The following story from Bloomberg's Jonathan Weil should be familiar to anyone who i) wanted to get rich quick; ii) wasn't too willing to read the small print, and iii) put their faith in a TBTF bank. Or simply watches South Park. Jon recounts the story of "Philip L. Ramatlhware, an immigrant from Botswana who went to a Citigroup branch in downtown Philadelphia one day five years ago to open a regular bank account. He was 48 years old at the time and disabled, after being hurt in an accident as a passenger on a Greyhound bus. In April 2008, he received $225,000 in a settlement for his injuries, part of which went to pay legal fees. He was holding the settlement check when he walked into the branch. Immediately he was referred to a broker for a “financial consultation,” according to an arbitration claim he filed against Citigroup. The broker assured him the money would be invested in “guaranteed” funds and that he could have access to them whenever the need arose, the complaint said. Ramatlhware gave him $150,000 to invest. The broker put $5,000 into a bank certificate of deposit, bought a $133,000 variable annuity and invested the rest in a series of mutual funds. Less than six months later, Ramatlhware had lost $40,000, according to the complaint."
With little going on today besides the just reported GE earnings, which beat consensus EPS expectations of $0.35 by the smallest possible increment but, as expected, missed consensus revenue of $35.56 printing at $35.12, and both the Japanese (which experienced a 500 point drop in minutes overnight) and Chinese (which closed below 2000 again) markets sliding, it is perhaps better to summarize the day that just was: Detroit City files for bankruptcy (send in Detroika!), Moody's take the US off negative outlook, Google and Microsoft miss on earnings and the S&P 500 hits a new record high. As DB says, the above certainly made for an eventful close to the US session after what was a fairly dull second day of testimony and Q&A for Bernanke. He has said all that can be said for now and we're left waiting for the data. And the earnings data so far has been abysmal if mostly on the top line, with corporate revenues now assured to double dip and decline for the second quarter in a row. And if the tech bellwethers all of which have been major disappointments to date and have guided down, are an indication of what is coming, Q3 may and will be even worse.
Stocks in Europe recovered from a cautious start to the trading session and gradually edged back into positive territory, though the DAX index in Germany under performed following less than impressive earnings by SAP. Company’s shares fell around 3% after the company trimmed its outlook for 2013 software revenue, blaming slowing economic growth in China. Elsewhere, Akzo Nobel shares fell 5% in early trade after the company said that its Q2 net profit almost doubled from the same period last year thanks to the sale of its North American paints division and a tax gain. Going forward, market participants will get to digest the release of the weekly jobs report, Philadelphia Fed survey for the month of July and earnings report releases from Morgan Stanley, Verizon, BlackRock and Google. Finally, today is the second day of Bernanke's semi-annual testimony.
Bernanke today testifies on monetary policy before the House Financial Services Committee (formerly the Humphrey-Hawkins). The testimony will be released at 8:30 am NY with Q&A after his testimony. Tomorrow he testifies before the Senate Banking Committee but the prepared remarks are the same for both days. Indeed it’s likely that the Q&A will be where all the fun starts. As DB says, he will likely try to pull off the trick of continuing to prepare the groundwork for tapering but try to give bond markets something to help them fight off the pressure of higher yields. With no post-meeting press conference planned for the July 30th/31st FOMC, and Bernanke not scheduled to speak publicly until he appears at the Global Education Forum event on August 7th, this week’s testimony may well be the only remarks we hear directly from the chairman for some weeks.
As the mainstream American press goes after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, Germany's Spiegel note that the leakers' revelations appear to becoming an afterthought. As the Guardian's American chief noted, their competition has a "lack of skepticism on a whole" when it comes to national security. Critical scrutiny, she said, has been considered "unpatriotic" since 9/11.
Sometimes it is what is not discussed among the mainstream media that is most critical to understanding the new normal...
As Erskine Bowles notes "Everyone claims that they’re not going to let our nation default. And Lord knows we all ought to pray that they don’t. But, could it happen? You bet." But it seems the world has forgotten that between the "grand bargain' negotiations and the looming final-final debt ceiling deadline, the US fiscal situation remains troubled at best. While Washington is "only capable of focusing on one big issue at a time," dominated currently by espionage, immigration, and scandals, Bowles notes, from mid-September to mid-November the fiscal issues will be forced into the headlines and he believes there is only a 20-25% chance a deal is struck. As Stone & McCarthy notes, the Treasury will exhaust its extraordinary measures to create borrowing authority on October 31, and run out of cash on November 1.
