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China PMI Prints Most "Schrodinger-ish" In 23 Months As Japan Ups Growth 'Guess'

It's 815ET on New Year's Eve and China PMI just printed below expectations at 50.6 - very marginally in expansion. The trouble is this is now the most divergent from the HSBC China PMI since January 2011 indicating once again that nothing matters and yet at the same time - the PBOC ain't coming to the rescue anytime soon. Meanwhile, in another epic realm of imaginary finance, Japan just increased its growth expectation to 2% for next year - whilst we are at it, we 'expect' rainbow-pooping unicorns for everyone next year (we just 'hope' noone is disappointed).

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Senate Deal "Apparently Short Of Needed Support"

Update: U.S. Senate will attempt to vote on fiscal cliff Monday night, but still work to be done - Sen. Kyl. So the deal is done, but there is "hope" it passes. Should be good for another 10 ES points.

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Everyone's worst nightmare has come true: the endless Greek bailout has now shifted to D.C., where deals are leaked, rumored, preannounced, and priced in, long before they are discovered to never have been there in the first place. The winners, as in Europe: hedge funds, and caterers. Everyone else is a bystanding loser.

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Behold The Brains Behind Ben Bernanke's Binary Black Box

When it comes to the decisions made by a group of academics behind closed doors to keep the stock market in nominal terms up at all costs (nevermind such trivial matters as the jobless rate, inflation, i.e., those things they are tasked with), one would think they are based on the bubblicious ramblings of one Ben Bernanke, or Charles Evans, or even one Janet Yellen. One would be very wrong. As it turns out the real decisions that determine the value of paper money (laughable as it is), and thus billions of people in the world, are all in the virtual hands of the following three entities: Ferbus, Edo and Sigma. These are "computer-modeling programs the central bank uses to make predictions about how various policies and events will play out across the economy....The Fed's main economic model, launched in 1995, is called FRB/US, pronounced "Ferbus." It uses hundreds of different mathematical equations to describe how the economy works. " Brilliant. And as Hilsenrath himself adds further on, "The models are deeply flawed. They failed to foresee the financial crisis in 2008 and have tended to overestimate the strength of the economy for several years." Hilsenrath then goes on to pose a very rhetorical question: "Could they fail the Fed again?" The answer is painfully obvious to anyone who has been on the receiving end of the Fed's endless attempts to blow a credit bubble always and forever. And just in case it is not obvious, let's just remind everyone that "subprime is contained."

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And The Market Breaks

Right on cue.


Perhaps now is a good time to close the market when there are still gains on the day.

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Obama Said No Deal, McConnell Denies, Says "Agreement Reached On All Tax Issues"

Just when one thought the posturing couldn't hit more ridiculous levels, here comes GOP Senator Mitch McConnell refuting what the president said, refuting the supposed GOP revulsion to the president's prior statement, and stating that there is actually a deal, although if there actually was a deal, there would be voting going on right now, and passing it, instead of endless useless speeches meant simply to ramp headline scanning algos higher:


So if agreement on tax issues, what is there disagreement on? Oh yes, there is no agreement on the spending side, but who needs details.

And while everyone follows their talking points, and is taking the charade to unseen before heights, nobody has voted on anything yet, and nothing has actually passed Congress. But once again, the algos seem to like it, for now, and are taking the market on yet another stop run higher.

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Unleash The "Henry": VIX Compression On

With the cash bond market closed, futures and ETFs are on their algo-driven own and sure enough VIX compression is driving the show. Despite a HY credit market that seems a little less exuberant, it appears the powers that be have unleashed the 'Henry' once again... but rest assured those hedges are not being lifted - merely rolled out past the February debt-ceiling deadline.

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Guest Post: When Priced In Gold, The US Economy Is At Depression-Era Levels

It’s obvious that, for many reasons, the size of the global economy is far greater than it was decades ago. We learn in any basic economics course that, over the long run, enhanced productivity and increased technology drive long-term production gains. Certainly, an economy can produce more widgets if you’re a lean, mean, automated machine... as opposed to a blacksmith with a hammer and forge. But there are other factors as well. Population growth. Accounting standards. And of course, the continued inflation of the currency. $1 today buys a whole lot less today than it did a century ago, so when comparing, it’s important to find a better standard of measurement. There are a number of pricing yardsticks we could use... like the cost of a New York City cinema ticket (25 cents in 1935, $20 today). But it would be awkard to calculate GDP in terms of billions of cinema tickets. Gold is a much more appropriate (though still imperfect) long-term standard of pricing, with its history as a store of value dating back to the ancients. Right now, the largest economy in the world is producing as much as it did in 1931, almost at the peak of the Great Depression. And no matter what the talking heads and politicians say, the data show that the trend is getting worse.


