If there is one admirable thing about the Case Shiller Home Price Index report (which sadly shows data for February so a nearly three month delay) is that even according to its authors, it is the Non-Seasonally Adjusted number that is representative of what is going on in housing. And, as the chart below shows, very little is going on as the broader price level continues to undulate in a very tight range with little real moves to the up or downside.
While near record low sovereign bond spreads and near record high equity prices have been taken as vindication by the European elites that all is well and 'we just need a little less fauxsterity' to be done with this crisis; the data, as it so often does, says the exact opposite. European unemployment just broke above 12% for the first time ever and European youth unemployment remains miserably above 24%. And while 1-in-4 under-25s unemployed is a bad enough statistic in terms of likely emergence of social unrest, the individual countries are in general deteriorating once again at a faster rate. French youth unemployment has risen for 13 months in a row to a record 26.5%; Spain (at 57.2% of under-25s unemployed) is catching up fast to Greece's stunning 59.1%; but perhaps the most concerning for the broader economies is the fact that Italy's youth unemployment has now topped that of Portugal at 38.4%. The only nation to see a drop in its youth unemployment was Ireland - which fell back modestly to January levels. Not a rosy picture, but then again, it doesn't matter...
Australia’s Perth Mint, the largest refinery in Australia and one of the largest in the world, said that demand has jumped to the highest level since the Lehman crisis in 2008. Demand has been robust due to currency devaluation concerns and then the 15% price fall led to a massive surge in demand as store of wealth buyers leapt at the chance to acquire physical bullion at much cheaper prices. This led to the Perth Mint which refines nearly all of the nation’s bullion, having to stay open over the weekend to meet orders. There’s been strong interest, including from the U.S., with buyers confident that the metal will rebound from the decline, Ron Currie, sales and marketing director, told Bloomberg in a phone interview from Perth. “We haven’t seen levels like this since the 2008 global financial crisis,” Currie said yesterday. “Compared to March sales, April sales have doubled or tripled,” he said. “We worked all weekend to keep the factory running to make more stock and that was only to fill orders,” Currie said from the facility founded in 1899. “We’re being inundated with people buying products.”
Who could have thought, one year ago, that we would one day see an AAPL bond prospectus for floating and fixed rate notes (due between 2016 and 2043). And yet here we are, as the preannounced AAPL bond prospectus goes live and proves what we said months ago: that some $100 billion of the company's offshore held cash is non-US recourse courtesy of repatriation taxes, forcing the company to raise even more cash to fund US-based capital decisions. Perhaps the most surprising (or least) thing is who the lead underwriter would be. No surprise anymore: Goldman Sachs.
It appears the Eurozone Stockholm Syndrome of absolutely (mutual, but ignore that) Assured Destruction has once again bloomed in tiny Cyprus, where capital controls have now had their one month birthday despite promises for a "very short duration" by the IMF's Lagarde, yet where people - all of whom far poorer and with nothing but a catastrophic depression to look forward to - just don't want to leave the Euro and the Belgian neofeudal kingdom. Because today, Cyprus actually has the power to say no to Europe when its parliament decides whether to back the EU bail-in out imposed on its by its EU "partners." However, as Reuters reports, it most likely will not "with approval likely from a thin majority against mounting calls for the island to exit the euro." Which means that Iceland's miraculous growth case study aside, Cyprus will only have itself and its politicians to blame next year when everyone's standard of living is reduced by 20%, then 20% the year after and so on. All in the name of making sure Deutsche Bank's spring clip loaded €55.6 trillion in notional derivatives never snaps shut.
- Euro-Area Unemployment Increases to Record 12.1% Amid Recession (BBG)
- Fed faces calls for radical reform (FT) - Has Jamie Dimon approved of this message? No? Carry on then
- CEO Pay 1,795-to-1 Multiple of Wages Skirts U.S. Law (BBG)
- Ex-UBS Executive Convicted of Paid Sex With Underage Girl (BBG)
- Six months after Sandy, New York fuel supply chain still vulnerable (Reuters)
- Older, richer shoppers lead Japan’s surge in consumer spending (FT)
- Sharp euro zone inflation fall, joblessness point to ECB rate cut (G&M)
- Gold Rush From Dubai to Turkey Saps Supply as Premiums Jump (BBG)
- Japan Industrial Output, Retail Sales Disappoint (MW)
- Gunmen surround Libyan justice ministry (Reuters)
- Insider-Trading Probe Trains Lens on Boards (WSJ)
- Best Buy exits Europe (WSJ)
- Banker Roommates Follow Zuckerberg Not Blankfein With IvyConnect (BBG)
The weakness in economic data (not to be confused with the centrally-planned anachronism known as the "markets") started overnight when despite a surge in Japanese consumer spending (up 5.2% on expectations of 1.6%, the most in nine years) by those with access to the stock market and mostly of the "richer" variety, did not quite jive with a miss in retail sales, which actually missed estimates of dropping "only" -0.8%, instead declining -1.4%. As the FT reported what we said five months ago, "Four-fifths of Japanese households have never held any securities, and 88 per cent have never invested in a mutual fund, according to a survey last year by the Japan Securities Dealers Association." In other words any transient strength will be on the back of the Japanese "1%" - those where the "wealth effect" has had an impact and whose stock gains have offset the impact of non-core inflation. In other words, once the Yen's impact on the Nikkei225 tapers off (which means the USDJPY stops soaring), that will be it for even the transitory effects of Abenomics. Confirming this was Japanese Industrial production which also missed, rising by only 0.2%, on expectations of a 0.4% increase. But the biggest news of the night was European inflation data: the April Eurozone CPI reading at 1.2% on expectations of a 1.6% number, and down from 1.7%, which has now pretty much convinced all the analysts that a 25 bps cut in the ECB refi rate, if not deposit, is now merely a formality and will be announced following a unanimous decision.
