The S&P’s rally has been sustained through near-zero-cost money used to: (1) buy back stock to enrich insiders and please activist hedge funds which have borrowed big to buy big; and (2) prop up the overall market because investors have learned that buying on margin when the costs are minimal - and below dividend yields - just keeps paying off. Stein’s law says, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.” Too bad it doesn’t say when. Gold loses its luster when: (1) inflation seems to be as remote as a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; and (2) even a concatenation of crises fails to send investors rushing into the time-tested crisis consoler. We see geopolitical risks expanding from here - not contracting - and stick to our investment advice that the broad stock market is precariously valued. A range of options is available for those who wish to hedge themselves against even worse news. Gold is part of any such risk mitigation. So are long government bonds. Most importantly, we have entered an era when wise investors will devote as much time to reading the foreign news as they allocate to reading the investment section.
If last week's disappointing global economic data, that saw Brazil added to the list of countries returning to outright recession as Europe Hamletically debates whether to be or not to be in a triple-dip, was enough to push the S&P solidly above 2000, even if on a few hundreds ES contracts (traded almost exclusively between central banks), then the overnight massacre of global manufacturing PMIs - when not one but both Chinese PMIs missed spurring calls for "more easing" and pushing the SHCOMP up 0.83% to 2,235.5 - should see the S&P cross Goldman's revised year end target of 2050 (up from 1900) sometime by Thursday (on another few hundreds ES contracts).
Having been quiet for a few days, comfortable sitting back and watching NATO, Europe, and the US escalate each other's talking points to a frenzy of populist revolt, Russia's Vladimir Putin has come out swinging this morning:
- *PUTIN: NO MATTER WHAT U.S. DOES, IT TURNS OUT LIKE LIBYA, IRAQ
- *PUTIN SAYS UN CAN'T BE FOREIGN POLICY TOOL FOR U.S., ALLIES
- *PUTIN: EUROPEAN LEADERS FAR FROM SHOWING INDEPENDENT THINKING
- *PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA IS COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T FEAR ANYTHING
In addition to discussions of The Bolsheviks, agreeing Stalin was a tyrant, and slamming liberal economic models for creating crises, Putin notes his approval rating is high because "he is confident he's right."
- That will teach the UAE who's boss: U.S. Won’t Consult Syria on Militant Strikes: White House (BBG)
- Putin Set to Meet Poroshenko as Ukraine Tensions Escalate (BBG)... but the de-escalation algo?
- Tim Hortons’ Canadian Fans Squeamish of American Hookup (BBG)
- Israeli air strikes target more Gaza high-rises (Reuters)
- How Steve Ballmer Became a Rookie Basketball Mogul (WSJ)
- Buffett to Help Finance Burger King Tax-Saving Deal (BBG)
- U.S. Factories Keep Losing Ground to Global Rivals (WSJ)
- Boehner, Camp Profit From Corporate Bid to Avoid U.S. Tax (BBG)
- Experimental U.S. hypersonic weapon destroyed seconds after launch (Reuters)
- The Neo-Neocons (WSJ)
- Jackson Hole Theme: Labor Markets Can’t Take Higher Rates (BBG), or anything else for that matter
- Kidnappers free American missing in Syria since 2012 (Reuters)
- More unpatriots: Burger King in merger talks with Canada's Tim Hortons (Reuters)
- California Quake to Cost Insurers Up to $1 Billion, Eqecat Says (BBG)
- Congo declares Ebola outbreak in northern Equateur province (Reuters)
- Missouri Governor Defends Ferguson Prosecutor (BBG)
- Kuroda Douses Japan Stimulus Expectations (WSJ)
- London Jihadi Call Vies With Banks in Canary Wharf Shadow (BBG)
- Netanyahu Signals Expansion of Air Attacks in Gaza (WSJ)
- Libya's Islamist Militias Claim Control of Tripoli (WSJ)
- Pope Francis calls for action as Iraqi Christians forced to flee (Reuters)
- Richest Russians Deprived of Luxury Foods by Putin’s Ban (BBG)
- Exxon Drilling Russian Arctic Shows Sanction Lack Bite (BBG)
- Israeli Jets Strike Gaza Targets After Rockets Shatter Truce (BBG)
- U.S. starts aid airdrops in Iraq but no strikes yet (Reuters)
- Banks Said to Be Arranging Argentine Debt Buyer Group (BBG)
- Siberia Flight-Ban Threat Forces Airlines to Mull Options (BBG)
- Malaysia Airlines to Be Delisted in $429 Million Buyout (BBG)
- Erdogan poised to win Turkey's first popular presidential vote (Reuters)
- African Bank Fights Collapse in Espirito Santo-Like Drama (BBG)
- China to build lighthouses on five isles in defiance of U.S. call (Reuters)
After years of obfuscation and, simply put, lies; TEPCO has admitted in a new report that more nuclear fuel had melted at the Fukushima nuclear reactor than previously stated. While this is dreadful news, it gets worse, as the report further confirms that despite Abe's promises and TEPCO's state-funded efforts to build ice-walls, it may miss an important deadline binding it to clean radioactive water stored inside the Fukushima nuclear plant. Bloomberg reports officials commenting "we are doing everything we can do," but it appears, that is not enough as tens of thousands of tons of toxic water are expected to remain at the site by the imposed deadline.
