With any and every asset-gatherer capable of forming a sentence being trotted out on business media to proclaim victory and elucidate on why "there is no where else to invest but stocks" and "the US is the cleanest dirty shirt," we thought it might be useful to reflect on just how clean that shirt can remain as the rest of the world's growth slows down significantly. In the last decade, there has been particular growth in inter-regional trade, with a dramatic expansion in trade vis-à-vis Asia, reflecting globalization. At the same time, the deepening in global trade relationships means that the potential for a sudden shift in demand in one region can have a more significant impact on the rest of the world. This has been seen particularly in recent years, with the sharp retrenchment in domestic demand in southern Europe affecting the economy of Asia, particularly Japan. Looking at the rate of increase in regional imports (which we assume is what the 'heads' believe will power the US 'clean' shirt) and the picture is ugly. And while copper is enough of a tell for most, even the IMF (usually extraordinarily optimistic) sees World Trade slowing dramatically - and given these interconnections, perhaps being the cleanest shirt merely shows the stains even more clearly when they finally hit.
But "We Can’t Afford to Irritate the Saudis" By Actually Looking Into Who Backed 9/11 ... "Especially with Oil Prices Going Up Now"
Over the years, Jim O'Neill, former Chairman of GSAM, rose to fame for pegging the BRIC acronym (no such luck for the guy who came up with the far more applicable and accurate PIIGS, or STUPIDS, monikers, but that's neither here nor there). O'Neill was correct in suggesting, about a decade ago, that the rise of the middle class in these countries and their purchasing power would prove to be a major driving force in the world economy. O'Neill was wrong in his conclusion as to what the ultimate driver of said purchasing power would be: as it has become all too clear with the entire world drowning in debt (and recently China), it was pure and simply debt. O'Neill was horribly wrong after the Great Financial Crisis when he suggested that it would be the BRIC nation that would push the world out of depression. To the contrary, not only is the world not out of depression as the fourth consecutive year of deteriorating economic data confirms (long since disconnected with the actual capital markets), but it is the wanton money (and bad debt) creation by the central banks of the developed world (as every instance of easing by China has led to an immediate surge of inflation in the domestic market) that has so far allowed the day of reckoning, and waterfall debt liquidations, to take place (and certainly don't look at the stock index performance of China, Brazil, India or Russia). Despite his errors, he has been a good chap having taken much of the abuse piled upon him here at Zero Hedge somewhat stoically, as well as a fervent ManU supporter, certainly at least somewhat of a redeeming quality. Attached please find his final, farewell letter as Chairman of the Goldman Asset Management division, as he moves on to less tentacular pastures.
Why Have We Lost Our Rights In The New "Post-9/11 World" If The Government Can't Keep Us Safe? Trillions Of Dollars - And Thousands Of American Lives - Have Been Squandered On Boondoggles And Pork. What The Heck Are We Doing?
Cyberspace matters. We know this because governments and militaries around the world are scrambling to control the digital space even as they slash defense spending in other areas, rapidly building up cyber forces with which to defend their own virtual territories and attack those of their rivals. But we do not yet know how much cyberspace matters, at least in security terms. Is it merely warfare’s new periphery, the theatre for a 21st century Cold War that will be waged unseen, and with practically no real-world consequences? Or is it emerging as the most important battle-space of the information age, the critical domain in which future wars will be won and lost? China and the U.S. have both said that they would like to see a rules-based cyberspace, but they do not see eye to eye on how those rules should be established. A costly and potentially dangerous Cyber Cold War awaits if they cannot do better, and agree on some rules of engagement for their rapidly expanding online forces.
While expectations for global GDP growth are now expected to be +3.3% for 2013 against +3.2% for 2012, the IMF has just slashed the previously rosy 3.6% expectation as the global economy stalls. The US and Europe had significant cuts to their 2013 GDP growth expectations (though of course, this dip recovers hockey-stick-like in 2014). It will perhaps be surprising to learn that Japan had its growth expectation raised the most of all the major advanced and emerging nations. World Trade volume growth has also been cut notably - driven by a fall in the previously supposed driver of growth - emerging markets. The IMF's less sanguine forecasts, however, are caveated with hope-driven perspective such as expectations that Debt-to-GDP will drop for all nations from 2013 to 2018 and while energy remains a major downside risk to global growth, we were stunned to read that they cite S&P 500 option prices as an indicator of upside potential. It seems, even at the IMF, that the market is all that matters (oh and the Japanese printing press).
