New Normal

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IMF Slashes US Growth Expectations; Pushes Higher Minimum Wage, Removing Tax Loopholes & Fiscal Stimulus





Who could have seen that coming? The IMF has slashed US growth expectations for 2014 from 2.8% to 2.0% (with 2015 hockey-sticking back to 3.0%) due to weather. The IMF also warned the Fed should be "mindful of financial stability," but that is not the most surprising aspect of the IMF's mea culpa as they plunge head first into policy decisions...

*IMF RECOMMENDS RAISING U.S. MINIMUM WAGE, ADDITIONAL U.S. INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE, & LIMITING OR ENDING ITEMIZED TAX DEDUCTIONS

One wonders, rhetorically of course, if the IMF also pulled a "Polish Central Bank" and suggested that the US fire all Republicans in return for this suggestion; and we wonder how El-Nino is "priced-in" to this forecast.

 
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In Explosive Scandal, Head Of Polish Central Bank Recorded Promising Assistance To Government If Minister Fired





Yesterday, Polish magazine Wprost released a recording of a meeting between Interior Minister Bartlomiej Sienkiewicz and central bank Governor Marek Belka which took place in a Warsaw restaurant in July 2013. In the recording, Belka told the minister he would be willing to help the government out of its economic troubles if the finance minister was fired. And there goes the myth of impartial, apolitical central banks...

 
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New York Times Says "Lack Of Major Wars May Be Hurting Economic Growth"





Now that Q2 is not shaping up to be much better than Q1, other, mostly climatic, excuses have arisen: such as El Nino, the California drought, and even suggestions that, gasp, as a result of the Fed's endless meddling in the economy, the terminal growth rate of the world has been permanently lowered to 2% or lower. What is sadder for economists, even formerly respectable ones, is that overnight it was none other than Tyler Cowen who, writing in the New York Times, came up with yet another theory to explain the "continuing slowness of economic growth in high-income economies." In his own words: "An additional explanation of slow growth is now receiving attention, however. It is the persistence and expectation of peace." That's right - blame it on the lack of war!

 
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DOJ Seeking More Than $10 Billion From Citigroup, Lawsuit Imminent





First it was JPM and Bank of America, now it is Citigroup's turn to confirm that in the New Normal, and especially with no volume to speak of, banks are nothing but piggybank utilities for the government to extract cash from whenever it so desires. From Bloomberg:

  • U.S. SAID TO SEEK MORE THAN $10 BLN IN CITIGROUP MORTGAGE PROBE
  • U.S. PROBE RELATES TO CITIGROUP'S MORTGAGE-BOND SALES

However, Citi appears less than excited at the prospect of paying $10 billion to buy itself out of trouble. In fact, as the price of justice is being negotiated, Citi has offered only 40 cents on the dollar to tip the scales of what is right and wrong under the Eric Holder regime. Sadly for it, the government wants more.

 
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Will Spain Default?





With 10Y yields trading below those of US Treasuries, asking the question of Spain's rising default risk seems risible but as Bloomberg's Maxime Sbaihi notes, the longer the euro flirts with deflation, the higher the risk that the heavily indebted (and becoming more so) countries will be tempted to default. Of course, this 'concern' is entirely ignored by the 'market' as Draghi has promised enough liquidity to soak up every short-dated bond but as the European Union's so-called "1/20 rule" suggests - requiring states to reduce excessive (over 60% Debt/GDP) by 1/20th every year or face a fine of 0.2% of GDP - Spain, it appears has 5 options to escape this vicious circle... and one of those is restructuring...

 
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China Bond Auction Fails As PBOC Weakens CNY, Stymies Carry Traders





It appears the PBOC is hell-bent on destroying any trend idea for carry traders to jump on. After 4 days of strengthening the CNY... and sell-side strategists already jumping on the new trend bandwagon with trade recommendations, the PBOC surprised last night and weakened the currency fixing. It is clear from this action that the PBOC is serious about stopping the hot flows... the problem is, it has consequences. Last night saw China unable to sell its entire 1 year bond offering (even at a rate of 3.32% - dramatically higher than European or US short-dated debt). Copper prices have stumbled, USDJPY is fading and US equities doing the same for now as carry unwind butterflies flapping their wings in onshore CNY can cause hurricanes in global liquidity fed capital markets.

