Both Consumer Confidence And The Labor Participation Rate Are At A 30 Year Low ... That's Not A CoincidenceSubmitted by George Washington on 08/12/2011 17:31 -0500
But the administration - despite its rhetoric - is doing nothing to decrease unemployment, and is solely helping the super-rich at the expense of everyone else ...
Another constitutional slap in the face for the constitutional scholar. Just out from Reuters: the 11th Circuit Court of "Appeals court rules that Obama's healthcare law's individual mandate to own health insurance unconstitutional." It has thus found in favor of the 26 states that challeneged a requirement that Americans should purchase health insurance. What next: Obama takes Obamacare to the Supreme Court? And just when the summer seemed like it may finally get boring for a change...
Back in May, Zero Hedge penned "With China Forecast To Reach Wage Parity With The US In Five Years, Is A New Manufacturing Golden Age Coming To The US?" in which we predicted that rising labor costs courtesy of the Fed's ongoing exporting of inflation could easily backfire, and force large, profitable multinationals, for whom dollar weakness goes straight to the bottom line, to reorganize and pull offshore workers back to the US. It appears the theory is slowly shifting to practice. As Reuters reports, Conglomerates ranging from Emerson Electric to Honeywell International feel pressure on margins from double-digit wage increases in China. So have toymaker Mattel, fast-food chain Yum! Brands and computer maker Dell, analysts and investors say..."Input cost increases have been a steady headwind to margins for some time now," Fairchild Semiconductor International Chief Financial Officer Mark Frey said last month. "I do believe that labor inflation will continue high for quite a while," Yum CFO Rick Carucci said on the company's earnings conference call. He called commodity prices another "wild card" for the company." Curiously, China is proving far more adept at pushing labor price increases than America's sad, and largely ineffectively unionized labor force: ""A lot of the wage increase is to keep civil unrest at a minimum," said William Blair analyst Nick Heymann, who said suicides at an Apple supplier and the "Arab Spring" protests have alarmed Beijing. "These guys have watched North Africa and the Middle East with a lot of trepidation."" And as we speculated, the perverse outcome of Bernanke's policy to reward only companies at the expense of US Laborers (i.e., middle class) will soon backfire, as more and more companies end seeing their margins cut, in the process being forced to hire ever more people. "Wages are getting large enough that you start to feel the difference," said Hal Sirkin, a BCG senior partner, who said U.S. companies are looking at alternative manufacturing sites. "One of the answers is to start moving back to the U.S." And when they do, they may, just may, start hiring Americans once again.
Relevant news (better late than...)
UBS confirm this morning what we have been experiencing in terms of increased customer demand for gold and an increasing preference for allocated gold. UBS note that “the move to real assets such as gold in physical form signifies the heightened state of risk aversion at present.” “The gold market remains underpinned by the movement to physical gold, which has persisted all week . . . European demand for small bars particularly, but also coins, remains very strong. As the week has progressed Asian physical demand, outside India, has been noticeably higher.” The Swiss franc has fallen by another 0.4% against gold today and is down 5.7% week to date against gold. Pegging the franc to the euro would take time and would face steep legal and political hurdles – a change to the Swiss constitution would be necessary to begin with.
Today's economic docket includes retail sales and consumer sentiment and business inventories. Bill Dudley makes more remarks on iPad edibility although he may provide some critical insight as to what we may expect two weeks from now at Jackson Hole.
Just in case there was any wonder what the outcome of the refutation of the short selling rumors was, here it comes courtesy of Reuters, which informs us that the Milan Bourse has decided trading will not resume on Thursday for futures on the FTSE MIB. We doubt this is due to concerns of an explosion in buying. If Italy opens close to limit down again tomorrow, and the contagion once again spreads to France, expect an imminent resumption of a short selling ban, only to be refuted yet again 10 minutes before market close, concurrent with a day-long halt in all futures trading. And so on ad inf.
Following the NYT debacle in which it announced there was a debt deal when there was anything but (in the process however sending stocks surging on nothing but what was proven to be a lie), today it appears the NYT may have gone for the double, after first reporting earlier that Europe is about to proceed with a short-selling ban. As of minutes ago, Reuters has reported that a short-selling ban "does not look likely" according to a regulatory source. In other words we are back to the yes bailout/no bailout that marked the European days of June and July, when the leakers merely gauged the market response to determine if the rumor should become policy. It seems that after having achieved the sought after (brief) market bounce on forced short covering, Europe has decided not to go ahead and impose a ban after all... At least until tomorrow's next -5% plunge in Italian and French bank stocks.
SocGen CEO Dismisses Rumors, Says France Is Not US - He's Right, It's Worse And Bank Run Is Likely In Progress Now!Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 08/11/2011 09:08 -0500
Here is the next installment of the public evidence of a bank run in France. This is literally a carbon copy of Bear Stearns/Lehman Brothers, just on a larger scale. Listen to that sucking sound. It's the illustion of liquidity hitting the hard wall of reality! You heard it hear first.
