While the citizenry of America remains transfixed by the ever-changing color of some Scottish wedding dress; this weekend saw an even more massively viral social media phenomenon as tens of millions of Chinese watched, gripped and outraged, a 104-minute video entitled "Under The Dome" exposing the ugly truth about Chinese air pollution...
"The Fed is out of control," exclaims David Stockman - perhaps best known for architecting Reagan's economic turnaround known as 'Morning in America' - adding that "people don't want to hear the reality and the truth that we're facing." Policymakers are "taking our economy in a direction that is dangerous, that is not sustainable, and is likely to fully undermine everything that's been built up and created by the American people over decades and decades." The Fed, Stockman concludes, "is a rogue institution," and their actions have led us to "one of the scariest moments in our history... it's a festering time-bomb and we're not sure when it will explode."
Despite a 7% rise in actual tourist arrivals to Macau from China during this Lunar New Year's holiday, 'The Year of The Goat' is off to an extremely inauspicious start. As Bloomberg reports, even with expectations of a 40% drop, Macau casino revenues is now projected to crash a stunning 53.5% from last year. While a decline in VIP gambling was expected (due to, among other things, Xi's extreme crackdown on corruption - and the Macau money laundering schemes), JPMorgan notes, this was still "shockingly bad," as "even premium mass demand remained very muted," and marks the ninth straight month of decline, the longest losing streak since monthly records started in 2005.
As Søren Skou, Maerk's CEO, admitted when he warned that global trade growth could slow this year from recent 4% growth ratnes, as Chinese, Brazilian and Russian economies disappoint, the Baltic Dry is still not only relevant and accurate but telling the real story of global growth, or lack thereof. “The economies in Europe are still very sluggish. Brazil, Russia and China: those three economies used to drive a lot of growth, and right now we are not really seeing that to the same extent. The only real bright spot is the US, and even the US is good but not great.” He added that: "To my mind volumes were sluggish. There is nothing in container volume numbers that suggest that the global economy is just on the verge of starting a new growth trend.”
Overview of the major events in the week ahead.
Cashing out of the “Bet on America” might get messy.
And then there were 21. Hours ago on Saturday, the country whose currency is largely pegged to the dollar which itself is now anticipating a rate hike in the coming months, surprised the world by confirming its economic slowdown yet again following a recent rate cut just this past November when it lowered its benchmark rate by 40 bps, after it again cut benchmark lending and deposit rates by 25 bps starting on March 1. Specifically, the PBOC will lower the one-year lending rate to 5.35% from 5.6% and its one-year deposit rate to 2.5% from 2.75%. It also said it would raise the maximum interest rate on bank deposits to 130% of the benchmark rate from 120%.
Few asked throughout the Ukraine civil war is just whose side is China leaning toward, after all the precarious balance of power between NATO and Russia had resulted in a stalemate in which neither side has an obvious advantage (even as the Ukraine economy died, and its currency hyperinflated, waiting for a clear winner), and the explicit or implicit support of China to either camp would make all the difference in the world, and perhaps the world's most formidable axis. Today we finally got the answer. China's ambassador to Belgium, was quoted as blaming competition between Russia and the West for the Ukraine crisis, urging Western powers to "abandon the zero-sum mentality" with Russia. Reuters assessment of Xing speech: "an unusually frank and open display of support for Moscow's position in the crisis." At least it is not a warning to the US to back off or else. Yet.
Never has our nation, corporations and wealthy top 1% faced so many new threats to their efforts to grow their power and wealth around the world. But a real war would provide the crisis excuse to confiscate your gold and "excess" retirement plan and IRA assets, reduce or curtail your social security benefits, dramatically raise taxes and institute total exchange controls while curtailing your remaining freedoms and ability to resist for the duration of the crisis.
The dragon tail of Marx's end-game of overcapacity and finance capital is about to shred China's fantasy that the state can micro-manage both capitalism and financialization with no contradictions or consequences. "Dragon Seeks path. Dragon whips his tail." The dragon of capitalism isn't as easy to control as bureaucrats expect.
As the finances of Venezuela continue to deteriorate under the collapse of crude oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro is becoming more paranoid and vindictive. However, the utter bust in oil markets pulled the rug out from beneath the Venezuelan economy. Maduro is cracking down on political opponents as the country deals with the economic crisis, and his pronouncements have become more paranoid as the economy has worsened. The economic situation may only grow worse. The government’s budget breaks even with oil prices at an estimated $117.50 per barrel. With no imminent rebound in sight for oil prices, Maduro is resorting to state-sponsored repression to quell growing opposition.
- Greece warns may default on IMF loan next week - Greek bank runs continue and deposits flee - The truth can be a scary thing sometimes … especially for those who put their head in the sand and ignore it ...
Euro-denominated emerging market sovereign issuance will soar to its highest levels in 10 years on the back of the European Central Bank's quantitative easing programme, as issuers outside the eurozone seek to take advantage of falling euro yields, according to bank analysts.
- Central Banks With Negative Rates Spur Question of How Low to Go (BBG)
- DHS to keep running: Congress edges toward domestic security funding patch (Reuters)
- Setbacks for Tsipras Stir Discord in Greek Ruling Party (BBG)
- Greece’s Challenge: Appeasing Its Creditors and Its Population (WSJ)
- Buffett, a cheerleader for America, takes his checkbook abroad (Reuters)
- Oil’s Big Swings Are the New Normal: Market has rarely been more volatile (WSJ)
- Ukraine Left Behind as Russian Stock Gains Are Unmatched (BBG)
- Brent rises to $61, set for first monthly gain since July (Reuters)
Gas prices are some of the highest in the country in San Diego, California, and it still cost me only $2.96 a gallon to fill up my tank last week.
There’s an excess of oil supplies, according to analysts. You can see from the chart below that global oil production has been rising steadily over the last three years.