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.
While much of New York City and Westchester remain 'dark' thanks to Sandy; it seems across the pond, the government of Valencia has gone dark due to stupidity. As El Economista reports, several departments of the Generalitat Valenciana have remained without power Tuesday after a power cut ordered by Gas Natural Fenosa, trading company that supplies electricity to the regional administration. The reason, well it's not clear, but reading between the lines of the comments of one politician "disastrous [government] policy has left the box empty so there's no point to pay for electricity," suggests a combination of lack of funding and a need to 'bite one's own nose off to spite the face'. The 'incomprehensible and inconceivable' temporary cessation of power has apparently been restored - after the government 'satisfied payments to the company'. Perhaps this anecdotal snafu explains why Spanish bonds have been bleeding higher in yield when all we hear from talking heads is that all is well - and deficits will be better next year.
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.
- U.S. Super Storm’s Record Flooding Lands Blackout Blow (Bloomberg)
- Sandy Carves a Path of Destruction Across the U.S. East Coast (WSJ)
- Losses May Exceed Those of 2011 Storm (WSJ)
- Hurricane Sandy Threatens $20 Billion in Economic Damage (Bloomberg)
- Huge fire in Sandy's wake destroys dozens of NYC homes (Reuters)
- Possible levee break in New Jersey floods three towns (Reuters)
- Apple Mobile Software Head Forstall Refused to Sign Apology (WSJ)
- Stagflation in Spain (Bloomberg)
- German Oct. Unemployment Rose Twice as Much as Forecast (Bloomberg)
- A declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions (WaPo)
- Unable to copy it, China tries building own jet engine (Reuters)
- Obama Signs Disaster Declarations for NY, NJ (YNN)
With the unlimited asset purchase announcements by the Fed and ECB recently, the limits of balance sheet expansion will be put to the test. The current levels would have been seen as inconceivable a mere few years ago and now it seems business-as-usual as investors have become heuristically biased away from the remarkable growth. The problem is - central banks are missing inflation targets and credit growth is still declining - need moar easing, forget the consequences.
It doesn’t matter how abundant liquid fossil fuels might be; it’s their cost that impacts the economy. Many people think “peak oil” is about the world is “running out of oil." Actually, “peak oil” is about the world running out of cheap, easy-to-get oil. That means fossil fuels might be abundant (supply exceeds demand) for a time but still remain expensive. We are trained to expect that anything that is abundant will be cheap, but energy is a special case: it can be abundant but costly, because it’s become costly to produce. EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) helps illuminate this point.
It is cloudy out there as Sandy enters the mid-Atlantic region, although for all the pre-apocalypse preparations in New York, the Frankenstorm may just be yet another dud now that its landfall is expected to come sufficiently south of NYC to make the latest round of Zone 1 evacuations about overblown as last year's Irene hysteria (of course it will be a gift from god for each and every S&P company as it will provide a perfect excuse for everyone to miss revenues and earnings in Q4). That said, Wall Street is effectively closed today for carbon-based lifeforms if not for electron ones, and a quick look at the futures bottom line, which will be open until 9:15 am Eastern, shows a lot of red, with ES down nearly 10 ticks (Shanghai down again as the same old realization seeps day after day - no major easing from the PBOC means Bernanke and company is on their own) as the Friday overnight summary is back on again: Johnny 5 must defend 1400 in ES and 1.2900 in EURUSD at all costs for just two more hours.
The 2008 elections were contested on the basis of rescuing the banks and financial markets while claiming that this was ESSENTIAL to save the economy. Four years later, the 2012 elections are being contested on the basis that the economy HAS been saved, but more needs to be done to ensure that it STAYS saved. Wall Street, as one of the first recipients of the new “money” cascading from both the Fed and the Treasury, has been happy to buy this. Main Street does NOT buy it. The result is an election campaign in the context of a comparative calm on financial markets and a seething discontent in the electorate.
That's another $190.1 Bn available to spend on IPad Minis and IPhone 5s in the Appleconomy!
While bank CEOs are welcomed on to business media everywhere with their ever-sanguine views of the recovery in everything from bayonets to housing, the true state of the financial sector is nowhere more evident than in the growth of Bloomberg Terminals. The long-term contractual lock-up and relatively expensive nature of the must-have-terminal-if-you-are-serious information provider means it is not an easy decision and when push comes to shove, it seems, Wall Street is not as confident in its future as it perhaps portrays. As the NYPost reports, Bloomberg Chairman Peter Grauer conceded that the company grew its terminal business by a mere 1000 units in the first nine months of 2012 - compared to 13,763 in 2011 (which was itself short of the 15,000 goal). The company remains highly profitable but it would appear to us that between the job cuts we noted last night, CEO expectations of economic outlooks, and now this much more specific data point on Wall Street, that the future is far less rosy than the ebulient consumer seems to believe.
