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Presenting Spain's Economic Collapse In Context

We have presented many charts over the last few weeks showing the collapse in retail sales in Spain, along with surging unemployment, bankruptcies and non-performing bank loans. But to do justice to the situation, you’ve got to put it in context of the last 150 years, and JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest provides just such context. Spain’s adventure in the Eurozone has sent it into an economic tailspin the likes of which have not been seen, with the exception of the Spanish Civil War, since the 19th century. At that time, the Spanish empire was at the tail end of its colonial decline, and was an under-regulated, agrarian, closed economy subject to frequent crises. The chart shows the details, highlighting the economic declines during revolutions, depressions and agricultural epidemics. Spain’s recent decline has now matched them.

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Guest Post: China's Broken Growth Model

Even now, after the Chinese economy has consistently disappointed everyone, we still get the impression from market participants that it will all be fine in the end, because the Chinese government know what they are doing, and all they need is to let the floodgate of money open. Whenever a bad data point comes out, the market interprets that as more easing ahead, and it will most certainly save the economy. If only running the Chinese economy is that easy. Every growth engine of the Chinese economy is failing, and there is only one thing which can sustain these failing engines for longer, which is government stimulus, and whether the government is actually willing to deploy massive stimulus that is questionable.

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Guest Post: The 71%

According to a recent CNN poll, 60% of Americans want go to war with Iran to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. This in spite of the fact that the US intelligence community is fairy unanimous that Iran is not even currently pursuing nuclear weapons. Simultaneously 71% of Americans — in total contradiction to the evidence recognised by both the CIA and Mossad that Iran is not currently even developing a nuclear weapon — believe that Iran currently has nuclear weapons. Unlike the 71%, I’m not really convinced by this — if anything, it could be Iranian disinformation to try and avoid an American or Israeli attack. More importantly, the US and Israeli intelligence community at large don’t buy it. If they had any real evidence that Iran had a bomb today, Netanyahu would have been presenting it at the UN instead of drawing red lines on Wile E. Coyote bomb diagrams.

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Fed's 'Trickle-Down' Policy Lines Pockets Of Mortgage Originators

The yield on MBS has been crushed over the last few weeks (front-running from before QEternity and then afterwards as every manager with a balance sheet warehoused as much as possible to sell back to the Fed). This rally has reduced the spread between 'risky' MBS and supposedly risk-free US Treasuries to practically nothing as the Current Coupon 30Y MBS trades around 1.67%. However, where the real differential has occurred is in the spread between the risky wholesale rate that Main Street is charged on their mortgage and the government-sponsored wholesale rate they finance this debt at. The spread between wholesale and retail mortgage rates has never been higher (in absolute and ratio terms) providing a new ATM for all those banks and mortgage originators trying so hard to scrape by these days. We just assume the Fed's policy transmission-channel had modeled this trickle-down of mortgage banker bonuses (and taxes) into local Ferrari dealerships and Lafite wholesalers.

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Stocks Hold Green Close As VIX/Credit/Rates Signal Risk-Off

From the knee-jerk spike after the ISM data, US equity markets sold off relatively calmly for the rest of the day. Headlines will crow of a gain to start the quarter and what that means empirically, the real stories are under the surface: AAPL dropped 3% from its early-day highs to end at one-month lows; VIX jumped 0.6 vols to 16.3%; HYG, the high-yield credit ETF, was weaker all day and dumped into the close on huge volume; Treasuries were bid into the close ending the day down 1-2bps; and FX carry slid all afternoon as the USD rallied from -0.4% to -0.1% at the close. Commodities were juiced by Evans' dovishness (and Iranian fears) but the spikes in Silver (and less so gold) were retraced - though they all ended outperforming USD's implied strength. Tech and Discretionary underperformed as Staples and Healthcare were the winners. Not exactly the herd of performance-chasing monkeys everyone expected eh?

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Spot The Odd One Out

There have been a few nations in the world over the last decade or so that have garnered somewhat mind-blowingly negative attention and have been forced to restructure, take losses, or default (semantics) on their debt (or financial system). Three of the best known are Argentina, Iceland, and most recently Greece. The following chart of GDP growth may have a lesson for every investor around the world (especially those in sovereign bonds) - and maybe more importantly for the Greek (and European) leadership. Is there something different about the post-restructuring growth in Greece that did not occur in the other two nations? Perhaps taking your medicine is indeed the right way to go - and enables growth to once again re-emerge - and the constant use of the M.A.D. argument is pure bluff.

