Having generously (if not obliviously) stepped up to the plate to bail out Ukraine (with open-ended bond guarantees), US taxpayers are opening their wallets again - this time for Iraq. As Reuters reports, cheap oil has ravage Iraq's state finances just as the government faces rising military spending from the war it is waging against ISIS; and so it has decided to issue $5 billion in international bonds. However, Iraq is considering other ways to cover its budget deficit, including asking the IMF (i.e. US taxpayers) for relief funding and also requesting the controversial U.S. Export-Import Bank (US Taxpayers) finance the purchase of 10 planes from Boeing Co, which cost the government $500 million.
While today's macro calendar is empty with no central bank speakers or economic news (just the monthly budget (deficit) statement this afternoon), it’s a fairly busy calendar for us to look forward to this week as earnings season kicks up a gear in the US as mentioned while Greece headlines and the G20 finance ministers meeting on Thursday mark the non-data related highlights.
Despite being an otherwise staid, traditional news service, the professional banking division of the Financial Times recently released an utterly scathing assessment of the British economy. It was entitled, “The UK economy is a ticking time bomb,” and the editor didn’t pull any punches in completely shattering the conventional fantasy that ‘all is well’, and that advanced economies can simply print and in debt their way to prosperity.
If normalisation is the result of economic recovery we will be familiar with the playbook. However, The Fed has to face the possibility that, for whatever reason, highly suppressed interest rates are not working, and an escape from the zero interest rate bound without economic recovery may have to be contemplated. If interest rates cannot rise, then the dollar itself is ultimately exposed to loss of confidence in the foreign exchanges. The dawning realisation that after recent strength, the dollar is vulnerable after all can be expected to be reflected in a positive sentiment towards gold, which once under way could drive the price up dramatically due to the lack of available bullion.
Ignoring the considerable risks in the mid 2000s led to the global financial crisis. Irish politicians, bankers and financial experts, like their international counterparts, are slow learners ...
Krugman wants his US readers to believe that all proper economists now agree that cutting deficits was a bad mistake, and it’s only self-interested finance types and ideologically-motivated politicians and think-tankers that take a different view. But that’s nonsense. Just think about it: “Everyone agrees that austerity was a mistake”… apart from every government in Europe except the Greeks, and the economists and many of the civil servants that advise them. Krugman and his fan-club do not constitute all serious opinion, much as they might like to regard themselves that way. It’s all very nice sitting in a US university office preaching to the Europeans (or, indeed, preaching in the New York Times)
Quad-witching days are volatile on normal days, so in an environment of virtually zero liquidity, in which the market careens from one extreme to another simply based on whether the Fed utters one single word, in which volatility across asset classes is soaring, and in which it is all about igniting algo momentum, today's quadruple withicng should be memorable, which is good since there is virtually no macro data today to speak of.
To some (mostly those in the 1-10% wealth bucket) the main event today is the iWatch unveiling. To others (mostly those not in the 1-10% wealth bucket) it is the Eurogroup meeting in which the fate of Greece will be discussed and perhaps decided. One thing is certain: virtually nobody will care when the Fed's Mester and Kocherlakota speak later today as the Fed is now - supposedly - set to hike no matter what. Here is what the other main events are for the balance of the week.
It’s not that long ago, in 2001, that Jim O’Neill, then still with Goldman Sachs, coined the term BRICs, for the fast emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China. O’Neill saw a global power shift from the west to these four nations happening. Fast forward to today, and we see Russia under multiple attacks, including economic ones, from the west, as India just announced the second rate cut this year and China is attempting controlled demolition of the possibly biggest financial bubble in the history of the world. And Brazil? If anything, it’s falling even faster off its pedestal than the other three nations.
Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. During testimony this week, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Janet Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide?
The “perfect-storm” of geopolitical instability, diplomatic isolation, severe currency depreciation, and economic decline now confronting Russia has profoundly damaged Moscow's international standing, and possibly for the long-term. Yet, it is precisely such conditions that may push the country’s leadership into taking the radical step that will secure its world-player status once and for all: the adoption of a gold-exchange standard.
Now that the possibility of a Greek exit from the euro is back to being topic #1 of discussion, just as it was back in the summer of 2012 and the fall of 2011, and investors are propagandized by groundless speculation posited by journalists who have never used excel in their lives and are merely paid mouthpieces of bigger bank interests, it is time to rewind to a step by step analysis of precisely what will happen in the moments before Greece announces the EMU exit, how the transition from pre- to post- occurs, and the aftermath of what said transition would entail, courtesy of one of the smarter minds out there at the time (before his transition to a more status quo supportive tone), Citi's Willem Buiter, who pontificated precisely on this topic previously. Three words: "not unequivocally good."
President Of Euro Parliament Warns Greece Risks National Bankruptcy; Varoufakis Replies: "Greece Already Is Bankrupt"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/04/2015 19:00 -0500
With the ECB escalating matters this afternoon, the craziness of European leaders talking past one another in an effort to create the next headline-driven narrative continued to gather pace today. That idiocy was nowhere more obvious than when EU President Martin Schulz warned ominously that Greece risks national bankruptcy if it continues down the path of non-agreement when Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has previously explained quite clearly that "Greece is already bankrupt."
- Who Doubts Yellen's Policies? Summers for One (BBG)
- Samsung, Apple Back in Dead Heat for Global Smartphone Dominance (WSJ)
- Islamic State purportedly sets new deadline for hostage swap (Reuters)
- Turkey's $7.9 Billion Mystery Money That's Simply Vanished (BBG)
- How a Two-Tier Economy Is Reshaping the U.S. Marketplace (WSJ)
- U.S. Prisons Grapple With Aging Population (WSJ)
- Hasenstab Sees $3 Billion Vanish in Ukraine as One Big Bet Sours (BBG) - maybe he should BTFD, pardon, "invest" in Belarus next?
- Belarus May Seek Debt Restructuring in 2015, President Says (BBG)
While all the algos are programmed and set to scan today's FOMC statement for whether both "patient" and "considerable time" are still there (as it did last time when it supposedly sent a pseudo-hawkish message while telling Virtu and Getco to buy, buy, buy), the market is torn between the trends observed in recent days: on one hand finally succumbing to the adverse impact of USD strength, which overnight also saw the Singapore Dollar admit defeat in the ongoing currency wars, is crushing both revenues and EPS, as well as outlooks, for the bulk of US companies, even as millennials - long since given up on buying a house - allocate their meager savings to the annual incarnation of Apple's flagship product as seen in yesterday's record, blowout numbers by AAPL which is up 8% in the premarket and sending Nasdaq futures soaring compared to the stagnant DJIA or S&P. And then there is Europe where the mood is decidedly sour this morning, with Greece imploding on fears Tsipras really means business and concerns the Greek "virus" may spread to other peripheral nations whose bonds have also seen a lack of a bond bid this morning.