Jul 052016
 
 July 5, 2016  Posted by at 8:06 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  


Jack Allison “Utopia Children’s House, Harlem, New York.” 1938

Don’t Panic. Britain’s Economy Can Survive Just Fine Outside The EU (Mody)
The UK Desperately Needs A Lower Pound (Steen Jakobsen)
Brexit Accelerates the British Pound’s 100 Years of Debasement (BBG)
Meanwhile At The Most Systemically Dangerous Bank In The World… (ZH)
Standard Life Shuts Property Fund Amid Rush Of Brexit Withdrawals (G.)
EU Authority Fraying In Reaction To Brexit Vote (R.)
Draghi Should Have Done More To Help Italian Banks In 90’S, Says PM Renzi (R.)
Did a Fear of Slave Revolts Drive American Independence? (NY Times)
The Statue Of Liberty Was Built To Welcome Immigrants (Eggers)
The Elites Hate Momentum and The Corbynites – I’ll Tell You Why (Graeber)
In New Jersey Student Loan Program, Even Death May Not Bring a Reprieve (NYT)
Sydney Home Prices Just Keep On Rising (BBG)
How Australia Is Sold Into Waging War In Ukraine (Helmer)
US Economist Galbraith Sheds Light On Varoufakis ‘Plan X’ (Kath.)
Wikileaks Publishes More Than 1,000 Hillary Clinton War Emails (Ind.)
Who The F**k Is Charlotte? (Jim Kunstler)

 

 

“Between 2000 and 2014, the share of British exports to Europe fell from 60 to 45%.”

Don’t Panic. Britain’s Economy Can Survive Just Fine Outside The EU (Mody

The European Union was not the principal reason why many felt economically and politically powerless, but its bureaucratic creep became a potent symbol of the overpowering force of globalization. The outgoing Prime Minister of Britain David Cameron, who likes to think of himself as modern-day Winston Churchill, had little understanding of these historical forces. Indeed, even Churchill had his historical blind spots. He petulantly called Gandhi a “half-naked fakir” and vehemently opposed Indian independence. But Cameron, seeking his petty political victories, was largely clueless about the larger stakes he ended up playing for. Tactical gains can lead to strategic advance only when guided by a larger vision. All Cameron wanted was greater hold over his party.

But once he let the genie out of the bottle, Cameron misjudged again by making an economic case for remaining in the European Union rather than attempting a serious political argument for Europe—one based on shared values. Perhaps there was no political argument to be made, but the effort to present an economic calculus for a political decision was bound to backfire. The economic numbers to make the case for Britain remaining in Europe were fanciful, however many economists and international organizations joined to endorse them.

Following Brexit, productive British trade with the European Union will survive just fine wherever it is based on long-lasting economic gains and social relationships. At the same time, the shift toward trade with the faster-growing United States and Asia will continue. Between 2000 and 2014, the share of British exports to Europe fell from 60 to 45%. Almost all new British trade is being created outside of Europe. The new tougher trade regime could even spur productivity growth. As the British economy inevitably disengages from Europe, empathy for European Union will decline further. A referendum five years from now will produce an even clearer decision to say out.

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“The UK’s problem remains their double deficit. The chronic budget and the current account deficits.”

The UK Desperately Needs A Lower Pound (Steen Jakobsen)

I am writing this chronicle from South Africa which is almost as far away from Europe and the constant and never ending Brexit talk as you can come. It’s hard even here to avoid the turbulence and never ending ‘need’ for investors and media to understand what comes next. The best analogy I can use is one from my extensive travels: When you arrive at an airport to check in, you have to pass security control when two options are at hand: The fast track or the slow version (economy class). Using the fast track gets you quicker to the gate and allows you pre-boarding, but what really should matter is that the actual flight time and route is the same for everyone in business and in economy. We arrive at EXACTLY the same time.

The point? What is now transpiring in an economic sense is that we have entered the fast track courtesy of Brexit, the selloff in GBP, the lowering of growth projections and in some places talk about reform and change which would have happened with or without the Leave vote. The UK’s problem remains their double deficit. The chronic budget and the current account deficits. The last time the UK ran a surplus on the current account was the year Italy won the World Cup in Spain and the top scorer was Paolo Rossi. you guessed it — 1982. The UK also has the lowest productivity of the G7 countries together with Japan.

