The flu outbreak in the Ukraine, which is possibly the result of some virulent H1N1 mutation, continues to grow more alarming.
The Guardian: A flu pandemic in Ukraine that has triggered a nationwide panic is worsening this weekend with up to 400 deaths already reported.
The arrival of the virus, suspected by the World Health Organisation to be swine flu but possibly a combination of the H1N1 strain and a respiratory illness, has paralysed the country’s fragile health system and could even lead to the postponement of the general election which is scheduled for 17 January.
Seven people died and 35,000 new cases were reported on Friday, said the health minister, bringing the total number of people infected to 1.6 million out of a population of 46 million.
The onslaught of the virus has seen all the major political figures eagerly exploiting the outbreak. Prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced the arrival of an epidemic on 30 October, when only one case had been reported, and has closed all schools and banned public gatherings – including campaigning political rallies – for the past three weeks…
"This is very dangerous,’ said Igor Shkrobanets, chief of the health ministry in the western district of Chernivtsi. "One or another politician will gain from this situation, but the doctors and their patients certainly will not."
He said the level of fear was such that people were calling out ambulances when they felt the first touch of a fever and hospitals were "overloaded".
In such uneasy times, bloggers and conspiracy theorists have whipped up fears by suggesting that bubonic plague, or a new, more lethal strain of the flu, was sweeping Ukraine and that there was a massive cover-up of the numbers of deaths.
"We are seeing reports of bodies lying in the streets," said one. Others claim
Broad capital spending cuts, and curtailed production have landed machinery companies in the pits but mining equipment makers will likely be among the first to emerge from under the recessionary rubble. The reason is that commodity prices are up substantially from their recent lows, at a time when the world is running out of all those precious natural resources.
Highly Coveted Resources
The main commodities driving original equipment and aftermarket parts demand include coal, copper, and iron ore. Developing nations are heavy users of natural resources including copper, coal and iron ore. The developing world is estimated to use roughly three to five times more commodities for every one percentage point of GDP growth than the developed countries.
Coal – Rush to Power
While coal production in the U.S. has slowed in part because of environmental concerns, such concerns haven’t slowed developing nations coal rush to fuel industry and generate electricity.
According to BP Statistical Review of World Energy released in June 2009, global coal consumption rose by a “below-average” 3.1% in 2008, yet coal remained the fastest-growing fuel in the world for a sixth consecutive year. China is the world’s largest coal consumer with a 43% share in 2008.
The main driver of demand for coal (and natural gas) is the inexorable growth in energy needs for power generation. Coal remains the backbone fuel of the power gen sector. In its World Energy Outlook published on Nov. 10, 2009, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects coal to see by far the biggest increase in demand globally over the projection period of 2007 to 2030. The IEA further expects coal’s share of the global generation mix rising 3% to 44% by 2030. (Fig. 1) China will account for the lion’s share of power gen capacity growth.
The US EIA also projects world coal consumption increases by 49% from 2006 to 2030 (Fig. 2), and that China’s coal consumption to grow at an average annual rate of 2.7% through the year 2030. Because China has limited reserves of oil and natural gas, coal remains the leading source of energy in its industrial sector. As China boasts 13% of the world’s coal reserves, the country is expected to continue to meet a majority of domestic demand with coal-fired power through
Calculated Risk points to an interesting but short article at Bloomberg by Meredith Whitney in which she postulates that once the Fed withdraws its support for the mortgage backed securities market, mortgage rates will move up and the banks will be faced with more writedowns.
CR plots the historical spread of of the 30 year mortgage versus the ten year Treasury and comes to the conclusion that the Fed’s intervention has amounted to somewhere around a 50 BP subsidy so far. He then postulates that we could expect to see rates increase by this amount once the Fed exits the market.
Now let me say that I bow to no one in my admiration for CR. When stretched for time, it’s the only blog I read and it’s always the first blog I turn to. The author gets the data and then reaches well thought out conclusions and doesn’t seem to let personal bias intrude on his analysis. Having said that, I think he may be underestimating the potential effect on rates that may occur when there is no more Fed support.
