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Guest Post: Wages And Consumption Are Both In Long-Term Downtrends

Here are four charts of wages, income and consumption. The charts depict changes from a year ago (also called year-over-year) and the percentage of change from a year ago. These measure rates of change as opposed to absolute changes, and so they are useful in identifying trends... The build-out of Internet infrastructure that culminated in the dot-com boom boosted employment, wages and consumption, and the credit-housing bubble of the mid-2000s also boosted income and consumption. Now that these temporary conditions have faded, what's left is the relentless chewing up of traditional industries by the Web as distributed software boosts productivity while slashing the number of people required to create value. What's remarkable about the first chart is the increase in volatility in recent years: the changes in wages and salaries are increasingly dramatic. This might be reflecting the dynamics of the global economy pulling wages lower while massive financial-stimulus policies of the Central State and bank (the Federal government and the Federal Reserve) act to artificially boost wages with trillions of dollars in borrowed/printed money.

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Viva Central Planning

In this week's missive, Jefferies' strategist David Zervos decries the doomsayers, panders to the printers, and colors this colossal nominal rally (and its expected infinite horizon) through green toner-colored glasses. All we can say here is "Viva Jefferies' David Zervos, and Viva Sarcasm"... it is Sarcasm right? Because if serious, this letter seems like it could have been penned by anyone fighting tooth and nail to become 3rd undersecretary of central planning in Stalinist Russia. We leave it to readers' judgment on which side of the fence Mr. Zervos sits.

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Guest Post: How States Can Protect Themselves From Financial Collapse

The states of America are, truly, children of the Constitution.  The legal framework that is the foundation of state sovereignty and internal administration is unique for perhaps any country in history up to the moment the U.S. won its independence.  States were designed to decentralize and keep in check the power of a subservient Federal Government.  They were meant to be the guardians at the gate, the barrier to the formation of oligarchy or outright dictatorship.  This, of course, has changed drastically.  The battle over centralized verses decentralized authority and economy has been going on for quite some time, and is undeniably critical in our climate of crisis now, under a government which is bankrupt in every sense and a currency which is on the verge of calamity... The following is a step by step method that states could use to accomplish the task of insulation from financial crisis and federal control.  Much of it hinges on a willingness by state governments to actually pursue independence, which might seem like a naïve dream to most of us.  But, in the wake of a major breakdown, and the fall of the greenback, I believe many states will be seeking a way to weather the storm, if only out of a desire to survive, and this includes walking away from their ties to Washington.

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Is The Real Indicator Of The Global Economy In Africa?

The WTO recently announced it expects global trade to fall again from 5% to only 3.7% growth - significantly lower than the 20-year average growth rate of 5.4%. But ThomsonReuters notes this week that their additional comment that 'severed downside risks' could put a further dent in growth rates could well have foundation in some very real data. Traffic through the Suez Canal - a key cargo transport route - has nosedived in recent weeks and months and is currently only just above the flat-line. While not a perfect indicator, given that 8% of world trade travel this route and the rising tensions occurring geographically, nevertheless the trends in global GDP growth and trade volumes have mirrored one another very closely and this downturn suggests considerably more contraction in global growth than even the most pessimistic of sell-side research shops believes is possible.

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Guest Post: Meet The Man Bankrupting The Eurozone (And Maybe The Rest Of The World)

No, it’s not Greece Prime Minister and bankster puppet Lucas Papadermos who serves his former masters at Goldman Sachs rather than the people of the country he was “appointed” to lead.  No, it’s not German Chancellor Angela Merkel who is putting the interests of the banks and bailout recipients above her fellow Germans at the risk of a continually devaluing euro.  And no, it’s not European Central Bank president Mario Draghi whose cheap euro policies are propping up both the banking sector and governments of the periphery at the expense of capital investment in sectors that would result in actual wealth creation rather than sustaining a clearly unsustainable status quo. Meet Ed Houben.  He is not solely responsible for the slow implosion of the poster boy of New World Order also known as the Eurozone, but the results of his career certainly play a part.  So who is Ed Houben? Well, he is not a politician buying votes with stolen funds.  Nor is he a banker looking to use taxpayers to cover his poor investments.  Mr. Houben is just a lowly entrepreneur.  His business just happens to be in putting a strain on the various welfare states which permeate throughout the Eurozone. Ed Houben is a sperm donor; but he is not just any sperm donor.  The “fruits of his labor,” pardon the phrase, have thus far granted him 82 children; with at least 10 more on the way.