Yes, the UK needs a lower GBP and desperately so and if the ERM crisis of 1992 is any guideline, what comes next for UK is more employment and a stronger GDP as seen in this chart from the excellent research done by Societe Generale. It would be naive to anticipate only positive changes from the increased political uncertainty but do realise that the slowdown in the UK but also Europe was happening before the surprise ‘Leave’ result.

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Loss of empire.

Brexit Accelerates the British Pound’s 100 Years of Debasement (BBG)

There have been few better ways to chart Britain’s decline from empire than its currency. Historians, economists and foreign-policy specialists point to the more-than 10% plunge since the June 23 referendum as signaling another downward leg in the U.K.’s global role and influence. “The history of the pound against the dollar over the last century is essentially a downward ladder with big permanent steps,” according to Rui Pedro Esteves, an associate professor in economics at Oxford University. The world’s oldest currency — sterling is derived from the old German “ster” for strong or stable – bought almost $5 during World War I. The day of the EU referendum, it traded at $1.50. It was at $1.3330 as of 4:33 p.m. on Monday.

HSBC analysts are among those forecasting $1.20 as a likely destination. Billionaire investor George Soros suggests $1.15, the equivalent of about a euro – about 60 cents below its average since 1971. “A country’s economic size measured in other currencies – for the U.K., measured say in dollars – is an indicator of its capacity to project power and influence internationally,” said Barry Eichengreen, a professor of economics at the University of California Berkeley. While some economists, including former BOE Governor Mervyn King, see the weaker currency as leading to more export competitiveness, others see the threat of recession and lower interest rates – combined with more insular politics and withdrawal from the world’s largest trading bloc – as undermining appetite for U.K. assets.

“If you look at the U.K. now, certainly part of what is going on is a result of the exchange rate’s adjustment to growth expectations,” said Maurice Obstfeld, chief economist at the IMF. The pound has been in steady decline, spurred on by a series of financial jolts, for most of the past century – just as Britain’s prominence on the international stage has diminished.

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Correlation AND causation.

Meanwhile At The Most Systemically Dangerous Bank In The World… (ZH)

Another day, another fresh record low in Deutsche Bank’s stock price… For comparison’s sake, Deutsche Bank is analogically equivalent to where Lehman was in August 2008… when the stock soared 16% on chatter of a Korean Development Bank bailout… which then was denied, crashing the stock and ending the party…

Shares in Lehman Brothers rose substantially Friday as investors renewed hopes that the troubled investment bank was moving closer to raising capital to buffer it against a deteriorating economic environment. Capping a volatile week, the stock soared 16% on a report that the state-run Korea Development Bank was considering buying the bank, an idea that a spokesman for the South Korean firm said was “erroneous.” Lehman’s stock closed the day up 5% at $14.41.

The spokesman for Korea Development Bank told The New York Times that the bank was in the process of being privatized and was looking at various acquisitions. But he denied that buying Lehman was an option. “We have various thoughts for our future, but we don’t have any specific institutions in mind,” said the spokesman, who declined to be named, citing company policy. Lehman’s suddenly soaring stock underscores the volatility surrounding the firm as it scrambles to assess its options in the face of an abysmal third quarter. Only days ago, its shares tumbled more than 13%.

We wait for chatter of a Deutsche Bank ‘offer’ rumor any day now. We are sure it’s nothing. How can it be a problem given that US equities are so strong? right?

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Can’t be just one fund that has these problems.

Standard Life Shuts Property Fund Amid Rush Of Brexit Withdrawals (G.)

Investors in Standard Life’s property funds have been told that they cannot withdraw their money, after the firm acted to stop a rush of withdrawals following the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The firm halted trading on its Standard Life Investments UK Real Estate Fund and associated funds at midday on Monday, citing “exceptional market circumstances” for the decision. It said the suspension would remain in place until it is “practicable” to lift it, and that it would review the decision at least every 28 days. The £2.9bn fund, which invests in commercial properties including shopping centres, warehouses and offices, is thought to be the first UK property fund to suspend trading since the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when some of the biggest names in investment management stopped withdrawals because they did not have the money to repay investors.