Whether it is due to the recent governmental attempt to enforce assorted gun controlling measures in the aftermath of the Newtown, CT shooting, or, merely driven by the same catalyst that saw a surge in gun sales four years ago, namely the presidential election, one thing is certain: America is weaponizing itself at an unheard of pace, with both Sturm, Ruger shipments and units produced surpassing 500,000 each in one quarter for the first time in history.
In light of the recent violent down-and-up action in the precious metals, the Hard Assets Alliance (HAA) see three effects in the fallout. For starters, demand is off the charts: "We had four to five times as many buy orders and sell orders, both in number of trades and in volume. Far more significant buying than selling, and it’s continued throughout the week." Second, the demand we're seeing is from existing customers who are returning to buy in bigger volume as they see the precious metals as being "on sale" right now. Third, the surge in physical buying combined with tightening supply is resulting in the premium paid over spot price for physical bullion to march upwards quickly. For all of recent memory, the price of precious metals has been determined in the paper marketplace (e.g., COMEX; LBMA). That may now be changing. Should the availability of physical bullion start setting the price action, the spot price quoted in the paper market for gold or silver will become an anachronistic irrelevance.
It's that time again when we cautiously peek at cell H25 of the daily CME Group Metal Depository Statistics worksheet to find if, following Friday's dramatic and volatile trading session in gold, someone, anyone decided to submit a delivery ticket to the JPM vault located at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza, and reduce the already near record low gold inventory which at last check was just over 5 tons, and just one 163K troy ounce delivery request would lead to all commercial gold at the JPM vault to run down to zero. Not this time. As it turns, in a carbon copy of Friday's internal conversion, in which 17.5k ounces of gold were selectively converted from Registered to Eligible status (for all those sticklers about nomenclature definition, this is how easy it is to convert one into the other and vice versa and how meaningless said designations really are), on Friday JPM decided to do some more redefinition, and converted another 4.7k ounces of gold from registered into eligible, pushing up the total by a fractional amount to 163.8k ounces, still just a hair's breath away from the all time record low reported last Thursday.
As Europe continues to churn nowhere but down economically, it seems that leading government officials everywhere have suddenly become fixed income experts. According to these financial wizards, declining yields from Italy and Spain is vindication that (once again) the worst is over. This is the point where we ask investors, government officials, and media to read beyond both the headlines and the first paragraph of investment reports. Just as the declining US unemployment rate is attributed to more and more people simply giving up hope (there’s that “word” again) and not an abundance of new jobs; the decline in sovereign bond yields is the result of domestic banks and pension funds buying new bonds from their respective governments – not an increase in confidence from international investors. While strong domestic demand for a government’s debt is usually a good sign, “forced” demand is not. By any measure the all-in strategy of demostics banks and pension funds investment in their own bonds is epic. Of course, odds are this epic strategy will only end in disaster. The high concentration of investment is embarrassing for whomever is in charge of the fund and is really no different than directly raiding the pension fund assets. This is a shameful act and ultimately someone will have to pay for this Spanish mistake, which naturally leads us to Germany. And, in simple terms, the generosity threshold of the average German is pretty close to being breached.
Wishful thinking now runs so thick and deep across the USA that our hopes for a credible future are being drowned in a tidal wave of yellow smiley-face stories recklessly issued by institutions that ought to know better. A case in point is the Charles C. Mann’s tragically dumb cover story in the current Atlantic magazine - “We Will Never Run Out of Oil” - setting out in great detail the entire panoply of techno-narcissistic “solutions” to our energy predicament. Another case in point was senior financial writer Joe Nocera’s moronic op-ed in last week’s New York Times beating the drum for American “energy independence.” You could call these two examples mendacious if it weren’t so predictable that a desperate society would do everything possible to defend its sunk costs, including the making up of fairy tales to justify its wishes.
At $72.8 Trillion, Presenting The Bank With The Biggest Derivative Exposure In The World (Hint: Not JPMorgan)Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/29/2013 14:04 -0400
Think JPMorgan's $69.5 trillion in total notional derivative exposure is big to quite big? You ain't seen nothing yet...
We recently asked:"are there really unpredictable market shocks or are investors paid not to care? To us, all signs point towards the next currency reset. We think monetary authorities are compulsively destroying the current global monetary system; they simply have no choice if they are to keep it afloat in the short term." With Bernanke not attending Jackson Hole, we think the choice for next Fed Chair may have profound economic implications, and that it would not require expertise in econometric modeling, credit policy management, and maintaining the public perception of economic stability. We think the next Fed Chairman will oversee a conversion of the global monetary regime. Neither growth nor austerity nor gloom of night will stay these currencies from their appointed devaluations. Bank balance sheets must be preserved; ergo sufficient inflation must be manufactured. We think the dull but persistent economic malaise amid increasingly aggressive monetary intervention policies will soon engender fear among the not-so-great washed – net savers. We think all should question whether we are 100% wrong. If not, then prudence dictates some allocation to properly held precious metals. (Presently, it is less than 1% of all global pensions.)