Timothy Geithner

Lagarde A Shoo In? Not So Fast...

Following an earlier report by Handelsblatt which made it seem that Christine Lallouette Lagarde's (henceforth CLL) ascent to the head of the IMF was a fait accompli, here comes Reuters to spoil the party. As was disclosed deep in the footnote area of the German article, Christine has a bit of a legal cloud of her own to deal with. To wit: "Her prospects could be undermined by a legal row, unlikely to be resolved before June at the earliest, over her decision to settle a dispute between the state and businessman Bernard Tapie, a personal friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Lagarde denies any misconduct, and there is no suggestion of personal profit. But legal trouble could delay her appointment or even make her unacceptable to the IMF as it tries to polish its image after Strauss-Kahn's dramatic fall from grace." And once again nothing is ever easy for Europe: the continent which would be very glad to never again see a male figurehead atop the IMF following the latest humiliation (even though technically the IMF has the US as its key source of capital, European countries add up to well over the US stake) will likely not be willing to risk a court defeat which would likely come only after the critical decision will have to be made. Perhaps it is time to buy some puts on CLL white smoke chances after all.

March Trade Deficit Jumps To $48.2 Billion As Imports Surge

And just as Citigroup predicted, US imports surge even as US exports jump to a record $172.7 billion. But the story is once again in the GDP reducing imports which jump by a whopping $220.8 billion, a $10.4 billion jump M/M. The total deficit of $48.2 billion is the highest since the June 2010 spike which hit $49.9 billion. From the release: "Exports increased to $172.7 billion in March from $165.0 billion in February. Goods were $124.9 billion in March, up from $117.8 billion in February, and services were $47.7 billion in March, up from $47.2 billion in February. Imports increased to $220.8 billion in March from $210.4 billion in February. Goods were $187.0 billion in March, up from $176.9 billion in February, and services were $33.8 billion in March, up from $33.5 billion in February. For goods, the deficit was $62.1 billion in March, up from $59.1 billion in February. For services, the surplus was $13.9 billion, up from $13.7 billion in February." Ah, financial innovation being exported as per usual. Look for another round of Q1 GDP downgrades as this number takes out a few basis points in growth. As we know from China that April exports to the US jumped even more, this import surge will likely carry over into Q2 and result in more GDP cuts.

Banks, Hedge Funds Threaten A Repeat Of Lehman If Debt Ceiling Not Raised

As we reported yesterday, The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee, easily the most important 3rd party advisory structure at the US Treasury currently, chaired not surprisingly by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, released a letter to Tim Geithner, doubling up his calls for untold death and destruction, not to mention plunging year end bonuses, if the US is not allowed to kick the can down the road for another 1-2 years. For those curious, in addition to the Matt Zames chaired committee, other members include Soros, Tudor, Bank of America, BNY, Moore, Alliance Bernstein, Morgan Stanley, Round Table IMC, Brevan Howard, PIMCO (lol), Dodge & Cox, RBS, and Western Asset Management. The full M.A.D. letter is presented below.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm.... The Ben Bernanke Flying Circus

Today, the world has replaced Messrs.. Cleese, Chapman, Palin, Gilliam, Idle and Jones with a new ‘Flying Circus’. Their names are, for the most part, equally well-known and, sadly, becoming ever-more identified with high comedy as they try to convince the world that the dollar is, actually, in rude health. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ‘Ben Bernanke’s Flying Circus’ - starring Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Janet Yellen, Bill Dudley, Charles Plosser, Richard Fisher & featuring Barack Obama.

