- Putin rebuffs Obama as Ukraine crisis escalates (Reuters)
- Behind the $100 Billion Commodity Empire That Few Know (BBG)
- Initial Public Offerings Hit Pace Not Seen in Years (WSJ)
- Russian Parliament Will Back Crimea Split From Ukraine (WSJ)
- Nakamoto Named as Bitcoin Father Denies Involvement, Flees Press (BBG)
- Chaori Can’t Make Payment in China’s First Onshore Default (BBG)
- Zombies Spreading Shows Chaori Default Just Start (BBG)
- Pimco's Gross declares El-Erian is 'trying to undermine me' (Reuters)
- U.S. Fighters Circle Baltics as Putin Fans Fear of Russia (BBG)
For the second night in a row, China, and specifically its currency rate which saw the Yuan weaken once more, preoccupied investors - and certainly those who had bet on endless strenghtening of the Chinese currency - however this time it appeared more "priced in, and after trading as low as 2000, the SHCOMP managed to close modestly green, which however is more than can be said about the Nikkei which ended the session down 0.5%. Still, the USDJPY was firmly supported by the 102.00 "fundamental" fair value barrier and as a result equity futures, which had to reallign from tracking the AUDUSD to the old faithful Yen carry, have been propped up once more and are set to open at all time highs. If equities fail to breach the record barrier for the third time in a row and a selloff ensues after the open in deja vu trading, it will be time to watch out below if only purely for technical reasons.
Existing home sales plunged 5.1% (considerably worse than the 4.1% drop expected) to its lowest level in 18 months. This extends the string of missed expectations to 5 months as even the ever-credible NAR chief economist said it was not the weather but "we can’t ignore the ongoing headwinds of tight credit, limited inventory, higher prices and higher mortgage interest rates." First-time homebuyers plunged to a mere 26% of the total - the lowest share on record as all-cash (and spec) investors rose to a record 53% share of sales.
- Facebook CEO Raises Dealmaker Profile With $19 Billion Takeover (BBG)
- WhatsApp’s Founder Goes From Food Stamps to Billionaire (BBG)
- U.S. Feels Putin's Sharp Elbows in Ukraine (WSJ)
- PBOC Drains Cash as Overnight Rate Slides to Lowest in 10 Months (BBG)
- Fed Puts Rate Increase on the Radar (Hilsenrath)
- Banks Flouting Bonus Rules in Denmark Set to Be Named by FSA (BBG)
- Work Set to Resume on Upgrading Panama Canal (WSJ)
- Euro-Area Recovery Loses Pace as Manufacturing Weakens (BBG) - uh, what recovery?
- Ukraine Exposes EU Policy Disarray (WSJ)
Scratch one more bullish thesis for the housing recovery, and the economic recovery in general.
Ordinarily we would ignore the news of another banker's death - after all these sad events happen all the time - if it wasn't for several contextual aspects of this most recent passage. First, the death in question, as reported by the Stamford Daily Voice is that of Ryan Henry Crane, a Harvard graduate, who is survived by his wife, son and parents at the very young age of 37. Second, Ryan Henry Crane was formerly employed by JPMorgan - a bank which was featured prominently in the news as recently as two weeks ago when another of its London-based employees committed suicide by jumping from the top floor of its Canary Wharf building. Third: Crane was an Executive Director in JPM's Global Program Trading desk, founded in 1999 by an ex-DE Shaw'er, a function of the firm which is instrumental to preserving JPM's impeccable and (so far in 2013) flawless trading record of zero trading losses.
The clean debt ceiling bill has just passed the House where it got the required majority in a 221 to 201 final vote, with just 28 Republicans voting Yea (and 199 voting Nay) - a vote that has made history with the fewest number of votes from a majority on a bill that passed the House since 1991. It also means means that with a Senate passage assured, the US can now spend away until March 15, 2015. The final breakdown:
- GOP: Yea - 28; Nay -199
- DEM: Yea - 193; Nay -2
- Total: Yea - 221; Nay - 201
Considering that the vast majority of Republicans voted against John Boehner's latest "plan" to do the Democrats' work for them, and pass a clean debt ceiling, perhaps it is time to look for a speaker who represents the interests of more than just a tiny fraction of the party... and the Democrats of course.
Winter storm warnings and advisories stretched from Utah to Pennsylvania this morning. As Bloomberg reports, hundreds of flights across the US are being canceled as the threat of snow, ice, and sleet (and up to 8 inches of snow in New York City) "impact the morning commute." The storm will move across the central U.S., bringing showers and thunderstorms to the Central Gulf Coast tomorrow morning and expanding northward into the Tennessee Valley by Tuesday evening, the weather service said. In other words, we have our first good excuse for a crimped consumer not spending once again in February - the weather.
If a third of all US homes cannot trade due to being underwater or not sufficiently above water to clear closing costs, then the US economy is going to suffer
And just like that, slowly but surely, the entire US foreign strategy vis-a-vis Iraq and its weapons of mass diversion destruction, is becoming all too clear. "The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress today of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Iraq for AH-64E APACHE LONGBOW Attack Helicopters and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $4.8 billion."
With California experiencing emergency drought conditions and sun-glass-clad bronzed beauties driving their convertibles around in Lake Tahoe amid not an inch of real snow, the East Coast - just emerging from the cocoon following Polar Vortex 1.0 - is, as we warned, about to be confronted with another chilly blast of "Arctic Cold" weather with temperatures up to 25 degress below average and 8 inches of snow due for New York City tomorrow, and wind chills up to 40 below for the Upper Midwest On the bright side, it will be a BTFD opportunity for all those missed earnings expectations for Q1 retailers.
Two of the largest retailers in America are steamrolling toward bankruptcy. Sears and J.C. Penney are both losing hundreds of millions of dollars each quarter, and both of them appear to be caught in the grip of a death spiral from which it will be impossible to escape. Once upon a time, Sears was actually the largest retailer in the United States, and even today Sears and J.C. Penney are "anchor stores" in malls all over the country. They are both shutting down unprofitable stores and laying off employees in a desperate attempt to avoid bankruptcy, but everyone knows that they are just delaying the inevitable. These two great retail giants are dying, and they certainly won't be the last to fall. This is just the beginning.
Chalk this one up to US (f)austerity, and a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bull that forgot to add Pentobarbital among the billions in pork spending. Two months ago we reported that due to a shortage of Pentobarbital, Ohio would be unable to execute death row convicts. It appears that the shortage has persisted into the new year, and now some states are taking matters into their own hands. Or rather the hands of the firing squad. As NBC reports, due to the lethal drug shortage, lawmakers in at least two states to call for the return of firing squads. "Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin, a Republican representing Harrisonville, introduced legislation Friday (.pdf) that would add five-person firing squads as an alternative to the state's current method of capital punishment, lethal injection."
A widening bid-ask spread in silver would be tantamount to the metal losing its moneyness.
In 1970, when 11% of adult Americans had bachelor's degrees or more, degree holders were viewed as the nation's best and brightest. Today, with over 30% with degrees, as the WSJ notes, a significant portion of college graduates are similar to the average American - not demonstrably smarter or more disciplined. Furthermore, declining academic standards and grade inflation add to employers' perceptions that college degrees say little about job readiness. As we noted recently, change is coming as more and more realize college may not be worth it. Educational entrepreneurship offers hope that creative destruction is coming to higher education. The cleansing would be good for a higher education system still tied to its medieval origins - and for the students it's robbing.