When Bloomberg blasts headlines like this: S&P FUTURES UP 1PT, AT SESSION HIGH, ERASE EARLIER 3.4PT DROP, you know Bernanke hasn't spoken in over 24 hours if a 4 point swing is headline worthy. That said, the exhausted S&P ramp is now going for the 6th consecutive session as all the losses since the June FOMC meeting have now been erased, the S&P is making constant all time highs, and seemingly the Fed's message on tapering and communication has been clarified. The message being that the Fed is tapering its monthly purchases but short-term rates aren't being lifted. Sadly, the market's first reaction was the right one but the herd of cats has once again been herded by the trading desk at Liberty 33.
- Risk on assets supported by yesterday's speech by Bernanke, who said that highly accommodative policy needed for the foreseeable future and that current unemployment of 7.6%, if anything, overstates health of US labour market.
- ECB's Weidmann said that the ECB has not tied itself to the mast with forward guidance, which does not rule out rate hikes when inflationary pressures emerge.
- The BoJ kept their monetary policy unchanged and retained plan for JPY 60-70trl annual rise in monetary base.
Even if the last thing the tapering US "recovery" needed is a surge in energy costs, it may soon be getting them following yet another news flashback, this time to the 2010 GOM disaster. Just headlines for now from Bloomberg:
- U.S. IS RESPONDING TO A LOSS OF WELL CONTROL IN GULF OF MEXICO
- GULF OF MEXICO EVENT OCCURRED AT SHIP SHOAL BLACK 225 PLATFORM
- GULF SITE POSSIBLE SHEEN IS OVER 4 MILES WIDE BY 3/4 MILE LONG
- ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY GULF OF MEXICO OWNS PLATFORM: U.S.
- U.S.: COMPANY ASSESSMENT SAYS GAS FLOWING FROM GULF WELL
WTI meanwhile up another $0.70 just shy of $105. Time to rid the world of evil speculators once and for all.
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,232.75, EUR 957.40 and GBP 822.55 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,249.50, EUR 961.15 and GBP 819.67 per ounce.
In a democracy rule is by consent. In a dictatorship it is by control. Which do we have in the West? It seems to me, it is no longer clear. We certainly still have the rituals of rule by consent. But behind the elected front men and women is a shadow state. It’s people ritually swear allegiance to those we elect. They declare themselves there to serve and protect. But when it is us they spend their time spying on, whose interests are they protecting? Can you really serve those you do not trust?
The Coup Is Complete: Egypt Military Tells Mursi He Is No Longer President - Tahrir Celebrates - Live FeedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 07/03/2013 14:56 -0400
Well that was quick:
MORSI SPEECH YESTERDAY DIDN'T MEET PEOPLE'S DEMANDS
EARLY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD
EGYPT'S CONSTITUTION TO BE SUSPENDED UNDER PLAN
MILITARY AGREED GOVERNMENT OF TECHNOCRATS TO BE FORMED
US Official: Non-essential diplomats and embassy staff to leave Egypt
Egypt Muslim Brotherhood TV taken off air
Head of Egypt constitutional court to be sworn in as interim head of state on Thursday
*CLASHES IN EGYPT AFTER ARMY STATEMENT LEAVE 6 DEAD NATIONWIDE
*STATE DEPT TELLS U.S. CITIZENS IN EGYPT TO LEAVE COUNTRY
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki is doing her best not to appear like she is speaking for a dictatorship, and won't take sides, here are some headlines:
*PSAKI: MURSI SPEECH LACKED SPECIFIC STEPS, ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS, MURSI MUST RESPOND TO POPULAR CONCERNS
*PSAKI WON'T SPEAK TO UNCOMFIRMED REPORTS OF COUP, NO STEPS TAKEN ON RESCINDING U.S. MILTIARY AID TO EGYPT
*PSAKI: US EMBASSY IN CAIRO, CONSULATE IN ALEXANDRIA CLOSED
Hardly surprising, but those starved for headlines out of Egypt, this is the best we have:
- Egypt's Morsi refuses to step down, tells military not to 'take sides' as deadline nears - AP (or rather tells military not to take opposite side)
- Egypt's Morsi offers consensus government as a way out crisis - AFP
More as we see it, although without vocal support out of the US for Morsi to date, his fate is largely sealed.