Among the key overnight events was the February Euro area unemployment report, which was unchanged at 11.9%, lower than the 12% median estimate; in Italy it rose to a record 13% while in Germany the locally defined jobless rate for March stayed at the lowest in at least two decades Euro zone PMI held at 53 in February, unchanged from January and matching median estimate in a Bloomberg survey HSBC/Markit’s China PMI fell to 48 in March, the lowest reading since July, from 48.5 in February; a separate PMI from the government, with a larger sample size, was at 50.3 from 50.2 the previous month NATO foreign ministers meet today to discuss their next steps after Putin began withdrawing forces stationed on Ukraine’s border Gazprom raised prices for Ukraine 44% after a discount deal expired, heaping financial pressure on the government in Kiev as it negotiates international bailouts.
There’s nothing like a nice cup of reality 'tea' first thing on Monday morning. Periodically, we like to scan headlines for phrases like “record high” or “all time high”... in today's case, the results can often given an interesting big picture perspective of what’s happening in the world.
Despite months to plan and an early morning failure today already, the Obamacare wesbite Healthcare.gov is down once again...
*AP SAYS HEALTHCARE.GOV WEBSITE NOT ACCEPTING NEW APPLICANTS, TECHNICAL PROBLEMS PREVENTING HEALTHCARE.GOV APPLICATIONS: AP
Of course the frequency of visitors is having some effect and the adminstration has once again extended the deadline for enrolment as long as participants are in line today. Perhaps, Obama should ask the HFTs how they cope with the volume?
There are just hours left until the formal March 31 deadline (although at this point so many deadlines have been extended it is not quite clear just which deadline this is) to sign up for Obamacare. Or rather, to put Obamacare in your check out basket with the intention of paying... at some indefinite time in the future. So instead of rehashing and repeating all the things that have already been said countless times about Obamacare, below we show some of the best cartoons laying out the tragicomedy that is Obamacare by Politico's Matt Wuerker.
Moments ago the BEA reported February personal income and spending which were expected to show a modest pick up following what all economists have classified as the "polar vortex" winter doldrums. While it remains to be seen whether and if spending, and income, will indeed pick up considering the deplorable state of the US household's earnings prospects, both metrics came precisely in line with consensus estimates at 0.3% (if not those of DB's always amusing permabull Joe LaVorgna who expected a 0.6% increase in spending).
With the hours counting down to the latest deadline for open enrollment for Obamacare coverage, it appears the administration needs more keg-standing bro's, easy women, and twerking Richard Simmons to get the message out. A new survey by Kaiser finds 6 out of 10 unaware of the deadline. When reminded of the mandate and the deadline, half of those without coverage as of mid-March say they think they will remain uninsured.
Another morning melt up after a less than impressive session in China which saw the SHCOMP drop again reversing the furious gains in the past few days driven by hopes of more PBOC easing (despite China's repeated warning not to expect much). A flurry of market topping activity overnight once again, with Candy Crush maker King Digital pricing at $22.50 or the projected midpoint of its price range, and with FaceBook using more of its epically overvalued stock as currency to purchase yet another company, this time virtual reality firm Oculus VR for $2 billion. Perhaps an appropriate purchase considering the entire economy is pushed higher on pro-forma, "virtual" output, and the Fed's capital markets are something straight out of the matrix. Despite today's pre-open ramp, which will be the 4th in a row, one wonders if biotechs will finally break the downward tractor beam they have been latched on to as the bubble has shown signs of cracking, or will the mad momo crowd come back with a vengeance - this too will be answered shortly.
If you are like most Americans, paying taxes is one of your pet peeves. The deadline to file your federal taxes is coming up, and this year Americans will spend more than 7 billion hours preparing their taxes. When the federal income tax was originally introduced a little more than 100 years ago, most Americans were taxed at a rate of only 1 percent. But once they get their feet in the door, the social planners always want more. Since that time, tax rates have gone much higher and the tax code has exploded in size. Why do we have to have the most convoluted tax system in the history of the planet?
