With less than 20 days to go to the election, the Presidential race has tightened following Romney's performances in the debates, as the Republican challenger has overtaken the president in the national averages for the first time this year (and RealClearPolitics has him with an edge in the electoral college also). But ever the fair-and-balance bank, Citi believes that Obama's advantages remain substantial, as an incumbent president in an improving economic environment. In this broad discussion, the Pandit-less bank addresses 'the data' driving their Obama call, what would have to happen for a Romney win, the Senate and House split, The Tea Party (and other unusual events), and the 'bungee jump'-causing headline risk of the pending Fiscal Cliff debate. Everything you need to know about the election-critical states, players, and events (and who would win in a fist-fight), but were afraid to ask Wolf Blitzer.
Congressman and Chairman of the House’s Homeland Security Committee: Terrorist Threat Worse Now than Before 9/11Submitted by George Washington on 10/18/2012 15:04 -0500
Nice Job Creating More Terrorists, You Morons …
On this day (+1) in 1987 (that's 25 years ago, if you are burdened with a graduate degree), the NYSE had one of its most dramatic trading days in its 220 year history. It suffered its largest single day percentage loss (22%) and its largest one day point loss up until that day (508 points). No one who was on the floor that day will ever forget it. While it was an unforgettable single day, there were months of events that went intoits making. The first two-thirds of 1987 were nothing other than spectacular on Wall Street. From New Year to shortly before Labor Day, the Dow rallied a rather stunning 43%. Fear seemed to disappear. Junior traders laughed at their cautious elders and told each other to "buy strength" rather than sell it, as each rally leg was soon followed by another. One thing that also helped banish fear was a new process called "portfolio insurance". It involved use of the newly expanded S&P futures. Somewhat counterintuitively, it involved selling when prices turned down.
This week the US, UK, France, and a few Middle Eastern countries are conducting naval exercises in the Gulf of Persia to practice clearing mines that Iran, or other groups may place around the Straits of Hormuz in an attempt to disrupt the movement of oil tankers in the region. Mohammed Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that the “exercise is a defensive exercise and we don't perceive any threats from it. We are not conducting exercises in response.” Yet this is not the impression that is given. Just yesterday, according to the official IRNA news agency, upon the direct orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Iran launched a refitted Tareq-901 submarine and a Sahand destroyer into the Gulf from the port of Bandar Abbas.
Ten days ago, when we last tracked the progress of the third US aircraft carrier, CVN-74 Stennis, with destination Arabian Gulf, aka Iran, we reported that it was "within a week of reaching" its destination. Sure enough, as the latest Stratfor naval update confirms, CVN-74 has now reached its destination for which it was commissioned several months prematurely. But before you get your war hats out, note that that other aircraft carrier which is conducting its final voyage, the CVN-65 Enterprise, has decided to take a bit of a break and left the Arabian Gulf area for a scehduled R&R port visit in Naples, Italy. In a week or so, shore leave will be over and CVN will be back to join everyone else, at which point the US will finally have three aircraft carriers just off the Iranian coastline ready to rumble.
A report from German news magazine Der Spiegel states that Iran's latest effort to disrupt key shipping lanes through the Strait of Hormuz may be to cause a massive oil spill. Code-named Murky Water, the operation may serve to force a temporary respite from sanctions targeting the country's energy sector. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein tried a similar tactic during the first Gulf War to deter invading U.S. forces. If the German report is true, the Iranian operation could be a sign of Tehran's dwindling options.
- Hillary Clinton Accepts Blame for Benghazi (WSJ)
- In Reversal, Cash Leaks Out of China (WSJ)
- Spain Considers EU Credit Line (WSJ)
- China criticizes new EU sanctions on Iran, calls for talks (Reuters)
- Portugal sees third year of recession in 2013 budget (Reuters)
- Greek PM says confident Athens will secure aid tranche (Reuters)
- Fears over US mortgages dominance (FT)
- Fed officials offer divergent views on inflation risks (Reuters)
- China Credit Card Romney Assails Gives Way to Japan (Bloomberg)
- Fed's Williams: Fed Actions Will Improve Growth (WSJ)
- Rothschild Quits Bumi to Fight Bakries’ $1.2 Billion Offer (Bloomberg)
While earlier we were presented with an extra serving of hypocrisy courtesy of the Fed's James Bullard who lamented the lack of income for America's "savers", next we get a less than random selection of US CEOs, those of UPS Scott "Logistics spending would be great if only world trade hadn't completely collapsed" Davis, Honeywell's David "Look over there, Isn't Iran bombing something" Cote, NASDAQ's Bob "I destroyed IPOs" Greifeld, and, of course, Larry "About to switch jobs with Tim Geithner" Fink, who via Bloomberg TV get to opine on such issues as the fiscal cliff and America's $16.2 trillion, and very rapidly rising debt. Some of their views: "It's Washington's fault we're not hiring and not spending." Honeywell's Cote says, "If we were playing with fire in the debt ceiling, we'll be playing with nitroglycerine now when it comes to the fiscal cliff." Larry Fink says, "We need to speak out as CEOs…Politicians generally address things when their back's against the wall…We have the threat of going into a recession in the first quarter…This is a very uncertain moment." And thanks to the Fed, which has come at just the wrong moments, and always bailed out Congress every time a difficult decision had to be taken, the likelihood of a benign outcome on the fiscal cliff is far worse, than even Goldman's latest worst case scenario which sees just a 33% probability of resolution before the year end.