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Venture C(r)apital: Myth And Reality

Venture capital (VC) has delivered poor returns for more than a decade. VC returns haven’t significantly outperformed the public market since the late 1990s, and, since 1997, less cash has been returned to investors than has been invested in VC. Speculation among industry insiders is that the VC model is broken, despite occasional high-profile successes like Groupon, Zynga, LinkedIn, and Facebook in recent years. As The Kauffman Foundations finds, from its 20-year history, investment committees and trustees should shoulder blame for the broken LP investment model, as they have created the conditions for the chronic misallocation of capital (no doubt driven by the failure of 'hope' over experience). All is not lost to the money-pumping narrative-followers though as five myths are destroyed and five recommendations made that may help LPs allocate and follow-through more effectively.

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Ben Bernanke Just Told A Massive Lie About Milton Friedman

Ben Bernanke is so desperate to find support regarding his steal from the poor and give to the 0.01% policies he is now telling blatant lies about famous, dead economists that can’t refute what he says.  In this case Milton Friedman.  In his Q&A today, The Bernank claimed:


Well I suppose it’s easy to make things up about people that can’t claim otherwise, but he made a big mistake this time.  Why?  Because Anna Schwartz, who co-wrote the famous work “A Monetary History of the United States” with Milton Friedman in 1963, actually came on the record on several occasions calling out The Bernank and saying there’s no way Friedman would agree.  The sad part about this is it seems Bernanke waited until Schwartz died to really start spewing the lies.  This guy is not only dangerous he is despicable and increasingly desperate… Don’t take it from me though, back in October 2008 Anna Schwartz had this to say in the Wall Street Journal.

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Santelli On QEternity: "Deflation Vacation Or Inflation Gestation"

With gold being horded in Iran and hitting 2012 highs this morning, CNBC's Rick Santelli addresses the 800lb gorilla in the Fed's room - the threat of inflation. Critically noting that the hyperinflation of Weimar Germany "did not happen overnight" but was gestated quietly until it was unstoppable by currency debasement; the question remains of what exactly the Fed thinks it is doing. Santelli makes the important point that if we look at 'printing money' as any type of solution then why not take it to the extreme - "if we just print a million dollars for every man, woman and child and handed it to them, wouldn't that fix everything?" As he adds "if it was that easy there would be no need for economist, no need for even CNBC, but it isn't that easy," Reflecting on Evans' earlier inability to quantify any metrics for whether QEternity was working, Santelli notes that the Fed man falls back to 'confidence' (animal spirits) but worries that inflation is a lot like soybeans; need sun, water, and time but eventually will grow rapidly.

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Venezuela's Hugo Chavez: "I Would Vote For Obama, Because Obama Would Vote For Chavez"

Obama may want to throw this one in the unsolicited communist dictator endorsement pile. From CNN: "President Barack Obama received one endorsement he definitely did not ask for Monday: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The leftist leader and strong man, who has used strong anti-United States language in his political rallies and official speeches, told state-owned VTV, "In the point of view of his politics, if I were voting, I would vote for Obama and I believe that if Obama was from Caracas, he would vote for Chavez." Whatever one says or thinks about the Caracas head guy who recently is quoted as saying that "perhaps Mars had life at one time but then evil capitalism showed up and finished the planet off" (and Mars didn't build that life he forgot to add) or his foray into US elections, where he now shares the view of socialist Europe, he sure knows a gold bar in the local safe is worth two in the LBMA vaults in London.

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European September Car Sales Datapoints

Because the horse and buggy is the new normal car:


This is what happens when you don't take advantage of US, Chinese, or for that matter Global channel stuffing. It is, for now, unclear if Mario Draghi's monetization of 1-4 cylinder Fiats is forbidden by Article 123.

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Euro-Zone 'Misery' Has Never Been Higher

While the 'Misery' Index in Iran reaches exceptional levels, and the US aggregate of inflation and unemployment peaked last October, Europe's misery has continued to rise in the face of an ever-easing ECB and political jawboning. As SocGen notes today, the UK's misery has turned back higher and the Euro-zone's Misery Index has never been higher. These misery indices clearly reflect deteriorating economic performances in the main G10 countries, with some unsurprisingly weaker performances in Spain and Greece, leading the eurozone index higher. Given recessionary situations expected in some eurozone countries next year, the misery index is unfortunately quite unlikely to edge south significantly.

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European Equities Roundtrip Friday Losses But Credit Is Not Buying It

Catching up to the apparent 'good news' from the Spanish bank audit debacle and as we noted earlier, the smallest of beats in a singular data item, provided some support for equity prices in Europe today. It appeared as though traders had reduced weight or been modestly short-biased into the news and the lack of events spurred a reversal - which on its own looks good but merely returns us to Thursday's close (or not even for Spain). In other markets, the US ISM data spurred a jump which was immediately faded in both EURUSD, European sovereigns, and European corporate/financial credit markets. Bottom line - European equities round-tripped from Thursday but credit markets are much less sanguine.

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