The center cannot hold because it has failed the nation by defending the Status Quo kleptocracy. As a case study, let's look at Greece, a nation that is the leading-edge of Status Quo delegitimization and destabilization. As the Status Quo fails to protect the national interests and the citizenry from the neofeudal kleptocracy, faith in the political center fades. What happens when people lose faith in the financial institutions and their coercive "fixes"? They move their capital to less-risky, more productive climes. In other words, capital flight is another positive feedback: as people move their capital out of the country, then there is less available per capita for productive investment. The same holds true for every nation ruled by kleptocratic Elites that has attempted to "grow our way out of debt" by piling debt on debt. Doesn't that include Spain, Italy, China, the U.S. and a host of other nations?
We had ended the week on Fri 26 being “On the Road to Nowhere”, which essentially wasn’t that wrong a call, as markets got stuck on Sandy’s path.
So, as last week: Nothing new. Spailout OMT still not in play – and might not be this year's business. Officially. Hmmm... Yeah. Sure. We'll see. Greece, haggling not over.
Big Disconnect between Risk and Reality, Equities and Bonds.
While top-down macro headlines, anchoring-biased surveys, and election-oriented government-aided statistics suggest a world of unicorns and teddy bears where everyone and their pet rabbit 'Dave' should be buying stocks with both hand and feet for the 'upside' when the fiscal cliff is 'solved' and 'Bernanke has got your back'; why-oh-why is every rally faded? In Size? Perhaps this is the answer? Goldman Sachs Analysts Index (GSAI) - a quantified bottom-up look at firm-by-firm views of the current and expected economic reality aggregated across all of the company's analysts - is bad and getting worse in a hurry. The main index slumped to 32.9 in October from 44.1 in September, with all sub-components falling 'suggesting depressed business activity from the bottom-up'. Perhaps worse, the employment index remains weak and price indices suggest a deflationary future. This index of real economic activity is its lowest since the 2008-9 recession and sends a considerably more pessimistic message than many of the business 'surveys' from the Philly Fed or Chicago PMI. Perhaps it is this reality on the ground that is stalling the wealth-building stock-levitation that is so economically required by our central planners - as it seems the broad improvement in September was transient.
The people have spoken. It’s seen as a solution.
What a roundtrip! After starting off November with a bang, and after nearly retracing all October losses in the aftermath of the NFP headfake in less than 2 trading sessions, the S&P futures literally imploded, and dropped 23 points from the intraday high, the same distance traveled as it crossed yesterday, only to the downside and on very strong volume for the second day in a row. While the 1400 support in ES is once again in play (ES closed literally on the lows of the session at 1405.5), as we suggested earlier, the far more ominous news is that the AAPL bubble appears to have popped (but, but, it is so cheap on forward multiple basis: guess what - forward multiples are based on forward earnings, which may very well never materialize! and thanks to the dividend, not even AAPL's cash hoard is the bastion it one was) and is now close to entering bear market territory, down just shy of 20% from its all time highs of $705.07 hit on September 12. Now with the 200 DMA taken out, the next support is the 20% retracement from the high which is at $564. After that it is freefall for a long time as a very deep gap needs filling. It is unclear just how much of the selling was there to cause max pain for Dick Bove and Rochdale, for whom every tick lower in the stock means a bigger margin call.Finally, news hitting literally seconds ago that MSFT may be launching its own phone if its partner strategy falters, means there go even more margins.
As we first observed in February of 2012, we will not tire of repeating that when it comes to the jobs picture there are two key components: the quantitative, or the headline jobs and unemployment rate numbers everyone is fascinated by at 8:30 am each first Friday of the month, and the qualitative, or the number that gets far less attention, yet which is so very critical to Americans on those occasions they want to use their earned wages to purchase goods and services. And this is where the ugly side of today's jobs report came out. Because while the quantitative data was good, just as we and everyone else had expected from the final datapoint before the election (the good news there is that finally we will revert to reality following November 6), the qualitative data was ugly. How ugly? As the BLS reported, the average hourly earnings in October declined from $19.80 to $19.79 in September, and at $19.57 last October. This was only the fifth sequential decline in this series since the start of the Depression in December 2007. But more important was the Y/Y change in average hourly earnings. At 1.1% (down from 1.4% a month ago), this was the lowest Y/Y increase in this series, topping the collapse in real earnings which started in December 2008, and is now the lowest in history. In other words, more jobs may be added, but on a real basis, wages are not even keeping up with inflation!
