Wall Street Journal
"Almost 40% of appraisers surveyed from Sept. 15 through Nov. 7 reported experiencing pressure to inflate values,...If you thought what was happening before was an embarrassment, wait until the second time around." Is there any price in this economy that isn’t completely rigged?
With Black Friday sales plunging and Cyber Monday growth slowing, it appears the chicken of stagnant wages and debt-saturation are coming home to roost for a massacred middle-class America. However, as WSJ reports "we are buying less stuff," because the basic costs of necessities such as healthcare, food eaten at home, rent, education, and cellphones have surged. Overall spending for the group rose by about 2.3% over the six-year period from 2007, even as inflation totaled about 12%.
Any economic sage should conclude that the cure for high taxation is, well, low taxation. Remember our job is not to maximize government revenues in the short run, but to improve living standards in the long run. France would do well to repudiate its native son Piketty, and move to align its policies with the Scotsman Adam Smith, who a long time ago advocated low-broad taxation and light-handed regulation of capital and labour markets.
The entire commodity complex is seeing major contagion-like price declines in early trading. WTI Crude is back below $65 for the first time since May 2010 - now down 16% since the initial leaks of OPEC's decision last Wednesday. Gold and Silver are getting whacked and copper has plunged below 300 - back at its lowest since June 2010. The news over the weekend that Brevan Howard is liquidating its $630 million commodity hedge fund following recent poor performance is also likely not helping as what looked like late-Friday margin call liquidations are extending notably this evening.
- National Guard, police curb Ferguson unrest as protests swell across U.S. (Reuters)
- Ferguson Reaction Across U.S. Shows Complex Racial Split (BBG)
- Democratic senator Schumer: Democrats Screwed Up By Passing Obamacare In 2010 (TPM)
- Veto threat derails Reid tax deal (Hill)
- Justice Department Investigating Possible HSBC Leak to Hedge Fund (WSJ)
- Merkel hits diplomatic dead-end with Putin (Reuters), and yet...
- Merkel Said to Reject Ukraine NATO Bid as Rousing Tension (BBG)
- HSBC, Goldman Rigged Metals’ Prices for Years, Suit Says (BBG)
Less than two hours after Venezuela noted that no supply cut had been pre-agreed, The Wall Street Journal reports...
*OPEC MEMBERS SAID TO MOVE TOWARD CUTTING OIL SUPPLY: WSJ
And oil prices are jumping. However, a big below the surface shows this story is more about stricter compliance than an actual supply cut.
Why is Bitcoin dangerous and of little intrinsic value? Because my local Central Banker Told Me So! - OR - The lasting message from the highly Centralized, Centrally Planned, Central Banks of the World? "We think, so you don't have to!"
Here we go again. By now everyone, including 2 year old E-trade babies and Atari algos know, that the only reason the market soared from the October 15 bottom, a move which we showed was entirely due to multiple expansion and thus nothing to do with earnings and everything to do with faith in even more free central-planning liquidity (something the PBOC was all too happy to provide overnight), was James Bullard's casual "QE4" hint on Bloomberg TV. And now that the market is at ridiculous all time highs and trading above 19x GAAP PE, far above the level when in September the IMF, the G-20, the BIS and even the Fed all warned of assets bubbles, here is Bullard once again, with a fresh mea culpa and a new attempt to jawbone stocks, only this time back down, because as Dow Jones reports, "Bullard Says Markets Misread Him In October Bond-Buying Dustup."
"Give me your corrupt, your crony, your oligarch masses yearning to launder money free,
The criminal masterminds of your destroyed environment and police state.
Send these, the pampered, the private jet setter to me, I open my hands to your golden yuan."
For America’s 44 million senior citizens, plus tens of millions of others who are on the threshold of retirement, last month marked a watershed moment that is worth celebrating. At the end of October, the Federal Reserve announced the first step in returning to a more normal monetary policy. After nearly six years of near-zero interest rates and quantitative easing, the Fed is ending its bond-buying program and has signaled a plan to eventually begin raising the federal-funds rate, raising interest rates to more normal levels by 2017. U.S. households lost billions in interest income during the Fed’s near-zero interest rate experiment.
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’.
Halliburton’s takeover of Baker Hughes is setting out to be the oil and gas merger of the year. One of the largest such deals in years, it has not, however, met with unanimous approval. From antitrust concerns to management frictions and negative market forces, this has not been a smooth ride. And with a $3.5 billion break-up fee promised to Baker Hughes by Halliburton should the merger fall through, failure would come at a hefty price. Here are five reasons why the deal might still capsize.
As Hilary Clinton starts to ponder the curtains she wants to hang in the Oval Office, there is only one person who can realistically stand in her way: Rand Paul.
‘Punishment Interest,’ as Germans call it with Teutonic precision, becomes a pandemic.
Instead of reading between the lines of the 28 page FOMC minutes, we have The Wall Street Journal's Jon Hilsenrath to explain to us what we should believe. His message is not dovish. Despite tumult in financial markets, weak economic conditions abroad, and risks that low inflation could drift lower, Hilsenrath notes that the Fed forged ahead with a decision to end the central bank’s bond-buying program because the domestic economy and labor market appeared to be on course for further improvement. Furthermore, officials added a new twist: a debate about whether they should add new information in their official policy statement on how quickly rates will rise once increases commence.