en Pending Home Sales Jump Most Since September 2012 To Highest Since 2006, Driven By The Northeast <p>Following the <a href="">March pending home </a>sales report which saw growth moderate after February's 3.6% surge to 1.1%, the flurry of contract signings, not actual purchases, in April rebounded by 3.4% - the biggest jump since September 2012 - far above the 0.9% consensus estimate and 14% higher than a year ago, pushing the pending home sales index to 112.4, the highest level since 2006. The driver: pending sales in the Northeast, which soared 10.1% from the month before, and 9.4% from a year ago. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="314" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Quote NAR's chief economist Larry Yun: </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"Realtors are saying foot traffic remains elevated this spring despite limited — and in some cases severe — inventory shortages in many metro areas," he said. "Homeowners looking to sell this spring appear to be in the driver's seat, as there are more buyers competing for a limited number of homes available for sale."</p> </blockquote> <p>Adds Yun, "As a result, home prices are up and accelerating in many markets."</p> <p>He is hopeful the jump in contract signings means a comparable increase in actual existing home sales:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Following April's decline in existing-home sales, Yun expects a rebound heading into the summer, but the likelihood of meaningful gains will depend on a much-needed boost in inventory and evidence of moderating price growth now that interest rates have started to rise. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The housing market can handle interest rates well above 4 percent as long as inventory improves to slow price growth and underwriting standards ease to normal levels so that qualified buyers — especially first-time buyers — are able to obtain a mortgage."</p> </blockquote> <p>In other words, those buying continue to be mostly all-cash foreigners, money launderers, or home flippers who are competing with each other for a very limit amount of housing inventory, like Hanergy, like CYNK. As for interest rates "well above 4%", the housing market may be able to handle them, but nothing else will. </p> <p>The regional breakdown:</p> <ul> <li>The Northeast bounced back solidly (10.1 percent) to 88.3 in April, and is now 9.4 percent above a year ago. </li> <li>The Midwest the index increased 5.0 percent to 113.0 in April, and is 13.3 percent above April 2014.</li> <li>The South rose 2.3 percent to an index of 129.4 in April and are 14.8 percent above last April. </li> <li>The West inched 0.1 percent in April to 103.8, and is 16.4 percent above a year ago.</li> </ul> <p>As a reminder, the surge in Northeast pending home sales is in stark contrast with the collapse in new home sales in the Northeast which plunged 19% from a year ago. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="496" /></a></p> <p>Which begs the question: just why are homebuilders so leery of building new homes in the Northeast where, at least according to the NAR, housing demands is off the charts? A few more months of this discrepancy and it will be time for one of those "someone is lying here" posts.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="958" height="501" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Housing Inventory Housing Market New Home Sales Thu, 28 May 2015 14:16:13 +0000 Tyler Durden 507160 at Consumer Comfort Plunges For Longest Streak In 7 Years <p>With business confidence collapsing, Bloomberg&#39;s Consumer Comfort index - <a href="">after dropping to its lowest since December</a> - plunged once again this week to 40.9 (from 42.4). This is the lowest since Novemeber and <strong>extends the losing streak to 7 weeks - something we have not seen sionce May 2008</strong>. This confirms <a href="">Gallup&#39;s weekly tracking of consumer confidence</a> dropped back to its lowest levels since early December 2014 with <strong>53% of Americans now saying the economy is getting worse</strong>. Despite all the exuberance over lower oil prices, <strong>Consumer Comfort in The South is crashing</strong>. Perhaps even worse - for a consumer-driven economy - is that the <strong>&quot;buying-climate&quot;suffered its biggest drop since Dec 2011</strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 300px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>7th week in a row of confidence collapse....</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 303px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Consumer Comfort in The South appears to be catching down to the plunge in crude...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 314px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href="">Gallup&#39;s economic confidence</a> index dropped back to 2014 levels also...</p> <p><a href=""><img height="343" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>For the week ending May 24, 23% of Americans said the economy is excellent or good while <strong>29% said it is poor</strong>, resulting in a current conditions score of -6. The economic outlook score of -11 is the result of 42% of Americans saying the economy is getting better and<strong> 53% saying it is getting worse.</strong></p> <p>*&nbsp; *&nbsp; *</p> <p>Summing it all up...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 599px; height: 460px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Charts: Gallup and Bloomberg</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="546" height="419" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Consumer Confidence Crude Gallup Thu, 28 May 2015 13:57:03 +0000 Tyler Durden 507159 at Putin Slams US Over FIFA Arrests: "Another Blatant Attempt By The US To Meddle Outside Its Jurisdiction" <p>Following yesterday's political intervention by the US in which 14 FIFA affiliates were perp-walked out of Zurich's swankiest hotel just days ahead of Sepp Blatter's re-election, one person was quite displeased with this latest US intervention on the international arena: Russian president Vladimir Putin <strong>who accused the United States of meddling outside its jurisdiction by arresting officials from FIFA, further hinting that it was part of an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from his country.