Standard Life’s decision is the latest in a line of moves by investment firms to stem flows out of their property funds. Standard Life last week, together with rivals Henderson, Aberdeen and M&G, reduced the amount investors cashing in holdings would get back by up to 5%. In a statement, Standard Life said the decision followed an increase in redemption requests from investors. “The suspension was requested to protect the interests of all investors in the fund and to avoid compromising investment returns from the range, mix and quality of assets within the portfolio,” the company said.

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Juncker’s days are definitely numbered. But nobody seems to either know nor agree what should be next.

EU Authority Fraying In Reaction To Brexit Vote (R.)

[..] Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who has fought to bend EU budget deficit rules and now seeks to pump billions of euros into his country’s ailing banks if needed to shore them up, said on Monday the EU was run by “a technocracy with no soul”. He also opposed sanctions against fellow southern members Spain and Portugal for violating the EU’s deficit limits last year – a step the Commission is due to consider on Tuesday in a German-backed drive to uphold the much-abused budget rules. Italy’s banks are saddled with €360 billion in bad loans and their share prices plunged after last month’s Brexit vote. Rome is in talks with the EU Commission to devise a plan to recapitalize its lenders with public money limiting losses for bank investors.

Dutch and German ministers have attacked a Commission decision that the European Parliament can approve a trade pact with Canada without referring it to national parliaments. The Dutch parliament was assured it would have a chance to weigh in on the treaty. But perhaps most worryingly for the EU, senior ministers in Germany, the bloc’s reluctant hegemon, are advocating shrinking the executive Commission, trimming its powers, and bypassing common European institutions to take more decisions by intergovernmental agreement. A call from veteran German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, long an advocate of closer integration, to shift more policy decision-making to governments for expediency’s sake was among the most striking indicators of the mood around Europe.

“If the Commission doesn’t get involved, then we should take the matter into our own hands and solve problems between governments,” Schaeuble told Welt am Sonntag newspaper, saying now was a time for pragmatism. “This intergovernmental approach proved successful during the euro zone crisis,” he added.

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Renzi, in trying to save his career, becomes a danger to Brussels.

Draghi Should Have Done More To Help Italian Banks In 90’S, Says PM Renzi (R.)

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi criticized ECB Governor Mario Draghi for not having done more to resolve Italy’s banking woes when he held a key Treasury job in Rome in the 1990s. Renzi’s rare public criticism of Draghi came on the day Italy’s third-largest lender, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (BMPS.MI), said that the ECB had asked it to cut its bad debts by 40% within three years, heaping more pressure on Rome to stabilize its banking system. After taking power in 2014, Renzi’s government introduced reforms aimed at strengthening the country’s cooperative banks, but several are struggling to stay afloat and a bailout fund took control of Veneto Banca last week after the ECB said it had to raise capital or close.

“If the measures concerning the cooperatives had not been taken by us but by the centre-left government that first put them forward, but was not strong enough to enact them in 1998 … then we would not have this problem,” Renzi said. The prime minister said that Draghi was director general of the Treasury at that time, with Carlo Azeglio Ciampi serving as economy minister. “And if people had the strength and intelligence to keep politics out of the banking system a bit before we did it … we would not have had cases like Monte dei Paschi di Siena,” Renzi told a meeting of his centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

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How things are seldom what they seem. Or people, for that matter.

Did a Fear of Slave Revolts Drive American Independence? (NY Times)

For more than two centuries, we have been reading the Declaration of Independence wrong. Or rather, we’ve been celebrating the Declaration as people in the 19th and 20th centuries have told us we should, but not the Declaration as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams wrote it. To them, separation from Britain was as much, if not more, about racial fear and exclusion as it was about inalienable rights. The Declaration’s beautiful preamble distracts us from the heart of the document, the 27 accusations against King George III over which its authors wrangled and debated, trying to get the wording just right. The very last one — the ultimate deal-breaker — was the most important for them, and it is for us:

“He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” In the context of the 18th century, “domestic insurrections” refers to rebellious slaves. “Merciless Indian savages” doesn’t need much explanation. In fact, Jefferson had originally included an extended attack on the king for forcing slavery upon unwitting colonists. Had it stood, it would have been the patriots’ most powerful critique of slavery. The Continental Congress cut out all references to slavery as “piratical warfare” and an “assemblage of horrors,” and left only the sentiment that King George was “now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us.”