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Economic Miss Trifecta Not Bad Enough For "THE NEW QE" Rumors

Continuing today's disappointing data releases, we now get the Philly Fed, Existing home sales (aka the NAR's monthly advertising update), and Eurozone confidence. Sure enough, all missed, since we are now in NEW QE prep mode.

  • Philly Fed: 8.5, missed expectations of 12.0, and lower than the previous print of 12.5 (source)
    • New Orders down from 3.3, to 2.7
    • Prices Paid spike from 18.7 to 22.5,
    • but, just to add confusion to injury following the much weaker claims data, the Employment index rose from 6.8 to 17.9
  • Existing home sales, reported by the inherently conflicted NAR, missed, dropping from 4.61MM to 4.48MM, a data set which we caution readers is about 0.0% accurate and valid.
    • Total housing inventory at the end of February rose 4.3 percent to 2.43 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.4-month
    • The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $156,600 in February, up 0.3 percent from February 2011.
    • All-cash sales rose to 33 percent of transactions in February from 31 percent in January; they were 33 percent in February 2011
    • Single-family home sales declined 1.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.06 million in February from 4.10 million in January
  • Finally, Eurozone consumer confidence also missed sliding to -19.8, on expectation of an improvement to -19.0 from -19.1

Judging by the kneejerk reaction lower, the misses were not big enough to send the market soaring.

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Goldman On The Three Risk World

Three key issues remain at the heart of current markets: the strength of the US growth cycle; the sovereign and financial risks in the Euro area; and the risks of ongoing deceleration in Chinese growth. Goldman has created proxies for these various risks and the sensitivities of different assets to those risk factors. They further note that looking at those three proxies over time confirms what general qualitative commentary has also spelled out. From late November to early February, the market relaxed about all three risks, as better global data and the impact of the LTROs on European financial risks provided a strong tailwind. From February until mid-March, China fears reappeared and the market downgraded its views of China significantly while still relaxing about European and growth risk. Since then, both European – and to a lesser degree – US growth risks have re-emerged, but at the same time there are some very tentative signs that the market is becoming a little less worried about China. They, however, remain increasingly cautious on them all: Europe seems increasingly in the hands of governments, not the ECB, raising volatility; unspectacular growth trajectory in the US continues as outlooks adjust down; and even thouigh China's risk has stabilized they have avoided active exposures 'given the muddiness of news'. Understanding which assets are more sensitive and how these risks evolve might help prognosticators understand the need to pay attention to Europe - as opposed to merely Apple's earnings.

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Complete 2012-2013 European Bond Issuance Calendar

Now that those so inclined are once again advised to wake up at 4 am in the morning just to keep track of the Bid To Cover of each and every blowing out European auction (which absent a few trillion in ECB liquidity would be a sheer disaster), just like in the summer and fall of 2011 (but remember, according to Jim O'Neill 2012 is "nothing like 2011"), it would be useful to have an updated calendar of all the action in Europe for the rest of the year. So courtesy of Goldman, here it is: set your alarms.

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The Check Is In The Mail And Other Lies

Frustration levels are running high today.  Just feels like we are being lied to, and no one wants to question the lies. According to the headlines, the Spanish auction was a 'great success', MS and BAC had 'great' earnings, and jobless claims 'fell by 2000'. Nothing that has happened so far today has been good, and the attempt to spin everything so positively is downright scary.

