It’s commencement speech season again, when, as Bloomberg notes, lots of important people say lots of wise things to freshly minted graduates. While Michael Burry's "Brutal Hangover Is Inevitable" speech is among the best ever, this year has seen plenty of witty, inspiring speeches from the likes of President Obama, Steve Ballmer, Sean Combs, and Sarah Palin; but only Bloomberg has the one commencement speech you absolutely can’t miss: an epic supercut weaving all of 2014’s best speeches into one...
Considering that both key overnight news reports: the Chinese HSBC PMI (printing at 49.4, vs 49.7 expected) and the Eurozone CPI print from a few hours ago (print of 0.5%, down from 0.7% and below the 0.6% expected), we find it odd that futures are red: after all this is precisely that kind of negative data that has pushed the market to record highs over the past five years. And speaking of odd, considering the ongoing non-dis-deflation in Europe, the fact that Bunds and TSYs are being sold off today makes perfect sense in a New Normal bizarro world.
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.
It took a precisely 0.1 beat in the Chinese Manufacturing PMI over the weekend (50.8 vs Exp. 50.7) for the USDJPY and the Nikkei to forget all about last week's abysmal Japanese economic data and to send the Nikkei soaring by 2.1% to its highest print in 5 months. Subsequent overnight weakness from Europe, where the Eurozone Final May Manufacturing PMI dropped again from 52.5 to 52.2, below the 52.5 expected, served simply to push bunds higher back over 147.00, if not do much to US equities which as usual continue their low volume "the music is still playing" melt-up completely dislocated from all newsflow and fundamentals (because just like over the past 5 years, "there is hope").
Friday's latest resignation of yet another former Obama administration faithful - that of White House press secretary Jay Carney - got us thinking: how many people have jumped off the USS Obamic? The answer is, in short, a lot. Below is a list (by no means complete) of the most prominent officials and advisors who have quietly exited the Obama administration stage left over the past 6 years.
Update: Sure enough, Eric Shinseki was just thrown under the bus.
Following his meeting with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, President Obama has decided to do a quick press briefing... will he use the words "under the bus"...?
"For lack of a better term, you’ve got an organized crime syndicate," a whistleblower who works in the Texas VA told The Daily Beast. "People up on top are suddenly afraid they may actually be prosecuted and they’re pressuring the little guys down below to cover it all up." What’s worse, the documents show the wrongdoing going unpunished for years...
As we noted yesterday, President Obama is saying he is contemplating arming and training Syrian rebels (just the 'moderates' which will be identified by their smiles). However, as the following PBS Frontline documentary exposes, the Syrian rebels themselves say they are already armed and trained by US in the use of sophisticated weapons and fighting techniques, including, one rebel said, "how to finish off soldiers still alive after an ambush." The interviews are the latest evidence that after more than three years of warfare, the United States has stepped up the provision of lethal aid to the rebels, as PBS notes "it appears the Obama administration is allowing select groups of rebels to receive US-made anti-tank missiles." So who is lying? Obama (again) or the Syrian rebels (who show US-made supplies in the following clips).
The West Point Military Academy Commencement address short hand: "Enjoy it now... and don't retire or get injured..." As NYTimes notes, President Obama plans to use a speech at the West Point military academy on Wednesday to lay out a foreign policy vision for his final two-and-a-half years in office, defending his approach against a wave of criticism that he has been too passive on the world stage.
This will end well. President Obama is, according to WSJ, close to authorizing the US military to train "moderate" Syrian rebels. The move - clearly expanding Washington's role in the conflict and a subtle side-swipe at Putin - is aimed at providing a seemingly arbitrary group of rebels with weapons training to fight against both Bashar al-Assad's regime's army as well as Al-Qaeda-linked groups. One quick question - how will Obama determine who is 'moderate' and who is full Al-Qaeda-tard?
As Americans celebrate the Memorial Day holiday, we should remember that though the VA’s alleged abuse and neglect of US veterans is scandalous, the worse abuse comes from a president and a compliant Congress that send the US military to cause harm and be harmed overseas in undeclared, unnecessary, and illegal interventions. The best way to honor the US military is to honor the Constitution, and to keep in mind the wise advice of our Founding Fathers to avoid all foreign interventionism.
On this day when we should never forget, we are sure President Obama, fresh from his surprise snubbing of Karzai in Afghanistan, will try his best to remember who was in charge (and ultimately accountable) when the VA scandal broke.
After the crisis, many expected that the blameworthy would be punished or at the least be required to return their ill-gotten gains—but they weren’t, and they didn’t. Many thought that those who were injured would be made whole, but most weren’t. And many hoped that there would be a restoration of the financial safety rules to ensure that industry leaders could no longer gamble the equity of their firms to the point of ruin. This didn’t happen, but it’s not too late. It is useful, then, to identify the persistent myths about the causes of the financial crisis and the resulting Dodd-Frank reform legislation and related implementation...."Plenty of people saw it coming, and said so. The problem wasn’t seeing, it was listening."
Following the ongoing uncovering of increasing issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs - after reports surfaced a month ago detailing patients dying while waiting for treatment in a Phoenix VA facility - it appears its time for the teleprompter-in-chief to smooth things over, start a probe, and put everyone straight on who is to blame for the disgusting treatment of US veterans... Perhaps - as we noted here - it is worth remember the 'full price' of war.
"The CIA organised a fake vaccination program in the town where it believed Osama bin Laden was hiding in an elaborate attempt to obtain DNA from the fugitive al-Qaida leader’s family," The Guradian reports. Now, amid a deadly backlash again vaccinations and a resurgence of polio in Pakistan, the White House has promised that the CIA will never again use an immunization campaign as a tool of spycraft. While this is horrible in its own right, there is a much bigger story here. The fact that the United States holds no claim to any sort of moral high ground whatsoever.