For the first time in the 600-year history of Michelangelo's masterpiece, Pope Francis has decided to rent out the Sistine Chapel for an $8000-per-head Porsche Travel Club concert. What makes this unprecedented action even more 'interesting' is the fact that The Vatican - in all its omnipotent wisdom - also made an announcement that it will be limiting the number of vistors (read 'common folk') allowed inside the chapel and as IBTimes reports, demanding vistors must be silent and cannot take photographs. So much for Pope Francis' "poor Church of the poor."
As the "Big Mac Index" is to global purchase price parity levels of inflation, so when it comes to the state of the "recovery" if not for everyone, then certainly for the 0.1%, there is no better metric than the "Porsche Indicator." Recall: "Porsche Reports Record Sales in 2013; 21 Percent Increase Over 2012" which certainly didn't come on the back of yet another year of declines in real incomes for the middle class (spoiler alert: it came on the back of some $10 trillion in liquidty injections by the world's central banks). Yet one place where the "Porsche" recovery forgot to make landfall, is none other than the biggest casualty of Europe's artificial monetary, political and wealth-transferring union: insolvent Greece.
The economic "recovery" has been based on a simple premise: debt can be substituted for income with no ill effects. As real household incomes have declined, the legitimate foundation of additional spending--more income--has eroded for the bottom 90%. The Fed's substitution of debt for income has only doomed the nation to a deeper, more painful realignment of real income and expenses.
Here's a two-word summary of why the American healthcare system is fundamentally broken and cannot be fixed with policy tweaks: perverse incentives.
Self-sufficiency is the deep rooted belief that you can take care of yourself and those around you.
Whether or not Obama made a huge political gaffe by secretly arranging the Qatar-mediated exchange of Bowe Bergdahl, who some 16,000 Americans have petitioned should be court-martialed for walking away from his post in 2009, for 5 Taliban leaders remains to be seen. To be sure republicans have jumped on the blunder and especially the hawks within the GOP are now "tag-teaming" the issues of Benghazi and Bergdahl with the intent of painting will Obama "as an appeaser, and a negotiator-with-terrorists" as The Nation reports. In any case, if Obama was hoping to use the Bergdahl exchange as a marker of successful foreign policy, he is suddenly caught flat-footed. What won't help the president's case of promptly sweeping this latest scandal under the rug, is a clip such as this one, released earlier today by the Taliban showing the handover of the prisoner of war to US forces.
We are witnessing implied volatility on all asset classes simply collapse to the lowest levels witnessed in 20 years, or at least the lowest levels achieved prior to the GFC in early 2007.
Is the top 10% up to the task of borrowing and blowing enough money to prop up a debt and bubble-dependent economy? Right now, we're one stock-market-and-housing bubble pop away from finding out if the top 10% will be able and willing to spend, spend, spend once their bubblicious assets are evaporating like mist in Death Valley.
Presenting the US car market this cold, stormy, sunny, dry, and rainless winter according to "The Haves... and The Have-Nots..."
- European Bonds Surge on Slowing German Inflation, Ukraine Tumult (BBG)
- Ukraine tensions hit shares (Reuters)
- Debating Geithner’s Appearances in 2008 Transcripts (Hilsenrath)
- Tensions in Asia Stoke Rising Nationalism in Japan (WSJ)
- GM Investigated Over Ignition Recall Linked to 13 Deaths (BBG)
- Smartphone wars shift from gadgetry to price (Reuters)
- Some Companies Alter the Bonus Playbook (WSJ)
- London’s Subterranean Luxury Manors Lure New Breed of Lenders (BBG)
- Japan No Country for Old Farmers as 7-Eleven Takes Plow (BBG)
- Dream of U.S. Oil Independence Slams Against Shale Costs (BBG)
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney surprised his audience at a conference late last year by speculating that banking assets in London could grow to more than nine times Britain’s GDP by 2050. These may be reasonable assumptions, but the estimate was deeply unsettling to many. Hosting a huge financial center, with outsize domestic banks, can be costly to taxpayers. In Iceland and Ireland, banks outgrew their governments’ ability to support them when needed. The result was disastrous. Quite apart from the potential bailout costs, some argue that financial hypertrophy harms the real economy by syphoning off talent and resources that could better be deployed elsewhere.
First Mercedes, then Porsche, and now Ferrari and Maserati post record US sales in January...
*FERRARI POSTS RECORD SALES IN U.S. AND U.K. IN 2013
*FERRARI AND MASERATI GLOBAL MORE THAN DOUBLE IN JAN TO 2,400
...a month where the non-1%-auto-makers struggled mightily. Of course, the latter missed expectations are blamed on weather (as opposed to dealer inventories stuffed at record levels, a replacement cycle that has run its course, or a consumer that is once again credit-tapped out). So, the clear findings from this is that the 1% - who are buying more luxury cars than ever before in January - clearly don't feel the weather...
It seems yet another (luxury) car maker did not get the "but it's the weather" memo. Following Mercedes record sales in January, Porsche has announced today that expects to hit a target of selling more than 200,000 sports cars next year, three years earlier than originally scheduled. As Reuters reports, Volkswagen-owned Porsche is entering the lucrative segment of compact SUVs with its new Macan model, which has already sold out about eight months of production ahead of its arrival at German dealerships on April 4. Wealth effect, of course, is all that matters... and the promise of higher minimum wages and a Maserati in every garage.
- Emerging-Market Rout Seen Enduring on Low Real Rates (BBG)
- After rocky January, markets eye data and central banks (Reuters)
- Europe will feel the pain of emerging markets (FT)
- Lloyds delays dividend prospect after mis-selling charge (Reuters)
- Snow Set to Snarl New York Commute as U.S. Flights Halted (BBG)
- Rate Decision to Drive Yellen's Early Agenda (Hilsenrath)
- Thai protesters move to downtown Bangkok in bid to topple PM (Reuters)
- China says Japan's 'hype' on air defence zone spreads tension (Reuters)
- Hedge funds seek 1.8 billion euros damages from members of Porsche's owning family (Reuters)
While the non-luxury auto-manufacturers suffered from a case of cannel-stuffed constipation in December, Luxury brands appeared to do very well thank you Mr. Bernanke:
- *PORSCHE REPORTS RECORD SALES IN '13 21% RISE OVER '12
- *PORSCHE CARS NORTH AMERICA DEC. SALES UP 10%
As the company notes, it "exceeded 40,000 sales for the first time in the history of Porsche in the US," as the 911 sold 10,442 units and Cayenne 18,507 units.