As we warned last week when the BMPS fraud story broke, this is highly likely to be the canary in the Italian banking system coalmine; and sure enough today, Reuters reports that:
ITALIAN PROSECUTORS INVESTIGATING MONTE PASCHI, BNL, UNICREDIT, INTESA SAN PAOLO AND CREDEM - JUDICIAL SOURCE
Italian bank stocks (still under short-selling bans) are plunging (and the EUR is dropping) but, as Reuters notes, the winner in this growing debacle is Berlusconi as Italians blame the Democratic Party for the problems at the banks. Most pollsters, however, still think it unlikely that Berlusconi can overtake Bersani with little more than three weeks to go - after being more than 15 points behind in early December. And just as a reminder Mario Draghi was running the Bank of Italy during this era of evasion.
As part of today's non-farm payroll release, the BLS also issued its revision to the Establishment Survey as a result of updated population estimates, which, as the name implies, adjusted monthly data to the Establishment Survey which is the actual headline print that moves the market, not the data in the household survey which is what the unemployment rate is based on. In short: of the 12 monthly revisions, there were just 2 months in which the post-revision data was adjusted downward, July and August, with all other months supposedly adding jobs to the cumulative total, which as of December stood at 134,668 jobs as revised, compared to 134,021 pre-revision. So for those curious how the sequential change in jobs would have looked on a pre vs post-revision basis, we summarize the 2012 data in the chart below. In short: the revision would have added a total 335,000 jobs to the Establishment Survey headlines over the 2012 NFP headlines. The point of the chart is to show just how variable the actual monthly swing is based on exit assumptions, yet this is precisely the data that the kneejerk collocated algos trade on.
Spain's IBEX stock market index has plunged by around 6% this week - the biggest weekly drop in six months. Spanish sovereign bond spreads are flat-lining, entirely ignorant of this devastation; and of course, EURUSD continues to surge. The EUR surge and IBEX plunge coincidentally began at the same time (Wednesday) as Rajoy's alleged kickback scheme was uncovered... oh yeah, and Spain lifted its short-selling ban (oops). Spanish stocks are now red for 2013...
The goldilocks economy continues as January nonfarm payrolls number comes in right as expected, or 157,000, a tiny miss to expectations of 165,000, down from the upwardly revised 196,000 (was 155,000 previously), leading to an unemployment rate of 7.9%, higher than the 7.8% expected. The seasonal adjustment for January was in line with expectations, or 2.120 million, as the actual decline in jobs December to January was a whopping 2.84 million. The NSA Birth/Death adjustment subtracted some 314K jobs in January.
... 2.1 million additional jobs, or the number of "statistical" jobs that will be added to the actual number to smooth the jobs trendline, and is the largest of any month in the year. Keep that in mind when considering that the consensus today is for a gain of 165K jobs: a number whose swing will be dwarfed by the actual adjustment added to the actual underlying.
With today's jobs number due out shortly, it is worth pointing out some of the key trends that we have observed in the underlying data stripped of month-to-month seasonal variance, which expose the "quality" side of the US non-recovery, instead of the far more manageable "quantity" side. First and foremost, as we showed over two years ago, and as the mainstream is gradually picking up, the US labor force is increasingly transitioning to one of part-time, and temp workers, which has key implications for wages, worker leverage, and overall job prospects, all of which logically are negative. But perhaps an even more disturbing trends is the conversion of America into a gerontocratic worker society, where the bulk of jobs are handed out to those 55 and over, which puts all young workers, not to mention college graduates, at a major disadvantage relative to far more experienced older workers, who are willing to work for less as they scramble to compensate for retirement shortfalls, and which prevents the natural rotation of the US labor force from older to younger.
Earlier today we got one hint that not all is well in the European banking system, as far less than the expected €200 billion was tendered back to the ECB in the second LTRO repayment operation, when just 27 banks paid back some €3.5 billion. Another, perhaps far bigger one, comes courtesy of AAA-rated Netherlands, which just experienced its first bank failure since 2008 following the nationalization of SNS Reall NV, as the previously announced bad loan writedown finally claimed the bank. As a reminder, half a month ago we got news that "SNS Reaal NV (SR), a Dutch bank and insurer struggling to wind down a money-losing real estate lending unit, fell the most in more than two months after a report said it may have to post a 1.8 billion-euro ($2.4 billion) writedown on property-finance loans." Today we got the inevitable conclusion: nationalization, one which will cost taxpayers about $5 billion to avoid contagion to what many see as Europe's "strongest" banking system.