</strong></p> <p>As a reminder, Russia won the right to stage the 2018 World Cup during 2010 under Blatter's governance. The award is now the subject of a Swiss criminal investigation. </p> <p>As a further reminder, epic corruption at FIFA, as well as every other global institution, from the Clinton foundation to the global capital markets, to US Congress, has been firmly established and well known to <em><strong>everyone </strong></em>for years, if not decades. And yet, the rigged system has worked well enough that nobody dared to touch it. </p> <p>That is until US AG Loretta Lynch decided it was time to take matters into American hands. This, in turn, raised Putin's blood pressure as the Russian understands what the true purpose of this latest US intervention was.</p> <p><a href="">According to Putin</a>, the DOJ indictment which led to the arrest of over a dozen individuals on massive corruption charges "<strong>is yet another blatant attempt [by the US] to extend its jurisdiction to other states</strong>."</p> <p>Putin added that the arrests were <strong>a “clear attempt” to prevent the re-election of Sepp Blatter as Fifa president and that the Swiss had Russia’s backing.</strong></p> <p><img src="" width="600" height="360" /></p> <p><em>Vladimir Putin, right, with Sepp Blatter.</em></p> <p>"It looks very strange, the arrests are carried out on the request of the USA side,” he said. “They are accused of corruption – who is? International officials. I suppose that someone broke some rules, I don’t know. But definitely, it’s got nothing to do with the USA. <strong>Those officials are not US citizens. If something happened it was not in the US and it’s nothing to do with them.</strong>"</p> <p>“It’s another clear attempt by the USA to spread its jurisdiction to other states. And I have no doubt – it’s a clear attempt not to allow Mr Blatter to be re-elected as president of Fifa, which is a great violation of the operating principles of international organizations. The US prosecutor, as our media report, has already said that those Fifa officials have committed a crime. As if the prosecutor didn’t know about the principle of the presumption of innocence.”</p> <p>What is just as ironic is that the one reason the US determined it has jurisdiction over the case is only because FIFA's corrupt officials had used US banks as intermediaries to funnel and otherwise launder bribes and other flows of funds. The same criminal banks which the Department of Justice busted just a week earlier for rigging the FX market. </p> <p><em>How many people were arrested in the DOJ's crackdown on criminal US banks? <strong>0.</strong></em></p> <p><em>How many people are arrested as part of the DOJ's crackdown on FIFA: <strong>14. </strong></em></p> <p>One can start to sense an agenda in play. </p> <p>Quoted by the <a href="">Guardian</a>, citing the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, both of whom have evaded prosecution in the United States by hiding abroad, Putin questioned Washington’s right to request the Fifa officials’ extradition from Switzerland.</p> <p>“<strong>Unfortunately, our American partners use such methods to achieve their selfish aims and illegally persecute people. I do not rule out that in the case of Fifa, it’s exactly the same</strong>,” Putin said.</p> <p>What happens next? Sepp Blatter's reelection this coming Friday, which until yesterday had been guaranteed, is now virtually assured to fail as Putin's frontman at FIFA is shown the door.</p> <p>What else likely happens? Following some dramatic procedural changes, Russia loses the hosting of the 2018 World Cup. </p> <p>One thing that is certain <strong>not </strong>to happen: Qatar will keep the 2022 World Cup venue. Why? Because as we showed yesterday, the <a href="">Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee </a>had donated between $250,001 and $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation. And that is all it takes to buy the silence of the US DO"J".</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="1003" /></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1920" height="1152" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Capital Markets Corruption Department of Justice Fail Switzerland Vladimir Putin Thu, 28 May 2015 13:32:16 +0000 Tyler Durden 507158 at Military "Accidentally" Sends Live Anthrax To 9 States Via FedEx <p>A week after the 9/11 terrorists attacks that destroyed the Twin Towers in New York, letters laced with anthrax began to pop up across the US. By the end of November, 2001, 17 people had been hospitalized for anthrax exposure and five people were dead from inhalation. A subsequent FBI investigation pinned the entire ordeal on one Bruce Ivins who killed himself in 2008.&nbsp;</p> <p>Fast forward to yesterday and 26 people are now being treated for exposure after live anthrax was sent via FedEx. The culprit: the US military. </p> <p>No, really. </p> <p>CNN <a href="">has more</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong><em>Four lab workers in the United States and up to 22 overseas have been put in post-exposure treatment, a defense official said, following the revelation the U.S. military inadvertently shipped live anthrax samples in the past several days.</em></strong></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>CNN learned on Wednesday a Maryland-based lab received the live samples, which prompted an across the board urgent review to see whether any other live anthrax has been shipped.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Officials are concerned because samples left over at the lab in Dugway, Utah, where the samples originated, were tested and determined to contain live agent.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The shipments, thought to be dead, were shipped under less rigorous conditions than the live agent protocol.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>NBC News reported that the anthrax was sent via FedEx.</em></p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="338" /></a></p> <p>The army apparently thought they were shipping samples rendered inactive by gamma radiation last year, but that clearly was not the case because when a Maryland lab received their sample last Friday they were able to grow live Bacillus anthracis. The lab reported their concerns to the CDC. By Saturday afternoon, labs in Maryland, Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia were notified that the US military had accidentally mailed them the deadly bacteria. A sample sent to a US base in South Korea was destroyed on Wednesday.