By now everyone knows how Americans feel about America: one quarter of the population (the half of the less than half that voted) is convinced the US is plunging into a socialist void that would make the USSR proud, another quarter of the population is furious at the wealthy and demands that they be taxed up the wazoo because "they didn't build that" but certainly profited from it, and is demanding wealth and income redistribution, while the silent majority is quietly picking up whatever pieces it can, and batting down the hatches, seeing very well, beyond the fog of bias and subjectivity, the inevitable epic deleveraging disaster, followed by even more epic printing that is coming this way. But how does the rest of the world see the US, especially now that the fiscal cliff (and the much less discussed debt ceiling debate: why, we don't know - it was "merely" the debt ceiling that led to a 20% drop in 2011). Yesterday, German financial media Spiegel provided a glimpse into just how Europe, which is in deep feces itself, sees America. The verdict: the next Greece.
- Greek Aid Payment Call Won’t Be Made Next Week, EU Official (Bloomberg)
- Eurozone faces brinkmanship on Greece (FT)
- Pressure Rises on Fiscal Crisis (WSJ)
- The JC Penney massacre continues (BBG) - In other news, any minute now Bill Ackman will get that 15x return...
- SEC left computers vulnerable to cyber attacks (Reuters) cue "back door Trojan" jokes
- Former Goldman trader accused of fraud (FT)
- Elizabeth Warren's Inadvertent Best Friends: Wall Street and Republicans (BusinessWeek)
- Zurbruegg Says Managing SNB Currency Reserves Is Major Challenge (BBG)
- Obama ally leads push on fiscal cliff (FT)
- Britain threatens to block banking union (FT)
- PBOC’s Zhou Says China’s Economy Improving as Data Due (Bloomberg)
- China slaps duties on steel tube imports (FT)
- Obama to Make Statement on Economic Growth, Cutting Deficit (Bloomberg)
Perhaps those sage English philosophers 'The Vapors' were on to something 32 years ago when they asked if we were "Turning Japanese" for it seems the following charts from Nomura certainly suggest the US bond market is heading in that direction. From demographics to monetary policy; from investor allocations to flows; and from bond bubbles and volatility to long-term interest-rate paths, it seems we share a lot more than a love for sushi and pachinko with our neigbours across the ocean as we seem to be chasing after many Japanese models (of asset allocation and macro-economics).
Yesterday, we were offered 'hopes and prayers' by Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg. However, as he warned then, there are some things to be worried about. From the wide gaps in voting patterns across socio-economic lines and the expectations that populist policies will be the hallmark of Obama's second term to the mixed-to-negative data across employment data, consumer spending indications, housing, and Europe; it appears the market is starting to price in some positive probability of a fiscal cliff and these macro data do nothing to subsidize that reality. While the President does not face the Great Recession of four years ago, he does confront the "Not So Great Recovery" nonetheless.
Yesterday’s price action offered a messy preview of what lies around the corner, for the U.S. economy confronts its own Biblical demise, otherwise known as the fiscal cliff, when it slips past its own (Asteroid-less Armageddon-like) zero barrier which we estimate as the December 21 triple witch expiration. To be sure, I do not equate a near guaranteed recession and significant pullback in equities as calamitous as what Mr. Willis et al faced; but in short, the two sides are as far apart as ever as the Democrats will be emboldened by the Election while the GOP will point to roughly 50% of the country, exemplified by the popular vote, who agree with its views. Politicians fail to understand that the markets project forward such that as each faction drags its feet, the damage done to stocks could be substantial. The 12.5% expected earnings estimates for the S&P 500 for the next 12 months remain highly optimistic such that an inevitable reduction would weigh on shares.
Do we have what it takes to get from here to there? This apparently simple question offers profound insights into the dynamics of individuals, households, enterprises and nation-states. If we answer this question honestly, it establishes a "road map" of what must be in place before a progression from here to a more sustainable future ("there") can take place. For most of the world's economies and societies, the answer is a resounding "no." The U.S. Status Quo is as intellectually bankrupt as it is financially bankrupt. Our "leadership" cluelessly clings to the only model they know: incentivize "consumers" into borrowing more money to buy more "stuff" from China, in the magical-thinking belief this churn will somehow lead to sustainable "growth." This is akin to handing a parched alcoholic a fresh bottle of whiskey to wean him of his addiction. There are more than a few lessons to be learned from Japan...
While the citizens of Athens rioted and threw Molotov Cocktails outside of their Parliament the elected officials narrowly passed the new austerity measures demanded by the Troika last night. They have a budget vote left, likely to be passed, and then the focus will shift to the IMF and the European Union and whether they will fund and how it will be done. The Greek government says it will run out of money on November 16 and the country has debt payments to be made on November 21. Last night’s vote in Athens was only the first page in the current chapter and there are a number of open questions left. Make no mistake; we are caught between three cliffs at present.
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,715.00, EUR 1,347.42, and 1,075.84 GBP per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,730.50, EUR 1,345.86, and GBP 1,080.75 per ounce.
Silver is trading at $31.85/oz, €25.10/oz and £20.00/oz. Platinum is trading at $1,546.75/oz, palladium at $607.30/oz and rhodium at $1,100/oz.
