Listening to the media gleefully hype the numerous construction flaws and rumors of corruption at the Sochi Olympics, we couldn't help thinking that Americans in general have no clue about Russia. Here are some of the similarities and differences... "Russia is rising. Maybe we can give her a high five on our way down. Instead of criticizing others, look in the mirror America."
President Obama unveiled 12 key executive actions in his 6,778 word tome this evening at a reading level that was lower than the average of George W. Bush's SOTUs and the same as Clinton's (Flesch-Kincaid 9.8). From 'raising the minimum wage' to 'myRA' savings plans ("a guaranteed return with no risk"?) and from redesigned high schools to teach real-world skills (like EBT-card-usage?) to increasing college opportunities (blowing that bubble even bigger), it was a corporate-bashing, hopeful-job-creating manifesto that had less "hopes" and "dreams" than MLK's speech, but more "believing."
- NSA phone data control may come to end (AP)
- China to rescue France: Peugeot Said to Weigh $1.4 Billion From Dongfeng, France (BBG)
- China to rescue Davos: Davos Teaches China to Ski as New Rich Lured to Slopes (BBG)
- Hollande’s Tryst and the End of Marriage (BBG)
- Iran has $100 billion abroad, can draw $4.2 billion (Reuters)
- Target Hackers Wrote Partly in Russian, Displayed High Skill, Report Finds (WSJ)
- Nintendo Sees Loss on Dismal Wii U Sales (WSJ)
- Goldman's low-cost Utah bet buoys its bottom-line (Reuters)
- Royal Dutch Shell Issues Profit Warnin: Oil Major Hit by Higher Exploration Costs and Lower Oil and Gas Volumes (WSJ)
- EU Weighs Ban on Proprietary Trading at Some Banks From 2018 (BBG) - so no holding of breaths?
- Sacramento Kings to Accept Bitcoin (WSJ)
- Nelson Mandela: 1918-2013 (Reuters)
- South Africans Flock to Nelson Mandela’s Home to Mourn His Death (BBG)
- Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden? Obama says won't choose between them for 2016 (Reuters)
- Fukushima water tanks: leaky and built with illegal labor (Reuters)
- Sears Holdings Files to Spin Off Lands' End Business (WSJ)
- Way cleared for landmark global trade deal (FT)
- U.S. Oil Prices Fall Sharply as Glut Forms on Gulf Coast (WSJ)
- German Factory Orders Decline in Sign of Uneven Recovery (BBG)
- FCC Unlikely to Bless a Comcast-TWC Deal: Regulator (WSJ)
- Apple, China Mobile Sign Deal to Offer iPhone (WSJ)
- Japan approves $182 billion economic package, doubts remain (Reuters)
- Volcker Rule Won't Allow Banks to Use 'Portfolio Hedging' (WSJ)
- He went, he saw, he achieved nothing: Biden's Trip to Beijing Leaves China Air-Zone Rift Open (WSJ)
- Britain announces sharp upward revision to growth forecasts (Reuters)
- U.S. Airlines to Mortgage-Backed Debt Top List of Best ’14 Bets (BBG)
- Thaksin's homecoming hopes dashed as Thai crisis reignites (Reuters)
- Age of Austerity Nearing End May Boost Global Economy (BBG) - or it may expose that it was just corruption and incompetence at fault all along
- China aims to establish network of high-level FTAs (China Daily)
- With website improved, Obama to pitch health plan (Reuters)
- Joe Biden condemns China over air defence zone (FT)
- Tally of U.S. Banks Sinks to Record Low (WSJ)
- Black Friday Weekend Spending Drop Pressures U.S. Stores (BBG)
- Cyber Monday Sales Hit Record as Amazon to EBay Win Shoppers (BBG)
- Ukraine's Pivot to Moscow Leaves West Out in the Cold (WSJ)
- Investment banks set to cut pay again despite rise in profits (FT)
- Worst Raw-Material Slump Since ’08 Seen Deepening (BBG)
- Democrats Face Battles in South to Hold the Senate (WSJ)
- Hong Kong reports 1st case of H7N9 bird flu (AP)
- In Fracking, Sand Is the New Gold (WSJ)
- America’s Role as Consumer of Last Resort Goes Missing (BBG)
- Holiday sales sag despite blitz of deals (WSJ)
- Abe Support Falls Below 50% for First Time Amid Secrecy Drive (BBG)
- U.S. airlines give China flight plans for defense zone (Reuters), while Japan: no change to airlines' notification policy when flying in East China Sea zone (Reuters)
- Thai protesters seek to topple PM after clashes (Reuters)
- Hilton Seeks as Much as $2.4 Billion in Biggest Hotel IPO (BBG)
- Biden on delicate mission to defuse tensions in East Asia (Reuters)
- Fed eyes financial system weak link (WSJ)
- Pentagon in line of fire in US budget war (FT)
- China’s monetary squeeze collides with housing bubble (FT)
Asian equities have gotten off to a rocky start to the week despite some initial optimism around the twin-Chinese PMI beats at the start of the session. That optimism has been replaced by selling in Chinese equities, particularly small-cap Chinese stocks and A-shares after the Chinese security regulator issued a reform plan for domestic IPOs over the weekend. The market is expecting the reforms to lead to a higher number of IPOs in the coming quarters, and the fear is that this will bring a wave of new supply of stock to an already-underperforming market. Indeed, the Chinese securities regulator expects about 50 firms to complete IPOs by January 2014 – and another 763 firms have already submitted their IPO applications and are currently awaiting approval. A large number of small cap stocks listed on Hong Kong’s Growth Enterprise Market were down by more than 5% this morning, while the Shanghai Composite is down by 0.9%. The Hang Seng (+0.4%), Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (+0.8%) are performing better on a relative basis, and other China-growth assets including the AUDUSD is up 0.5%. The Nikkei (-0.1%) is also a touch weaker after Japan’s Q3 capital expenditure numbers came in well below estimates (1.5% YoY vs 3.6% forecast). Elsewhere Sterling continues to forge new multi-year highs against the USD (+0.3% overnight).
