by ilene - July 30th, 2014 4:30 am
Courtesy of Mish.
Sanctions are a lose-lose-lose game. Consumers lose, businesses loses, countries lose. And the hypocrisy alone is appalling.
The EU wants sanctions to hurt Russia “more” than the EU. Thus the EU let a French military sale to Russia go through, while blocking transactions and travel of Russians who had virtually nothing to do with this mess.
For all their efforts will the US or EU accomplish anything with the sanctions on Russia?
Financial Times writer Christopher Granville has the answer in his take EU’s Sanctions on Russia Will Fail to be a Knockout Blow.
The main burden of the EU sanctions mooted by the commission would appear to fall on the UK. The core measure targets debt and equity capital raising by the Russian state banks and bans European intermediaries from offering associated underwriting and advisory services, and the bulk of such business is done in the City of London. Capital market funding is also a small portion of overall foreign funding of Russian banks (about 3.5 per cent as of March 2014), so an important detail about the EU sanctions package as regards both overall impact and burden sharing between the member states will be whether the prohibition on financing Russian banks will extend to ordinary lending. The international syndicated loan market for Russian borrowers is dominated by continental European banks. French banks have the largest exposure of $52.5bn.
This analysis presupposes that the EU will never go for the “nuclear” sanctions option of banning gas imports from Russia, and that the EU and US together will not try to replicate against Russia the ban on oil exports imposed on Iran. The EU cannot for now substitute its present annual gas import volumes of 150bn cubic metres from Russia, and the loss of Russia’s present level of crude oil exports – 7m barrels a day, compared to Iran’s 2.5m b/d – would trigger a sharp rise in the oil price and a global economic slump. This would be the economic equivalent of the Cold War-era concept of nuclear deterrence based on mutually assured destruction.
Short of the “MAD” options, the Russian economy will decline and Europe will suffer, but there will be no knockout blow and, as so often in Russia’s history, the Russian
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 11:11 pm
Courtesy of Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform
“On the first Christmas Day the population of our planet was about two hundred and fifty millions — less than half the population of modern China. Sixteen centuries later, when the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock, human numbers had climbed to a little more than five hundred millions. By the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, world population had passed the seven hundred million mark. In 1931, when I was writing Brave New World, it stood at just under two billions. Today, only twenty-seven years later, there are two billion eight hundred million of us. And tomorrow — what?” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958
As the world explodes in violence, war, riots, and uprisings, it is challenging to step back and examine the bigger picture. With airliners being shot down over the Ukraine, missiles flying between Israel and Gaza, ongoing civil war in Syria, Iraq falling apart as ISIS gains ground, dictatorship crackdown in Egypt, Turkey on the verge of revolution, Iran gaining control of Iraq, Saudi Arabia fomenting violence, Africa dissolving into chaos, South America imploding and sending their children across our purposely porous southern border, Mexico under the control of drug lords, China experiencing a slow motion real estate collapse, Japan experiencing their third decade of Keynesian failure, facing a demographic nightmare scenario while being slowly poisoned by radiation, and Chinese-Japanese relations moving towards World War II levels, it is easy to get lost in the day to day minutia of history in the making.
Why is this happening at this point in history? Why is the average American economically worse off today than they were at the height of the economic crisis in 2009? Why is the Cold War returning with a vengeance? Why is the Federal Reserve still employing emergency monetary policies when we are supposedly five years into a recovery and the stock market has attained record highs? Why do the ECB and European politicians continue to paper over the insolvency of their banks and governments? Why did the U.S. support the ouster of a dictator we supported for decades in Egypt and then support the elevation of…
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 9:36 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse
The global economy is structured to systematically funnel wealth to the very top of the pyramid, and this centralization of global wealth is accelerating with each passing year. According to the United Nations, 85 super wealthy people have more money than the poorest 3.5 billion people on the planet combined. And 1.2 billion of those poor people live on less than $1.25 a day. There is something deeply broken about a system that produces these kinds of results. Seven out of every ten people on the planet live in countries where the gap between the wealthy and the poor has increased in the last 30 years.
