Up until the last day of July, everything was going great: stocks were solidly up for the month, the DJIA was on the verge of 17,000, and the wealth effect was flourishing, if not the economy. Then yesterday happened, and everything changed: not only did the S&P turn red for the month, but the DJIA slid to red for 2014. So what is the best performing asset class in July? With the PBOC now openly unleashing QE in its economy, no surprise that it was the Shanghai Composite, which returned over 8%, if virtually nothing since 2009. However, don't expect this to last: for China real estate is orders of magnitude more important than the stock market to boost the wealth effect. As for the best returning assets class in 2014 YTD: don't laugh - it's still Spain and Italy. Expect the day of reckoning for Europe's periphery to be fast, unexpected and very brutal.
"Although the levitation of financial assets has yet to levitate gold, we will grit our collective teeth on that score and await either 'asset price justice' or the 'end times,' whichever comes first."
Like so many other things in popular American culture, this quaint notion of a "middle class" in the U.S. is at this point nothing more than a myth; a rapidly fading fantasy from a bygone era. As we have noted for quite some time, the decimation of the middle class began long ago. It really got started in the early 1970?s after Nixon defaulted on the gold standard and financialization began to take over the American economy. Median real wages haven’t increased since that time and the rest is history.
- Moscow fights back after sanctions; battle rages near Ukraine crash site (Reuters)
- On Hold: Merkel Gives Putin a Blunt Message (WSJ)
- Argentina’s Default Clock Runs Out as Debt Talks Collapse (BBG)
- Argentina braces for market reaction to second default in 12 years (Reuters)
- Banco Espirito Santo Plunges After Posting 3.6 Billion-Euro Loss (BBG)
- Adidas Plunges After Cutting Forecast on Russia, Golf (BBG)
- GOP Says Lerner Emails Show Bias Against Conservatives (WSJ)
- Londoners Cashing in Flee to Suburbs as Home Rally Wanes (BBG)
- BNP Paribas Reports Record $5.79 Billion Quarterly Loss (WSJ)
- Swiss Banks Send U.S. Client Data Before Cascade of Settlements (BBG)
- Putin Sows Doubt Among Stock Bears Burned by 29% Rebound (BBG)
"...the numbers that they crank out to make everybody feel good are almost as phony as the numbers that the Argentine government cranks out... I would say that inflation is realistically in the 8-10% range here in the US—and it’s going much higher. The growth is all a fantasy. It’s all a result of the assumption that there is no inflation, when there really is because what we have is inflation masquerading as economic growth. But the bottom line is the economy is really contracting, that’s why the labor force is shrinking, that’s why we’re using less energy, that’s why the people’s standard of living is going down, and real incomes are falling and job opportunities are disappearing. It’s because we’re in a recession and no one wants to admit it."
If Venezuela is the case study of a country in the late stages of transition into a socialist utopia, then France is the clear runner up. The most recent case in point, aside from the already sliding French economy, whose recent contraction can be best seen be deteriorating PMI data which hints at the dreaded "triple dip" recession, nowhere is the economic collapse in France more evident than in its housing market which as even Bloomberg admits, citing industry participants, is now "in total meltdown." Pierre-Andre de Chalendar, chief executive officer of Saint-Gobain, summarized the current dire situation best: "Current figures are worrying and will be disastrous if nothing is done; clients of the building sector are sounding the alarm bell.”
- Fed Decision-Day Guide: QE Tapering to Inflation Debate (BBG)
- Obama says strains over Ukraine not leading to new Cold War with Russia (Reuters)
- Siemens to BP Prepare for Downward Russia Business Spiral (BBG)
- Paying Ransoms, Europe Bankrolls Qaeda Terror (NYT)
- Argentina Banks Preparing Bid to Help Argentina Avoid Default (WSJ)
- Obama Weighs Fewer Deportations of Illegal Immigrants Living in U.S. (WSJ)
- India Warships Off Japan Show Rising Lure as China Counterweight (BBG)
- Hong Kong Popping Housing Bubbles London Can’t Handle (BBG)
- Carnage at U.N. school as Israel pounds Gaza refugee camp (Reuters)
Despots, dictators, and power hungry presidents arise in an atmosphere of fear, scarce resources, hopelessness, and misery. As the power of the central government grows; the freedoms, liberties and rights of the people are diminished and ultimately relinquished.
To China housing is like the stock market to the US: both mission-critical bubbles designed to give a sense of comfort and boost the "wealth effect"
Overnight markets have been a continuation of the relative peace observed yesterday before the onslaught of key data later in the week, with the biggest mover standing out as the USDJPY, which briefly touched 102 before sliding lower then recouping losses. This sent the Nikkei 225 up 0.57% despite absolutely atrocious Japanese household spending data, coupled with a major deterioration in employment: at this rate if Abenomics doesn't fix the economy it just may destroy it. Aside from that the last 24 hours could be summed as having a lot of noise but not a lot of excitement. This was best illustrated by the S&P500’s (+0.03%) performance which was the second smallest gain YTD. And while the SHCOMP is starting to fade its recent euphoria and China was up only 0.24%, Europe continues to cower in the shade of Russian sanctions as both German Bund yields rose to record highs, and Portugal's BES tumbled by 10% once again to 1 week lows. Today Europe is expected to formally reveal its latest Russian sanctions, which should in turn push Europe's already teetering economy back over the edge.
While the epidemic of law enforcement theft is problematic throughout the country (see these egregious examples from Tennessee and Michigan), it appears Texas has a particularly keen love affair with the practice. Not only did last year’s story take place in Texas, today’s highlighted episode also takes place in the Lone Star State. This time in a town of 150 people called Estelline, which earns more than 89% of its gross revenues from traffic fines and forfeitures. In other words, from theft.
“Property companies are facing huge debt burdens,” said Sun Binbin, a bond analyst at China Merchants Securities Co. in Shanghai. “If the regulator hadn’t eased, there probably would have been more defaults.” Or, translated: if the companies weren't allowed to "fix" their huge debt burdens with even more debt, it would have been a complete catastrophe.
What a difference a weekend makes... After offering $2 billion for Trulia last week (and seeing its share soar), Zillow has decided that $3.5 billion worth of its bubblicious paper money-stock is the right price for its real estate marketing and income-less competitor Zillow. Of course, on the back of near-record short interest the stock has exploded higher once again this morning and is now up over 60% from before last week's offer. We suspect the word 'synergy' will be used heavily (and not the word 'layoff') but in the interests of helping our fellow man, we present the combined firm's income statement...
Does it feel like you're poorer? There is a simple reason why - you are! According to a new study by the Russell Sage Foundation, the inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36% decline... Welcome to America's Lost Decade.
If one wants to identify bubbles, one must perforce study monetary conditions. The comparison of historical data on valuations and other ancillary factors can only take one so far. The problem is that in times of strongly inflationary policy, the economy's price structure becomes thoroughly distorted, and that therefore a great many “data” can no longer be regarded as reliable... Most of the time, it's the eventual slowdown of money supply growth that brings a bubble to its knees.