While we have discussed the strategic implications of this tomorrow's critical Italian elections previously (An Italian "Hung Parliament" - Europe's Biggest Political Risk), the actual chronology of events of tomorrow's Italian elections which proceed through Monday is somewhat nebulous. So courtesy of JPM's Alex White, here is the complete 10 step walk-thru of what to expect starting tomorrow, and ending, perhaps, with the appointment of a new President in May, unless of course there is a slight detour...
This document is one of several found by The Associated Press in buildings recently occupied by Al-Qaeda fighters in Timbuktu, Mali. Written by Abdullah bin Mohammed, apparently with God’s help, with the goal "of disabling the new strategy of the American army at the medium or long-range levels," through three methods: the formation of a public opinion to stand against the attacks, deterring of spies, and tactics of deception and blurring. These 22 tactics are as follows...
With recent (post-Minutes) chatter of a gradually-tightening Fed since curtailed by a plethora of Federal Reserve market savants jawboning us back to creditopia - "the liquidity must flow"; we thought a gentle reminder of what Quantitative Easing really is was worthwhile. Whether goldbug, bond-vigilante, or permabull-stock-muppet; two-and-a-half minutes of reality (or comedy) depending on your perspective.
And now for a quick lesson in government spending: in the 1940s the federal government created the now mostly decommissioned Washington's Hanford Nuclear Reservation as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. During the Cold War, the project was expanded to include nine nuclear reactors and five large plutonium processing complexes, which produced plutonium for most of the 60,000 weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Sadly, many of the early safety procedures and waste disposal practices were inadequate, and government documents have since confirmed that Hanford's operations released significant amounts of radioactive materials into the air and the Columbia River. The weapons production reactors were decommissioned at the end of the Cold War, but the decades of manufacturing left behind 53 million US gallons of high-level radioactive waste, an additional 25 million cubic feet of solid radioactive waste, 200 square miles of contaminated groundwater beneath the site and occasional discoveries of undocumented contaminations that slow the pace and raise the cost of cleanup. The Hanford site represents two-thirds of the nation's high-level radioactive waste by volume. Today, Hanford is the most contaminated nuclear site in the United States and is the focus of the nation's largest environmental cleanup. The government spends $2 billion each year on Hanford cleanup — one-third of its entire budget for nuclear cleanup nationally. The cleanup is expected to last decades. It turns out that as Krugman would say, the government was not spending nearly enough, and moments ago Governor Jay Inslee said that six underground radioactive waste tanks at the nation's most contaminated nuclear site are leaking.
And another AAA-club member quietly exits not with a bang but a whimper:
MOODY’S DOWNGRADES UK’S GOVERNMENT BOND RATING TO Aa1 FROM AAA
Someone must have clued Moody's on the fact that the UK is about to have its very own Goldman banker, which means consolidated debt/GDP will soon need four digits. In other news, every lawyer in the UK is now celebrating because come Monday Moody's will be sued to smithereens. Cable not happy as it tests 31 month lows, which however also explains why the Moody's action has another name: accelerated cable devaluation. Those who heeded our call to short Cable when Goldman's Mark Carney was appointed are now 1000 pips richer. Also, please sacrifice a lamb at the altar of Goldman: It's the polite thing to do.
Instead of asking the endless question of "who should pay for healthcare?" Time magazine's cover story this week by Steve Brill asks a much more sensible - and disturbing question - "why does healthcare cost so much?" While it will not come as a surprise to any ZeroHedge reader - as we most recently noted here - this brief clip on the outrageous pricing and egregious profits that are destroying our health care quickly summarizes just how disastrous the situation really is. A simplified perspective here is simple, as with higher education costs and student loans: since all the expenses incurred are covered by debt/entitlements, there is no price discrimination which allows vendors to hike prices to whatever levels they want. From the $21,000 heartburn to "giving our CT scans like candy," Brill concludes "put simply, with Obamacare we’ve changed the rules related to who pays for what, but we haven’t done much to change the prices we pay."
Osborne's statement was prepared well in advance, which means Moody's action was not only prepared and distributed long ago but it got the blessing of both the UK government and Goldman Sachs. And why not: so far it has achieved precisely what it was intended to: crush the Pound. The next question: when does talk of GBP-EUR parity begin?
Today was the best day for the Dow in 3 weeks - of course. In a titanic effort to get back to unch for the week, the Dow managed to reclaim the 'retirement-maginot-line' of 14,000 amid a low volume, low average trade size ramp (which ended the day with some large blocks running through into the highs). The rest of the US equity complex did not recover as gloriously as the S&P saw a red week for the first time this year (Materials -2.8%, Staples +1.7%). Interestingly, from mid-week, gold and stocks recoupled but the USD (+1.2%) and bonds (-3bps) are much more cautious. On the week, despite all the clamor, Gold lost 1.8% with Copper the biggest loser -5.2%. Spot VIX and stocks have been perfectly synced post-FOMC and the vol compression today provided just the lift to disconnect from risk-assets in general. Equities unch, USD high of week, Treasury yields low of week, PMs down, Oil down - the magic will never cease. S&P futures closed testing the under-side of the up-trend channel - that is all.
It was only two weeks ago that Fed governor Jerremy Stein delivered a speech titled "Overheating in Credit Markets" in which he observed the obvious and warned that a new credit bubble was forming (not to mention housing, tech, student loan, GM channel stuffing and much more). And it was only yesterday that we learned that Bernanke, after a 6 year hiatus, just had his latest "everything is contained" moment. And just as when Maria Bartiromo asked him in July 2005 "what is the worst case scenario if prices come down substantially", so now his response, as then, is "I guess I don't buy your premise, it's a pretty unlikely possibility. We have never had a decline of house prices on nationwide basis." Of course, three years later the Fed had to do everything it legally could, and also much more, to prevent the modern financial system from terminally imploding.
The saga of the capitalist vs the socialist goes on with Round 3, following round 1 in which the "Titan CEO Crushes Socialist "Work Ethic", Tells France "You Can Keep Your So-Called Workers" and round 2 in which "Socialist France Responds To Titan CEO, Hilarity Ensues." With the entire "developed" world now a real-time parody of itself, in which the truth about the true state of affairs is only revealed in grotesque, farcical, ad-hominem repartees between various members of the insolvent status quo plutocracy, we can only hope for many more rounds of this didactic back and forth.
ViaMat, a Swiss logistics company that has been safeguarding precious metals since 1945, is literally the gold standard in secure storage. They have vaults from Switzerland to Hong Kong to Dubai, and they count among their clients some of the largest mining companies in the world. They know what they’re doing. And now they’re dumping US citizens.... due to US tax structure changes. If history is any guide, storing gold abroad is critical.
... And can't find it: "The reason why the past four years has been so dismal, over and beyond the failure of the labour market to fully recover among other things, is that we have gone through the weakest period in the post-WWII era in terms of growth in the private sector capital stock. We invented the Internet and spent years after spreading its applications and co-mingling the technology with labour so as to bolster multi-factor productivity. But that golden age was 10-15 years ago. Despite some really impressive stuff going on in the biomedical field to be sure, and what Apple has done in terms of introducing its array of impressive consumer gadgets, growth in the private sector capital stock since 2009 has been the softest on record."