Wall Street Journal
Google "grocery prices last 12 months" and it's post after post beginning with "Consumer prices rise" or "Rising food prices bite." One person who is happy about this is the New York Times’ Paul Krugman, for instead of being like Europe, that is “clearly in the grip of a deflationary vortex,” America only teeters on the edge of a general price plunge. “And there but for the grace of Bernanke go we,” writes the voice of Grey Lady economics wisdom. However, Mr. Krugman shouldn’t declare defeat to the deflationists just yet. Bankers are learning to say ‘yes’ again, and that means velocity and price increases.
At the end of the day, everything the Fed has done has been focused on propping up a broken system. Eventually the Fed’s efforts will fail at which point so will the Fed (just as the last two Central Banks in the US failed).
Just weeks after defaulting (yet again) on its debt (whether technically or not), and shortly after raising the minimum wage by 31% (to $523 a month) amid runaway inflation, it appears Argentina has gone full-Venezuela. As WSJ reports, the great minds that 'run' Argentina have decided to pass legislation (dubbed "the supply law") letting the government regulate private-sector prices, profit margins and production levels. The opposition is up in arms, "this is absolutely ridiculous. It's part of a very primitive ideology that says government officials should decide what people should make, how much they should make and how much they should charge," adding that "we already know exactly what it is like to suffer from these kind of interventionist economic policies," in Venezuela.
Back in 2009 we first warned that the market is now just a "market" where between the direct manipulation of all asset-prices by the firehose Fed and its peers, and the explicit rigging of stock prices by the HFTs, there is no such thing as a market left. Back then, we were called tinfoil something or another. Now that everyone admits the Fed's only purpose is to push asset prices higher, and the topic of HFT's rigging of markets is now a blockbuster book, those accusations have grown silent. In fact, the only thing that remains are the very loud screams as increasingly more often, some unknown or well-known trader and/or investor, with a several year delay, stumbles on our conclusion and realizes that the game (i.e., market) is so rigged, manipulated and broken, that the only winning move was not to play in the first place. Today's case in point Andrew Cunagin, the founder of Rinehart Capital Partners LLC, a hedge fund backed by hedge-fund veteran Lee Ainslie and specialized in emerging-markets stock-picking, and who as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier, is closing. The closure is not news: what Cunagin blames the closure on, however, is.
Washington’s strategy in Iraq is in shambles, but not just because America’s spanker-in-chief is really a wimp at heart. The problem is far more generic. To wit, the geographic territory of Iraq is not a nation; it is an arbitrary series of lines on a map drawn 100 years ago by dandies in the foreign offices of two fading empires (the British and the French) - which lines encircled numerous tribes, ethnicities and religious confessions which had no interest in sharing a common statehood.
Having singularly failed to reform or restructure their dilapidated economies, many governments throughout the West have left it to their central banks to keep a now exhausted credit bubble to inflate further. Unprecedented monetary stimulus and the suppression of interest rates have now boxed both central bankers and many investors into a corner. Bond markets now have no value but could yet get even more delusional in terms of price and yield. Stock markets are looking increasingly irrational relative to the health of their underlying economies. The euro zone looks set to re-enter recession and now expects the ECB to unveil outright quantitative easing. If the West wishes to regain its economic vigour versus Asia, it would do well to remember what made it so culturally and economically exceptional in the first place. We seem to be close to the endgame.
- Ukraine Shifts to Defense Against Russian Incursion (WSJ)
- U.S. forces carry out operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia (Reuters)
- Bond Markets Tilt Toward Frankfurt as Draghi Negates Fed (BBG)
- Another "unexpectedly" - Swiss Economy Unexpectedly Stalls as Euro Area Takes Toll (BBG)
- Japan's 'Abenomics' feared in trouble as challenges build (Reuters)
- Germany Imposes Nationwide Ban on Uber's Cab-Hailing Service (WSJ)
- Japan's 'forward guidance', the GPIF, has "already begun a highly anticipated portfolio reshuffle" (WSJ)
- Detroit Brings Bankruptcy Plan to Court With Billionaires (BBG)
- Burger King has maneuvered to cut U.S. tax bill for years (Reuters)
- Off balance sheet vehicles? Check
- Conflicted bank "research" recommending muppets buy stock while soliciting banking fees from same stock? Check
- Hoping to sell debt on to muppets? Check
- Chinese corruption? Check
- State bailout of failed bank? Check
The enemy of your enemy is your... frenemy; and so it is across the Middle East as the WSJ notes the spread of The Islamic State has united many parties once at odds with each other to become 'strange bedfellows'.
"As the murderous, terrorist Islamic State continues to threaten Iraq, the region and potentially the United States, it is vitally important that we examine how this problem arose. Any actions we take today must be informed by what we've already done in the past, and how effective our actions have been... The Islamic State represents a threat that should be taken seriously. But we should also recall how recent foreign-policy decisions have helped these extremists so that we don't make the same mistake of potentially aiding our enemies again."
That was quick! Last November Snapchat was valued at $2 billion in the private VC market; by Q1 that had risen to $7 billion; and yesterday it soared to $10 billion. Gaining $8 billion in market value in just nine months is quite a feat under any circumstance - but that’s especially notable if you’re are a company with no profits, no revenues and no business model. How much does it cost to manipulate an entire market? Apparently not much. And it’s getting cheaper!
The surge in North American oil and gas production is arguably the most important development in energy over the last decade. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that North America doesn’t have nearly enough oil and gas pipelines to accommodate its 11-million-barrel-a-day output level. Both are good examples of how pipelines – considered the safest way to move oil and gas – have become politicized and scrutinized, and not without reason. Despite their reliability, pipelines still lead to an unacceptable rate of safety mishaps. They corrode and rupture, which threatens workers and nearby communities. In 2013 alone, over 119,000 barrels of oil were spilled in 623 incidents. America’s existing pipelines are getting older and more prone to corrosion, and over the next five to 10 years, there will be a significant increase in the number of new pipelines. And that is creating a huge opportunity for better pipeline safety technology.
Hydroelectric dams are a nifty way of producing a huge amount of power, but they do not last forever. This is a tale of two dams that will fail unless they are urgently repaired, and if they fail, catastrophic suffering and loss of life will be the result.
The S&P 500 has tripled off the March 2009 lows and took a mere 65 days to go from 1900 to 2000 today. As WSJ notes, the S&P needed 11,208 trading days to reach 100 for the first time... Here’s a look at S&P 500 milestones throughout the decades... and how Bernanke predicted 2,000 in March 2013.
- That will teach the UAE who's boss: U.S. Won’t Consult Syria on Militant Strikes: White House (BBG)
- Putin Set to Meet Poroshenko as Ukraine Tensions Escalate (BBG)... but the de-escalation algo?
- Tim Hortons’ Canadian Fans Squeamish of American Hookup (BBG)
- Israeli air strikes target more Gaza high-rises (Reuters)
- How Steve Ballmer Became a Rookie Basketball Mogul (WSJ)
- Buffett to Help Finance Burger King Tax-Saving Deal (BBG)
- U.S. Factories Keep Losing Ground to Global Rivals (WSJ)
- Boehner, Camp Profit From Corporate Bid to Avoid U.S. Tax (BBG)
- Experimental U.S. hypersonic weapon destroyed seconds after launch (Reuters)
- The Neo-Neocons (WSJ)