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The Wages Of Fear

Anyone who says that he or she is prepared to “do whatever it takes”, whether it’s Mario Draghi and Angela Merkel talking about support of the euro, Ben Bernanke talking about preventing deflation, George W. Bush talking about pursuit of terrorism, or Barack Obama talking about growing the economy … is making a preventive war argument just like Curtis LeMay. Not a preventive war against a particular nation, but a preventive war against some conceptual social ill. Of course, you can’t defeat a conceptual social ill like you can defeat a nation. You can’t accept the surrender of General Deflation. These social ills will always be with us in one form or another, which means that a preventive war in the modern context is a permanent and constant war. It may not seem like we are on a war footing when it comes to NSA eavesdropping or QE, because the trappings of war … mobilizations, set battles, etc. … may not be present. But the language associated with a war footing is definitely present, and this is what creates the social space that allows these policies to exist and thrive. I am struck almost every day by how the language of extremism and war pervades our domestic political and social institutions, on both the left and the right.

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What Happens In Vegas, Doesn't Stay In Vegas (Anymore)

The Intellistreets system has finally come to the corridors of Las Vegas. So what is Intellistreets? On its website, the system is described as “the only wireless information and control network for sustainability, security and entertainment.” Even more amusing, the company that owns the Intellistreets system is rather appropriately called Illuminating Concepts. The best part is that city officials claim “right now our intention is not to have any cameras or recording device.” This is far from the first time we have learned about the installation of devices that can record audio and video being surreptitiously put in public places.

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Dovish Lockhart's Hawkish DecTaper Comments Stymie Stocks

It was all going according to plan. POMO lifted the S&P 500 instantly 7 points at 1015ET back to unchanged and the mainstream media could discuss the fact that stocks are "off the lows." Then (admittedly non-voting member) uber-dove Dennis Lockhart hit the wires with some oddly hawkish commentary: *LOCKHART SAYS TAPERING 'COULD VERY WELL TAKE PLACE' NEXT MONTH


Which sent stocks to the lows of the day. We are sure, of course, that these remarks will be walked back by the next Fed speaker but for now, it is clear the market remains entirely headline (and Fed) driven.

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DoJ Folds, American Airlines And US Airways Merger Approved

Following the DoJ's 'surprising' August decision to block the $11bn merger of American and US Airways (after approving other airline mergers in the recent past), it would appear the parties have reached a settlement:


Some of the initial details (Full statement below) include divesting slots at Laguardia and Reagan National. AMR is trading up over 25%...

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We missed you yesterday POMO, welcome back...

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Complacent? Here's What The "Hint" Of A Fed Taper Did To Global Growth Hope

Whether or not one believes the Fed will taper (then almost instantly un-taper based on the market's reaction) or not in the coming months, Bernanke's "tease" in the early summer this year should give most pause for thought as to just how dependent 'everything' is on the Fed's money printing. As the following chart from Bloomberg's Michael McDonough shows, things changed when big Ben dropped the hint that the punchbowl will not be here forever. There is one region, however, that for now has improved its outlook for 2014 GDP growth since the taper-tease...

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Meet The Man Responsible For Regulating $234 Trillion In Derivatives: The CFTC's New Head Timothy Massad

It's official - goodbye Gary Gensler, we hardly knew you... as a commodities regulator that is, although Bart Chilton (who is finally also stepping down due to being too burdened by lack of funding to actually do anything) was kind enough to provide much needed perspective on how the CFTC truly works. In place of the former Goldmanite, today Obama will announce that going forward America's top derivative regulator and CFTC head will be Timothy Massad, the Treasury Department official responsible for overseeing the U.S. rescue of banks and automakers after the credit crisis.

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Homebuilders' Cancellation Rate Surges To Highest Since December 2008

Despite ongoing optimism that the housing recovery can withstand fire, brimstone, rising rates, and collapsing confidence (in spite of the fact that indications from most top-down data are to the contrary), investors in US homebuilders may need to adjust this morning. If DR Horton is any indication of a broad trend (and empirical comparisons with its peers show that it is) then the firm's huge miss in its cancellation rate (31.0% vs an expectation of 25.5%) in Q3 should be food for thought. The surge in cancellation was the largest MoM since mid-2008 and jumped to its highest since December 2008.

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84% Of US Adults Don't Use Twitter, Only 4% Of Americans Over 30 Get Their News From Twitter, Pew Study Finds

When it comes to Twitter, there seems to be a discrepancy in the publicly available user data. Recall that according to the company's S-1 filing, Twitter's US monthly user base has risen from 10 million in 2010 to just shy of 50 million. And yet, according to a just released Pew Research poll, a whopping 84% of the US adults were not Twitter users, and perhaps more importantly, of the 16% of adult users, half admitted to using Twitter for news. Narrowing this down even further, close to half, or 45%, of Twitter news consumers were under 30, which implies that roughly 4% of American adults use Twitter as something more than just a place to vent occasionally, and actually have a productive use for the service. So in attempting to reconcile the two vastly differing sets of numbers: one from the company and one from Pew, one wonders: is Twitter merely the latest platform for "socializing" teens who unfortunately for Twitter's advertisers (who between Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Yahoo and so on, seem to have infinite advertising budgets) don't have access to a credit card? And what happens when, just like FaceBook, Twitter's coolness factor disappears and only the hardcore, and quite paltry, news users remain?

