- Ferguson in Flames (Reuters)
- Ferguson Cop Told Grand Jury He Feared for His Life (BBG)
- Sharpton: Grand Jury Announcement ‘An Absolute Blow’ (Daily Caller)
- Gunshots echo as violence returns to Ferguson, protests across U.S. (Reuters)
- BoJ members warned on costs of more easing (FT)
- Hagel Exit Shows Obama Has Taken Power Away From Pentagon (BBG)
- Ukraine leader, under pressure from West, pledges new government soon (Reuters)
- Eurozone Stagnation Poses Major Risk to Global Growth, OECD Warns (WSJ)
- ECB’s Coeure Says Officials Won’t Rush as They Debate All Assets (BBG)
As we noted here, despite record high stock prices and talking-heads imploring investors to believe CEOs are confident, they are not (consider the clear indication of a lack of economic confidence from tumbling capex and soaring buybacks), That is further confirmed today as Markit's survey of over 6000 firms showed optimism falling sharply in October, dropping to the lowest seen since the survey began five years ago. Hiring and investment plans were also at or near post-crisis lows, while price expectations deteriorated further. More worrying, perhaps, is the US is not decoupled whatsoever, with future expectations of US business activity at the lowest since the financial crisis.
All the stimulus, all $50 trillion or so globally, has been thrown into the fire, and look at where we are. There’s nothing left, and there won’t be another $50 trillion. Sure, stock markets set records. But who cares with oil at $40? Calling for more QE, from Japan and/or Europe or even grandma Yellen, is either entirely useless or will work only to prop up stock markets for a very short time. Diminishing returns. The one word that comes to mind here is bloodbath.
The earlier 'under pressure' resignation of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel means President Obama has to make a personnel announcement... explaining exactly what characteristics he is looking for as he prepares to invade the middle east? One wonders if he will assume the duty of SecDef?
Some of the major problems that humanity faces today transcend borders, and as such international cooperation is of vital importance. But recent events make such cooperation increasingly more challenging. Without going into the wisdom of the decision, sanctions imposed on Russia over its foreign policy in Ukraine have a wide range of implications that go much beyond the economic sphere. For one, international dialogue is breaking down fast; just this week Russian President Vladimir Putin unceremoniously left the G20 meeting early. Inevitably, this will have repercussions on major international cooperation initiatives, perhaps irreversibly in some cases. Here are a few notable examples...
I believe aggressive empires with bloated bureaucracies, unsustainable debt loads, and chronic military overreach cannot compete against the now capitalist, relatively free-market Asia. The truth is Asia is rising and the debt-ridden Western democracies are failing. The world is an interesting place, and the American Dream still lives - just not so much in the United States any longer. But countries can change for the better; tyrannies are overthrown, and the Internet reformation is a big advantage for people desiring freedom and honest information around the world.
Don’t fence yourself in.
As Hilary Clinton starts to ponder the curtains she wants to hang in the Oval Office, there is only one person who can realistically stand in her way: Rand Paul.
The global power shift from the West to the East is alive and well
Senate leaders failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance The USA Freedom Act - which would have limited the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records - and as Bloomberg reports, it's unlikely a new version can be drafted for another vote before the congressional term expires this year. The 58-42 vote to move the measure forward came mostly along party lines as Senator Saxby Chambliss - the top Republican on the intelligence committee - rambling that the bill "eliminates tools critical to the intelligence community’s ability to prevent terrorist attacks, and its adoption would greatly degrade our ability to fight domestic terrorism in particular." In other words - it's for own good, now shut up!
This may not quite be the blow-off top in the merger bubble as companies rush to frontrun the ECB and buy whatever still isn't nailed, but it is getting close. Because while earlier today Baker Hughes announced it would accept the Halliburton offer to buy it unchallenged in a $35 billion transaction leading many to wonder just how much lower the price of oil is still set to drop, moments ago the Allergan "White Knight" swooped from up on high, and as had also been leaked in recent weeks, Actavis agreed to buy the botox- maker which Ackman and Valeant had been so eagerly chasing for months in order to let the roll-up pharma pad its non-GAAP books with another 2-3 years of pro forma "synergies" add backs. This means that between Halliburton and Actavis, today we have had the first $100 billion "Merger Monday" in over a decade.
David Cameron warned last night that the global economy risked another crash and said in an article that 'red warning lights' were 'flashing on the dashboard of the global economy' and the eurozone was 'teetering on the brink' of another recession.
"I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done."
In the past 3 months there has been much discussion regarding the gruesome and barbaric beheadings by ISIS of western hostages. Yet surprisingly, a similar and just as barbaric tradition has been taking place for ages just a few hundred miles east of ISIS, in Saudi Arabia. It has been met with nothing but silence by the same indignant western societies who are quick to condemn ISIS villainy. Why the disconnect? According to the following interview by Canada's CBC reporter Anna Maria Tremonti with Newsweek's Janine Di Giovanni looking at the "shock over ISIS beheadings but silence over Saudi Arabia beheadings" the answer why few if any dare to criticize the Saudis is simple: oil.
"The Chinese, among others, seem to be responding to the lower oil price with additional demand," notes one tanker executive as Bloomberg reports the number of supertankers sailing toward China’s ports matched a record on Oct. 17 and is still close to that level now. The plunge in price has enabled China to add 35 million barrels to its inventories in the past three months as the nation fills its strategic petroleum reserves, OPEC said yesterday. Furthermore, though the oil slide is hurting nations from Venezuela to Iran - that depend on energy for revenues - ship owners serving the industry’s benchmark Middle East-to-Asia trade routes are reaping the best returns from charters in years as the slump drives down the industry’s single biggest expense. As one analyst notes, "we've seen the Chinese buying a lot from the Middle East and that’s really let rates cook." So it appears the Chinese, in the face of the worst growth and economy in years, are rational enough to buy more at lower prices (as opposed to the buy-more-because-stocks-are-at-all-time-highs Western investors).
Following al-Baghdadi's threats this morning, and General Dempsey's warnings, it appears things are escalating once again in The Middle East:
- *ISIS, AL-QAEDA AFFILIATE AGREE TO FIGHT TOGETHER IN SYRIA: AP
As AP reports, the deal could be a heavy blow to Washington's strategy against the Islamic State group, relying on arming moderate rebel factions to push back extremists in Syria. It appears The West is "gonna need a bigger coalition."