Real estate

Chinese Manufacturing PMI Slumps To 8-Month Low, Services PMI To 3-Month High; Goldman Admits Growth Decelerating

UPDATE:*CHINA HSBC MANUFACTURING PMI AT 48.5 FOR FEB. (as expected and marginally above the Flash print)

Chinese manufacturing PMI fell to an 8-month low holding barely above the crucial 50 level yesterday forcing Goldman to admit that "this signals further deceleration" in Chinese growth. All sub-indices showed signs of cyclical slowdown from January to February with perhaps the two most-critical ones - production and new orders - showing considerably larger falls than the headline index itself as we await this evening's HSBC print to confirm an average 'contraction'. China's Services PMI just printed at 55, up from 53.4, to a 3-month high led by a surge in the "expectations" sub-index.

 

The Greatest Propaganda Coup Of Our Time?

There’s good propaganda and bad propaganda. Bad propaganda is generally crude, amateurish Judy Miller “mobile weapons lab-type” nonsense that figures that people are so stupid they’ll believe anything that appears in “the paper of record.” Good propaganda, on the other hand, uses factual, sometimes documented material in a coordinated campaign with the other major media to cobble-together a narrative that is credible, but false. The so called Fed’s transcripts, which were released last week, fall into the latter category... But while the conversations between the members are accurately recorded, they don’t tell the gist of the story or provide the context that’s needed to grasp the bigger picture. Instead, they’re used to portray the members of the Fed as affable, well-meaning bunglers who did the best they could in ‘very trying circumstances’. While this is effective propaganda, it’s basically a lie, mainly because it diverts attention from the Fed’s role in crashing the financial system, preventing the remedies that were needed from being implemented (nationalizing the giant Wall Street banks), and coercing Congress into approving gigantic, economy-killing bailouts which shifted trillions of dollars to insolvent financial institutions that should have been euthanized.  What I’m saying is that the Fed’s transcripts are, perhaps, the greatest propaganda coup of our time.

Near-Bankrupt Rome Bailed Out As Italy Unemployment Rises To All Time High, Grows By Most On Record In 2013

A few days ago, we reported that, seemingly out of the blue, the city of Rome was on the verge of a "Detroit-style bankruptcy." " And just as expected, yesterday Rome was bailed out. What is certain is that this year will not be the last one Rome is bailed out either. In fact, it will continue getting rescued for years to come because contrary to the propaganda, the Italian economy continues to get worse with every passing month, yields on Italian bonds notwithstanding. Ansa reports that in January the Italian unemployment rate rose to a record 12.9%, and that "reducing Italy's "shocking" rate of unemployment must be the government's highest priority, Premier Matteo Renzi said Friday." How, by pretending everything is ok, kicking the Roman can and hoping things improve by bailing out anyone that is insolvent? Putting 2013 in perspective, this is the year when according to national statistical agency Istat, some 478,000 jobs were lost in Italy in 2013, the worst year since the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, with an average annual jobless rate of 12.2% last year.

Howard Marks: "In The End, The Devil Always Wins"

"If I ask you what’s the risk in investing, you would answer the risk of losing money. But there actually are two risks in investing: One is to lose money and the other is to miss opportunity. You can eliminate either one, but you can’t eliminate both at the same time. So the question is how you’re going to position yourself versus these two risks: straight down the middle, more aggressive or more defensive. I think of it like a comedy movie where a guy is considering some activity. On his right shoulder is sitting an angel in a white robe. He says: «No, don’t do it! It’s not prudent, it’s not a good idea, it’s not proper and you’ll get in trouble». On the other shoulder is the devil in a red robe with his pitchfork. He whispers: «Do it, you’ll get rich». In the end, the devil usually wins. Caution, maturity and doing the right thing are old-fashioned ideas. And when they do battle against the desire to get rich, other than in panic times the desire to get rich usually wins. That’s why bubbles are created and frauds like Bernie Madoff get money." - Howard Marks

