But this year was supposed to be different... Early-year prospects for a revival in consumer spending quickly faded in the wake of the lagged impact of the $148 billion tax hike that began the year. As Bloomberg's Joe Brusuelas notes in the following brief interview, combined with a slower pace of hiring and sluggish wage growth, the result will probably be another in a string of disappointing holiday shopping seasons. It is increasingly doubtful that consumers have the wherewithal to meet the ambitious National Retail Federation forecast for a 3.9% increase in holiday spending to $602.1 billion. Brusuelas believes a 2 to 2.5% increases appears closer to the mark given the economic and policy challenges in place this year.
Blackberry Craters After Report Company Abandons Sale, To Replace CEO, To Issue 19.2% Dilutive Convert InsteadSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/04/2013 09:21 -0400
Just over a month ago, when we shared our cynical view on the "hopium" inspired LBO of Blackberry, we commented as follows: "In other words an LBO, one which however has not only one but many outs: "There can be no assurance that due diligence will be satisfactory, that financing will be obtained, that a definitive agreement will be entered into or that the transaction will be consummated." Which means that once the buyers figure out the potential disaster on the books, expect the final price (if any) to be revised lower as one after another MAC clause is triggered." Not even we were right: as it turns out moments ago, the Globe & Mail reported that having looked at the BBRY, not only will the price be revised lower, but the "purchase" price will be eliminated altogether as any deal is now dead, the company will do a convert offering instead and deadpan CEO Torsten Heins is history.
Looking ahead, Thursday will be a busy day with the ECB (plus Draghi’s press conference) and BoE meetings. Some are expecting the ECB to cut rates as early at this week although most believe the rate cut will not happen until December. Draghi will likely deflect the exchange rate’s relevance via its impact on inflation forecasts. This could strengthen the credibility of the forward guidance message, but this is just rhetoric — a rate cut would require a rejection of the current recovery hypothesis. They expect more focus on low inflation at this press conference, albeit without pre-empting the ECB staff new macroeconomic forecasts that will be published in December.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt is the latest to admit he is shocked, shocked, to learn there was spying going on in here. In an interview with the WSJ "bristled" at the recent report that the U.S. government has spied on the company's data centers, describing such an act as "outrageous" and potentially illegal if proven. Then again, since the NSA's domestic espionage is effectively unchecked expect by a secret FISA court which approves virtually every spying request, the legality of the NSA's activity has little relevance but merely confirms what Snowden wrote in his "manifesto", in which he correctely noted that he has opened a long overdue debate over the meaning of civil liberties and lack thereof in the age of the authoritarian superspying big brother state.
- Investors are stampeding into initial public offerings at the fastest clip since the financial crisis (WSJ)
- Kerry hails disgruntled Saudi Arabia as important U.S. ally (Reuters)
- SAC Capital prepares for a second life (FT)
- BlackBerry's Fate Goes Down to the Wire (WSJ)
- Dutch Gamble on U.S. Housing Debt After Patience Wins (BBG)
- U.S. Wants Broad Divestitures From AMR, US Airways (WSJ)
- Tensions with allies rise, but U.S. sees improved China ties (Reuters)
- China berates foreign media for Tiananmen attack doubts (Reuters)
- China manufacturers squeezed as costs rise (FT)
- European Borders Tested as Money Is Moved to Shield Wealth (NYT)
- Zurich Probe Finds No ‘Undue Pressure’ Put on Late CFO (BBG)
Just as Friday ended with a last minute meltup, there continues to be nothing that can stop Bernanke's runaway liquidity train, and the overnight trading session has been one of a continuing slow melt up in risk assets, which as expected merely ape the Fed's balance sheet to their implied fair year end target of roughly 1900. The data in the past 48 hours was hot but not too hot, with China Non-mfg PMI rising from 55.4 to 56.3 a 14 month high (and entirely made up as all other China data) - hot but not too hot to concern the PBOC additionally over cutting additional liquidity - while the Eurozone Mfg PMI came as expected at 51.3 up from 51.1 prior driven by rising German PMI (up from 51.1 to 51.7 on 51.5 expected), declining French PMI (from 49.8 to 49.1, exp. 49.4), declining Italian PMI (from 50.8 to 50.7, exp. 51.0), Spain up (from 50.7 to 50.9, vs 51.0 expected), and finally the UK construction PMI up from 58.9 to 59.4.
