This is just getting stupid. After expectations of a rebound in initial claims from 367K last week (naturally revised higher to 369K), to 370K (with the lowest of all sellside expectations at 355K), the past week mysteriously, yet so very unsurprisingly in the aftermath of the fudged BLS unemployment number, saw claims tumble to a number that is so ridiculous not even CNBC's Steve Liesman bothered defending it, or 339K. Ironically, not even the Labor Department is defending it: it said that "one large state didn't report some quarterly figures." Great, but what was reported was a headline grabbing number that is just stunning for reelection purposes. This was the lowest number since 2008. The only point to have this print? For 2-3 bulletin talking points at the Vice Presidential debate tonight. Everything else is now noise. It is also sad that the US "economy" has devolved to such trivial data fudging on a week by week basis, which makes even the Chinese Department of Truth appear amateurish by comparison. Needless to say, Not Seasonally Adjusted initial claims jumped by 26K to 327K in the past week but who's counting. Finally, what is the reason for ongoing QEternity if the employment situation is now back to normal. Finally, in completely ignored news, because who needs global trade when you have toner cartridge, and generally ink, the US trade deficit in August rose by 4.1% to $44.2 billion, on expectations of a deterioration to $44.0 billion. Then again nobody talks about the US trade deficit during presidential debates so all good here.
We know it is sometimes difficult. Europe puts out the numbers which many assume are real. Then they talk about the data as if it was real. Then they point to the numbers time and time again as if they were real and finally people make decisions and act upon the figures thinking they are real and then the train begins to go bump in the night and derailment is possible on the next track and people wonder how it happened. We are at that point where “bump” is about to happen because there is nothing left that can happen. The dream is about over. Soon everyone will be waking up. It will not be a good morning.
The notion that increased consumption leads to increased happiness is self-evidently false, yet consumption remains the focus of our economy and society. The appeal of consumption is understandable once we grasp that it is the only empowering act in a neofeudal society where we are essentially powerless. In the mindset of the consumerist economy, purchasing something feels empowering because the act of consuming is experienced as renewing our sense of identity and social status. But since that identity is inauthentic, the sense of euphoric renewal is short-lived and soon defaults to the base state of insecurity. Since the consumer is only empowered by buying and displaying status signifiers, the balance of their lives is experienced as powerless – that is, a chronic state of social defeat. In the act of consuming, the only feature that continues on after the initial euphoria fades is the debt taken on to make the purchase.
Yesterday even as the broader market slid materially, much to the dismay of permabulls everywhere, taking out post QE3 lows, one stock that obstinately refused to join the trend was Apple, which as we have noted before is the vanguard of the index known as NASDAAPL, and whichever way the NASDAAPL goes, so go America's hedge funds, all of which have decided to piggyback on the stock in hope of catching up to the market performance and avoid being redeemed to death. Today, we get a mirror image of yesterday, when after opening at its highs, AAPL has since tumbled 2.5% from its highs, following news that an Apples court has allowed sales of Samsung Galaxy to continue. Finally, the broader market, which ramped early on hope that the intolerable Basel III requirements would be delayed by 1 year (they will be eventually as they demand that banks sell trillions in assets: something they can't do), is about to slide not only with AAPL as the catalyst but following news from Dow Jones that the "EU Trialogue Didn't Discuss Basel III Delay Thursday." In other words, we ramped on a completely bogus rumor originating in Europe once again. What else is new?
One of the most egregious aspects of the Great Moderation was the issuance (and thus demand for) of large amounts of grossly mispriced extremely 'junky' debt at the peak as investors stymied by the lack of spread (return) pushed further and further out the credit risk spectrum. The driver at the time was the liquidity flood triggered by large-scale securitizations (and that ended well eh?); this time it is central banks providing the fuel for investors to seek yield through leverage (either through fundamental leverage in riskier firms or technical leverage through riskier instruments). To wit, the last few weeks have seen a resurgence of issuance of PIK-Toggle bonds.
