To some, such as those few whose daily net worth is still a function of the policy vehicle formerly known as the 'market', it is a merry Christmas (at least until such time as the recoupling between central planning and reality once again inevitably occurs). To others, such as the 50 million (by now) Americans on food stamps, and billions of others around the world living in conditions of poverty, it is not so merry. But no matter one's current state of one's mind, there is always hope that the future will bring better days: after all that is what reflective holidays such as today are all about. We too hope that there is hope, if at the same time realizing that ever more of the promise of the future is packaged away in chunks of debt and securitized in order to fund an unsustainable present. We open up this open thread to readers to share their hopes and concerns about the present and the future.
What a year 2012 has been! The mainstream media continues to tell us what a “great job” the Obama administration and the Federal Reserve are doing of managing the economy, but meanwhile things just continue to get even worse for the poor and the middle class. Right now we are living in a bubble of debt-fueled false prosperity that allows us to continue to consume far more wealth than we produce, but when that bubble bursts we are going to experience the most painful economic “adjustment” that America has ever gone through. We need to be able to explain to our fellow Americans what is coming, why it is coming and what needs to be done. Hopefully the crazy economic numbers that we have included in this article will be shocking enough to wake some people up.
Was the shooting of 20 students in Newtown, Connecticut the Neo-Liberal version of 9/11? The question merits considerable thought, but let me explain further what I mean. In the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, a sense of shock and awe sunk into the minds of the American populace like nothing seen in decades. This overwhelming fear, this logic crippling terror, infected the public to more destructive ends than any deadly virus in existence. Conservatives were especially vulnerable to the infectious symptoms of the event, abandoning all reason and even their small government values to support the fascist inklings of the Bush Administration. More than a decade later, the Neo-Liberal (fake liberal) Obama Administration and its minions continue the Bush legacy by exploiting our latest tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary as a means to an end; a political opportunity to assert federal authority as more valuable than constitutional freedom. If you can’t convince people through rational debate that your position is the correct one, and, if you have to threaten them, lie to them, or brainwash them before they will adopt your ideas, then there is something wrong with your ideas.
- IMF Demands Partial Default for Cyprus (Spiegel)
- Boehner's 'Plan B' Gets Pushback (WSJ)
- Beijing criticises US ‘political checks’ (FT)
- White House Said to Tell Business Groups Talks Stall (BBG)
- NYSE tries to get hitched again: IntercontinentalExchange in talks to buy NYSE (Reuters) -> N-Ice coming?
- Greece faces ‘make or break’ year (FT)
- Fed rejects idea of consensus forecasts, "maybe forever": Fisher (Reuters)
- Rajoy Drives Spanish Revolution With Low-Cost Manufacture (BBG)
- Italian Senate Set for Budget Vote Before Monti Resigns (BBG)
- BOJ Loosens With Pledge to Review Inflation Objectives (BBG)
- Bowing To Abe, BOJ To Review Price Goal (WSJ)
Why Did We Lose Our Rights if the Government Isn’t Even Keeping Us Safe?
Tim Geithner's time is almost done, but the former NY Fed head is only one of very many whose position is expected to be replaced in Obama's second term (just so there is a non-continuous chain of command if and when the time comes for the people to demand an explanation for the state of the US economy from the talented Mr. Geithner). Who else is out and who is expected to be in? The following list attempts to cover all upcoming rotations at the top of the US cabinet. What is not attempted is a prediction of where in the private sector people such as Geithner will end up: that is considered largely self-explanatory.
UPDATE: PMI Score: Up 19 - 9 Down; 15 nations contracting now vs. 19 Contracting last month
Good is 'good' it seems once again - though we do remember just a few short weeks ago when the world and his pet rabbit were hanging on every word from the Chinese leaders and their next epic embarkation on the stimulus highway. Not necessary now though; as HSBC's China Manufacturing PMI confirms Friday's NBS version that China is 'expanding' once again (though marginally). The highest print for the HSBC number in 14 months - makes perfect sense given the way the world is behaving with world trade collapsing and the mercantilist nation's key customer (that would be the USA) seeing spending slowing. Nevertheless, it's enough to run to late Friday highs in S&P 500 futures and flush out those nascent stops. We just hope this 'expansionary' print is not a false hope as it was in October 2011... An evening full of PMIs has begun (see below)...