If you read me often you will have seen this quote before. From George Will, “History tends to repeat itself until it doesn’t.” That is the problem that I have with CRs chart on this one. It presupposes that the world hasn’t changed and that the historical relationship between Treasuries and mortgage rates will persist.
Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. It might not because the world has changed. We’ve not seen before the unprecedented political interference in the market for mortgage securities that we have witnessed over the past 18 months. Contract law has been stretched to the point of breaking and what was normally considered standard procedure for resolving mortgage defaults has been turned on its head.
I have no idea as to whether or how much investors have been harmed by government actions and I suppose that no one at this point in time can generate any verifiable numbers. I’m not sure that, in fact, that makes much difference.
When the Fed does withdraw, the risk premium that investors demand is once again going to be subject to market discipline. Now it might not
I’ve noticed Mondays have been very strong lately; the past few weeks government officials worldwide reiterated stimulus, money printing, and more stimulus – first in the G20 (2 weekends ago) and then in Asia (last weekend). But then I thought back and it seemed like every Monday we seem to walk in to things that hammer the US dollar, and the market soars. So I thought I’d look a bit closer.
Whatever (or whomever) is doing this, seems to love marking the markets up on Monday. Just by chance? Or am I data mining? If the pattern holds you should be buying hand over fist for "Monday Mark Up"… or at least covering any index short exposure. Considering we are sitting just over the 20 day moving average and we’ll be drunk in some announcement over the weekend that will cause the US dollar to sink…. odds are for another one lovely Monday?
I’ve cut back my index short upon noticing this trend plus the near term support level ….
So, here we are. More than two years into what started out as a credit crisis, one plus year after the Lehman collapse and a question that pertains to the one of the central workings of the equities market cannot be answered.
At last evening’s Market Technicians Association Educational Foundation seminar, the question your trusty moderator (that’s me) posed to the esteemed panel with its decades of experience was in regards to volume. Specifically, the equity markets’ volume as recorded each day for every stock traded. That is, the volume that accompanies the price action that results in the market capitalization of the stock market that results in the market value of every investor’s portfolio.
Many market analysts have noted the low volume that has accompanied this bull rally. Some have used this fact as a reason to be more cautious, even bearish. Others have cited that low volume bull rallies have occurred in the past and this one is no different. However, in the past, the volume recorded for equity trades completed were quite accurate and reliable, being recorded on exchanges and reported accordingly. Today, the picture is not quite so clear.
With so much trading occurring in the off the exchanges hidden recesses of dark pools and structured products, I asked my very knowledgeable panel, can any investor rely on the volume figures being generated in this current market to measure the strength of the price action of a stock? The answer received was, "We don’t know". Well, if this well connected, highly informed group of individuals doesn’t know, you can easily assume that just about no one knows. Do you?
The importance of understanding this issue goes beyond its impact on basic market analysis tools (such as technical analysis) and cuts to the heart of a financial system that is still shrouded in opaqueness.
Transparency remains elusive. Yet, transparency (knowing what investors need to know) is vital to the restoration of a sustained confidence in a system that can be measured. When trades occur in the dark corners of dark pools and other off-exchange structured products, clarity as to what exactly is transpiring becomes the victim and investors seeking to measure the market become the equivalent of a bystander to a drive-by financial shooting.
A "mirage" of recovery, dependent on government stimulus programs, is not exactly a recovery in the normal sense of the word. And publicizing incorrect numbers, only to revise them down later, appears to be good for public mood and the stock market. - Ilene
Last week, a "reality check" rippled through the markets following weak data on housing starts and industrial production, said Nigel Gault and Brian Bethune, U.S. economists for IHS Global Insight. They expect further "mixed and somewhat ambiguous" reports in the coming week, but, on whole, they say "the evidence is still positive and continues to point to a nascent recovery" that will need "strong policy support" for some time.
Even four years after the peak, the state of the housing market remains central to the medium-term outlook.