China Currency Plunges Most In Over 5 Years, Biggest Weekly Loss Ever: Yuan Carry Traders Crushed

And just like that the Chinese yuan devaluation has shifted away from the merely "orderly." In the past few hours of trading, China, which as we reported two days ago has started intervening aggressively in the Yuan market, has seen its currency crash by nearly 0.9%, which may not seem like much, but is in fact the largest drop since December of 2008, and at last check was trading at around 6.18, even as the PBOC fixed the CNY reference rate 0.02% higher from the last official close to 6.1214, erasing pivot support point at 6.1346 and 6.1408.  Naturally this means that the obverse, the CNYUSD, has crashed to as low as 0.1620. Should this move sustain without reverting, this will be the biggest weekly loss ever! The dramatic move is shown on the chart below.

Morgan Stanley Warns Of "Real Pain" If Chinese Currency Keeps Devaluing

The seemingly incessant strengthening trend of the Chinese Yuan (much as with the seemingly inexorable rise of US equities or home prices) has encouraged huge amounts of structured products to be created over the past few years enabling traders to position for more of the same in increasingly levered ways. That was all going great until the last few weeks which has seen China enter the currency wars (as we explained here). The problem, among many facing China, is that these structured products will face major losses and as Morgan Stanley warns "real pain will come if CNY stays above these levels," leading to further capital withdrawal, illiquidity, and a potential vicious circle as it appears the PBOC is trying to break the virtuous carry trade that has fueled so much of its bubble economy.

The Housing Recovery Myth In New York And New Jersey Ends With A Bang As Foreclosures Surge

It was about a year ago when we noted a core component of the US housing non-recovery: the time to sell foreclosed homes had just hit a record of 400 days across the nation. Fast forward to today when even the last traces of the lie that sustained the housing recovery myth are being swept away, and we get the following article from Bloomberg titled "Foreclosures Surging in New York-New Jersey Market."  The good news (according to some): thousands of people could live mortgage free for years until the bank delays obtaining the keys to the foreclosed property. This was money which instead of going to the mortgage owner, would instead go to buy Made in China trinkets and gizmos and otherwise keep the US retail party humming. Which brings us to the bad news: the party - retail and otherwise - is ending, as courts and banks finally catch up with inventory levels on both sides of the foreclosure pipeline, and those who lived for years without spending a dollar for the roof above their head are suddenly forced to move out and allocated the major portion of their disposable income toward rent.

Frontrunning: February 25

  • Turkish PM says tapes of talk with son a fabrication (Reuters) but opposition confirms authenticity, and national TV carriers cut parliament when played live
  • Inside the Showdown Atop Pimco, the World's Biggest Bond Firm (WSJ)
  • Ex-Jefferies Trader’s Customers Say Lies Common Tactic (BBG)
  • Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox disappears in blow to virtual currency (Reuters)
  • The messenger mania is spreading: SoftBank Said to Seek Stake in Naver’s Line Messaging Unit (BBG)
  • Ukraine Replaces Central Bank Head (BBG)
  • Yup, an actual headline: Harsh weather tests optimism over U.S. economy (Reuters)
  • Hiring of Law Grads Improves for Some (BBG)
  • Easy Currency Bet Gets Harder as the Chinese Yuan Tumbles (WSJ)
  • In Ukraine turbulence, a lad from Lviv becomes the toast of Kiev (Reuters)

World Governments Agree To Automatic Information Sharing

It’s like 34 drunken sailors holding each other up. That’s the best way I can think of to describe the latest product from the good idea factory that is the OECD. Over the weekend in yet another cushy five-star hotel, representatives from this unelected supranational bureaucracy announced plans for world governments to exchange all their citizens’ tax and financial data with one another. It’s a pathetic display of exactly the sort of tactics that governments embrace when they go broke. And most of these OECD countries ARE broke – Italy, Japan, the US, Spain, Greece, etc.