The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity-shipping rates, has collapsed 39% in just the nine trading days of 2014. It has fallen from 2277 at the end of December 2013 to 1370 today (see chart). This key indicator of global economic health is a warning signal for the global economy in 2014.
Day two of the bounce from the biggest market drop in months is here, driven once again by weak carry currencies, with the USDJPY creeping up as high as 104.50 overnight before retracing some of the gains, and of course, the virtually non-existant volume. Whatever the reason don't look now but market all time highs are just around the corner, and the Nasdaq is back to 14 year highs. Stocks traded higher since the get-go in Europe, with financials leading the move higher following reports that European banks will not be required in upcoming stress tests to adjust their sovereign debt holdings to maturity to reflect current values. As a result, peripheral bond yield spreads tightened, also benefiting from good demand for 5y EFSF syndication, where price guidance tightened to MS+7bps from initial MS+9bps. Also of note, Burberry shares in London gained over 6% and advanced to its highest level since July, after the company posted better than expected sales data. Nevertheless, the FTSE-100 index underperformed its peers, with several large cap stocks trading ex-dividend today. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the latest Empire Manufacturing report, PPI and DoE data, as well as earnings by Bank of America.
It would appear that the government, via its mortgage-financing subs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is providing yet another $50 to $100 million fillip to banks - but this time at the expense of their ignorance. As Reuters reports, the FBI is investigating "unsophisticated tradecraft," such as hand signals and special telephone ring tones, that some traders are conspiring to rig rates on large orders submitted by the GSEs - front running them in the interest rate swaps market. Of course, no one is surprised at yet another manipulation or malfeasance but the 'high-level-employee' whistleblower's exposure is perhaps not surprising since the size of 'hedging' orders from the mortgage-managers provides an incentive for front-running ahead of the trades - "GSEs frequently submit large interest-rate swap trades, making them easy targets for front running and lucrative targets for market manipulation."
The Chinese military, especially the navy, made great strides last year in improving its combat capabilities, enabling it to better defend the nation against threats to its sovereignty, according to analysts. As China Daily reports, less than a month after being named the head of China's Central Military Commission, President Xi Jinping asked PLA officers to adopt realistic combat criteria in military training. "It is the top priority for the military to be able to fight and win battles," he said during an inspection to the Guangzhou military theater of operations in December 2012. While some have suggested the rapidly expanding PLA navy is driving a seismic shift in Asia's military balance, Chinese experts have refuted such rhetoric, saying military moves by China are only aimed at creating improved self-defense by providing capabilities to match the other parties in the region.
- House Unveils $1.01 Trillion Measure to Fund Government (BBG)
- Credit Suisse Tells Junior Bankers to Take Saturdays Off (BBG)
- Spot the odd word out: ECB Sees Bad-Debt Rules as Threat to Credible Bank Review (BBG)
- Insert laugh track here: Spain GDP grows at fastest pace in almost six years (FT)
- Scandinavian Debt Crisis Waiting to Happen Puzzles Krugman (BBG)
- Fed Said to Release Plan to Limit Banks’ Commodities Activities (BBG)
- Thai Protesters Extend Blockade After Rejecting Poll Talks (BBG)
- China provinces set lower growth goals for 2014 (BBG)
- Full onslaught 1: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's Aides Pressed Hard for Endorsements (WSJ)
- Full onslaught 2: Feds investigating Christie's use of Sandy relief funds (CNN)
- Iran nuclear deal to take effect on January 20 (Reuters), Iran to get first $550 million of blocked $4.2 billion on February 1 (Reuters)
- Sen. McCaskill didn’t want to be in same elevator with Hillary Clinton (Hill)
- The banks win again: Basel Regulators Ease Leverage-Ratio Rule for Banks (BBG)
- Ireland's Rebound Is European Blarney (NYT)
- Democrats prove barrier for Obama in quest for trade deals (FT)
- Federal Reserve Said to Probe Banks Over Forex Fixing (BBG)
When it comes to socialism, the world's premier promoter of egalite - France's Francois Hollande - is very aware that in a socialist utopia, no property is private. Hence everything can be shared, such as actress Julie Gayet with whom it was revealed last week he had an affair. The problem is that the First Lady, er, Girlfriend of France, Valerie Trierweiler, 48, did not share her boyfriend's Marxist view. And, as Reuters reports, when Trierweiler found out about an affair between Francois Hollande and the aforementioned Julie Gayet, 41, she was hospitalized on Sunday morning "because of exhaustion." But before readers cry for Madame Trierweiler, recall that while Hollande is a fervent fan of socialism, the former first girlfriend some far more interested in being more equal than others. Per the Mail: "She currently has five staff working for her at her office as well as numerous other taxpayer-funded perks, including homes across France, private jets and limousines. As anger at the scandal grew, politicians suggested Miss Trierweiler’s position was already untenable."