- Rough start for fiscal cliff talks (Politico)
- Europe Fails to Seal Greek Debt-Cut Deal in IMF Clash (Bloomberg)
- Japan’s Exports Reach Three-Year Low as Recession Looms (BBG)
- Beggars can be angry: Greek leaders round on aid delay (FT)
- More financial blogs launching soon: Financial Times Deutschland closing (Spiegel)
- China's backroom powerbrokers block reform candidates (Reuters)
- BOE Voted 8-1 to Halt Bond Purchases as QE Impact Questioned (Bloomberg). In the US the vote is 1-11
- UK heads for EU budget showdown (FT)
- Eurodollars - another epic scam: How gaming Libor became business as usual (Reuters)
- Clinton Shuttles in Mideast in Bid for Gaza Cease-Fire (Bloomberg)
- Fed Still Trying to Push Down Rates (Hilsenrath)
Presented with little comment, but while there are numerous reasons for elevated oil prices (from short-term supply disruptions, middle-east tensions, and emerging-market demand) it appears something broke in Q1 2009 between a proxy for world trade (or indeed for ship-building mal-investment in hope-driven excesses continuing) and the cost of fulfilling that demand. After 25 years of credit-driven Keynesian (monetary-to-fiscal-policy reach-around) planning, it would appear it is different this time as the potential for infinite supply of fiat currency clashes with the 'finite' supply of hard assets (crude oil in this case)... Much as we question who gained from Draghi's first year of action in Europe, we suggest this chart clarifies who did not benefit from Bernanke's experimentation...
- Obama-Romney: Breaking the Tie (BBG)
- Fiscal cliff looms over campaign climax (FT)
- Tough Calls on Deficit Await the Winner (WSJ)
- Election Likely to Leave Housing Unmoved (WSJ)
- Regulator Investigating Rochdale Trading (WSJ)
- Greeks Plan Strikes On Eve of Votes (WSJ)
- China Communists consider internal democratic reform (Reuters)
- Wen urges Asia-Europe co-op to promote world economy (China Daily)
- Italy Said to Reject Bad Bank That May Boost Ties to Sovereign (BBG)
- IMF warning adds to French economy fears (FT)
- Europe, Central Bank Spar Over Athens Aid (WSJ)
- Unlimited Lending May Help Weaken the Yen, BOJ Official Says (BBG)
- PBOC Official Says U.S. Election Won’t Impact Yuan Level (BBG) - Just the USD level to which it is pegged
Could Cost Billions to Replace
For two decades the rate of growth of world trade volumes considerably outstripped that of industrial production as credit-fueled globalization created huge imbalances in the world. As Diapason Commodities' Sean Corrigan indicates in these three simple charts, all that vendor-financed circular exuberance has come to an end. The bottom-line is that forced deleveraging (not least of which in Europe) is crushing the credit-fueled (and unsustainable) dream of endless growth as debt saturation has been reached (on private and now public balance sheets). To wit: Global Trade Volume growth is deep in the danger zone and about to turn negative; as the hopes of so many Sinomaniacs and Pollyannas is slowly peeled back to a righteous recognition of reality.
Don't Read This ... It's Totally Irrelevant, Old News, Who Cares, Americans Are Above the Law, We're Exceptional (and Anyone Who Criticizes anything our Government Does is a Commie Fascist Turruristicalist Moooooslim)
US reliance on oil imports as a share of consumption is gradually declining; but China's, however, is rising and is now higher than the US. As JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest notes, China now has the world's largest new car market and most extensive network of superhighways - which given the lack of a viable, affordable electric car - means fossil fuel consumption is expected to continue to rise. The trends that lead to this inexorable rise have critically important implications for the West in the ongoing containment of Iran's nuclear ambitions. Unfortunately for the West, the prospects for cooperation on sanctions appear dim as the following nine points (on China's relationship with Iran) should make clear.
The ability of reflationary policy to mute the worst risks of debt deflation has been a source of enormous frustration for stock market bears ever since the 2008 collapse. Yes, the initial moderate rally out of the S&P500’s black hole was perhaps not so surprising in 2009. Bombed-out stock markets can always manage some sort of rally. But the ability of the rally to continue through 2010, and then 2011, and now 2012 has been quite vexing and painful for bearish investors. Indeed, the entire post-2008 market phase has now produced an era of consistently poor performance for hedge funds. Recent data, for example, shows that an incredible 90% of hedge funds are underperforming the S&P500 through mid-September. Will the pain continue? If OECD policy makers do in fact lose stock markets as the main transmission mechanism for reflationary policy, then trouble of a very serious nature will make itself known in the biggest way imaginable since the 2008 crisis began.