"...what was once a privilege is now a burden, undermining job growth, pumping up budget and trade deficits and inflating financial bubbles. To get the American economy on track, the government needs to drop its commitment to maintaining the dollar’s reserve-currency status...The privilege of having the world’s reserve currency is one America can no longer afford."
- former Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team.
Say hello to the next financial crisis, brought to you courtesy of the dumbest new bill of the week: H.R. 5148: Access to Affordable Mortgages Act.
President Obama would have proudly proclaimed Warren Buffett a true patriot in his bailing out of the banking system with expensive loans and his 'realization' that those earning more than $1 million should be tax-tax-taxed. However, the "Buffett Rule" appears to have one caveat... if you are making over a $1 billion, you're good to go with tax-avoidance strategies. In one of his career's most hypocritical moves Warren "tax-me-more" Buffett has decided that putting his money where his mouth is no longer makes sense.. and is funding $3billion of Burger King's "tax-inversion" takeover of Canada-based Tim Hortons. Somewhere on a golf course, a Presidential Putter is being snapped across a knee...
This one is almost too sensational to be real. Almost. Jon Corzine (of MF Global) walks the streets a free man. Yet FinCEN is wasting taxpayer resources sending undercover agents to entrap some offshore casino, and they act as if they’ve infiltrated a major terrorist organization. Amid all the debt, graft, and incompetence that’s so prevalent today in government, this is another sad testament to the direction that things are headed.
- Just how many rats are there? Steven Cohen's Firm Loses Another Top Executive (WSJ)
- Iceland Sees a Potential Volcanic Eruption, and Airlines Cower (Bloomberg)
- Iraqi forces battle to drive jihadists from Saddam's home town (Reuters)
- Israel, Palestinians Agree to Extend Gaza Truce for 24 Hours (BBG)
- Pimco now buying junk (BusinessWeek)
- Pakistan arrests 147 in Punjab towns as protests in capital continue (Reuters)
- Ex-Rabobank Employee Pleads Guilty in Libor-Rigging Probe (BBG)
- Ebola Orphans Targeted by Aid Groups as Newest Victims (BBG)
- Two California youths accused of plotting high school shooting spree (Reuters)
- Only Rich Know Wage Gains With No Raises for U.S Workers (BBG)
Qatar, the world's richest nation per capita (and awkward home of US central command in The Middle East), has used its wealth to fund Hamas in the Gaza Strip, bankrolls (as we detailed here) Islamists fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad, and backed the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi in Egypt - before he was deposed. As Bloomberg reports, they have additionally let other extremist groups raise money in Qatar, according to the U.S. Treasury Department - all in an effort to 'support' the gas pipelines that the tiny nation needs to maintain its uber-wealth. Qatar’s support for militants has angered its neighboring conservative monarchies... so, it is an intriguing shift that now, as Bloomberg reports, finds the terrorist-funding-nation mediating between Israel and Hamas to end the Gaza conflict.
Curious what pure, unadulterated government efficiency in practice, if not in theory, looks like? Then the following chart of USPS operating profits, pardon, losses over the past decade should be sufficient. The punchline: having generated revenues of nearly $700 billion in the past 40 quarters, the USPS has been bleeding red ink more or less consistently since 2006, and has now generated just over $47 billion in operating losses over the past ten years.
- So that's what Obama meant by "costs" - Italy Recession, German Orders Signal Euro-Area Struggle (BBG)
- Russia worries, weak German data weigh on Europe (Reuters)
- Hedge Funds Betting Against Banco Espírito Santo in Line for Big Gains (WSJ)
- Bankers Called Up for Ukraine War as Rolls-Royce for Sale (BBG)
- Double Punch for 'Inversion' Deals (WSJ)
- Statist Strongmen Putin-Xi See History’s Capitalism Clash (BBG)
- China bans beards, veils from Xinjiang city's buses (Reuters)
- BATS to Settle High-Speed Trading Case (WSJ)
- Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment (Reuters)
Roughly a month ago, we exposed CYNK Technology Corp. The CYNK bubble was, of course, the result of carefully planned deceit and clever promotion by a handful of people who stood to make a lot of money on the trade. But when you think about it, CYNK’s stock wasn’t really any dumber than owning US Treasuries. In the case of CYNK, it only took about a month for the bubble to inflate and burst. The Treasury bubble, on the other hand, was built on credibility earned over decades; but while previous generations earned the world’s trust, modern day politicians have blown through it. Now all they have left is their snake oil sales pitch. And a mountain of obligations that closed July 2014 at a record high $17.69 trillion.
