Over the weekend we titled our summary of GM's unprecedented avalanche of recalls so far in 2014 - the year in which the company's criminal practice of covering up its faulty products became a congressional scandal - as follows: "GM Set To Surpass Total Recall Record This Year." Three days later we are happy to report that while Detroit, we not only have a big recall problem, we also have a new record, after moments ago GM just announced another 4 recalls affecting 2.4 million cars. This brings the total number of vehicle investigations since the start of the year to 35, and with today's four latest fiascos, has initiated a whopping 29 recalls. More importantly, this also means that the number of domestic recalls rises to 13.6 million, smashing the previous record of 11.8 million recalls in 2004, and brings the number of global recalls to 15.2 million: or a stunning 56% greater than the 9.7 million cars GM sold in all of 2013!
- Bank of England sees 'no housing bubble' (Independent)
- ‘If the euro falls, Europe falls’ (FT)
- India's pro-business Modi storms to historic election win (Reuters)
- Global Growth Worries Climb (WSJ)
- Bitcoin Foundation hit by resignations over new director (Reuters)
- Blackstone Goes All In After the Flop (WSJ)
- SAC's Steinberg loses bid for insider trading acquittal (Reuters)
- Beats Satan: Republicans Paint Reid as Bogeyman in 2014 Senate Races (BBG)
- Tech Firms, Small Startups Object to Paying for Internet 'Fast Lanes' (WSJ) - but they just provide liquidity
- U.S. Warns Russia of Sanctions as Ukraine Troops Advance (BBG)
- Major U.S. hedge funds sold 'momentum' Internet names in first-quarter (Reuters)
Across the 137 warehouses that the London Metal Exchange has begun tracking, 2 stand out. Having been at the center of allegations of manipulation of the metals markets - most notably Aluminum - thanks to monopolistic warehousing, the following report from the LME will not entirely shock that none other than Goldman Sachs (and Glencore) have simply incredible waiting times for delivery of the base metal. We discussed the monopolization (thanks to lax Fed regulation) here, here, here, and here and as Reuters reports lengthy logjams at warehouses monitored by the LME, the world's oldest and biggest market for industrial metals, prompted bitter criticism by consumers and sparked a wide-ranging reform program at the exchange. With nearly 2-year-waits for Aluminum delivery by Goldman - we are sure regulators will see nothing wrong at all.
Confirming and continuing a trend we first described a year ago, overnight RealtyTrac reported, as part of its Q1 institutional investor and cash sales report, that the percentage of all-cash buyers has soared in the past year with "42.7% of all U.S. residential property sales in the first quarter were all-cash purchases, up from 37.8% in the previous quarter and up from 19.1% in the first quarter of 2013 to the highest level since RealtyTrac began tracking all-cash purchases in the first quarter of 2011."
- China’s Trade Unexpectedly Rises (BBG)
- 'We're already not in Ukraine' - rebel east readies secession vote (Reuters)
- Pro-Russian Separatists in Ukraine Reject Putin's Call to Delay Vote (WSJ)
- Vietnam’s Stocks Post Biggest Loss in Decade on China Tensions (BBG)
- Hedge Funds Extend Their Slide (WSJ)
- Carney Looks to Untested Tools as House Prices Boom (BBG)
- New Draghi Era Seen on Hold at ECB as Euro Area Recovers (BBG)
- Woman With Printer Shows the Digital Ease of Bogus Cash (BBG)
- Regulators See Growing Financial Risks Outside Traditional Banks (WSJ)
- Alibaba files for what may be biggest tech IPO (Reuters)
- Early Tap of 401(k) Replaces Homes as American Piggy Bank (BBG)
- Developers Turn Former Office Buildings Into High-End Apartments (WSJ)
- Thai court orders Yingluck Shinawatra to step down as PM (Guardian)
- German industry orders fell 2.8% in March, the biggest drop in one and a half years (RTE)
- Ukraine Bulls Scatter as Death Toll Mounts (BBG)
- China Property Slump Adds Danger to Local Finances (BBG)
- Stein Says Fed May See Bouts of Volatility as It Approaches Exit (BBG)
Is Detroit destined to become a Chinese city? Chinese homebuyers and Chinese businesses are starting to flood into the Motor City, and the governor of Michigan is greatly encouraging this. In fact, he has formally asked the Obama administration for 50,000 special federal immigration visas to encourage even more immigration from China and elsewhere. So will Detroit be the first major city in the United States to be dominated by China? It could happen. Once upon a time, Detroit was the greatest manufacturing city in the history of the world and it had the highest per capita income in the entire country. But now it is a rotting, decaying, bankrupt hellhole that is in desperate need of a savior, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder appears to be fully convinced that China can be that savior.
