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.
Today we get the first look at where GDP closed 2011.
Remember that one keyword that oddly enough never made it's way into the president's largely recycled SOTU address - "Solyndra"? It is about to make a double or nothing repeat appearance, now that Ener1, another company that was backed by Obama, this time a electric car battery-maker, has filed for bankruptcy. Net result: taxpayers lose $118.5 million. The irony is that while Solyndra may have been missing from the SOTU, Ener1 made an indirect appearance: "In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries." Uh, no. Actually, the correct phrasing is: "...positioned America to be the world's leading manufacturer of insolvent, bloated subsidized entities that are proof central planning at any level does not work but we can keep doing the same idiocy over and over hoping the final result will actually be different eventually." We can't wait to find out just which of Obama's handlers was may have been responsible for this latest gross capital misallocation. In the meantime, the 1,700 jobs "created" with the fake creation of Ener1, have just been lost. Yet nothing, nothing, compares to the irony from the statement issued by the CEO when the company proudly received taxpayer funding on its merry way to insolvency: " "These government incentives will provide a powerful stimulus to a vital industry and help ensure that the batteries eventually powering millions of cars around the world carry the stamp 'Made in the USA'." Brilliant - and no, they are laughing with us, not at us.
SOTU Post Mortem:
The best news possible: "Nothing will get done this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that." Barack Hussein Obama
The worst news: Everything else.
Here is the text of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address as prepared for delivery at 9 p.m. ET. "Jobs" 33 vs. "Fat Cats" 0, Rich 3 vs Poor 1, Hope 2 vs Unicorns 0, Change 9 vs Tooth-Fairy 0, Mortgages 5 vs Apple 0, Main Street 1 vs Wall Street 3, China 4 vs Europe 1; DEBT CEILING 0
GroupThink! GroupThink! GroupThink!
Hope is soaring. But the toughest creature out there, the one no one has been able to subdue yet, has other plans.
European Indices are trading up at the midpoint of the session following strong performance from financials, however, Italian bond auction results dampened this effect after failing to replicate the success of the Spanish bond auction yesterday with relatively lacklustre demand. There has been market talk that this lull in demand for Italian bonds is due to technical error preventing some participants from bidding in the auction, but this still remains unconfirmed. Heading into the North American open, fixed income futures are still trading higher on the day having seen the Bund touch on a fresh session high and with peripheral 10-year government bond yield spreads widening ahead of the treasury pit open. Markets now anticipate the release of US trade balance figures and The University of Michigan confidence report.
Why Do We Write Again and Again About SOPA? Because It Would Kill the Internet and Free Speech ...
Just when we thought we may go through one full day without some escalation out of the greater Iran region, here comes the WSJ to inform us that Iran has decided to shove the MAD ball right back into America's court with news that Iran has sentenced alleged CIA spy, 28 year old Amir Hekmati, to death. "Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, born in Arizona to Iranian parents and raised in Michigan, was accused of Moharebe--or being the enemy of God-- the highest crime in Islamic law that carries the death penalty in countries where Sharia law is practiced. The prosecutor's indictment against Hekmati, read in court, said he was guilty of waging a war against God, spying on the Islamic Republic of Iran for the CIA and working for an enemy government, according to Iranian media reports." Needless to say, "the case, the first recent death penalty for an American in Iran, will likely increase tensions between the U.S. and Iran. The State Department has called for Iran to release Hekmati and give the Swiss embassy--the protectorate of U.S. interest in Iran--access to him." It appears Iran has decided not to proceed with those particular instructions.