As the Fed gets ready to taper ‘QE’, UBS' Larry Hatheway warns investors to brace for a period of increased international policy tension. Previously harmonized - but not coordinated - monetary policy stances will give way to conflicting objectives and new strains as adverse ‘spillovers’ occur. As Hatheway notes, we are about to rediscover several inconvenient truths. First, the Fed is the US, not the world’s, central bank. Second, international policy coordination is desirable in an interdependent world but, third, it is no more likely to materialize now than in the past. The world, it seems, is destined for a less comfortable policy co-existence in the coming few years.
Just a few days ago on July 27th President Barack Obama said that the next Fed head had to consider average Americans when setting monetary policy. If only that were true.
Are American workers paid enough? That is a topic that is endlessly debated all across this great land of ours. Unfortunately, what pretty much everyone can agree on is that American workers are not making as much as they used to after you account for inflation. Back in 1968, the minimum wage in the United States was $1.60 an hour. That sounds very small, but after you account for inflation a very different picture emerges. Using the inflation calculator that the BLS provides, $1.60 in 1968 is equivalent to $10.74 today. According to the Social Security Administration, 40.28% of all workers make less than $20,000 a year in America today. So that means that more than 40 percent of all U.S. workers actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968. That is how far we have fallen.
The bankruptcy of Detroit, though long-anticipated, has unleashed a wave of speculation about the health of other cities in the U.S., and indeed, in the world - for example, China. Despite the visible importance of urban centers and cities for thousands of years, it seems our understanding of their dynamics is still incomplete. Nonetheless, the dramatic decline of Detroit and other industrial cities makes us wonder if there are dynamics that we can identify that could enable us to predict which cities will thrive and which will decay.
See if you can spot, on the chart below, why over the weekend Barack Obama (aka the Anti Patent Troll-In-Chief) intervened directly in the ongoing patent dispute between Apple and Samsung on behalf of the Cupertino company (which makes its products in FoxConn facilities in China), resulting in an unprecedented veto of a decision from the US Interantional Trade Commission - an outcome not seen since 1987.
Between fast-food staff demanding higher wages, weather-related excuses, central-bank-impacted energy/feed costs, and protectionist policies, consumers (rich and poor) of beef in the US could soon face dramatically higher prices. As Bloomberg reports, US beef production is expected to plunge to 21-year lows (falling for the fourth year in a row) and the 'herd' on July 1st was the smallest for that date since at least 1973. Wholesale beef buyers from McDonalds (facing their own wage-cost demand pressures) to Ruth Chris are facing input prices rising at the fastest rate in almost 2 years even as agricultural commodities have dropped 18% this year. While the situation is not about to get better anytime soon, scientists in Holland are about to grill the world's first laboratory-grown in-vitro burger - forget Sirloin; Soylent Orange anyone?
Goldman Sachs and the London Metal Exchange have had a case brought against them both in a court in the US regarding anti-competitive behavior in aluminum storage, with a monopolistic effect thrown in for good measure.
That China's housing bubble, the direct result of decades of less than efficient hybrid "capi-munist" capital misallocation, is the largest in the world is known to most. What may come as news is that in its attempt to prevent the wholesale collapse of yet another sector, the Beijing politburo, which these days has a perfect analogue in the "Monetary Mandarins of the Marriner Eccles building", is preparing to blow up the latest and greatest Chinese bubble. We are talking about China's sprawling shipping industry, of course.
