While Turkey has assured the U.S. government it will cut purchases of oil from Iran by 20% this year, its total trade with the Islamic Republic increased 47% to $4.8 billion in the first quarter from a year earlier. Sanctions aimed at isolating Iran because of its nuclear program, combined with revolutions in the Middle East, have spurred a tripling in the region’s purchases of Turkish precious metals and jewels to $942 million in the first three months, from $282 million in the same period last year. This 30% increase in demand is contributing to gold remaining above $1,600/oz in what has all the hallmarks of another period of consolidation prior to higher prices. “Turkey is exporting massive quantities of gold to Iran and Arab Spring countries as citizens in those countries switch to portable wealth,” Mert Yildiz, chief economist for Turkey at Renaissance Capital, told Bloomberg on April 30. The increase in trade with Iran comes as sanctions make it harder for trading partners such as Turkey, India and China to pay in dollars and euros. Iran said in February it would accept payment in any local currency or gold. Reuters report today that Iran is accepting payments in yuan for some of the crude oil it supplies to China, the Iranian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday. "Yes, that is correct," Mohammed Reza Fayyaz told Reuters when asked to comment on an earlier report in The Financial Times.
European equity markets are seen trading in negative territory across the board at the midway point as the lack of a Greek governing coalition continues to weigh on sentiment. As such, an earlier Greek T-Bill auction passed by with an unsurprising increase in borrowing costs for the country. The concern over sovereign debt is clear elsewhere, as the spread between peripheral 10-year government bond yields remain wider against the German Bund. Very strong German Industrial Production data has failed to provide relief for the DAX index as concerns on the periphery outweigh the strength in the core. The monthly reading for March beat expectations, coming in at 2.8% against estimates of 0.8%. Overnight reports from the Spanish press concerning a government intervention in the lender Bankia have been denied by the Spanish Ministry, commenting that the aim for the company is a cleanup and restructuring, not a seizure. EU’s Almunia has commented on the developments, saying that it seems likely the bank will receive state aid.
- It just get worse and worse: After McClendon's trades, Chesapeake board gave blessing (Reuters)
- Iran Accepts Renminbi for Crude Oil (FT)... which is not news: recall China and Iran Bypass Dollar from July 2011
- As Gas Prices Fall, a Sigh of Relief (WSJ)... so now people can direct their disability payments to where they belong: extra fries
- Greece Braces for a Repeat of Elections (FT), as first predicted by Zero Hedge, this will be a recurring affair
- China dissident Chen says officials must face justice (Reuters)
- Merkel Urges Athens to Stick With Reform (FT)
- Hollande’s Win is a Chance for Change (FT)
- U.K. Manufacturers Expect Exports to Rise (WSJ)
- U.S. Says Bomb Plot Disrupted Before Public Threatened (Bloomberg)
- Santorum Endorses Romney as Republican Nominee (Bloomberg)
- Beijing May Host OTC Market (China Daily)
- India Delays Tax Avoidance Laws (FT)
The global economy is facing a structural surplus of labor and a scarcity of paid work. Here is the critical backdrop for the global recession that is unfolding and the stated desire of central banks and states everywhere for "economic growth": most of the so-called "growth" since the 2008 global financial meltdown was funded by sovereign debt and "free money" spun by central banks, not organic growth based on rising earned incomes. Take away the speculation dependent on "free money" and the global stimulus dependent on massive quantities of fresh debt, and how much "growth" would be left? The Internet has enabled enormous reductions of labor input. A mere 15 years ago when I first learned HTML (1997), you had to code your own site or learn some fairly sophisticated website creation/management software packages, and you needed to set up a server or pay a host. Now anyone can set up a Blogspot or equivalent blog for free in a few minutes with few (if any) technical skills, and the site is free. The other trend is the cost of labor in the developed West is rising as systemic friction adds cost without adding productivity. Workers in the U.S. only see their wages stagnate, but their employers see total labor costs rising as healthcare costs rise year after year. In effect, the U.S. pays an 8% VAT tax to support a bloated, paperwork-pushing, inefficient and fraud-laced healthcare system that costs twice as much as a percentage of GDP as other advanced democracies. No wonder many entrepreneurs are selling their high-overhead businesses and becoming flexible, low-cost one-person enterprises.
