We Americans are in something approaching complete denial about how truly horrible our nation’s recent impact on the rest of the world has been. We are universally hated, even by those who have their hands out to receive their Danegeld, and the world is undoubtedly shaking its head as it listens to the bile coming out of the mouths of our presidential candidates. Shakespeare observed that the “evil that men do lives after them,” but he had no experience of the United States.
Just a few weeks ago, US talk show host Stephen Colbert was asked if he thought that Donald Trump had a chance of becoming President of the United States. Colbert responded sincerely. “Honestly, he could. And that’s not an opinion of Trump. That’s my opinion of our nation.” He’s right. The Land of the Free may very well be ready for something completely different. And Trump certainly seems able to deliver.
The real reason why retail investors weren't impacted by the NYSE's halt is a hard truth... to retail investors, the NYSE is always dark
Where Do Retail Investor Orders Go? The simple answer: to the highest contracted bidder. Stock "wholesalers" or internalizers like Citadel or Knight pay retail brokers lots of cash to execute retail trades, essentially creating a "third market". Why? Because in a high frequency trading world, where stock prices have never been more fuzzy to the end user, but crystal clear to those that spend enormous sums on colocation and PhD employees, it's never been easier to print money (not unlike Bernie Madoff's scheme in the 90's). But that is the subject of a much, much longer story. Someone should write a book.
We have rich people, poor people, right-wing economists, left-wing economists and even revolutionaries, all contesting Piketty’s argument. It seems we the People do have a point against him. But will it prevail? We’re not optimistic on this one. It is far more likely that Piketty's ideas will gain traction rather than fade away. Why? Because it gives politicians and their Keynesian consorts yet another framework and justification as to why the state should be the key allocator of resources in society.
We are observing the emergence of a new phase in The Golden Age of the Central Banker – the cult phase – to use the sociological lingo. Joseph Heller’s brilliant book provides the starting point, not only by calling attention to the prevalence and power of Catch-22’s in the investment world today, but also in the creation of a self-regulated, faith-based system of social behavior. A Catch-22 world is not a happy world, but it is a very stable world, at least on its own terms. Change is very unlikely to come from within, and internal market risk indicators are all quite benign. But external market risk indicators are all screaming red, as the global environment has rarely been this worrisome for political shocks, trade/forex shocks, and supply shocks with the scope and power to challenge the Central Banking gods.
"We are all wrong so often that it amazes me that we can have any conviction at all over the direction of things to come. But we must." - Cramer
"Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them." - Immanuel Kant
"I am calm. But I am angry, too. It doesn’t have to be this way... this consensus-by-fiat style of policy leadership where we are always only one counter-factual reveal – the sick nurse or the sick economy – away from a breakdown in market or governmental confidence. I am angry that we have been consistently misjudged and underestimated, treated as children to be “educated” rather than as citizens to be trusted. I am angry that our most important political institutions have sacrificed their most important asset – not their credibility, but their authenticity – on the altar of political expediency, all in a misconceived notion of what it means to lead. And yet here we are. On the precipice of that breakdown in confidence. A cold wind of change is starting to blow. Can you feel it?"
Google "grocery prices last 12 months" and it's post after post beginning with "Consumer prices rise" or "Rising food prices bite." One person who is happy about this is the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, for instead of being like Europe, that is “clearly in the grip of a deflationary vortex,” America only teeters on the edge of a general price plunge. “And there but for the grace of Bernanke go we,” writes the voice of Grey Lady economics wisdom. However, Mr. Krugman shouldn’t declare defeat to the deflationists just yet. Bankers are learning to say ‘yes’ again, and that means velocity and price increases.
Yes, U.S. capital markets have officially gone "Full Seinfeld"; As ConvergEX's Nick Colas notes, Tuesday’s selloff over “Nothing” reversed higher Wednesday throuygh Friday for similarly non-specific reasons. So, today we will go a little further afield and talk about words and what they tell us about shifting societal priorities and norms. Wonder what the most commonly searched word might be on the Merriam-Webster website? It is “Pragmatic”... which seems incredibly ironic given the total lack of pragmatism that appears to be shown in world markets.
- Omnicom, Publicis call off proposed $35 billion merger (Reuters)
- Apple in talks for $3.2bn Beats deal (FT)
- Alibaba IPO Grew Out of ’80s Chaos and Guy From Goldman (BBG)
- Nigeria's president at WEF pledges to free kidnapped girls (Reuters)
- JPMorgan Joins Wells Fargo in Rolling Out Jumbo Offerings (BBG)
- It's 1999 all over again: Young Bankers Fed Up With 90-Hour Weeks Move to Startups (BBG)
- ECB stimulus talk knocks euro, peripheral yields (Reuters)
- Deutsche Bank Currency Crown Lost to Citigroup on Volatility (BBG)
- London Taxis Plan 10,000-Car Protest Against Uber App Use (BBG)
- Pfizer Holders Could Face Tax Hit in a Deal for AstraZeneca (WSJ)
Low-wage workers clocked the shortest workweek on record in December - even shorter than at the depth of the recession, new Labor Department data showed Friday. The figures underscore concerns about the Obamacare employer insurance mandate's impact on the work hours and incomes of low-wage earners. Still, as Krugman told Colbert recently, he's "ok with a little bit of wealth redstribution from people who have been lucky to people who are unlucky."
A douche bag is someone who lets you know who and what he is without any need of explanation: Mike Norman
We were wondering how long until the latest lunatic idea out of the "serious economist" mainstream would get the proper comedic treatment it so rightfully deserves. That time finally came last night when Stephen Colbert gave it the 3 minutes of attention it almost deserves. Oh well, now that it has made the comic circuit it is time to officially forget about this idiotic idea... At least until the next debt ceiling crisis in a year or so when like a bad sequel to Weekend at Bennie's Bernie's, it is resurrected once more.
A week ago we reported that as part of the surge in the Italian anti-austerity movement, the time had come for none other than that forced exile (courtesy of the ECB's bond yield tactics) whose political career ended prematurely precisely one year ago, Silvio Berlusconi, to announce not only his political ambitions, but his desire for vengeance when he made it clear he is willing and ready to scuttle Mario Monti's cabinet. It appears that in the April elections, Silvio may now be challenged by none other than Ferrari head, Luca de Montezomolo, boss of the Scuderia, who Ansa reports "has hinted he might rethink his recent No to stepping into the political ring after April elections."
Forget turning Japanese, an anxious-looking Paul Krugman appeared on Stephen Colbert last night to hawk his book and suggested that "Ireland is Romney economics in practice". Noting that Obama "inherited a Depression" but has unfortunately not taken us out of it due to a "whole lot of opposition from 'the other guys'". The Kaped Keynesian Krusader went on to note that "a recession is when things are going down but a depression is when things are down" and suggests an Obama campaign slogan "It's Not As Bad As The Great Depression" to which Colbert retorts that electing Romney would seem to be the path to 'ending this depression now'. While Krugman opines that if we would just re-hire all the government workers who have been laid off over the past few years then all would be well in the world, we suspect Colbert is closer to the truth when he comedically adds that "obviously the way to end the real depression is a war in Europe" and while USA is not Greece (or Uganda), it appears we will be Ireland if Romney gets elected.