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"Cash-Strapped" Venezuela Stares Into The Abyss... And Its Default Risk Goes Parabolic





Some two weeks ago (when Venezuela CDS was trading at 2300  bps) we previewed what - with almost absolute certainty - would be the first "casualty of the crude carnage" - Nicholas Maduro's little socialist paradise that couldn't: Venezuela. As a reminder, back then we learned that the OPEC member was in such dire straits it had burned through a third of a Chinese' bailout loan in the matter of days. Since then things have gone from bad to worse to freefall and why earlier today Venezuela CDS soared again by several hundred points wider touching 3100 bps (800 wider since our first post) and is now in record wide territory - suggesting the same probability default risk as when just after the Lehman collapse, crude traded briefly as low as $30 - as the bankruptcy vultures start circling over what will most certainly be the next sovereign bankruptcy carcass.

 
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Protesters Swarm Celebrity-Studded Barclays Center Where A Cop Just Pepper Sprayed Himself By Mistake: Live Feed





Tonight, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where the Nets and the Cavaliers are playing, has devolved from the hippest venue for US and UK "royalty", to the scene of the latest Eric Garner protest, to a mobbing of a local Target store, to confrontations between protesters and police, to the outright farcical, when moments ago a NYPD cop pepper-sprayed himself by mistake and had to get EMS treatment. Watch it all unfold live and uncensored.

 
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17 Signs You Were A CIO In 2014





"...You never want to hear the phrases "low-rate environment," "investment solution," or "tapering" ever again. Or "China's unwind" or "low-return projections" or "quantitative easing" or "I've learned so much working for you these last few years and will really miss the team… but made me an offer I couldn't refuse."" Asset managers, prepare to nod vigorously.

 
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Meet China's Morlocks: 1 Million Beijing Residents Live Undeground





For an estimated 1 million Beijing residents, dubbed the "rat tribe", living above ground (or in ghost cities) is a luxury they simply cannot afford. As NPR reports, with even the tiniest apartment costing a fortune (and 21 million people fighting for space), there has emerged a new 'affordable' housing option... below the city's bustling streets. Thanks to building codes that force the creation of basements and bomb shelters under new residences, there's a lot of underground space (1 - 3 floors down) that is illegally - but affordably - used for habitation. With the Shanghai Composite stock index up over 40% year-to-date, creating wealth and trickling down, how can this be possible?

 
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Young American Adults: Then And Now, In Charts





It was a little over month ago when we presented our visual guide to the Millennial generation. Since then, dissecting America's overindebted, overeducated, underqualified, underemployed, underpaid young adults - if only in charts - has become one of the nation's favorite pastimes. And so, courtesy of the US Census Bureau which too has taken a fascination with the sad plight of the one generation that, at least in theory, should carry the weight of the US economy on its shoulders, is the latest demographic dressing down of Americans aged 18 to 34.

 
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How To Reduce Police Violence – Eliminate Nanny State Crimes





"Every new law requires enforcement; every act of enforcement includes the possibility of violence. There are many painful lessons to be drawn from the Garner tragedy, but one of them, sadly, is the same as the advice I give my students on the first day of classes: Don’t ever fight to make something illegal unless you’re willing to risk the lives of your fellow citizens to get your way."

 
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The WSJ's Front Page 73 Years Ago: War With Japan





 
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With Q3 Buybacks Surging, These Are The Top 20 Repurchasers Of Their Own Stock





As the just concluded Q3 earnings seasons confirms, what went down, promptly soared right back up, with stock repurchases in Q3 surging by 30% following the 30% drop in Q2, and nearly offsetting all the lost "corporate wealth creation" in the second quarter, with the total amount of stock repurchases by S&P 500 companies jumping from $112 billion to $145 billion, just shy of the Q1 record, and the second highest single quarter repurhcase tally going back to 2007, and before.

 
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What The Fed's Shift From "Considerable Period" To "Patient" Means





In the 2003-2004 playbook, “considerable period” gave way to “patient” as a signal that the hikes were drawing closer, and it is interesting that the words “patient” or “patience” have shown up quite frequently in recent Fed speeches. The problem with a simple shift to “patience” without any qualifications on December 17 is that back in 2004 this shift occurred just 4½ months before the first hike, and some market participants might therefore take it to mean a hike before June.

 
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Did Blackstone Just Call The Top In Commercial Real Estate?





Blackstone's well-timed IPO in 2007 was almost the perfect top-tick indicator as 'the smart money' private-equity guys cashed out into the public markets at peak euphoria. Earlier this year we noted that, among others, Blackstone was drastically ratcheting down purchases (and in fact selling what it could) US residential real estate - and with it withdrew the only pillar holding up the housing market. And now, in the biggest deal in 7 years, Blackstone is dumping a $3.5 billion commercial real estate portfolio. Given the recent declines in CMBX pricing, perhaps, once again, Blackstone is calling the top in another bubble...

 
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Los Angeles Apartments Are On Fire... Literally





 
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Q3 2014 Earnings Breakdown - Do You Still Believe In Miracles?





"There is virtually no 'bullish' argument that will currently withstand real scrutiny. Yield analysis is flawed because of the artificial interest rate suppression. It is the same for equity risk premium analysis. Valuations are not cheap, and rising interest rates will slow economic growth. However, because optimistic analysis supports our underlying psychological 'greed,' all real scrutiny to the contrary tends to be dismissed. Unfortunately, it is this 'willful blindness' that eventually leads to a dislocation in the markets."

 
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Alleged Chemical Attack Sends 'Furries' Flying In Chicago





In a particularly vicious alleged chemical attack, thousands of MidWest FurFest "Furries" - the term for people who dress up in expensive animal costumes and role-play (sometimes sexually) as anthropomorphic critters - were evacuated when chlorine gas was released in the Chicago Hyatt hotel in which they were nesting. As AP reports, authorities are investigating the release of a gas that sent 19 "people dressed like dogs and foxes," as a criminal matter - as someone apparently intentionally left chlorine powder in a ninth-floor hotel stairway, causing the gas to spread. Does give one paws for thought though, eh?

 
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Just Two Charts





Both short-term and long-term, the large liquid US stock market indices have become massively decoupled from the bond and credit markets. Since the former is supposed to discount a combination of the latter (macro growth/de-growth from bonds and micro business-risk/cash-flow-sustainability from credit), one has to wonder which reality will come to pass...

 
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10 Reasons Why A Severe Drop in Oil Prices Is A Problem





Not long ago, we wrote Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If high oil prices can be a problem, how can low oil prices also be a problem? In particular, how can the steep drop in oil prices we have recently been experiencing also be a problem? In our view, a rapid drop in oil prices is likely a symptom that we are approaching a debt-related collapse. Underlying this debt-related collapse is the fact that we seem to be reaching the limits of a finite world. There is a growing mismatch between what workers in oil importing countries can afford, and the rising real costs of extraction, including associated governmental costs. This has been covered up to date by rising debt, but at some point, it will not be possible to keep increasing the debt sufficiently. At some point the debt situation will eventually reach a breaking point.

 
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