Think of it this way: You’re a baseball player trying to break into the majors despite mediocre fielding skills, no foot speed, and a batting average that hovers around 250. Egged on by your friend, A-Rod, you think you can make it by using steroids and turning yourself into a power hitter. But it doesn’t work out as planned. After a year, you’re losing hair, your skull’s gotten bigger, there’s fatty tissue on your chest that wasn’t there before, and you’ve still only managed 18 home runs in a season. You finally accept that it’s not going to happen for you. In the baseball scenario, steroids didn’t show enough payoff before the side effects told you enough was enough. And you can say pretty much the same thing about our economic scenario and monetary steroids. We’re seeing dubious benefits and fast developing side effects from the Fed’s actions, causing many observers to recommend a rethink of the Big Experiment. Yet, the experiment continues...
Forget "A Tale Of Two Cities," the entire world is "A Fiction Of Two 'Economies'"...
You can’t overstate the baleful effects for Americans of living in the tortured landscapes and townscapes we created for ourselves in the past century. This fiasco of cartoon suburbia, overgrown metroplexes, trashed small cities and abandoned small towns, and the gruesome connective tissue of roadways, commercial smarm, and free parking is the toxic medium of everyday life in this country. Its corrosive omnipresence induces a general failure of conscious awareness that it works implacably at every moment to diminish our lives. It is both the expression of our collapsed values and a self-reinforcing malady collapsing our values further. The worse it gets, the worse we become. The citizens who do recognize their own discomfort in this geography of nowhere generally articulate it as a response to “ugliness.” This is only part of the story. The effects actually run much deeper.
"We have to be careful of these kind of exponentially rising markets," chides Marc Faber, adding that he "sees no value in stocks." Fearful of shorting, however, because "the bubble in all asset prices" can keep going due to the printing of money by world central banks, Faber explains to a blind Steve Liesman the difference between valuations and bubbles (as we noted here), warning that "future return expectations from stocks are now very low."
The early effects of the reform program have triggered a surge in the Japanese stock market, accelerated by the anticipation of growth revival. So far, so good for the markets and traders. But how will Abenomics accommodate public debt of over 200% GDP, and will Abe’s radical policies inspire a long-term economic recovery in Japan? Saxo Capital Markets’ new infographic explores the efficacy of Japan's prime minister's dangerous experiment to stimulate economic growth.
You've probably read many articles about money - what it is (store of value and means of exchange) and its many variations (metal, paper, etc.). But perhaps the most important distinction to be made in our era is between metallic money and credit money. As the following 16 reasons make very clear, it is no exaggeration to say that the transition from gold money to credit money changes everything. The key distinction of all these important differences is the ephemeral nature of credit-money (and any form of fiat currency). History teaches us that a financial-political crisis of sufficient magnitude reveals the underlying value of credit-money - i.e. zero - in a brief but cataclysmic loss of faith/trust.
After being essentially nationalized as a result of the Fukushima explosion, and following years of denial finally admitting that TEPCO has lost control of the clean up effort of the Fukushima nuclear power plant corpse, one would think Tokyo Electric Power Company may have second thoughts about installing capacity in Fukushima. One would be wrong. "Tokyo Electric Power Company will build 2 advanced coal-fired power plants in Fukushima. The utility says it wants to contribute to the prefecture's recovery from the nuclear disaster. "
"It’s time to put that power back where it belongs," explains Jonathan Zimmerman in today's Washington Post, "Barack Obama should be allowed to stand for re election just as citizens should be allowed to vote for — or against — him. Anything less diminishes our leaders and ourselves." The 22nd Amendment, limiting the Presidential term, according to Zimmerman, reflected "a shocking lack of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the people." Of course, in the increasingly 'entitled' America, it would only cost a few hundred million to bribe all the newly downgraded Middle-to-Lower class Americans with Obamaphones in order to finally get a "dictatorial democracy" by indirectly funding the lower common denominator with $400 in free money every election cycle.
As the S&P 500 continues to make higher highs, Citi's FX Technicals group attempts to identify important levels to watch. As they have highlighted before, while they respect the price action and the fact that the markets are making higher highs, there is an underlying degree of skepticism surrounding the sustainability of this uptrend from a more medium term perspective. Important levels/targets on the S&P 500 converge between 1,806 and 1,833. A convincing rally through this range (weekly close above) may open the way for a test of the 1,990 area (coincidentally the Fed balance-sheet-implied levels for end-2014); however, at this stage they are watching closely over the coming weeks as we approach the New Year.
Iran's Rouhani: "We Are Not Dismantling Our Nuclear Facilities; Iran Will Maintain Its Uranium Enrichment Programme"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/29/2013 17:27 -0400
In case there was any confusion just how "historic" last week's agreement with Iran, loudly trumpeted by the Obama administration as the most "historic" since Syria in a, well, long time, truly was in terms of curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions, here is the explanation straight from the horse's mouth i.e., Iran president Hassan Rouhani who spoke today in an interview with the FT. "Mr Rouhani struck a tough line on Iran’s expectations over a comprehensive nuclear deal to be negotiated following last weekend’s landmark interim pact. “One hundred per cent [no],” he said when asked about dismantling nuclear facilities." So ixnay on the ismantleday. What about halting Uranium enrichment - that other pillar of Obama (and Hollande's of course) historic agreement? "[Rouhani] made clear that Tehran was determined to maintain a uranium enrichment programme for peaceful purposes." In other words, Iran will continue doing what it said it did before, only this time it will get billions of implicit subsidies as various embargoes are lifted.
The economic turmoil in Venezuela has received increasing international media attention over the past few months. Earlier this month, in another attempt to ensure “happiness for all people,” Maduro began to hand out Christmas bonuses, in preparation for the coming elections in December. Although not yet officially in hyperinflation, monetary expansion is pushing Venezuela toward the brink. In such an environment, paychecks need to be distributed quickly, before prices have time to rise; hence, early bonuses. This kind of policy is nothing new in economic history: Venezuela’s hyperinflationary episode is unfolding in much the same way Germany’s did nearly a century ago. Consequently, Venezuela’s economic policy is proving to be another example of Ludwig von Mises’s argument that economic intervention, if left unchecked, leads to complete socialism. As disturbing as the thought is, the difference between the U.S. and other Western economies and Venezuela is merely one of degree, not of kind.
"Black Friday is a big stage, and we're one of the biggest players in the retail industry. We're not surprised that those trying to change our industry are using this platform to get their message out, and we respect their right to be heard. We expect some demonstrations at our stores today, although far fewer than what our critics are claiming and with hardly any actual Walmart associates participating. For our part, we want to be absolutely clear about our jobs, the pay and benefits we offer our associates, and the role retail jobs play in the U.S. economy. Walmart provides wages on the higher end of the retail average with full-time and part-time associates making, on average, close to $12.00 an hour. The majority of our workforce is full-time, and our average full-time hourly pay is $12.81 an hour. We are also proud of the benefits we offer our associates, including affordable health care, performance-based bonuses, education benefits, and access to a 401K."
What does the true earnings picture of companies tell us about the market? Simple: it is overvalued relative to historical averages on every single basis, and not just the much discussed recently 10 year average used in the Shiller PE which has the market now at a 25x multiple. In short: the trailing EPS of 18x GAAP and 16.3x Non-GAAP is higher than the comparable GAAP and non-GAAP multiple for the long term, 1910-2013 average (15.8x and 14.5x), and while in line with the GAAP average for the 1960-2013 period, it is overvalued relative to the 15.9x non-GAAP average. However, if one excludes the 1997-2000 tech bubble, the historical average multiples drop even more to 17.7 and 15.2.