We warned five weeks ago of the potential economic damage that the Ebola virus could do to West African economies, and now it appears The IMF, The World Bank, and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization have warned that Liberia and other West African economies, as WaPo reports, begun a frightening descent into economic hell. Fear that "that people would abandon the fields and factories, that food and fuel would become scarce and unaffordable, and that the government’s already meager capacity to help, along with the nation’s prospects for a better future, would be severely compromised" are no longer scenarios - they are real! Annual inflation rates have doubled, fuel sales are down 35%, Liberia's productivity is down 50-75%, and "micro-trade" financing is "completely depleted."
While all the western banks are clearly envious at the facility with which Zimbabwe managed to hyperinflate away its debt mountain after simply printing a few trillion in fiat monetary equivalents, which instead of the stock market hit the broader economy, there is much more the "developed" world can learn and is learning from Robert Mugabe domain of experimental yet practical monetarism.
There Might Be Some Truth to China's Accusation that the U.S. is Doing Its Best to Stir Up Hong Kong
Can market forces prevail in the Eurozone? With another round of central bank intervention coming four plus years after the start of the Eurozone debt crisis, this is a question worth considering, at a time when the Southern Eurozone members - Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal, which collectively account for over 30% of the GDP of the early adopters of the Euro as a whole – continue to struggle. This is a complex topic for sure, but a simple economic indicator can be used to help frame the situation.
We actually to believe that the Federal Reserve can lift the entire front-end of the curve from 0-1% (current rates out to three years) to 2-4% over the next two years without adding massive further stress onto the deficit, and only adding to the debt? Servicing 2% interest when growth is 2% means you are doing worse than standing in place if you also have a budget deficit. Whatever the timing, the US, China and Europe are all headed for another Minsky moment: the point in debt inflation where the cash generated by assets is insufficient to service the debt taken on to acquire the asset. Productivity growth in the US last year was +0.36%. The real growth per capita was about 1.5%.
* Where is Venezuela's 366 tonnes of gold?
* Does Venezuela still control and own unencumbered it’s own gold reserves?
* Is any of the country's gold encumbered, loaned or leased to Goldman Sachs or other banks?
Oil and other commodity prices have recently been dropping. Is this good news, or bad? Many people have the impression that falling oil prices mean that the cost of production is falling, and thus that the feared "peak oil" is far in the distance. This is not the correct interpretation, especially when many types of commodities are decreasing in price at the same time. We would argue that falling commodity prices are bad news. It likely means that the debt bubble which has been holding up the world economy for a very long time – since World War II, at least – is failing to expand sufficiently. If the debt bubble collapses, we will be in huge difficulty.
President Obama’s neo-Cold War is not about ideology or respect for borders. It is about money and global power. The current battle over control of gateway nations - strategic locations in which private firms can establish the equivalent of financial boots-on-the-ground - is being waged in the Middle East and Ukraine under the auspices of freedom and western capitalism (er, “democracy”). In these global gateways, private banks can infiltrate resource-rich locales fortified by political will, public aid and military support to garner lucrative market advantages. ISIS poses a threat to global gateway control that transcends any human casualties. That’s why Congress decided to authorize funds to fight ISIS despite the risk. The common thread of today’s global gateway nations appears to be oil.
Some British newspapers have declared that “the dream is over” for Scottish independence. That seems hardly likely, unless by “over,” the newspapers mean “over for the next few years.” Europe-wide, the drive for more regional independence and autonomy will only continue to grow as economies stagnate, and as elites from Brussels or Rome or Madrid continue to maintain that they know best. Eventually, the promises of the centralizers will fall on very deaf ears. Even without a majority vote for secession, the campaign for separation from the United Kingdom has already provided numerous insights into the future of secession movements and those who defend the status quo.
- Quid pro quo Clarice: Iran seeks give and take on Islamic State militants, nuclear program (Reuters)
- Alibaba’s Banks Said to Boost IPO Size to Record $25 Billion (BBG)
- European Stocks Fall Amid China Concern as Tesco Slides (BBG)
- Tesco Suspends Executives, Probes Error That Triggers New Profit Warning (WSJ)
- Kurds say they have halted Islamic State advance on Syrian town (Reuters)
- Because luck and managing money is genetic: Financial Elite's Offspring Start Their Own Hedge Funds (WSJ)
- Islamic State Onslaught Spurs Mass Exodus of Syrian Kurds (BBG)
- Rockefellers, Heirs to an Oil Fortune, Will Divest Charity From Fossil Fuels (NYT)
While some were wondering if last night's sudden, commodity-liquidation driven selloff would last, most were not, expecting that the perfectly predictable levitation in the USDJPY around a round "tractor beam" number would provide a floor under the market .Sure enough, starting around midnight eastern, the USDJPY BTFDers emerged, oblivious to comments from former BOJ deputy governor Iwata who late last night said the obvious, and what we have been saying since January 2013, namely that a weak yen puts Japan at recession risk, and that a USDJPY in the 90-100 range reflects Japan fundamentals. And, as expected, the 109 level is where the algos have hone in today as a strange FX attractor, which also means that ES has reverse sharper overnight losses and was down just 7 points at last check even as the poundage in the commodity sector continues over rising fears of a sharp Chinese slowdown driven by its imploding housing sector (most recently observed here) without an offsetting stimulus program, following several comments by high-ranked Chinese individuals who poured cold water on any hopes of an imminent Chinese mega-QE or even modest rate cut.
Maybe what we want and what we need has been confused. Maybe the thin veneer of ebullient hollow markets has been confused for the real activity of real companies. Maybe the theatre of a Wise Man with an Answer has been confused for intellectually honest leadership. Maybe theoretical certainty has been confused for practical humility. The problem with sparking renewed economic growth in the West is that domestic politics in the West do not depend on economic growth. What we have in the US today, and even more so in Europe (ex-Germany), are not the politics of growth but rather the politics of identity.
Never waste a good crisis. While we already knew a major reason for The West chasing into Africa was to leverage its relatively low credit levels as the last bastion of Keynesian-stimulus-hope in the world (estimated at between $5 and $10 trillion in secured debt, using its extensive untapped resources as first-lien collateral). And so it is little surprise that, as The WSJ reports, The International Monetary Fund on Thursday warned the West African Ebola epidemic requires a "large scale" global intervention to control a crisis that is ravaging economies in the region. All three major Ebola-suffering countries were already in bailout programs ($200mm loan in 2012 for Guinea, $100mm loan for Sierra Leone, and $80mm credit facility for Liberia) but with the "world community taking forever to respond," The IMF is happy to step in and secure some assets / lend over $100mm more to each nation to fill financing gaps.
Is the US dollar really strong now? We explain why your measuring stick can massively distort your perception away from the reality of facts and truth.
As Scotland goes to the polls to decide on its own separation from the United Kingdom, the tone of the campaign is high on passion and secessionists are inching toward the magical 50 percent line. One core debate is whether Scotland is too small and too insignificant to go it alone... The answer, perhaps surprisingly, is resoundingly “Yes!” Scotland’s big enough to “survive” on its own, and indeed is very likely to become richer out of the secession. Nearer to the small-is-rich Ireland than the big-but-poor Britain left behind.