Now that even Bridgewater has joined the Twitter craze and is using user-generated content for real-time economic modelling, and who knows what else, the scramble to determine who has the most market-moving, and actionable, Twitter stream is on. Because with HFT algos having camped out at all the usual newswire sources: Bloomberg, Reuters, Dow Jones, etc. the scramble to find a "content edge" for market moving information has never been higher. However, that opens up a far trickier question: whose information on the fastest growing social network, one which many say may surpass Bloomberg in terms of news propagation and functionality, is credible and by implication: whose is not? Indeed, that is the $64K question. Luckily, there is an algo for that.
Following the suicide bombings and the discovery of numerous explosive devices near Sochi - the site of the Winter Olympics - the US state department warned Americans of the potential for terrorism. As Reuters reports, in a 'travel warning' that the Olympics presented "an attractive target for terrorists," the department urged Americans to be vigilant about personal security at the Games, and flagged the possibility of petty crime, inadequate medical care and hotel shortages. Somewhat oddly, the state department also used the warning to highlight the fact that a Russian law, much criticized by rights groups, that would make it a crime to publicly promote the equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Despite telling us just yesterday that it would not take sides in the tensions in South Sudan...
*U.S. NOT TAKING SIDES IN S SUDAN: PSAKI
the US government is on the verge of deciding to... take sides. As Reuters reports, the United States is weighing targeted sanctions against South Sudan due to its leaders' failure to take steps to end a crisis that has brought the world's youngest nation to the brink of civil war. Africa, as we have discussed at length, remains the only region on earth with incremental debt capacity (and therefore growth in a Keynesian world) and so it is no surprise the US wants to get involved in yet another conflict.
- From the guy who said the market is not overvalued: Q&A with Fed’s Williams on Upbeat 2014 Outlook and What Keeps Him up at Night (Hilsenrath)
- Obama Readies Revamp of NSA (WSJ)
- Indian envoy leaves U.S. in deal to calm diplomatic row (Reuters)
- China overtakes US as largest goods trader (FT)
- Wall Street Predicts $50 Billion Bill to Settle U.S. Mortgage Suits (NYT)
- Low-End Retailers Had a Rough Holiday: Family Dollar, Sears Struggle as Lower-Income Customers Remain Under Pressure (WSJ)
- ECB charts familiar course as Japan, US and UK begin to diverge (FT)
- Housing experts warn of hiccups as new U.S. mortgage rules go live (Reuters)
- It's a HFT eat HFT world: Infinium ex-employees sue over $4.1m loss (FT)
- Slowing China crude imports to challenge exporters (FT)
Head Of Recently Bankrupt FX Concepts Wants You To Know He Is Back, With A Newsletter And A Bloomberg TerminalSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/09/2014 14:50 -0500
2013 may have been a bad year for Bill Gross, but nobody had it worse than John Taylor. The former head of FX concepts saw his hedge fund - once an FX trading behemoth and the largest in the world with $14 billion in AUM in 2007 - crash, burn, and file for bankruptcy as we reported previously. But the cherry on top was the revelation that a year before its filing, Taylor personally guaranteed some $5 million of the FX Concepts' debt owed to Asset Management Finance, a unit of Credit Suisse. Surely, such a sequence of events would be enough to turn even the staunchest financial addict away from the markets for ever. But not John Taylor - the former FX guru has a message for all of you: he is not only back, but is launching a newsletter.... oh and he has a Bloomberg terminal too.
In the first step towards President Obama's income inequality fight, he is unveiling "Promise Zones" today... we can't wait to hear this one..."Promise Zones are a new way of doing business,” the administration official said. “They will be led by local community leadership working toward a common goal … supported by the federal government.” Participants will get priority for federal grants and help applying from an array of agencies. Wonderful, sounds great - how are we paying for that again?
Mess with us, we'll mess with you. That is the message one can derive from JPMorgan's surprise announcement that it plans to "sell or wind down its business of issuing prepaid cards for corporate payrolls and government tax refunds and benefits." Which also includes the infamous Electronic Benefits Transfer, or foodstamps, card. According to Reuters, the product, which has been offered with cash and treasury services to companies and governments, "had become a headache of risks in operations and regulations, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly." In other words, JPM just told the government which has been going after it relentless for the past year, forcing JPM to rack up some $25 billion in litigation reserves, you can find someone else to manage your wholesale welfare program for nearly 50 million Americans.