What are the classic signs of an asset bubble? People piling into an asset class to such an extent that it becomes unprofitable to do so. Treasury bonds are so overbought that they are now producing negative real yields (yield minus inflation). And so America’s creditors are now getting slapped quite heavily in the mouth by the Fed’s easy money inflationist policies. John Aziz proposes (much to the consternation of the monetarist-Keynesian “print money and watch your problems evaporate” establishment) that this is a very, very, very dangerous position. And that those economists who are calling for even greater inflation are playing with dynamite. See, while the establishment seems to largely believe that the negative return on treasuries will juice up the American economy — in other words that “hoarders” will stop hoarding and start spending — we believe that negative side-effects from these policies may cause severe harm. Do we really want to risk the inflationary impact of continuing to print money to monetise debt (and hiding the money in excess reserves, thereby temporarily hiding the inflation). As John wrote recently - "So, does the accumulation of excess reserves lead to inflation? Only so much as the frequentation of brothels leads to chlamydia and syphilis." We’d call that playing dice with the devil.
Back in March India did a quick flipflop on its then announced Cotton export ban following complaints by China and domestic trade groups, which created quite a stir in the cotton market, first sending it soaring then plunging on supply concerns. This was promptly followed by another misguided attempt to control and benefit from the price of a key commodity, in this case gold, when the country announced it would impose an excise tax on gold jewelry, sending its gold merchants into a nationwide strike. This did not last long either and a few days later, merchants cancelled their strike following promises form the government that too would be promptly overturned. Sure enough, the excise tax has been officially withdrawn, and the biggest source of gold demand is set to see gold imports unleashed once again.
European cash equities opened sharply lower this morning following electoral uncertainties arising from various corners of Europe, notably Greece and France. Volumes also remain light as the market closure across the UK reduces the number of participants today. The mainstream political parties from Greece, PASOK and the New Democracy, failed to establish a majority this weekend as voters firmly expressed their discontent with the political establishment, evident in the rise of fringe parties. As such, the leaders of New Democracy and PASOK will now attempt to establish a coalition party with the splinter group Independent Greeks (a party notable for its anti-EU/IMF stance), due to begin as soon as today. The uncertainty in Greece’s future has taken its toll across the markets today, with EUR/USD beginning the session sub-1.3000 and all European equities trading markedly lower throughout most of the morning session. Elsewhere on the political front, Francois Hollande has won the French Presidency and is to be inaugurated on May 15th, as such; participants now look out for any comments regarding the relationship between the new French leader and German Chancellor Merkel. The Spanish government are set to make an announcement on Friday concerning the continuing troubles over the Spanish banking sector, with a government source commenting that the plans will include the creation of a 10- and 15-year ‘bad bank’. Recent trade has seen a recovery across forex and stocks as EUR/USD grinds higher and stock futures move closer to unchanged. Strong German factory orders data has helped the moves off the lowest levels, as demand from outside the Eurozone helps lift the figure above expectations of +0.5% to +2.2% for March.
Europe is about to begin its "Audacity of Hope" moment. I'm not sure how markets will react on Monday to the various results. My best guess is that after an initial sell-off we see a rebound. European politicians will start to say the "right" things about working with the new governments. "Growth" will be the most commonly used word. Equities “LOVE” growth. If there is one thing equity markets love, it is the talk of growth, stimulus, of more money being spent. .. Why is everyone so willing to believe Europe can achieve growth? Let's assume that no one ever tried for growth before (though seriously, most policies implement in past 15 years had growth as at least part of the rationale). What experience does Hollande have in creating growth? If growth opportunities are so easy to spot and identity why do we pay 2 and 20 to hedge funds and private equity?... That is the harsh reality. Identifying opportunities just isn't that easy. Figuring out what projects will generate returns that pay for themselves is difficult. A political body with many competing agendas is hardly likely to do better than companies whose whole goal is to find growth opportunities. Corporations have no shortage of cash right now, they have a shortage of growth ideas. .. "Growth" which is really just code for spending, will be a failure. The credit markets will see it sooner than equities, but equities will eventually see it too. Saying you are going to become an actress is really easy. Moving to L.A. in an effort to become an actress is a bit more difficult but still relatively easy. Becoming an actress is really hard! Growth won't buy years. It might not even buy months. Like so much else through the entire crisis, the markets are willing to suspend their disbelief on the back of attractive headlines. In the end, the actual plans disappoint. Not because the politicians aren't good at making plans, but because the original announcements never had a chance of being implement and the suspension of disbelief (or critical thinking) was the market's real mistake.