Economics would benefit from self-restraint in regard to the usage of mathematics. Alfred Marshall made some useful suggestions:
I hope the blowout growth in mathematics in economics is a bubble that soon bursts.
- Use mathematics as shorthand language, rather than as an engine of inquiry.
- Keep to them till you have done.
- Translate into English.
- Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life
- Burn the mathematics.
- If you can’t succeed in 4, burn 3. This I do often.
A month ago, when RealtyTrac posted their latest US foreclosure numbers for the month of August, we presented what we called was the "Foreclosure Stuffing" thesis, explaining the explicit subsidy by the banks for the housing market, whereby the entire foreclosure process has now ground to a halt, and in doing so removing millions in inventory flow from the distressed end market, forcing limited buyers to chase what supply there is, and in the process boosting prices of existing inventory higher. In other words a traditional inventory removal-based subsidy. It is therefore not surprising that today RealtyTrac reported the latest foreclosure data, and lo and behold, just as we expected, the great foreclosure collapse has taken another leg lower, with the total number of foreclosures for the month of September sliding to 180.4K, a decrease of 7 percent from the previous month and down 16 percent from September 2011, and the lowest in five years!
With government bond markets increasingly manipulated directly via central-bank intervention - and becoming increasingly illiquid - the odd situation we find ourselves in once again is that CDS markets perhaps provide a 'cleaner' picture of where credit risk is actually being traded between market participants (hedgers or speculators). To wit, Bloomberg's ever-insightful Michael McDonough has noticed a significant divergence between market-implied perceptions of risk (CDS) and ratings-agencies perceptions among several nations. Most notably France and Italy (with Belgium close behind) appear considerably 'over-rated'. Italy's implied rating is equivalent to BB+ at S&P - well below its average rating of BBB+ and France's implied rating of A is around four notches below its composite rating. Spain also appears set for more pain as its market price implies a sub-investment grade rating is imminent.
- Global easing deluge resumes: Bank of Korea Slashes Policy Rate (WSJ)
- And Brazil: Brazil cuts Selic rate to new record low of 7.25 pct (Reuters)
- With Tapes, Authorities Build Criminal Cases Over JPMorgan Loss (NYT) Just don't hold your breath
- IMF snub reveals China’s political priorities (FT)
- Add a dash of trade wars: Revised Duties Imposed by U.S. on Chinese Solar Equipment (Bloomberg)
- IMF calls for action as euro zone crisis festers (Reuters)
- Dubai Losing Billions as Insecure Expats Send Money Abroad (BBG)
- Softbank in Advanced Talks to Acquire Sprint Nextel (WSJ)
- Lagarde calls for brake on austerity (FT)
- EU lambasts Turkey over freedoms (FT)
- Race Tightens in Two States (WSJ)
Ireland's total real economic debt runs at a staggering 524% of our GDP and 650% of our GNP. At 4.5% per annum cost of funding overall debt, the Irish economy interest-rate bill on the above levels of real economic indebtedness runs at circa 29.2% of our GNP. Do the comparison here - Ireland's interest-rate bill is equivalent to the total annual output of the Irish Industry (that's right - all of Ireland's Industrial output in 2011 amounted to less than 29.3% of our GNP). This is deemed to be 'long-term sustainable'... right... Ireland's real economic debt is 14.4% ahead of that of Japan!
IMF Sees Global Slump
Why Are Indians Suddenly Buying Diamonds?
Central Banks Dumping Bonds For Stocks
Is This The End of The Petro-dollar?
Good Questions That The Mainstream Media Should Be Asking
1. Why is Switzerland preparing for “major civil unrest” throughout Europe?
2. Is Turkey about to drag the rest of NATO, and the US, into a war with Syria?
3. Will the U.S. dollar soon lose its status as the primary reserve currency of the world?
4. Why is the UN pushing to have the authority to impose “global taxes” on all of us?
Will they ask? Hell No!
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