Michigan

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Health Secretary Sebelius: "Hold Me Accountable For The Debacle"





In what can only be characterized as a stunning moment of transparency for the Obama administration, now 5 years into its reign of "unprecedented transparency" not to mention hope and change, US Health Secretary actually did the unthinkable: she took responsibility.  "Hold me accountable for the debacle," Sebelius said in response to accusations at a congressional hearing today that her deputies failed to do their jobs. "I’m responsible."

 
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Frontrunning: October 29





  • U.S. spy chiefs face Congress amid spying rift with Europe (Reuters)
  • Deutsche Bank income hit by €1.2bn of legal provisions (FT)
  • China's second tapering attempt fails: China central bank seeks to reassure money markets after rate spike (Reuters)
  • UBS Takes Action Against Staff in Foreign-Exchange Probe (WSJ)
  • Saudi Arabia frees man jailed for Mohammad tweets (Reuters)
  • Tax Revolts Hit Hollande as Farmers, Soccer Clubs Protest (BBG)
  • German parliament to meet over U.S. spying scandal (Reuters)
  • Google Nears Smartwatch Launch (WSJ)
  • How to end gridlock in DC? Pork projects (Reuters)
  • UBS ordered to increase capital reserves (FT)
 
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The Obamacare Debacle: It's Everyone Else's Fault





As the Congressional hearing, to apportion blame for the farce that Obamacare has already become, gathers steam the overwhelming theme from the four witnesses is "it's not our fault," and as much as the Congressmen dive deeply into the process, the more it is clear that the left hand had no idea what the right hand was doing in yet another government-funded SNAFU. The entire discussion can be summed up by CGI's comments that "our portion of the application worked as designed." Indeed, all of the contractors point the finger back at the government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid as responsible for "end to end testing," and ultimately the #fail.

 
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Ordinary Americans Priced Out Of Housing: Institutional Purchases Hit Record, Half Of All Deals Are "All-Cash"





If there was any doubt that the US housing "recovery" is anything but the latest speculative play by deep-pocketed (namely those who already have access to cheap funding) investors, who are now engaged in rotating cash gains out of capital markets and into real estate, on their way hoping to flip newly-acquired properties to other wealthy investors, then the most recent, September, RealtyTrac report will put that to rest. To wit: Institutional investors (purchasing 10 or more properties in the last 12 months) accounted for 14 percent of all sales in September, up from 9 percent in August and also 9 percent in September 2012. September had the highest percentage of institutional investor purchases of any month since RealtyTrac began tracking in January 2011....All-cash purchases nationwide represented 49 percent of all residential sales in September, up from a revised 40 percent in August and up from 30 percent in September 2012. In other words, institutional purchases are now at all time highs, with all-cash accounting for half of all transactions!

 
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Frontrunning: October 24





  • Central Banks Drop Tightening Talk as Easy Money Goes On (BBG)
  • More Democrats voice Obamacare concerns as website blame goes around (Reuters)
  • Contractors Point Fingers Over Health-Law Website (WSJ)
  • Jury Decides Against BofA on 'Hustle' Program (WSJ)
  • Credit Suisse to overhaul interest rates trading business (FT)
  • Home Builders Target Higher End (WSJ)
  • The Many Lives of Iron Mountain (NYer)
  • Busy tourist season nudges Spanish unemployment lower (Reuters)
  • Morgan Stanley Joins BofA in Broker Recruiting Truce (BBG)
  • Ending World’s Longest Nonstop Flight Adds Five Hours (BBG)
 
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Key Events And Issues In The Coming Week





Last week, the main area of focus was the political situation in the US where Democrats and Republicans finally agreed upon a short term fix to reopen the government and extend the debt ceiling. The conclusion of this saw equity markets rally to all time highs in Europe and the US, with the USD continuing to slide as markets turn their attention to the Fed’s QE programme and push back expectations of when the central bank will begin to pull back on asset purchases. With the government now reopen, attention will turn to the numerous data releases that were delayed but will now take place over the next two weeks, including the jobs report which is due on Tuesday. The release of this report will once again be used to help predict when the Fed will begin to taper QE however, recent comments from Fed members have suggested that October is likely to be too soon trim bond buying due to the lack of key macroeconomic data and the unknown economic impact as a result of the government closing for 16 days.

 
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Frontrunning: October 15





  • Spot the pattern: Senate Leaders Nearing a Deal (Politico), Senators say debt, shutdown deal is near (USA Today), Senate Leaders in Striking Distance of a Deal (WSJ), U.S. senators hint at possible fiscal deal on Tuesday (Reuters), Senate Debt-Limit Deal Emerging (BBG)
  • U.S. debt ceiling crisis would start quiet, go downhill fast (Reuters)
  • Uneasy Investors Sell Billions in Treasurys (WSJ)
  • BOE’s Cunliffe Says U.K. Is Not in Grip of Housing-Market Bubble (BBG)
  • Letta Mixes Tax Cut With Rigor in Post-Berlusconi Italian Budget (BBG)
  • Japan Seeks to Export More High-End Food  (WSJ)
  • Burberry names Bailey CEO as Ahrendts quits for Apple (Reuters)
  • China’s Biggest Reserves Jump Since 2011 Shows Inflow (BBG)
 
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America Fumes After Xerox "Routine Backup Test" Leave 17 States Without Foodstamps





Yesterday millions of "shoppers" living on the government dole left their shopping carts in droves in checkout counters, exited countless foodstamp-accepting stores, and made Wal-Marts and other general merchandise stores into veritable ghost towns, after a power outage at Xerox Corp, made EBT usage in 17 states for most of Saturday impossible, and left tens of millions of poverty-level Americans unable to engage in one of their favorite pastimes: shop with other people's money. In short: the Walfare States of America were probably closer to a state of outright revolution than at any time before in history. And had the EBT stoppage continues into today, things would have certainly spilled out from the shopping aisle to main streets where the people's anger may have culminated in an violent expression of disgust at a state which gives with one hand and a xerox company that takes with the other.