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Initial Claims Propaganda 101

And just as we predicted moments ago, here comes the "mainstream" media.

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Inital Claims Soar Again, Ninth Consecutive Miss To Expectations In A Row: BLS Back To Propaganda School

There are those who thought last week's massive Initial claims miss was the last one. They were wrong. Instead of printing at the expected 370K, an improvement from last week's already big miss of 380K, this week came at a whopping 386K, the worst standalone print in 4 months. Well, until last week's revision that is: instead of the 380K print that stunned everyone, last week's number has now been revised to a massive 388K. Why? So that mainstream media can declare, with a straight face, that this week saw the number of initial claims decline! Here is the reality: last week's expectation was for a print of 355K. Instead we got a number of 380K. Now this number is being revised to 388K, and is the biggest initial expectation to revision miss since early 2011. Needless to say, this means two things: 1) the transitory bump associated with record warm weather, which was nothing but pulling from the future, is now over, and 2) the April NFP print will be another disaster, which is just as the Fed wants it -  after all it is time to start setting the stage for the NEW QE (and certainly not QE3 which is already in place as Jeff Gundlach was so kind to explain) now that Obama is the margin hiker in chief.

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Which Is Right: European Credit Or Equity?

Presented with little comment, except to note that as of a few minutes ago European equities were still at pre-NFP levels while credit was trading dramatically wider. In the last few minutes, equities are starting to catch up to that semblance of reality in a replay of last week.

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RANsquawk: US Morning Call - Existing Home Sales Preview: 19/04/12

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Bank of America Earnings: Cutting Through The Noise

Bank of America reported results earlier, which were somewhat amusing: reported earnings were $653 million or $0.03 per share. Yet the number that the market is fascinated by is the one arising from "negative valuation adjustments" of $4.8 billion, which included $1.5 billion in DVA "resulting from the narrowing of the company's credit spread", and resulted in a $0.28 per share addition. This is the same number that we were told to ignore when it did not help the bottom line. We will be told to ignore it again next quarter when spreads once again balloon, but for now it leads the market to see a $0.31 adjusted EPS number. In other words, one time items are to be ignored when negative, and praised when providing a "one-time benefit." These also included $0.8 billion in litigation expenses, which are also supposed to be excluded, even though the bank has now been sued by virtually everyone due to its Countrywide legacy portfolio. Yet all of this is accountant fudge heaven: there are only three things that matter. 1) The approaching refi cliff, in terms of tens of billions in maturities, including FDIC-funded TLGP, which are as follows: "$34B of parent company maturities in 2Q12 including the remaining $24B related to the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program" 2) sliding sales and trading revenues which dropped from Q1 by $546 million from a year ago to $2.844 billion in FICC, and by $332 million in Equity income to $907 million; and finally 3) and reserve release gimmicks: specifically BAC took a $1.6 billion reserve release even as the net chargeoff percentage increased. Specifically look at the first chart below showing the $1.8 billion surge surge in junior-lien Non-Performing Home Equity Loans due to regulations finally catching up to reality. Also, the bank charged off more in Reps and Warranties than it reserved, even as everyone is now suing the bank for precisely this issue. And this is the environment in which the firm books profits from reserve releases?

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Europe Turning Ugly

In the past 30 minutes, Europe has turned downright ugly, with short-term Bunds soaring to a record 140.64, and weakness creeping across the peripherals, as the realization that not only was the Spanish bond auction unsustainable, but also a French downgrade rumor once again making its way (the source of this is a Citi note by Michael Saunders who said that it is likely that Moody's will follow S&P, and put the French Aaa rating on review for possible downgrade by the autumn, after the country's supplementary budget is formalized). The result is a sudden and swift slide in the EURUSD to 1.3070 or the LOD. Here are some of the other recent surprising developments in the aftermath of what the propaganda machine wants to spin as a "successful" Spanish bond auction.

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