</p> <p>For their part, the military has got nothing (Via <a href="">WSJ</a>):</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>The military and CDC are investigating whether the full batch was irradiated improperly or if some other error occurred, allowing live samples to be sent. <strong>A military official said it is simply not known what went wrong.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="585" height="298" /></a></p> <p>Here's a bit <a href="">more color</a> from Reuters, who notes that the samples will now be sent to the CDC who will hopefully <strong>not</strong> follow their usual Anthrax shipping protocol:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>"Out of an abundance of caution, (the Defense Department) has stopped the shipment of this material from its labs pending completion of the investigation," said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The CDC said it has launched an investigation of the mishap.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>All samples involved in the investigation will be securely transferred to the CDC or affiliated labs for further testing, spokeswoman Kathy Harden said, adding that CDC has sent officials to the labs "to conduct on-site investigations."</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>The mishap comes 11 months after the CDC, one of the government's top civilian labs, similarly mishandled anthrax.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Researchers at a lab designed to handle extremely dangerous pathogens sent what they believed were killed samples of anthrax to another CDC lab, one with fewer safeguards and therefore not authorized to work with live anthrax.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Scores of CDC employees could have been exposed to the live anthrax, but none became ill.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>As a refresher, this is what CDC Director Thomas Frieden <a href="">has to say</a> about the agency's anthrax safety record (Via WaPo from last July):</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong><em>The head of the federal government’s public health laboratories in Atlanta told Congress Wednesday that researchers mishandled live anthrax and other deadly pathogens in the past because agency officials failed to see a broad pattern of safety lapses.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In the past, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused too narrowly on responding to specific incidents at individual laboratories without addressing more systemic issues.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>“We missed a critical pattern,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden. “And the pattern is an insufficient culture of safety.”</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Frieden testified before an oversight subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that focused on laboratory safety after more than 80 CDC employees may have been exposed to live anthrax last month, when samples were transferred from one lab to other CDC labs.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>As a result of the CDC’s internal investigation, the agency disclosed last week that there had been four other incidents in the past decade when deadly pathogens were mishandled. None had been previously disclosed by the CDC.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>And then of course there was the <a href="">incident which occurred in December</a> when the agency admitted to mishandling an Ebola sample, potentially exposing a dozen people to the deadliest virus known to mankind.</p> <p>It sounds like the new anthrax samples are now in good hands.</p> <p>The punchline to this latest example of government ineptitude when it comes to handling bioweapons is that the Maryland lab who reported the mishap was participating in an "effort to develop a field-based test to identify biological threats." Thanks to the US military, they got a crash course.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="565" height="297" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> FBI NBC None Reuters Thu, 28 May 2015 13:10:42 +0000 Tyler Durden 507157 at Financial Insanity Grips The World <p><a href=""><em>Via</em></a>,</p> <p><u><strong>Rare is the person who is a realist. We collectively live in a world of pretend and extend. </strong></u>Every one of us wants our present civilization to continue, though for countless millions the world has already turned upside down as unemployment has soared and war and terrorism proliferate. The very structure of life in our world is threatened because madmen have undermined the financial system through the creation of debt instead of wealth. <strong>We have collectively borrowed against our children&rsquo;s future until their very future is in doubt.</strong></p> <p>Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal thinks that <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">insanity grips the western world</a>. I have to agree and no one who reads the news would disagree. In the &ldquo;<em>The Sane Society</em>&rdquo; prominent psychotherapist Erich Fromm suggested that Western society as a whole was lacking in sanity; <strong>that the inequities and disharmonies of the entire society were pathological, not just the mental illnesses of people therein.</strong></p> <p>The newest mirror of financial insanity are the negative interest rates. Today if you are a manager of other people&rsquo;s money, like a pension fund manager, you are forced to lend out hard-earned money at a loss, to buy worthless paper, issued by governments who only pretend they will be in any position to pay back. <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a> writes, <strong><em>&ldquo;Negative interest rates are an odd fish in the world of finance given that they basically wreak havoc on a central tenet of investing; that investors will be compensated in some way for, you know, investing in things.