New York Times
Why does the Big Media other than WSJ refuse to report on the TAG subsidy grab by the largest banks?
As the Fiscal Cliff discussions get progressively more acrimonious, more people are being reminded that the new and improved $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, which the US will breach in a few days, is just as important, and just as much at an impasse. Which is why the Treasury just opined on the issue, by openly supporting the "McConnell Provision" and in doing so may have made any future Cliff/Ceiling discussions more difficult as the US has effectively invoked the nuclear option, aka a Presidential Veto to effectively elimiante the debt ceiling, something which will antagonize the GOP to such an extent any potential Fiscal Cliff deal may become unfeasible. The market is hardly happy that the already record polarity in Congress is about to get even worse as a result of this hardline stance, and just took another big leg lower.
The United States is more than four years into its current form of economic purgatory. The government pronounced the recession over in June of 2009. That announcement does not conform with reality or even subsequent government suspect data. To believe the recession ended requires a bizarro interpretation of economics where bad is actually good and good is actually bad. 21st Century politics sees no need for truth. When government believes itself to be responsible for the economy and convinces the people of that, it has put itself into a box. The reality is that government does not create wealth or economic abundance. (They can create poverty, however.) The country’s economic problems began decades ago. In trying to cover them up with economic interventions (stimuli), government actions prevented the economy from correcting the imbalances that caused slow growth. After decades of such interventions, the economy no longer is able to function efficiently. We are coming off the biggest boom in the history of the world. Thus far all the Keynesian dollars expended have had little effect other than to make this country poorer. We are set up to have a Depression greater than the one in the 1930s. A Depression is not a good thing. Yet in this case, it may be the one event that can prevent a chapter in future history books entitled “The Demise of the Great American Empire.” The “greatest generation” handed us a gift and we fumbled it away by allowing government to run wild.
With REO-to-Rent now yesterday's trade, the Baltic Dry Index stumbling along near its lows (along with a glut of containers), and a 'recovery' in US housing, what better than to leverage all of these themes; to wit, as ABC News reports, the first U.S. multi-family condo built of used shipping containers is slated to break ground in Detroit early next year. So forget Trailer Parks, now the increasingly mothballed ports of America will be wonderful waterfront property courtesy of your very own (slightly used) cargo container. One proponent of this 'cargotecture' warns that although containers can be bought for as little as $2,500, they should not be thought of as a low-cost housing solution. Tempted? We are sure; below are several current developments.
“Ban” in the San Francisco sense....
Massive Social Media War
The “shale revolution” has been grabbing a great deal of headlines for some time now. A favourite topic of investors, sector commentators and analysts – many of whom claim we are about to enter a new energy era with cheap and abundant shale gas leading the charge. But on closer examination the incredible claims and figures behind many of the plays just don’t add up. To help us to look past the hype and take a critical look at whether shale really is the golden goose many believe it to be or just another over-hyped bubble that is about to pop, we were fortunate to speak with energy expert Arthur Berman.
Election Politics ... Or Precursor to Iran War?
You've probably noticed the cookie-cutter format of most financial media "news": a few key "buzz words" (fiscal cliff, Bush tax cuts, etc.) are inserted into conventional contexts, and this is passed off as either "reporting" or "commentary" depending on the number of pundits sourced. Correspondent Frank M. kindly passed along a template that is "officially deny its existence" secret within the mainstream media. With this template, you could launch your own financial media channel, ready to compete with the big boys. Heck, you could hire some cheap overseas labor to make a few Skype calls to "the usual suspects," for-hire academics, hedge fund gurus, etc. and actually attribute the fluff to a real person.
- Jefferies to be bought by Ian Cumming's Leucadia in an all-stock deal for $3.59 billion or about $17/share (WSJ)
- FBI Scrutinized on Petraeus (WSJ)
- Identity of second woman emerges in Petraeus' downfall (Reuters)
- SEC staffers used government computers for personal use (Reuters)
- Japan edges towards fifth recession in 15 years (FT)
- Europe Finance Chiefs Seek Greek Pact as Economy Gloom Grows (BBG)
- Americans Say Europe Lesson Means Act Now as Austerity Will Fail (BBG) - of course it would be great if Europe had ever implemented austerity...
- Greece battles to avert €5bn default (FT)
- You don't bail out the US government for nothing: No Individual Charges In Probe of J.P. Morgan (WSJ)
- Israel Warns of Painful Response to Fire From Gaza, Syria (BBG)
- Greece's far-right party goes on the offensive (Reuters)
- Don’t fear fiscal cliff, says Democrat (FT)
- Apple Settles HTC Patent Suits Shifting From Jobs’ War (BBG)
- Man Set on Fire in Argentina Over Debt (EFE)
- Iraq cancels $4.2-billion weapons deal with Russia over corruption concerns (Globe and Mail)
- An Honest Guy on Wall Street (Bloomberg)
"I don't think the US government even realized how far it had spread" is how the collateral damage from the Iran-attacking Stuxnet computer virus is described by Chevron. The sleep San-Ramon-based oil giant admitted this week that from 2010 on "we're finding it in our systems and so are other companies... so now we have to deal with it." It would seem that little consideration for just how viral this cyber warfare tactic has become and this news (reported by Russia Today) is the first time a US company has come clean about the accidental infection. On the record, the federal government maintains ignorance on the subject of Stuxnet, but perhaps Chevron sums up the impact of Stuxnet best (given the escalating Iranian enrichment program): "I think the downside of what they did is going to be far worse than what they actually accomplished." As more truth comes out so it would appear the probability of copycat attacks is rising as the shadowy Iranian-based hacking group called The Qassam Cyber Fighters took credit for launching a cyberattack on the servers of Capital One Financial Corp. and BB&T Corp just last month.
Rampant Evidence of Electronic Vote Tampering
"I got this moron thing that I do, it's called thinking."-- George Carlin
There is one thing that is certain come Wednesday morning; there will be just as many losers as winners and as ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, while the main-event remains too close to call, the psychology of 'losing' will become a critical part of the domestic political process from November 7th onwards. We suggest the Post-Election Stress Syndrome (PESS) will follow the Kubler-Ross model - which means initially 'Denial' and 'Anger' will dominate people's deeds and words. None of this is good news for an efficient resolution to the political Gordian Knot know as the 'fiscal cliff' or to the stability of capital markets going into year-end as politicians and plebeians alike will be PESS'd off - and as a sad reminder, a loss in a sporting contest doesn’t just sting the losing players – it lowers the testosterone levels of male fans that back the unhappy team.
As we warned here first, and as the sellside crew finally caught on, while the key macro event this week is the US presidential election, the one most "under the radar" catalyst will take place in Greece (currently on strike for the next 48 hours, or, "as usual") on Wednesday, when a vote to pass the latest round of Troika mandated austerity (too bad there is no vote to cut corruption and to actually collect taxes) takes place even as the government coalition has now torn, and there is a high probability the ruling coalition may not have the required majority to pass the vote, which would send Greece into limbo, and move up right back from the naive concept of Grimbo and right back into Grexit. Which is why the market's attention is slowly shifting to Europe once more, and perhaps not at the best time, as news out of the old continent was anything but good: Spain's October jobless claims rose by 128,242, higher than the estimated 110,000 and the biggest jump in 9 months, bringing the total number of unemployed to 4,833,521, a rise of 2.7%, according to official statistics released Monday. This means broad Spanish unemployment is now well above 25%. In the UK, the Services PMI plunged from 52.2 to 50.6, which was the lowest print in nearly two years or since December 2010, and proved that the Olympics-driven bump of the past few months is not only over, but the vicious snapback has begun.