- Must defend against Chinese colonial expansion and get the Nigerian oil: U. S. Boosts War Role in Africa (WSJ)
- BOJ nominee Kuroda sets out aggressive policy ideas (Reuters)
- China becomes world’s top oil importer (FT)
- Baby Cured of HIV for the First Time, Researchers Say (WSJ)
- Obama to nominate Walmart's Burwell as White House budget chief (Reuters)
- Wal-Mart Anxious to Combat Amazon’s Lead in Web Vendors (BBG)
- Nasdaq executing trades at a loss (FT)
- Spending cut debate casts pall over Obama's second-term agenda (Reuters)
- Russell Indexes to Reclassify Greece as Emerging Market (BBG)
- Bond Bears Collide With Swaps Showing Low Rates (BBG)
- Buffett Deputies Leaving Billionaire in the Dust Get More Funds (BBG)
- Brazil's leftist president fights to win back business (Reuters)
- U.S. Special Forces train Syrian Rebels in Jordan (Le Figaro)
- Carlos Slim Risks Losing World’s Richest Person Title as Troubles Mount (BBG)
But the fake deadlines, the even more fake serial fiscal crises, it all came to an end with a whimper
The gravy train that poses as the Electoral College in the States is rigged to make it near impossible for anyone other than the Democrat or GOP nominee to get into the White House.... In Europe it is very different. We can vote for the Monster Raving Looney Party – yes there truly is such a thing – the Beer party and one day soon the Blessed Nigel of Farage. To get on the list of candidates over here you have to stump up £500, be a UK, Commonwealth or Republic of Ireland (how did that happen?) citizen, be seconded by 10 voters in the constituency and not be a police officer, in the military or a member of the House of Lords or bankrupt or bonkers. UKIP may well have won the Eastleigh by-election had Farage stood as a candidate – along with 13 others - but as it was Diane James took votes off the Tories and Liberal Democrats in equal measure. This may have been spun as an inconsequential protest vote the happenings in Italy earlier in the week is beginning to cause the establishment some angst.
No, American Banks DON'T Need to Be Big to Compete with Bigger Foreign Rivals
Washington is laying on the malaise pretty thick lately over automatic budget cuts set to take effect in March, with admonitions and partisan attacks galore. Of course, those of us who are educated in the finer points of our corrupt puppet government are well aware that the public debate between Democrats and Republicans amounts to nothing more than a farcical battle of Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots with only one set of hands behind the controls. The reality is, their decisions are scripted, their votes are purchased, and they knew months ago exactly how America’s fiscal cliff situation would progress. The drama that now ensues on the hill is meant for OUR benefit and distraction, and no one else. There are plenty of irrelevant federal appendages out there that could be amputated, but probably won’t be, while other more useful programs will come under fire. In the end, the budget cuts are not about saving money; they are about social maneuvering and political gain. They will be used as an excuse for everything, and will produce nothing favorable, not because cuts are not needed, but because the people in charge of them are not trustworthy.
If the new year started off with a bang, March is setting up to be quite a whimper. In the first news overnight, we got the "other" official Chinese PMI, which as we had predicted (recall from our first China PMI analysis that "it is quite likely that the official February print will be just as weak if not more") dropped: while the HSBC PMI dropped to 50.4, the official number declined even more to just barely expansionary or 50.1, below expectations of a 50.5 print, and the lowest print in five months. This was to be expected: Chinese real-estate inflation is still as persistent as ever, and the government is telegraphing to the world's central banks to back off on the hot money. One country, however, that did not have much hot money issues was Japan, where CPI declined -0.3% in January compared to -0.1% in December, while headline Tokyo February data showed an even bigger -0.9% drop down from a revised -0.5% in January. Considering the ongoing surge in energy prices and the imminent surge on wheat-related food prices, this data is highly suspect. Then out of Europe, we got another bunch of PMIs and while French and Germany posted tiny beats (43.9 vs Exp. 43.6, and 50.3 vs 50.1), with Germany retail sales also beating solidly to cement the impression that Germany is doing ok once more, it was Italy's turn to disappoint, with its PMI missing expectations of a 47.5 print, instead sliding from 47.8 to 45.8. But even worse was the Italian January unemployment rate which rose from 11.3% to 11.7%, the highest on record, while youth unemployment soared from 37.1% to 38.7%: also the highest on record, and proof that in Europe nothing at all is fixed, which will be further confirmed once today's LTRO repayment shows that banks have no desire to part with the ECB's cash contrary to optimistic expectations.
If we can't even cut federal spending by 2.4 percent without much of the country throwing an absolute hissy fit, then what hope does America have? All of this whining and crying about the sequester is absolutely disgraceful. The truth is that even if the sequester goes into effect, the U.S. government will still take in more money than ever before in 2013 and it will still spend more money than ever before in 2013. So it is a bit disingenuous to call what is about to happen "a spending cut", but for the sake of argument let's concede that point. If this is how bad things are now, how bad will they be when a day of reckoning for our economy arrives? And a day of reckoning is coming. Our politicians can try to keep kicking the can down the road for as long as they can, but eventually time will run out. We can borrow our way to prosperity for a while, but in the end there is always a very bitter price to pay for doing so. I would love to tell you that there is a chance that all of this will be turned around, but the truth is that all of this whining and crying about the sequester shows that America is doomed.
