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Frontrunning: Mayan Apocalypse Edition





  • This is signal, the rest is noise: Russia's Putin set for stand-off with EU on Syria, energy (Reuters)
  • Boehner's Budget 'Plan B' Collapses (WSJ)
  • Boehner has few options in "fiscal cliff" mess (Reuters)
  • Maya "end of days" fever reaches climax in Mexico (Reuters)
  • Monti Praised by Merkel Favored Less by Taxed Italians (BusinessWeek)
  • China probes Yum Brands' KFC over safety of chicken productsa (Reuters)
  • Looting in Aregentina: 400 Border Guard officials deployed to Bariloche over looting (BAH)
  • Regulatory 'Whale' Hunt Advances - Comptroller Expected to Take Formal Action Regarding JPM's Trading Fiasco (WSJ) - but no punishment
  • U.K. Banks Seen Sacrificing Lending to Meet BOE Demand (Bloomberg)
  • US banks face rise in bad loans cover (FT)
  • Daily Gun Slaughter in U.S. Obscured by Newtown Rampage (BBG)
  • China Restricts Bond Sales by Risker Companies (BBG)
 
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Futures Flash Crash As ES Plummets To Limit Down





No, really, there is a big, huge, massive rotation out of those dangerous, inflationary bonds into safe, predictable equities...

 
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The Great Spanish Crash - Documentary





Forget what you are told by various European officials. Ignore the endless parade of manipulated market savants who 'see' sovereign spreads falling and claim that indicates all is well in Europe. To truly understand the situation, watch this must-see documentary from the BBC's Paul Mason on the rise and fall of Spain. From dictatorship to democracy and from construction boom to economic bust, Mason pulls no punches in this down-to-earth realization that things are far worse than any 'market' would suggest. It is critical to understand that free markets are the stick (or carrot depending upon your style of vigilantism) to incent governments to be proactive. With the very visible hand of ECB-funded banks bailing one another out, all the politicians are doing in this 'lull' is nothing at all! Instead, the watchers (and prognosticators) simply observe the market and their bias is to believe that they 'fixed' it. This documentary will explain why that is absolutely not the case.

 
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A Fiscal Flowchart For Dummies: Here Is What Happens Next





Confused by what is about to take place amid the loud noise, political posturing and rhetoric that as soon as tomorrow will hit an unseen before level as Obama's plan to split the GOP has worked so well it has completely backfired and thrown any game theoretical forecasts out of the window? Here is Goldman's fiscal flowchart, which is not for faint of heart, as ever more signs point to the box with the all caps "recession" written all over it.

 
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VIX Decoupling Band Snaps Even As SPX Still Has A Ways To Go





A mere 7 hours ago in "Just in case there is no deal" as is now the case, we noted that there was a considerable divergence between the equity market's roiling exuberance (and the accompanying over-confidence of the naive watchers) and the occurrences in the implied volatility world. VIX had decoupled rather notably from stocks (and its term structure had flattened as short-term protection was heavily bid). Sure enough, at the first sign of things not quite going to Plan (A, B, or Z), equity futures have collapsed amid a total farce of a market liquidity to recouple with volatility. With quad-witching tomorrow, we can only imagine the efforts the algos will be going to tonight to keep this afloat.

 
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Plan 'C' Anyone? Boehner Humiliated As "Plan B" Lacks Enough Votes To Pass





Update: wow:

HOUSE SCRAPS PLAN TO VOTE ON BOEHNER'S TAX `PLAN B' TONIGHT
U.S. HOUSE PLANS NO VOTES UNTIL AFTER CHRISTMAS, BURTON SAYS
BOEHNER SAYS `PLAN B' TAX PLAN LACKED SUPPORT TO PASS
BOEHNER SAYS UP TO OBAMA TO WORK WITH REID ON BUDGET PLAN

Absolute total chaos. ES at lows of the days right now. Luckily, at least the debt ceiling is a firm deadline... Sometime in late March. Oh, and goodbye Boehner?

 
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House Passes Sequester Replacement "Spending" Bill By 215-209 Vote, "Plan B" Vote Next - Live Webcast





Update: an unexpected setback for Boehner appears to have appeared with rumors that there may not be enough votes in support of Plan B. As a result the vote on Plan B is for now delayed, and the Republican leaders are said to plan a 7:45pm conference. Suddenly it is becoming a real nailbiter. Stay tuned and grab your popcorn.

The first key vote on the House's docket - the Spending Cut Bill, i.e. the Sequester removal, has just passed as widely expected, by a vote of 215-209 with 21 Republicans voting now. Shortly thereafter, the House will vote on the "Plan B" Boehner tax proposal which too is expected to pass the House, and then be blocked by the Senate. At that point the Fiscal Cliff debate for 2012 is likely to be shelved and reopened in 2013 only after the consequences of the Fiscal Cliff have taken place. A final resolution may well stretch out into March, as we predicted previously, when the drop dead decision date is due - that coinciding with the debt ceiling increase, which by mid-March will no longer be extendable.  Watch the vote live below.

 
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Is The Short Squeeze Over?





Following up on our recent discussion of the worst-is-first rally that we have all been witness to in the last few weeks, we thought it noteworthy that the 'most-shorted' names in the Russell 3000 and the index itself have now recoupled from their epic divergence post-QE3. We have seen five large short squeezes 'engineered' since the lows in March 2009 - and given Citi and BofA's 17% gains in December alone, we suspect (and have heard from more than a few funds) that year-end is bringing some forced buy-ins as SecLend desks become a little more activist.

