Wall Street Journal
This week's Economic Policy Institute's report, leverages the fashionable, French economist Piketty's statistics, in order to illustrate how well the "top 1%" are doing in each of the 50 states. The report is provokingly titled: "The Increasingly Unequal States of America". But the report creates distortions in the truth. An important matter affecting hundreds of millions should also include a straight acknowledgement of probability theory (involving large sample sizes). The most liberal people suggest that even thinking about this math is unnecessary. Perhaps any glorification of wrongs that need to be righted, justifies the means that it would take to get there. Over time this can conflate math ideas with one's ideological bias.
When Eric Holder announced his resignation, many breathed a sigh of relief thinking it can’t get much worse, but not so fast. The authoritarian streak and rampant cronyism of the Obama administration is a well oiled machine. You didn’t think you’d get off that easily did you? Enter Loretta Lynch.
The Treasury-created market has benefited a few savvy investors, while saddling taxpayers with a loss. The Treasury, which has held 185 auctions to date, said it has raised about $3 billion on TARP investments that were originally valued at $3.8 billion, for a loss of $800 million at the auctions. The Treasury “set up this market where investors could come in quickly and flip and profit,” said Christy Romero, TARP’s special inspector general, in an interview. Three private funds have won almost half the shares available at auction, often netting either a profit on paper or on the resale, according to SIGTARP. “As a banker I was happy, but as a taxpayer I was not at all happy,” said Chief Financial Officer Donald Boyer. “The discount came out of taxpayers’ pockets.”
Forget rate hikes… an entire generation of investors and money managers (anyone under the age of 55) has been investing in an era in which risk has generally gotten cheaper and cheaper. What happens when the bond bubble bursts?
2014 was "relatively easier," as the pre-determined pace of tapering had The Fed on auto-pilot last year. However, as WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath warns, Janet Yellen ’s job is about to get harder. Hinting that The FOMC is likely to remain "patient" in deciding when to start raising short-term interest rates later this year (and markets have started to price in lower for longer-er following recent macro weakness domestically and abroad). Juxtaposed against a mixed picture of the economy is concerns of being boxed in at ZIRP should another economic downturn arrive. However, as III Associates notes, it is the communications challenge for The Fed that is most problematic, "it has been nine years since the last rate hike, and I’d estimate about a third of those working on trading floors have never witnessed one."
The Japanese fire at the Europeans. The Europeans fire at the Japanese & Chinese. The Chinese fire scattershot at everybody else in Asia. England & America prep to teach those they consider muppets not to play with guns. It's World War Money, if you know what I mean...
In the three years since Bryan Stockton took over as CEO of Mattel, the company's revenues have tumbled and debt load has soared over 30% as - despite share buyback bonanzas, the stock price has greatly rotated to unchanged since Jan 2012 when he took over. However, what is most important about today's "resignation" is it accompanied dramatic guide down on earnings as, among other things, Barbie doll sales collapsed 21% in Q3. So the question now is, will every retail 'miss' be accompanied by a CEO 'execution' or is this widespread weakness - despite the unambiguously good low oil price tax cut - merely transitory and Q1 will be awesome...?
Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen - the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few years. As Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen - the head of ABN's corporate finance and capital markets -"startled" friends and colleagues as the 42-year-old "had a great reputation" at work, came from an "illustrious family," and enjoyed national fame briefly as the boyfriend of a famous actress/model. As one colleague noted, "he was always cheerful, good mood, and apparently he had everything your heart desired. He never sat in the pit, never was down, so I was extremely surprised. I can not understand." Most believe that the suicide is not related to his work at the bank, but a former colleague had noticed that on his Facebook recently changed its job title to "former." Chris leaves behind a son - who had recently been cleared of cancer.
With Fed mouthpiece Jon Hilsenrath warning - in no lesser status-quo narrative-deliverer than The Wall Street Journal - that The ECB's actions (and pre-emptive collapse in the EUR) means the U.S. economy must deal with a rapidly strengthening dollar that will make American goods more expensive abroad, potentially slowing both U.S. growth and inflation; and Treasury Secretary Lew coming out his crypt to mention "unfair FX moves," it appears The Fed (and powers that be) are worrying about King Dollar. This suggests, as Mises Canada's Patrick Barron predicts, the Fed will start charging negative interest rates on bank reserve accounts as the final tool in the war on savings and wealth in order to spur the Keynesian goal of increasing “aggregate demand”. If savers won’t spend their money, the government will take it from them.
Greece is reeling from the effects of the biggest economic crisis in its recent history. Here are 12 statistics, via The Wall Street Journal, underscoring the severity of the crisis now reaching into all aspects of Greek life...
Big Corporations Are Only Part of the Problem …
Having saved the world markets from a 10% correction fate worse than death (or recession) in October with 'hints' of reigniting QE4, The Fed's Jim Bullard is back to his jawboning best. Blaming The ECB's looming unconventional policy move for the global bond market rally (as opposed to collapsing growth and disinflation), Bullard proclaims the domestic US economy is doing well with tailwinds from low rates and oil prices (just don't tell the 7,000 Baker Hughes workers this morning) and tells WSJ's Jon Hilsenrath that he wants to “get going” with rate increases warning that the funds rate is 400bps below normal.
Umm ... Who Exactly Are We Bombing?
The “war on terror” is the best thing to happen to power hungry politicians since a fire of questionable origin destroyed the Reichstag building in Berlin on February 27, 1933. Not only does the “war on terror” represent big business for shady crony capitalists; it gives politicians, i.e., professional authoritarians, an excuse to destroy civil liberties and implement a total surveillance system to ensure the plebs don’t get out of line. This is not just an unfortunate trend that has developed organically due to a dangerous world, these are the goals of the oligarch class and they will do whatever it takes to achieve them.
"we venture that the SNB will sooner or later be forced to permit the franc to appreciate and thus to enrich the holders of low-priced, three-year call options on the Swiss/euro exchange rate. It's a long shot, to be sure--the options are cheap for a reason--but we judge that the prospective reward is worth the obvious risk." - Jim Grant, Sept 14th, 2014