Financial systems that seem robust are more often than not inherently fragile - China is no exception!
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?
Case-Shiller Says "Housing Recovery Is Faltering" Despite December Home Prices Jumping Most Since MarchSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/24/2015 09:09 -0500
Home prices, according to Case-Shiller, rose 0.87% MoM in December (better than the expected 0.6% gain) for the biggest seasonally adjusted monthly gain since March, likely bringing the 'housing recovery is back on track' meme back into play (despite affordablity being a major driver of the slump in home sales). However, non-seasonally-adjusted the rise was a mere 0.1%, which nonetheless managed to snap the 3 consecutive months of sequential price declines. And yet, despite all this, Case Shiller was anything but optimistic: “The housing recovery is faltering. While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak. Before the current business cycle, any time housing starts were at their current level of about one million at annual rates, the economy was in a recession”
With Greece moving to the, ahem, periphery if only for a few days/hours, this week the US calendar returns to the forefront with Fed Chair Yellen’s semi-annual monetary policy testimony before the Senate Banking Committee tomorrow night and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, which the market will be paying very close attention to for the reconciliation of how the Fed plans to continue on its rate-hiking path despite rapidly deteriorating US macro data that has started 2015 at the worst pace (in terms of downside surprises) since Lehman.
- Tsipras Tamed as Economists Declare Greece Loses Austerity Fight (BBG)
- Greece readies reform plans to first sign of leftist unrest (Reuters)
- Yellen Faces Congress Amid Direst Threat to Fed Since Dodd-Frank (BBG)
- The war must go on: Kiev says cannot withdraw heavy weapons as attacks persist (Reuters)
- Ukraine fears spread of war after blast in eastern city (Reuters)
- Denmark Dismisses Report It Could Consider Capital Controls (BBG)
- Deadline Nears on Homeland Security Funding Impasse (WSJ)
- Gross Fund Hurt by Oil’s Plunge Amid Bets on Energy Bonds (BBG)
If you thought the Greek tragicomedy is over, you ain't seen nothing yet, because despite the so-called Friday agreement, the immediate next step is for Greece to submit its list of reform measures to the Troika, which will almost certainly result in an immediate revulsion in Germany's finance ministry, and lead to another protracted back and forth between the Troika and Greece, which may once again well end with a Grexit, especially if the Greek liquidity situation, where bash is bleeding from both the banks and the state at a record pace, remains unhalted. It is therefore not surprising that the ongoing decline in the EURUSD since the inking of the agreement, and the fact that the pair briefly dipped below 1.13 this morning - over 100 pips below the euphoric rip on Friday - is a clear indication that the market is starting to realize that absolutely nothing is either fixed, or set in stone.
"We think that negative snowstorm effects could potentially subtract as much as half a percentage point from Q1 growth compared with a neutral baseline, although there is still plenty of time for activity to bounce back within the quarter. In light of our analysis, we reduced our Q1 GDP tracking estimate by two-tenths to +2.8%."
- Goldman Sachs
After yesterday's FOMC Minutes, despite a huge dovish reversal by the Fed - one which increasingly puts its "credibility" and reputation at risk - stocks were unable to close green, or even above 2100, for one simple reason: uncertainty with the fate of Greece. Overnight there has not been much more clarity, when as previously reported Greece submitted a 6 month extension request to its master loan agreement but not to its bailout extension, a nuance lost in the annals of diplomacy. But is this the much-awaited Greek capitulation? Or will the Eurogroup reject this too? The answer may be available in a few hours after an emergency Eurogroup meeting due later today. However, as usual stocks are ready to "price in" yet another Greek conflict resolution, and after futures were lower by 7 points overnight, were up 4 points at last check: a rebound which will not correct if the latest Greek "compromise" fails to deliver.
Earlier today, we got a hint that hopes that the 5th dead cat "housing rebound" bounce have been indefinitely delayed after Mortgage Applications cratered by over 13% after tumbling 9% in the week before on even the most fractional of 10 Year yield increases. That hope suffered another embarrassing defeat moments ago when the Census Bureau reported that in January both housing starts and permits missed expectations, rising at 1070K and 1053K, respectively, once again missing Wall Street consensus of 1089K and 1067K. The reason: yet another drop in single-family housing. Because while multi-family, i.e., rental units, remained brisk and rose from 340K to 381K for the starts and from 360K to 372K for the permits...
- Greece to submit loan request to euro zone, Germany resists (Reuters)
- Ukrainian forces start to quit besieged town (Reuters)
- Bank of Japan maintains policy, no surprises (FT)
- China Considering Mergers Among Its Big State Oil Companies (WSJ)
- Soros Shifts to Europe, Asia as Investors Cut U.S. Equities (BBG)
- Putin tells Kiev to let troops surrender as Ukraine ceasefire unravels (Reuters)
- Venezuela Squanders Its Oil Wealth (BBG)
- Swiss prosecutor raids HSBC office, opens criminal inquiry (Reuters)
There was much confusion yesterday when algos went into a buying frenzy on news that Greece would submit a request for a 6 month loan extension, believing this means Greece has caved and will agree to a bailout programme extension as well. Nothing could have been further from the truth as we explained first moments after the headline struck, and also as Reuters validated moments ago when it said that "Greece will submit a request to the euro zone on Wednesday to extend a "loan agreement" for up to six months but EU paymaster Germany says no such deal is on offer and Athens must stick to the terms of its existing international bailout." But since the political nuances of diplomacy are lost on the math Ph.Ds who program the market-moving algos, the S&P did manage to roar above 2100 on what was another headfake and then forgot to sell off on the reality.
It has been a quiet start to the week, with US equity futures and European stocks mostly unchanged with all eyes on what progress (if any) will be made between Greece and the Eurogroup, where the press conference is scheduled for 7:00 pm GMT (expect significant delays) in what is otherwise expected to be a relatively subdued day with the US away from market and a light macroeconomic calendar.
The monetary politburo has every reason to fear Rand Paul’s demand for a “policy audit” of the Fed. An honest one would show that its so-called “independence” has been monumentally abused in a manner which is deeply threatening to both political democracy and capitalist prosperity. Needless to say, we can’t have that audit soon enough. In short, what the nation really needs is not an “independent” Fed, but one that is shackled to a narrow and market-driven liquidity function. The rest of its current remit is nothing more than the self-serving aggrandizement of the apparatchiks who run it; and who have now managed to turn the nation’s vital money and capital markets into dangerous, unstable casinos, and the nations savers into indentured servants of a bloated and wasteful banking system.
Houston, You Have A Huge Problem: One-Sixth Of US Office Space Under Construction Is In This Texas CitySubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/11/2015 09:59 -0500
The future of Europe now depends on something apparently impossible: Greece and Germany must strike a deal.