"American madness: a teenager is allowed to receive a rifle as a birthday gift," NYU professor Nouriel Roubini tweeted. "Sick sick country."
Roubini's words come hours after a gunman killed one person and injured several others at Marysville-Pilchuck High School near Seattle, Washington.
The gunman was later identified as Jaylen Fryberg, a freshman at the school. Fryberg, who shot and killed himself, reportedly had access to firearms, and an Instagram photo suggested that he had recently received a rifle as a birthday gift from his parents.
Much of the media attention has shifted to the mental state of Fryberg, who reportedly had been demonstrating emotional distress.
Here is a quick follow-up to the discussion on the looming rental crisis in the US. The gap in growth rates of rental costs vs. wages continues to widen. This divergence is creating a drag on the GDP growth by suppressing household formation, consumer spending, and labor mobility. Over time this trend will also increase homelessness.
Over the last few weeks, the markets have seen wild vacillations as stocks plunged and then surged on a massive short-squeeze in the most beaten up sectors of energy and small-mid capitalization companies. While "Ebola" fears filled mainstream headlines the other driver behind the sell-off, and then marked recovery, was a variety of rhetoric surrounding the last vestiges of the current quantitative easing program by the Fed. As I have shown many times in the past, there is a high degree of correlation between the Fed's liquidity programs and the advance in the markets.
This weekend's reading list is a compilation of views on whether the Fed will end the current QE program at next weeks FOMC meeting or not. In the past, the extraction of their monetary interventions has led to market declines that were halted only once a new program was started. Are the markets, and the economy, finally strong enough to stand on their own? Or, will the end of the current QE program be the start of a bigger correction?
Here is something to consider if you believe that the Fed will end their monetary purchases next week. The chart below shows the recent sell-off and rebound matched to the Fed's current monetary interventions.
What will happen when the Fed is absent altogether with just one round of purchases to go? ($1 billion on Monday)
"The comments by Mr Rosengren, an advocate for strong monetary stimulus in recent years, suggest there is limited support for a plan put forward by James Bullard, president of the St Louis Fed, to keep buying assets at a pace of $15bn a month until December.
Mr Rosengren said Fed asset purchases have achieved their stated goal, the jobs report for September is already in and his economic forecasts have not changed. 'There has been substantial improvement in labour markets,' he said. 'As a result I would be pretty comfortable [ending purchases] at the end of the month.'”
The median price of new homes sold in the US in September fell to $259,000 from $286,800 in August. That’s an extraordinary drop. It left prices down 4% on a year to year basis. Does that mean that 3 years of breakneck housing inflation have come to an end? Probably not. At least we cannot conclude that from this data.
That’s because the change in median price was due to a huge change in the mix of sales. In August, 48% of sales were in the $300,000 and up range. In September 2013, that ratio was 42%. But last month, sales of $300,000 and above were just 37% of sales. The median price dropped because there were more sales of less expensive homes than is typical. It’s just one month of data, so we’ll have to see if the trend persists. Price gains in existing home sales have moderated in the past year, but there’s been no sign of outright decline yet.
Median New Home Sales Prices Drop- Click to enlarge
Things are about to get more interesting in the EU as a review of budget procedures shows the UK, Greece, and Italy owe more money, but Germany and France will get money back.
Curiously, this came about following a review of non-profit organizations from churches and universities to trade unions, charities and sports clubs. The time period is 2002-2009. Cameron’s Obvious Bluff
UK prime minister David Cameron is already battling French President Francois Hollande abroad, and UKIP at home.
In a vivid display of public fury at European Union technocrats, British Prime Minister David Cameron refused to pay a surprise 2.1-billion-euro bill on Friday as EU leaders ordered an urgent review of how the budget figures were arrived at.
“It’s an appalling way to behave,” Cameron said. “I’m not paying that bill on Dec. 1. If people think I am they’ve got another thing coming. It is not going to happen.”
EU ministers will hold an emergency meeting on the issue next month. Cameron said he wanted to understand the technical calculations and was also ready to mount a legal challenge.
EU officials insisted the revision, which also saw Italy and even crisis-hit Greece asked to pay more while France and Germany would get rebates, was part of an annual statistical exercise handled by civil servants, not politicians.
Cameron noted that annual revisions to the payments had never been so great – an effect, EU officials said, of a once-in-a-generation review of how national incomes are calculated that found Britain was richer than it had previously declared.
