key for Mr Romney. He has long been seen as the front-runner and favourite for the nomination - and currently leads the race for delegates - but has struggled to win over a strong majority of conservative Republican voters. Most polls will close in Michigan at 20:00 EST (01:00 GMT), where 30 delegates are at stake. Delegates will be awarded to candidates in each congressional district, with two at-large delegates also awarded. In Arizona, where polls will close at 19:00 local time (02:00 GMT), 29 delegates will be awarded to the winner of the state's primary."
It had been a quiet week in terms of geopolitical developments out of Middle East. Too quiet, well aside for that whole US escalating once again bit, and forcing Iran to eventually go over the edge. And while the role of the US and Iran has been extensively digested in the past few weeks, it is Iran that has remained in the shadows recently. No longer: as Al Arabiya reports, "Israeli officials say they won’t warn the U.S. if they decide to launch a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear facilities, according to one U.S. intelligence official familiar with the discussions. The pronouncement, delivered in a series of private, top-level conversations, sets a tense tone ahead of meetings in the coming days at the White House and Capitol Hill. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak delivered the message to a series of top-level U.S. visitors to the country, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House national security adviser and the director of national intelligence, and top U.S. lawmakers, all trying to close the trust gap between Israel and the U.S. over how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions, according to The Associated Press." Needless to say, the thoroughly effete and comical US foreign policy has no response to follow up queries: "The White House did not respond to requests for comment, and the Pentagon and Office of Director of National Intelligence declined to comment, as did the Israeli Embassy." And while there may be no comments here, look for more warnings about Israeli citizens being targetted by deranged Iranian around the world. Because when all else fails, fearmonger. Next up: the Status Quo will be telling the world how not attacking Iran would be tantamount to global destruction. The only trade off - will the spike in crude to $150 outdo the surge in Obama's popularity rating as the Nobel Peace Prize winner puts his name in the hat for a nomination in the Nobel War Prize category as well.
"It Is completely ironic that we would be experiencing one of the most powerful cyclical upswings in the stock market since the recession ended at a time when we are clearly coming off the poorest quarter for earnings... There is this pervasive view that the U.S. economy is in better shape because a 2.2% sliver of GDP called the housing market is showing nascent signs of recovery. What about the 70% called the consumer?...Let's keep in mind that the jump in crude prices has occurred even with the Saudis producing at its fastest clip in 30 years - underscoring how tight the backdrop is... Throw in rising gasoline prices and real incomes are in a squeeze, and there is precious little room for the personal savings rate to decline from current low levels." - David Rosenberg
Has Anyone Noticed that the Guy Quoted Looks EXACTLY Like Sean Connery's Evil Twin?
The better tone in risk markets is largely being driven by encouraging economic data from the US and Europe, which as a result saw Bunds trade in negative territory. Of note, ECB’s Liikanen has said that inflation is not a particular concern in Europe, adding that the ECB has never said that there is an interest rate floor. On the other hand, Gilts are being supported by comments from BoE’s Fisher, as well as less than impressive GDP report. Nevertheless, EUR/USD took out touted barrier at the 1.3400 level earlier in the session, while USD/JPY is trading in close proximity to an intraday option expiry at 80.60.
Bunch of irrelevant and reflexive (stock market is up so confidence - in what? manipulated markets? - is higher, so stock market is up so confidence is higher etc) stuff today, as the world central banks prepare to pump another $600-$1000 billion into the consolidated balance sheet and send input costs into the stratosphere. Somehow this is bullish for stocks. Luckily, it will finally break the EURUSD - ES linkage.
If the last 12 years have revealed anything, they have shown beyond reasonable doubt that both Status Quo political parties in the U.S. are hopelessly, ruinously corrupt and thus beyond any reform or redemption. We all know why: it now takes millions of dollars to run costly mainstream media election campaigns, and the only source for contributions of that scale is the financial/corporate Elite. It doesn't matter how you arrange the taxonomy of the financial aristocracy that rules the nation or how you subdivide it--old money, new money, family money, corporate money, etc.-- the bottom line is these campaign contributions are viewed by the aristocratic donors as investments that yield gargantuan returns in tax breaks, subsidies, bailouts, sweetheart contracts, "get out of jail free" cards for the shadow banking system, and so on.
San Fran Fed Asks If "People Understand Monetary Policy"; Finds Those With "No High School Diploma" Don'tSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/17/2012 13:18 -0400
For their sake, we hope at least the answer from the Fed is "yes." Yet it is quite ironic that the subtext of this paper is that Monetary Policy can actually fail, when, get this, people don't grasp all the nuances of monetary policy. In other words, it is not the Fed's fault when it fails - it is the people's fault: "we fi?nd evidence that the relationship between unemployment and interest rates is not properly understood by households in the lowest income quartile, and by those with no high school diploma." Cue Kartik Athreya to explain to us all why only Ph.D.s understand the complexities of monetary policy when it works, and why it is those without a highscool diploma that are at fault, when it doesn't.
