One hundred years ago today the world was shook loose of its moorings. Every school boy knows that the assassination of the archduke of Austria at Sarajevo was the trigger that incited the bloody, destructive conflagration of the world’s nations known as the Great War. But this senseless eruption of unprecedented industrial state violence did not end with the armistice four years later. In fact, 1914 is the fulcrum of modern history. It is the year the Fed opened-up for business just as the carnage in northern France closed-down the prior magnificent half-century era of liberal internationalism and honest gold-backed money. So it was the Great War’s terrible aftermath - a century of drift toward statism, militarism and fiat money - that was actually triggered by the events at Sarajevo.
China's own Big Apple may be rotting from the core. A new central business district modeled after New York City is going up in Tianjin but the project is in jeopardy. While the growth of China's ghost cities of entirely derelict and unlived-in residential real estate have become anathema; the story of the nation's 'if we build it they will come' commercial real estate bubble has been less exposed but is no less incredible. As Bloomberg reports, China’s project to build a replica Manhattan is taking shape against a backdrop of vacant office towers and unfinished hotels, underscoring the risks to a slowing economy from the nation’s unprecedented investment boom. Stunningly, the development has failed to attract tenants since the first building was finished in 2010 leaving one commercial real estate investor to proclaim, "Investing here won’t be better than throwing money into the water... There will be no way out - it will be very difficult to find the next buyer."
Banks and other lenders issued 3.7 million credit cards to so-called subprime borrowers during the first quarter, a 39% jump. "Even though [those borrowers] could be considered subprime, they're still creditworthy," is the deja-vu all over again message from the Financial Services Roundtable, who proudly crow, they are "starting to see an environment where issuers are feeling more comfortable to extend credit." How great is that? What could go wrong? One credit union exec notes, "lenders in general have really saturated the higher-credit-quality market, so it is only natural that as they look for growth opportunities, they expand downward," and sure enough, as one new borrower exclaimed, "my credit score is probably terrible," adding "I was surprised they'd give so much." Exceptional America is back...
Putin Scores Another Historic Victory: Austria Signs South Stream Pipeline Deal In Defiance Of EuropeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 06/25/2014 07:23 -0400
In the great chess-vs-checkers game, Putin just keeps steamrolling his clueless opposition.
Quietly behind the scenes, amid all the chaos of the Qingdao probe's contagion, copper has rallied modestly in the last seven days. That streak ended last night as the warehousing concerns we noted spreading to the entire sector, combined with a collapse in Chinese copper imports (down 17% in May), and yet another default (China Ting holdings said said two borrowers defaulted on entrusted loans). So it seems that not only are the commodities missing, but so is the money...as the slow motion train wreck gathers pace (no matter what PMIs or minis stimulus do to evade the tightening) as China's money-market rates (at 5 month highs) suggest liquidity demand is very high (and desperate).
These Fake Rallies Will End In Tears: "If People Stop Believing In Central Banks, All Hell Will Break Loose"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 06/24/2014 15:11 -0400
Investors and speculators face some profound challenges today: How to deal with politicized markets, continuously “guided” by central bankers and regulators? In this environment it may ultimately pay to be a speculator rather than an investor. Speculators wait for opportunities to make money on price moves. They do not look for “income” or “yield” but for changes in prices, and some of the more interesting price swings may soon potentially come on the downside. They should know that their capital cannot be employed profitably at all times. They are happy (or should be happy) to sit on cash for a long while, and maybe let even some of the suckers’ rally pass them by. As Sir Michael at CQS said: "Maybe they [the central bankers] can keep control, but if people stop believing in them, all hell will break loose." We couldn't agree more.
For quite some time, we have been predicting that the Russians and Chinese will, at some point, bring an end to the petrodollar system that has virtually guaranteed the US the position of having its currency be the world's default currency. This position has allowed the US, in recent decades, to go on a borrowing and currency-printing spree, the likes of which the world has never seen. But now, the US is broke, and its stature as the biggest boy has begun to wane. The other kids in the schoolyard are playing smart, whilst the US is still playing tough... and it's no longer working... The US is at war with China and Russia. It's an undeclared war, and it's monetary warfare, not military warfare.
Those in charge of regulating the system will lie, cheat and steal rather than be honest to those who they are meant to protect (individual investors and the public)
The multitudes of people, especially Americans, who view U.S. government activity in a negative light often make the mistake of attributing all corruption to some covert battle for global oil fields. In fact, the average leftist seems to believe that everything the establishment does somehow revolves around oil. This is a very simplistic and naïve view. A very real danger within energy markets is the undeniable threat that the U.S. dollar may soon lose its petrodollar status and, thus, Americans may lose the advantage of relatively low gas prices they have come to expect. That is to say, the coming market crisis will have far more to do with the health of the dollar than the readiness of oil supply.
what will make the Ukraine restructuring fascinating is if the "activist" bondholder investors, aka vultures, aka holdouts, are not your usual hedge funds, but none other than the Kremlin, which after accumulating a sufficient stake to scuttle any prenegotiated, voluntary transaction can demand virtually anything from Kiev in order to allow the country to make the required adjustments on its bonds to avoid an outright sovereign default. Because who else can't wait for Putin Capital Management LP?