Sadly for the central planners, while they succeeded in the first part of their plan, namely getting investors to flee from money market funds, they failed in getting the money to flow into the desired asset class: stocks. Instead, money market funds are rushing at an unprecedented pace into that other most hated by the Fed, after precious metals of course, asset: Treasurys. Most hated because declining yields disprove all the propaganda about an improving economy as they do, or at least did, imply deflation down the road: hardly the stuff robust 3%+ recoveries are made of.... But before we declare victory over central planning, don't forget that the "regulators", the Fed and the SEC, are already contemplating the next step: recall that as we reported in June, "the Fed is preparing to impose "exit fee" gates on bond funds, in what, the official narrative goes, is an attempt to prevent a panicked rush for the exits. Of course, this is diametrically opposite of what the truth is."
As the topic of "unpatriotic" 'tax inversions' becomes a political issue, we thought it interesting to examine how big an economic issue it really is. How much income tax do U.S. companies actually pay every year to the Federal government? As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, the simple answer is “Not much”, at least as compared to any other major source of revenue. In Fiscal 2013, Colas adds, the total was $274 billion, or just 9.9% of all tax and withholding receipts. Your political leanings will inform your opinion about whether that number is too high or too low, of course; but we point out that, as Reuters reports, a former international tax counsel at Treasury explains Obama could "slam dunk" dictate an end to 'tax inversions' without Congressional approval (by invoking a little known 1969 tax law)
- EU to weigh extensive sanctions on Russia (FT)
- U.S. lifts flight ban to Israel (Reuters)
- Russia says will cooperate with MH17 probe led by Netherlands (Reuters)
- Norway faces ‘concrete and credible’ terrorist threat (FT)
- Don’t Tell Anybody About This Story on HFT Power Jump Trading (BBG)
- But... but... PMI: Unilever Sales Growth Misses Estimates on Asian Slowdown (BBG)
- World’s Biggest Wealth Fund Reviews $8 Billion Russian Stake (BBG)
- Qualcomm latest US tech company to reverse in China (FT)
- Hamptons Home Sales Rise as Buyers Find More Inventory (BBG)
With almost metronomic frequency, and perhaps related to Putin's emergency meeting of the State Duma, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Obama administration is prepared to expand a new set of economic sanctions against Russia if the country doesn't take steps to end Ukraine's conflict with pro-Russia separatist fighters. No details were exposed by the senior administration official, but as WSJ notes, current sanctions don't prevent U.S. entities from doing business with the Russian firms or freeze their assets. We await the new boomerang.
Who could have seen this coming? Following the US imposition of further sanctions on Russia last week, specifically the import of Kalashnikov firearms, CNN reports gun stores across the US are experiencing a run on AK-47s. Yet another unintended consequence of US foreign policy...
We noted yesterday once again that The Fed was out en masse demanding investors sell their bonds because "bonds are in a bubble" but not stocks. The reason - as we have explained in great detail - is the repo market is broken due to massive collateral shortages (thanks to the Fed). Today, the Fed admitted it has a problem...
*TREASURY ASKS DEALERS TO EXPLAIN REASONS FOR FAILS-TO-DELIVER
The bottom line is - The Treasury wants to know why all the dealers are so short bonds (even as it urges 'investors' to sell). Furthermore, it is surveying dealers over the need to issue bonds of greater maturity than 30 years in order to fulfill collateral needs.