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What Happens After A Mega Corporation Raises Its Workers’ Wages

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Earlier today, McDonalds announced that it would become the latest company to raise hourly pay for 90,000 workers by more than 10% and add benefits such as paid vacation for its restaurant workers. Specifically, starting in July, MCD will pay at least $1 per hour more than the local legal minimum wage for employees at the roughly 1,500 restaurants it owns in the U.S. The increase will lift the average hourly rate for its U.S. restaurant employees to $9.90 on July 1 and more than $10 by the end of 2016, from $9.01 currently. Finally, McDonald’s also will enable workers after a year of employment to accrue up to five days of paid time-off annually.

With this announcement, McDonalds joins the following companies which have likewise raised minimum wages in recent months:

  • WalMart
  • Aetna
  • Gap
  • Ikea
  • Target
  • TJ Maxx

Surely this is great news for the workers of these above companies, as some of the massive wealth accrued by corporate shareholders may be finally trickling down to the lowliest of employees, right? As it turns out, the answer is far from clear.

As the following WSJ story released overnight, here is what happens when mega-corporations such as WalMart and McDonalds, whose specialty are commoditized products and services and have razor thin margins, yet which try to give an appearance of doing the right thing, raise minimum wages. They start flexing their muscles, and in the process trample all over the companies that comprise their own cost overhead: their suppliers and vendors.

Take the case of WalMart: the world’s biggest retailer “is increasing the pressure on suppliers to cut the cost of their products, in an effort to regain the mantle of low-price leader and turn around its sluggish U.S. sales.”

What WalMart is doing is borderline illegal: it is explicitly telling its vendors “this is what you will do with your excess cash.” Of course, we say borderline because WMT’s action is perfectly legal in the confines of the pure law. However, in the context of an economy that is sputtering, WMT’s vendors have no choice but to comply or risk losing what is certainly their largest revenue stream and risk bankruptcy.

The retailing behemoth says it has been telling suppliers to forgo investments in joint marketing with


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The Fed’s Big Problem: “De-Risking A Bull Market Is Very Different From De-Risking A Bear Market”

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Ben Hunt via Salient Partners' Epsilon Theory blog,

Do, or do not. There is no try.”

– Yoda, “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)

I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations – one can either do this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: do it or do not do it – you will regret both.
Soren Kierkegaard, "Either/Or: A Fragment of Life" (1843)

The only victories which leave no regret are those which are gained over ignorance.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 – 1821)

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.
Arthur Miller, "The Ride Down Mt. Morgan" (1991)

Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, "It might have been."
Kurt Vonnegut, "Cat's Cradle" (1963)

One can't reason away regret – it's a bit like falling in love, falling to regret.
Graham Greene, "The Human Factor" (1978)

I bet there's rich folks eatin'
In a fancy dining car.
They're probably drinkin' coffee
And smokin' big cigars.
Well I know I had it comin'.
I know I can't be free.
But those people keep-a-movin'
And that's what tortures me.

– Johnny Cash, “Folsom Prison Blues” (1955)

Regrets…I've had a few.
But then again, too few to mention.

– Paul Anka, Frank Sinatra “My Way” (1969)

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a


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Chinese Retail Investors Open Enough Brokerage Accounts In March For Every Man, Woman, and Child In LA

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Last week we highlighted a Bloomberg chart which showed that more than a quarter of new investors in the “self-feeding, leverage-fueled domestic frenzy” that is China’s equity market have an elementary school level education or less. Bloomberg categorized nearly 6% of new Chinese stock investors as “illiterate.” If true, we imagine this doesn’t bode particularly well for a bubble that’s been inflated on the back of massive leverage (buying on margin accounts for a fifth of daily turnover and margin debt now sits at 1% of GDP). As a reminder, here’s the graphic: 

Now, thanks to the China Securities Depository and Clearing Co., we get a look at just how quickly the situation is escalating. Nearly 1.7 million new stock accounts were created last week…

…marking a 49% increase from the previous week…

…which itself represented a 58% increase from the week before…

Here’s more via Bloomberg:

To get a sense of the frenzy in China’s world-beating equity market, consider this: In a two-week span last month, the rally lured 2.8 million rookie stock pickers, almost the equivalent of Chicago’s entire population.