- Botulism toxin? There's an apology for that - Fonterra CEO apologizes, sees China dairy curbs lifted within days (Reuters)
- Patent troll-In-Chief strikes again: Veto of Apple Ruling Likely to Upend Big Patent Battles (WSJ)
- Because scapegoating means justice FTW - SEC Gets ‘Shot in the Arm’ With Victory in Tourre Case (BBG)
- Insider-Trading Probe Caught in a Washington Knot (WSJ)
- Miners return to hedging as gold (FT)
- Toyota’s $37 Billion Cash Pile Means Turning Point for Abenomics (BBG)
- Inside the battle at Germany's Siemens (Reuters)
- ‘One million’ UK workers on zero hours contracts (FT)
- Wag the dog, part 1984: Iran Seen Trying New Path to a Bomb (WSJ)
- Tokyo Cheap to Hong Kong Luring Asian Bargain Hunters (BBG)
Compared to last week's macro-event juggernaut, this week will be an absolute bore, although with a bevy of Fed speakers on deck - both good and bad cops - there will be more than enough catalysts to preserve the "upward channel" scramble in the S&P and the zero volume levitation to new all time daily highs despite the lack of daily bad news. Speaking of Fed speakers, we have Fisher today, Evans’ tomorrow followed by both Plosser and Pianalto on Wednesday. The key overnight data point was the continuation of July PMIs out of Europe, this time focusing on the service industry. As Goldman summarizes, the Final Euro area Composite PMI for July came in at 50.5, marginally above the Flash reading and consensus expectations (50.4). Relative to the June final reading, this was a sold 1.8pt increase, and building on consecutive increases in the past three months, the July Euro area PMI stands 4.0pts above the March print. Solid increases were observed across all of the EMU4 in July, most notably Italy. The July reading is the highest Euro area PMI level observed since July 2011.
In a somewhat shockingly blunt comment from the mouthpiece of Chinese officialdom, Yao Yudong of the PBoC's monetary policy committee has called for a new Bretton Woods system to strengthen the management of global liquidity. In an article in the China Securities Journal, Yao called for more power to the IMF as international copperation and supervision are needed. While comments seem somewhat barbed towards the rest of the world's currency devaluers, given China's growing physical gold demand and the fixed-exchange-rate peg that 'Bretton Woods' represents, and contrary to prevailing misconceptions that the SDR may be the currency of the future, China just may opt to have its own hard asset backed optionality for the future; suggesting the new 'bancor' would be the barbarous relic (or perhaps worse for the US, the Renminbi). Of course, the writing has been on the wall for China's push to end the dollar reserve supremacy for over two years as we have dutifully noted - since no 'world reserve currency' lasts forever.
Back in 1978, the Chinese politburo enacted the "one-child policy", whose main purpose was to "alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems" in China as a result of the soaring population. According to estimates, the policy prevented more than 250 million births between 1980 and 2000, and 400 million births from about 1979 to 2011. And while not applicable to everyone, in 2007 approximately 35.9% of China's population was subject to a one-child restriction. Regardless of the numbers, things are about to change: with the Chinese economy now having peaked and suddenly finding itself in rapid deceleration with excess credit growth providing virtually no boost to marginal growth, the Chinese government is forced to reexamine 35 years of social policy in order to extract growth from the one place where for nearly 4 decades it had tried to stifle: demographics. According to the 21st Business Herald which cited sources close to the National Population and Family Planning Commission, China may relax its one-child policy at end-2013 or early-2014 (read end) by allowing families to have two children if at least one parent is from a one-child family.
Those long the Kiwi (NZDUSD) woke up to an unpleasant shock this morning when the pair opened nearly 100 pips lower following news that China and Russia, and likely other countries soon, have halted imports of New Zealand milk powders after Fonterra announced that three batches of whey protein "may have been" contaminated with botulism-causing bacteria: a situation that is a tad more problematic than the diplomatic haggling over genetically modified crops. Since milk powders accounted for a whopping 15% of total New Zealand exports in 2012, it becomes obvious that unless Fonterra, and the NZ government, engage in some prompt damage control, the Kiwi may have much more room to drop as the country's 2013 GDP forecast may be the next thing to go toxic.
A discussion of this week's key events and data within the context of the investment climate characterized by shifting Fed tapering expectations, evidence still pointing to a soft landing of the Chinese economy, a cyclical recovery in Europe and renewed capital outflows from Japan, while foreign investors slow their purchases of Japanese equities.
Everybody in America wants health care - but most Americans seem to want someone else to pay for it. In the United States today, the way that our system works is that the hard working, productive members of society pay for the health care of everyone else. At least under socialism everyone gets the same benefits. Our system of health care is a very twisted version of socialism where millions upon millions of very hard working people are forced to pay for the health care of others, but often can't afford to purchase decent health insurance for themselves. When you add it all up, the hard working, productive members of society are at least partially subsidizing the health care of well over half of all Americans while having to pay for their own health care at the same time. Needless to say, it isn't too hard to see who is getting the raw end of the deal.