- Ukraine attacks rebel city, helicopter shot down (Reuters)
- Euro Unemployment Holds Near Record Amid Factory Gains (BBG)
- Yellen’s Fed Resigned to Diminished Growth Expectations (BBG)
- Junket Figure's Disappearance Shakes Macau's Gambling Industry (WSJ)
- China tried to undermine economic report showing its ascendancy (WSJ)
- Liquidity Trap Hitting AAA Bonds Has ATP CEO Sounding Alarm (BBG)
- AstraZeneca Snubs Pfizer Approach That U.K. Won’t Block (BBG)
- Missing Jet Recordings May Have Been 'Edited' (NBC)
- RBS turns corner as first-quarter profit trebles (Reuters)
- Japan household spending hits four-decade high, wages key to outlook (RTRS) while Real Incomes Drop 3.3% in March, 6th straight decline
It was a scene just like out of the Wild West. 18-year-old David Moreyra had stolen a purse. And an angry mob gathered in broad daylight in Rosario, Argentina to lynch him. It’s a rather unfortunate regression for a society. Civilized people don’t form angry mobs to act as judge, jury, and executioner. As I’ve long-written, there are consequences to destructive economic policy. Central bankers cannot conjure infinite quantities of currency out of thin air, nor can politicians borrow more money just to pay interest on what they’ve already borrowed, all without consequence. This is one of those consequences - a complete breakdown of the social contract, giving rise to something so Medieval as lynch gangs and mob justice. Can it happen where you live? Maybe. No nation is immune to the social effects of economic decay (think Detroit, or even New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina...).
Overnight, RealtyTrac released its latest home-flipping report. What it found is that while the latest housing bubble may have indeed popped, manifesting itself not only in a decline in flipping prices but also a tumble in flipping activity across the US as a percentage of all sales from 6.5% a year ago to just 3.7% in Q1, and down from 4.1% last quarter, flipping, where a home is purchased and subsequently sold again within six months, can still be massively profitable, leading to returns that would make the pimpliest 25-year-old, math PhD HFT-firm owner green with envy. Among the core findings was that the average sales price of single family homes flipped in the first quarter was $55,574 higher than the average original purchase price. That gross profit provided flippers with an unadjusted ROI (return on investment) of 30 percent of the average original purchase price averaged out across the US. The average gross profit per flip a year ago was $51,805 for an unadjusted ROI of 28 percent. However, it is the range that is notable: the flip ROI ranged from -8%, or a loss of $10k on the property, to a gain of 80%, a whopping $144K!
Even Case Shiller itself appears to have given up on housing as the driver of the wealth effect: "Five years into the recovery from the recession, the economy will need to look to gains in consumer spending and business investment more than housing. Long overdue activity in residential construction would be welcome, but is certainly not assured." And looking at actual city level data, we find that just 5 cities saw price increases in February; 13 of 20 cities saw their home prices decline.
- U.S. Plans to Hit Putin Inner Circle With New Sanctions (BBG)
- Russian Billions Scattered Abroad Show Trail to Putin Circle (BBG)
- GE’s Alstom Bid Gains Steam as Hollande Said Not Opposed (BBG)
- Russia-West tensions pressure stocks, buoy oil prices (Reuters)
- Toyota Said to Plan to Move U.S. Sales Office to Texas (BBG)
- Egyptian court seeks death sentence for Brotherhood leader, 682 supporters (Reuters)
- Greece warned of 14.9 billion euro financing gap (FT)
- Comcast to shed 3.9 million subscribers to ease cable deal (Reuters)
- Big U.S. Banks Make Swaps a Foreign Affair (WSJ)
If there’s one thing we all know about banks and bankers: they love to tell tales in public of how much they value their customers. However, what you’ll never hear them profess in private: is how much they trust them. Although one may think that’s unseemly, believe it or not there is another entity banks hold at an even lower tier. Other banks. One of the known facts people remember about the melt down in 2008 (as opposed to general public) was when the banks no longer trusted each other, and what they earlier claimed was “collateral” wasn’t actually worth what it was stated to be. As we recently explained in How China’s Commodity-Financing Bubble Becomes Globally Contagious, the implications of this development and the consequences it portends just might make it the proverbial “canary in a coal mine.” The underlying issue that makes this far more dangerous or different from times past is three-fold...
Moments ago, Russia casually hinted that Ukraine should use part of the IMF aid (which has been promised in virtually all increments between $1 billion up to $18 billion, but at last check not one penny has been wired) to repay Gazprom's debt, which is anywhere between the $2.2 billion Gazprom has said Ukraine is delinquent on for 2014 gas supplies, and an additional $11.4 billion which is what Gazprom said Ukraine's state-owned energy firm Naftogaz owes for unused take-or-pay arrangements in 2013. This happened just hours after Ukraine reportedly used the 'nuclear option' and halted the bulk of water supply to Russia's newest territory: Crimea. Tit for tat?
- Putin Doesn't Rule Out Sending Troops (WSJ)
- Japan Cuts Economic View on Tax Rise (WSJ)
- No "harsh weather" in Chipotle restaurants where comp store sales rose 13.4% (PR)
- No sanctions for you: EU sanctions push on Russia falters amid big business lobbying (FT)
- Consumer Spending on Health Care Jumps as Obamacare Takes Hold (BBG)
- China Seen Cracking on Property Controls (BBG)
- Google, IBM results raise questions about other tech-sector companies (Reuters)
- California city evacuation lifted after military ordnance found (Reuters)
- For Obama, Standoff With Moscow Jumbles Plans at Home and Abroad (WSJ)