Last time it issued bonds was in 1996, when it flirted with bankruptcy. But now a new era is dawning.
It may seem uncharitable to note that only 0.4% - that's 4/10th of 1% - of mutual fund managers outperform a plain-vanilla S&P 500 index fund over 10 years, but that is being generous: by other measures, it's an infinitesimal 1/10th of 1%. So what do we get for investing our capital in mutual funds and hedge funds? The warm and fuzzy feeling that we've contributed the liquidity needed to grease a monumental skimming operation. Ten out of 10,000 is simply signal noise; in effect, nobody beats an index fund. The entire financial management industry is a rentier arrangement: they skim immense profits and return no productive yield at all.
The Kreuzberg area of Berlin has the highest density of businesses accepting Bitcoin in the world. The clip below is fascinating as it becomes readily apparent how excited both the merchants and the customers are about using this free market currency. As the owner of a bar called Room 77, Joerg Platzer, quite interestingly commented: “Every day we do not start using a free currency like Bitcoin, we actually actively vote for the current system to continue.”
Despite the many differences between China and the U.S., their basic problems are remarkably similiar: an economy that increasingly serves a tiny Elite, and a political/financial system that is incapable of meaningful reform. Setting aside the latest bird flu outbreak and sagging indicators of growth, China 2.0 is in trouble (with 1.0 being the Communist era of 1949 -1977 and 2.0 being the modernization/globalization era of 1978 - 2013), for it remains overly reliant on unsustainable growth dynamics. Add it all up and you get a clear picture of a government and economy that is incapable of making the kind of structural reforms that are needed to make growth sustainable.
- Reinhart and Rogoff: Responding to Our Critics (NYT)
- Differences with centre-right delay Italy's Letta (Reuters)
- Italy's Letta moves forward to shape government (Reuters)
- China’s leaders warn on financial risks (FT)
- Norway oil fund makes big move from bonds to stocks (FT) - worked wonders for the Bank of Israel
- Smuggling milk is the new smuggling heroin in HK: Milk Smugglers Top Heroin Courier Arrests in Hong Kong (BBG)
- RenTec's mean reversion models fail on BOJ lunacy: Yen Bets Don't Add Up for a Fund Giant (WSJ)
- From 'Fabulous Fab' to Grad Student (WSJ)
- BOJ in credibility test as divisions emerge over inflation target (Reuters)
- Boston Bombing Suspect Moved from hospital to prison (WSJ)
- Provopoulos Says ECB May Never Need to Use Bond-Buying Program (BBG) which is good because, legally, it doesn't exist
While precious little space has been dedicated in the US media to what remains an uncontained epidemic of the H7N9 bird flu in China, cases continue to spread even as the number of deaths mount, taking at least 22 reported lives at last check. Things just got from bad to worse, as the bird flu is now following in the footsteps of the 2003 SARS breakout, with the first reported case outside of China hitting newswires overnight.
Due to decades of unreserved credit growth that temporarily boosted the appearance of sustainable economic growth and prosperity, rational economic behavior cannot produce real (inflation-adjusted) economic growth from current levels. The nominal sizes of advanced economies have grown far larger than the rational scope of production that would be needed to sustain them. This fundamental problem explains best the current state of affairs: malaise (i.e., bank system de-leveraging and economic stagnation) spreading through the means of production and the need for increasing policy intervention to stabilize goods, service and asset prices (by depressing the first three and inflating the last?). We live and work in a contrived meta-economy that can be managed through narrow channels in financial and state capitals. Given the overwhelming past misallocation of capital cited above, we think the most important realization for investors in the current environment is that price levels of goods, services and assets may be biased to rise but they are not sustainable in real (inflation-adjusted) terms. The crowd is ignoring the obvious, as all signs point towards the next currency reset.
Two days in Washington D.C. kept caterers busy but produced a 2,126 word communique long on slogans and short on anything actionable. The G-20 statement (below) can be boiled down simply, as we tweeted,
G-20 statement: "if we all lie, same as nobody lying"
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) April 19, 2013
And just to add one more embarrassing detail for them, while section 4 discusses "Japan's recent policy actions," not only does Canada's finance minister James Flaherty believe they "didn't discuss the Japanese Yen," but Japan's Kuroda believes, comments on 'misalignments', "were not meant for the BoJ."
