Almost 50 years ago, JFK immortalized the donut with his comment "Ich bin ein Berliner," with pressure from Merkel to come clean on the NSA's efforts, we wonder if the current US President will admit, "Ich bin ein Berlistener," as he delivers a speech from The Brandenburg Gate.
With better access to credit, housing, jobs and overall standard of living than probably anyone in their family has ever experienced, you would think that the average Brazilian would have little reason to hit the streets. And yet, they are. While the credit-fueled boom has been great and looks likely to continue for at least a little while longer, the reality of a government that has made little real progress improving the overall standard of living is becoming all too obvious. The protestors are frustrated. Frustrated with persistent inflation – that hits them much harder than the upper classes who in many ways benefit from it. Frustrated with corruption – while the Brazilian congress tries to pass a law that would limit the number of corruption cases that can be brought. Frustrated with inefficient government – the infrastructure development for the World Cup and Olympics is already running up against cost overruns with projects of questionable long-term value. But mostly frustrated that due to all of this incompetence, they could lose all of the gains they made since 2002. Changing Brazil’s well-established rich/poor, connected/unconnected, boom/bust political and financial system will be difficult in the extreme.
The housing market 'recovery' has provided substantial support to the U.S. economic growth. The housing-related activities, which Guggenheim's Scott Minerd defines as private residential investment, personal expenditures on household durable goods, and utilities, as well as consumption wealth effect from home price appreciation, have positively contributed to real GDP growth for five consecutive quarters. In the first quarter of 2013, housing-related activities contributed more than half of the growth in the real GDP. That seems a significant burden to be carrying for a sector now seeing data disappointing already expectations, mortgage applications plunging, furniture sales plunging, and REIT IPOs being pulled.
Kyle Bass covers three critical topics in this excellent in-depth interview before turning to a very wide-ranging and interesting Q&A session. The topics he focuses on are Central bank expansion (with a mind-numbing array of awe-full numbers to explain just where the $10 trillion of freshly created money has gone), Japan's near-term outlook ("the next 18 months in Japan will redefine the economic orthodoxy of the west"), and most importantly since, as he notes, "we are investing in things that are propped up and somewhat made up," the psychology of negative outcomes. The latter, Bass explains, is one of the most frequently discussed topics at his firm, as he points out that "denial" is extremely popular in the financial markets. Simply put, Bass explains, we do not want to admit that there is this serious (potentially perilous) outcome that disallows the world to continue on the way it has, and that is why so many people, whether self-preserving or self-dealing, miss all the warning signs and get this wrong - "it's really important to understand that people do not want to come to the [quantitatively correct but potentially catastrophic] conclusion; and that's why things are priced the way they are in the marketplace." Perhaps this sentence best sums up his realism and world view: "I would like to live in a world where it's all rainbows and unicorns and we can make Krugman the President - but intellectually it's simply dishonest."
If anyone is still not convinced that surging stock bourses in Europe are indicative of anything more than central bank liquidity, carry trade allocation and localized asset bubbles, we present a snapshot of what is actually happening on the ground via Italy's Ansa: "It's a massacre," said Confesercenti President Marco Venturi. "Each day 134 shops, restaurants and bars close in recession-hit Italy, retail association Confesercenti said on Wednesday. Confesercenti, which represents small and medium-sized businesses in the retail and tourism sectors, said 224,000 enterprises had closed their shutters since the start of the global economic crisis in 2008.
While Fed officials are at pains to point out that their two policy tools (asset purchases and rates) the markets continue to link them and the latest increase in Taper chatter has dragged expectations for the first rate hike dramatically forward. Just a month ago, expectations were as late as Jan 2016 but Fed Funds futures have collapsed in recent weeks to imply rate hikes begin in Jan 2015 - a level of 'tightening' not seen since early Summer last year. Bernanke has stated that his communication is aimed at "reducing the risk that market misperceptions of [FOMC] intentions would lead to unnecessary interest rate volatility," but just as with Kuroda, the market seems to not be agreeing and, as we note below, there appears a good, bad, and ugly 'taper' scenario for today.
