The Venezuelan government is in a bind. They realize that 'the people' will stand-by idly as the nation's currency is devalued, as inflation soars, and blackouts continue as food shortages grow...(and the stock market soars) but take away a critical personal care item and the riots will begin. As Yahoo Maktoob reports, Venezuela's leftist government said Saturday it temporarily seized a major toilet paper factory hoping that it can end troublesome shortages of the staple personal care item. "The temporary occupation of [the toilet-paper manufacturing plant] is aimed at verifying that toilet paper industry production, marketing and distribution" are all in line with state policies, Vice President Jorge Arreaza said on Twitter, without indicating how long the takeover would last. This action follows 'nationalization' of large farms amid President Maduro's claims that the White House is plotting the "collapse" of his government next month by sabotaging food, electricity and fuel supplies.
There was a time, long ago, when some still believed the myth that the Federal Reserve, and the selection of its Chairman, were supposed to be apolitical and impartial. Luckily, that was a long time ago, because otherwise some may question not only the logic, but the motives, behind what the media reports is an aggressive push by White House officials to "muster support among Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee to back Federal Reserve Vice Chair Janet Yellen," according to Reuters which cited three sources said on Friday, laying the groundwork for her expected nomination to the Fed's top job. If the White House is suddenly intent on picking Mrs. Yellen (or is that Mister?), one wonders just how diluted her "runner up" credibility at the Fed would be, since it has been made quite clear she was continuously Obama's B (or lower) grade choice to head the Fed, with Summers at the very top. And of course, a just as important question is how even more diluted is Obama's credibility and political brand if a few ultra-liberal Senators can impose their choice for next Fed head over that of both Larry Summers, of the "Committee to save the world" and the president himself.
- JPMorgan Guilty Admission a Win for SEC’s Policy Shift (BBG)
- Pricing Glitch Afflicts Rollout of Online Health Exchanges (WSJ)
- This will end well: Japan LDP Considers Draft Bill to Put Government in Control of Fukushima Cleanup (WSJ)
- How a German tech giant trims its U.S. tax bill (Reuters)
- Despite Merkel's Popularity, Angst Creeps In (WSJ)
- Hank Paulson warns of regulatory conflict (FT)
- Rajan Surprises With India Rate Rise to Quell Inflation (BBG)
- Apple Begins Selling New iPhones (WSJ)
- Pope Says Church Should Stop Obsessing Over Gays, Abortion (BBG)
In a tight 217-210 vote, The House voted this evening to 'taper' food stamps by $39 billion over the next decade. This bill - setting up a showdown with Senate Democrats - cuts nearly twice as much as a bill that was rejected in June, and, as USA Today reports, dramatically larger than the $4.5 billion 'trim' that was passed by the Senate earlier in the year. The bill would cause 3 million people to lose benefits while another 850,000 would see their benefits cut, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Republicans argued that the bill would restore the program's original eligibility limits and preserve the safety net for the truly needy. The White House threatened Wednesday to veto the bill, calling food stamps one of the "nation's strongest defenses against hunger and poverty." Of course, as long as the Dow is trading at all-time highs, it doesn't really matter... since the number of people on Food stamps in the US is already greater than the population of Spain!
Three weeks ago we explained the importance of the looming cliff - in the government's reserves of helium. With a never-ending pun-trail related to "hot-air" or markets "blowing up", we stick to the facts. With the threat of a glonal helium shortage potentially weighing on fibre-optic cables and flat-screen TVs, the always-reaady-to-negotiate members at the Senate have agreed to support an amendment that prevents the October 7th termination of the helium storage program. So thanks to political "hot air" (we couldn't resist), the helium cliff is resolved... why so easy you wonder? Perhaps this is why "...Helium is also used in national defense applications such as rocket engine testing and purging, surveillance devices, air-to-air missiles and scientific balloons."
- Bernanke Resets Policy by Doing Nothing as Markets Soar (BBG)
- Stocks Jump to Five-Year High as Metals Rally on Fed (BBG)
- Centre-left bigwig says hard to stay allied with Berlusconi (ANSA)
- J.P. Morgan 'Whale' Fine Put at Over $900 Million (WSJ)
- Banks’ $10 Billion Sweet Spot Sets Off Buying Spree for Lenders (BBG)
- Time to taper? Not if you look at bank loans (Reuters)
- Mortgage Lending Reaches 5-Year High (WSJ) ... and then plunges as Fed gives "all clear" for a few months
- Yellen Chances Grow as Obama Aides Test Senate Support (BBG)
Yes, yes, only the Fed matters. Still, there was some event flow overnight which while completely meaningless for the epic liquidity bubble, may have some implications eventually when the music finally stops. In thie regard, perhaps the best summary of the the lunacy coming out of the Marriner Eccles building is the following sentence from Bloomberg: "Bernanke said he was concerned that market interest rates, driven higher by his own suggestion he would scale back QE, would curb growth." One can't make this up.