&rdquo;</em></strong></p> <p>The <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Secular Investor</a> writes about this saying,<strong> &ldquo;Who is going to save money then? Not a single soul, of course. People will start to create debt en masse, because it is the better and cheaper option. </strong>The resulting investments will rise in value, moreover, when an increasing amount of people take on debt in search for returns. Things cannot get a lot crazier than this. If this is how the system ends up working, we fear that the effects will be irreversible. It is like a black hole that sucks in more and more matter &ndash; read: capital &ndash; and never lets go. <strong>This financial black hole story will also end with a sudden implosion,</strong> a flash of light and a big bang, just like in space, and those who do not own hard assets at that point in time could lose every bit of wealth they&rsquo;ve ever accumulated.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;The negative interest rates are oppressing the elderly, robbing them of their dreams. They were told to save for retirement, but now they face negative interest rates after paying a lifetime of taxes&hellip;&hellip;There is so much cash around and nothing to invest in, that we see companies buying back their own stock,&rdquo; writes <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Martin Armstrong.</a><strong> &ldquo;In the hunt for apparently &ldquo;safe assets&rdquo;, investors have thrown caution to the wind, and collectively determined to pay governments for the privilege of lending to them,&rdquo; </strong>writes <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Jeremy Warner</a>.</p> <p><a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Pater Tenebrarum</a>, writing about the new war against cash, says, &ldquo;As the modern day fiat money system inevitably cruises toward its final denouement,<strong> individual rights will come increasingly under attack as the world&rsquo;s ruling elites and centrally directed banking cartels begin to batten down the hatches.&rdquo;</strong> &ldquo;There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from such an anti-cash sentiment. <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Your property is no longer your own</a>. This fundamental attack on the value of money should erupt in national outrage,&rdquo; writes James Hall.</p> <p>Many people are worried for good reason. If US inventories, already at record high levels, and with the inventory to sales rising to great financial crisis levels, had not grown by $121.9 billion and merely remained flat, US Q1 GDP would not be 0.2%, <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank"><strong>but would be negative 2.6%</strong>.</a><strong>Things are not looking good for America and the rest of the world economy. Human activity in the real world is deflating (contracting) at an accelerating rate.</strong></p> <p><strong>The scenario (worst case) that I am betting my money on is presented by </strong><a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Gary Christenson</a><strong>, who writes, &ldquo;</strong>Financial or economic collapse occurs. If credit collapses and businesses aren&rsquo;t paid for products and services, the distribution system could temporarily shut down. Contemplate empty grocery shelves, empty gasoline stations, electricity and water outages, empty ATM&rsquo;s, and EBT cards that don&rsquo;t work.&rdquo; This is exactly what to expect when our present financial system burns down to the ground.</p> <p><a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Ambrose Evans-Pritchard</a> writes, &ldquo;The slump in the annual growth rate to 0.2pc in the first quarter does not convey the full horror of it. Once you strip out a surge in inventories &ndash; often a pre-recession warning &ndash; the economy contracted sharply. Investment in business buildings and factories fell 23pc. &quot;A whiff of panic is in the air,&quot; said the<a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank"><strong>Economic Cycle Research Institute</strong></a><strong>.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p><a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Charles Hugh Smith</a> writes, <em><strong>&ldquo;All the &quot;saves&quot; have done is guarantee the financial system will burn down in a conflagration ignited by a seemingly trivial spark somewhere in the vast global system of phantom collateral.&rdquo;</strong></em></p> <p class="alignCenter"><img alt="" border="0" height="296" src="" width="450" /></p> <p>From an essay about how <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">debt-addicted world could go the way of the Mayans</a> we read,<u><em><strong> &ldquo;The current state of affairs echoes Archaeologist Arthur Demarest&rsquo;s observation about the Mayan civilization</strong></em></u>: &ldquo;Society had evolved too many elites, all demanding exotic baubles&hellip;all needed quetzal feathers, jade, obsidian, fine chert, and animal furs. Nobility is expensive, non-productive and parasitic, siphoning away too much of society&rsquo;s energy to satisfy its frivolous cravings.&rdquo;</p> <h2><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Conclusion</span></h2> <p><a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Brandon Smith</a> concludes, &ldquo;<strong>Self-reliance requires preparedness. There is no way around it.</strong> There is no such thing as crisis for those who are prepared. This means placing oneself in a position to provide the necessities of life so that one does not become a slave to need. Desperation often leads to moral relativism, and tyrants thrive on the moral weakness of a population. The more prepared an individual is, the more likely he is to fight back against despotism. The more prepared a community is, the less that community will feel inclined to request aid from those who might leverage such aid to oppress that community.&rdquo;</p> <p><a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Martin Armstrong</a> concludes, &ldquo;<strong>It certainly appears that we are complacent as a society and as such, we never act until it is too late. Then everything falls apart.</strong> Indeed, government interest rates have moved into negative interest rates on about 30% of Eurozone total debt. This has become an effective tax on money itself, with respect to whatever you have left in your account after paying taxes. We are heading for economic Armageddon and the day of reckoning is rapidly approaching. You better wake up before the coffin is nailed shut.