Edward Snowden is no longer in Hong Kong. About an hour ago, the Hong Kong Authority released a statement which says that the NSA whistleblower has left Hong Kong today "on his own accord through a lawful and normal channel" which was yet another slap in the face of the US, saying the US provisional arrest warrant "did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law." In fact, not only did the HK authority defy the US arrest warrant, but it officially demands that the US clarify its own hacking of Hong Kong computer systems:"Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies." Having been given the blessing of HK to defy the US, Snowden is now supposedly en route to Moscow, from where he is said to continue further to Iceland.
China has certainly been busy since it won observer status at the May Arctic Council summit in Kiruna, Sweden. China is clearly after more than simply investment and trade opportunities as it continues to display its obsession with securing energy and other supplies where the U.S. Navy cannot or will not go. Unfortunately for Moscow, not only China but also the other new Asian members will seek to maximize their influence in the Council for many of the same reasons. The Arctic may be Russia’s home, but it can no longer be its castle.
Kyle Bass covers three critical topics in this excellent in-depth interview before turning to a very wide-ranging and interesting Q&A session. The topics he focuses on are Central bank expansion (with a mind-numbing array of awe-full numbers to explain just where the $10 trillion of freshly created money has gone), Japan's near-term outlook ("the next 18 months in Japan will redefine the economic orthodoxy of the west"), and most importantly since, as he notes, "we are investing in things that are propped up and somewhat made up," the psychology of negative outcomes. The latter, Bass explains, is one of the most frequently discussed topics at his firm, as he points out that "denial" is extremely popular in the financial markets. Simply put, Bass explains, we do not want to admit that there is this serious (potentially perilous) outcome that disallows the world to continue on the way it has, and that is why so many people, whether self-preserving or self-dealing, miss all the warning signs and get this wrong - "it's really important to understand that people do not want to come to the [quantitatively correct but potentially catastrophic] conclusion; and that's why things are priced the way they are in the marketplace." Perhaps this sentence best sums up his realism and world view: "I would like to live in a world where it's all rainbows and unicorns and we can make Krugman the President - but intellectually it's simply dishonest."
Eager to take advantage of NSA-whistleblower Edward Snowden's current unincarcerated status and to ask him questions about his motives or thoughts? Here is your chance courtesy of the Guardian which is holding a live Q&A session with the famous leaker. As the Guardian notes: "He will be online today from 11am ET/4pm BST today. An important caveat: the live chat is subject to Snowden's security concerns and also his access to a secure internet connection. It is possible that he will appear and disappear intermittently, so if it takes him a while to get through the questions, please be patient." Some more from the Guardian:
- Edward Snowden is answering your questions about the NSA leaks live
- Post your questions in the comment section below and recommend your favorites
- We are posting Snowden's replies above the line
- You can also follow along on Twitter using the hashtag #AskSnowden
The live blog can be reached at the following link.
"A brave new Huxley-world of the unlimited debt,” a world where “money is no longer earned but printed”
- In Hong Kong, ex-CIA man may not escape U.S. reach (Reuters)
- Backlash over US snooping intensifies (FT)
- Apple to Revamp IPhone Software, Ending Product Funk (BBG)
- Nothing like revising history: Japan revises up Q1 growth to annual 4.1% (FT), just don't look at the trade deficit
- Coffee Exports From Indonesia Seen Slumping to Two-Year Low (BBG)
- Euro bailout Troika nears end of road with patchy record (Reuters)
- Treasuries Little Changed Before Bullard Speaks Amid QE Debate (BBG)
- Schwab Topping Goldman Sachs Presages Return to Stocks (BBG)
- Hedge funds take over another city: London’s Forced Renters Fuel Apartment Investing Boom (BBG)
"I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good... The NSA routinely lies in response to Congressional inquiries about scope of surveillance in America. The NSA is intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them.... What they're doing" poses "an existential threat to democracy."
- Edward Snowden, 29, PRISM Whistleblower
House prices - with respect to both levels and changes - differ widely across OECD countries. As a simple measure of relative rich or cheapness, the OECD calculates if the price-to-rent ratio (a measure of the profitability of owning a house) and the price-to-income ratio (a measure of affordability) are above their long-term averages, house prices are said to be overvalued, and vice-versa. There are clearly some nations that are extremely over-valued and others that are cheap but as SocGen's Albert Edwards notes, it is the UK that stands out as authorities have gone out of their way to prop up house prices - still extremely over-valued (20-30%) - despite being at the epicenter of the global credit bust. Summing up the central bankers anthem, Edwards exclaims: "what makes me genuinely really angry is that burdening our children with more debt to buy ridiculously expensive houses is seen as a solution to the problem of excessively expensive housing." It's not different this time.
