According to the latest Nielsen Media Research data, in the second quarter of 2014, CNBC viewership for all viewers just dropped to 162,000 - a new (and depressing for Comcast) low, on par with CNBC's viewership from Q2 of 1997! Where things get funny is when one looks at the ratings of that consummate entertainer, that self-appointed "voice of the people", Jim Cramer. Sadly for Cramer, the people are now gone. Because also according to Nielsen Jim Cramer's Mad Money show just had its lowest ever rated month in the 25-54 demo, and is about to have its second lowest rated month ever across total viewers.
One month ago we showed that when it comes to the cost of basic (and not so basic) health insurance, the US is by far the most expensive country in the world and certainly among its "wealthy-nation"peers. It would be logical then to think that as a result of this premium - the biggest in the world - the quality of the healthcare offered in the US among the best, if not the best, in the world. Unfortunately, that would be wrong and, in fact, the reality is the complete opposite: as a recent study by the Commonweath Fund, looking at how the US healthcare system compares internationally, finds, "the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity." In other words: most expensive, yet worst in the developed world.
In a video leaked by someone who happened to be working out at the same hotel gym as President Obama, the world got a peak into the exercise routine of the most powerful man on earth. The President is surrounded by some of the best and smartest advisors in the country, but apparently none of them is a personal trainer, as his approach and technique leave a lot to be desired. But he is in luck, we're here to help...
The Army general who oversaw the U.S. military’s surge of troops into Iraq in 2007 issued a stark warning Wednesday on any further military action. As WaPo reports, Retired Gen. David Petraeus says a number of preconditions should be met before Washington intervenes in the growing crisis - the United States should not offer military support unless Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (whoc has stated "it's too late fort regret," is able to adjust political conditions there so that his Shiite-led government is seen as fair and representative throughout the country. The bottom line, he warns, "this cannot be the United States being the air force for Shia militias or a Shia on Sunni Arab fight. It has to be a fight of all of Iraq against extremists."
There has been a lot of money made by being patient waiting for the events to play out, and then coming in and shorting the Oil Markets the last five years.
What Obama wants, he appears to get. As AP reports, the U.S. Patent Office has ruled the Washington Redskins nickname is "disparaging of Native Americans" and that the team's federal trademarks for the name must be canceled. We note that this decision is based on the fact that 30% of Native Americans believed the term 'Redskins' to be disparaging (not a majority). Which leaves us questioning when the Federal Government will see the New York Giants as disparaging of tall people and The Oakland Raiders as disaparaging of pirates... welcome to the new normal. We wonder (rhetorically of course) if this latest Redskins escalation is supposed to distract from Ukraine, Iraq, Bergdahl, IRS, Benghazi, or approval ratings?
According to a new Gallup pole, a record amount of Americans now disapprove of President Obama. Now, this is nothing new. Presidential approval ratings go up and down, and Mr. Obama has had a long-term slide thanks to… oh, we don’t know… a total avalanche of foul-ups ranging from the Obamacare fiasco to the IRS targeting his enemies to the VA scandal to the intelligence community’s surveillance of the press, et cetera ad infinitum. But here’s the interesting thing– this poll about the President’s approval rating. It’s about his image– who he is as a person. Do Americans think he’s a trustworthy person with strong character? Nope. Not even close.
We have commented a few times on the slightly diffuse character of the echo bubble, which has infected a great many nooks and crannies of the economy. One of the areas which has experienced an enormous boom was the sub-prime auto loan sector. It seems however that the party in this sub-sector of the bubble economy is in the process of ending.
Believe it or not, the main driver of risk overnight had nothing to do with Iraq, with the global economy or even with hopes for more liquidity, and everything to do with a largely meaningless component of Japan's future tax policy, namely whether or not Abe (who at this pace of soaring imported inflation and plunging wages won't have to worry much about 2015 as he won't be PM then) should cut the corporate tax rate in 2015. As Bloomberg reported, Abe, speaking to reporters in Tokyo today after a meeting with Finance Minister Taro Aso and Economy Minister Akira Amari, said the plan would bring the rate under 30 percent in a few years. He said alternative revenue will be secured for the move, which requires approval from the Diet.