&rdquo;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"><div></div></div><div class="quote_end"><div></div></div><p class="alignCenter"><em>&quot;Corrupt and seriously deranged politicians are destroying western civilization.&quot;</em></p> </blockquote> <p><u><em><strong>&ldquo;The end result of Fed policy appears to be to keep us in perpetual economic malaise, to keep us all confused. There is no solution to the crisis, merely a choice of which roads to choose, a deflationary debt collapse, or a hyperinflationary dollar collapse or World War III. Pick your poison&hellip;,&rdquo;</strong></em></u> concludes <a class="external external_icon" href="" target="_blank">Zero Hedge</a>.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="319" height="277" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Eurozone Evans-Pritchard Martin Armstrong Unemployment Wall Street Journal Thu, 28 May 2015 12:52:36 +0000 Tyler Durden 507156 at Initial Jobless Claims Rise, Miss Expectations - Gone Nowhere Since The End Of QE3 <p>With the <strong>biggest miss to expectations in 6 weeks</strong>, initial jobless claims rose to 282k (against 270k exp). For context this means <strong>jobless claims have gone nowhere since the end of QE3</strong>. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="316" /></a></p> <p><em>It appears it is time to double-seasonally-adjust this data to confirm the everything is awesome meme.</em></p> <p>The smoothed average ticked up very modestly but <strong>hovers near 15-year lows</strong>. </p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="313" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Continuing Claims rose 11k to 2.222 million, missing expectations for the first time in 6 weeks.</strong></p> <p>*&nbsp;&nbsp; *&nbsp;&nbsp; *</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Charts: Bloomberg</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="956" height="503" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Continuing Claims Initial Jobless Claims Thu, 28 May 2015 12:37:07 +0000 Tyler Durden 507155 at Virtu Revenue In Peril: Reuters, BATS Launch Crackdown On Algo FX Manipulation <p>Now that the Department of Justice has cleared the financial world of all carbon-based&nbsp; FX market rigging traders by sending precisely nobody to prison and forcing bank shareholders to foot the bill on a settlement that amounts to about 1% of the proceeds earned thanks to years of market manipulation, and has since moved on to such more relevant to US taxpayer fields as football, it is time to turn attention to the robots.</p> <p>Recall that back in December <a href="">it was first reported </a>that both Deutsche and Barclays "algos" were busted for FX rigging: something we alleged was taking place about 3 years ago. And now, six months later, exchanges are finally admitting that this too conspiracy theory was in reality fact, and quietly have started to clean up their game before the DOJ comes knocking. </p> <p>As the <a href="">WSJ reports</a>, Thomson Reuters Corp. and BATS Global Markets Inc. will limit the practice known as “last look", also known as quasi-FX spoofing, on their platforms in coming weeks "in a move aimed at increasing transparency in the foreign-exchange market.""</p> <p>What is last look? </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>The last look practice is a legacy of over-the-phone currency trading, when traders would take a final check of the market before executing an order. It has survived even as foreign-exchange trading moved onto electronic platforms, leaving banks with the option to back out of an order after it was accepted by a client. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Phil Weisberg, global head of foreign exchange at Thomson Reuters, said last look requires “more clarity.” Some clients don’t understand “the rules of engagement with the bank” and “are confused about trading protocols,” he added, referring to the exact conditions banks have to respect on the execution of each specific trade. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>William Goodbody, head of FX at Hotspot, said, “Last look is a widely used practice in the industry. To make it work, it needs a clear set of guidelines.” </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Banks’ foreign-exchange trading clients are likely to welcome the move to curb last look, said Kevin McPartland, a principal at Greenwich Associates. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Giving market participants more visibility into where, how and with whom their orders are executed is a good thing,” Mr. McPartland said.</p> </blockquote> <p>In short: an unfair practice that gave collocated algos with nanosecond reaction times an unfair advantage. Perfectly normal defenders of HFT would say, just buy yourselves a collocated server and compete with us, right. </p> <p>Well, no. </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>Javier Paz, a senior consultant at Aite Group, said last look echoes the equity-market practice of “spoofing,” an illegal strategy in which traders place orders they don’t intend to execute to move the market to their advantage. </p> </blockquote> <p>There is a small difference:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>But there are also some significant differences, he said. In spoofing, a trader places an offer to buy or sell, then cancels it quickly, whereas in last look, there’s always a client willing to execute one side of the trade, Mr. Paz said.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yes, but with last look the "other" side of the trade can always back out. So call it half-spoofing. Does that make it half-illegal?</p> <p>And here is the punchline: "<strong>Thomson Reuters and BATS plan to tighten the time frame for canceling quotes and introduce a minimum acceptance rate banks have to respect.</strong>"</p> <p>In other words, slowly but surely the exchanges are beginning to admit that algo rigging is real, clear and present, and the bulk of it comes thanks to the gargantuan order cancelation rates, which have become a norm in a market in which it isn't how one trades that matters, it is guessing how the other algo will trade "if" something happens. Hence the reason why spoofing has become such a huge component of market making, and market manipulation: because we live in a world in which actual executions are no longer relevant - after all actual trade volumes are abysmal. The only thing that matters is what one "intends" to do... or rather what one "intends" to do if others do X. And so on.