 
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Foodstamp Nation In Turmoil: EBT System Goes Dark, "Glitch" Blamed





In the past five years it has become apparent that America can survive a near-fatal financial system collapse, an economy teetering on the edge and kept ticking only thanks to the Fed's now perpetual QE, a collapsing standard of living for everyone but the wealthiest 0.1%, declining wages, zero interest rates, surging food, energy, rent, tuition and welfare costs, and pretty much everything else, as long as the welfare state keeps humming along. Any be welfare state we mostly mean providing the daily bread to the nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty and surviving only thanks to the only thing to have exploded to epic record highs under Obama (in addition to the Fed's balance sheet of course): foodstamp usage. However, the true stability of the US may be tested very soon following reports that due to a "possible computer glitch" the Electronic Benefits Transfer System, aka EBT, ala Foodstamps, is offline. Cue mass panic among the best-weaponized population in the world. Naturally, this latest fiasco involving a country that has grown accustomed to sucking on the government's teat was immediately blamed on a "glitch" - just like everything else that is slowly but surely breaking in the New Normal.

 
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Frontrunning: October 11





  • Dot Com part deux: Investors are showing increasing hunger for initial public offerings of unprofitable technology companies  (WSJ)
  • Poll Finds GOP Blamed More for Shutdown (WSJ)
  • House, Senate Republicans Offer Competing Plans on Debt-Limit, Government Shutdown (WAPO)
  • Obama, Republicans aim to end crisis after meeting, hurdles remain (Reuters)
  • US Rethinks How to Release Sensitive Economic Data (WSJ)
  • Chinese East Oil Fuels Fresh China-US Tensions (WSJ)
  • ECB Agrees on Swap Line With PBOC as Trade Increases (BBG)
  • China September Auto Sales Surge 21% on Japanese Rebound (BBG)
  • JPMorgan Taps Taxpayer-Backed Banks for Basel Rules (BBG)
 
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Stock Euphoria Persists Despite Obama Rejection Of Republican Proposal





Despite stock (not bond) euphoria yesterday that a DC debt ceiling deal was sealed leading to the second largest risk ramp of 2013, last night was spent diffusing the excitement as one after another politician talked back the success of a "non-deal" that Obama rejected, at least according to the NYT. As a result, with both retail sales data and the PPI not being released (and the only data of note the always leaked UMichigan consumer confidence) markets will again be at the behest of developments on Capitol Hill, with some talk from Republicans suggesting a deal as early as today could be possible in an effort to reopen government on Monday. It is entirely possible that talks could continue over the weekend though, which would ensure a gappy open to Asian markets on Monday.

 
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Key Events And Issues In The Coming Week





While the ongoing government shutdown, now in its second week, means even more macro data will be retained by the random number generators, central banks are up and running. This means that in the upcoming week the key event will be the release of the FOMC minutes from the last meeting at which the Fed surprised almost the entire market by not tapering asset purchases as effectively pre-announced.  There are MPC meetings in the UK, Brazil, South Korea and Indonesia. The main focus, however, will be on the US political situation still. Data that will most likely be delayed this week includes the US Trade balance, JOLTs, Wholesale and Business inventories, Retail sales, PPI, Import Prices, and the Monthly Federal budget.

 
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Frontrunning: October 2





  • U.S. Government Shut Down With No Quick Resolution Seen (BBG)
  • 12 House Republicans now say they’d back a ‘clean’ CR (WaPo)
  • Republicans’ 2014 Senate Edge Muddied by Shutdown Message (BBG)
  • Obama Shortens Asia Trip Due to Government Shutdown (WSJ)
  • Fed Said to Review Commodities at Goldman, Morgan Stanley (BBG)
  • Foreign Firms Tap U.S. Gas Bonanza (WSJ)
  • Behind Standoff, a Broken Process in Need of a Broker (WSJ)
  • Japan Awaits Abe’s Third Arrow as Companies Urged to Invest (BBG)
  • Microsoft investors push for chairman Gates to step down (Reuters)
 
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Futures Fall On Government Shutdown Uncertainty





Following yesterday's modest bounce in equities punctuated by the traditional last minute spike, sentiment has reverted lower once again, driven by the uncertainty surrounding debt ceiling talks in the US, where lawmakers have until next Tuesday to agree to a spending bill, or much of the government will shut down. The Senate will vote on a spending bill later today, which will then be sent back to the House putting republicans in a quandary (Politico explains the complications surrounding the GOP's "Plan C"). It was reported that US House leaders are considering postponing action on a bill to extend the US government's borrowing power, with the leadership discussing a change of strategy to complete action on the stopgap spending bill before debating the debt-limit debate. In FX, GBP strengthened across the board this morning after BoE’s Carney said he does not see a case for more quantitative easing.

 
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