When the US government said the sequester would cripple its ability to single-handedly rule over the world, it wasn't kidding. Either that, or Joe Biden's Joint Strategic Plan to "curb" copyright infringement was just a case of very confused humor by the vice president gone badly wrong, and he meant to "encourage." Whatever the reason, the fact that the Obama administration was just busted with a $50 million case of software piracy involving none other than the US Army, is indicative that while the Bureau of Labor Statistics was adopting all the best features of the Chinese Department of Truth, the US government was busy copycatting China's respectful approach toward intellectual property. Yet what is even worse, is that the software that was pirated managed the US army's troop and supply movements: in other words, the US government relied on pirated software to prepare for and engage in eventual war.
In the aftermath of the latest House Republican debacle, the Senate had no choice but to go back to where it was on Thursday morning, and attempt to cobble a deal together. Only unlike Thursday, it now has just a little over 24 hours, and a House that it knows will not play ball with pretty much anything that the Senate proposes (at least not until that ultimate arbiter Joe Biden shows up and starts laughing). So while the outcome of this latest regression to square 0 is unknown, one thing we do know is that when it comes to matters such as these, Harry Reid is one very optimistic guy.
Update: Sure enough, NO HOUSE VOTE TONIGHT ON FISCAL IMPASSE PLAN, LAWMAKER SAYS
In a repeat of the Sequester farce, in which Boehner was unable to even get the needed votes to pass the House Republicans' version of their own bill, the debt ceiling impasse is becoming a sequester sequel deja vu when McConnell and Joe Biden had to hammer out a deal over the impotent political corpse of John Boehner. The reason, as various beltway journalists report, in this case the NRO, that House Republicans are now set to postpone tonight’s vote on their plan to end the fiscal impasse is that "The votes aren’t there," says a leadership aide. "We’ve been amending the bill all day, but we’ve been unable to get people around this strategy." As the NRO's Robert Costa adds, this development leaves Speaker John Boehner with few options as Thursday’s debt-ceiling deadline nears, and it throws the action back toward the Senate, which has been working on a bipartisan package.
UPDATE: The Day in Washington in 2 minutes added
In what can at best be described as a "fluid" situation, one in which according to initial press reports the White House and the GOP couldn't even compromise on what had actually been said, it seems that while both sides are eager to move on with the debt ceiling extension, the GOP is still hoping in trying to preserve some political capital, of which it will be left with virtually nil if it caves to every last demand by the democrats, namely "reopen the government and then we can negotiate" losing all leverage in the process. And a loss of all capital and leverage is precisely what the GOP will "achieve" according to Politico, which clarified that "House Republicans told Obama that they could reopen the federal government by early next week if the president and Senate Democrats agree to their debt-ceiling proposal" - a proposal which Obama has already said he would accept. In other words, full capitulation by Boehner appears imminent. Politico adds: "President Barack Obama and House Republicans clashed in a meeting Thursday afternoon over how soon the government can be reopened, even as the GOP offered to lift the debt limit for six weeks, according to sources familiar with the session. Aides will continue the discussion through the night to see if they could find common ground on how to move forward on the debt limit and government funding."
If you want to live the high life, you don't have to become a rap star, a professional athlete or a Wall Street banker. All it really takes is winning an election. Right now, more than half of all the members of Congress are millionaires, and most of them leave "public service" far wealthier than when they entered it. Since most of them have so much money, you would think that they would be willing to do a little "belt-tightening" for the sake of the American people. After all, things are supposedly "extremely tight" in Washington D.C. right now. In fact, just the other day Nancy Pelosi insisted that there were "no more cuts to make" to the federal budget. But even as they claim that things are so tough right now, our politicians continue to live the high life at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.
Whether or not it is an indication of potential legal troubles over Obama's horizon is unclear, but as Politico reports, the White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler, a Georgetown Law graduate who assumed office on June 30, 2011, "has told President Obama she plans to leave by the end of the year" and a search for her replacement has begun.
This weekend has launched a new level of the bull-ghey, as we have our second example this month of the market rallying not on something that happened, but on something that didn't. Thus, I humbly offer more good reasons that the bulls could conjure up to propel us to yet new record highs, because God knows, if there's one industrial powerhouse that we need to safely usher into a successful IPO, it's Twitter. So here we go: