Wall Street Journal
It seems if you can't beat the digital dickweeds, then you join 'em. Dennis Kneale, infamous for his exclamations regarding bloggers while working for CNBC, has finally been let go by Fox also... these are his tips on how to be unemployed (at age 56!) via his new blog...
- China worries chill markets, copper slumps (Reuters)
- Peak dot com dot two idiocy: Candy Crush Saga maker King seeks $7.56 bln valuation from IPO (BBG)
- Obama Meeting With Yatsenyuk Raises Stakes in Ukraine (BBG)
- Federal prosecutors open criminal probe of GM recall (Reuters)
- Pimco Cuts Government Debt on Outlook for Fed Buying (BBG)
- Missing Malaysian Jetliner Confuses World That’s Online 24/7 (BBG)
- Mortgage Giants Face Endgame (WSJ)
- Russia Calls U.S. Aid to Ukraine Illegal Amid Standoff (BBG)
- U.S. judge freezes assets of Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange boss (Reuters)
- Ousted Libyan PM flees country after tanker escapes rebel-held port (Reuters)
- Senate-CIA Dispute Erupts Into a Public Brawl (WSJ)
If the U.S. economy is getting better, then why are major retail chains closing thousands of stores? If we truly are in an "economic recovery", then why do sales figures continue to go down for large retailers all over the country? Without a doubt, the rise of Internet retailing giants such as Amazon.com have had a huge impact. Today, there are millions of Americans that actually prefer to shop online. But Internet shopping alone does not account for the great retail apocalypse that we are witnessing. In fact, some retail experts estimate that the Internet has accounted for only about 20 percent of the decline that we are seeing. Most of the rest of it can be accounted for by the slow, steady death of the middle class U.S. consumer. Median household income has declined for five years in a row, but all of our bills just keep going up. That means that the amount of disposable income that average Americans have continues to shrink, and that is really bad news for retailers.
Just when you thought the distractions in Russia, Malaysia, and Libya were enough to take the spotlight off domestic drama, Chris Christie's BridgeGate scandal bubbles back into the headlines. As WSJ reports, Manhattan federal prosecutors have subpoenaed records from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey related to the business interests of its chairman, David Samson, people familiar with the matter said Monday. Samson, a close ally of Christie, is, according to sources, under investigation for potential conflicts between his private business interests and his actions as chairman of the sprawling bi-state authority, which oversees Hudson River crossings into New York City, airports, the PATH rail system and the World Trade Center complex.
Now that it appears clear the bottom is in for gold, it’s time to stop fretting about how low prices will drop and how long the correction will last - and start looking at how high they’ll go and when they’ll get there. When viewing the gold market from a historical perspective, one thing that’s clear is that the junior mining stocks tend to fluctuate between extreme boom and bust cycles. As a group, they’ll double in price, then crash by 75%... then double or triple or even quadruple again, only to crash 90%. Boom, bust, repeat. Given that we just completed a major bust cycle - and not just any bust cycle, but one of the harshest on record, according to many veteran insiders - the setup for a major rally in gold stocks is right in front of us.
With 40% of the portfolio in cash and having returned $4 billion to clients at year-end, Seth Klarman's Baupost Group has "drawn the line in the sand" as they reflect on the diminished opportunities in the so-called "Truman Show" market we see today. In the face of mixed economic data and at a critical inflection point in Federal Reserve policy, Klarman notes, the stock market, heading into 2014, resembles a Rorschach test - "what investors see in the inkblots says considerably more about them than it does about the market." From "born bulls" to "worry genes" and from Bitcoin to flash-mob-speculation, "there is a growing gap between the financial markets and the real economy...and the overall picture is one of growing risk and inadequate potential return almost everywhere one looks... as every 'Truman' under Bernanke’s dome knows the environment is phony."