With earnings season now virtually over, it is time to ask why, despite a majority of the companies beating expectations, is the S&P inline with where it was when earnings season started. There are two main reasons why the market has not been impressed: the percentage of "beaters" is nothing spectacular on a historical basis as was shown previously, especially in the aftermath of aggressive cuts to Q1 top and bottom line forecasts heading into earnings reports; more importantly, even with Q1 earning coming out as they did, the bulk of the legwork still remains in the "hockeystick" boost to the bottom line that is completely Q4 2012 loaded, as bottom up consensus revisions to the rest of 2012 are negative despite Q1 beats. As Goldman summarizes: "1Q 2012 will establish a new earnings peak of $98 on a trailing-four-quarter basis. With 88% of S&P 500 market cap reported, 1Q EPS is tracking at $24.10, 1% above consensus estimates at the start of reporting season and reflecting 7% year/year growth." So far, so good. And yet, "Despite the positive surprises, full-year 2012 EPS estimates are unchanged relative to the start of earnings season, and currently stand at $105 vs. our top-down forecast of $100. Over half of consensus 2012 earnings growth is attributed to 4Q. Margins at 8.8% have hovered near peak levels for a year, but consensus expects a sudden jump in 4Q to a new peak of 9.1%. We forecast a further decline to 8.7%."
Bloomberg viewers estimate that Ron Paul was the winner of the clash of the Pauls. But that is very much beside the point. This wasn’t really a debate. Other than the fascinating moment where Krugman denied defending the economic policies of Diocletian, very little new was said, and the two combatants mainly talked past each other. The real debate happened early last decade.
If you want to know how weak the economy really is all you need to do is look at the 30-year bond. It is one of the best economic indicators available today. If economic conditions are robust then the yield will be rising and vice versa. What the current low levels of yield on 30 year bonds is telling you is that the underlying economy is weak. "The 30-year yield is not at these low levels DUE to the Federal Reserve; but in SPITE OF the Fed," Hunt said. The actions of the Federal Reserve have continued to undermine the economy which is reflected by the low yield of the 30 year bond. The "cancerous" side effects of nonproductive debt are being reflected in real disposable incomes. Just over the last two years real disposable incomes slid from 5% in 2010 and -0.5% in 2012 on a 3-month percentage change at an annual rate basis. This is critically important to understand. While the media remains focused on GDP it is the wrong measure by which to measure the economy. A truly growing economy leads to rises in prosperity. GDP does NOT measure prosperity — it measures spending. It is the measure of real personal incomes that measures prosperity. Prosperity MUST come from rising incomes.
Will Europe's Collapse Recreate The Wealth Boom That Followed The Great Depression? We Say YES & Investigate How!Submitted by Reggie Middleton on 05/04/2012 12:12 -0400
Arguably, more millionaire money was made during the Great Depression than at any time in history. Well, if that's true then it looks as if history may be poised to repeat itself. The question is, who will be ready?
- Japan has 54 nuclear reactors, but as of Saturday, not one of them will be in operation (Guardian)
- US Readies Proposal to Clamp Down on Fracking (Reuters)
- California pension fund (CALSTRS) sues Wal-Mart, alleges bribery (Reuters)
- New Ripples for Gupta Case: Goldman Share Price, Volume Began Climbing Even Before Rajaratnam Trades (WSJ)
- China says blind dissident can apply to study abroad (Reuters)
- China paper calls Chen a U.S. pawn; envoy is a "troublemaker" (Reuters)
- Samsung’s New Galaxy S Phone Raises Heat on Apple Iphone (Bloomberg)
- Draghi predicts 2012 eurozone recovery (FT)
- Tumbling Home Ownership Marks a Return to Normal (Bloomberg)
- Zuckerberg Facebook IPO to Make Him Richer Than Ballmer (Bloomberg)
- SEC probes Chesapeake and its chief (FT)
As Oilprice.com embarks on its Top 5 series, we thought it expedient to begin with our take on the key figures shaping and influencing U.S. renewable energy efforts, not least because the issue of energy security is being prioritized in campaigning ahead of U.S. presidential elections. In considering from the numerous choices for these top five slots, we take into account a number of variables, including investment in renewable energy, the ability to influence policy and shape public opinion, and advocacy efforts. This goes well beyond simply counting coin – it is about innovation, imagination, vision, risk and patience. Arguably, these people will play an important role in your life and leisure, for better or worse.