Despite consensus at 1.2% growth QoQ, the "weather" destroyed the fragile stimulus-led economy of the US which managed only a de minimus +0.1% QoQ growth (the lowest since Q1 2011). However, as Steve Liesman noted on the heels of Mark Zandi's comments "basically ignore this number" - ok then. Spending on Services, however, surged by the most since 2000 - heralded as great news by some talking heads - but is merely a reflection of the surge in healthcare and heating costs (imagine if it had not been cold and if Obamacare hadn't saved us). As a reminder - this is the growth that is occurring as QE has run its course, as stimulus ends, and as escape velocity nears... if the "weather" can do this much damage to the US economy, should stocks really be trading at the multiple of exuberant future hope that they are?
This is how empires collapse: one complicit participant at a time.
“Why does Obama suck?” If you’re not sure, ask Google. It seems that millions of Americans already have asked this question, along with: “Why does the government want to kill us?”, and “Can the government take your gold?” These are among the jewels of Google autocomplete - instantly displaying results from the most popular searches. The institution of government is now viewed as the problem, not the solution. And this represents a complete breakdown in the social contract. We suspect that if Google had been around in the mid-1780s, autocomplete would probably tell us things like “Why does the King Louis” suck? And, “Will France” collapse?
We all know the Federal Reserve is terrified of deflation, because they keep telling us that deflation is the equivalent of death and inflation is the equivalent of oxygen. What they fail to mention is that inflation is only oxygen for debtors barely able to service their debt and those who profits from debt, i.e. bankers and financiers. For everyone earning a wage or salary, inflation is the equivalent of death by a thousand cuts and deflation is the elixir of life. When prices decline, our money goes further, i.e. our purchasing power increases. Only bankers, governments and other parasites that live off the carrion of debt fear deflation and try to destroy the purchasing power of wages with everything in their power.
Did you know that the number of Americans getting benefits from the federal government each month exceeds the number of full-time workers in the private sector by more than 60 million? In other words, the number of people that are taking money out of the system is far greater than the number of people that are putting money into the system. And did you know that nearly 70 percent of all of the money that the federal government spends goes toward entitlement and welfare programs? When it comes to the transfer of wealth, nobody does it on a grander scale than the U.S. government. Most of what the government does involves taking money from some people and giving it to other people. In fact, at this point that is the primary function of the federal government.
An impromptu press conference... on Obamacare but we are sure there'll be time to poke the bear...
Krugman: "There's zero evidence that the kind of extreme inequality that we have is good for economic growth. In fact, there's a lot of evidence that it is actually bad for economic growth. Nobody wants us to become Cuba." Ah yes, inequality, the same inequality that the Fed - Krugman's favorite monetary stimulus machine - has been creating at an unprecedented pace since it launched QE. Just recall: "The "Massive Gift" That Keeps On Giving: How QE Boosted Inequality To Levels Surpassing The Great Depression." So while Krugman is right in lamenting the record surge in class divide between the 1% haves and the 99% have nots, you certainly won't find him touching with a ten foot pole the root cause of America's current surge in inequality. And, tangentially, another thing you won't find him touching, is yesterday's revelation by Gawker that the Nobel laureate is the proud recipient of $25,000 per month from CUNY to... study inequality.
- Putin Doesn't Rule Out Sending Troops (WSJ)
- Japan Cuts Economic View on Tax Rise (WSJ)
- No "harsh weather" in Chipotle restaurants where comp store sales rose 13.4% (PR)
- No sanctions for you: EU sanctions push on Russia falters amid big business lobbying (FT)
- Consumer Spending on Health Care Jumps as Obamacare Takes Hold (BBG)
- China Seen Cracking on Property Controls (BBG)
- Google, IBM results raise questions about other tech-sector companies (Reuters)
- California city evacuation lifted after military ordnance found (Reuters)
- For Obama, Standoff With Moscow Jumbles Plans at Home and Abroad (WSJ)
... Because the sheer success of Obamacare was too great for her to handle.
After a selloff as violent as that of last night, usually the overnight liftathon crew does a great job of recovering a substantial portion of the losses. Not this time, which coupled with the sudden and quite furious breakdown on market structure, leads us to believe that something has changed rather dramatically if preserving investor confidence is not the paramount issue on the mind of the NY Fed trading desk. Nikkei 225 (-2.38%) suffered its worst week since March'11 amid broad based risk off sentiment following on from a lower close on Wall St. where the Nasdaq Biotech index suffered its largest intra-day decline since August 2011. Negative sentiment carried over into European session, with stocks lower across the board (Eurostoxx50 -1.17%) and tech under performing in a continuation of the recent sector weakness seen in the US. JP Morgan (JPM) due to report earnings at 7:00AM EDT and Wells Fargo (WFC) at 8:00Am EDT.
Obamacare has been such a smashing success that the US Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius just couldn't wait until days after its "successful" rol out to get the hell out of dodge. "Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, is resigning, ending a stormy five-year tenure marred by the disastrous rollout of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Obama accepted Ms. Sebelius’s resignation this week, and on Friday morning he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said. The departure comes as the Obama administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out the law, persuade a still-skeptical public of its lasting benefits, and help Democratic incumbents, who face blistering attack ads after supporting the legislation, survive the midterm elections this fall."
We live in a pretend economy. It is important to recognize this condition, especially if you are an investor. Current market behavior is concerning. Bonds and stocks remain volatile and near record levels. Markets ignore the continuing stagnation in the pretend economy, buoyed apparently by government liquidity injections. To justify investing today in these markets, one must anticipate one or both of the following: economic growth is about to surge; and/or market values can continue to rise from here, potentially further widening the already large gap between valuations and fundamental economics. No reading of the economic tea leaves suggests a surge in economic growth is coming. Indeed, a critical analysis of the data makes one question whether there has been a recovery at all. Certainly any recovery has to be labeled as abnormal. Playing these markets in any conventional manner is akin to writing insurance policies for suicide bombers.
In what would likely get her a daily (armed) drone surveillance package with blanket NSA supervision, if not outright burned at the stake in the US, Leonie Ki - who is the new head of Hong Kong's government campaign to alleviate poverty - dared to suggest what is the absolute anathema to any nanny state such as the US: instead of relying on the government for everything, people should achieve prosperity by their own hard work. Surely in the US words such as these would result in her being tar and feathered by at least half the population for daring to suggest something so loathsome to a nation which is increasingly convinced personal prosperity comes courtesy of government handouts of everything: from Obamaphones to Obamacare and, coming soon, Obamafood.
...One reporter asked the President if perhaps the celebration was premature, since so much of the law has yet to go into effect, and nobody can say whether the new regime will in fact be better than the old one. Responding in that cute way that makes us forget so many of our other disappointments with him, Obama responded by saying “don’t be a party pooper.”
There is a gloriously simple solution to all the world's TBTF problems, one that could be enacted in a HFT millisecond by pulling the trigger, so to speak. The solution comes from none other than that historic US nemesis, Vietnam, where unscrupulous financiers don't just go to jail. Sometimes, they get death row.