</p> <p>Which sadly is what "trading" has become: a world in which it is all about divining the intentions of others, especially if those others are cost-indescriminate central banks, whose presence in the market is ever greater with each passing day. </p> <p>Which is bad news for one firm: Virtu. Recall that for the recently public HFT giant, <a href="">FX is now the largest source of revenue</a>.</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="499" height="358" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Why did Virtu bet the farm on FX? Due to such "legal" practices such as last look.&nbsp; </p> <p>Curb those, and watch Virtu's trading revenues collapse. The question now becomes: can VIRT frontrun the shorters of its stock, as suddenly its business model begins to unravel?</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="715" height="514" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barclays BATS Central Banks Department of Justice Greenwich Associates HFT Market Manipulation Reality Reuters Transparency Thu, 28 May 2015 12:24:23 +0000 Tyler Durden 507154 at NoW FoR SoME WoRDS FRoM A WooDeN DuMMY... <p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="" width="1024" height="630" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> Thu, 28 May 2015 12:21:38 +0000 williambanzai7 507153 at The Salt Mind <p style="text-align: center;">The Salt Mind</p> <p style="text-align: center;">By</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="" target="_blank">Cognitive Dissonance</a></p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Want to further explore Cog&#39;s &#39;Salt Mind&#39;? Stop by <a href="" target="_blank">TwoIceFloes</a> and check out the latest by Mr. and Mrs. Cog.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The plan was always for me to return to &lsquo;<em>work</em>&rsquo;, aka gainful employment, after finishing several major sustainability improvement projects to our mountain top homestead. After nearly two years of continuous work on over a dozen undertakings large and small, several months ago the time finally arrived. Of course, the plan always assumed local and national financial conditions were such that a job was available for me to fill. If not&hellip;..well, that was precisely why we had improved our ability to self sustain in the face of national (or global) economic disaster.</p> <p>So for those of you who have been wondering where the hell Cog is&hellip;&hellip;&hellip;now you know. Cog has been <strong>willingly</strong> laboring away at the local (assuming anything twenty four miles away can be termed &lsquo;<em>local</em>&rsquo;) big box retail salt mine. And no, I am <span style="text-decoration: underline;">not</span> a Wal-Mart greeter&hellip;&hellip;yet. Suffice to say I work in a physically demanding retail sales environment as an hourly wage slave working swing shifts any day or evening of the week including holidays and weekends. At least it comes with full benefits, though I don&rsquo;t think I will be joining the 401(k) &lsquo;<em>retirement</em>&rsquo; plan or the company discount stock purchase plan anytime soon.<span id="more-12541">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Combine nine hour work days with an hour and a half of commute, add in the physical exhaustion experienced as I return to fighting shape and my weight of thirty plus years ago, sprinkle on top the occasional errand while visiting civilization, the time spent on daily prep for work as well as the unwind when returning home (one does not go directly to sleep after getting home at midnight) and clearly my writing has suffered.</p> <p>Mrs. Cog, to her credit and my relief, has been quite supportive, picking up much of the daily homestead work load while packing dynamite lunches/suppers filled with yummy healthy food and love notes galore. It just doesn&rsquo;t get any better than this. My biggest regret is not being able to devote as much time as I wish to the love of my life. Mrs. Cog and I have been inseparable over the last four years, so clearly the last two months have been a shock to the family unit. Thankfully our relationship has never been stronger and is based upon clear lines of communication, mutual respect and understanding and, most importantly, a deep and lasting love.</p> <p>A surprisingly significant, though not in the least unexpected, change within me has been the partial metamorphosis from independent thinker and sovereign individual to punch card corporate drone who is no longer master of his universe. It has been utterly fascinating observing firsthand over the last two months the at times subtle, at times monumental, changes to my mindset. Who says you cannot be reinserted into the Matrix because the steak is quite <em>&lsquo;real&rsquo;</em> and tastes great to boot.</p> <p>For more than ten years I have been either self employed or just plain old unemployed, though most certainly I have been hard at work during my self-imposed hiatus from a corporately structured &lsquo;<em>work</em>&rsquo; environment. Such is no longer the case and I have been genuinely shocked how easy it has been to slip back into the &lsquo;<em>Salt Mind</em>&rsquo; while laboring away at the salt mine. The sad reality is the <em>&lsquo;real&rsquo;</em> world is structured first and foremost by the &lsquo;<em>work</em>&rsquo; environment, and then firmly cemented in place by the fictional world of fiat and its associated debt. I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.</p> <p>Let me count the ways my &lsquo;<em>Salt Mind&rsquo;</em> is slowly subverted even as I am fully aware not only of the effects, but the underlying subjugating process. It all seems so natural, normal even, warm and fuzzy and oh so familiar. Like riding a bike or driving a car after a long absence, the natural born skills of the slave mind bred from birth eagerly springs to the surface when willingly summoned from the depths. The sweet smell and comforting familiarity of my indentured servitude is a powerful aphrodisiac and comes complete with mind numbing tunnel vision and powerful natural pain killers.