Since the beginning of this year, Wall Street economists and analysts have been consistently prognosticating that following the Federal Reserve's latest bond buying campaign, economic growth would gather steam and interest rates would begin to rise. This has consistently been the wrong call. The recent decline in interest rates should really not be a surprise as there is little evidence that current rates of economic growth are set to increase markedly anytime soon. Consumers are still heavily levered; wage growth remains anemic, and business owners are still operating on an "as needed basis." This "economic reality" continues to constrain the ability of the economy to grow organically at strong enough rates to sustain higher interest rates. This is a point that seems to be lost on most economists who forget that the Federal Reserve has been pumping in trillions of dollars of liquidity into the economy to pull forward future consumption.
Needless to say, this relentless expansion of the bubble eventually kills off the bears, the skeptics, the prudent and even the militantly incredulous. Undoubtedly, that is where we are now because the global economic news has been uniformly negative since the October dip, yet the market has resumed its relentless melt-up. Under such circumstances, therefore, it is well to remember that we are in the middle of the greatest central bank fueled inflation in recorded history, and that this insidious inflation has been channeled into financial assets owing to the arrival of peak debt everywhere around the world. But that is the Achilles heel of the game. As the bubble takes on ever greater girth, it becomes increasingly susceptible to a negative shock to confidence.
As faces are filled with chocolate on All Hallow's Eve, we thought this evening's reading list should maintain the focus of "scary" ponderances now that the Federal Reserve has ended their latest monetary iterations.
- So that's what Obama meant by "costs" - Italy Recession, German Orders Signal Euro-Area Struggle (BBG)
- Russia worries, weak German data weigh on Europe (Reuters)
- Hedge Funds Betting Against Banco Espírito Santo in Line for Big Gains (WSJ)
- Bankers Called Up for Ukraine War as Rolls-Royce for Sale (BBG)
- Double Punch for 'Inversion' Deals (WSJ)
- Statist Strongmen Putin-Xi See History’s Capitalism Clash (BBG)
- China bans beards, veils from Xinjiang city's buses (Reuters)
- BATS to Settle High-Speed Trading Case (WSJ)
- Second Ebola patient wheeled into Atlanta hospital for treatment (Reuters)
- Attorneys Known for Large Civil Settlements Line Up to Sue GM Over Company's Handling of Defective Ignition Switches (WSJ)
- Pakistani Taliban attack airport in Karachi, 27 dead (Reuters)
- U.S. Official: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl Has Declined to Speak to His Family (WSJ)
- Ukraine Gas Talks Resume in Brussels to Avoid Cut-off This Week (BBG)
- China's Central Bank Flexes Muscle (WSJ)
- China says Vietnam, Philippines' mingling on disputed isle a 'farce' (Reuters)
- World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes (BBG)
- Kraft Raises Prices on Maxwell House, Yuban U.S. Coffee Products (BBG)
- United Continental: One Sick Bird (WSJ)
- Hillary and Me: The 2008 campaign was a nightmare. Will 2016 be as bad? (Politico)
- What Timothy Geithner Really Thinks (NYT)
- Rebels declare victory in east Ukraine self-rule vote (Reuters)
- Race for AIG's Top Job Has Two Favorites (WSJ)
- America on the Move Becomes Stay-at-Home Nation for Millennials (BBG)
- Old, Fired at IBM: Trendsetter Offers Workers Arbitration (BBG)
- Bad luck Jonathan: Pressure Mounts on Nigerian President (WSJ)
- Iran leader slams West's 'stupid' missile stance before talks (Reuters)
- Conchita Wurst of Austria Wins Eurovision Song Contest (WSJ)
- Greek Finance Ministry expects Q1 GDP contraction of less than 1.5 pct (Kathimerini)
A division of the U.S. military known as the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO), which studies threats to national security (i.e., the status quo’s grip on power) has listed Bitcoin amongst a number of potential terrorist threats. Of course, as we and many others have noted repeatedly, anything which threatens the prevailing criminal status quo will be merely labeled a “terrorist threat” in order to neutralize it. Just in case you aren’t yet convinced of how insane the folks at CTTSO are, “also on the CTTSO’s list of terrorism research topics were Android, Motorola, social media and virtual reality.” What has happened to this country...
In what can only be explained as a massive oil pipeline derailment, because trains are obviously so much safer when transporting flammable commodities, moments ago another train derailed in Lynchburg, Virginia with numerous railcars falling in the river, and a massive fire erupting with flames that are "storeys high" according to ABC13. And moments ago it was also announced that the train belongs to CSX and the burning product is, expectedly, crude oil.