 
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Hiring In The US Remains Far Below Pre-Recession Levels





As the chart below shows, while the US may have, somehow, recouped all of its post-recession job losses as was widely trumpeted everywhere on Friday, it sure didn't achieve this courtesy of a vibrant hiring labor market. In fact, as the chart below show, while the US may have recovere its annualized job change number, per the non-farm payrolls survey, of just about 2.4 million, or about 200K per month, the pace of US hiring is still just about half of where it should be based on the pre-recession trends.

 
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Across America, Police Departments Are Quietly Preparing For War





just who is America's police force, and by extension the Obama administration, which is behind this quiet militarization of local police forces with weapons that would normally be seen in a warzone, preparing for war against?

 
Tyler Durden's picture

The New Record High S&P Normal In Two Headlines





As we pondered the new normal and the disappointed anchors on CNBC this evening noting that we did not hit S&P 2,000 or Dow 17,000 (but there's always tomorrow); two headlines crept across the Bloomberg feed that could not have been more perfectly timed representatives of the new normal record highs in stocks:

  • *COVANTA CUTTING JOBS
  • *COVANTA TO BOOST CASH DIV TO 25C-SHR FROM 18C, EST. 18C

Here's a tip for management: as a cost-cutting initiative, maybe don't spend 'cash' on buybacks at record highs and invest in productive assets, instead. Of course, that's silly-talk in the world where work is punished; as CVA's stock is jumping after-hours.

 
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Morgan Stanley's Bear Case For The US Economy





While Morgan Stanley's lower-than-consensus economic expectations for the US economy splits the difference between an economy where people remain hesitant to take on risk, essentially extending the post-crisis pall, and one where they embrace risk in the manner of a more typical post-WWII cyclical expansion; their alternative scenarios (at either corner of the goldilocks world) make one wonder just what the catalyst will be to release the kraken of better-than-subpar growth...

 
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Stocks Pop But Bond Yields Drop On Jobs Data





With today being a non-POMO day (more a YOYO - you're on your own), we suspect the spike in stocks following what was by all counts a mediocre jobs print will not last (until that is it has banged 1950 in cash and taken Goldman's targets out). Bond yields spiked and are now 2bps lower... bad news is good news, good news is good news, and mediocre news is good news... welcome to the new normal...

 
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The Rich Get Richest: Household Net Worth Rises To All Time High Courtesy Of $67 Trillion In Financial Assets





Another quarter, and another confirmation that in the New Normal only the rich get richer, pardon: richest.

 
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Bill Gross Doesn't Own A Cell Phone, Explains Why The "New Neutral" Will Be Frigid





Borrowing heavily from Albert Edwards "Ice Age" analogy of our new normal, PIMCO's Bill Gross, after explaining why he does not have a cell phone, discusses the "frigidly low" levels of "The New Neutral" in this week's letter. Confirming Ben Bernanke's "not in my lifetime" promise for low rates and a lack of normalization, Gross explains that the "the new neutral" real policy rate will be close to 0% as opposed to 2-3% (just as in Japan) leaving an increasingly small incremental rise in rates as potentially responsible for popping the bubble. Gross concludes, "if 'The New Neutral' rates stay low, it supports current prices of financial assets. They would appear to be less bubbly," clearly defending the valuation of bonds knowing that he can't expose stocks as 'bubbly' without exposing his firm to more outflows.

 
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7 In 10 Americans Believe The Crisis Is Not Over Or Worst Is Yet To Come: 52% Can't Afford Their Homes





According to a recent survey by the MacArthur foundation, during the past three years, over half of all U.S. adults (52%) have had to make at least one sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage. Such sacrifices included getting an additional job, deferring saving for retirement, cutting back on health care and healthy foods, running up credit card debt, or moving to a less safe neighborhood or one with worse schools. More disturbingly, the survey also found that while there are some indicators that the American public’s views about the housing crisis are shifting toward the positive, large proportions of the public are not feeling the relief: seven in 10 (70%) believe we are still in the middle of the crisis or that the worst is yet to come. 

 
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America's Insatiable Demand For More Expensive Cars, Larger Homes And Bigger Debts





One of the things that this era of American history will be known for is conspicuous consumption. Even though many of us won't admit it, the truth is that almost all of us want a nice vehicle and a large home. They say that "everything is bigger in Texas", but the same could be said for the entire nation as a whole. We live in a debt-based system which is incredibly fragile. We experienced this firsthand during the last financial crisis. But we just can't help ourselves. We have always got to have more...

 
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