It will likely come as no surprise that, despite a 'surging' economy (based on today's inventory-stacked GDP), that CEOs are less than upbeat about the future when one scratches below the surface of 5-second soundbites. As Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone notes, from the most recent quarter's earnings calls, two critical themes emerge as top of mind for CEOs - consumer-related companies remain skittish about the ability of households to spend without a heavily promotional environment and companies cited upcoming healthcare legislation as a hurdle to performance and profitability.
Yields for many staple crops (like wheat) essentially hit a wall about ten years ago. After decades of miraculous gains in the amount of tons, bushels, and kilograms per acre we have been able to extract from the Earth, productive capacity has largely plateaued. In other words, we have maxed out what we can pull out of the soil for now. And the amount of soil per person that’s in production is in serious decline. This spells out an obvious case for investing in agriculture… and even more specifically, to own farmland.
Late last night, with just 4 days left until the December 23 deadline to choose plans that will begin Jan. 1, Washington Post reported that the Obama administration finally caved and "significantly relaxed the rules of the federal health-care law for millions of consumers whose individual insurance policies have been canceled, saying they can buy bare-bones plans or entirely avoid a requirement that most Americans have health coverage." The ability to get an exemption means that the administration is freeing these people from one of the central features of the law: a requirement that most Americans have health insurance as of Jan. 1 or risk a fine. The exemption gives them the choice of having no insurance or of buying skimpy “catastrophic” coverage.
We suspect the word "but" will figure heavily in President Obama's news conference today (his last before hitting the Hawaiian tees) as he addresses all the wonderful things that are occurring in the US - and yet moar needs to be done... oh and have you signed up for Obamacare yet?
A century ago, politicians failed to understand that the financial panics of the 19th century were caused by collusion between government and the banking sector. Today, however, we do know better. We know that the Federal Reserve continues to strengthen the collusion between banks and politicians. We know that the Fed’s inflationary monetary policy continues to reap profits for Wall Street while impoverishing Main Street. And we know that the current monetary regime is teetering on a precipice. One hundred years is long enough. End the Fed.
Despite the absolute assurances (by your friendly local asset gatherer) that a taper would unleash hell in the bond markets, a decidedly one-sided market has seen a tremendous squeeze in the last 2 days. Echoing Operation Twist's effort, the term structure of Treasury yields has collapsed by 5 standard deviations to 3-month flats.
With 75 minutes until the President's news conference - that we suspect would have been chock full of positivity over the 'progress' the Obamacare website has made - Healthcare.gov is down...
Blackstone Group appears to be trying to oligopolize the business of renting single-family homes in the U.S.. As Bloomberg reports, after the housing crash left more than 7 million foreclosed homes in its wake, the investment firm has spent more than $7.8 billion purchasing about 41,000 single-family homes for rental conversion. The world's largest private equity firm has quickly become the largest landlord (of rental homes) in the U.S. and in October, Blackstone offered the first-ever "rental-home-backed" security on Wall Street. One has to wonder if this was the plan all along?
While a military campaign against Syria (and Iran) on the usual grounds has been postponed indefinitely, two nations in the Middle East have been seething: Saudi Arabia and, of course, Israel. Yet while Saudi Arabia rarely if ever gets its own hands dirty, instead executing its geopolitcal strategy through puppet states in need of its oil, Israel has never had a problem with engaging in offensive wars. And now that the threat of an imminent war, one which would have been largely carried out on the back of the US military, is gone Israel is preparing to do just that. According to UPI, "Israeli generals are preparing for a decisive -- and probably brief -- war against Hezbollah, one of Israel's most implacable foes, with plans to smash the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement's military power, a study says. The Israelis' primary objective will be to eradicate Hezbollah's reputedly massive arsenal of missiles and rockets "for years to come," the report by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv said."
The Fed's announcement Wednesday to begin the tapering of its bond buying program (to our surprise) has been followed by a spike in the US 10 year yield; however, Citi's FX Technical group cannot help but feel that we have seen this dynamic play out before.
When it comes to key players in a global fungible monetary system, a far more important decision-maker than the US government is the FDIC-insured hedge fund that controls all central banks: Goldman Sachs. Which is why it is certainly notable that moments ago none other than Goldman effectively downgraded Russia's sovereign risk by announcing it is "shifting from constructive to neutral view on Russian sovereign risk." With the legacy rating agencies now largely moot and irrelevant, what the big banks say suddenly has so much more import. But when the biggest - and most connected - bank of them all, outright lobs a very loud shot across the Gazpromia Russian bow, even Putin listens.
"USDJPY bulls must use caution going forward," is the ominous warning BofAML's MacNeil Curry sends as the firm closes its long position on reaching their upside objective of 104.60. A closer look at the uptrend from early October says that this is a maturing advance and is growing increasingly prone to a reversal. From an Elliott Wave perspective, Triangle breakouts represent the terminal move of a trend, meaning that the potential for a top and medium-term reversal lower is growing quickly; one that could ultimately take prices back to the 97/96 area. While this is likely a story for 2014, Curry warns - USDJPY bulls should beware.
Earlier today, the Bureau of Economic Analysis surprised everyone by announcing a final Q3 GDP growth of 4.1% compared to 3.6% in the first revision (and 2.8% originally), driven almost entirely by the bounce in Personal Consumption which rose 2.0% compared to estimates of 1.4%. As a result many are wondering just where this "revised" consumption came from. The answer is below: of the $15 billion revised increase in annualized spending, 60% was for healthcare, and another 27% was due to purchases of gasoline. The third largest upward revision: recreation services.