Bingo Bongo, Good News hailing, Sleepily digesting in the South to end Stuck… What an uninspiring week… Felt slow as a Sunday Afternoon– for 5 days in a row… The only thing that wasn’t lazy and laid back was the EUR.
Update: The focus now shifts to the mother, the first casualty of her son's murderous rampage, who was a "big, big gun fan" as the NYT explains, and who went target shooting with her children, one of whom had Asperger's.
As we reported last night, buried inside the NYT biopic of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza was arguably one of the most important missing pieces in the story, at least so far, which could provide clues into partially explaining yesterday's tragic loss of young life, namely that the 20 year old man suffered from Asperger Syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism (two conditions which are being merged in the upcoming update of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) manual of mental disorders), which has been traditionally associated with social communication difficulties, including flat affect, and one which in some clinical studies has been shown to have a causal link to violence. In other words, in addition to the surge in the debate over national gun control and access limitations (ignoring that the perpetrator of the biggest school mass murder in US history - the Bath School disaster - used openly purchased dynamite and no guns, also ignoring that in the US there are roughly 300 million firearms), perhaps there should also be a broad discussion as to the risks of social misadoption of children with autism and other social and behavioral disorders.
Utterly boring Friday session, worsened by year end inactivity… PMI figures, which were actually needed on the more positive side to justify the latest levels in Risk were just so so in Europe. But, who cares? Periphery recovering further with Spain actually the best performer on the week (outside the bailed-out gang). US stuck despite better figures.
"Stuck in the Middle with You" (Bunds 1,35% unch; Spain 5,37% -1; Stoxx 2628 +0,2%; EUR 1,314 +60)
Markets getting back to some normality with the Periphery still recovering, although less today after the auctions, Bunds 5 wider on the week, Italy 10, but Spain 7 tighter across the curve from last Friday. Equities and Risk oblivious to that anyway and synching with the US. Getting difficult to find something crisp out there with reduced news flow and volatility. Excitement to be found in the US on FC developments, now that Greece, Spain and Italy are seemingly off the table and that the FED has moved to QE4.
"When It's Sleepy Time Down South" (Bunds 1,35% +1; Spain 5,38% +4; Stoxx 2622 -0,2%; EUR 1,308 +40)
- Here come the low margin products: Apple Tests Designs for TV (WSJ)
- Obama and Republicans Trade Offers to Avert Fiscal Crisis (BBG)
- Carney broaches dumping inflation target (FT)
- Bernanke Critics Can’t Fight Bonds Showing No Inflation (BBG)
- Corporate Taxes on Table in Cliff Talks (WSJ)
- US business chiefs back tax rise (FT)
- Greece Confident Bond Buyback Needed for Aid Succeeded (BBG)
- New Faith in Europe's Banks (WSJ)
- European Bank Sees Little Room for Rate Cuts (WSJ)
- North Korea Claims Success in Rocket Launch (WSJ)
There is a one way conveyor belt taking businesses, jobs and money out of this country.
Minutes before Michigan Governor Snyder signed the 'Right-To-Work' bill into law, Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa appeared on CNN,as seen in the clip below, warning that: "This is just the first round of a battle that's going to divide this state. We're going to have a civil war," as the bill to weaken unions' power is passed.
Here are two short clips to serve as a harbinger of what may and most likely will happen in the US as labor unions are stripped of even more power in the coming months and years, showcasing their reluctance to go gentle into that good night. This is how close the US is from violence at any one moment. Luckily, nobody was seriously hurt this time.
There was a time when working on Wall Street, either on the sell or buy side, was the dream of every able-bodied worker who could do simple addition in their head and wasn't afraid to cut the occasional corner in exchange for a bottle of Bollinger and a sizable year end bonus. That, however, was so 2006 and with the long overdue conversion of the banking sector into a utility the stratospheric compensation payments from the peak of the credit bubble are long gone. So what is the New Normal dream job? Become a California state worker, preferably one who deals with neurotic and/or crazy people (i.e., a psychiatrist), and rake it in. The following chart from Bloomberg shows just how generous the otherwise insolvent state of California is when it comes to paying its public servants, and the 100%+ increase in California employee state pay since 2005. Needless to say, this is a rate of increase in compensation that 99% of workers in the private sector would die for.