Construction, sales and prices picked up over recent months after hitting generational lows, boosted in part by federal policies and in part by improvement in some of the fundamentals. But the weakening in the October data ahead of the anticipated expiration of the federal home-buying subsidy has put the strength of those fundamentals to the test.
The home-buyer tax credit, of course, has now been extended and even expanded. But buyers and builders didn’t know that in October.
Last week, we found out that builders cut back on permits and starts on single-family homes in October, in anticipation that the tax credit would expire on Nov. 30.
The other big story for the week could be the revision to third-quarter growth figures. Last month, the Commerce Department said real gross domestic product grew at a 3.5% annualized rate, the first gain in a year. On Tuesday, that figure is likely to be revised to about 2.8%.
The largest source of revisions will come from nonresidential construction spending and net exports. Spending on nonresidential structures was weaker than first thought, while imports were stronger than believed, suggesting that more of the gains from increased sales in the third quarter accrued to foreign producers, rather than domestic companies. Inventories will be revised lower.
"Despite the likely downward revision, we still believe that the third
[C]onceivably, its failure could have resulted in a 1930’s-style global financial and economic meltdown, with catastrophic implication[s].
From July 2007, AIG’s financial situation deteriorated while so-called “AAA” collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) dropped in value. AIG sold credit default swaps (CDSs) on these CDOs and had to post more collateral, as the prices plummeted.
Goldman Sachs was AIGFP’s (UK-based AIG Financial Products) largest CDS counterparty with around $22.1 billion, or about one-third of the problematic trades. Goldman underwrote some of the CDOs underlying its own CDSs, and also underwrote a large portion of the CDOs against which French banks SocGen, Calyon, Bank of Montreal, and Wachovia bought CDS protection. Goldman provided pricing on these CDOs to SocGen and Calyon. Goldman was a key contributor to AIG’s liquidity strain and the resulting systemic risk. (See “Goldman’s Undisclosed Role in AIG’s Distress”)
By mid September 2008, AIG’s long-term credit rating was downgraded, its stock price plummeted, and AIG couldn’t meet its borrowing needs in the short-term credit markets. According to SIGTARP, “without outside intervention, the company faced bankruptcy, as it simply did not have the cash that was required to provide to AIGFP’s counterparties as collateral.” [P.9] The Federal Reserve Board with Treasury’s encouragement authorized a bailout. 2
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) extended an $85 billion revolving credit facility, so AIG could make its collateral payments to Goldman and some of its CDO buyers. AIG also met other obligations, such as payments under its securities lending programs owed to Goldman and some of its CDO buyers. (See also: “AIG Discloses Counterparties to CDS, GIA, and Securities Lending Transactions.”)
Goldman “Would Have Realized a Loss”
Fed Chairman Bernanke said AIG’s crisis put the world at risk for a global financial meltdown. Goldman purchased little credit default protection3 against an AIG collapse. Even if Goldman escaped a collateral clawback of the billions it held from AIG4, the
Japan has been hopping in and out of deflation for decades. Japan is back in deflation once again. The Wall Street Journal is reporting Deflation’s Return Weighs on Japan
The Bank of Japan faces mounting pressure to loosen its policy as deflation tightens its grip on the nation’s economy, even as some other central banks begin to roll back stimulus steps amid signs of economic recovery.
The Japanese central bank on Friday kept rates unchanged and upgraded its assessment of the economy, citing rising exports and industrial output. The bank, which has stuck with super-easy monetary policy for more than a decade, has hoped to follow other central banks in looking at ways to tighten policy. Instead, Japan’s government and economists are urging it to adopt new easing steps, such as purchasing long-term government bonds.
The calls grew louder Friday after the government declared that the nation’s economy was in deflation — a decline in the general level of prices for goods and services — for the first time since 2006. That year, policy makers concluded the nation had finally shaken off the deflation that had hindered its economy since the late 1990s. The heightened pressure for easing also follows a spate of recent data showing accelerating price declines in broad parts of the economy.
"Deflation is getting very severe," said financial services minister Shizuka Kamei. "We are closely watching what the BOJ can do in this environment."
