Well, it's one way to start a deficit cutting scramble. Washington Times reports that the preliminary number for the February deficit, which will formally be released by the FMS shortly, is $223 billion: this is the largest single month deficit in history! So much for prudent budgets and all that. At least the number can only get better from here. Unless, of course, it gets much, much worse, and rates continue creeping higher, resulting in 30% of total revenues being dedicated to paying gross interest, as was previously discussed on Zero Hedge. Then 40%. Then 50%... One gets the picture.
White House Provides Update On Operation "Nobel Peace Prize" - "Use Of Ground Troops Not At Top Of List"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/07/2011 13:56 -0400
Earlier, we reported that Obama mentioned that NATO is currently evaluating military options against Libya. Now, White House spokesman Carney adds some additional color on what Operation "Nobel Peace Prize", aka the invasion of Libya, will look like. From Reuters: "White House says no option removed from table on Libya response but use of ground troops not at top of list."Does that mean air force intervention is at the top? Luckily Zero Hedge readers know very well that the USS Enterprise is now peacefully sailing in the Mediterranean, awaiting for its moment in the sun. And on the use of the SPR: "White House says no specific price point would trigger the use of oil reserve; the issue is oil supply disruption." But what supply disruption: wasn't the spin up to now that Libya is largely irrelevant for the US from a supply perspective?
RANsquawk US Afternoon Briefing - Stocks, Bonds, FX etc. – 07/03/11
Oaktree's Howard Marks has just released his "year in review" letter, which like any letter by Marks is a must read, as the Oaktree manager has proven his presence in the pantheon of asset managers is well-deserved. Not surprising, and as we had repeatedly highlighted, when we pointed out the near record implied correlation between all asset classes, 2010 was a year of "correlations" which we believe may be just as appropriate a word to describe last year's market as "austerity" (which has so far completely missed the US). Quote Marks: "The word for 2010 was “correlation,” meaning macro trends dominated performance within asset classes. Thus most securities performed in line with their market benchmarks and the returns to security selection were limited. It wasn’t easy to outperform benchmarks."All this and much more on the firm's performance below.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday that NATO was considering military options in response to the situation in Libya.
Obama, speaking after talks with visiting Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, said the two countries agreed that violence by the Libyan government against its people was unacceptable.
And some more "insights" from Robert Gates:
While rumors that certain banks and exchanges may or may not be experiencing a dramatic run on physical silver are propagating across the blogosphere, we won't know for sure until we see Blythe Masters resignation letter. In the meantime Alexander Gloy of Lighthouse Investment reminds us of something very much indisputable: the physical premium over paper silver has just hit 20%, or an all time record. For all those who claim (oddly enough) that silver is really ubiquitous and one kicks around discarded bars of silver just walking down the street, should most certainly bet on this spread collapsing. Everyone else (presumably those who have been long physical silver for months if not years) are advised to sit tight.
Not sure what rumor can be spread to unspook the market into believing all is well here, but the widely expected March deterioration in Europe which nobody wants to talk about, is happening just as predicted: Greek CDS have just hit an all time wide of 1,036 bps or something like 17 pts up, while Portuguese bond yields have just passed into fresh lifetime highs of 7.65%. As per the Chairsatan, this is purely driven by inverse demand courtesy of surging global economies around the world, which are all experiencing inverse peace and prosperity.
After Nomura released a report two weeks back predicting oil could rise to $220 if the MENA situation escalates, this morning SocGen's Michael Wittner has released his own scenario analysis on the possible outcomes of the 2011 revolutions. His three cases see oil within the following escalating thresholds: $110-$125; $125-$150; and $150-$200. We are fairly confident that the worst case, which as expected involves all sorts of bad things happening in Saudi Arabia, is missing an extra zero somewhere. Some key observations from the report (attached below): "The forward curve for Brent, the better indicator of global oil market fundamentals, is currently in backwardation (nearby premium, forward discount) for the next 5 years, reflecting concerns over growing physical tightness in the crude markets. The oil markets are pricing in an extended Libyan shutdown of crude exports (see below). Even on the WTI forward curve, where prices are still under pressure from local mid-continent US market conditions, the contango has eased and now only extends through 2011; from 2012 through 2015, WTI is also in backwardation. As the Libyan crisis has escalated, the latest US CFTC data show that non-commercial net length for NYMEX WTI futures has reached an all time high. This is a key indicator that a new wave of investor flows is now moving strongly into WTI and the oil complex in general. With the widespread unrest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region expected to continue, and the oil markets worried about further supply disruptions, the attractiveness of commodities and oil to investors has been underscored. With oil prices driving heightened concerns over inflation, oil itself is seen as a good hedge against inflation." In summary, SocGen sees about $15/bbl risk premium built into current prices, which could jump to as much as $110.