In a session that has been largely quiet there was one notable macro update, and this was the German ZEW Economic Sentiment survey, which after months in negative territory, surprised to the upside in December, printing at 6.9, on expectations of a -11.5 number, and up from -15.7. This was the first positive print since May, and in stark contrast with the dramatic cut of German GDP prospects by the Bundesbank from last Friday, which saw 2013 GDP slashed by 75% from 1.6 to 0.4%. In fact, moments after the ZEW report, which is mostly driven by market-sentiment, in which regard a soaring DAX has been quite helpful, the German RWI Institute cut German 2012 and 2013 GDP forecasts from 0.8% to 0.7% and from 1% to 0.3%. In other words, any "confidence" will have to keep coming on the back of the market, and not the economy, which is set to slow down even further in the coming year. But for a market which will goalseek any and all data to suit the narrative (recall the huge miss in US Michigan consumer confidence which lead to a market rise), this datapoint will undoubtedly serve as merely another reinforecement that all is well, when nothing could be further from reality. Also, since we live in interesting "Baffle with BS" times, expect the far more important IFO index to diverge once again with its leading ZEW indicator (as it did in November) - after all everyone must be constantly confused and live headline to positive headline.
These three letters - C.A.B. - might just be the Dis-Humor story of the day. NPR reports that more than 200 schools across California are coming to the shocking realization that the upfront cash they needed so badly came at quite a price. These 'Capital Appreciation Bonds' are unlike normal bonds (requiring regular coupon payments and principal repayment); instead they provide the 'lent' money upfront and defer all interest and repayment to some magical faery land time in the future (by which time the interest accrued has grown exponentially as the interest accrues on the rising 'principal plus previously accrued interest'). Brilliant - as the Guinness chaps might say. So California schools are now undertaking PayDay or loan-shark style loans defending the idiocy of super-short-term thinking with such statements as "Why would you leave $25 million on the table?" referring to the upfront cash that one Treasurer was able to get his hands on - with clearly no comprehension of the financial instrument's massive convexity. California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said "It's the school district equivalent of a payday loan or a balloon payment that you might obligate yourself for, so you don't pay for, maybe, 20 years - and suddenly you have a spike... It's so irresponsible."
"They say this is not massive money printing, but first they are wrong; and second, monetary authorities in the United States did not see the crash coming and the unsoundness of the financial system. In fact, right up until the crash they were saying that nothing like what happened could ever happen... This monetary policy, $3 trillion of bond buying in the United States, $3 trillion in Europe and another $2.5 trillion to $3 trillion in Japan, is unprecedented. ... If and when people lose confidence in paper money because of repeated bouts of quantitative easing and zero-percent interest rates—it could happen suddenly and in a ferocious manner in the commodity markets, in gold, possibly in real estate—interest rates could go up at the long end by hundreds of basis points in a very short time. I’m quite concerned as a money manager that we have to manage money, not just for the boundaries of what’s in front of our faces—maybe we’ll have a little tax increase or not, the fiscal cliff, or the stock market might go up or down 10% or 15%—but for a basic shift. The thing that scares me most is significant inflation, which could destroy our society."
- Central Banks Ponder Going Beyond Inflation Mandates (BBG)
- Bloomberg Weighs Making Bid for The Financial Times (NYT)
- Hedge Funds Fall Out of Love with Equities (FT)
- Obama and Boehner resume US fiscal cliff talks (FT)
- Italy Front-Runner Vows Steady Hand (WSJ)
- Spanish Bailout Caution Grows as Business Lobbies Back Rajoy (BBG)
- Japan sinks into fresh recession (Reuters)
- China economic recovery intact, but weak exports drag (Reuters)
- Greece extends buyback offer to reach target (Reuters) ... but on Friday they promised it was done
- Basel Liquidity Rule May Be Watered Down Amid Crisis (BBG) ... just before they are scrapped
- Irish, Greek Workers Seen Suffering Most in 2013 Amid EU Slump (BBG)
Hmmm… Need to find another way to kill time until Year End. Morning highs, lunch time lows and then trailing the US. EGBs on the stronger side with augurs seeing a weakening Germany and calls for lower rates putting the EUR under pressure. Ok, Germans: now work! Somebody has to pay the bills!
"Bruttosozialprodukt " (Bunds 1,3% +1; Spain 5,45% -1; Stoxx 2597 -0,3%; EUR 1,295 -20)
- Bundesbank cuts growth outlook as crisis bites (Reuters)
- Strong quake hits off Japan near Fukushima disaster zone (Reuters)
- Greece to Buy Debt It Already Owns to Reach Target (BBG)
- Draghi’s Go-to ECB Seen Risking Credibility Through Overload (BBG)
- Judge urges Apple and Samsung ‘peace’ (FT) ... Alas only the US government has a Magic Money Tree; others need profit
- Fed Exit Plan May Be Redrawn as Assets Near $3 Trillion (BBG)... make that $5 trillion this time in 2014
- Level Global, SAC Fund Managers Ruled Co-Conspirators (BBG)
- Egypt demonstrators reject Mursi call for dialogue (Reuters)
- Japanese Dealerships in China Retrench in Wake of Dispute (BBG)
- Apparel factory fire reveals big brands' shadowy supply chainsa (Reuters)
- Republican Defectors Weigh Deal on Tax-Rate Increase (BBG)