With another session in which US futures levitate into the open, despite a modest drop in the Nikkei225 (to be expected after the president of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s largest pension fund, said that a review of asset allocations into stocks is not aimed at supporting domestic share prices) and an unchanged Shanghai Composite while the currency pair du jour, the USDCNY, closes higher despite tumbling in early trade (which also was to be expected after a former adviser to the People’s Bank of China said China is headed for a “mini crisis” in its local- government debt market as economic reforms lead to the first defaults) everyone is asking: will it be deja vu all over again, and after a solid ramp into 9:30 am, facilitated without doubt by the traditional Yen carry trade, will stocks roll over as first biotech and then all other bubble stocks are whacked? We will find out in just over two hours.
It’s been a couple months since we last updated readers on the epic disaster that is Obamacare. We now have some details on the average premium increase for non-Obamacare health plans following the implementation of the law, and the results are not pretty. According to a cost report from eHealthInsurance, premiums have increased by between 39%-56%; and furthermore, the demographic issue is a huge ticking time bomb as the 'mix' is not at all what was expected.
Present Obama’s viral interview on Zack Galifianakis “Between Two Ferns” was both funny and informative, thus deserving the buzz it generated. Both the content of the interview, and the fact that the President felt it was needed in the first place, can teach us about the current state of Obamacare and the problems it continues to have. The point here isn’t to nitpick the numbers or get into a semantic argument, but to show one of the key shortcomings of this appearance and the President’s other attempts at getting young people to sign up: if you are promoting something that has shaky credibility, and you use dubious arguments that your target audience will realize might not be true, you end up hurting your cause.
For five long years, we have pursued the fantasy that we could return to "growth" without having to fix or change anything. The core policy of the fantasy is the consensus of "serious economists," i.e. those accepted into the priesthood of PhD economists protected by academic tenure or state positions: what we suffered in 2009 was not the collapse of leveraged crony-state financialization but a temporary decline of "aggregate demand" and productive capacity. The five-year fantasy that free money would fix all the distortions and systemic problems is drawing to a close. Why can't the fantasy run forever? The two-word answer: diminishing returns. Handing out subprime auto loans works at first because it pulls demand forward: anyone who wants or needs a new car buys one now, rather than put the purchase off a year or two. Eventually the marginal buyers default and demand falls off, and the distortions cause an even greater collapse in demand and auto loan quality.
Has the market done it again? Two weeks ago, Putin's first speech of the Ukraine conflict was taken by the USDJPY algos - which seemingly need to take a remedial class in Real Politik - as a conciliatory step, and words like "blinking" at the West were used when describing Putin, leading to a market surge. Promptly thereafter Russia seized Crimea and is now on the verge of formally annexing it. Over the weekend, we had the exact same misreading of the situation, when the Crimean referendum, whose purpose is to give Russia the green light to enter the country, was actually misinterpreted as a risk on event, not realizing that all the Russian apparatus needed to get a green light for further incursions into Ukraine or other neighboring countries was just the market surge the algos orchestrated. Anyway, yesterday's risk on, zero volume euphoria has been tapered overnight, with the USDJPY sliding from nearly 102.00 to just above 101.30 dragging futures with it, in advance of Putin's speech to parliament, in which he is expected to provide clarity on the Russian response to US sanctions, as well as formulate the nation's further strategy vis-a-vis Crimea and the Ukraine.
Despite spending over half-a-billion dollars on increasingly mind-blowing promotions for Obamacare, a new survey released today shows that even the website apparently fixed, over one-third of Americans without insurance say they plan to stay that way, even after being told that the new law requires them to get covered or pay a penalty. As CBS notes, some 46% of those surveyed also were unaware of the March 31 deadline for being insured as it seems "low-income, young families may have been overlooked. They're probably not spending a lot of time watching television, they never read a newspaper and if they listen to radio it's probably music in the car." 41% cited insurance as still too expensive with, oddly, 39% of middle-aged men preferring to stay uninsured.