And Other Stunning Facts I Learned Last Night ...
Jim Rogers was recently interviewed by GoldMoney and had plenty to say (as usual):
On Bernanke: "He doesn’t want to be around for the consequences of what he’s doing."
On Fiat: "Paper money doesn’t have a very glorious history, but again, nothing imposed by the government has a very long and glorious history."
On Europe's Crisis: "You can postpone it all you want, but the problems just mount."
On Capitalism: "You are not supposed to take money away from the competent people and give it to the incompetent so that the incompetent can compete with the competent people with their own money. That’s not the way capitalism is supposed to work."
- Apple Bonds Stick Buyers With $280.6 Million Loss as Rates Climb (BBG)
- Iceland Freezes EU Plans as New Government Shuns Euro Crisis (BBG)
- "Transparent Fed" - Ben Bernanke meets privately with Darrell Issa (Politico)
- Bank of Japan vows market steps to curb bond turbulence (Reuters) holds policy (FT)
- Stockholm riots spread in third night of unrest (FT)
- Dudley Says Decision on Taper Will Require 3-4 Months (BBG)
- Senate panel passes immigration bill; Obama praises move (Reuters)
- Italy to outline youth jobs plan as government struggles (Reuters)
- Apple CEO Tim Cook, Lawmakers Square Off Over Taxes (WSJ)
- Google Joins Apple Avoiding Taxes With Stateless Income (BBG)
- Sony Board Discussing Loeb’s Entertainment IPO Proposal (BBG)
- Vote Strengthens Dimon's Grip (WSJ), Dimon performance well choreographed (FT)
If Cyrpus blew up with bank assets/GDP leverage of 700% & Iceland blew up with leverage of 880%, what should we expect from Scotland @ 1,250%? Of course, this leverage number likely excludes those top secret charges I found last month...
Niall Ferguson recently remarked, "[Europe] is a politicial experiment gone wrong. The experiment was to see if Europeans could be forced into an even closer union - despite their wishes - by economic means, because the political means failed." In this brief clip, Lars Seier Christensen, co-CEO and co-founder of Saxo Bank, tells an audience at the Saxo #FXDebates in London that the eurozone will eventually break up as Brussels claims even more power from nation states. He warns investors that Cyprus was indeed a template for bail ins and that outright confiscatory wealth taxes, disguised as solidarity payments, could be used to raise funds. "The governments of Europe need money, and the private sector has it. It is as simple as that. Be very paranoid," he said, warning investors that the mattress may be a safer place to deposit money over the weekend than their bank accounts. "Frankly, it is a complete mess. And it is a mess that gets worse and worse every day," is how the outspoken truthiness begins, adding, "anyone with a rational view of the world now sees the currency collaboration as a historic failure that can lead to even further fatal consequences for Europe and the continent’s competitiveness vis-à-vis the rest of the world."
During the crisis Iceland was held up as one of the best examples of what was so wrong with the bubble that was created and sold to any and all. The party in power during this debacle was summarily dismissed by the people. However, a mere few years later, and given the apparent abhorrence with all things European, the Icelandic people have just ousted the incumbent pro-Europe party in favor of the Independence and Progressive parties that governed during the crisis. As the WSJ reports, the Social Democratic Alliance, which had overseen economic recovery and pushed for European Union membership, saw support tumble as the electorate's concern about personal finances overshadowed the ruling coalition's ability to stabilize the economy. Couple this with the promises of the two parties to cut taxes and the sweell of nationalist sentiment and the Social Democrats were summarily crushed. The leader of the Progressive party perhaps summed up the poeple's views best: "deeper integration with a Europe in "historic decline" isn't necessarily the best for Iceland," and that "economic crisis in Iceland and Europe has taught us the importance of being able to control your own destiny." Of course, as with any election, lots of promises are made; "they have really been promising the moon, people might get dissatisfied when they see that not everything can be realized."
There have been five developments over the weekend. Which is noise and which the signal ?