Despite our technological advances, somewhere around a billion people go to bed hungry every single night. And when our fundamentally flawed financial system finally does collapse, it will be the poor that will suffer the worst.
Now, let me make one thing clear at the outset. Big government and more socialism are not the answer to anything. Big government and more socialism almost always result in increased oppression and increased poverty. If you want to see where that road ultimately leads to, just look at North Korea.
What we need is a system that empowers individuals and families to work hard, be creative, build businesses and to take care of themselves.
But instead, we have a system where all power and all wealth are increasingly controlled by giant banks and giant corporations that are in turn controlled by the global elite. The "financialization" of the global economy has turned almost everyone on the planet into "deft serfs," and the compound interest on all of that debt enables the global elite to constantly increase their giant piles of money.
As I have written about previously, the total amount of government debt in the world has increased by about 40 percent since the last recession.
And when you consider all forms of debt, the grand total for the planet is now up to a whopping 223 trillion dollars.
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 7:25 pm
Courtesy of David Stockman via Contra Corner
Imperial Washington is truly running amuck in its insensible confrontation with Vladimir Putin. The pending round of new sanctions is a counter-productive joke. Apparently, more of Vlad’s posse will be put on double probation, thereby reducing demand for Harry Macklowe’s swell new $60 million apartment units on Park Avenue. Likewise, American exporters of high tech oilfield equipment will be shot in the foot with an embargo; and debt-saturated Russian state companies will be denied the opportunity to bury themselves even deeper in dollar debt by borrowing on the New York bond market. Some real wet noodles, these!
But it is the larger narrative that is so blatantly offensive—that is, the notion that a sovereign state is being wantonly violated by an aggressive neighbor arming “terrorists” inside its borders. Obama’s deputy national security advisor, Tony Blanken, stated that specious meme in stark form yesterday:
“Russia bears responsibility for everything that’s going on in Eastern Ukraine” and “has the ability to actually de-escalate this crisis,” Blinken said.
Puleese! The Kiev government is a dysfunctional, bankrupt usurper that is deploying western taxpayer money to wage a vicious war on several million Russian-speaking citizens in the Donbas—-the traditional center of greater Russia’s coal, steel and industrial infrastructure. It is geographically part of present day Ukraine by historical happenstance. For better or worse, it was Stalin who financed its forced draft industrialization during the 1930s; populated it with Russian speakers to insure political reliability; and expelled the Nazi occupiers at immeasurable cost in blood and treasure during WWII. Indeed, the Donbas and Russia have been Saimese twins economically and politically not merely for decades, but centuries.
On the other hand, Kiev’s marauding army and militias would come to an instant halt without access to the $35 billion of promised aid from the IMF, EU and US treasury. Obama just needs to say “stop”. That’s it. The civil war would quickly end, permitting the US, Russia and the warring parties of the Ukraine to hold a peace conference and work out the details of a separation agreement.
After all, what is so sacrosanct about preserving the territorial integrity of the Ukraine? Ever since the middle ages, it has consisted of a set of meandering borders in search of a nation that never existed owing to endemic ethnic, tribal and religious differences. Its modern boundaries are merely…
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 6:30 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
We warned last week that the scandal over Chinese meat supplier OSI was spreading (and Asians were increasingly shunning western fast-food restaurants) and now, as The FT reports, McDonald’s Japan has pulled its full-year profit guidance on the back of falling sales. It had previously forecast sales of $2.45bn for the year to December but warned it could not commit to new targets as it was too soon to estimate the scandal’s full impact.
As The FT reports, OSI processes the meat of 300m chickens a year in China, as well as other meats, vegetables and pre-assembled food such as sandwiches or wraps.
This is a problem for McDonalds as some of its 3,200 restaurants were forced to scratch chicken nuggets off the menu…
Fast-food chains have scrambled to redirect the supply chain after the Shanghai plant closed, and the loss of supply from all of OSI’s China plants could prove a challenge for McDonald’s, which relies on a smaller but tighter network of suppliers than does its chief rival, KFC.
