The Department of Treasury is spending $200,000 on survival kits for all of its employees who oversee the federal banking system, according to a new solicitation. As FreeBeacon reports, survival kits will be delivered to every major bank in the United States and includes a solar blanket, food bar, water-purification tablets, and dust mask (among other things). The question, obviously, is just what do they know that the rest of us don't?
On October 22, 1981, the government of the United States of America accumulated an astounding $1 TRILLION in debt. At that point, it had taken the country 74,984 days (more than 205 years) to accumulate its first trillion in debt. It would take less than five years to accumulate its second trillion. And as the US government just hit $18 trillion in debt on Friday afternoon, it has taken a measly 403 days to accumulate its most recent trillion. There’s so much misinformation and propaganda about this; let’s examine some of the biggest lies out there about the US debt...
Nobel Prize Winning Economists, Federal Reserve Chair and Other Top Experts: War Is BAD for the Economy
"I'm not very worried," explains Fed Vice Chairman Stan Fischer in a very Bernanke-"contained"-like nonchalence about the total collapse of oil prices (and US oil producer stocks). Sharply lower oil prices will boost spending and aid U.S. growth, Fischer stated in a mind-blowingly naive speech for the 2nd-most-important-monetary-policy-maker-in-the-world, adding that lower oil prices were "a phenomenon that’s making everybody better off." We don’t understand his ignorance: as we noted earlier, Fischer is talking about money that would otherwise also have been spent, only on gas. There is no additional money, so where’s the boost? This is just complete and bizarre nonsense.
It appears Lazard's investment banker Antonio Weiss' "help" in tax inversions is not 'unpatriotic' enough to scare President Obama off - as we suspect Weiss' bundling and donating help more than offset any ethical challenges. However, in a somewhat eye-opening financial disclosure, Bloomberg reports that Obama's nominee for undersecretary of Treasury for domestic finance, has between $54 million and $203 million in assets spread across various family trusts and his anticipated compensation in 2014 is between $5 million and $25 million. It's good to know the 'people' are well-represented once again in Washington...
The topic of ‘currency war’ has been bantered about in financial circles since at least the term was first used by Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega in September 2010. Recently, the currency war has escalated, and a ‘sanctions war’ against Russia has broken out. History suggests that financial assets are highly unlikely to preserve investors’ real purchasing power in this inhospitable international environment, due in part to the associated currency crises, which will catalyse at least a partial international remonetisation of gold. Vladimir Putin, under pressure from economic sanctions, may calculate that now is the time to play his ‘gold card’.
“There is a danger to democracy,” a Supreme Court spokesman said, “in having police infiltrate protests when there isn’t a reasonable basis to suspect criminality.” "It is impossible to tell how effective the government’s operations are or evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the costs, since little information about them is publicly disclosed." Just another day in the American oligarchy.
- Banks to Pay $3.3 Billion in FX-Manipulation Probe (BBG)
- Symbolic being the key word: U.S., China sign symbolic emissions plan, play down rivalry (Reuters)
- Europe (so really Russian sanctions) is the new "snow in the winter" - Carney Sees Europe Stagnation Impact as Growth Outlook Cut (BBG)
- Eurozone Industrial Output Points to Weak Third Quarter Growth (WSJ)
- Not everyone around Abe is insane: Kuroda Ally Flags Warning on Delaying Sales-Tax Increase (BBG)
- Hong Kong to scrap daily yuan conversion limit to boost stock investment (Reuters)
- Barclays Falls After FX Settlement Delay Reduces Discount (BBG)
- Some unhappy Yahoo investors asking AOL for rescue (Reuters)
“A Luxembourg structure is a way of stripping income from whatever country it comes from,’’ said Stephen E. Shay, a professor of international taxation at Harvard Law School and a former tax official in the U.S. Treasury Department. The Grand Duchy, he said, “combines enormous flexibility to set up tax reduction schemes, along with binding tax rulings that are unique. It’s like a magical fairyland.”
What do an old German bank note, a current $100 bill, and an apple all have in common? The answer, according to ConvergEx's Nick Colas, is that these simple objects can tell us much about the current investment scene, ranging from Europe’s economic challenges to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s attempts to reduce unemployment. Colas takes an “object-ive” approach to analyzing the current investment landscape by describing 10 common items and how they shape our perceptions of reality. The other objects on our list: a hazmat suit, a house in Orlando, a barrel of oil, a Rolex watch, a butterfly, a heating radiator in Berlin, and a smartphone.
- Russia Loses Oil Ally in De Margerie After Moscow Crash (BBG)
- Austria's Erste denies report it has failed stress tests (Reuters)
- Sweden gets two new sightings, as hunt for undersea intruder goes on (Reuters)
- Companies Try to Escape Health Law’s Penalties (WSJ)
- Mud and Loathing on Russia-Ukraine Border (BBG)
- NOAA employee charged with stealing U.S. dam information (Reuters)
- Lower Oil Prices Seen Easing Japan’s Trade Pain (WSJ)
- Michigan becomes 5th U.S. state to thwart direct Tesla car sales (Reuters)
- Maglev Train Seen Making Washington-to-Baltimore Trip at 311 MPH (BBG)
- Dallas County May Declare State of Disaster From Ebola Virus (BBG)
- Markets on edge after worst turmoil in four years (Reuters)
- Central bankers may have no quick fix as markets swoon, economy weakens (Reuters)
- Risk of Deflation Feeds Global Fears (Hilsenrath)
- U.S. health official allowed new Ebola patient on plane with slight fever (Reuters)
- Texas Hospital Fights Allegations About Ebola Protocols (BBG)
- Treasuries Gain as Oil Drops Below $80 While Stocks Slide (BBG)
- Greek Bonds Slump on Bailout Concern as Spain Misses Sale Target (BBG)
- White House shifts into crisis mode on Ebola response (Reuters)
- Obama Confronts Slippery Slope as Islamic State Advances (BBG)
It was heinous. It was underhanded. It was beyond the bounds of international morality. It was an attack on the American way of life. It was what you might expect from unscrupulous Arabs. It was “the oil weapon” -- and back in 1973, it was directed at the United States. Skip ahead four decades and it’s smart, it’s effective, and it’s the American way. The Obama administration has appropriated it as a major tool of foreign policy, a new way to go to war with nations it considers hostile without relying on planes, missiles, and troops. It is, of course, that very same oil weapon.
This may be excessively optimistic on my part, but there seems to be a slow change in the way the world thinks about reserve currencies. For a long time it was widely accepted that reserve currency status granted the provider of the currency substantial economic benefits. For much of my career I pretty much accepted the consensus, but as one starts to think more seriously about the components of the balance of payments, it is clear Keynes wad right in his call for a hybrid currency when he recognized that once the reserve currency was no longer constrained by gold convertibility, the world needed an alternative way to prevent destabilizing imbalances from developing. On the heels of Treasury Economist Kenneth Austin and former-Obama chief economist Jared Bernstein discussing the end of the USD as a reserve currency, Michael Pettis summarizes 10 reasons the USD's reserve status has become an 'exorbitant burden'.
For investors, Fed stimulus has trumped all other factors. It has lowered risk premia and inflated asset prices. The gig is soon up, but investors have yet to adequately adjust. Unfortunately, they will attempt to do so with significantly compromised market liquidity. The path to normalization is made even more challenging, because Japan and Europe are in recession, and China is slowing.