</p> <p>Being the type of personality who enjoys interacting with my fellow man, I have quickly bonded with my &lsquo;<em>teammates</em>&rsquo; as we put our noses to the grind stone and our backs into the oars as we row, row, row our retail boat in circles. Yesterday&rsquo;s sales were great&hellip;..but what have you done for me lately? There is nothing quite like the narrow perspective and near total mental blackout imposed by the corporate sales treadmill.</p> <p>With just enough carrot and plenty of beating stick, it doesn&rsquo;t take much to spur me and my fellow peons on as we row the Imperial Roman galley ever onward. Technology may change the mode of operation, but the mindset remains the same. <a href="" target="_blank">Battle speed! Attack speed! Ramming speed! Number forty one, you&rsquo;d better pick up the slack or you&rsquo;ll taste my lash.</a> Another day of rowing to the mind numbing beat of the corporate sales drum.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Row, row, row your boat!" height="464" src="" title="Row, row, row your boat!" width="640" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;">Another day older and deeper in debt.</p> <p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p> <p>Of course slave &lsquo;<em>working</em>&rsquo; conditions have greatly improved since the days of Ben Hur, though I would strenuously argue the &lsquo;<em>Salt Mind</em>&rsquo; has greatly degraded under the guise of so called free will, self rule aka &lsquo;<em>democracy</em>&rsquo;, consumerism and the accompanying self will run riot. The only thing more impenetrable than an addicted mind is the co-dependent &lsquo;<em>Salt Mind&rsquo;</em>. I&rsquo;ll gladly accept pitiful wages two Friday&rsquo;s hence for a meaningless day&rsquo;s work today. For those who scoff at this analogy just wait and see how disastrously co-dependent the &lsquo;<em>Salt Mind&rsquo;</em> becomes when they abolish cash/currency and economic marginalization is just a despot&rsquo;s computer click away.</p> <p>Those who warn of a disastrous dystopian future coming around the bend are hopelessly blind to the obviousness of the &lsquo;<em>Dystopian Now</em>&rsquo;. It is not a matter of if or even when, but rather of depth and degree. Anyone who thinks the lives we live are &lsquo;<em>natural</em>&rsquo; doesn&rsquo;t understand the power of alternative reality creation and deep seated generational human conditioning. We are what we think more so than what we eat.</p> <p>Our own imagination, creativity and adaptability, the root power of our sovereignty and individuality, is brilliantly leveraged against us in the name of the common good and personal sustenance. The belly growls daily and our minds become increasingly desperate and narrow the longer we go between meals. Bottom line, as long as my meager porridge bowl is filled on a daily basis I ain&rsquo;t gonna stop rowing. God forbid they don&rsquo;t fill it again tomorrow.</p> <p>I haven&rsquo;t punched a time clock in nearly thirty five years, having either worked for myself since I was 23 or in a corporate sales environment where I was strictly commission compensated, therefore I determined my own hours and working conditions. If I didn&rsquo;t sell, I didn&rsquo;t eat, greatly simplifying for me (and my &lsquo;<em>employer</em>&rsquo;) when, where and how I was to actually &lsquo;<em>work</em>&rsquo;. No need for the lash since my hungry belly punched its own time clock. A self regulating slave is so much more profitable and efficient for the master.</p> <p>So it has been with growing shock and awe that I have watched myself willingly, even gratefully, arrange my life, and to a great extent that of my family, around the corporate schedule handed down each Wednesday via internet delivered stone tablets. This is where I shall be when I am told to be, so help me God. There is even a helpful drop down box used to request special dispensation from the corporate Gods when I must attend personal, medical or legal appointments. Thank you Sir, may I have another. The corporate lashing isn&rsquo;t so bad if you can dull the pain and discomfort. The mind numbing relief afforded by the glowing idiot box makes more sense to me now, though I continue to resist that dead end.</p> <p>The Cog household soldiers on primarily because my employment is temporary in nature and for the most part voluntary. It affords us the means and opportunity to further our goal of increasing our independence and sustainability. Several weeks in the salt mine means another row of solar panels will be added to the growing roof top array. Several months fighting the &lsquo;<em>Salt Mind</em>&rsquo; will put us that much closer to a new tractor or other needed power equipment. More efficient windows are sorely needed and a third alternative heating source is on the drawing board. And of course the new greenhouse is that much closer to fruition.</p> <p>Sadly for the vast majority of my fellow laborers the ultimate goal is the failed and fictitious <em>American Dream</em>, that of a prosperous and productive working life followed by &lsquo;<em>retirement</em>&rsquo;, meaning the ceasing of manual labor and the total pursuit of self centered happiness. Walk into any retail store or big box outlet these days and carefully study the attending staff. Chances are you will find the majority sporting gray hair and an old age shuffle. There&rsquo;s your retirement in glorious full frontal nudity.</p> <p>A surprisingly large proportion of my fellow wage slaves were at one time small business men and women who were pushed out of their chosen (self-employed) occupation for any of a hundred reasons, most of which have to do with the continuing economic slowdown (I would argue reversal) and the crowding out of their means of independence by abusive taxes and regulations, corporate elbowing and political disadvantages. Small fish in big ponds usually get assimilated or eaten.</p> <p>At some future date I shall explore more thoroughly the prevailing characteristics of the <em>&lsquo;Salt Mind&rsquo;</em> from the first person point of view. Stay tuned as I continue my self-lobotomization.