While the only market moving event of note had nothing to do with the economy (as usual), and everything to do with the Fed's potential propensity to print even more dollars and inject even more reserves into the stock market (now that Summers the wrongly perceived "hawk" is out) some other notable events did take place in the Monday trading session. Of note: while India's August inflation soared far higher than the expected 5.7%, rising to 6.1% from 5.79% (making life for the RBI even more miserable, as it is fighting inflation on one hand, and a lack of liquidity on the other), in Europe inflation decelerated to 1.3% from 1.6% in July driven by a drop in energy prices, while core inflation was a tiny 1.1%. In a continent with record negative loan growth this is to be expected. Additionally, as also reported, Merkel appears to be positioned stronger ahead of this weekend's Federal election following stronger results for her CDU/CSU, if weaker for her broader coalition. In Libya, oil protesters said they would continue stoppages at oil terminals until their demands are met in yet another startling outcome for US foreign intervention. Finally, some headline on Syria noted a Kerry statement "will not tolerate avoidance of a Syria deal", while Lavrov observed that it may be time to "force Syria opposition to peace talks." And one quote of the day so far: "Don't want market to become excessively exuberant" from the ECB's Mersch- just modestly so?
From Berlin to Ankara and even Damascus, the questions seem to be the same: Has the world order as we know it in the post-war era come to an end? What will the world look like without the United States in the role of superpower and ‘boss’?
A few days ago, when we reported that the largest federation of unions, the AFL-CIO, had figured out that Obamacare was not all it was craked up to be and demanded changes be implemented to appease their constituency as pertains to multi-employer group health plans, many wondered if the administration would not simply cave and pass an exemption giving unions a sidedeal at the expense of all other participants. Last night that option was taken off the table when the Obama administration appeared to rule out giving unions a special deal to offer their workers extra ObamaCare subsidies. As AP reports, "on Friday night, the White House said the Treasury Department had issued a letter making clear that it does not see a legal way for individuals in multi-employer group health plans to receive individual market tax credits as well as the favorable tax treatment associated with employer-provided health insurance at the same time."
Why Are We Supporting Guys Who Want to Blow Us Up?
Earlier today, when we observed the overnight "news" floated by Japan's Nikkei we cautioned that the Nikkei is best known not for breaking news but for floating trial balloons. In other words, the report was merely leaked to gauge the market response. Sure enough, the response was gauged, and here comes the official news, shooting down this latest trial balloon.
- White House Is Saying Reports In Japanese Press That Obama Is Set To Name Larry Summers Are Wrong - Dow Jones
Sure enough, any modest USD strength accumulated on the overnight rumor, is now being promptly unwound.
Overnight asset classes got a jolt following a report by Nikkei that Obama was moving toward naming Summers the next Fed chairman, citing “several close US sources,” pushing stocks modestly lower in Europe, with bond yields higher. According to the report, Obama is to name Summers as next Fed chairman as early as late next week, after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Otherwise, risk is still digesting the news of the confidential Twitter IPO, as it is becoming quite clear that some of the largest names (Hilton also announced yesterday) are seeking to cash out in the public markets. Is this the top?
It will likely come as no surprise but the political one-up-manship continues as the Obama White House try to rescue themselves from a face-melting Putin Op-Ed... As Politico reports, WH press secretary Jay Carney stated: “If we were to see a situation unfold where Assad were to give up his chemical weapons to international supervision that would be an enormous accomplishment ... would be due to the decisions made by the Russian leadership but also the decisions made by the United States, by the president, to take the approach he has taken in response to the horrifying use of chemical weapons on his own people." Feeling the need to make one more jab at the Russians, Carney added, "The United States, in part because it is an exceptional nation, is called upon the lead in situations like this." Indeed, that's what it felt like eh? Under control the whole time...
Moments ago The Hill reported that the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the US and one of Obama's staunchest supporters, is expected to consider a resolution, "subject to fierce internal debate, that will call for changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — setting up a potential floor vote this Wednesday before the convention closes." In other words, the one constituency that was supposed to be among the biggest benefactors from Obamacare is about to launch a formal criticism of Obamacare as "frustration has grown within labor as the Obama administration has failed to offer a fix to temper union worries over the law."
But at least "they passed it."