Officials at EU statistics office Eurostat said that was a result mainly of taking more account of money flowing in 2002-09 to non-profit organizations – from churches and universities to trade unions, charities and sports clubs.
Cameron has demanded reforms and plans a referendum on EU membership if he manages to secure re-election next May….
Jack Delano. Cars being precooled at the ice plant, San Bernardino, CA Mar 1943
Large and/or institutional investors, your pension funds, your market funds, you name them, have one glaringly obvious and immense Achilles heel that they very much prefer not to talk about. That is, they MUST invest their funds, in something, anything, they can’t NOT invest. They are trapped in the game. They have to roll over debt, investments, all the time.
In today’s markets, they can move into Treasuries, as we see bond funds (and undoubtedly others) do recently, and while that’s already a sign of unrest in the ranks, at the same time it exposes the funds. And not only because everyone knows it won’t allow them to meet the targets they must meet. Oil, gas and gold are unattractive alternatives.
The big funds can play the game, but they really shouldn’t, because they can’t win. Not in the end. Not when the chips are down. The reason is that they cannot fold. And the others at the table know this, and immediately recognize this for the fatal flaw it is. No matter how smart and sophisticated institutional investors and their fund managers may be, in ultimo they are, to put it in poker terms, the ‘designated’ fish.
It may take a long time before this plays out, and they realize it for what it is (fish don’t recognize themselves for what they are, other than, and even that’s a maybe, once they’ve been exposed as such by others), since in times of plenty there is no urgent need for the other players to catch and filet the fish.
As long as there’s enough to eat at the table, the ‘solid’ players can bide their time and let the fish fatten themselves (as long as it’s not from their money), only to gut them when times get leaner. In a way, the solid players use the fish as a way to stow away for a rainy day some of the ultra cheap QE money has made available, the money without which there would be no markets left, if only so their own actions don’t become too conspicuous.
It is no secret that we have been long-standing believers in deflation being a more probable outcome of the 2008-09 crisis than high inflation. What has changed over the past six months is that the world has begun to move in different directions. Whereas rising unit labour costs in the U.S. make outright deflation in that country quite unlikely, the same cannot be said of the Eurozone.
Japan-style deflation across the Eurozone is no longer an outrageous thought. As you can see from chart 1, there is a close link between CPI and demographics. That has certainly been the case in Japan and I don’t see any reasons why it should be any different in Europe. The negative demographic trends are perhaps not as acute in Europe as they were in Japan in the early to mid 1990s, so one might expect a less dramatic outcome here, but the writing is on the wall. Furthermore, Japan’s problems were multiplied due to an almost complete lack of political recognition and willingness to take drastic action. At least, with Mario Draghi in charge of the ECB, there seems to be a willingness to do something.
Deflation and “Willingness To Do Something”
Jensen is mistaken about Japan’s willingness to take action. Japan has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 250%, highest of any major developed country, as a direct consequence of fighting deflation.
Japan piled on debt, built bridges to nowhere, and engaged in other wasteful spending, all of which made matters worse. Taking on debt to fight deflation is insane. Yet that is exactly what France and Italy want now!
Japan’s QE certainly did not help either. Both policies addicted Japan to 0% interest rates forever (until of course Japan blows up).
To suggest that the ECB can do something meaningful with European demographics being what they are, the flaws in the euro being what they are, and lack of willingness for France and Italy to initiate badly-needed structural reforms, is simply wrong.
Holding down interest rates and state-sponsored stimulus will have the identical
The Federal Reserve’s latest asset purchase program, QE3, is coming to an end. What was once an $85 billion a month program, one in which at its peak had been goosing the financial markets and economy at an annual rate of $1.0 trillion – and over its 27 month life will have pumped $1.7 trillion of money into the economy – is going to zero. Given the outsized impact QE has had on the growth of U.S. money supply and thus the economy, investors take note, especially if you're far out on the risk curve: What was once your primary tailwind could soon become your greatest headwind.
Recapping the tenets we presented here, here, and here, once an economy is subjected to a bout of monetary inflation, whether that be via direct central bank money creation or via money (and credit) creation by the fractional reserve banking system, an unsustainable, artificial economic boom is born, whereby malinvestments (bubbles) are created that sooner or later must be liquidated. And whether that bust takes the form of a hyperinflationary bust or a deflationary bust, a bust we will get.