With rumors this evening of the White House calling around for support for Yellen, Marc Faber's comments today during a Bloomberg TV interview are even more prescient. Fearing that Janet Yellen "would make Bernanke look like a hawk," Faber explains that he is not entirely surprised by today's no-taper news since he believes we are now in QE-unlimited and the people at the Fed "never worked a single-day in the business of ordinary people," adding that "they don't understand that if you print money, it benefits basically a handful of people." Following today's action, Faber is waiting to seeing if there is any follow-through but notes that "Feds have already lost control of the bond market. The question is when will it lose control of the stock market." The Fed, he warns, has boxed themselves in and "the endgame is a total collapse, but from a higher diving board."
It is undeniable that America is thoroughly addicted to fiat stimulus. Every aspect of our economy, from stocks, to bonds, to banks, and by indirect extension main street, is now utterly dependent on the continued 24/7 currency creation bonanza. The stock market no longer rallies to the tune of increased retail sales, growing export markets or improved employment expectations. In fact, “good” economic news today is met with panic and market sell-offs! Why? Because investors and banks still playing equities understand full well that any sign of fiscal improvement might mean the end of the private Federal Reserve’s QE pajama party. They know that without the Fed’s opiate-laced lifeline, the economy dies a fast and painful death. All mainstream economic news currently revolves around the Fed, as pundits clamor to divine whether the latest signals mean the free money will flow, trickle, or dry up. At the edge of the Federal Reserve’s 100th anniversary, it is vital that we see the current developments for what they really are – history changing, in a fashion so violent they are apt to scar America forever.
Whether or not it is an indication of potential legal troubles over Obama's horizon is unclear, but as Politico reports, the White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, a Georgetown Law graduate who assumed office on June 30, 2011, "has told President Obama she plans to leave by the end of the year" and a search for her replacement has begun.
- Fed likely to reduce bond buying, pass policy milestone (Reuters)
- Fall in Home Loans Pushing Fed Away From Taper in Mortgage Bonds (BBG)
- Russia says U.N. report on Syria attack preconceived, political (Reuters)
- China House Price Surge Raises Prospect of Steps to Cool Market (FT)
- Cyprus Plans to Complete End of All Capital Controls... some time in 2014 (FT)
- GOP Reworks Budget Terms (WSJ)
- U.S. Navy was warned that Washington shooter 'heard voices' (Reuters)
- Berlusconi Impeachment Vote Looms (WSJ)
- Ageing could weaken central banks, spur rate volatility (Reuters)
While the White House is trying to play this down currently in the press conference, Brazil's President Rousseff has issued a statement postponing her trip to the US due to the illegal espionage of the Americans:
- *BRAZIL SAYS U.S. HASN'T PROVIDED ADEQUATE EXPLANATION ON SPYING
- *BRAZIL'S SAYS IT NEEDS U.S. EXPLANATION BEFORE STATE VISIT
- *BRAZIL SAYS U.S. ILLEGAL MONITORING OF GOVT, COS. IS 'SERIOUS'
- *BRAZIL PRESIDENT ROUSSEFF POSTPONES STATE VISIT TO THE U.S.
According to AP, Obama spoke to Rouseff on the phone but that didn't do it as the Brazilian President demanded a full public apology.
- Less Tapering Becomes Tightening Credit No Matter What Fed Says (BBG)
- Yellen Is Now Top Fed Hopeful (WSJ)
- Syria - A chemical crime, a complex reaction (Reuters)
- More ECB collateral: Wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia raised off rocks in Italy (Reuters)
- Aging Boomers Befuddle Marketers Eying $15 Trillion Prize (BBG)
- Abe Turns Pitchman, Says Japan Is Now A Buy (WSJ)
- Ex-JPMorgan Employees Indicted Over $6.2 Billion Loss (BBG)
- Barack Obama blinked first in battle for Lawrence Summers (FT)
- Berlusconi to support Italian government in video message: sources (Reuters)
- How China Lost Its Mojo: One Town's Story (WSJ)
Overnight trading started with Asian markets continuing where yesterday's S&P 500 fizzle ended, wishing Summers could withdraw from Fed running again, as both the Nikkei and SHCOMP were well lower by the close. Perhaps all the easy multiple-expanding, headline-driven money is made, or perhaps economic fundamentals will finally start having to justify a 17x multiple on the S&P (a good is good regime for those who may be too young, or old, to remember), but overnight US futures were dull, and no doubt anticipating today's start of the "Most important FOMC meeting ever", which concludes tomorrow with an announcement by the Fed of what and how much (if any) tapering it will commence with an eye toward halting QE next summer, although more realistically what will happen is an Untaper being announced before then. While the start of the FOMC meeting is the main event, today we get CPI, TIC flows and the NAHB housing market index. Today's POMO is another modest $1.25-$1.75 billion in the long-end sector.