The definition of what makes an “enemy” may vary from person to person. But we would say that, generally, an enemy is one who has an active ability to do irreparable harm to you or your essential values. He is motivated by destruction, the destruction of all that you hold dear. He is capable and unrelenting. He is a legitimate threat. He will not compromise. He will not waver. He will do anything to wound you. He will not stop. He is possessed. Americans have spent the better part of a century being told who their enemies are with very little explanation or substantiation. We have blindly rallied around our patriotic prerogative without knowing the root cause of the conflict or the nature of the target we are told to annihilate. We have been suckered into war after war, conjured by international interests in order to lure us into accepting greater centralization and concentrated globalism. As a culture, we're sorry to say, we have been used. We are a tool of unmitigated doom. We are the loaded gun in the hand of the devil. When one applies the above definition of “the enemy” to Syria, one comes away with very little satisfaction. So, the question arises: If Syria is not the real enemy, who is?
With Obama's initial punt to Congress backfiring terribly, as there was no way the president's Syrian attack proposal would garner the required majority in the House, the time came for damage control. And the White House, ever expedient, decided to spin the backtracking as Obama's original idea from the offset, and make it seem that a diplomatic "solution" in which the Syrian chemical weapons were contained was the whole point of the intervention. This, of course, ignores some quite blatantly obvious admissions by the White House itself, namely that the ultimate goal was always regime change in Syria. Nonetheless, stuck in a corner, that was the White House' story, and they are sticking with it. What is ironic, is that almost concurrently with the shift in narrative, others promptly came up demanding credit for the "diplomatic "solution." First, it was Poland. And now, not surprisingly, Russia jumps at the opportunity to take credit for what it deems its response to a tiny slip uttered by John Kerry on Monday.
'War-Drums', 'told-you-so-dance' on chemical weapons, or 'this was the cunning plan all along and the Russians played along perfectly' - we wonder which script will hit the teleprompters first tonight... and should we still be fearful of North Korea and Iran sending Sarin into the US? We are sure there will be something for everyone in this speechapalooza...
Incredibly, the question being asked this past weekend throughout the US media had been: will Americans’ representatives in Congress vote to support the president’s wish to punish Bashar al-Assad (Syria, really!), or will their votes follow their constituents’ wishes at home against armed intervention? Asking this question seems embarrassingly obscene, to both morality and democracy, and most of us cringe at the thought of these pusillanimous representatives and senators we have in Congress making such a decision. Now a diplomatic solution is floating in the air which may be Russia’s greatest gift to both Obama – one of saving face – and the United States – an unquestionable saving of blood and treasure. Yes, let’s get Syria’s chemical weapons under international control... to hell with McCain and the demonic hawkish streak of politicians we harbor in the United States of America. Thank you, Russia… we love you back!
As Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Obama prepares to give his "Syria Strike" speech tomorrow, we thought the fact that The White House had begun selling its 'official' Christmas 2013 ornament was worth pointing out. The theme - "Peace On Earth" of course, is positioned in a wrath of olive branches, peace doves and the reverse of the wonderful tree decoration states in oh-so-ironic-language, "Peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty," - a phrase from Woodrow Wilson's address prior to World War I. Happy Holidays everyone...
Two weeks ago, the Syrian regime reportedly ordered the use of chemical weapons, which U.S. sources state killed over 1400 people. Over one year ago, President Obama declared that any movement or use of chemical weapons would cross a “redline.” Right from the start, officials in the Obama White House assured the public that any decision to use force against Syria would not be designed to impose regime change. Why would the administration take such an option off the table? As strategists and policymakers have understood since time immemorial, any decision to use military force must be guided by a strategy. If Washington’s strategy is to stop Assad from using chemical weapons, demonstrate that America is committed to enforcing this international norm, and undermine states that support such atrocious actions, regime change remains the critical instrument for the United States. In fact, all other options are highly susceptible to failure. In the end, the failure to put the instrument of regime change on the table demonstrates a lack of resolve, commitment, or weakness—all of which will be interpreted by friend and foe alike as acquiescence in the face of states using chemical weapons.
With the White House increasing its rhetoric in the face of Russia/Syria headlines and growth-inspired commodities like copper and oil suffering, the meme of the day that today's rally was a combo Asian growth and Syrian 'ease' is bullshit. Simply out, it's just another day in paradise as we noted earlier the 'most-shorted' names in the US equity market were squeezed dramatically higher - the most in 15 months (+2.8%). Interestingly, as the Russell surged to highs of the day, the Dow and S&P diverged lower in the afternoon. Homebuilders were the best choice for this idiocy as they soared 5% from Friday's lows (even as WFC and BAC shut their mortgage departments?) and are now 2% above pre-Kerry levels. Carry-mongers were equity bulls best friends as EURJPY lifted stocks all day and the USD dumped - led by EUR and SEK). Gold and silver flatlined for most of the day along with copper with WTI dumping into the pit close to around $109 (still its highest for this date ever). Treasuries were bid 5bps (belly) to 2bps (long-end). Trannies remain the only major index below pre-Kerry levels. War schmoar...