From the BBC: "Libyan sources have told the pan-Arab newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat that Col Gaddafi has turned to the rebel Transitional National Council to secure his departure from the country in return for guaranteeing his and his family's safety. He sent a negotiator on his behalf to Benghazi and made handing over power before Libya's parliament, the General People's Congress, his condition, the sources said." If confirmed, look for oil to drop substantially. However, since this is almost certainly the latest totally bullshit rumor in a long string of market manipulation attempts, any drop in commodities should likely be BTFDed with a vengeance.
More Conflicting Disinformation: Fed's Fisher Says May Vote To End QE2 Before June, As Lockhart Says QE3 May Be NeededSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/07/2011 10:23 -0400
More purposeful confusion out of the Fed this morning after Fed's Fisher just hit the tape saying he may vote to end QE2 before the June deadline, even as Lockhart says QE3 is possible if the US faces another downturn. The purpose of all this constant conflicting disinformation is to keep market participants on edge as the marginal economic improvement is finally starting to reverse as Goldman's Jan Hatzius insinuated last night. In other words, should the Libyan conflict not be resolved for another few weeks, QE3 is pretty much guaranteed.
Goldman Now 3 Out Of 5 In World Monetary Domination: Goldmanite To Replace Andrew Sentance At Bank Of EnglandSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/07/2011 09:58 -0400
The stealth (or not so stealth any more) take over of the world by Goldman Sachs continues. Following the withdrawal of Axel Weber from ECB contention, and his almost guaranteed replacement with one Goldman alumnus Mario Draghi, now Goldman is set to take over the trifecta of Central Banks (since another Goldmanite Bill Dudley already controls the New York Fed): the BBC reports that: "the new member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will be Ben Broadbent, a senior economist at Goldman Sachs." Not at all surprisingly "he will replace the leading proponent of rate rises, Andrew Sentance, when he leaves the Bank of England's interest rate committee in May." We wonder what Goldman's "bent" on dovishness will be. Next up: Goldman just needs to plant its operative at the BOJ and the SNB and the company's global take over will be complete.
- China to stimulate imports from the United States (China Daily)
- Ten thousand apparel retail stores to stay shut on Monday in India today in excise duty protest (Economic Times)
- More grains limit ups coming: Wheat Planting Falls to Four-Year Low in Russia Amid Export Ban (Bloomberg)
- SEC Says Market Data Review to Come, But Not Yet (Reuters, h/t SR)
- Flat-Earth European Central Bank misreads oil spike again, and kicks Spain in the teeth (Telegraph)
- OPEC ministers talking informally, see no need to meet (Reuters)
- Grain prices 'will be stable' (China Daily)
- MSM only a few months behind: MERS? It May Have Swallowed Your Loan (NYT)
- Barclays Awards Chief Executive Diamond $11 Million Bonus (Bloomberg)
- Traders ‘short’ dollar as currency loses attraction (FT)
Oil, Gold Rise And Silver Surges To Record On MENA Contagion And Greenspan’s “Faulty” Fiat Currency ConcernsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/07/2011 08:54 -0400
Currency debasement on a scale never seen before in modern history continues in the U.S. and other countries. This is leading to a real risk of stagflation and possible even hyperinflation if sane monetary policies are not returned to soon.
The fiat currency experiment of the last 40 years (since Nixon came off the Gold Standard in 1971) grows more precarious by the day. Ironically, Alan Greenspan, the central banker most responsible for the cheap money policies and asset bubbles of the last 20 years, has again warned about the euro and dollar being “faulty” fiat currencies. Greenspan again said how gold is the ultimate form of payment and currency (see interview and transcript of interview in News). "What the price of gold is saying is essentially that there are elements within the marketplace which feel very uncomfortable with respect to what's going on generally," the former Federal Reserve chairman said. "It's not an accident that you're finding that central banks are going in to buy gold."
Markets positive this morning, recovering from last week’s leap in oil prices and continued Middle Eastern violence. All eyes will continue to watch the escalating situation in Libya. The Fed releases January consumer credit numbers this afternoon, estimated to increase $3.4BE v $6.1B prior. Look for the release of retail sales this Friday amidst a light release calendar.