Just five years after President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace prize (to much global amazement), Norwegian politicians have nominated none other than Edward Snowden for this year's award for contributing to transparency and global stability by exposing a U.S. surveillance program. As Reuters reports, Snowden’s "actions have in effect led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency as a leading principle in global security policies." Is this the Nobel's last best effort to regain some credibility?
The 2008 crisis never ended as issues of excess credit and economic imbalances were never resolved. Turkey is the latest installment in the rolling crisis.
We have all heard what might be termed baloney, codswallop, tripe, bull. Call it what you will, it all boils down to the same old thing, especially when its intention is to deceive the public.
And the hits just keep on coming: after the atrocious Durable Goods number, it was the turn of the Case Shiller housing data, which reported what many already knew - in November the 20 City Composite index (the Non-seasonally adjusted version which as the report's authors acknowledge is the accurate one) posted its first monthly decline, dropping modestly from 165.9 to 165.8, or down 0.06%, since November of 2012. And while on an annual basis, the increase was still a solid 13.71%, up from October's 13.61%, these backward looking numbers will quite soon turn sharply negative once the sharp bounce in 2013 - driven not by a housing recovery but by institutional all cash buyers and foreign money launderers seeking to park their cash in the US - get anniversaried.
"The PBOC has not—repeat not—asked Citibank to stop customers from wiring funds. Customers can still log on to their account to put in fund transfer requests at any time. The receiving bank (non-Citibank) will process the funds to be transferred on the next business day, as it always does. Because of the Lunar New Year break, the next business day is Friday Feb. 7. This is no different from the practice of banks throughout the world. Chang's understanding of Chinese culture evidently does not extend to the timing of bank holidays."
So far in 2013, Bank of America lost money on 9 trading days out of a total 188. Statistically, this result is absolutely ridiculous when one considers that the bulk of bank trading revenues are still in the form of prop positions disguised as "flow" trading to evade Volcker which means the only way a bank could make money with near uniform perfection is if it either i) consistently has inside information that it trades on or ii) it consistently front-runs its clients (the latter incidentally was a topic we covered back in 2009 relating to Goldman Sachs, and which the bank sternly rejected). We now know that when it comes to Bank of America at least one of the two happened.
In the last year Bitcoin has gone 'viral'. As ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, a lot has happened in 2013: Price appreciation, yes, from $20 to +$800 – the result of this online “Currency” going from science project to mainstream topic. Volatility too – disruptive technologies seldom travel a level path. The story, Colas notes, is about to change, and there are three critical gates which bitcoin must navigate in the New Year. First is regulation, and we will get a good dose of that next Tuesday and Wednesday when the New York State Department of Financial Services holds hearings on bitcoin and potentially issuing a ‘Bitlicense’ to help regulate business which transact in the currency. Second is adoption – how will existing businesses incorporate bitcoin into their sales, marketing and payment channels. Lastly will be volatility, which will have to come down in 2014 to encourage broader use.
Dick Clark didn't poll America to determine their taste in music. He told them their taste in music ... not directly, but by creating common knowledge — ideas that a crowd believes that the crowd believes. With the American Bandstand group dance staging and scripted questions, Clark allowed the TV audience to see a crowd of attractive young people act as if the music were popular. This is all it takes. Clark didn't have to force his preferred choice of popular culture on his audience like some centrally-planned Ministry of Culture. The TV audience chose it all on their own, thinking all along it was their choice! This is the power of the Emperor's New Clothes. This is the power of the sitcom laugh track and the live studio audience. This is the power of public coronations and executions. This is the power of Tahrir Square and Tiananmen Square. This is the power of the crowd seeing the crowd, and it is the most potent force in the social world. It's certainly the most potent force in the social world of markets, and every Central Banker today is playing the Common Knowledge Game just as hard as Dick Clark ever did.
Markets are deteriorating around the world but what could cause a real correction in the markets?
Simple: it reassigned, or fired, all the investigators and police officers.
Dispassionate update on digital currencies.
2013 was an absolutely seismic year for gold, but, as Grant Williams details in his latest letter, the way in which the tectonic plates shifted has yet to be fully understood. Simply put, the gold in every central bank's possession around the world is the property of the citizens of that country - not of the incumbent politicians or central bankers. Consequently, if the people want it audited, there shouldn't be any reason to say no ... unless... Williams firmly believes that in the years to come, when we look back at the great game being played in gold, we will pinpoint January 16, 2013, as the day when it all began to unravel - the day the Bundesbank blinked and demanded its gold...
S&P filed a declaration of McGraw yesterday in federal court in Santa Ana, California, as part of a request to force the U.S. to hand over potential evidence the company says will support its claim that the government filed a fraud lawsuit against it last year in retaliation for its downgrade of the U.S. debt two years earlier. In his court statement, McGraw said Geithner called him on Aug. 8, 2011, after S&P was the only credit ratings company to downgrade the U.S. debt. Geithner, McGraw said, told him that S&P would be held accountable for the downgrade. Government officials have said the downgrade was based on an error by S&P. “S&P’s conduct would be looked at very carefully,” Geithner told McGraw according to the filing. “Such behavior would not occur, he said, without a response from the government."
"As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama told the weekly magazine. The president said pot was actually less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”
Despite record levels of unemployment across Europe (most specifically among the youth), record high (and surging) levels of loan delinquencies, and collapsing credit creation, the leaders of the EU continue to peddle their own brand of dis-information and willful blindness. While UKIP's Nigel Farage tongue-lashings are normally enough, EU's Barroso this morning unleashed the following:
*EU'S BARROSO SAYS ECONOMIC GROWTH 'SLOWLY RETURNING'; SAYS EU AT TURNING POINT IN CRISIS
However, as the following chart of earnings estimated for European firms shows, there is absolutely none, zero, nada sign on a 'turning point' and, as we have noted previously, unless the EUR weakens significantly, Europe will rapidly dip back into re-re-recession once again.