One month ago we showed that when it comes to the cost of basic (and not so basic) health insurance, the US is by far the most expensive country in the world and certainly among its "wealthy-nation"peers. It would be logical then to think that as a result of this premium - the biggest in the world - the quality of the healthcare offered in the US among the best, if not the best, in the world. Unfortunately, that would be wrong and, in fact, the reality is the complete opposite: as a recent study by the Commonweath Fund, looking at how the US healthcare system compares internationally, finds, "the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity." In other words: most expensive, yet worst in the developed world.
According to the latest CapGemini wealth report the number of high net worth individuals increased by nearly 1.8 million in the past year, the second biggest surge since 2000, which also happened to be the crazy days of the first tech bubble (not to be confused with the current tech bubble). In other words, the epic, unprecedented stock bubble reflated by the world's coordinated central banks, has succeeded. Succeeded, that is, if its goal was to make the world's richest people wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. As for everyone else, just over 7 billion people, better luck next time.
Well that didn't take long. Home prices are not the only thing surging in Britain as Reuters reports British spot wholesale gas prices climbed over 7% after Ukraine and Russia failed to agree on the price of future gas deliveries. Britain gets around 5% of its gas from Russian sources and a mild winter and spring have prompted utilities to inject more gas into storage than usual. One analyst notes "as yet flows through Ukraine to Europe have not been disrupted but the market has become increasingly concerned that they will," and now, following the explosion in the largest gas transit pipeline in Europe, disruptions have begun.
This week brings some key events and releases in DMs, including US FOMC (Goldman expects $10bn tapering, in line with consensus), IP, CPI, and Philly Fed (expect 13.5), EA final May CPI (expect 0.50%), and MP decisions in Norway and Switzerland (expect no change in either).
Straightforward dispassionate overview of the investment climate
Yesterday, the IMF and World Bank issued warnings about rising interest rates, housing crashes and the global economy. The World Bank’s chief economist is inadvertantly offering important advice to investors and savers when he said that "now is the time to prepare for the next crisis ..."
Eurozone recessions, unemployment fiascos, toppling banks, crashing auto sales... didn’t exist, sez the Stoxx 600. But then an ugly thing happened.
- At least 74 dead in crashes similar to those GM linked to faulty switches (Reuters)
- Obama Calls for $1 Billion Europe Security Fund; Will Increase U.S. Military Presence in Eastern Europe (WSJ)
- Euro Inflation Slowing More Than Forecast Pressures ECB (BBG)
- China accelerates as euro zone stumbles (Reuters)
- Russia says Ukraine situation worsening, submits U.N. resolution (Reuters)
- Secondary Sales Squeeze Investors (WSJ)
- Barclays Said to Start Cutting Jobs in Investment Banking Unit (Bloomberg)
- Backlash Grows on Release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in Taliban Prisoner Swap (WSJ)
- For fallen soldiers' families, Bergdahl release stirs resentment (Reuters)
- PIMCO's Gross stares at record outflow (Reuters)
White House Purchases Google Key Words to Slam Putin
While we await today's US Manufacturing ISM number (expected to rise from 54.9 to 55.5), here is how some 23 of the world's most important countries fared in May in their manufacturing data. In brief: as the below table shows, out of the 23 countries that have reported so far, 8 reported improvements in their manufacturing sectors in May, while 15, or two-thirds, recorded a weakening in mfg data from April. That's the bad news, and an indication that the latest upswing in the global manufacturing economy may be ending. The good news: despite the modest decline, there were only 7 countries "contracting" or in negative territory (below 50) and 16 in positive. In particular, France, Korea, and Norway moved from expansion to contraction.
This week's busy calendar starts off with today’s global PMIs and ISMs. On Tuesday, President Obama begins a four day European trip ahead of the G7 meeting which starts on Wednesday. This G7 meeting is replacing the G8 meeting that was originally scheduled in Sochi but was cancelled after Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Tuesday’s data docket is important with Euroarea data releases including inflation and unemployment expected to further cement the ECB’s resolve in easing policy come Thursday. Wednesday features the global services ISMs and PMIs. Other data releases scheduled for that day includes the ADP employment report, which will provide an important preview to Friday’s NFP, and US trade. The Fed releases its Beige Book on Wednesday too and the second estimates of Euroarea GDP will be published on Wednesday as well. Apart from the ECB on Thursday, we also have the BoE policy meeting.
- Unstoppable $100 Trillion Bond Market Renders Models Useless (BBG)
- Afghan president fumes at prisoner deal made behind his back (Reuters)
- Spain to Unveil $8.6 Billion Stimulus Package (AP)
- How fracking helps America beat German industry (Reuters)
- Obama to Urge European Allies to Stay Tough on Russia (WSJ)
- Frenchman 'admits' Brussels shooting in video (AFP)
- Heloc Payment Jump to Take Bite Out of Consumer Spending (WSJ)
- Obama Said to Propose Deep Cuts to Power-Plant Emissions (BBG)
- Lehman Lesson Lost as Bank Lobby Gains Clout (BBG)
- WSJ reports that WSJ reporting on Icahn insider trading probe may have killed it (WSJ)
- KKR liquidates former Goldman Sachs traders-run hedge fund (Reuters)
How do you get rid of hundreds of tons of highly radioactive water? You dump it into the Pacific Ocean of course! In Japan, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. has made the “painful decision” to begin purposely dumping massive amounts of radioactive water currently being stored at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear facility directly into the Pacific. This is being done even though water radiation levels near Fukushima spiked to a brand new all-time record high just a few days ago.
While we are no experts in either geography (did Iran and Kazakhstan just get a lot closer?) or inter-continental ballistic missile identification (was anyone else test-firing nuclear missiles last night), the skies over Iran were glowing last night with what the news agency astrological experts said was "according to previous experiences, guessed to be the final stages of a long-range ballistic missile launcher." This is good news, for Iran, but, according to the Russian Navy blog, they are preparing for another ICBM test-firing next week... so Norway might want to be on the look-out.