The Government Shutdown Battle Is Over; Now The Real Soap Opera Ratings War Begins

For some reason, much ado is being made about the nothing that is last night's 11th (or technically 10th) hour aversion of a government shutdown. As we pointed out last week, it is not as if this strawman outcome, or for that matter the raising of the debt ceiling was ever in doubt: "look for both of these events to be consistently spun as key positive outcomes, even though the chance of these things actually not transpiring in a non-favorable light is non-existent." And sure enough, we are confident that the spin of this outcome will be extremely bullish even if in reality it is the perpetuation of a baseline status quo, while the alternative would have been unthinkable. In the grand scheme of things, this was nothing more than a free episode of political soap opera. The markets largely shrugged, because the Treasury Department still would have been able to issue and service debt and the Fed would continues to goose markets higher courtesy of POMO. Yet as Reuters points out astutely: "The battle over the U.S. budget has ended. Now the war begins. The debate over this year's budget that took the U.S. government to within an hour of a shutdown is only a dress rehearsal for bigger spending clashes to come." Here is what to look forward to, as the beltway entertainment spigot is cranked out to the max.

Today's Economic Events

Not much in economic releases today: several Fed speeches, and the usual POMO completion at 11:00 am.

Guest Post: The Return Of Precious Metals And Sound Money

Well, those devious gold bugs and sound money advocates are at it again! They had the audacity to produce economic analysis that consistently outshines and embarrasses mainstream Keynesian pundits. They had the nerve to expose the seedy underpinnings of the private Federal Reserve. They even had the gall to bring the long established short manipulations of metals markets by global banks like JP Morgan and HSBC into the light of day, where anyone whose head was not buried in the dark recesses of their own colon could see and say “My god! There really is an organized cabal against gold and silver!” But if you thought all that was outrageous, these people, who promote the insane notion that our currency should actually be backed by tangible wealth and should be under the control of the voting public instead of some unaccountable parasitic corporate central bank, have now brought state legislators into the mix! The return to sound money has begun…

Guest Post: Analysis of the Global Insurrection Against Neo-Liberal Economic Domination and the Coming American Rebellion

In previous Revolution Roundups, before we were knocked offline, we featured mass protests by the people of Ireland, Italy, Britain, Austria, Greece, France and Portugal, as the Global Insurrection contagion spread throughout Europe. And now, as we have seen over the past month, North African and Middle Eastern nations have joined the movement as the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Morocco, Gabon, Mauritania, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan and Algeria have taken to the streets en masse. The connection between this latest round of uprisings and the prior protests throughout Europe is one the mainstream media is not making. We are witnessing a decentralized global rebellion against Neo-Liberal economic imperialism. While each national uprising has its own internal characteristics, each one, at its core, is about the rising costs of living and lack of financial opportunity and security. Throughout the world the situation is the same: increasing levels of unemployment and poverty, as price inflation on food and basic necessities is soaring...The global banking cartel, centered at the IMF, World Bank and Federal Reserve, have paid off politicians and dictators the world over — from Washington to Greece to Egypt. In country after country, they have looted national economies at the expense of local populations, consolidating wealth in unprecedented fashion – the top economic one-tenth of one percent is currently holding over $40 trillion in investible wealth, not counting an equally significant amount of wealth hidden in offshore accounts. IMF imperial operations designed to extract wealth and suppress populations have been ongoing for decades. As anyone researching economic imperialism will know, a centrally planned Neo-Liberal aristocracy controls the global economy.

One Minute Macro Update

Markets sluggish this morning. Kansas City Fed president Thomas Hoenig, an outspoken critic of the Fed, warned yesterday that the central bank’s easy money policy may lead to another financial crisis through increased speculation. The comments came on the same day as the release of President Obama’s optimistic economic report to Congress, which plans on a doubling exports by 2014. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner also complimented the current recovery in a separate statement. Mortgage applications rose 13.2% last week after slipping 9.5% the week prior, the lowest since November 2008. Existing home sales grew in January by 2.7% MoM v -1.1%E. The unexpected increase occurred with the lowest median price in almost nine years as the number of foreclosures and short sales reached a twelve month high. Similarly, consensus estimates expect new home sales to decline 7.3% MoM. Look for that release later this morning as an additional metric for the slow recovery in housing.