“Supplies of some products to some China restaurants have been cut. We are trying hard to allocate supply from other sources and resume supply as soon as possible,” the fast-food chain said.
McDonald’s Japan, which is 50 per cent owned by the US fast food group and operates in its second biggest market by number of outlets, said that its “sales and profit expectations have been reduced” after its China-based supplier was found to be relabelling expired meat and breaching other food safety practices.
It had previously forecast sales of Y250bn ($2.45bn) for the year to December and net income of Y6bn, adding that it could not commit to new targets as it was too soon to estimate the scandal’s full impact.
* * *
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 3:28 pm
Courtesy of Lee Adler
As usual, the Conference Board and all the major media press release repeaters put a positive spin on the highest reading of Consumer Confidence (aka the Con Con Con) since October 2007. None of the media echo chamber reports pointed out that October 2007 was the beginning of the worst bear market in US stocks since 1973-74. So I thought it important that the issue be given a little perspective (as I did recently with the Thompson Rhoiders Michigan Con Index).
First things first, the Con Con Con is an amalgamation of the results of two survey questions presented to “consumers” (aka real people). One question asks people how they view the current status of the economy, which is useful because most people are capable of seeing the present reasonably accurately. The other question is what they think conditions will be in 6 months, as if anybody knows the answer to that. While real people may be far better at answering that question than Wall Street and academic economists and media echo chamber pundits… I mean really… Ask a stupid question get a stupid answer. So then the Con Con Con takes the useful index of Present Conditions and combines it with a completely stupid index of what people think the future holds, and thereby creates a stupid and useless composite index.
Given that, let’s just focus on the one measure that might be meaningful, the Present Conditions index. The chart created by Briefing.com, with a little technical analysis and annotations added by yours truly, gives us that which is missing in the media echo chamber reporting… perspective. The graph speaks for itself. The long term trend is down. Note that the index is based on the average reading in 1985 being 100. The peak reading of around 185 was reached at the end of the tech bubble. Another peak around 140 was reached at the top of the housing bubble, when virtually everybody had a home equity ATM. The current reading remains below the 1985 average at about half the peak level.
Perspective on the Con Con Com – Click to enlarge
Whopping 35% Have Debt in Collection! Delinquent Debt in America: By Region and Metro Area, Where Is It?
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 3:21 pm
Courtesy of Mish.
The Urban Institute has an interesting 14-page synopsis on Delinquent Debt in America.
By percentage, the number of people in collections is largely concentrated in the South, while amount owed shows no geographic pattern. The Urban Institute uses 2013 credit bureau data from TransUnion to measure how many Americans are reported as at least 30 days late, not including late payment of mortgages. The institute also examines how many Americans have debt in collections and the amount of this debt.
In order to have credit card debt, one first must have credit. However, some without traditional credit show up as delinquent on account of late utility, medical, or other bills.
The key general finding is: Of those with credit files, an astonishing 35% have debt in collections.
- 5.3% (Roughly 1 out of 20) of people with a credit file are at least 30 days late on a credit card or other non-mortgage account (e.g., automobile loan, student loan). In other words, they have debt that has been reported as past due to the credit bureau.
- The share of people with debt past due ranges from 4.6% in the West, North Central, and Middle Atlantic divisions to 7.5% in the West South Central division.
- Three states have less than 4% of the population with debt past due: Utah, Washington, and New Jersey.
- Three states have more than 7% of the population with debt past due: Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.
- Nearly 40% of the high-concentration census tracts in the country are in Louisiana or Texas.
- Areas with lower household incomes have more people with debt past due, but the correlation is only -0.3. So, while income matters, the concentration of delinquent debt is not simply an income story.
- Of those with credit files, an alarming 35% have debt in collections.
- Debt in collection ranges less than $25 to more than $125,000. The average amount owed in collections is $5,178.