And for a second there we thought financial publications were supposed to at least pretend they are impartial. It appears that is not the case. Now we eagerly await to learn whom Playboy, the National Enquirer, and TMZ endorse...
It just is not Barclays' year. After being exposed (so far the only one) as a ringleader in a massive LIBOR-rigging scandal which cost Bob Diamond his job, yesterday the British bank added insult to injury, after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) fined it $470 million - the largest penalty ever levied by the energy regulator, and even larger than the bank's LIBOR fine - for getting caught doing what Enron got caught doing about a decade ago: manipulating California's electricity markets. Although while the former ended up being the biggest corporate bankruptcy at the time, led to the end of one of the nation's largest auditors and sparked a scandal so great it was all corporate America spoke for about for the next year, this time the news has come and gone, and nobody cares. Perhaps this is to be expected: in a time when none other than the central bank intervenes each and every day in every single market to preserve the "wealth effect", habituation to epic corporate manipulation of every imaginable kind is perfectly normal.
European corporates continue to report considerably more negative surprises in production than expectations a mere three months ago - with the divide now at extreme levels. As Morgan Stanley notes though, there remains a 'hope' for green shoots in the euro area on the back of the ECB's OMT announcement and an apparently more robust China. Unfortunately, as these ywo simple charts indicate, the reality is that business surveys are pointing to a continued slide and that recent resilience is unlikely to last. In fact, in Morgan Stanley's view, incoming data and anecdotal evidence would suggest Q4 could be even worse than had been expected and the recessionary envionment will drag well into next year.
There remains more than $1.6 billion of customer funds unaccounted for and whether you believe PwC (as Forbes notes) were duped or not, one year on from MFGlobal, one thing is for sure - there is no more hated character in the pits of Chicago than Jon Corzine. CNBC's Rick Santelli says it all in this blockbuster rant against the incredible reality that this 'connected' individual has got away with monetary murder. Must watch - but beware your blood pressure... as he concludes "we haven't heard the end of this - Chicago will find the answers!"
Just cancel the debt; make it disappear.
What is really causing the economic malaise that the U.S. faces today? Most economists believe that it is the lack of aggregate demand that is causing the problem which can be rectified by continued deficit spending. The current Administration believes that it is simply the lack of the "rich" not paying their "fair share" and that a redistribution of wealth will solve the issue. Romney believes that his 5-point plan will create 12 million jobs in the near future. All are wrong.
The hurricane water surge has come and gone, devastating downtown New York, but one place, the one that represents the deepest hole burrowed south of Houston street and literally lies on the New York bedrock 80 feet below street level, is safe and sound. The place, of course, is where over 20% of the world's tungsten gold is stored. Especially that of Germany (wink wink). And Germany, whose central bank was recently caught in a series of official disclosure faux pas as described here in regards to its official gold holdings, can rest assured that nothing that hasn't already happened to its gold, happened last night.
Readers of Zero Hedge know well that one of the most abhorred (by us) accounting gimmicks employed by banks each and every quarter over the past 3 years to boost their bottom line, is to engage in loan-loss reserve releases: a process which has absolutely no associated cash flow benefit, but merely boosts EPS for GAAP purposes. In some cases, like this quarter's absolutely farcical JPM earnings release, the abuse is beyond the pale, as the offending bank releases reserves even as it reports surging non-performing loans: two processes which in a normal world can not coexist. Yet quarter after quarter banks keep on doing this, and in fact a big part of Q3's to date EPS outperformance is courtesy of financial company "earnings", of which, in turn, loan losses amount to about 50% of the entire blended financials bottom line. Yet while we can rage and warn, nothing usually happens until there is a market crash due to the gross manipulation of reality that such an activity entails. Luckily, this time someone with more clout in the legacy establishment has now stood up to warn about the mounting dangers associated with the relentless abuse of loan-loss reserve releases: none other than the US Comptroller of the Currency.
Other than some obligatory arrests for disorderly conduct, the Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one year anniversary this past September with little fanfare. While the movement seems to have lost momentum, at least temporarily, it did succeed in showcasing the growing sense of unease felt among a large segment of the US population – a group the Occupy movement shrewdly referred to as “the 99%”. The 99% means different things to different people, but to us, the 99% represents the US consumer. It represents the majority of Americans who are neither wealthy nor impoverished and whose spending power makes up approximately 71% of the US economy. It is the purchasing power of this massive, amorphous group that drives the US economy forward. The problem, however, is that four years into a so-called recovery, this group is still being financially squeezed from every possible angle, making it very difficult for them to maintain their standard of living, let alone increase their levels of consumption.