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>05-28-2015</p> <p>Cognitive Dissonance</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;">No need to leave the &#39;<strong><em>Salt Mind</em></strong>&#39; for entertainment.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Salt Mind Entertainment" height="604" src="" title="Salt Mind Entertainment" width="800" /></p> Cognitive Dissonance Reality The Matrix Thu, 28 May 2015 12:14:13 +0000 Cognitive Dissonance 507152 at Bull Market Dealt A Significant Blow? <p><a href=""><em>Via Dana Lyons Tumblr</em></a>,</p> <p>In January, we wrote a post titled&nbsp;&ldquo;<a href="" target="_blank">Are Bears Missing The Forest For The Trees?</a>&rdquo;. The gist of it was that while there were certainly concerning bits of evidence piling up regarding the longer-term fate of U.S. stocks, the most important factors in the immediate-term &ndash; such as the continued confirmation of new highs by the NYSE Advance-Decline Line &ndash; continued to support the bull market.<strong> That may be starting to change.</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Regarding the NYSE A-D Line, we noted <a href="" target="_blank">last week</a> that for the first time in awhile, it failed to match the new highs set earlier this month by the S&amp;P 500 and other large cap indices.</strong></span> As a refresher, the A-D Line is a cumulative total of daily advancing issues minus declining issues on the NYSE. In our view, it is an important gauge of the health of the stock market as it measures the level of strength among all stocks. The more stocks there are advancing, the more robust and resilient a rally is likely to be. Therefore, when the A-D Line failed to confirm the new high in the indices,<strong> it was an indication that fewer stocks were still participating in the rally.</strong></p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Yesterday, we saw more confirmation of that.</strong></span> The UP trendline of the NYSE Advance-Decline Line since the beginning of the cyclical bull market in 2009 was broken to the downside with yesterday&rsquo;s poor breadth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img height="429" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, a few things about this development. Yes, it is only a measure of the internals of the stock market, rather than price itself. A break of the long-term <em>price </em>trend would obviously be of more concern. However, just as the indicator has peaked before cyclical market tops in price, <strong>a break in its trend has also been a harbinger of downturns in price during the prior 2 cyclical market tops.</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="image" height="416" src="" width="600" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the chart shows, <strong>trendline breaks in the A-D Line coincided with market tops in the Value Line Geometric Composite in 1998 and 2007, each leading to cyclical bear markets.</strong> As we&rsquo;ve mentioned in the past, the Value Line is an unweighted average of roughly 1700 stocks. So while you may note that the major averages did not top out until 2000 in the former instance, the majority of stocks did actually peak in 1998. Therefore, unless one was invested just in large-cap growth stocks, they were likely impacted negatively during the 1998-2000 period. The same story applies today. While the S&amp;P 500&prime;s uptrend may still be intact, it does not mean that the broad market of stocks is in as healthy a position.</p> <p>A few notes about trendlines and their utilization. As we have stated in the past, trendlines are one of the misused of all charting tools. For one, our rule of thumb is that there must be at least 3 points of contact in order for a trendline to be valid. A line can arbitrarily be drawn between any 2 points. It is that 3rd touch, however, that renders the trendline connecting the first two relevant. Thus, a break of that line means a genuine change of character. In this case, the trendline connecting the 2009 low and the October 2014 low proved relevant, i.e., provided a bounce, at the December 2014 low as well as the low earlier this month. Therefore, yesterday&rsquo;s break of that trendline marks a change in character.</p> <p>Here is another pet peeve with the use of trendlines. Often times, when a trendline is broken, folks simply draw a new line wherever the new low happens to be, as if there was no significance whatsoever to the original line. A new line may be appropriate but if one isn&rsquo;t going to respect the break of the original line, why bother even drawing it. This is especially true if one is going to continue to draw more and more new trendlines with each successive trend break. Thus, it is important to be honest about one&rsquo;s use of trendlines. Either respect their signals or do not use them.</p> <p>Lastly, as a trendline persists, it is not uncommon for prices to begin to touch the line with more frequency. <strong>This is a sign of a weakening trend and a head&rsquo;s up that the trendline is more apt to be broken. That is the case with the NYSE A-D Line. The trendline had been tested several times in recent months, increasing its vulnerability to a break.</strong> Another way of looking at it is that, trendline aside, the slope of the price series is getting shallower. Note that since the October touch of the trendline, the A-D Line&rsquo;s ascent has been much less steep than it had been during most of the post-2009 period. This is merely indicative of a trend that is losing strength.</p> <p>Over the past year and a half or so, we have nit-picked the equity rally quite a bit. That said, those forces most vital to the perpetuation of the bull market have been pretty steadfastly positive. <em><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong> One such force has been the NYSE Advance-Decline Line. However, following its divergence at the early May equity high and now yesterday&rsquo;s break of its post-2009 up trendline, the A-D Line looks much less constructive for the market. Thus, while we previously cautioned stock market bears to focus on the forest rather than the trees, this is one falling tree that might make a sound.</strong></span></em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="749" height="536" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Advance-Decline Value Line Thu, 28 May 2015 12:07:21 +0000 Tyler Durden 507151 at