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Small Business Optimism Plunges Most Since Superstorm Sandy

In yet another miracle of modern-day macroeconomics, despite the soaring stock market and better-than-expected government-provided data (soft surveys mostly), the small-business (supposedly the core driver of jobs and growth in the US economy) saw optimism collapse at the fastest rate since Sandy (supposedly due to the government shutdown). This is the fifth month in a row that NFIB optimism has missed expectations (the worst - absent Sandy - since March 2012). 7 of the 10 sub-components were negative with the biggest plunge coming from those who expect the economy to improve. Seems like another good reason to BTFATH...

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Government Enron: Add Obamacare To Your Shopping Cart? Consider Yourself Enrolled

With the numbers of 'real' enrollees in Obamacare looking dismal relative to government expectations, and the deadline for the first official details of the health law's enrollment figures due later this week, the administration has decided - in an oh so US Government-esque move - to change the rules. An enrollee is now defined as people who have purchased a plan (normal health insurance plan protocol) as well as those who have a plan sitting in their online shopping cart but have not yet paid. As The Washington Post notes, the disparity in the numbers is likely to further inflame the political fight especially in light of the fact that - for context - the average e-commerce shopping cart abandonment rate is 67%.

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Guest Post: The Big Lie: Lunch (and Debt) Are Free

A central tenet of propaganda is that the Big Lie repeated often enough is accepted with greater ease than small lies. Thus it is no surprise that the leadership and propaganda organs of the Fed, Federal government and the Keynesian cargo Cult of fellow travelers all repeat our era's Big Lie: There is a free lunch after all. There are two free lunches, according to our financial and political leaders: free money, in the form of money created out of thin air by the Fed, and almost-free money borrowed into existence by the Federal government. The problem with Big Lies is reality has not been disappeared; it still exists. Actions create consequences, and not necessarily the consequences that were planned or expected.

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China's Third Plenum Concludes Big On Promises, Hollow On Actions

A few hours ago, the "historic" and "most important ever" (just like ever payrolls report) Chinese plenum concluded. And like everything out of China, it was big on promises and scant on details. Among the numerous assurances of reform, the plenum promised: to deepen reform of the medical system and in the education sector, to speed up free trade zone development, to clear barrier in markets, to deepen national defense and military reform, to reform the income distribution system, reiterated the main role of public ownership and said there would be reform of government-market relations. And all of this would yield results by 2020. Essentially, words so hollow one can't help but doubt this was merely the latest smokescreen to justify the perpetuation of the status quo, investment-based economy which as the BBG Brief chart below shows, instead of becoming more consumption driven which is what China has been feverishly attempting to achieve, has instead become ever more reliant on consumption.

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Frontrunning: November 12

  • China Pledges Greater Role for Market in Economy (WSJ), China vows 'decisive' role for markets, results by 2020 (Reuters)
  • China expected to cut growth target to 7% (FT)
  • World Trade Center Tower Debuts in Manhattan Leasing Test (BBG)
  • Job Gap Widens in Uneven Recovery (WSJ)
  • Khamenei’s conglomerate thrived as sanctions squeezed Iran (Reuters)
  • Swiss referendum on wages of high earners stirs debate (FT)
  • Obama to Nominate Massad to Head CFTC (WSJ)
  • Japan readies additional $30 billion for Fukushima clean-up (Reuters)
  • Target Fills Its Cart With Amazon Ideas (WSJ)
  • Shadow banks reap Fed rate reward (FT)
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Overnight Equity Levitation Interrupted On Strong Dollar, Weak Treasurys

Following a brief hiatus for the Veterans Day holiday, the spotlight will again shine on treasuries and emerging markets today. The theme of higher US yields and USD strength continue to play out in Asian trading. 10yr UST yields are drifting upwards, adding 3bp to take the 10yr treasury yield to 2.78% in Japanese trading: a near-two month high and just 22 bps away from that critical 3% barrier that crippled the Fed's tapering ambitions last time. Recall that 10yr yields added +15bp in its last US trading session on Friday, which was its weakest one day performance in yield terms since July. USD strength is the other theme in Asian trading this morning, which is driving USDJPY (+0.4%) higher, together with EM crosses including the USDIDR (+0.6%) and USDINR (+0.6%). EURUSD is a touch weaker following a headline by Dow Jones this morning that the Draghi is concerned about the possibility of deflation in the euro zone although he will dispute that publicly, citing Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung who source an unnamed ECB insider. The headline follows a number of similar stories in the FT and Bloomberg in recent days suggesting a split in the ECB’s governing council.

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