Baltimore, Maryland is in many ways the perfect microcosm for these United States of America.
If you still don’t get that, you’ll be in for a rude awakening in the years ahead.
Earlier today the US Census released its latest quarterly data, which confirmed that for what is left of America's middle class, owning a home has become virtually impossible, with the homeownership rate tumbling from 64.0% to 63.7%, which is tied for the lowest historic print since the first quarter of 1986, with the only difference that then the trendline was higher. Now, as can be seen on the chart below, it isn't. At this rate, by the end of the 2015 and certainly by the end of Obama's second term, the US homeownership rate will drop to the lowest in modern US history.
- Clinton charities will refile tax returns, audit for other errors (Reuters)
- China Warns North Korean Nuclear Threat Is Rising (WSJ), or another country realizes war is the only "exit"
- Shares, euro sag after euro zone PMIs disappoint (Reuters)
- China Manufacturing Gauge Drops to Lowest Level in 12 Months (BBG)
- Deutsche Bank Said to Pay $2.14 Billion in Libor Case (BBG), or roughly a €20,000 per banker "get out of jail" fee
- Brazil’s Petrobras Reports Nearly $17 Billion in Asset and Corruption Charges (WSJ)
- Can This Oil Baron’s Company Withstand Another Quake? (BBG)
- Bad for Q1 GDP: Raytheon sales fall amid weak U.S. defense spending (Reuters)
- The Fed Still Wants Easy Money (BBG) - you don't say
- ECB Is Studying Curbs on Greek Bank Support (BBG)
- Banks Paid to Borrow as Three-Month Euribor Drops Below Zero (BBG)
- Baoding Tianwei is first state-owned Chinese enterprise to default (Reuters)
- Major Chinese Developer Says It Can’t Pay Dollar Debts (BBG)
- Wall Street Has No Idea How Much Money Venezuela Has (BBG)
- Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Find Different Paths to Profits (WSJ)
- Does the Collapse of a Chinese Developer Signal the Start of More Defaults? (BBG)
- Retail Traders Wield Social Media for Investing Fame (WSJ)
For the 2nd day in a row, WTI crude prices are falling (back below $55) after Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said production in the world's biggest crude exporter would stay near record peaks around 10 million barrels per day in April. The investment community remains divided over the future (perhaps more a reflection of time horizons): BofA notes Large Speculators bought crude contracts for the 3rd consecutive week - the longest streak since June 2014; but Blackstone (among other private equity firms) have stayed on the sidelines (despite plenty of cash to put to work) as public markets have exuberantly filled the void so far this year: Oil producers have been able to “raise a lot of debt and, in some cases, equity publicly at values that we wouldn’t touch."
Energy companies “biding their time in the hopes they don’t have to face the music.”
Financial engineering is one of the worst ills perpetuated by the Fed’s regime of cheap debt and money market subsidies for speculation. And these deformations are turbo-charged by the tax code which creates a powerful bias toward loading capital structures with tax deductible debt, and to delivering returns as lightly taxed capital gains rather than ordinary income. In fact, stock buybacks and LBOs are the bastard offspring of the IRS and Federal Reserve.
Having previously explained the 175,846,629,768 reasons why former Fed Chair Ben Bernanke would join Citadel - the most-levered hedge fund in the world and alleged conduit of fed put protection; we thought it intriguing to note what billionaire Citadel Ken Griffin had to say about Bernanke and his policies just 2 years ago...
- Euro zone bond yields sink to historic lows (Reuters)
- Clinton Foundation to Keep Foreign Donors (WSJ)
- Russia says U.S. forced it to act on Ukraine (Reuters)
- Bankers to China's Rescue (BBG)
- Saudi Arabia Adds Half a Bakken to Global Oil Market in a Month (BBG)
- Valuations of Hong Kong's stock market operator go interstellar (Reuters)
- Switzerland Attracts Fewer Firms as Politics Hurt Business Image (BBG)
Judging by the recent action in equity futures, the continuously rangebound US market since the end of QE may be entering its latest downphase, catalyzed to a big extent by the recent strength in the JPY (the EURJPY traded down to 2 year lows overnight), especially following yesterday's not one but two statements by Abe advisor Harada saying a USDJPY at 125 isn't "justified" and a 105 level would be appropriate. A level, incidentally, which would push the Nikkei lower by about 20% and crush Japanese pensions which are now mostly invested in stocks. Not helping matters was the pause in the Chinese and Hang Seng stock bubbles, with the former barely rising 0.3%, while the former actually seeing its first 1.6% decline after many days of torrid, relentless rises.
GE’s announcement that its getting out of the finance business should be a reminder of how crony capitalism is corrupting and debilitating the American economy. The ostensible reason the company is unceremoniously dumping its 25-year long build-up of the GE Capital mega-bank is that it doesn’t want to be regulated by Washington as a systematically important financial institution under Dodd-Frank. Oh, and that its core industrial businesses have better prospects. We will see soon enough about its oilfield equipment and wind turbine business, or indeed all of its capital goods oriented businesses in a radically deflationary world drowning in excess capacity. But at least you can say good riddance to GE Capital because it was based on a phony business model that was actually a menace to free market capitalism. Its deplorable raid on the public purse during the Lehman crisis had already demonstrated that in spades.
"The fair value of hedges held by 57 U.S. companies in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Independent Explorers and Producers index rose to $26 billion as of Dec. 31, a fivefold increase from the end of September," Bloomberg writes, noting that the very same Wall Street banks on the hook for the hedges also financed the shale boom.
- Shell Will Buy BG Group for $70 Billion in Cash and Shares (BBG)
- IMF warns of long period of lower growth (FT)
- Wall Street sanguine as it heads into worst earnings season in six years (Reuters)
- Switzerland First With 10-Year Bond at Negative Yield (WSJ)
- U.S. Dot-Com Bubble Was Nothing Compared to Today’s China Prices (BBG)
- Rahm Emanuel Re-Elected as Mayor of Fiscally Ravaged Chicago (BBG)
- Oil falls on U.S. stock build, record Saudi output (Reuters)
- White South Carolina policeman charged with murdering black man (Reuters)
- German Factory Orders Drop for Second Month (BBG)
- A third of Republicans support Iran nuclear deal (Reuters)
- Israel, U.S. Lawmakers Press Case Against Iran Nuclear Deal (WSJ)
- Rand Paul tries to broaden libertarian appeal (Reuters)
- Fewer Oil Trains Ply America’s Rails (WSJ)
- Chicago voters go to polls in first ever mayoral runoff (Reuters)
- FedEx to buy TNT to expand Europe deliveries (Reuters)
- Mohamed El-Erian Has Most of His Money in Cash (BBG)
- In Surprise Move, Australia Holds Rates (WSJ)
- Oil falls as Iran, China discuss more supply (Reuters)
Back in early 2007, just as the first cracks of the bursting housing and credit bubble were becoming visible, one of the primary harbingers of impending doom was banks slowly but surely yanking availability (aka dry powder) under secured revolving credit facilities to companies across America. This, in effect, was the first snowflake in what would ultimately become the lack of liquidity avalanche that swept away AIG and unleashed the biggest bailout of capitalism in history. Back then, analysts had a pet name for banks calling CFOs and telling them "so sorry, but your secured credit availability has been cut by 50%, 75% or worse" - revolver raids. Well, the infamous revolver raids are back.