Following last week's discovery that Mohamed El-Erian was "sick of cleaning up [Bill Gross's] shit" as tensions soared at PIMCO, the "bond king" has struck back blasting to Reuters that he's "so sick of Mohamed trying to undermine me," claiming El-Erian wrote the damaging WSJ article. Furthermore, the somewhat paranoid-sounding Gross indicated that he had been monitoring El-Erian's phone calls but when questioned by Reuters for evidence of El-Erian's undermining, Gross responded "you're on his side. Great, he's got you, too, wrapped around his charming right finger." As one analyst noted, "I've never seen Bill and Pimco scrutinized like this before... a couple of high-profile stumbles and mediocre showings, coupled with some outflows clearly has some investors on edge."
- Spot the inaccuracies: Stocks rise on Ukraine diplomacy, ECB easing speculation (Reuters)
- Bank of England Extends Record-Low Rates Into a Sixth Year (BBG)
- China's Chaori Solar poised for landmark bond default (Reuters), explained here previously
- EU leaders meet in Brussels to address Ukraine crisis (FT)
- Nine-month-old baby may have been cured of HIV, U.S. scientists say (Reuters)
- China Raises Defense Spending 12.2% for 2014 (WSJ)
- China Stock Index Rises as Developers Jump on Policy Speculation (BBG)
- VTB Cancels New York Forum as U.S. Relations Sour (BBG)
- IBM workers strike in China over terms of Lenovo takeover (FT)
- College Board Redesigns SAT Exam Making Essay Portion Optional (BBG)
The Fed’s serial bubble machine has not only bestowed massive speculative windfalls on the 1%, but it has also fostered a noxious culture of plunder and entitlement in the gambling casinos of Wall Street. After each thundering sell-off during the bust phase, crony capitalist gamblers have been gifted with ill-gotten windfalls during the Fed’s subsequent maniacal money printing spree. In this context comes Bruce Berkowitz “scolding” and firing “salvos” at Washington from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
"This extensive review of documents, e-mails and other records has to date found no evidence that Bank of England staff colluded in any way in manipulating the foreign exchange market or in sharing confidential client information,” the Bank of England said today in a statement. Yet, as Bloomberg reports, a staff member was suspended amid the probe of a widening rigging scandal though "no decision has been taken on disciplinary action." As far back as 2006, they show concerns over the FX "fixings" that are at the core of this collusion but are careful not to condone any form of market manipulation. Well that's that then - until the next whistleblower exposes them.
Scrape away the media sensationalism and geopolitical posturing and it boils down to a simple dynamic: follow the energy.
Earlier today we were surprised when none other than uber central-planning skeptic, not to mention bond fund manager, Bill Gross threw in the towel and in his latest letter advocated the purchase of risk assets - and Bill Gross is the last person needing reminding that in a day and age when the 10 Year yields just barely over 2.5%, this means not bonds but stocks. The surprise, however, promptly disappeared when we realized that PIMCO is merely the latest entrant in the scramble for yield game following, with a substantial delay to all of its other "alternative" asset management peers, right into ground zero: European toxic debt.
In the aftermath of the recent Wall Street Journal profile piece that, rather meaninglessly, shifted attention to Bill Gross as quirky manager (who isn't) to justify El-Erian's departure and ignoring Bill Gross as the man who built up the largest bond fund in the world, the sole head of Pimco was eager to return to what he does best - thinking about the future and sharing his thoughts with one of his trademark monthly letters without an estranged El-Erian by his side. He did that moments ago with "The Second Coming" in which the 69-year-old Ohian appears to have pulled a Hugh Hendry, and in a letter shrouded in caveats and skepticism, goes on to essentially plug "risk" assets. To wit: "As long as artificially low policy rates persist, then artificially high-priced risk assets are not necessarily mispriced. Low returning, yes, but mispriced? Not necessarily.... In plain English – stocks, bonds and other “carry”-sensitive assets would outperform cash."
Let’s move on to the third piece of the puzzle. The routine exploitation of the weakness and most gullible members of society, teenage girls. The crazy thing here is not that some random selection of underage girls are being led to click on ads that direct them to adult video cam sites and dangerous dietary supplements, but that they represent the primary demographic clicking on these ads. This story from the Wall Street Journal is sure to make your blood boil no matter who you are, but particularly if you are a parent with young children.
When a hypertotalitarian banana republic takes another turn for the gigasurreal, even Elon Musk is speechless.