Cheney Caught In Another Major Lie
While chart analogs provide optically pleasing (and often far too shockingly correct) indications of the human herd tendencies towards fear and greed, a glance through the headlines and reporting of prior periods can provide just as much of a concerning 'analog' as any chart. In this case, while a picture can paint a thousand words; a thousand words may also paint the biggest picture of all. It seems, socially and empirically, it is never different this time as these 1936 Wall Street Journal archives read only too well... from devaluations lifting stocks to inflationary side-effects of money flow and from short-covering, money-on-the-sidelines, Jobs, Europe, low-volume ramps, BTFD, and profit-taking, to brokers advising stocks for the long-run before a 40% decline.
Here a three views that are outside the consensus.
It has been four years since we first introduced the non-believing world to China's ghost cities. Two years later, we revisited to check on the widescale immigration that was expected to occur into these salubrious suburbs. Alas, another epic Keynesian fail as we so delicately described the 'if we build it, they will come' mentality. Now, four years after the news of the Chinese real estate bubble began to break on tin-foil hat-wearing blogs, the mainstream media (to wit, Sixty Minutes) have gone in depth - taking a wonderfully eery trip through these ghost cicties explaining the growing (and in some places popping) bubble in Chinese real estate markets. The incredulous host concludes this chilling saga, "Meanwhile, people who can afford it are still buying as much real estate as they can... potential buyers crowding buses to see new construction and new owners line up to register their new apts... Like us in our bubble, they just don't believe the good times will ever end." It's all make-believe -- non-existent supply for non existent demand.
When two weeks ago we exposed the heretofore secret location of JPM's London gold vault (located under the firm's massive L-shaped office complex at 60 Victoria Embankment) we thought: what about New York? After all, while London is the legacy financial capital of the "old world", it is in New York that the biggest private wealth of the past century is concentrated, and it is also in New York where the bulk of the hard assets backing the public money of the world's sovereigns are located, some 80 feet below ground level in the fifth sub-basement of the New York Fed, resting on the bedrock of Manhattan. That the topic of the gold "held'' by the New York Fed - historically considered the gold vault with the largest concentration of gold bars in the world - has become rather sensitive, in the aftermath of the Bundesbank's request to repatriate it (surely, but very, very slowly), is an understatement. Yet in the aftermath of some of the revelations presented here, we believe quite a few other countries will follow in Germany's footsteps for one very simple reason: suddenly the question of whether their gold is located at 33 Liberty, or just adjacent to it, in what we have learned is the de facto largest private gold vault in the world, located across the street 90 feet below 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza, doesn't appear to have a clear answer.
Jobs! President Obama has set a record. In his speech to Congress on Tuesday, he uttered the word "jobs" more than in any of his previous four State of the Union addresses. His 45 mentions were more than double the references to any of the other policy ambitions encapsulated in his speech by such words as health, education, immigration, guns, deficit, debt, energy, climate, economy, Afghanistan, wage, spend or tax (the runner-up). If only the president's record on unemployment were as good. After four years America remains in a jobs depression as great as the Great Depression.
Curious why nobody at the G-7 or G-20 had the gall to outright accuse Japan of currency manipulation? Simple: because everyone else in the G-7 and G-20 has been doing precisely what Japan only recently started doing a few months ago. As such, it would be outright "glass house" hypocrisy if there was a formal Japanese condemnation by the group of overlevered nations, which moments ago released its draft communique not naming the island nation outright as was widely expected. Of course, that the G-20 did not accuse Japan of engaging in what everyone clearly knows is currency war, does not mean that everyone else is not doing this. To the contrary: they are, and the lack of a stern rebuke of Japan simply means the currency wars will now intensify, devolving into the same protectionism and trade wars as the first Great Depression was so familiar with, which to borrow a parallel from history again, will end with the kind of war that ultimately ended the first Great Depression.
Currency War ... Trade War ... Hot War
The Chairman of Goldman's Asset Management group, unwise supporter of Man Utd, promoter of 'decoupling' myths, and creator of the BRIC mnemonic has decided, with everything looking so tickety-boo, to retire. Whether his great Buy BRICS fail or his BoE leadership bid fail was the final straw is unclear, but for now, the erstwhile permabull (and mocker of market skeptics) leaves us on a bright note:
- *O'NEILL SAYS CLEAR EVIDENCE OF THINGS DOING BETTER ECONOMICALLY
20 years of 'broken record' survival and the Brit throws in his chips now - just as everything looks be taking off? Leave your farewell message below...