The form the bust takes will depend on the course of the inflation. If the central bank/banking system pursues an inflationary course, by throwing continual and importantly ever larger doses of money (and credit) into the economy, the bust will take the form of a hyperinflationary bust – a collapse in the value of the currency and with that a breakdown of the entire economy. If instead the central bank/banking system ends its money creation activities or even moderates that increase in a material way, the bust will take the form of a deflationary bust – a healthy liquidation of the malinvestments made during the boom and with that a commensurate fall in the prices of those same malinvestments.
Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT) in a nutshell.
Thus, when an economy is subjected to a bout of monetary inflation, investors can enhance their performance by correctly positioning their portfolios on the right side of the boom-bust cycle. Though easier said than done, one should buy claims to the malinvestments of the boom; i.e., when the money supply is surging; then sell those same claims after…
Unfortunately, many people have a cavalier attitude about infections and how to protect themselves and others, possibilty because it has been a long time, if ever, since the majority of us have been truly frightened about catching a disease. We have not seen corpses piled up in the streets due to deadly viruses; most of us have not seen pathogens kill our loved ones way too early.
But experience, especially painful experience, is a great educator. Without that, we need a more comprehensive plan. Cops tossing their protective gear into an open trash cannister is an example of education failure. Another example of failure can be seen in the movement to stop vaccinating our children. ~ Ilene
If there was one theme from last night's Cuomo/De Blasio Ebola press conference it was 'how everyone has been preparing for months' for Ebola. We can all be reassured, right? Wrong! As The Daily Mail reports (and these stunning photos show), the police officers involved in securing Dr. Spencer tossed their gloves, masks and the caution tape used to block off access to his apartment in a public trash can.
Not just any trash can, but one on a public street corner…
While it is unclear whether the police entered the apartment (which is now locked down and isolated), some are suggesting that for the sake of safety – not to mention public sanity – it would have made sense to discard of these masks and gloves and tape in a biohazard bag.
* * *
Seems like not everyone has been preparing for months (since August) for Ebola… no matter, we are all assured by Cuomo's reassuring words that Ebola is very hard to catch (just don't tell the hundreds of healthcare workers who have been infected despit all their precautions).
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 email@example.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.
Back on January 26, a 58-year-old former senior executive at German investment bank behemoth Deutsche Bank, William Broeksmit, was found dead after hanging himself at his London home, and with that, set off an unprecedented series of banker suicides throughout the year which included former Fed officials and numerous JPMorgan traders.
Following a brief late summer spell in which there was little if any news of bankers taking their lives, as reported previously, the banker suicides returned with a bang when none other than the hedge fu...
In last weekend's update, only one the eight indexes on my watchlist posted a weekly gain. This weekend's numbers have reversed. Seven indexes closed the week with a gain and there were some substantial ones at that. Japan's Nikkei erased the previous week's -5.02% plunge with a 5.22% surge. The S&P 500 finished second with a 4.12% advance. China's Shanghai Composite was the sole loser, down 1.66%.
In fact, the Shanghai Composite remains the only index on the watch list in bear territory -- the traditional designation for a 20% decline from an interim high. The index is down 33.68% from its August 2009 peak. See the table inset (lower right) in the chart below.
If you're following Valeant's proposed takeover (or merger) of Allergan and the lawsuit by Allergan against Valeant and notorious hedge fund manager William Ackman, for insider trading this is a must-read article.
Linette Lopez describes the roles played by key Wall Street hedge fund owners--Jim Chanos, John Paulson, and Mason Morfit, a major shareholder in Valeant. Linette goes through the con...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
Last week brought even more stock market weakness and volatility as the selloff became self-perpetuating, with nobody mid-day on Wednesday wanting to be the last guy left holding equities. Hedge funds and other weak holders exacerbated the situation. But the extreme volatility and panic selling finally led some bulls (along with many corporate insiders) to summon a little backbone and buy into weakness, and the market finished the week on a high note, with continued momentum likely into the first part of this week.
Despite concerns about global economic growth and a persistent lack of inflation, especially given all the global quantitative easing, fundamentals for U.S. stocks still look good, and I believe this overdue correction ultimately will shape up to be a great buying opportunity -- i.e., th...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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