It's almost as if someone is actively trying to force the Muslim world to launch an all out war against the "developed" west. A week ago, it was a film mocking Mohammad which led to the death of the US ambassador in Libya. Today, it is a French magazine which has ridiculed the Prophet Mohammad by portraying him naked in cartoons, which, as Reuters logically adds, "threatens to fuel the anger of Muslims around the world who are already incensed by a film depiction of him as a womanizing buffoon." It is as if the anti-Iran strategy of antagonizing the country to its breaking point, merely so the first attack comes from them in response to endless provocations, and a defensive retaliation can be spun to the "free world", has now been adopted against the entire Muslim world now, and all the insolvent Western countries are praying they get attacked just so the media spin will coalesce the sheep around the "developed" democracies in an all out "retaliatory" assault, which among other things, liberates tens of millions of barrel of oil equivalents, even as it spreads democracy and unlimited credit cards.
Since the very beginning of my public writings, I have leaned heavily towards the path of inflation, by which I mean money printing or its electronic equivalent, because even a cursory review of history will show that leaders have always chosen a little money printing today and the possibility of inflation tomorrow over the immediate pain of having to live within their means or with the consequences of their poor decisions. That was just a fancy way of saying 'humans will be humans,' and while our technology has advanced tremendously over the past few decades, our DNA blueprints are virtually identical to those found in people living 50,000 years ago. History can tell us much. Our current predicament has its roots way back in the early 1980s, when something changed in our collective psyches that allowed us to abandon thrift and savings in favor of spending and borrowing.
2 U.S. Supreme Court Justices – And Numerous Other Top Government Officials – Warn of Dictatorship
The record US, and global, drought has come and gone but its aftereffects are only now going to be felt, at least according to a new Rabobank report, which asserts that food prices are about to soar by 15% or more following mass slaughter of farm animals which will cripple supply once the current inventory of meat is exhausted. From Sky News: "The worst drought in the US for almost a century, combined with droughts in South America and Russia, have hit the production of crops used in animal feed - such as corn and soybeans - especially hard, the report said. As a result farmers have begun slaughtering more pigs and cattle, temporarily increasing the meat supply - but causing a steep rise in the price of meat in the long-term as production slows. "Farmers producing meat are simply not making enough money at the moment because of the high cost of feed," Nick Higgins, commodity analyst at Rabobank, told Sky News. "As a result they will reduce their stock - both by slaughtering more animals and by not replacing them." Somewhat ironically. food prices are now being kept at depressed prices as the "slaughtered" stock clears the market. However once that is gone look for various food-related prices to soar: a process which will likely take place in early 2013, just in time to add to the shock from the Fiscal Cliff, which even assuming a compromise, will detract from the spending capacity of US (and by implication global) consumers.
With tomorrow's CDS roll (when indices change composition and on-the-run maturities are extended) and Friday's major equity option expiration and S&P index reweightings, it would appear, as UBS' Art Cashin notes, that the action of the last few days (and even last week) will be largely driven by the creation of complex strategies to "milk out every ounce of profit that might be available in such huge [technical] shifts." Combine this technical factor with the Autumnal Equinox, of W.D.Gann infamy, and the stage is set for fireworks as we approach Friday.
Fishing boat armada? Check; Threat to dump JGBs? Check; One thing was missing, and that was cyberwarfare, aka #OccupyJapaneseServers. That too has now been checked. Globe and Mail reports that at least 19 Japanese websites, including those of a government ministry, courts and a hospital, have come under cyber attack, apparently from China, police said Wednesday. Many of the websites were altered to show messages proclaiming Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands, a Japanese-administered chain Tokyo calls Senkaku, the National Police Agency (NPA) said in a statement. The NPA has confirmed that about 300 Japanese organisations were listed as potential targets for cyber attack on the message board of Honker Union, a Chinese “hacktivism” group, it said.