The number of new equity accounts surged to a record during the two weeks ended March 27, five times the average of the past year, data from China Securities Depository and Clearing Co. showed on Tuesday. About 4 million were opened in

March, enough for every person in Los Angeles. More than two-thirds of new investors have never attended or graduated from high school, according to a survey by China’s Southwestern University of Finance and Economics.

Signs of inexperienced investors’ growing influence on the $6.5 trillion market have already shown up in the outperformance of China’s equivalent of penny stocks and a jump in share-price volatility to the highest level in five years. While fresh capital may feed market momentum as the government steps up efforts to support economic growth, foreign money managers have been selling shares on concern the gains are overdone.

“A lot of speculative money has come into the market,” Michael Wang, a strategist at hedge fund Amiya Capital LLP, said by phone from London. The rally “is not fundamentally driven. It’s much more of a flow-driven phenomenon,” he said.

*  *  *

We certainly don’t see what could go wrong…
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Clintons Unveil Official 2016 Hillary Campaign Button

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Not an April Fool?

Source: Townhall





The Committee To Destroy The World

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

From Michael Lewitt, author of The Credit Strategist

The Committee To Destroy The World


Last month, the world mourned the death of beloved actor Leonard Nimoy. Mr. Nimoy, of course, was renowned for his portrayal of the iconic character Mr. Spock on the 1960s television series Star Trek. One of the most memorable Star Trek inventions was the transporter that allowed human beings to be beamed through space and time like light and energy. Investors expecting central bankers to solve the world’s economic problems might as well believe that Janet Yellen is capable of beaming them straight into the Marriner S. Eccles Building in Washington, D.C. Their failure to acknowledge that the Fed is failing to generate sustainable economic growth while contributing to income inequality and crushing debt burdens is inexplicable. Central banks that purport to be promoting financial stability are actually undermining it – with the able assistance of regulators who have drained liquidity from the world’s most important markets.

Negative interest rates on $3 trillion of European debt are an obvious sign of policy failure, yet the policy elite stands mute. Actually that’s not correct – the cognoscenti is cheering on Mario Draghi as he destroys the European bond markets just as they celebrated Janet Yellen’s demolition of the Treasury market. Negative interest rates are not some curiosity; they represent a symptom of policy failure and a violation of the very tenets of capitalist economics. The same is true of persistent near-zero interest rates in the United States and Japan. Zero gravity renders it impossible for fiduciaries to generate positive returns for their clients, insurance companies to issue policies, and savers to entrust their money to banks. They are a byproduct of failed economic policies, not some clever device to defeat deflation and stimulate economic growth. They are mathematically doomed to fail regardless of what economists, who are merely failed monetary philosophers practicing a soft social science, purport to tell us. The fact that European and American central banks are following the path of Japan with virtually no objection represents one of the most profound intellectual failures in the history of economic policy history. While the global economy is facing a solvency problem linked to excessive debt accumulation, the world’s central banks are pursuing policies designed for a liquidity…
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“The Mother of All Bubbles” in Stocks and Bonds: Bank CEO

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by testosteronepit.

The first quarter was hot across the Eurozone. The euro has gotten purposefully crushed by the ECB’s currency war. QE, first promised then implemented, became all the rage. And stocks surged: the Stoxx Europe 600 was up 16%; Italy’s FTSE MIB index up 22%; and Germany’s DAX also up 22%, the sharpest quarterly gain since Q2 2003. Since January 2012, in a little over three years, the DAX has nearly doubled. Only Greece couldn’t get it together.

