Yesterday, we read with some amusement that Goldman has moved Guy Saidenberg, reportedly one of the greater profit centers at the firm - and how could he not be when he always traded against Tom Stolper's recommendations which led to tens of thousands of pips in losses to those who listened to him over the past five years - from head of global foreign-exchange trading to a new role, as co-head of commodities. Why did Goldman decide to scrap its once uber-profitable FX vertical and redo it from scratch? Simple - the ability to rig and manipulate FX markets, which are now under every global regulator's microscope after the "Cartel" members so foolishly let themselves be exposed to the entire world, is no longer there, as confirmed last night by news that a dozen large investors have filed a joint lawsuit against 12 banks for "allegedly conspiring to rig global foreign-exchange prices." Allegedly? Hasn't everyone read the Cartel chatroom transcripts yet?
There is just too damn much oil stuck in the United States with no real market for it to go to as the rising PADD 3 inventories pointed out in the latest EIA reports.
Putin Is No Mad Man to Russians as Power Play Trumps Economy (BBG)
Alibaba picks U.S. for IPO; in talks with six banks for lead roles (Reuters)
Russia hearts selling German energy: Billionaire Fridman’s L1 Buys RWE Unit for $7.1 Billion (Bloomberg)
Malaysia plane search straddles continent as police focus on crew (Reuters)
Saudi Crown Prince’s visit to China set to bolster investment (Al-Awsat)
Bugatti-Driving 26-Year-Old Tied to Penny-Stock Website (BBG)
Vodafone agrees $10 billion deal to buy Spain's Ono (Reuters)
The Hidden Rot in the Jobs Numbers (WSJ)
SocGen Ex-Trader Kerviel Walks to Forget Loss as Judgment Looms (BBG)
U.S. Banks’ $75 Billion Payout at Stake in Fed Tests (BBG)
"It's really a crisis situation," exclaims one California city manager, "and it's going to get worse in time if this drought doesn't alleviate." For the state that produces one-third of the nation's fruits and vegetables, the driest spell in 500 years has prompted President Obama to make $100 million in livestock-disaster aid available within 60 days to help the state rebound from what he describes is " going to be a very challenging situation this year... and potentially some time to come." As NBC reports, Governor Jerry Brown believes the "unprecedented emergency" could cost $2.8 billion in job income and $11 billion in state revenues - and as one farmer noted "we can't recapture that." Dismal recollections of the 1930's Dust Bowl are often discussed as workers (and employers) are "packing their bags and leaving town..." leaving regions to "run the risk of becoming desolate ghost towns as local governments and businesses collapse."
Big Oil Is Gaming the System to RAISE Domestic U.S. Prices
Housing Bubble 2.0: "More Flipping, Bigger Profits, In Less Time" With 156,862 Homes Flipped In 2013Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/30/2014 11:43 -0400
The topic of home flipping is not new here ("Flip That House" In These Bubbling Cities, Housing Bubble 2.0 Edition: "25 Markets Where Flipping Homes Is Most Profitable", etc) - indeed that best-known flashback of the last housing bubble is easily one of the best indications just how fragile the current housing bubble truly is as investors gobble up real estate not with the intention of keeping it but merely to sell to the next greater fool, in the process setting marginal prices based purely on the availability of cheap money, money which has now been tapered by $20 billion in the past two months. However, to get the full picture on just how pervasive "house flipping" has become, we go to the source, RealtyTrac, which has just released its 2013 summary of this troubling trend.
After Seven Lean Years, Part 2: US Commercial Real Estate: The Present Position And Future ProspectsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/20/2014 16:32 -0400
The first installment of our series on U.S. real estate by correspondent Mark G. focused on residential real estate. In Part 2, Mark explains why the commercial real estate (CRE) market is set to implode. The fundamentals of demographics, stagnant household income and an overbuilt retail sector eroded by eCommerce support only one conclusion: commercial real estate in the U.S. will implode as retail sales and profits weaken.
Chalk this one up to US (f)austerity, and a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bull that forgot to add Pentobarbital among the billions in pork spending. Two months ago we reported that due to a shortage of Pentobarbital, Ohio would be unable to execute death row convicts. It appears that the shortage has persisted into the new year, and now some states are taking matters into their own hands. Or rather the hands of the firing squad. As NBC reports, due to the lethal drug shortage, lawmakers in at least two states to call for the return of firing squads. "Missouri state Rep. Rick Brattin, a Republican representing Harrisonville, introduced legislation Friday (.pdf) that would add five-person firing squads as an alternative to the state's current method of capital punishment, lethal injection."
In the first step towards President Obama's income inequality fight, he is unveiling "Promise Zones" today... we can't wait to hear this one..."Promise Zones are a new way of doing business,” the administration official said. “They will be led by local community leadership working toward a common goal … supported by the federal government.” Participants will get priority for federal grants and help applying from an array of agencies. Wonderful, sounds great - how are we paying for that again?
The fifth anniversary of Zero Hedge is just around the corner, and so, for the fifth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined objectively by the number of page views. Those eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to our top articles of 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. For everyone else, without further ado, these are the articles that readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days...
Never was 'location, location, location' more important than in the current housing 'recovery'. From the Bay Area to Pittsburgh and from Denver to Oklahoma, the divergence in price movements is incredible. As the WSJ reports, while headlines gloat of several cities enjoying full-scale rebounds, these cities are largely exceptions with prices in many part of the US still well below the peak. In some 1,500 cities, values are still at least 25% lower than their previous highs. For the 'bubble' zip-sodes, "what you've got is something other than a sensible market-deciding price. You've got it goosed by the terms of finance, which are extraordinary," warns one realist realtor, "prices shouldn't be up this high, this quickly. It's a big, flapping yellow flag saying we're back in territory that we should not be in."
December 23rd, 1913 is a date which will live in infamy. That was the day when the Federal Reserve Act was pushed through Congress. Many members of Congress were absent that day, and the general public was distracted with holiday preparations. Now we have reached the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, and most Americans still don't know what it actually is or how it functions. But understanding the Federal Reserve is absolutely critical, because the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems. Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 recessions or depressions, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by 98 percent, and the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger. This insidious debt-based financial system has literally made debt slaves out of all of us, and it is systematically destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have. The truth is that we do not have to have a Federal Reserve. The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when we did not have a central bank. If we are ever going to turn this nation around economically, we are going to have to get rid of this debt-based financial system that is centered around the Federal Reserve. On the path that we are on now, there is no hope.
With still more than half the homeowners with a mortgage in the state of Nevada underwater on their mortage and a hoped for recovery in prices now petering out as 'investors' realize banks have completed foreclosures and are set to unload their huge inventories, fear is growing that Las Vegas (and for that matter Atlantic City) could be the next Detroit. However, as FoxNY reports, the nascent dreams of the good old days face an even bigger headwind - that of gambling regulation easements (online gambling for instance) and globalization which are impacting their biggest industries. Time will tell if these two cities will end up like Detroit.
As an experiment, Bloomberg Businessweek typed the names of the 50 states into Google to see what people most frequently ask about them. The questions range from dumb (well, mostly dumb) to revealing, both about the states and about the people doing the searching. Lots of questions about carrying a gun, buying alcohol, getting divorced, and fighting union organizers. Whether a state is in the Midwest or South seems to be a particular obsession. But the most common question about the states is even more basic: Is it a state? or Is it racist?