- China cash crunch deepens as PBOC withholds funding (FT), just a week behind ZH
- Platts in hot manipulated crude again: Traders Try to Game Platts Oil-Price Benchmarks (WSJ)
- Kabul Suspends Security Talks With U.S., jeopardizing plans to maintain a U.S. military presence (WSJ)
- Afghan government irked over U.S. talks with Taliban (Reuters)
- BOJ Kuroda: BOJ to Adjust Policy If Japan Econ Changes (MNI)
- Google Considering Private-Equity Alliances (BBG)
- Korean Air Buying 747-8s to End Boeing’s Sales Drought (BBG)
- Syria's Islamists seize control as moderates dither (Reuters)
- SEC considers policy shift on admissions of wrongdoing (FT)
- U.K. Banker Bonuses Face Decade Delays in Industry Overhaul (BBG)
50 years ago to the week, when JFK spoke in Berlin, his speech made history. Today, the US president is in Germany again... and in a far less historic and moving speech is scrambling to explain why the NSA is listening to and recording all German communications. Watch it live below.
While all eyes and ears will conveniently and expectedly be on the Fed announcement and press conference in a few hours, the real action continues to take place in China, where the liquidity crunch is becoming unbearable for the local banks (and will only get worse the longer Bernanke and Kuroda keep their hot money policies). The CNY benchmark money-market one-week repo rate was 138bp higher overnight to a 2 year high of 8.15%. The 7 day Interest-Rate swap rose for a record 13th day in a row jumping +10 bps to 4.08%, the highest since September 2011. China sold 10 Year bonds at a 3.50% yield, above the 3.47% expected, and at a bid to cover of 1.43 which was the lowest since August 2012. Moody’s commented that local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) pose significant risks to Chinese banks. LGFVs accounted for 14% of loan portfolios at end-2012 according to Moody’s.
Drum roll please ... Tomorrow is the big day.
Market participants have been primed and prepared to watch for any changes to the Fed’s forecast. The current Fed forecasts for key metrics are as follows. The 2013 Unemployment Rate is 7.4%. For the 2014 Unemployment Rate, the Fed is forecasting 6.85%. The Fed’s 2013 real GDP forecast is 2.55% and its 2014 forecast is 3.15%. The game plan that Fed watchers have telegraphed is as follows. If the Fed’s economic forecast remains unchanged, the reduction in the amount of QE purchases (a.k.a. tapering ) should commence in September or October. If the forecast is raised, then look for tapering to commence in July or September. If the economic forecast is lowered, then tapering is pushed back to December or 2014.
When everyone was throwing computing power at the 'momentum igniting', "can't lose", HFT-driven algo-trading world, it is perhaps little wonder that the opportunity to expropriate profits from an ever-decreasing pool of real money traders dwindles like a convertible arbitrage hedge fund in the 90s. Perhaps it was the writing on the wall we noted in February when GETCO's money-printing machine was reduced to pennies, but it seems the world of high-freaks is tearing itself apart. As the WSJ reports, two of the largest independent US high-frequency-trading firms are in early merger discussions - as a downturn in trading opportunities has spurred cutbacks. Of course, the firms claim this is a positive, "we're in accelerated growth mode, both organically and inorganically," but as one HFT analyst notes, "HFT is a volume business... If trading volumes are going down, that means it's tougher for prop shops to make money." The slowdown has forced some high-speed specialists to leave the business and with RGM and Allston (the two firms) having 280 staff, we suspect this week's initial claims may be bloated with PhDs.
"This Is A Glock Block" – Frustrated Homeowners All Over America Are Taking Matters Into Their Own HandsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/18/2013 20:06 -0400
All over the United States, frustrated homeowners are banding together, arming themselves and patrolling their own streets. One of the primary reasons this is happening is because police budgets all over the nation are being slashed at a time when violent crime rates in the United States are increasing and many our our largest cities are being transformed into crime-infested war zones. So instead of waiting for government to come up with a solution, many Americans are taking matters into their own hands. For example, one community group in Milwaukie, Oregon has started posting flyers with an ominous message for potential criminals: "This is a Glock block. We don’t call 911."
It appears that unlike the president, whose rating is plunging in the aftermath of PRISM-gate, US corporations are not eager to double down on their privacy intrusive ways, and some are becoming increasingly concerned about what all the recent exposure may do to their bottom line. Such as Google, which earlier today became only the first company to challenge the long-standing gag order issued by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA), arguing that the company has a First Amendment right to speak about information it is forced to give to the government. From Google: "Greater transparency is needed, so today we have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately." And yes, GOOG, which once upon a time pretended its motto is "don't evil" and since transformed it to "be evil, just don't get caught", still refer to "constitutional rights" - how quaint.
Demand for physical gold across the world continues to surge at an unprecedented pace leading India to blame its soaring current account deficit, sliding currency and even deteriorating economy on it (even if failing in its attempts to regulate demand for the yellow metal), and yet gold continues to slide. How come? One word - paper, or rather, ETF paper.