During the third quarter, the domestic demand deflator — a measure of changes in prices of goods and services except for exports and imports — fell 2.6%, its fastest pace since 1958.
"It’s very important for the BOJ to show the market it has the will to conquer deflation, both through action and through words," Mr. Shirakawa, of Credit Suisse, said. "Otherwise, expectations for deflation will only get worse."
Japan has interest rates at 0% and cries scream for more easing. Japan has debt of 200% of GDP in a ridiculous fight against deflation and Mr. Shirakawa, of Credit Suisse wants Japan to "show the market it has the will to conquer deflation".
When does the insanity stop?
Meanwhile back in the US….
Costco drops Coke products in showdown over prices
Alan Greenspan’s economic legacy is slowly but surely deterioration from that of one created by a "Maestro", to the deranged hungover flashbacks of the most inept monetarst dilettante and plutocrat puppet in the history of fiat capitalism. And with ever increasing honest and truthful observations as those shared by Naomi Klein and Joseph Stiglitz in the 1 hour + program attached, courtesy of Fora TV, only the remnants of the quickly evaporating close circle of Bernanke and Co., will have anything favorable left to say for the man who took the mundane task of building bubbles and converted it into rocket science so complex that only a few people at Goldman Sachs figured out how to benefit from it. We encourage all readers to spend some time watching the program before, just like Barney Frank and other bribed politicans, deciding that changing the status quo vis-a-vis the Fed is a step in the "wrong direction."
10 minute excerpt below:
Watch the full programor select from the following clips. We would like to draw your attention to clips 2, 7, 11 and 13
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Note: This commentary has been updated to include this morning's release of the March data for Real Personal Income Less Transfer Receipts.
Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.
There is, however, a general belief that there are four big indicators that the committee weighs heavily in their cycle identification process. They are:
The rally in mining stocks since the first of the year has been very impressive.
The rally has taken Gold Miners ETF GDX up to test the 23% retracement of the collapse over the past 5-years. At the same time it is hitting the 23% level, two other resistance lines are being put to a test, with momentum at the highest levels in the past 5-years.
Graham Media Group, Inc., a Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC) subsidiary, said it struck a deal with Nexstar Broadcasting Group, Inc. and Media General, Inc. to purchase WCWJ, a CW affiliate television station in Jacksonville, Florida and WSLS, an NBC affiliate television station in Roanoke, Virginia for $60 million in cash and the assumption of certain liabilities.
The agreement to acquire Nextar Broadcasting included pension obligations. Graham Media Group, Inc. would continue to operate both stations under their current network affiliations.
Graham Media said the acquisition is subject to approval by the FCC, other regulatory appr...
Do you remember when you were growing up and all your friends were allowed Atari game consoles but you weren’t?
Well, I do and the things seemed as foreign to me as Venus. Mostly because the little time I managed to spend on the gaming consoles when my friends weren’t hogging them I found it all a bit silly. I never “got” computer games, and to this day still have poor comprehension of things like Angry Birds.
I suspect that many people around the world view Bitcoin in the same way as I view Angry Birds: with mild amusement and a general lack of understanding as to what the hell all the fuss is about.
I was thinking of this since a buddy of mine recently started ...
After a three-year bull run that more than quadrupled its value by its peak last July, IBD’s Medical-Biomed/Biotech Industry Group plunged 50% by early February, hurt by backlashes against high drug prices and mergers that seek to lower corporate taxes.
Although we try to stay focused on finding and managing promising trade ideas, the comments in the comment section sometimes take a political turn (for access, try PSW — click here!). So today, Jean Luc writes,
The GOP debate last night was just unreal – are these people running to be president of the US or to lead a college fraternity! Comparing tool size? The only guy that looks semi-sane is Kasich. The other guys are just like 3 jackals right now.
And something else – if Trump is the candidate, that little Romney speech yesterday is probably already being made into a commercial. And all these little snippets from the debate will also make some nice ads! If you are a conservative, you have to be scared now.
Phil writes back,
I was expecting them to start throwing poop at each other &n...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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