And bonds have soared to ludicrous levels, with yields turning negative on €2.2 trillion in Eurozone government debt, according to Societe Generale. German government debt is now sporting negative yields up to a 7.5-year maturity, while 10-year yield – at 0.14% as I’m writing this – is on its way to negative as well.

So on March 31, Hans-Jörg Vetter, CEO of Landesbank Baden-Württemberg in Germany, spoke at the bank’s annual press conference – and fired a warning shot across the bow of investors.

Publicly owned LBBW, a full-service and commercial bank, serves as the central bank for the savings banks in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, und Saxony. With €266 billion in assets and over 11,000 employees, it is the largest such Landesbank in Germany. And it too was dutifully bailed out by taxpayers during the financial crisis.

And so the press conference had the usual feel-good fare.

“Over the past few years LBBW has gained a very good position to operate successfully on a sustained basis amid a difficult environment,” Vetter said in the bank’s press release. “On this basis we are aiming for targeted and risk-conscious growth in our core business areas,” he said. There was a slight improvement in pre-tax profit to €477 million in 2014, from €473 million a year earlier. And for this year, he expected a “moderate” increase in pre-tax profit. He talked about how solid the bank was, and he talked about opening new offices…. It was that sort of press conference.

But then, maybe he got off script. That’s when the mundane bank press conference, designed for the taxpayers who own the bank but don’t care and certainly wouldn’t pay attention to it, turned into something that the major German paper FAZ decided to report.

Banks, insurance companies and all kinds of funds were taking on huge risks…
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Companies Go All-In Before Rate Hike, Issue Record Debt In Q1

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

It should come as no surprise that Q1 was a banner quarter for corporate debt issuance as struggling oil producers tapped HY markets to stay afloat, companies scrambled to max out the stock-buyback-via-balance-sheet re-leveraging play before a certain “diminutive” superwoman in the Eccles Building decides to do the unthinkable and actually hike rates, and there was M&A. As we discussed last week, rising stock prices have tipped investors’ asset allocation towards equities even as money continues to flow into bonds, meaning that yet more money must be funneled into fixed income for rebalancing purposes, which ironically drives demand for the very same debt that US corporates are using to fund the very same buy backs that are driving equity outperformance in the first place. Put more simply: the bubble machine is in hyperdrive.

Not only did Q1 mark a record quarter for issuance, March supply also hit a record at $143 billion, tying the total put up in May of 2008. Here’s more from BofAML:

1Q set records for both supply and trading volumes in high grade, as new issue supply volumes reached $348bn, up from the previous record of $310bn in 1Q- 2014, whereas trading volumes averaged 15.6bn per day, up from the previous record of $14.3bn during the same quarter last year…

Issuance in March totaled $143bn and it tied with May 2008 and September of 2013 for the highest monthly supply on record going back to at least 1998. September of 2013 was the month when the record $49bn VZ deal was priced…

Supply in March was supported by low interest rates (encouraging opportunistic issuance on the supply side and supporting investor demand by diminishing interest rate risk concerns) and a busy M&A-related calendar. Some of these trends will continue in April, although investors are becoming more concerned about the Fed hiking cycle…

Meanwhile, non-dealers are net short HY for the first time in at least two years:

Positioning for CDX HY turned negative for the first time since at least January 2013. Thus, CDX HY positioning fell to -$1.3bn, from $1.3bn in the prior week, marking a 2.6bn decline.

Speaking of HY, we’ve noted on a number of occasions that QE may have inadvertently contributed to disinflation over the past several months as artificially…
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U.S. Defense Secretary: We Might Bomb Iran Even If a Peace Agreement Is Signed

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by George Washington.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said that a deal with Iran wouldn’t necessarily prevent war.

Military.com reports:

The U.S. will reserve the right to use military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon even if a deal is reached Iran’s nuclear program, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Tuesday.