- Nevada, which was hard hit by the housing crisis, tops the list of past-due states: 47% of people with a credit file in Nevada have reported debt in collections. The District of Columbia and an additional 12
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 1:46 pm
Stocklemon of Citron discusses the potential merger of the internet real estate companies Zillow and Trulia and the problems they face. ~ Ilene
The stock market and the real estate industry are all abuzz about the possible merger of Zillow (NASDAQ:Z) and Trulia (NASDAQ:TRLA). The media is now filled with stories proclaiming that the combined company will instantly become an internet advertising juggernaut that wields pricing power over the entire internet real estate industry.
You cannot read a single article or analyst commentary that doesn’t invoke the magic phrase “Pricing Power”. Without the slightest thought whatsoever, the combination of Zillow and Trulia is supposed to give the combined entity the power to triple ad revenue from real estate agents. Nothing could be further from the truth – and we have the proof.
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 1:27 pm
Submitted by Tyler Durden.
We have been warning for years that as a result of the Fed's disastrous policies, America's middle class is being disintegrated and US adults are surviving only thanks to insurmountable debtloads. But not even we had an appreciation of how serious the problem truly was. We now know, and it is a shocker: according to new research by the Urban Institute, about 77 million Americans have a debt in collections.
The breakdown by region:
As the Washington Post reports, that amounts to 35 percent of consumers with credit files or data reported to a major credit bureau, according to the study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute and Encore Capital Group's Consumer Credit Research Institute. "It’s a stunning number," said Caroline Ratcliffe, senior fellow at the Urban Institute and author of the report. "And it threads through nearly all communities."
The report analyzed 2013 credit data from TransUnion to calculate how many Americans were falling behind on their bills. It looked at how many people had non-mortgage bills, such as credit card bills, child support payments and medical bills, that are so past due that the account has since been closed and placed in collections.
Researchers relied on a random sample of 7 million people with data reported to the credit bureaus in 2013 to estimate what share of the 220 million Americans with credit files have debts in collection. About 22 million low-income adults who did not have credit files were not represented in the study.
While we understand why someone owing tens if not hundreds of thousands can just do what the US government does so well, and simply decide to stop paying their debt (if unlike the government, without the option to roll it), what is scary is that there are people who are in collection on amount as tiny as $25.
The debts sent to collections ranged from $25 on the low end and to more than $125,000 on the high end. Many consumers were burned for relatively small amounts — about 10 percent of the debts were smaller than $125,
by ilene - July 29th, 2014 12:26 pm
Courtesy of Lee Adler
I won’t go into the specifics of the worst housing indicator in the world, released today and dutifully spewed by the world’s mainstream financial infomercial outlets. If you want to pick through that type of garbage, go read the Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg or watch CNBC. You can get the irrelevant and misleading data on US housing prices there.
Presented as a public service, here’s a review of a several housing price indicators which are timely and are not smoothed and lagged to the point of silliness as the Case Shiller Index is. They show that as of right now, the US housing price bubble continues to inflate, in spite of weak demand.
First let’s look at a couple of real time or near real time indicators of the housing trend, DepartmentofNumbers.com’s real time listing prices for late July, and Redfin’s real time contract prices from June. Before you complain that listing prices aren’t sale prices, the fact is that since this data has been published in 2006, the subsequently released lagging data on actual sale prices has shown that the trend of listing prices has been absolutely accurate in showing the direction of US housing prices in real time. Naturally, they are higher than sale prices, but they trend in the same direction and turn at the same points in time. The lagged data reported by various organizations differ in only one material respect. They’re lagged. Listings data is real time. It accurately shows what the market is doing right now, which is starting the usual seasonal second half pullback that begins every year in late summer, while continuing the powerful uptrend track it has been on.
US Home Sale Prices
The DepartmentofNumbers.com’s data represents real time listing prices collected from 54 of the largest markets in the US. Redfin collects all contract prices in real time in the 19 large markets it serves. Their sample is skewed by the fact that Redfin serves only large, active, desirable markets, and therefore it overstates price increases relative to the nation as a whole, but again, its direction has proven to be accurate. If the prices of 19 large,…