The Herbalife drama - perhaps the biggest billionaire pissing contest of 2013 - just got excting again, following FT news that a criminal probe has been launched into Herbalife. "The US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating Herbalife, the multi-level marketing company that hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has alleged is a pyramid scheme, according to people familiar with the matter. The criminal investigation by the FBI and US attorney’s office in Manhattan raises the stakes for Herbalife, which is already facing civil inquiries from multiple government agencies that are looking into the Los Angeles-based company and its associated network of independent distributors."
The "common knowledge" meme among the uber-paid economists and talking-heads os Wall Street remains that if data is bad, it's the weather's fault; but if data is good, that's the recovery. However, as Lance Roberts explains in this brief clip, the deterioration in US fundamental macro data is not a one-month blip and in fact "the trend of economic growth has clearly been on the decline rather than gaining strength as has been hoped by the majority of economists". Furthermore, he notes (and shows in simple chart form) that the trend of consumer weakness, which makes up 70% of economic growth, has declined to levels that are more normally associated with very slow growth economies. Simply put, it's not the weather stupid, it's the economy.
Throughout 2013, the distortions created by intervention in once-free markets have left many scratching their heads. The interventions have worked - almost faultlessly - but for them to do so has required the suspension of one belief system (economic reality) and the adoption of another - namely, that everything will be OK because ... well, just because. Can the fantasy persist into 2014? Sadly, Grant Williams states "Yes. It most certainly can." Will it continue into 2014? Most likely. Will this new belief system become the new economic reality? Not a chance.
While shortened Christmas Eve trading is traditionally the lowest volume day of the year, based on recent trends it may be difficult for today's action to stand out from the landscape thanks to an ongoing volume collapse, which however should make the even more traditional low-volume melt up that much easier. Sure enough, futures are modestly higher driven by their favorite signal, the EURJPY. Not surprisingly there has been particularly light newsflow with market closures in Germany, Italy and Switzerland in addition to early market closures for UK, France, Netherlands and Spain. Those markets that are open are trading in positive territory with the FTSE 100 being supported by BSkyB following an upbeat pre-market report for the company and their customer base, whilst the IBEX 35 is being supported by the financial sector. Overnight in China there was news of an injection of CNY 29bln via a 7-day reverse repo, although market commentators have said that this is more of a gesture than any meaningful intervention given the size of the country's banking market. Fixed income markets are particularly light with there being no trade in the bund future given the Eurex closure, with other trading products relatively flat given the lack of newsflow. However, the short-sterling curve has bear-steepened and thus continuing the trend seen since the end of last week as a result of both UK unemployment and UK GDP coming in better than expected.
When former Tyco International CEO Dennis Kozlowski was convicted for stealing $150 million in company money in 2005 on 22 criminal counts including grand larceny, conspiracy, securities fraud/sales and falsifying business records to a prison term of 8.33 to 25 years, he became the poster child for corporate greed. Shortly thereafter the entire financial system nearly collapse when everyone on Wall Street became a poster child for corporate greed and nobody went to jail. As such it became a moot point to make anyone a symbol for "corporate greed" since the Department of Justice itself admitted there is a brand new category reserved for the uber-greedy ones, also known as Too Big To Prosecute. Which is why moments ago, news broke that Kozlowski was granted parole after serving 100 months in jail, exactly nobody was surprised.
- J.P. Morgan, U.S. Reach Historic Settlement (WSJ)
- OECD cuts global growth forecast (AP)
- Guess the profit margin: Wal-Mart Touts $98 TV as Holiday Seen Weakest Since 2009 (BBG)
- Republicans defy threat, block another Obama judicial pick (Reuters)
- Fed Ponders How to Temper Tapering Without Rate Increase (BBG)
- Wall Street uses 'merchant' workaround to cling to commodity assets (Reuters)
- PBOC to ‘Basically’ End Normal Yuan Intervention, Zhou Says (BBG)
- Italy’s leader warns Germany of rise of anti-European sentiment (FT)
- Yellen Nomination for Fed Chairman to Get Vote This Week (BBG)
- As U.S. default threatened, banks took extraordinary steps (Reuters)
- NSA vowed repeatedly to fix its collection errors (AP)
Farewell Mareeaah. The Money Honey who epitomized CNBC in its high flying (pardon the pun) years when it was actually a source of useful information, has just marked the nadir of the TV station which in the past five years rebranded itself stock market propaganda central, and whose viewership plunged appropriately to a 20 year low as we recently reported. As Drudge reports, Bartiromo whose contact is up, is moving to Fox Business. From Drudge: "DRUDGE has learned that Maria Bartiromo is jumping to FOX BUSINESS NETWORK with an announcement expected sometime soon. Sources close to the situation say there have been ongoing conversations throughout the Fall. The new deal calls for Bartiromo to anchor a daily market hours program on FOX BUSINESS. Insiders say there will be a role on FOXNEWS as well."