The military option certainly will remain on the table,” Carter said as negotiators in Lausanne, Switzerland, struggled to reach an agreement ahead of a March 31 deadline.

“One of my jobs is to make sure all options are on the table,’ Carter said in remarks at Syracuse University and earlier on NBC’s “Today” program.

We thought that Iran getting nuclear weapons was the main reason we were thinking of bombing them.  So if a peace deal is signed with the U.S., why are we still talking about bombing them? 

What's going on?

In reality, top American and Israeli military and intelligence officials say that Iran poses no danger.

But the hawks have desperately been trying to stir up war with Iran for decades, as part of a 65-year program of regime change all over the world carried out by the U.S.

And the U.S. has inserted itself smack dab in the middle of a religious war … and is backing the most violent side. And see this.

The American people want peace, but the military-industrial complex wants war.





The Two Most Important Numbers Of The First Quarter

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Now that the Atlanta Fed has determined that the US economy did not grow in the first quarter of the year – because, well,  it snowed – even though said snow did not prevent the US from raking up $100 billion in public debt through March 30 (and likely much more, however since the US has again hit its debt ceiling we won’t know the real level of US debt until some time in October), we can formally summarize the two most important changes in the US economy in the first three months of the year.

Here they are.





Iceland Stuns Banks: Plans To Take Back The Power To Create Money

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Submitted by Raul Ilargi Meijer via The Automatic Earth blog,

Who knew that the revolution would start with those radical Icelanders? It does, though. One Frosti Sigurjonsson, a lawmaker from the ruling Progress Party, issued a report today that suggests taking the power to create money away from commercial banks, and hand it to the central bank and, ultimately, Parliament.

Can’t see commercial banks in the western world be too happy with this. They must be contemplating wiping the island nation off the map. If accepted in the Iceland parliament , the plan would change the game in a very radical way. It would be successful too, because there is no bigger scourge on our economies than commercial banks creating money and then securitizing and selling off the loans they just created the money (credit) with.

Everyone, with the possible exception of Paul Krugman, understands why this is a very sound idea. Agence France Presse reports:

Iceland Looks At Ending Boom And Bust With Radical Money Plan

Iceland’s government is considering a revolutionary monetary proposal – removing the power of commercial banks to create money and handing it to the central bank. The proposal, which would be a turnaround in the history of modern finance, was part of a report written by a lawmaker from the ruling centrist Progress Party, Frosti Sigurjonsson, entitled “A better monetary system for Iceland”.

“The findings will be an important contribution to the upcoming discussion, here and elsewhere, on money creation and monetary policy,” Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson said. The report, commissioned by the premier, is aimed at putting an end to a monetary system in place through a slew of financial crises, including the latest one in 2008.

According to a study by four central bankers, the country has had “over 20 instances of financial crises of different types” since 1875, with “six serious multiple financial crisis episodes occurring every 15 years on average”. Mr Sigurjonsson said the problem each time arose from ballooning credit during a strong economic cycle.

He argued the central bank was unable to contain the credit boom, allowing inflation to rise and sparking exaggerated risk-taking and speculation, the threat of bank collapse and costly state interventions. In Iceland, as in other modern market economies, the central bank


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Zero Hedge

What Happens After A Mega Corporation Raises Its Workers' Wages

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Earlier today, McDonalds announced that it would become the latest company to raise hourly pay for 90,000 workers by more than 10% and add benefits such as paid vacation for its restaurant workers. Specifically, starting in July, MCD will pay at least $1 per hour more than the local legal minimum wage for employees at the roughly 1,500 restaurants it owns in the U.S. The increase will lift the average hourly rate for its U.S. re...



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Phil's Favorites

5 Charts Which Show That The Next Economic Crash Is Dead Ahead

Courtesy of Michael Snyder at The Economic Collapse

When an economic crisis is coming, there are usually certain indicators that appear in advance.  For example, commodity prices usually start to plunge before a recession begins.  And as you can see from the Bloomberg Commodity Index which you can find right here, this has already been happening.  In addition, I have previously written about how the U.S. dollar went on a great run just before the financial collapse of 2008.  This is something that has also been happening over the past few months.&nb...



