Unemployment

Microsoft To Hire Thousands... In China

Perhaps the best answer to the question posed to Bernanke moments ago whether US unemployment is structural or cyclical comes courtesy of Microsoft, which announced earlier that it was set to hire "several thousand" workers. Sadly, the catch is that the hires will be in China.

"No Tapering" - Bernanke's 'State Of The Economy' Testimony - Live Webcast

Update: Bubbles Bernanke slams any hopes for tapering goodbye, as long predicted: PREMATURE TIGHTENING RISKS SLOWING OR ENDING RECOVERY

 

Bernanke's quarterly hearing with the Joint Economic Committee this morning will be today's must-see event (with FOMC minutes a close second). It seems the equity market has no fears but many in the high-yield market are anxious for the words 'frothy', 'taper', 'bubble', 'clueless', and 'I plead da fif'.  While Bernanke's words will be the most important, these hearings typically include their fair share of ironic ignorant 'humor' from the politicians who sit in awe of the most powerful man in the world and his CTRL+P prowess.

Dudley Terrified By "Over-Reaction" To QE End, Says Fed Could Do "More Or Less" QE

Up until today, the narrative was one trying to explain how a soaring dollar was bullish for stocks. Until moments ago, when Bill Dudley spoke and managed to send not only the dollar lower, but the Dow Jones to a new high of 15,400 with the following soundbites.

  • DUDLEY: FED MAY NEED TO RETHINK BALANCE SHEET PATH, COMPOSITION
  • DUDLEY SAYS FISCAL DRAG TO U.S. ECONOMY IS `SIGNIFICANT'
  • DUDLEY: FED MAY AVOID SELLING MBS IN EARLY STAGE OF EXIT
  • DUDLEY: IMPORTANT TO SEE HOW WELL ECONOMY WEATHERS FISCAL DRAG
  • DUDLEY SAYS HE CAN'T BE SURE IF NEXT QE MOVE WILL BE UP OR DOWN

And the punchline:

  • DUDLEY SEES RISK INVESTORS COULD OVER-REACT TO 'NORMALIZATION'

Translated: the Fed will never do anything that could send stocks lower - like end QE - ever again, but for those confused here is a simpler translation: Moar.

Guest Post: Centralization And Sociopathology

Concentrated power and wealth are intrinsically sociopathological by their very nature. We have long spoken of the dangers inherent to centralization of power and the extreme concentrations of wealth centralization inevitably creates. There is another danger of centralization: sociopaths/psychopaths excel in organizations that centralize power, and their ability to flatter, browbeat and manipulate others greases their climb to the top. In effect, centralization is tailor-made for sociopaths gaining power. Nothing infuriates a sociopath or a sociopathological organization more than the exposure of their sociopathology, and so those in power will stop at nothing to silence, discredit, criminalize or eliminate the heroic whistleblower.

Guest Post: Another Episode In The History Of Failed Manipulations

In August of 2011, Argentina’s government slowly began to implement a series of actions destined to curtail the right of citizens to access US dollars (foreign exchange in general). The goal was and is to force savings into pesos, as pesos are after the taxable asset in a country that cannot access capital markets and fully monetizes its deficits. From that moment onward  physical US dollars started to trade at a premium. First-hand experience on the ground in Patagonia confirm the irreversible damage caused by interventionist policies: Widespread poverty, abandoned infrastructure, scarcity of consumer goods, unseen unemployment and criminality, and the madness of hedging against inflation with the purchase of new cars. The streets of any forgotten small town in Patagonia are filled with brand new 4×4 vehicles that would be the envy of many in North America. We can now see that the sustainability of the manipulation in a segmented/broken foreign exchange market causes a negative carry, which would create a quasi-fiscal deficit in Argentina (i.e. the deficit of the Banco Central), fully opening the gates to hyperinflation.

Europe's 'Status Quo Pandering' Risks "Radicalization Of An Entire Generation"

It will come as no surprise to ZH readers that the topic of youth unemployment is critical in Europe but as Der Speigel reports, while the German government's efforts remain largely symbolic, Southern European leaders pander to older voters by defending the status quo and are failing in their fight against the potential for social unrest. One graduate noted, "None of my friends believes that we have a future or will be able to live a normal life," as a lost generation is taking shape in Europe. And European governments seem clueless; instead of launching effective education and training programs to prepare Southern European youth for a professional life after the crisis, the Continent's political elites preferred to wage old ideological battles. In this way, Europe wasted valuable time, at least until governments were shaken early this month by news of a very worrisome record: Unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds has climbed above 60 percent in Greece. Suddenly Europe is scrambling to address the problem making it an 'obseesion'. There are strong words coming out of Europe's capitals today, but they have not been followed by any action to date.