The Declaration could have been what we yearn for it to be, a statement of universal rights, but it wasn’t. What became the official version was one marked by division. Upon hearing the news that the Congress had just declared American independence, a group of people gathered in the tiny village of Huntington, N.Y., to observe the occasion by creating an effigy of King George. But before torching the tyrant, the Long Islanders did something odd, at least to us. According to a report in a New York City newspaper, first they blackened his face, and then, alongside his wooden crown, they stuck his head “full of feathers” like “savages,” wrapped his body in the Union Jack, lined it with gunpowder and then set it ablaze.

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Reflecting on Lady Liberty’s right foot.

The Statue Of Liberty Was Built To Welcome Immigrants (Eggers)

Though she is the most recognisable symbol of the American experiment, there is something about the Statue of Liberty that goes largely unnoticed. And that is that she is moving. The torch in her right hand, symbolising enlightenment, cannot be ignored and is never overlooked. The book in her left hand, with 4 July carved in roman numerals, is not likely to be missed. Nor are the seven spikes of her crown, matching the world’s seven continents and seven seas. And though, if pressed, we remember that she is wearing sandals, we forget, if we ever knew, that the Statue of Liberty is on the go. Take the ferry to Liberty Island. As your boat rises and falls on the rough waters of New York Harbor, you will see, with undeniable clarity, that her right foot is striding forward.

And around her feet are chains, broken, which sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi meant to symbolise the breaking of the chains of bondage and tyranny. She is caught, forever, in the moment of becoming free. The 305ft statue is a marvel of artistry and engineering, and there are many details to admire, but none is more important than her right leg, which is stepping forward, and stepping forward not casually but with great striding purpose. This right foot, though largely unheralded, might be its most important feature. For what would it mean if the symbol of liberty were standing still? That would imply that freedom is static, that once established, it’s a settled thing. But freedom is not a settled thing.

It would imply that once the first few million immigrants arrived on American shores, fleeing religious bigotry or political violence or ethnic persecution, then the United States should or could close its gates. It would imply that the welcoming of new arrivals, the poor and tired and struggling to be free, was a temporary thing, that the welcoming of the world’s oppressed was a thing of the past. But the welcoming of the world’s oppressed is not a thing of the past. We live in a moment when shrill voices tell us that not only should immigration be stifled, but that millions of current residents should be deported, returned to their country of origin, no matter the consequences for their souls or our consciences. These fearful voices put forth a direct repudiation of the origin and elemental purpose of this country, and to the meaning of the statue that we accept as our talisman.

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The coup against Corbyn is also linked to Tony Blair’s possible indictment, and the risks that brings for those in the party who are linked to him.

The Elites Hate Momentum and The Corbynites – I’ll Tell You Why (Graeber)

As the rolling catastrophe of what’s already being called the “chicken coup” against the Labour leadership winds down, pretty much all the commentary has focused on the personal qualities, real or imagined, of the principal players. Yet such an approach misses out on almost everything that’s really at stake here. The real battle is not over the personality of one man, or even a couple of hundred politicians. If the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn for the past nine months has been so fierce, and so bitter, it is because his existence as head of a major political party is an assault on the very notion that politics should be primarily about the personal qualities of politicians. It’s an attempt to change the rules of the game, and those who object most violently to the Labour leadership are precisely those who would lose the most personal power were it to be successful: sitting politicians and political commentators.

If you talk to Corbyn’s most ardent supporters, it’s not the man himself but the project of democratising the party that really sets their eyes alight. The Labour party, they emphasise, was founded not by politicians but by a social movement. Over the past century it has gradually become like all the other political parties – personality (and of course, money) based, but the Corbyn project is first and foremost to make the party a voice for social movements once again, dedicated to popular democracy (as trades unions themselves once were). This is the immediate aim. The ultimate aim is the democratisation not just of the party but of local government, workplaces, society itself.