Anti-Japan protests may have quieted down on the day after the anniversary of Japan's invasion of China (which is not saying much: after disappearing for two weeks, perhaps in some Las Vegas strip club, the Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping denounced Japan's decision to buy disputed islands "as a farce" on Wednesday and said Tokyo should "rein in its behavior"), but that does not mean anything has been resolved, and the Chinese 1000 boat armada is still supposedly on its way to the Senkakus. Elsewhere, the US foreign department may have to promptly find an anti-Buddhist hate tape made in the US, because otherwise the attack of the US ambassador Gary Locke's car in Beijing may have to be explained using good old fashioned simmering hatred and anti-American sentiment without an actual inflamatory event. LA Times reports: "The car of the U.S. ambassador to China was surrounded by a small group of demonstrators on Tuesday, who damaged the vehicle and briefly prevented it from entering the U.S. Embassy compound in Beijing. A YouTube video of the incident showed the protesters chanting slogans such as “down with the U.S. imperialists” and, in an apparent reference to the Chinese government’s purchase of U.S. government debt, “return the money!”
It appears that the Central Banks have finally reached Peak Efficacy, after shooting themselves in the head with Bernanke's asinine QEternity which leaves nothing else to be priced in. Last night's JPY10 trillion fact (no longer rumor, whisper, or promise) of more LSAP from the BoJ had its typical knee-jerk reaction but within 5 hours it was 50% retraced and now at 9 hours the entire move (and its accompanying S&P 500 future's correlated risk-on surge) have been fully retraced. In other news, there is a rumor that the Bank of Zambia is contemplated proceeding with open-ended easing to infinity and beyond. Sadly, none of this matters at all any more as monetary policy is no longer a factor in a world in which all the future CTRL-Ping is already accounted for.
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Conflict between Japan and China Intensifies/Rajoy still refuses to ask for aid/Europe stock exchanges fall in price/
Retail has long been a source of both low-skill entry-level jobs and well-paid careers. Yes, people love to browse and stroll down the mall or shopping district, and this social/novelty function will continue. But can retailers make money off of people browsing? If retail contracts, what does this do to skyhigh commercial property valuations? The same can be asked of cubicle-farm office parks. As telecommuting and contract labor expand, the need for energy-wasting office parks and long commutes will also decline. Technology cannot be stopped, and neither can the drive to cut costs by cutting what can be cut, labor. We can legislate certain aspects of how technology is used, and fiddle with tax incentives and trade restrictions, but we cannot make people drive somewhere to go shopping or stop the 3-D printing/fabrication revolution. What all this calls into question is the entire financialization (debt-based)-consumerist model of "growth" and employment. Decades ago, young men were employed to pump gasoline at gas stations; these jobs all went away as self-service fueling became the norm. At least one state (Oregon, I believe) mandates that all gasoline is pumped by an employee of the station. This rule has created hundreds of jobs that are not necessary in terms of market-demand but that are certainly welcome.
we wrote yesterday.
month ago we warned that loan delinquencies in Spain were bad and getting worse at a concerning rate. The most recent data update, which revised that 'bad' print to absolutely dismal, has broken records for just how ugly things are for Rajoy and his fellow countrymen. Spanish bank loan delinquencies rose to an all-time (50-year) record 9.86% with the last four months seeing simply unprecedented acceleration in the rate of bad loans. Numerically, this means that an absolutely whopping €172 billion of the €1.7 trillion in Spanish financial assets is now money bad, and will no longer generate cash flows. This amounts to about 17% of total Spanish GDP. In GDP-equivalent terms, this would be equivalent to $2.5 trillion in US bank loans being "bad." Which, when one cuts all the prevarication and lies, is probably what the true status of the US financial system is. Add to this the now relentless deposit flight which is depleting Spanish bank coffers and one can see why the European credit death spiral is very aptly named.
As the FT reports today “In early scenes from Goethe’s tragedy, Mephistopheles persuades the heavily indebted Holy Roman Emperor to print paper money – notionally backed by gold that had not yet been mined – to solve an economic crisis, with initially happy results until more and more money is printed and rampant inflation ensues.” The classic play highlighted, Weidmann argued, “the core problem of today’s paper money-based monetary policy” and the “potentially dangerous correlation of paper money creation, state financing and inflation”. In yesterday’s speech in Frankfurt, Goethe’s birthplace, he said: “The state in Faust Part Two is able at first to rid itself of its debts while consumer demand grows strongly and fuels a strong recovery. But this later develops into inflation and the monetary system is destroyed by rapid currency depreciation.” The name Mephistopheles as used by Goethe comes from the Hebrew word for destroyer or liar. Mephistopheles is a fallen archangel, one of the 7 great princes of Hell and in Goethe’s ‘Faust.’ Mephistopheles is acting for his overlord Satan and seals the pact with Faust. Weidmann is suggesting that the ECB’s current monetary policies are a Faustian pact or a pact with the Devil and that they secure short term gain but will end in the disaster of rampant inflation.
