- Barack Obama's 'vacation from hell' (Politico)
- Russian aid convoy checked; military vehicles mass near Ukraine (Reuters)
- Ukraine Says APCs Entered From Russia to Aid Insurgents (BBG)
- Islamic State Said to Challenge Al-Qaeda for Leadership (BBG)
- Missouri protests calmer after governor puts black police captain in charge (Reuters)
- Finally someone will prove the US is a pyramid scheme (in a 1000 page presentation): Ackman’s Pershing Square Sues U.S. Over Fannie, Freddie (BBG)
- Banks, Financial Firms Load Up on Cheap Debt (WSJ)
- Putin to Meet Finnish President as Threat of Cold War Grows (BBG)
Why are so many plagues hitting the United States all of a sudden? Yes, one can always point out bad stuff that is happening somewhere in the country, but right now we are facing a nightmarish combination of crippling drought, devastating wildfires, disastrous viruses, dying crops and superbugs that scientists don’t know how to kill.
Cases of the chikungunya virus are appearing in the United States at a level that is far higher than anything health officials have seen in recent years, and now there are two confirmed cases of people that have not even traveled out of the country getting the virus. That means that the chikungunya virus is starting to spread in America, and once it starts spreading it is really hard to stop. Fortunately, the U.S. has not really been affected by this disease in recent years, but an epidemic has already been declared in Puerto Rico, and some experts are now saying that it is only a matter of time before we see one in the United States.
As WSJ reports, last week's geopolitical chaos and distraction was ideal for a news dump, and the White House didn't disappoint: On no legal basis, all 4.5 million residents of the five U.S. territories were quietly released from ObamaCare. It seems the costs of healthcare soared in these five territories due to uneconomic mandates - which woul dhave been a disaster PR-wise for the administration and so, under cover of catastrophe, WSJ reports all of a sudden last week HHS discovered new powers after "a careful review of this situation and the relevant statutory language," that enabled them to 'selectively exempt' American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, and Virgin Islands from Obamacare. And all while vacationing...
- BRICS set up bank to counter Western hold on global finances (Reuters)
- Fed's Yellen Hedges Her View on Rates (Hilsenrath)
- China GDP Grows 7.5% in Second Quarter (WSJ)
- Get More Acquainted With Your Knees as Boeing Reworks 737 (BBG)
- Israel Warns Gazans of New Attack After Hamas Rejects Truce (WSJ)
- Israel poised for Gaza incursions after truce collapses (Reuters)
- China Housing Sales Fall in First Half of 2014 (WSJ)
- IBM to offer iPads and iPhones for business users (Reuters)
- Fed's George says strengthening economy warrants quick rate rise (Reuters)
- Microsoft to announce biggest round of job cuts in 5 years (BBG)
- Palestinian rocket fire persists, Israel warns truce at risk (Reuters)
- China tells U.S. to stay out of South China Seas dispute (Reuters)
- Merkel Resists Sundering U.S. Ties Over Spying Affair (BBG)
- BES slide, tumbling German sentiment hit markets (Reuters)
- Top 1 Percent Is Even Richer Than Surveys Say, ECB Paper Finds (BBG)
- Puerto Rico Utility May Default on January Interest Payment (BBG)
- Can't Get a Job From an Algorithm, or So It Seems as Hot Resumes Go Nowhere Fast (BBG)
- Bank of China-CCTV drama may reveal power struggle in Beijing (SCMP)
Martin Armstrong warns that 50% of the municipal governments in Germany are on the verge of bankruptcy. This is part of the reason they are looking for bail-ins and even Merkel has determined they cannot allow any referendums fearing the people will vote against the EU. The Bremen state government has now imposed a spending freeze today. The reason has been the unexpected expenditure and revenue shortfalls in the total amount of 60 million euros. Politicians cannot see that this system is doomed. They keep looking for everything possible to raise more and more taxes. It is just amazing who disconnected government are from the reality of the economy. Everything is geared to move toward the confiscation of wealth not reforming the system.
- Carl Icahn says 'time to be cautious' on U.S. stocks (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Lifts Lid on Exposure to Group (BBG)
- Slowing Customer Traffic Worries U.S. Retailers (WSJ)
- Insurgents enter military base northeast of Baghdad (Reuters)
- Obama tells Israel U.S. ready to help end hostilities (Reuters)
- Japan economics minister warns of premature QE exit, sees room for more easing (Reuters)
- Greek Banks See Quadrupling of Housing Loans by Next Year (BBG) ... to fund buybacks like in the US?