Since 2008, the Federal Reserve has been trying one program after the other in order to kick-start the US economy. It culminated in currently buying around $1 trillion of bonds a year. But economic growth remains weak. Why does the Fed continue its ultra-lax monetary policy despite evidence it doesn't help much? The people at the Fed are not stupid, so there must be a rational explanation. This is an attempt to figure out their 'game plan'.
The German election is over and the confrontation over the US debt ceiling has ended, so event risk should be minimal, right? Not so fast, UBS' Mike Schumacher warns - plenty of pitfalls could trip markets. Forward-looking measures of 'risk' are beginning to show some signs of less-than-exuberance reflected in all-time-highs across all US equity indices and if previous episodes of 'low-vol' are any guide, the current complacency is long in the tooth... no matter how 'top-heavy' stocks become; bloated by the flow of heads-bulls-win-tails-bears-lose ambivalence...
The philosophical roots of Janet Yellen's economics voodoo, it seems, are in many ways even more appalling than the Bernanke paradigm (which in turn is based on Bernanke's erroneous interpretation of what caused the Great Depression, which he obtained in essence from Milton Friedman). The following excerpt perfectly encapsulates her philosophy (which is thoroughly Keynesian and downright scary): Fed Vice Chairman Yellen laid out what she called the 'Yale macroeconomics paradigm' in a speech to a reunion of the economics department in April 1999. "Will capitalist economies operate at full employment in the absence of routine intervention? Certainly not," said Yellen, then chairman of President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers. "Do policy makers have the knowledge and ability to improve macroeconomic outcomes rather than make matters worse? Yes," although there is "uncertainty with which to contend." She couldn't be more wrong if she tried. We cannot even call someone like that an 'economist', because the above is in our opinion an example of utter economic illiteracy.
First it was China hinting that where Silk Road failed in monetizing, pardon the pun, BitCoin, the world's most populous nation could soon take the lead. Then, none other than private equity titan Fortress said it had great expectations for the digital currency. Now, it is eBay's turn to announce that it is preparing to expand the range of digital currencies it accepts, adding that "its payment unit PayPal may one day incorporate BitCoin." But not just yet. FT reports that according to eBay CEO John Donahoe, "digital currency is going to be a very powerful thing."
Here we go again, creating another asset bubble for the third time in a decade and a half, is how Monument Securities' Paul Mylchreest begins his latest must-read Thunder Road report. As Eckhard Tolle once wrote, “the primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it," and that seems apt right now. After Lehman, policy makers went “all-in” on bailouts/ZIRP/QE etc. This avoided an “all-out” collapse and bought time in which a self-sustaining recovery could materialize. The Fed’s tapering threat showed that, five years on from Lehman, the recovery was still not self-sustaining. Mylchreest's study of long-wave (Kondratieff) cycles, however, leaves us concerned as to whether it ever will be. More commentators are having doubts; and the problem looming into view is that we might need a new "plan." The (rhetorical) question then is "Have we really got to the point where it's just about more and more QE, corralling more and more flow into the equity market until it becomes (unsustainably) 'top-heavy'?"
On Wednesday Finland gave in to public pressure and revealed where she stores her gold reserves. The statement followed a press release by the Bank of Sweden on similar lines released on Monday. All was 'normal' until the head of communications added some more color on what exactly the Finnish central bank does with its gold..."half of the gold has been within investment activity over the years. Gold has been invested among other things in deposits similar to money market deposits and using gold interest rate swaps. Gold investment activity is common for central banks." The evidence is mounting that Western central banks through the Bank of England have been feeding monetary gold into the market through leasing operations. This explains in part how the voracious appetite for gold by China, India and South-East Asia is being satisfied, without the gold price rising to reflect this demand.