Key Events And Market Issues In The Coming Week

In the absence of major data releases, the focal point of the week for markets becomes the release of the minutes of the May FOMC meeting. The most notable change in the statement was the inclusion of the new language: “the Committee is prepared to increase or reduce the pace of its purchases to maintain appropriate policy accommodation as the outlook for the labor market or inflation changes.” In the May meeting minutes, the market will be looking for any clarification of the motivation behind this change as well as any evidence that the committee members may be becoming less comfortable with the unemployment rate threshold or more specific about tapering timelines and dates.

Lack Of Overnight Euphoria Follows Japan Yen Jawboning In Light Trading Session

A quiet day unfolding with just Chicago Fed permadove on the wires today at 1pm, following some early pre-Japan market fireworks in the USDJPY and the silver complex, where a cascade of USDJPY margin calls, sent silver to its lowest in years as someone got carted out feet first following a forced liquidation. This however did not stop the Friday ramp higher in the USDJPY from sending the Nikkei225, in a delayed response, to a level surpassing the Dow Jones Industrial Average for the first time in years. Quiet, however, may be just how the traders at 72 Cummings Point Road like it just in case they can hear the paddy wagons approach, following news that things between the government and SAC Capital are turning from bad to worse and that Stevie Cohen, responsible for up to 10-15% of daily NYSE volume, may be testifying before a grand jury soon. The news itself sent S&P futures briefly lower when it hit last night, showing just how influential the CT hedge fund is for overall market liquidity in a world in which the bulk of market "volume" is algos collecting liquidity rebates and churning liquid stocks back and forth to one another.

The 'Other' Way To Exit The Euro...

With unemployment rates running at all-time record highs across the peripheral European nations and the rise of nationalist (some might say extremist) parties, it remains somewhat surprising that there has not been greater social unrest (yet). The people of Europe are caught in a hinterland of knowing what is best in the long-run but fearing the short-term band-aid ripping pain of exiting the political farce known as the European Union. But some have found a way... There is another way to 'exit' on personal terms from the austerity and pain induced by a centrally planned overlord. Immigration to Germany from Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal has 'never' been higher... leaving us wondering - at what point does the free and open exchange of everything in the union gets its share of 'protectionism' from an over-stuffed Germany freezing the import of labor? So it seems that not only is the money (deposits) finding a new home but the people too are moving to where the money is..

Guest Post: What Is Normal?

Is a $400,000 house with NINJA loan normal? How about a $200,000 REO with missing appliances, a dead yard, a long list of maintenance and no financing? Maybe normal is a $300,000 flip after the flipper fixed everything and colored up the yard, and did some upgrades to the interior. Some may suggest that normal is more like a $300,000 sale with a 5.5% fixed rate and 20% down. Then again, it may be more normal if this $300,000 sale is financed with a 3.5% down FHA loan at 4%. Of course, all of the above is actually referring to the same house. So what is normal? At the moment, we know prices are going up in certain markets, and so are sales. Mortgage rates are higher now than when QE3 started in September 2012. Investors are gobbling up everything in sight in their favored target markets. As an example, they are buying 30% of the houses in Southern California, 38% in Phoenix and 53% in Vegas. First time buyers do not stand a chance. The percentage of home ownership is declining. Are policy makers happy with these results? Are these intended or unintended consequences of public policies?

The Bermuda Triangle Of Economics

We feel that now there is a Bermuda Triangle of economics - a space where everything tends to disappear without radar contact, a black hole in which rationality and science is replaced by hope, superstition and nonsense pundits pretending to understand the real drivers of the economy. The Bermuda Triangle in real life runs from Bermuda to Puerto Rico to Miami. The Economic Bermuda Triangle (EBT) one runs from high stock market valuations to high unemployment to low growth/productivity. There is a myth that the sunken Atlantis could be in the middle of this triangle. It has been renamed Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to make it suit the black hole's main premise of ensuring there is a fancy name for what is essentially the same economic recipe: print and spend money, then wait and pray for better weather. The EBT is getting harder and harder to justify - if for nothing else because the constant reminders of crisis keep us all defensive and non-committed to investing beyond the next quarter. We all naively think we can exit the "risk-on" trade before anyone else. We are due for a new crisis. We have governments and central banks proactively pursuing bubbles. A long time ago, policymakers entered a one-way street where reversing is, if not illegal, then impossible.