Today's Crunch Catalyst: Asian Banks Commence Cutting Credit Lines To French Banks, Sparking Self-Fulfilling PropheciesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/11/2011 06:18 -0500
Remember how we joked (but were dead serious) that the IMF is now simply a figurehead organization, and the real global bailout cop is China? Well, that may not be the case for much long. Reuters has just broken news that at least one bank in Asia, and five other in process, has cut credit lines to major French lenders "as worries about the exposure of French banks to peripheral euro zone debt mounts, banking sources told Reuters on Thursday." Why is this worrying? Because as is by now well-known, the PBoC has been as aggressive a buyer in the primary market of European market as most European banks, which as is well-known immediately turn and pledge said debt as collateral to the ECB for 100 cents on the euro, and the fact that its proxies are now quietly withdrawing from the European market as lenders of last resort, is probably far worse news than a rumor that the S&P may cut France.... What happens next is well known to anyone who lived through the fall of 2008: credit lines withdrawn means investors dumping stock in droves, means depositors staging physical money runs, means more credit lines withdrawn, means immediate liquidity crunch, means rumors of insolvency, means self-fulfilling prophecy, means scramble to get funding first from ECB, then from Fed, but by then contagion has spread and the entire financial system is in danger of imploding, means several trillion in FX swap lines activated to prevent a run on the dollar, which also happens to be the funding currency, means another scramble to bail out capitalism.
Bild Zeitung, is Germany’s biggest- selling newspaper, is the best-selling newspaper outside Japan and has the sixth-largest circulation worldwide. Bild encouraged German people to invest in gold as the global debt crisis continues to deteriorate and cause turmoil in global markets. “While the companies listed on stock exchanges have lost over the past 14 days, about $8 trillion dollars in value, the price of gold climbed to a record high.” “While money can be printed, gold reserves are limited. To date some 150,000 tonnes of gold have been mined.” Gold “is better than cash,” the newspaper said. “While any amount of money can be printed, gold is limited,” making it “one of the safest investments in crisis times.” The article is interesting as gold has remained taboo is much of the non specialist European press and media and was only briefly covered in recent days due to the deepening crisis and succession of new record nominal highs. German demand for gold has been very robust in recent years and the Germans experience of the Weimar hyperinflation means that they are very aware of the risks posed by today’s excessive money printing and global currency debasement.
Not even an hour after Tremonti addressed parliament discussing the various ways Italy would have to reform in order to meet European demands for austerity, the now traditional serial collapse of Italian banks resume, with the halt of the unholy trinity Unicredit, Intesa, Banca dei Monte Pasci, as well as Mediobank ensuing. Concurrently the same Italian weakness appears to have spread to France where BNP falls over 5% and SocGen down over 6%, affecting financials across the Eurozone, and sparking visions of a repeat of yesterday's collapse in European markets led by the fins. And while there is the usual plethora of rumors as to what may be responsible for this renewed weakness for now it is best not to speculate for fear of black helicopters, what is certain is that Italy's main opposition leader is setting the stage for a rerun of Greek daily strikes, by objecting to the balanced-budget plan at the heart of the Italian deficit cutting program. As Reuters reports, Italian opposition leader Pierluigi Bersani on Thursday rejected proposals for a blanket constitutional rule forbidding budget deficits but said his party was ready to support rules for greater budget discipline. Bersani said his party was ready to support measures to reinforce discipline in public finances but said it made no sense to impose unrealistic constraints on policy. "First, let's not talk about things that don't exist in any place in the world," Bersani said during a hearing of the parliamentary constitutional committee. "Balancing the budget in the constitution -- well, we don't intend to castrate ourselves for centuries from any possible economic policy." "So let's find a solution that has flexibility." Translation: we now have at best a few weeks before the strike (and riot) cam moves from Syntagma Square to Piaza Navona. As for Italian (and French) bank halts: our advice - don't exhale or the entire thing will collapse, and the smallest rumor will bring the European financial sector to a screeching halt yet again.
Bank Of America Scrambles To Shore Up Capital: In Negotiations To Sell $17 Billion China Construction Bank StakeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 08/10/2011 15:53 -0500
Bank of America is doing all it can to delay the inevitable equity issuance. Reuters has just broken the news that the bank is in active negotiations with Kuwait and Qatar sovereign wealth funds to sell its $17 billion China Construction Bank stake. There are several problems with this approach: first, the petrodollar sovereign wealth funds just lost over 20% of their AUM courtesy of the global equity rout and of the plunge in oil by more than 20% in less than 2 weeks; Second: everyone recalls what happened to Alwaleed when he bought his "Blue Light" citi stake; third: if BAC does indeed sell its CCB stake, it will leave it with zero disposable assets and will have no choice but to approach the equity market. Fourth, the fact that it needs this cash is validation of all the rumors that the bank's capitalization may be urgently strapped very soon, and that today's Berkowitz call was nothing but lies (in typical BAC style); last, since the final cash need when all is said and done, when all the litigation is over and when the NY AG is done with the bank, BAC will need far, far more cash than $17 billion. Which is why any BAC bounce in the AH session should be viewed very skeptically.
Perhaps someone should staple the following latest poll from Reuters/Ipsos to the office door of the Fed chairman in the Marriner Eccles building, according to which a record number of people or 73% of all Americans, believe the economy is headed in the wrong direction. This is the highest number measured since the poll started its survey in February of 2009. Only 21% believe the US is on the right track: we assume these are the few people who actually made money in the stock market in the past few months, in other words those long various precious metals [/sarcasm]. Additionally, 47% of respondents believe the worst is yet to come for the economy, the highest since the March 2009 low when the number was 57%. Furthermore, Obama's approval rating dropped from 49% to 45% over the past month. Perhaps it is time to kill Osama for the 3rd (or is that 4th?) time. Bottom line: pessimism is now at or near fresh all time highs. And this is the environment in which the true viceroy of the Americas, Goldman Sachs, has now decreed will proceed with QE3? If the American revolution was deferred back in November when QE2 was enacted, we fail to see how it will be avoided this time around when people realize that gasoline is headed for $9/gallon. Or roughly what Europeans pay today.