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Guest Post: The Language Of Despotism





Long before 1984 gave us the adjective “Orwellian” to describe the political corruption of language and thought, Thucydides observed how factional struggles for power make words their first victims, "Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them." Orwell later explained the reason for such degradation of language, "Political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible." The bottom-line is that tyrannical power and its abuses comprise the "indefensible" that must be verbally disguised; which seems to have never been more appropriate than now in the stream of 'disguised' words we are fed every day...

 
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The Great War’s Aftermath: Keynesianism, Monetary Central Planning & The Permanent Warfare State





The Great Depression did not represent the failure of capitalism or some inherent suicidal tendency of the free market to plunge into cyclical depression - absent the constant ministrations of the state through monetary, fiscal, tax and regulatory interventions.  Instead, the Great Depression was a unique historical occurrence - the delayed consequence of the monumental folly of the Great War, abetted by the financial deformations spawned by modern central banking. But ironically, the “failure of capitalism” explanation of the Great Depression is exactly what enabled the Warfare State to thrive and dominate the rest of the 20th century because it gave birth to what have become its twin handmaidens - Keynesian economics and monetary central planning. Together, these two doctrines eroded and eventually destroyed the great policy barrier - that is, the old-time religion of balanced budgets - that had kept America a relatively peaceful Republic until 1914. The good Ben (Franklin that is) said,” Sir you have a Republic if you can keep it”. We apparently haven’t.

 
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What's The Biggest Business In Your State?





A state economy is nothing without the businesses that call it home. But, as WaPo notes, those businesses are not created equally - bigger businesses naturally have outsized influence, generating more revenue, paying more taxes and employing more people. As Bloomberg notes below, some are less surprising - GM runs Michigan, ExxonMobil runs Texas, and Berkshire Hathaway runs Nebraska but for Washington (home of Microsoft), it is CostCo that runs the state. So what's the biggest business in your state?

 
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Shutting Off Water To 150k Residents - Ukraine? No, Detroit!





The news that hundreds of thousands of people will lose water supplies is not a stunning headline anymore - poor old Ukraine... or Iraq. However, this time, the 'it couldn't happen here' crowd might be stunned to hear that The Motor City is playing serious hardball with residents who have fallen behind on paying their water bills. Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department has begun turning off the taps of 150,000 residents who are at least two months behind on payments. As one advocate notes, "sick people have been left without running water and working toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe, and parents cannot cook." Of course, given that these are generally voting members of the US public, we would be stunned if the Federal government did not create a new fund to 'help' them out of this 'unfairness'.

 
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Japanese Economic Collapse Dislodges USDJPY Tractor Beam, Pushes Futures Lower





Abe's honeymoon is over. Following nearly two years of having free reign to crush the Japanese economy with his idiotic monetary and fiscal policies - but, but the Nikkei is up - the market may have finally pulled its head out of its, well, sand, and after last night's abysmal economic data from Japan which saw not only the highest (cost-push) inflation rate since 1982, in everything but wages (hence, zero demand-pull) - after wages dropped for 23 consecutive months, disposable income imploded - but a total collapse in household spending, the USDJPY  appears to have finally been dislodged from its rigged resting place just around 102. As a result the 50 pip overnight drop to 101.4 was the biggest drop in over a month. And since the Nikkei is nothing but the USDJPY (same for the S&P), Japan stocks tumbled 1.4%, their biggest drop in weeks, as suddenly the days of the grand Keynesian ninja out of Tokyo appear numbered. Unless Nomura manages to stabilize USDJPY and push it higher, look for the USDJPY to slide back to double digits in the coming weeks.

 
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Key Events In The Coming Week





This week brings PMIs (US and Euro area ‘flash’) and inflation (US PCE, CPI in Germany, Spain, and Japan). Among other releases, next week in DMs includes [on Monday] PMIs in US (June P), Euro Area Composite (expect 52.8, a touch below previous) and Japan; [on Tuesday] US home prices (FHFA and S&P/Case Shiller) and Consumer Confidence (expect 83.5, same as consensus), Germany IFO; [on Wednesday] US Durable Goods Orders (expect -0.50%, at touch below consensus) and real GDP 1Q anniversary. 3rd (expect -2.0%) and Personal Consumption 1Q (expect 2.0%), and confidence indicators in Germany, France and Italy; [on Thursday] US PCE price index (expect 0.20%), Personal Income and Spending, and GS Analyst Index; and [on Friday] Reuters/U. Michigan Confidence (expect slight improvement to 82, same as consensus), GDP 1Q in France and UK (expect 0.8% and 0.9% yoy, respectively), and CPI in Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan.

 
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Selling The Bear Case For Stocks





Perhaps the miserable failure of the bear case on global equities over the past 5 years has more to do with marketing the message than anything actually wrong with the arguments for higher volatility and lower asset prices. As a reminder, ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes the classic "4 P’s" of marketing are: Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (Distribution), pointing out that when it comes to getting the bear case out, it is clear which component is missing: Price. Stock markets that churn higher - as they do right now - simply make it too expensive to sit out the rally.  The “Product” and “Promotion” are both fine – you can read negative commentary in many reputable places and speak with very intelligent bears. That takes care of “Place” as well; it’s not hard to find cautionary investment opinions. The take-away from this approach is simple: calling the top may not be as hard as you think. The first 10% pullback may be enough to complete the 4 Ps. Until then, however, it’s just too hard a story to sell.