- 'London Whale' Sounded an Alarm on Risky Bets (WSJ)
- Deadly Blast Strikes U.S. Embassy in Turkey (WSJ)
- Abe Shortens List for BOJ Chief as Japan Faces Monetary Overhaul (BBG)
- Endowment Returns Fail to Keep Pace with College Spending (BBG) - More student loans
- Mexico rescue workers search for survivors after Pemex blast kills 25 (Reuters)
- Lingering Bad Debts Stifle Europe Recovery (WSJ)
- Peregrine Founder Hit With 50 Years (WSJ) - there is hope Corzine will get pardoned yet
- Deutsche Bank to Limit Immediate Bonuses to 300,000 Euros
- France's Hollande to visit Mali Saturday (Reuters)
- France, Africa face tough Sahara phase of Mali war (Reuters)
- Barclays CEO refuses bonus (Barclays)
- Edward Koch, Brash New York Mayor During 1980s Boom, Dies at 88 (BBG)
- Samsung Doubles Tablet PC Market Share Amid Apple’s Lead (BBG)
After two consecutive down days in the market, it was time to get real, and like clockwork the dollar and yen devastation started right out of the gate in overnight trading, when first the USDJPY exploded higher, followed promptly by the EURUSD, both of which hit new period highs, of over 92, and just why of 1.37 respectively. And with not one funding currency around to push risk higher, but two, futures have ramped enough to undo all of yesterday's losses and then some. Bad news was either promptly ignored, such as China's official PMI coming in at 50.4, below expectations of the 50.6 print, or offset by conflicting data, with the HSBC China PMI print moments after at 52.3, higher than the 52.0 expected, taking us back to early 2012 when the Chinese PMI was contracting and expending at the same time.
The globalists have stretched the whole of the world thin. They have removed almost every pillar of support from the edifice around us, and like a giant game of Jenga, are waiting for the final piece to be removed, causing the teetering structure to crumble. Once this calamity occurs, they will call it a random act of fate, or a mathematical inevitability of an overly complex system. They will say that they are not to blame. That we were in the midst of “recovery”. That they could not have seen it coming. Their solution will be predictable. They will state that in order to avoid such future destruction, the global framework must be “simplified”, and what better way to simplify the world than to end national sovereignty, dissolve all borders, and centralize nation states under a single economic and political ideal?
In a post-financial crisis world, the lack of viable international leadership is potentially troubling. In 2013, the WEF believes, this breakdown of international coordination will go increasingly local: in such a world, governments will focus more on their domestic agendas, which will create new risks in and of itself. Most importantly, the growing vulnerability of elites makes effective public and private leadership that much more difficult to sustain. Leaders of all kinds are becoming more vulnerable to their constituents, generating more reactive and short-term governance. Whether one looks at the dismal approval ratings of the U.S. Congress or the impact that more open flows of information is having on the Chinese ruling elite, it is clear that people are becoming more and more uninspired by their governments. When it comes to unemployment, the widening disparity of wealth, or environmental degradation, highly complex or even intractable issues set politicians up for failure in the eyes of their constituents. Underperformance erodes elites’ legitimacy, making it that much harder for them to lead effectively. Against this backdrop, a host of key 2013 risks and opportunities takes shape.
On the surface, it may seem innocuous for Germany to move some pallets of gold closer to home. But most economists can't see the bigger implications and frequently miss the forest for the trees. What your friendly government economist doesn't reveal and the mainstream journalist doesn't report (or doesn't understand) is that in the event of a US bankruptcy, euro implosion, or similar financial catastrophe, access to gold would almost certainly be limited. If other countries follow Germany's path or the mistrust between central bankers grows, the next logical step would be to clamp down on gold exports. It would be the beginning of the kind of stringent capital controls Doug Casey and a few others have warned about for years. Think about it: is it really so far-fetched to think politicians wouldn't somehow restrict the movement of gold if their currencies and/or economies were failing? Remember, India keeps tinkering with ideas like this already.
While we have pointed out various divergences among risk assets, the deterioration in macro fundamentals, the dismal earnings picture, and the potential for various geopolitical hotspots to ignite, there appears to be only one chart that the US equity market is willing to pay any attention to, for now - that of global central bank balance sheet size. The ongoing competitive devaluations of developed market currencies is a by-product of policymakers’ attempts to (repress) lower real bond yields and, as Credit Suisse notes, has an important (and potentially vicious) element of contagion to it (as Europe is finding out currently): currency appreciation continues until the deflationary pressures associated with an overly strong currency become too large and the country is forced to join in the trend of central bank balance sheet expansion. For now, it appears stocks are 'allowed' to rise, gold is suppressed, and balance sheets are expanding, but as we saw in Q4 2012, there comes a time when reality interjects (albeit briefly).
Food stamps are just a payoff to the poor. It keeps them off the streets. It’s an unspoken bribe plain and simple. The oligarchs do not want angry, roving, hungry masses on the streets while they strip mine what’s left of the economy. However, the oligarchs have another problem to deal with - the huge group of people that resides in between them and the poor. The average person can feel themselves getting poorer despite the nonsense spewed by the mainstream media; and this is where the stock market comes into play. More than any other group, the 1% has been convinced that the stock market represents some sort of leading indicator of wealth and prosperity. A rising stock market today is actually a leading indicator of the destruction of the middle class, cultural destitution and a society in collapse. The stock market is like slop in a pigpen. It is a key instrument used to keep the 1% from getting antsy. Unlike the middle class (a group that isn’t falling for any of the tricks), many of the 1% work on Wall Street or related industries and own stocks. They must be kept quiet as the coup that started in 2008 is brought to fruition. So as the 1% sits around analyzing a casino, the poor collect food stamps and the middle class dies.