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Obama 'Balanced'; Market 'Unbalanced'

He came; he spoke; he said 'balanced' a lot. The market decided it's not so 'balanced' and is responding thus...

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Obama Speaks Again

No, it isn't the first time Obama has spoken on the Fiscal Cliff, and more importantly, the debt ceiling, which no matter what happens today appears set to remain unresolved as part of today's 60 day stopgap deal, if indeed one materializes. It won't be the last. There will be, however, much hope, optimism, and scapegoating, as always.

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You Must be 48" To Ride This Ride

The crowds are slowly starting to fill up Times Square, and despite the imminent countdown to New Year’s, Washington still has not conjured up a resolution to avoid the fiscal cliff.  Over the prior two months we have leveraged game theory, Venn diagrams, option “greeks,” and basic investor psychology as tools to decipher the ultimate path of the crisis and subsequent market reaction.  Alas, regardless of all the analysis we and countless others have supplied; the short, intermediate, and long term prospects for stocks rest exclusively on headlines.  More poignantly, the fate of the U.S. economy, global equities, and net incomes for hundreds of millions now depend upon the decision making of a group so small, its numbers can be counted with one hand.

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Ron Paul To Congress: "Stop Legislating Your Ideas Of Fairness. Protect Property Rights. Protect The Individual"

As I prepare to retire from Congress I’d like to suggest a few New Year’s resolutions for my colleagues to consider. For the sake of liberty, peace and prosperity I certainly hope more members of Congress consider the strict libertarian-constitutional approach to government in 2013. In just a few days, Congress will solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic....  Congress should resolve to respect personal liberty and free markets. Learn more about the free market and how it regulates commerce and produces greater prosperity ever than any legislation or regulation. Understand that economic freedom is freedom. Resolve not to get in the way of voluntary contracts between consenting adults. Stop bailing out failed yet politically connected companies and industries. Stop forcing people to engage in commerce when they don’t want to, and stop prohibiting them from buying and selling when they want to. Stop trying to legislate your ideas of fairness. Protect property rights. Protect the individual. That is enough.

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Obama To Make Statement At 1:30 PM, Stocks Pop Then Fade

With just 3 hours left in the trading day, why not up the stakes a little in the soap opera and take it straight to the star character:


What will he disclose? Perhaps this, from the AP...

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Presenting Birinyi's Parabola

You have all heard of "Birinyi's Ruler" before (and if you haven't, today for some inexplicable reason Bloomberg decided to once again give exposure to the man who made all technical analysis into an absolute farce). Well, step aside Birinyi Ruler, and make way for Birinyi's Parabola. Why? Because back in January 2011, the pitchy Hungarian fearlessly declared his closing price target for the S&P 500 on September 4th, (not 3th, not 5th) 2013 at 2,854. This is just over 100% from where the S&P will close today. The resulting ramp is no longer a ruler, not even a hockeystick, but quite simply a parabola. As shown below...

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What's Next: The Good, Bad, And Ugly Of The 'Cliff'

Time is running out. The cliff negotiations have devolved into two unpalatable options: (1) extend just the middle income tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits and allow about two-thirds of the cliff to happen, or (2) go over the cliff in the entirety. In BofAML's view, given the short time frame and legislative hurdles, the latter appears much more likely. Stock market vigilantes have replaced bond vigilantes as the potential good, bad, and ugly scenarios are devoured flashing red headline by flashing red headline. They, like us, believe that going over the cliff is not a benign “slope” as some suggest. Rather, it accelerates the already-building damage to the economy and markets. The latest evidence is the plunge in consumer confidence. Indeed, this could mark the beginning of the rotation in the uncertainty shock from businesses to consumers. Going over the cliff has many secondary, largely ignored, negative impacts, including tax changes that could damage the housing recovery, as well as negatively impact education and alternative energy, among many others.

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2012 Greatest Hits: Presenting The Most Popular Posts Of The Past Year

For the fourth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined simply by the number of page views. Those first eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to where the top articles of 2009, 2010 and 2011 are recapped. With that out of the way, here is what readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days..

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