You’re More Likely to Be Killed By Brain-Eating Parasites, Texting While Driving, Toddlers, Lightning, Falling Out of Bed ...Submitted by George Washington on 07/24/2014 13:36 -0400
... Alcoholism, Food Poisoning, a Financial Crash, Obesity, Dog Bites, Doctor Mistakes or “Autoerotic Asphyxiation” than by Terrorists (Getting Hit By ASTEROID = Even Odds)
We talk a lot about Peak Cheap Oil as the Achilles' heel of the exponential monetary model, but the real threat to the quality of our daily lives would be a sustained loss of electrical power. Anything over a week without power for any modern nation would be a serious problem. When the power goes out, everything just stops. A blackout of a few hours results in an inconvenience for everyone and something to talk about. But one more than a day or two long? Things begin to get a bit tense; especially in cities, and doubly so if it happens in the hot mid-summer months. Anything over a week and we start facing real, life-threatening issues.
Fast forward to 1 minutes 6 seconds into the clip (equivalent to 4:22am local time, and where every second is equvalent to 6 seconds in real-time) to see what the 6.8 magnitude earthquake, which we reported earlier, was all about. Luckily, this time, it was nothing to write home about. Let's hope it stays that way for all future earthquakes as well, or otherwise Abe will have much bigger problems on his hands than just a flaccid "third arrow."
- Bond Anxiety in $1.6 Trillion Repo Market as Failures Soar (BBG), as reported first by Zero Hedge
- As Food Prices Rise, Fed Keeps a Watchful Eye (WSJ)
- Yellen’s Economy Echoes Arthur Burns More Than Greenspan (BBG)
- Draghi’s $1.4 Trillion Shot: Silver Bullet or Misfire? (BBG)
- Israel's Netanyahu phones father of murdered Palestinian teen (Reuters)
- Ukraine says forces will press forward after taking rebel stronghold (Reuters)
- Goldman Sachs Brings Forward Rate Forecast as Treasuries Drop (BBG)... you mean rise?
- Super typhoon takes aim at Japan (Reuters)
- Kidnapped Nigerian girls 'escape from Boko Haram abductors' (Independent)
- Merkel says U.S. spying allegations are serious (Reuters)
- Ceasefire over, Ukraine forces attack rebel positions (Reuters)
- No Good Iraq Options for Obama as Russia, Iran Jump In (BBG)
- Japan’s Cabinet Agrees to Allow Military to Help Defend Allies (BBG)
- Obama says to reform immigration on his own, bypassing Congress (Reuters)
- South Stream Pipeline Project in Bulgaria Is Delayed (NYT)
- Foreign Banks Still in the Dark About Missing Metals in China (WSJ)
- Quelle indignity: several bankers at French bank BNP Paribas will face demotions and cuts to their pay and bonuses (FT)
- Symantec Warns of Hacker Threat Against Energy Companies (BBG)
- Shrinking Office Spaces Slow Recovery (WSJ)
- Rand Paul Slams ‘Fat Cats’ With Hedge Fund in Top Donors (BBG)
We are sure this will end well. Just as China took the 'if we build it (on free credit), they will come' growth model to extremes in real estate; it appears their ambitions in nuclear energy production are just as grandiose. However, just as they lost control of the real estate market, Bloomberg reports China is moving quickly to become the first country to operate the world’s most powerful atomic reactor even as France’s nuclear regulator says communication and cooperation on safety measures with its Chinese counterparts are lacking. France has a lot riding on a smooth roll out of China’s European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs) as it is home to Areva, which developed the next-gen reactor, and utility EdF, which oversees the project. French regulators, speaking in parliament, warned, "the Chinese safety authorities lack means. They are overwhelmed."
Forget the 700-plus-page Piketty 'socialism for all' tome; here is economics that everyone can understand.
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!