A stunning 64% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track as President Obama's recent actions (too numerous to list) have sent his approval rating plunging to a mere 44% - the lowest (according to a Bloomberg poll) since his Presidency began. Under the surface the picture is even more worrisome as "in the past, Obama’s likeability has stayed ahead of perceptions of job performance," as his 'charm' saved him from his apparent ineptitude, but now, "it appears he is no longer likeable enough."
Yesterday's market action was perfectly predictable, and as we forecast, it followed the move of the USDJPY almost to a tick, which with the help of a last minute VIX smash (just when will the CFTC finally look at the "banging the close" in the VIX by the NY Fed?) pushed the DJIA to a new record high, courtesy of the overnight USDJPY selling which in turn allowed all day buying of the key carry pair. Fast forward to today when once again we have a replica of the set up: a big overnight dump in USDJPY has sent the dollar-yen to just over 102.000. And since Nomura has a green light by the BOJ to lift every USDJPY offer south of 102.000 we expect the USDJPY to once again rebound and push what right now is a weak equity futures session (-8) well above current levels. Unless, of course, central banks finally are starting to shift their policy, realizing that they may have lost control to the upside since algos no longer care about warnings that "volatility is too low", knowing full well the same Fed will come and bail them out on even the tiniest downtick. Which begs the question: is a big Fed-mandated shakeout coming? Could the coming FOMC announcement be just the right time and place for the Fed to surprise the market out of its "complacency" and whip out an unexpected hawk out of its sleeve?
In a week dominated by headlines of heroes and D-Day celebrations, we suspect President Obama was hoping for a patriotic bump in his ratings... but as The Hill reports, people in the United States say President Obama paid too high a price for the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, and largely disapprove of the administration’s handling of the swap, according to a pair of new polls. Only 34% of those polled (by USA Today/ Pew) backed Obama's decision as 'the right thing' but more crucially, it appears the President's ongoing push towards tyranny that is most worrisome as 72% said Obama should have informed Congress before making the deal.
As if this morning's Draghi moves were not enough to show that there are no markets - just manipulated prices from central planners - Japan's Shinzo Abe just dropped another 'random US session' tape bomb:
*JAPAN’S ABE ASKS PENSION FUND TO RAISE STOCK INVESTMENT: NIKKEI
USDJPY and the Nikkei 225 futures are popping in this news - which is not so much news as he has been pushing for this risk-seeking behavior from the nation's pension fund for months. His efforts this time are for health and welfare minister Tamura to announce the move in September (before the original year-end deadline). Of course, with Abe's ratings in lockstep with the stock market, it's no surprise...
If the Fed is looking for definitive proof of bubble euphoria it should look no further than the CLO market: according to Bloomberg, so far in 2014, more than $46 billion of collateralized loan obligations have been raised, after $82 billion were sold in all of 2013. As a result of this epic dash for repackaged trash, JPMorgan boosted its annual forecast for CLO issuance from $70 billion to as much as $100 billion, which means 2014 may end up as the biggest year on record. We assume it is with great irony that Bloomberg summarizes: "The business of bundling junk-rated corporate loans into top-rated securities is booming like never before after the implementation of regulation aimed at making the financial system safer."
- U.S. sets new import duties on Chinese solar products (Reuters)
- U.S.-China Solar-Products Dispute Heats Up (WSJ)
- China Mulls Offshore Yuan Gold Trade in Free Trade Zone (BBG)
- Insider-Trading Probe Could Snarl a Deal for Icahn (WSJ)
- KCG Holdings Suspects Its Trading Code Was Stolen (WSJ)
- ‘Period. Full Stop’ Is the New ‘At the End of the Day’ (BBG)
- Draghi not so goof for bonds: Investors Flag Risk of ECB Disappointing After Europe Bond Rally (BBG)
- But great for stocks: Equity Traders See Draghi Turning Throttle Up on Rally (BBG)