Imagine if in 2007, Ben Bernanke, Mervyn King, Jean Claude Trichet et al, had actually possessed the analytical foresight to see what was coming, organised a meeting with the world's media and explained how, using their collective wisdom, they would solve the problem.
"There's going to be a massive global crisis, but there's no need to worry. We're just going to print money."
"Is that it?"
How would most people have reacted then? We think they would have laughed out loud. Why are so many of us reacting differently now? The nature of markets is that they periodically forget the lessons of history. Confidence in the status quo seems as entrenched now as it was in 2007 but Gold appears to be exhibiting 'Giffen-like' behavior where, instead of falling, demand is rising as prices rise.
Everyone is aware of a multitude of problems that besets our world, however the nature of these problems and why they exist is distorted by the media and by governments all over the world. Our leaders, corporate heads, military top-brass etc. all have a fairly good idea of what is really happening, they just don’t want us – the ignorant masses known as the general public to know what they know. The multiple crises on this planet are caused by our insane mode of living – one that seems to be dominated by economics. Our way of life (unfortunately now for most of the world) depends on an ever-expanding economic system, for if it is not expanding it is contracting. This system was all well and good while there was plenty of capacity for continued expansion, but unfortunately for all of us the limits of expansion are not far off.
As the day approaches when Israel may decide to launch a preemptive strike against Iran in order to cripple its nuclear infrastructure, Israeli policymakers and their allies abroad would carefully assess how the Lebanese-based group Hezbollah would react. With the debacle of the 2006 war against the Lebanese group still fresh in Israeli minds, the possibility that the "Party of God" Shi’a organization would renew hostilities against the Jewish state through cross-border raids, terrorism, or rocket attacks against its cities, will have to be part of Israel’s calculations for any “day after” scenario. The challenges posed by the Iranian nuclear program are numerous, with many of the different nodes being interrelated. The problem is made all the more intractable by an increasingly volatile region that is sharply divided along sectarian lines. Hezbollah is but one of the many players involved, but should it choose to do so, it has the capacity to inflict great harm on Israel.
And so another disingenuous display of avoiding saying anything definitive about anything specific is complete. Without doubt the winner of this evening's 'round-table' is Martha Raddatz. Despite the incessant interruption and grinning/laughing/anger/frustration of Biden (and Ryan bringing up a 'car-crash' - awkward), the two candidates had relatively equal talking time (via CNN Biden Won 41:32 vs Ryan 40:12) but Ryan pipped Biden by 7,434 words to 7,425! Picking a winner is tough - so we won't - but Obama's odds rose from a pre-debate dump to 61% to over 64% (this morning's levels) - but stopped rising once the candidates began to discuss Afghanistan and Syria and when Ryan 'summed-up', Obama's odds crashed back to unchanged at 61.2%. Ryan won the drinking game 32 to 26.
Just over a week ago we we were the first to shed light on the reality of hyperinflation on the ground in Iran - and subtley suggested the whole thing could be watched in real-time. Soon after, a mysterious cabal of 16 currency manipulators was arrested and the Rial jumped dramatically higher (according to official sources) - as if by magic there was no problem at all. This all sounded a little too good to be true (just like unemployment rates in slightly more controlled economies). Sure enough, by the power of social media, we now know it was too good to be true.
Since the end of the Second World War, the major powers of the world have lived in relative peace. While there have been wars and conflicts — Vietnam, Afghanistan (twice), Iraq (twice), the Congo, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, the Iran-Iraq war, the Mexican and Colombian drug wars, the Lebanese civil war — these have been localised and at a much smaller scale than the violence that ripped the world apart during the Second World War. Hopefully, the threat of mutually assured destruction and the promise of commerce will continue to be an effective deterrent, and prevent any kind of global war from breaking out. Nothing would be more wonderful than the continuing spread of peace. Yet we must be guarded against complacency. Sixty years of relative peace is not the end of history.
The Wars in the Middle East and North Africa Are NOT Just About Oil ... They're Also About GAS