"We have just spent 15 years learning that a policy of creating asset bubbles is a bad idea, so it is hard to imagine why the Fed wants to create another one. But perhaps the more basic question is: How fruitful is the wealth effect? Is the additional spending that these volatile paper profits are intended to induce overwhelmed by the lost consumption of the many savers who are deprived of steady, recurring interest income? We have asked several well-known economists who publicly support the Fed’s policy and found that they don’t have good answers. If Chairman Bernanke is setting distant and hard-to-achieve benchmarks for when he would reverse course, it is possibly because he understands that it may never come to that. Sooner or later, we will enter another recession. It could come from normal cyclicality, or it could come from an exogenous shock. Either way, when it comes, it is very likely we will enter it prior to the Fed having ‘normalized’ monetary policy, and we’ll have a large fiscal deficit to boot. What tools will the Fed and the Congress have at that point? If the Fed is willing to deploy this new set of desperate measures in these frustrating, but non-desperate times, what will it do then? We don’t know, but a large allocation to gold still seems like a very good idea."
The Department of Labor's WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) website may have been exempt from layoff notices related to the fiscal cliff, but it still provides a sufficiently (bleak) complete picture about the real nature of layoffs and business cycle in general in America's busiest city. Which is why it was precisely using the WARN website that we learned that one of New York's most historic steakhouses, "NY's Prime Steakhouse since 1927" Gallagher's, located on 52nd street, and which survive the great depression, is shutting down on January 16. Surely neither the surging price of meat, nor the ability of patrons to spend charge $46.95 for an 18 ounce sirloin, has had any impact on the decision to close this iconic restuarant which survived the Great Depression, but failed to survive Tim Geithner's "recovery".
Hugh Hendry: "I Have No Idea Where The Stock Market Is Going To Be"... But "I Am Long Gold And Short The S&P"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/25/2012 14:51 -0400
Hugh Hendry: "I have resigned from the professional undertaking of coin flipping. I am not here to tell you where gold’s going to be. I have no idea. That’s my existentialism. I am a student of uncertainty, I have no idea where the stock market is going to be. So when I am creating trades in my portfolio for my clients, I am agnostic. I just want to enhance the probability that I make money come what may."
Go to any university, any center of equities trade, any meeting place for financial academia, any fiscal think tank, and they will tell you without the slightest hint of doubt in their eyes that the U.S. economy is essential to the survival of the world. To even broach the possibility that the U.S. could be dropped or replaced as the central pillar of trade on the planet is greeted with sneers and even anger. But let’s set aside what we think (or what we assume) we know about the American financial juggernaut and consider the sordid history of the money powerhouse myth. China’s incredible gold buying extravaganzas over the past few years indicate that they are indeed hedging against what they obviously expect will be devaluation in the dollar or multiple currencies around the world including the dollar.
Bloomberg reports that Chinese silver demand is set to climb nearly 10% next year as investors look to preserve their wealth. Although China as the 2nd largest world economy may be in an economic slump, investors are seeking out silver as a value alternative investment. Silver climbed 15% this year and ETF’s holding silver have gained 6.5%. Research from Beijing Antaike said that 33% of the country’s demand comes from jewellery and coins, the rest for use in photography, solar panels electrical appliances. “Many producers and investors have hoarded the precious metal in the form of ingots or unwrought silver.” After the US Fed’s QE1, (December 2008-March 2010) silver rocketed 53%, almost twice the jump as gold, and for QE2, (ending June 2011) silver rose 24%. Morgan Stanley predicts that silver will again return more than gold after QE3 was announced this September. Chinese national statistics show that jewellery sales rose 19.3% for the first eight months compared to last year. “I’m bullish on silver, so I personally have stockpiled 3 tons of it at home,” Yang Guohui, president at Hunan Yishui Rare & Precious Metals Recycling Co., said in Xiamen on Oct. 17. Yishui is based in Yongxing County, Hunan province, where about 20 percent of China’s silver is from, according to Huang Xiaoming, head of the local precious metals management bureau.