Following an Illinois Supreme Court ruling that struck down a pension reform plan aimed at closing a $100 billion funding gap, Moody's downgrades Chicago to junk, giving the city the dubious distinction of being the only major city "in recent history" to carry such a low rating other than Detroit. Chicago now faces accelerated payments to creditors of more than $2 billion.
At least 22 states are facing budget shortfalls thanks to a combination of fiscal mismanagement and falling oil prices. The negative impact on the public sector has been dramatic suggesting that in the event of a sustained economic downturn, citizens' patience for austerity could wear thin leading to political instability and social unrest.
- Fed's Yellen says met firm at heart of leak probes (Reuters)
- EU Raises Growth Outlook as ECB Counters Greek Threat (BBG)
- Hillary Clinton Takes Hit in WSJ Poll, but Holds Edge Over GOP Rivals (WSJ)
- China stocks slump on tighter margin rules, IPOs; Hong Kong down (Reuters)
- McDonald’s Chief Promises Turnaround in a Restructuring (NYT)
- German Bond Market Selloff Continues (WSJ)
- Vanguard overtakes Pimco’s Total Return following outflows in wake of Bill Gross’s departure (WSJ)
- EU Demands Concessions as Greece Hurtles Toward Deadlines (BBG)
- Junk Bonds Are The New Haven Assets (BBG)
No one earned it. No one saved it. But here’s our prediction: Someone will miss it when it is gone! If the US money supply were a deck of cards, Uncle Sam has been slipping in extra aces for the last 44 years. In the third quarter, net liquidity is likely to turn negative. And the stock market is likely to correct. What then? The Fed will panic and announce QE4… and other measures.
As 2,200 former Wal-Mart employees struggle to understand how "plumbing issues" could have possibly cost them their jobs literally overnight, and as the Labor Relations Board considers a complaint suggesting the retailer is using "clogs and leaks" as a pretense for retaliating against employees campaigning for workers' rights, a California city is set to lose 10% of its total tax revenue. Meanwhile, the plumbing mystery deepens.
The cynicism among the informed classes has never been so deep. Even the pompom boys in the cheerleading clubs like CNBC and The Wall Street Journal express wonderment at the levitation of stock indexes and bond values. They chatter about a “correction” of 20 percent being a healthful tonic that would clear away some dross and quickly usher in a new episode of “growth” — or growthiness, which, like truthiness, became an acceptable approximation of the real thing. The truth, as opposed to truthiness, is they no longer believe their own bullshit about growthiness. Behind the financial jitters of the informed minority is the greater fear of social unrest.
Domestic energy production continues to increase despite the anticipated shale shakeout. The precipitous decline in gasoline prices were welcomed by most but government exise tax revenue was in jeopardy.
Collapsing crude prices have left America's oil boom towns cash-strapped in the face of double-digit population growth and increased levels of drug trafficking and violent crime. As local governments struggle to cope, a prolonged slump for oil could imperil the stability of many once quiet communities.
The oil glut we are experiencing now reflects a worldwide affordability crisis. Because of a lack of affordability, demand is depressed. This lack of demand keeps prices low–below the cost of production for many producers. If the affordability issue cannot be fixed, it threatens to bring down the system by discouraging investment in oil production.
It may come as a surprise to some that across from the stark Greek economic calamity is an industry that has swam, so to say, while everything else has sunk, because while virtually every other aspect of the Greek economy is in shambles, its shipping industry is not only the pride of the nation, but has created more Greek billionaires than any other aspect of the economy. As Bloomberg recounts, Greeks have long dominated the shipping business. The nation’s fleet, numbering 3,669 vessels in 2013, is the largest in the world, according to the annual report of the Union of Greek Shipowners, making up more than 7 percent of the Greek economy and providing 192,000 jobs in 2013. And, perhaps most relevant, Greek shipping has also made billionaires of the country’s four largest ship owners by tonnage: John Angelicoussis, George Prokopiou, Peter Livanos and George Economou. The quartet control a combined fortune of $7.6 billion. It is these billionaires that are now suddenly sweating...
- 5 Things to Watch in February’s Jobs Report (WSJ)
- Draghi Declares Victory for Bond-Buying Before It Starts (BBG)
- Apple Pay Sign-Ups Get Tougher as Banks Respond to Fraud (WSJ)
- As World’s Hottest Economy Unravels, Nigerians Feel the Squeeze (BBG)
- EU discontent over French budget deal's 'political bazaar' (Reuters)
- Foreign Takeovers See U.S. Losing Tax Revenue (WSJ)
- Goldman Shareholders’ Hope for Bigger Payout Dashed by Fed (BBG)
- Europe Stocks Headed for 31% Surge This Year Amid QE, Citi Says (BBG)
- Dollar revs up for jobs data, euro bonds rally on ECB (Reuters)
Throughout history governments have often overestimated how much their citizens are willing to accept. Japan has a beautiful stoic culture that has been able to endure tremendous suffering. That said, everyone has a breaking point. And that’s when you see that there’s a big difference between love of country and love of government. Bottom line - it’s already starting to unravel.
Government mandated fiat currency simply does not work in the long run. We have empirical evidence galore – every fiat currency system in history has failed, except the current one, which has not failed yet. The modern fiat money system is more ingeniously designed than its historical predecessors and has a far greater amount of accumulated real wealth to draw sustenance from, so it seems likely that it will be relatively long-lived as far as fiat money systems go. In a truly free market, fiat money would never come into existence though. Greenspan was wrong – government bureaucrats cannot create something “as good as gold” by decree.
Having, as we previously explained, been given 'just enough rope' by the Germans, we thought it worth looking at just what Greece capitulated on (or perhaps a shorter version - what they did not capitulate on) and how Tsipras and Varoufakis will sell this to their fellow politicians... and most of all people.