 
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The Death Of The Rust Belt





Their names are familiar to all of us: Cleveland, Flint, Youngstown, Saginaw, Gary, Toledo, Reading, Akron, Flint and Buffalo were all once booming manufacturing cities that were absolutely packed with thriving middle class families. But now most of the manufacturing jobs are gone and all of those cities are just shadows of their former selves.

 
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UMich Consumer Confidence Drops (Again); Misses By Most In 18 Months





Following last month's drop and disappointing miss, University of Michigan Consumer Confidence just got even worse. Despite record high stock prices and near record high car purcahsing exuberance, consumer confidence tumbled for the 2nd month in a row (just when the pent-up demand of Q1 is supposed to kick in). This is the biggest miss of expectations since Dec 2012 and appears to confirm the lack of exuberance seen in the government's survey data. Inflation expectations dropped to the lowest in 2014 as hopes for the economic outlook dropped to 3-month lows. Not the animal-spirity, wealth-creatingy, exuberance the Fed (and every multiple expansion-hoping muppet) was expecting...

 
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Frontrunning: June 13





  • Tea Party struggles to repeat Cantor-style shock in Tennessee (Reuters)
  • Iran Deploys Forces to Fight al Qaeda-Inspired Militants in Iraq (WSJ)
  • Oil Rallies as Militant Advance in Iraq Threatens Crude (BBG)
  • Gold Set for First Back-to-Back Weekly Gain Since April (BBG)
  • Hedge Funds Get Stung by Slow Markets (WSJ)
  • Sterling nears 5-year high after Carney speech (FT)
  • Britain Warns Boom in Real-Estate Prices Threatens Economy (WSJ)
  • East Europe Leaders Urge EU Unity to Counter Russia (BBG)
  • Formula One Said to Be Valued at $8 Billion as Malone Seeks Stake (BBG)
  • Dumb and dumber: Abe Plans Company Tax Cut in 2015 as Kuroda Warns on Budget (BBG)
 
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Friday The 13th Futures Tread Water On Rising Iraq Fear, Crude Surge Continues





Believe it or not, the main driver of risk overnight had nothing to do with Iraq, with the global economy or even with hopes for more liquidity, and everything to do with a largely meaningless component of Japan's future tax policy, namely whether or not Abe (who at this pace of soaring imported inflation and plunging wages won't have to worry much about 2015 as he won't be PM then) should cut the corporate tax rate in 2015. As Bloomberg reported, Abe, speaking to reporters in Tokyo today after a meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economy Minister Akira Amari, said the plan would bring the rate under 30 percent in a few years. He said alternative revenue will be secured for the move, which requires approval from the Diet.

 
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More Facts About The Tea-Party's "Goliath-Slayer" David Brat





  • ECONOMICS AND BUSINESS PROFESSOR WITH DIVINITY DEGREE
  • FAN OF AYN RAND
  • ARGUED RELIGION PLAYS ROLE IN ECONOMIC GROWTH RATES
  • OPPONENT OF IMMIGRATION REFORM
  • FACE-OFF AGAINST FELLOW FACULTY MEMBER
  • WAS CRITICIZED BY CANTOR FOR BEING A LIBERAL
 
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The Cantor-Slayer: Meet David Brat





The only thing that is more shocking than yesterday's stunning defeat of Republican Eric Cantor at the hand of a completely unknown tea-party candidate, David Brat - an outcome many have called the "biggest blow to the GOP establishment in years" and one which may be reverberating in equities today as "same as it ever was" politics was dealth a major blow - is just how unknown (and underfunded) David Brat is (and was). So for all those curious to learn some more about this Cantor-slaying "David", here it is from the horse's mouth: his CV from Randolph-Macon College in Virginia.

 
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Frontrunning: May 30





  • Ukraine Rebels Outfox Army to Dent Poroshenko Troop Goal (BBG)
  • Russia Withdraws Most of Forces From Ukraine Border: U.S. (BBG)
  • Super-Size Me! China’s ’Mini’ Stimulus Starts Expanding (BBG)
  • Option B: The blueprint for Thailand's coup (Reuters)
  • Big investors replace banks in $4.2tn repo market (FT)
  • Draghi Shields Catalan Independence Bid From Market (BBG)
  • U.S. companies seek cyber experts for top jobs, board seats (Reuters)
  • Parsley CEO Emerges as One of Youngest U.S. Billionaires (BBG)
 
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Equity Blow Off Top Takes Brief Overnight Rest, Prepares For Another Session Of Low Volume Levitation





Last night's docket of atrocious Japanese economic data inexplicably managed to push the Nikkei lower, not because the data was ugly but because the scorching inflation - the highest since 1991 - mostly driven by import costs, food and energy as a result of a weak yen, and certainly not in wages, has pushed back most banks' estimates of additional QE to late 2014 if not 2015 which is as we predicted would happen over a year ago. As a result the market, addicted to central bank liquidity, has had to make a modest reassessment of just how much disconnected from reality it is willing to push equities relative to expectations of central bank balance sheet growth. However, now that the night crew trading the USDJPY is replaced with the US session algo shift which does a great job of re-levitating the pair, and with it bringing the S&P 500 higher, we expect this brief flicker of red futures currently observable on trading terminals to be promptly replaced with the friendly, well-known and "confidence-boosting" green. The same goes for Treasurys which lately have been tracking every directional move in stocks not in yield but in price.

 
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