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Chart School

Bulls Continue To Defend Recent Swing Lows

Courtesy of Declan.

Today's losses took indices to test March lows before buyers stepped in to bring things back by the close.

For the Nasdaq, bulls came in at the 50-day MA, although today's action registered as higher volume distribution.


The S&P didn't quite make it to the more significant March low, instead buyers stepped up on the test of last week's swing low. However, technicals returned to net bearishness, with on-balance-volume trending lower across the March double top; whatever late day buying there was, it was outgunned by the selling trend.

...

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: David is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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Sabrient

Sector Detector: Defensive sectors lead hesitant market, but traders honor long-standing bullish support

Reminder: Sabrient is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Courtesy of Sabrient Systems and Gradient Analytics

Last week, the major indexes fell back below round-number thresholds that had taken a lot of effort to eclipse. There has been an ongoing ebb-and-flow of capital between risk-on and risk-off, including high sector correlations, which is far from ideal. But at the end of it all, the S&P 500 found itself right back on top of long-standing support and poised for a bounce, and Monday’s action proved yet again that bulls are determined to defend their long-standing uptrend line.

In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast...



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Digital Currencies

Federal Agents Investigating Bitcoin Money Laundering Stole Over $1 Million In Bitcoin

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

This is one of those sad times when The Onion realizes it has badly, and permanently, missed its IPO window.

Just released from the Department of Justice

Former Federal Agents Charged With Bitcoin Money Laundering and Wire Fraud

Agents Were Part of Baltimore’s Silk Road Task Force

Two former federal agents have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and related offenses for stealing digital currency during their investigation of the Silk Road, an underground black market that al...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of March 30th, 2015

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Promotions

Watch the Phil Davis Special on Money Talk on BNN TV!

Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene

 

The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below. 

Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets) Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies) Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...

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Market Shadows

Kimble Charts: South Korea's EWY

Kimble Charts: South Korea's EWY

By Ilene 

Chris Kimble likes the iShares MSCI South Korea Capped (EWY), but only if it breaks out of a pennant pattern. This South Korean equities ETF has underperformed the S&P 500 by 60% since 2011.

You're probably familiar with its largest holding, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, and at least several other represented companies such as Hyundai Motor Co and Kia Motors Corp.

...



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Option Review

Cypress Semi Draws Bullish Option Plays

Bullish trades abound in Cypress Semiconductor options today, most notably a massive bull call spread initiated in the July expiry contracts. One strategist appears to have purchased 30,000 of the Jul 16.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.89 each and sold the same number of Jul 19.0 strike calls at a premium of $0.22 apiece. Net premium paid to put on the spread amounts to $0.67 per contract, thus establishing a breakeven share price of $16.67 on the trade. Cypress shares reached a 52-week high of $16.25 back on Friday, March 13th, and would need to rally 4.6% over the current level to exceed the breakeven point of $16.25. The spread generates maximum potential profits of $2.33 per contract in the event that CY shares surge more than 20% in the next four months to reach $19.00 by July expiration. Shar...



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Pharmboy

2015 - Biotech Fever

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs!   The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down!  The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months.  What could go wrong?

Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.

Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies.  A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...



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Stock World Weekly

Stock World Weekly

Newsletter writers are available to chat with Members regarding topics presented in SWW, comments are found below each post.

Here's this week's Stock World Weekly.

Click here and sign in with your user name and password. 

 

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Help One Of Our Own PSW Members

"Hello PSW Members –

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 jennifersurovy@yahoo.com 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.

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/help-get-shadowfax-out-from-the-darkness-of-medical-bills-/126743

Thank you for you time!




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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. She manages the site market shadows, archives, more. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.

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