how little Presidential policies had to do with it. Most of the time, domestic and global business cycles, monetary policy and other factors were the primary drivers. However, to recreate the policy conditions which prevailed would require a centrist - who most likely would have been excommunicated by his party for heresy as the political middle ground occupied by the party non-conformists is gone.
The August housing starts number was a disappointment, printing at 750K on expectations of a rise to 767K from last month's 746K, now revised lower to 733K. This would have been a boost to a market trained to expect more QE on any economic weakness, if only all QE in perpetuity, and certainly at leat $85 billion in monthly flow, was not already priced in. As a result, we are slowly getting to the dreaded point where bad news is once again bad news, at which all faith in the Fed as a monetary policy vehicle is lost (since Fiscal policy is now perpetually deadlocked). If there was any good news, it was in the single family starts which printed at 535K in August, a rise of 28K from July, and the highest since April 2010 (when housing had again "bottomed") driven by a surge in new building in the Midwest to 134K, from 111K. Finally housing permits which are nothing but noise, declined but beat expectations modestly. Since permits are a completely meaningless category and are purely used by hedge funds to game the market (they cost a token amount of money to procure, involve no actual work, and are there merely to frame the "housing has bottomed" trope time after time, until disproven), just like Libor, there is no point to observe them.
- Deposit Flight From Europe Banks Eroding Common Currency (Bloomberg)
- BOJ eases monetary policy as global slowdown bites (Reuters)
- Stalled Rally Puts Pressure on Spain (WSJ)
- Missed Chances Stoke Skepticism Over EU’s Crisis Fight (Bloomberg)
- Germany's big worry: China, not Greece (Reuters)
- Goldman names new CFO, heralding end of an era (Reuters)
- Russia Demands U.S. Agency Halt Work (WSJ)
- Fed’s Dudley Says Easing Vital to Spur Too-Slow Growth (Bloomberg)
- Romney under fire from all sides (FT)
- Poland cuts red tape to spur growth (FT)
- IMF to Put Argentina on Path to Censure Over Inflation Data (Bloomberg)
Those who expected a major response following the surprising, and "preemptive" easing by the Bank of Japan which has now joined the freely CTRL-Ping club of central banks, and went to bed looking for a major pop in risk this morning will be disappointed. The reason is that with every passing day that Spain does not request a bailout, all those who bought Spanish bonds on the assumption that Spain will request a bailout look dumber and dumber (a dynamic we explained nearly two months ago). As a result, the EURUSD has been dragging ever lower, and is now playing with 1.30 support. Providing no additional clarity was Spanish deputy PM Soraya Saenz de Santamaria who said Spain will decide if and when to trigger an ECB bailout once all details have been analyzed. Well the details have been more than analyzed, and Spain has been more than happy to receive the benefits of its bailout, it has yet to trigger the cause. Ironically in a Barclays study,over 78% of investors see Spain requesting a bailout by year end (even though as we explained over the weekend Spain really has to do this ahead of its major cash drawing bond redemption schedule in October when it may well run out of cash). And so, just like the US Fiscal Ceiling, the global markets are expecting some Catchy 22 deus ex machina, where traders can get their cake and politicians can eat it too. Alas, there never is such a thing as a free lunch. And what is making the much needed outcome even less probable is that Spanish bonds this morning are actually trading tighter once again making a bailout less than likely. The Spanish zombie has left its grave and is now romping through the neighborhood unsupervised.
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Cheap Diamonds in the Future
Five Deadly Effects of QE3
2. QE3 is great for insiders, but bad for the public.
3. QE3 will artificially keep borrowing costs of the government low… For now.
4. QE3 will not reduce unemployment
5. QE3 will increase inflation
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