Fitch has just downgraded the UK from AAA to AA+ - now lower than France's.
- *FITCH REVISED DOWN U.K.'S ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2013 TO 0.8%
- *FITCH REVISED DOWN U.K.'S ECONOMIC GROWTH IN 2014 TO 1.8%
- *FITCH CITES WEAKER ECONOMIC, FISCAL OUTLOOK ON U.K.
Fitch doesn't see the UK economy reaching 2007 highs until 2014 - so there's hope?
The streets of Buenos Aires are full of revolting Argentinians this evening as they protest President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's (CFdK) plans to 'increase' state control of the court system. CFdK's proposal looks to limit the judicial system's ability to bring actions against the state, as Bloomberg reports, leaving citizens and companies unprotected against state actions affecting their finance or assets (i.e. mass nationalization or confiscation). As the images below show, the people are angry, exclaiming "No to impunity." CFdK's actions follow previous attempts to take action against companies have failed or taken too long; but acting behind a facade of "increasing democracy and transparency," it appears her intent is clear as the bankrupt nation struggles on. "The reform will do great damage," warned one business leader, adding that limiting these injunctions, "undermines individual's rights and freedom."
Yes, there was economic news overnight, such as a Eurozone and UK CPI, both of which came in line with expectations (1.7% and 0.4% respectively), and a German ZEW which confirmed Europe's accelerating deterioration, tumbling from 48.5 to 36.3, far below expectations of a 41.0 print (somehow the huge miss has managed to push the EURUSD up by 60 pips to an overnight high of 1.31 but this is merely the pre-US open manipulation to ramp US equities higher), just as there was news that Angela Merkel's support for a Cyprus bailout is growing (was there an alternative?), and that as part of their ongoing investigation into Italy's repeatedly insolvent Monte Paschi, investigators had seized €1.8 billion worth of assets from Nomura Holdings, and that Spain as usual sold more Bills than expected, driven by oversize Japanese and Pension Fund purchases, but what everyone has been looking for is whether the relentless and record rout in gold is over. For now, it appears that is the case, with gold printing an overnight low of just over $1320 and ramping higher ever since, up 3% so far and rising.
Back in 2012, amid "intense pressure from Obama" including an appeal for its passage in his 2012 State of the Union address, Congress passed the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act (with 96-3 theatrical votes in the Senate, and 417-2 even more theatrical votes in the House) - a bill prohibiting the use of non-public information for private profit, including insider trading by members of Congress and other government employees. It is unclear why until 2012 it was perfectly legal for congress to trade on inside information, something we pointed out in May 2011 when we wrote that a "A Hedge Fund Comprised Of Junior Congressional Democrats Should Outperform The Market By 9%" as it turned out flagrant insider trading abuse occurred mostly within the democrat ranks of the House (compared to a mere 2%+ outperformance by Congressional stock trading republicans). It turns out that any cynical skepticism regarding Congress' ability and willingness to police itself was well founded, as last night the House eliminated a "key requirement of the insider trading law for most federal employees, passing legislation exempting these workers, including congressional staff, from a rule scheduled to take effect next week that mandated online posting of financial transactions."
A discussion of what investors who are being displaced by BOJ purchases are going to do. It may not be as simple as rushing to buy foreign assets that people are anticipating.
MERS: The Center of the Mortgage Scam
With Bitcoins changing digital hands for over $260 this morning, having doubled in a week (and exponentially risen in weeks), many have asked how to 'trade' or 'short' this virtual currency. Well, perhaps the answer is here. As TechCrunch notes, Coinsetter - a NY-based startup looking to launch a trading platform for Bitcoin has raised $500,000 in seed capital. The platform will allow leverage (via margin) and the ability to short the market. We can only imagine the hour-by-hour margin changes. Furthermore, Coinsetter intends to offer accredited investors (because wealth equals smarts, right) the ability to earn interest on Bitcoins. To put his money where his mouth is, Lukasiewicz, a former JPM investment banker, has said that he will "put up at least $50,000 of his own money towards the platform's initial margin reserves." Forget NFLX; Ignore FNM; day-trading Bitcoin with leverage is the new normal. What's the opposite of catching a falling knife?