- Piggy Banks Being Raided Signal Swedish Housing Dilemma (BBG)
- London Seeks New Spenders as Russians Skip $719 Champagne (BBG)
It appears "reach for yield" has consequences after all - and remember how exuberant the market (stocks) were after PR managed to get that bond off earlier in the year? Quietly behind the scenes and away from the exuberant stock market trading headlines of the mainstream media, Muni bond markets are in turmoil. Thanks to the 'shenanigans' in Puerto Rico - after lawmakers last month approved a bill allowing some public corporations to restructure debt - PR bonds have collapsed to record lows (and dragged a number of large Muni funds with them).
- Headline of the day: Complacency Breeds $2 Trillion of Junk as Sewage Funded (BBG)
- Israel intensifies Gaza offensive after surge in rocket fire (Reuters)
- Profits plunge at Vatican bank (FT)
- Investors Are Buying Troubled Golf Courses and Giving Them Makeovers (NYT)
- Pimco Dissidents Challenge Bill Gross in ‘Happy Kingdom (BBG)
- That's a new one: Marks and Spencer blames new website for sales drop (Reuters)
- Iran's Supreme Leader calls for more enrichment capacity (Reuters)
- Boeing Faces Long-Term Credit Risk if Ex-Im Bank Closed, S&P Says (WSJ) not to mention the collapse risk to US durable goods orders
- U.K. Manufacturing Unexpectedly Slumps Most in 16 Months (BBG)
- Some Still Lack Coverage Under Health Law (WSJ)
- Facebook Researchers Manipulated News Feeds in 2012 Study (BBG)
- Argentina at Brink of Default as $539 Million Payment Due (BBG)
- Hedge fund correlation risk alarms investors (FT)
- As China Flexes Muscle, Obama Frets Over Rival’s Weakness (BBG)
- As caliphate declared, Iraqi troops battle for Tikrit (Reuters)
- Dubai Caps Worst Month Since 2008 as Real Estate Stocks Tumble (BBG)
- Russian Advisers Ready Iraq to Use New Combat Aircraft (BBG)
- Blackstone Readies Big-Bet Hedge Fund (WSJ) - so what was GSO?
- Pope says communists are closet Christians (Reuters)
- Thomson Reuters revising FX trading standards (Reuters)
The total number of people claiming benefits in all programs for the week ending April 19 was 2,832,693, an increase of 10,353 from the previous week (on an unadjusted basis) but the headlines will gloat of the drop in initial claims after last week's rather disturbing spike (which temporarily destroyed the pent-up demand post-weather meme). Initial claims dropped 26k to 319k, beating expectations. New York and Massachusetts saw the largest increase in claims while Michigan and New Jersey the largest drop.
Surprise! This is looking more like a here-and-now problem
Yesterday, we read with some amusement that Goldman has moved Guy Saidenberg, reportedly one of the greater profit centers at the firm - and how could he not be when he always traded against Tom Stolper's recommendations which led to tens of thousands of pips in losses to those who listened to him over the past five years - from head of global foreign-exchange trading to a new role, as co-head of commodities. Why did Goldman decide to scrap its once uber-profitable FX vertical and redo it from scratch? Simple - the ability to rig and manipulate FX markets, which are now under every global regulator's microscope after the "Cartel" members so foolishly let themselves be exposed to the entire world, is no longer there, as confirmed last night by news that a dozen large investors have filed a joint lawsuit against 12 banks for "allegedly conspiring to rig global foreign-exchange prices." Allegedly? Hasn't everyone read the Cartel chatroom transcripts yet?
In what many thought was a miracle of modern money-printing-driven yield-chasing, Puerto Rico managed to get $3.5 billion of bonds off last week with no problem (albeit at a 8.73% yield). The issue (while perhaps not as surprising as the low yield issues of Uganda we have reflected on previously) raised some eyebrows and in the trading since its release, FINRA noticed something concerning. The bonds, as Bloomberg reports, are supposed to 'minimum denomination $100,000' blocks and yet 75 trades this week have been for no more than $25,000 violating regulations which deem these for "institutional purchasers" and strongly suggesting the heavy hedge fund demand was nothing more than a pump-and-dump scheme to unsophisticated retail investors. PR bonds have plunged from par to $92 this week.