Argentina's attempt to work around SCOTUS decision in favor of the 'holdouts' was rejected (under anti-evasion orders) last night leaving Argentina no alternative but to threaten to default on its debt. The government called it "impossible" to pay bond service due on June 30, because payment to holders of restructured bonds could not be made unless the 'holdouts' were paid $1.33 billion at the same time (and Argentina's economy minister argues could be up to $15 bn) which the distressed country clearly does not have. For the first time in 12 years, Argentina has agreed to negotiate with the 'holdouts' (has renegged on that negotiation) who refused to participate in two restructurings that followed Argentina's 2002 default but it seems increasingly likely that an even of default looms for Argentina. One good thing may come from the victory of the 'hold-outs': the government will find it difficult to rack up more debt.
After 2 days of weakness following the SCOTUS decision against them, Argentina unveiled a plan to restructure their debt - swapping existing foreign law debt to local law (more manipulatable and less legally enforceable) bonds, though Citi warns "implementing [the swap] may be technically challenging.". This 'voluntary swap' action is not a clear 'default event' but CDS spreads surging to over 3000bps and longer-dated bond prices tumbling once again suggest the market believes the path is clear as holdouts will once again hold out. As we explained here, there are five main scenarios and it appears, given these actions - that Argentina is playing hardball and will restart negotiations over the debt exchange. As Jefferies warns, "there's a high chance of default," but Argentina's economy minister Kicillof explained "everyone stay calm, the reconstruction of Argentina is not jeopardized." This plan was then ordered in violation of the anti-evasion policy SCOTUS set in place.
- Levin Hearing Ups Volume in High-Frequency Call to Action (BBG)
- Ukrainian President Fires Central Bank Chief (BBG)
- Argentina Plans Debt Swap (WSJ)
- Fed Decision Day Guide From Dot Plots To Exit Strategy (BBG)
- World Bank Economist: China May Face US-Style Financial Crisis (WSJ)
- Premier Li says no hard landing for China, expects medium to high growth (Reuters)
- Putin Talks Peace With Ukraine Leader After Gas Pipe Fire (BBG)
- Poll Shows Erosion in President's Support (WSJ)
- U.S. mortgage applications plunge in latest week (Reuters)
- Ex-Goldman director goes to prison, still owes $13.9 million fine (Reuters)
it is suddenly not fun being a Fed president (or Chairmanwoman) these days: with yesterday's 2.1% CPI print, the YoY rate has now increased for four consecutive months and is above the Fed's target. Concurrently, the unemployment rate has also dipped well below the Fed’s previous 6.5% threshold guidance, in other words the Fed has now met both its mandates as set down previously. There have also been fairly unambiguous comments from the Fed’s Bullard suggesting that this is the closest the Fed has been to fulfilling its mandates in many years. Finally, adding to the "concerns" that the Fed may surprise everyone were BOE Carney’s comments last week that a hike “could happen sooner than the market currently expect." In short: continued QE here, without a taper acceleration, merely affirms that all the Fed is after is reflating the stock market, and such trivial considerations as employment and inflation are merely secondary to the Fed. Which, of course, we know - all is secondary to the wealth effect, i.e., making the rich, richer. But it is one thing for tinfoil hat sites to expose the truth, it is something else entirely when it is revealed to the entire world.
As reported yesterday, The SCOTUS dealt a major blow to Argentina hopes it would avoid making payments on its "holdout" bonds when it enforced a lower-court ruling that said Argentina can't make payments on its restructured debt unless it also pays holdout hedge funds headed by Elliott Management, best known for briefly seizing an Argentina ship in late 2012. The immediate result was a major rout in the country's sovereign bonds, which also sent Argentina CDS soaring. Sadly for Argentina, this would hardly be the end of it, and about an hour ago, Standard & Poor added insult to injury and lowered its long-term foreign currency rating on Argentina to CCC- from CCC+ citing a "higher risk of default on the country's foreign currency debt." As a result, yesterday's drop in bonds has continued, if at a more moderate pace, and the country's USD bond due 2024 hav continued to sink in intraday trading. So what is next for the cash-strapped Latin American country for which the road ahead is suddenly quite "challenging" and default appears increasing like the only way out? For the answer we go to Citi's Jeffrey Williams who has laid out the five most likely developments.