The VA scandal was just the beginning. According to Internal documents obtained by New York Times, US military healthcare is "a system in which scrutiny is sporadic and avoidable errors are chronic." As the NYT reports In Military Care, a Pattern of Errors but Not Scrutiny, "the military system has consistently had higher than expected rates of harm and complications in two central parts of its business — maternity care and surgery."
One hundred years ago today the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every school boy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath - a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money - that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.
Following the rather stunning shenanigans of Q1 GDP with regard healthcare spending (as we detailed here), we thought, four years after its passage in 2010, it worth analyzing Obamacare's economic impact? Beforehand, economists generally believed that the broader coverage would raise the demand for healthcare goods and services, although there was some disagreement about related effects on healthcare inflation. In reality, as UBS notes, there was too much optimism about a positive immediate economic impact and a negative price inflation effect.
Abe’s arrows have been praised in the media by the economically ignorant, the politically motivated, and those who believe prosperity is parceled out by some all powerful shaman. However, the arrows, seen in the harsh light of reality, turn out to be counterfeiting schemes, “investing” in money losing ventures, taking money from the productive, and squabbling with the neighbors. These counterproductive political actions won’t ever result in a stronger economy and have instead left the Japanese people with a crushing debt and tax burden. Don’t get taken in by the hogwash you read in mainstream media propaganda pieces. Abe’s policies are complete and utter failures.
It is no secret that the extremist al-Qaeda Jihadist group known as ISIS for short, which in the span of weeks has overrun the northern part of Iraq, has grand ambitions to not only preserve its power in the north and central regions, as well as the border with Syria, but to ultimately proceed south where not only Baghdad is located but also the great energy infrastructure of the country: "the grand prize" for ISIS as it would make the extremist group viable and financially self-sustaining. But how and when will this "Battle for Baghdad" take place? For the answer we go to a backgrounder prepared by the Institute for the Study of War titled, as expected, "ISIS Battle Plan for Baghdad" which lays it out in detail.
For a week or two, the 'news' appeared to confirm the 'hope'; faith that Q1's dysphoria would emerge phoenix-like into Q2 euphoria as a 'hibernating' American public emerging from their weather-shelter and spent-spent-spent all their borrowed-borrowed-borrowed money. That ended last week! Despite the dramatically low volume liftathon in stocks since the FOMC meeting, major risk markets around the world are cracking. European bonds and stocks had a bad week, Treasuries rallied the most in 6 weeks, and the key to it all, USDJPY, slipped to 4 week lows. Why? As the chart below shows, US macro data is collapsing again (right on cue) and stands at 2-month lows... (and is the worst-performing macro nation in the world this year!)
Since everyone and their pundit grandmother has opined on volatility in the past month, we will say no more and instead of Wall Street, we will do a Wallace Stevens, with 13 ways of looking at record low volatility, in charts.
"It is fair to say that this particular constellation of issues, problems if you will, has never been faced before at these levels. Never," warns Chris Martenson (of The Crash Course) but what does he mean when he says "Great change is upon us." This brief condensed look at The Three 'E's of - Economy, Energy, and Environment are all one needs to understand the current situation is anything but a sustainable status quo (no matter how reassured by record high stock prices the general public may be).
As individuals, it is entirely acceptable to be "optimistic" about the future. However, "optimism" and "pessimism" are emotional biases that tend to obfuscate the critical thinking required to effectively assess the "risks". The current "hope" that Q1 was simply a "weather related" anomaly is also an emotionally driven skew. The underlying data suggests that while "weather" did play a role in the sluggishness of the economy, it was also just a reflection of the continued "boom bust" cycle that has existed since the end of the financial crisis. The current downturn in real final sales suggests that the underlying strength in the economy remains extremely fragile. More importantly, with final sales below levels normally associated with the onset of recessions, it suggests that the current rebound in activity from the sharp decline in Q1 could be transient.
There are a few “market anomalies” affecting the seasonality of stock returns that have captured some investor attention, like the day-of-the-week effect or the January effect, for example. They are called anomalies because – according to financial theory – the market should arbitrage away the regularity of such patterns. But in reality, it does not. As Goldman notes, there are similar patterns exist with respect to market volatility; and they are equally puzzling.
To: My Fellow Zillionaires - "You probably don’t know me, but like you I am one of those .01%ers, a proud and unapologetic capitalist. I have founded, co-founded and funded more than 30 companies across a range of industries - from itsy-bitsy ones like the night club I started in my 20s to giant ones like Amazon.com, for which I was the first nonfamily investor... But let’s speak frankly to each other. Seeing where things are headed is the essence of entrepreneurship. And what do I see in our future now? I see pitchforks... And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last. If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us."
Late last week, Mexico appears to have taken the US "border-crossing" issue to a whole new level even if it was really a case of a drug bust gone horribly wrong, when as AP reported, on Thursday Mexican law enforcement crossed into Arizona by helicopter and fired two shots at U.S. border agents, a border patrol union leader says. According to the Customs and Border Protection: "At approximately 5:45 a.m. Thursday morning, a Mexican law-enforcement helicopter crossed approximately 100 yards north into Arizona nearly 8 miles southwest of the Village of San Miguel on the Tohono O'odham Indian Nation while on a law-enforcement operation near the border. Two shots were fired from the helicopter, but no injuries or damage to U.S. property were reported. The incident is currently under investigation." Art del Cueto, president of the local border patrol union, said four agents were in a marked patrol vehicle when they were shot at. "They could say they didn't fire at the agents intentionally. But for them to say that they were no shots fired within the United States, toward the United States Border Patrol, is a lie. They got in contact with our managers and apologized for the incident," del Cueto said.
As Barclays Joe Abate warns, delivery fails in the Treasury market have surged recently. Whil enot at the scale of the 2008 crisis, we suspect the spike is what is paniccing the Fed to say "the market is wrong", talk up short-end rates, and implore the public to sell-sell-sell their bonds. The Fed's market domination has meant massive collateral shortages (as we have detailed previously) and now more even that during last year's taper-tantrum, the repo market is trouble. But why do I care about some archaic money-market malarkey? Simple, Without collateral to fund repo, there is no repo; without repo, there is no leveraged positioning in financial markets; without leverage and the constant hypothecation there is nothing to maintain the stock market's exuberance (as we are already seeing in JPY and bonds). Q.E.D.
A state economy is nothing without the businesses that call it home. But, as WaPo notes, those businesses are not created equally - bigger businesses naturally have outsized influence, generating more revenue, paying more taxes and employing more people. As Bloomberg notes below, some are less surprising - GM runs Michigan, ExxonMobil runs Texas, and Berkshire Hathaway runs Nebraska but for Washington (home of Microsoft), it is CostCo that runs the state. So what's the biggest business in your state?