- Grillo kills move to break Italy deadlock (FT)
- Abe nominates Kuroda to run BoJ (FT)
- More WMT bad news: Wal-Mart Chief Administrative Officer Mars to Leave: WSJ (BBG)
- Japan's Abe: Islands Are Indisputably Ours (WSJ) - Except for China of course
- Low-key departure as pope steps down, to enter the final phase of his life "hidden from the world" (Reuters)
- Cuts unlikely to deliver promised budget savings (Reuters)
- European Union caps bankers’ bonuses (FT)
- White House, Republicans dig in ahead of budget talks (Reuters)
- Jockeying Stalls Deal on Cuts (WSJ)
- Argentina Says It Won’t Voluntarily Comply With Bond Ruling (BBG)
- Italian president says forming new government cannot be rushed (Reuters) - or happen at all
- Central Banks Spewing Cash Must Plan Exit Timing, Rohde Says (BBG)
- China Regional Targets Cut in Sign Debt Concerns Heeded (BBG)
- RBA Says Up to 34 Central Banks Holding Australian Dollars (BBG)
It has been yet another quiet overnight session, devoid of the usual EURUSD ramp, and thus ES, at the Europe open (although it is never too late), which has seen the Shangai Composite finally post a meaningful rise up 2.26%, followed by some unremarkable European macro data as Eurozone CPI came as expected at 2.0%, and German unemployment just a tad better, at -3K, with consensus looking for 0K. Italy continues to be the wildcard, with little clarity on just who the now expected grand coalition will consist of. According to Newedge's Jamal Meliani, a base case scenario of Bersani/Berlusconi coalition may see a relief rally, tightening 10Y BTP/bund spread toward 300bps. A coalition would maintain current fiscal agenda and won’t implement any major reforms with fresh elections being called within a year. A Bersani/Grillo coalition is least likely, may slow reforms which would see 10Y BTP/bund spreads widening to 375bps. Of course, everything is speculation now, with Grillo saying no to any coalition, and moments ago a PD official saying against a broad coalition. But at least the market has it all priced in already - for more see Italy gridlock deepens as Europe watches nervously.
This letter is a few days old, but is very important for every American to be aware of. Essentially, Rand Paul is threatening to filibuster Barack Obama’s nominee for the CIA, John Brennan, due to his refusal to answer a simple question: Do you believe that the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial? This should not be a complicated question to answer, yet it seems Obama, Brennan and pretty much every other little power consumed bureaucrat is incapable of doing so.
H. L. Mencken correctly observed: "Government is actually the worst failure of civilized man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping and unintelligent." The following 14 rhetorical questions should provide food for thought as they suggest... "you might live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots."
Whenever I endeavor to explain America’s current economic situation to a person who likely receives most of his information from skewed mainstream news sources, I try to use two comparisons; the Great Depression, and Weimar Germany, because what we are experiencing is actually a combination of elements from both events. In the end, the madness of debt spending is going to annihilate this country anyway. Fiat printing and infinite QE will eventually result in the dumping of our currency as the world reserve, causing devaluation and hyperstagflation. Stimulus and the monetization of government liabilities are crippling us. The problem is, this nation is irrevocably dependent on such measures. Cuts will result in almost similar catastrophe, but on a faster time frame and perhaps a slightly shorter duration (depending on who runs the show in the aftermath). I’ve been saying it since 2008 – there is no easy way out of this situation. There is no silver bullet solution. There will be struggle, and there will be consequence. It is unavoidable. All we have to decide now is how we will respond when the inevitable disaster comes.
- Risk of instability hangs over Italy poll (FT), Protest votes add to uncertainty in close Italy election (Reuters), and... Risk On
- Czech inspectors find horsemeat in IKEA meatballs (Reuters)
- China’s Slower Manufacturing Casts Shadow Over Recovery (Bloomberg)
- So much for reform: China Prepares for Government Shuffle as Zhou Stays at PBOC (Bloomberg)
- France to pause austerity, cut spending next year instead: Hollande (Reuters)
- Sinopec to buy stake in Chesapeake assets for $1.02 billion (Reuters)
- White House warns states of looming pain from March 1 budget cuts (Reuters)
- China Quietly Invests Reserves in U.K. Properties (WSJ)
- Osborne Keeps Austerity as Investors See Downgrade as Late (BBG)
- South Korea's new president demands North drop nuclear ambitions (Reuters)
- Russia accuses U.S. of double standards over Syria (Reuters)
Back in December 2011, a US RQ-170 Sentinel drone was either brought down or crash landed smack in the middle of Iran, allowing the local military and scientists to reverse engineer it furthering their own understanding of possible countermeasures, as well as selling the underlying technology to China and other countries eager to peek inside America's remote-controlled "oppression liberators." All this happened because someone during the drone design phase forgot to add a self-destruct option. Now, over a year later, we will see if someone finally thought of adding this simple feature following news that Iran has just brought down another (just modestly antagonizing) foreign spy drone over its territory.
A listless overnight session with just the previously noted first disappointing LTRO-2 repayment and the now traditional big beat out of the "other" German confidence indicator, IFO, which beat expectations of 104.9, rising to a 10 month high of 107.4 to attempt to push the economy out of the recessionary slump (just don't mention yesterday's PMI), and nothing on today's US calendar is a fitting way to end the week, and further shows that markets are once more completely oblivious to the risks of the Hung Parliament outcome that this weekend may bring in Italy should the Berlusconi juggernaut maintain its momentum. The EURUSD and the US futures have disconnected once more, with almost all of yesterday's market weakness filled in the overnight session as the good old low-volume levitation returns. Here are the few news items worth reporting.