Last week, there were relatively few US data releases, but Initial Jobless Claims continued to surprise on the positive side, while U of Michigan Consumer Sentiment saw a small decline. This week, the FOMC minutes on Wednesday with guidance on the Fed's balance sheet will be the key event. Aside from the Fed, there will be many key releases in the US with IP, CPI, and the regional business surveys. The market expects an increase of 0.6%mom in IP, 0.3%mom in CPI, and small gains in the surveys. ?In Greece, negative headlines over the new austerity package on Friday caused some reversal of the rally in the first part of the week, and as a result, we were stopped out of our short $/CAD recommendation (for a small potential gain). However, the Greek cabinet agreed on the new austerity measures late on Friday, and parliament appears to be on track for a positive vote. The Eurogroup meeting scheduled this coming week will be important to watch as well, and Greek GDP will give a sense of the cyclical damage caused by austerity.
Heading into the North American open, EU equity indices are trading lower following reports that Eurozone Finance Ministers have dismissed as incomplete a budget presented to them by the Greek party leaders. In addition to that, EU lawmakers have warned Greece of more intensive involvement in the Greek economy to improve tax collection and accelerate the sale of state-owned assets. The Greek Finance Minister Venizelos said that Greece must make a “final, strategic” decision Greek membership in the Eurozone over the next six days as it decides on new austerity and reform measures or faces leaving the single currency. However, according to sources, German finance minister told MPs, Greek reform plans would bring debt to 136% of GDP by 2020, instead of targeted 120%. So it remains to be seen as to whether Greece will be able to meet the looming redemptions in March. Of note, analysts at Fitch said that the ongoing Greece talks stating that the country must secure an agreement to cut its debt burden in the next few days to prevent a “disorderly” default.
Our bullish premise rests on Greece being fixed.
In contrast with better news from macro data, the negotiations about the next Greek package intensified and this will likely remain the key focus in the upcoming week. On one hand, the present value reduction in a PSI has still not been formally agreed. On the other, the Greek Government still has to commit to more reforms in order for the Troika to agree to a new program. A key deadline for this commitment is on Monday at 11am local time in Athens. Eurogroup President Juncker has talked openly about the possibility of a default on Saturday in the German weekly Der Spiegel. Beyond the ongoing focus on Greece, the week sees a relatively heavy concentration in central bank meetings, including the RBA, ECB, BOE, Poland, Indonesia and a few others. On the data side, the focus is likely on the December IP numbers due in a number of countries, including in some key Eurozone countries (Germany, Italy, France).
Mike Krieger submits: "I’ve always loved history. Even all the way back to grade school I remember it being my favorite subject. Very early on I noticed certain patterns in history and I wondered why they occurred. When I was first exposed to European history, I recall being absolutely floored by how certain countries could become so rich and powerful and then subsequently collapse so stunningly and rapidly. The one that really boggled my mind was Spain - the homeland of my maternal grandfather who I never met. Here was a country that conquered and viciously looted essentially all South America other than Brazil (thanks to the pope being magnanimous enough to grant that part of the world to Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas), Mexico, Central America and parts of the United States. The gold and especially silver that was taken back to Spain was the stuff of legend, yet almost at the same time they had defeated the native peoples overseas their kingdom at home was crumbling. Not to bore anyone with too much history, but by the mid 1500s the Spanish had essentially conquered the Aztecs (Mexico) and the Incas (Peru). At the time, the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan was estimated to be larger than any city in Europe. Despite these tremendous “successes” and the riches that came with them, the battle of Rocroi in Northern France in 1643 less than one hundred years later marked the end of Spanish dominance in Europe. What is so fascinating to me is that while the conquistadors were out raping and pillaging halfway around the world the domestic economy was experiencing economic crisis. There were episodes of major currency debasements in the homeland as the crown was forced to fight wars on their borders as well as fund the excursions abroad. It is important to note that the collapse came pretty quickly as it was only in 1627 when things were still looking pretty good for the empire that The Count-Duke Olivares famously stated: “God is Spanish and fights for our nation these days.” Does this story sound familiar?"
Labor Unions Demand Escalation Of Trade War With China, Ask Obama To Restrict Chinese Auto Part ImportsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/31/2012 15:52 -0400
Because the last time the administration got involved in the car space the results were so positive (for the unions if not so much for creditors), it appears we may be approaching another episode where central planning will make the decisions in the US auto space. Only this time instead of creditors, the impaired party will be China. Reuters reports: "Midwestern U.S. lawmakers and union groups on Tuesday urged President Barack Obama to restrict imports of auto parts from China that they said benefited from massive illegal subsidies and threatened hundreds of thousands of American jobs. "We need to stand up to the bully on the block," U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, said, referring to Beijing. "The bully on the block continues to take our lunch money and we need to stop that," she said." Odd - China was not complaining when the Obama administration was providing massive subsidies (whether or not illegal remains to be seen - surely Holder is all over it) to the solar and other "green" industries. In other words, just like Solyndra and Ener1, who are merely the first of many artificially subsidized entities, provided such great if highly transitory results for US employment, let's recreate the experiment at the wholesale level, by implicit subsidies and while also angering America's biggest creditor. Something tells us this proposal has a definite probability of passing. In the meantime, central planning for everyone.
It was only logical that following its most profitable year in history, the world's most successful hedge fund (by absolute P&L), which generated $77 billion in profit in the past year, would follow up with mass promotions. In other news, it is now more lucrative, and with better job security, to work for the FRBNY LLC Onshore Fund as a vice president than for Goldman Sachs as a Managing Director. Also, since one only has to know how to buy, as the ancient and arcane art of selling is irrelevant at this particular taxpayer funded hedge fund, think of all the incremental equity that is retained courtesy of a training session that is only half as long.