Gold rose $2.10 or 0.12% in New York yesterday and closed at $1,718.30. Silver hit a low of $31.209 then recovered in late trade but still finished with a loss of 0.56%.
Obama's Back In: Does He Succumb To Popular (Ignorant?) Opinion Like The Europeans Or Make The Tough ChoicesSubmitted by Reggie Middleton on 11/08/2012 13:04 -0400
Starving a skinny man doesn't make him healthy, but then again neither does shoving 30lbs of food down his throat. When will TPTB start using their heads? As long as policy mistakes are made, contrarian profits can be made as well.
The people have spoken and President Obama will serve another four years presiding over the United States. Furthermore, there is very little change to the makeup of the House and the Senate, which leaves the Administration in the same battle for control as it was prior to the election. The question now is what will the next four years look like economically? The amount of debt required today to create a single dollars' worth of GDP today is clearly unsustainable. However, the current Administration has been increasing Federal debt at a run rate of more than $1.2 Trillion annually to date. The understanding of the impact of increasing debt on economic growth is crucially important to understand. Overall, the set up going forward looks like it has in the past couple of years. It is unlikely that Obama will move to the center and be more of a politician with the best interest of the economy at heart. It is also just as unlikely that the Republicans will back down and begin to cooperate with the Senate. However, the weight of evidence is stacked in favor of "more of the same" which means less for you and me.
Much like the Beige Book attempts to summarize the 'economic conditions' of all the 12 regional Federal Reserve branches, so Goldman's David Kostin screens the companies in the S&P 500 for common themese from their earnings calls. This anecdotal evidence provides critical insight into the current fundamental and thematic trends. The three key findings are (1) Managements delayed capital investment and hiring and gave conservative guidance given uncertainty about the real economy and near-term policy risk from the ‘Fiscal Cliff’; (2) Companies grappled with slow global growth: stagnation in the US, recession in Europe, and an unclear path in China; and (3) Many firms took strong action to protect high margins against tepid revenue growth, rising input costs, and frugal customers. Meanwhile, a near-record percent of small businesses rank government requirements as their biggest challenge!
- Obama First Since FDR Re-Elected With 7.9% Joblessness (Bloomberg)
- China Party Meets to Anoint Next Leader (WSJ)
- Hu Sets China Income Target for Xi as Communists Gather (Bloomberg)
- Hu Jintao dashes hope for political reform (FT)
- Spain Sells $6 Billion Debt, Placing Longest Bond Since 2011 (Bloomberg)
- Japanese Politicians Move to Steer Away From Fiscal Cliff (Bloomberg)
- Hu says graft threatens state, party must stay in charge (Reuters)
- Weidmann in Defeat Still Influences ECB Bond-Buying Plan (Bloomberg)
- Spain Said to Consider Palace Sales to Raise Cash (Bloomberg)
- First-term headwinds look set to turn (FT)
- Focus Shifts to 'Fiscal Cliff' (WSJ)
- Obama Victory Paves Way to Continue Fed Policies (Hilsenrath)
- Swiss, Greeks Begin Talks on Tax Deal (WSJ)
Against the backdrop of a tepid US recovery, Eurozone recession and stuttering growth across emerging markets, investors are beginning to focus on how the 'status quo' outcome impacts the odds of cliff-avoidance; which after all, if there is one thing economists agree on, it is that a US and global recession will ensue if the legislated tax increases and spending cuts worth roughly 3.5% of US GDP take effect next year. UBS believes that if the US economy dips into recession, operating earnings -which are near peak levels - could easily plunge by a fifth. Risk premia would climb, particularly because the US and the world have run out of policies that could lift their economies out of recession. Those factors point to significant downside risk (at least 30%) for global equity markets if the US falls off the 'cliff'. Yet the S&P500 remains within a few percentage points of its cyclical highs. Accordingly, as we have previously concluded, investors assign a very low probability to the ‘cliff’ and a 2013 US recession, which UBS finds 'darn surprising' that this much faith in common sense prevailing in Washington amidst such divisive politics. But for all the attention the ‘cliff’ deserves, UBS notes the fundamental challenge for the US (and many other countries) is to address fiscal stability as a long-term necessity, not a short-term fix.
Trish Regan and Adam Johnson do their best to hold themselves together in this sublime rant by 'Gloom, Boom & Doom's Marc Faber on Bloomberg TV as he sees Obama's re-election as "very negative for the economy". From his view that the market should be down at least 20% - and maybe 50%, to the implied ignorance of both of the candidates, he believes fervently that the "standards of living of people in the western hemisphere will continue to decline." Faber views Obama's re-election as one of many unintended consequences of market manipulation (since Democrat attacks on the wealthy were 'enabled' by their profiteering from Bernanke's money printing) and sees the need to protect one's assets "with a gun, a machine gun... or perhaps a tank." He concludes with a stunner as he exclaims his view doubting Obama will make it through the whole four-year term because "there will be so many scandals" since "there is so much smoke, there must be some fire!"
The very same problems that the world faced on November 5, 2012 remain in place. And we now know that those in power (Bernanke and Draghi) favor money printing over everything else. So the cost of living/ inflation will continue to rise and the world will lurch ever closer to the great debt implosion that will eventually take down the financial system.