 
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Guest Post: The Last Christmas In America?





As unemployment rose toward 10%, the January 1975 cover of Ramparts magazine blared: The End of Affluence: The Last Christmas in America. (TLCIA). Now statistics are echoing that last great recession: rising prices for essentials, systemically high unemployment and stagnant wages. So how does a society deal with the End of Work when it also means The End of Affluence, even for many of those with jobs? How does government deal with declining tax revenues and rising interest rates? The death throes of the debt-based consumerist lifestyle are already visible beneath the glossy propaganda of "rising revenues this Christmas season." The Fed is desperately attempting to re-inflate the debt bubble by lowering interest and mortgage rates and buying up all sorts of semi-toxic/impaired debt. What the Fed dreads is the reality we all feel and see: fear of the future due to diminished wealth and shaky incomes.

 
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Visualizing The Changing Face Of Global Manufacturing





Manufacturing industries have helped drive economic growth and rising living standards for nearly three centuries, and for some developing economies (as McKinsey notes in a recent report) continues to do so. Things are changing, however, as manufacturing output (as measured by gross value added) grew by 2.7% annually in advanced economies and 7.4% in large developing economies (from 2000 up until 2007); the leaders are changing rapidly China, India and Russia rise and Germany, Japan, UK, and Canada are sliding. The following chart simplifies the evolution of global manufacturing economies over the last four decades.

 
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Comment Of The Day: On The Self-Destructiveness Of Fed Policy





What creates real efficiency and competition are not eras of wealth and largesse, but eras of scarcity and change.  A good analogy is that war creates better armies and better weapons, not prolonged periods of peace.   Bernanke of course has zero understanding of what happens to large companies when financial reality is made irrelevant, and capital is made plentiful.  (Growth and efficiency are by no means a logical result). This is what happens when academics who are deeply inexperienced in business run monetary policy designed to stimulate business.   The market is going to bend him over the table and humiliate him eventually.  And then all that capital that he injected into the market is going to evaporate, and a generation of Americans will be financially obliterated.

 
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RIMMberrrr - Redux (-20% from AH Highs)





With every man, woman, and child now firmly aboard the 'RIMM is back' bandwagon, the squeeze in after-hours trading appears to have had a 30-minute half-life. It seems the Blackberry-maker just can't get a break. Two words "iconic" and "Kodak" come to mind... RIMM is now -9% on the day, after being up 4% at the day-session close and up over 13% on earnings news... oops. Paging Eric Jackson? RIMM -20% from after-hours highs

 
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Guest Post: Gun Grabbers Call For Re-Education Programs In Public Schools





Was the shooting of 20 students in Newtown, Connecticut the Neo-Liberal version of 9/11?  The question merits considerable thought, but let me explain further what I mean.  In the aftermath of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, a sense of shock and awe sunk into the minds of the American populace like nothing seen in decades.   This overwhelming fear, this logic crippling terror, infected the public to more destructive ends than any deadly virus in existence.  Conservatives were especially vulnerable to the infectious symptoms of the event, abandoning all reason and even their small government values to support the fascist inklings of the Bush Administration. More than a decade later, the Neo-Liberal (fake liberal) Obama Administration and its minions continue the Bush legacy by exploiting our latest tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary as a means to an end; a political opportunity to assert federal authority as more valuable than constitutional freedom. If you can’t convince people through rational debate that your position is the correct one, and, if you have to threaten them, lie to them, or brainwash them before they will adopt your ideas, then there is something wrong with your ideas.

 
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Guess Who Is NOT "Rotating" Out Of Treasurys





If one reads sellside research (especially that of Bank of America or Goldman), if one listens to comedy-finance fusion TV channels, if one reads newspapers, one can't help but be left with the impression that everyone and their grandmother is now dumping Treasurys and buying stocks. Why - because this is a key part of Bernanke's latest masterplan (which is the same as all his previous "masterplans", which have failed so far about 4 times previously) to force what little retail investing capital is left out there out of the safety of bonds (return of capital), and into stocks (return on capital). The catalyst? This time, for real, central planners will generate enough (controlled) inflation to create losses for anyone holding long duration paper (such as the Fed of course, whose DV01 is the biggest in the history of the world at over $2 billion, but we digress). So just to test whether or not this was indeed the case, we decided to go to the source data for what the smartest money of all is doing: the 20 or so (RIP 21st PD MF Global) primary dealers. After all, if everyone is dumping Treasurys over fears of an imminent surge in yields, and rotating into stocks, it would be them right? Well, the result is charted below: we present it without commentary.

 
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Headwinds Vs. Tailwinds: The Macroeconomic HeatMap





For all economies, the relative pressure of ‘tailwinds’ in relation to ‘headwinds’ will be crucial for the outcome of economic activity. In the chart below, Barclays shows a heat-map that represents their subjective assessment of the relative balance of forces from 2012 into 2013 and beyond. In 2013, the fiscal headwind continues to loom large and is an important basis of caution despite the strong improvement in financial conditions. The fiscal headwind is unlikely to abate by much in the US and Europe until 2014, possibly later. Other sources of ‘headwind’ are likely to continue during 2013; these include private sector de-leveraging in the highly indebted parts of Europe, as well as political uncertainty (in this context, we observe the elections in Italy (Q1) and Germany (Q4)). Monetary policy, policy reforms, and the financial markets themselves are the main tailwinds as vol suppression continues. Headwinds vs Tailwinds once again in 2013...

 
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