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In a nutshell: “..One reason for the aggressive tactics is that the state depends on Wall Street investors to finance student loans..”

In New Jersey Student Loan Program, Even Death May Not Bring a Reprieve (NYT)

New Jersey’s loans, which currently total $1.9 billion, are unlike those of any other government lending program for students in the country. They come with extraordinarily stringent rules that can easily lead to financial ruin. Repayments cannot be adjusted based on income, and borrowers who are unemployed or facing other financial hardships are given few breaks. The loans also carry higher interest rates than similar federal programs. Most significant, New Jersey’s loans come with a cudgel that even the most predatory for-profit players cannot wield: the power of the state. New Jersey can garnish wages, rescind state income tax refunds, revoke professional licenses, even take away lottery winnings — all without having to get court approval.

“It’s state-sanctioned loan-sharking,” Daniel Frischberg, a bankruptcy lawyer, said. “The New Jersey program is set up so that you fail.” The authority, which boasts in brochures that its “singular focus has always been to benefit the students we serve,” has become even more aggressive in recent years. Interviews with dozens of borrowers, who were among the tens of thousands who have turned to the program, show how the loans have unraveled lives. The program’s regulations have destroyed families’ credit and forced them to forfeit their salaries. One college graduate declared bankruptcy at age 26 after struggling to repay his debt. The agency filed four simultaneous lawsuits against a 31-year-old paralegal after she fell behind on her payments.

Another borrower, Chris Gonzalez, could not keep up with his loans after he got non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was laid off by Goldman Sachs. While the federal government allowed him to suspend his payments because of hardship, New Jersey sued him, seeking $266,000 in payments, and seized a state tax refund he was owed. One reason for the aggressive tactics is that the state depends on Wall Street investors to finance student loans through tax-exempt bonds and needs to satisfy those investors by keeping losses to a minimum. Loan revenues also cover about half of the agency’s administrative budget.

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How to kill a city.

Sydney Home Prices Just Keep On Rising (BBG)

Sydney home prices resumed their upward march as dwindling supply outweighs tighter loan approvals by lenders. Dwelling values climbed 1.2% in June, taking gains for the second quarter to 6.8%, according to data from CoreLogic. The market is getting a leg up after a slowdown at the end of last year in Australia’s largest city, as new listings fell more than 16% from a year earlier to the lowest in five months in June, according to the data.

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How to kill a country: “..it is financed by grants from the Australian Department of Defence, the Australian Army, the Australian Federal Police, the Dutch Foreign Ministry, and the Japanese Government; plus Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing..

How Australia Is Sold Into Waging War In Ukraine (Helmer)

Among Turnbull’s last-minute ploys to attract votes, one was the leak last month of Australian cabinet plans for an Australian Army force to fight in eastern Ukraine, alongside Dutch and other NATO units, to destroy the Donetsk and Lugansk rebellion against the regime in Kiev. Turnbull’s leak had suggested that Tony Abbott, the prime minister Turnbull had pushed aside to take the job, dreamed up the plan of Australian war at the Russian frontier by himself. The new report by Dibb now corroborates the idea of an Australian military expedition against Russia, in exchange for improved American commitments to defend Australia from the Chinese closer to home, in the Pacific.

“How things work out in Europe,” Dibb claims, “will affect Washington’s ability to reassure allies and partners everywhere, including those in our region who must contend with increasing coercion by China.” Unless Australia does more fighting with the Americans on the Russian front, he concludes, “China will take advantage of this, and allies and partners of the US in the region -including Australia- would be subject to further uncertainty about American military commitments to Asia.” Combating “Russia’s aggressive military behaviour “is necessary because, otherwise, “both Moscow and Beijing will be seen as getting away with it.” The 40-page Dibb report is entitled “Why Russia is a threat to the international order”. Read it in full. The publisher is a think-tank headquartered in Sydney called the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

It says “ASPI was established, and is partially funded, by the Australian Government as an independent, non-partisan policy institute.” The institute’s financial reports reveal it is financed by grants from the Australian Department of Defence, the Australian Army, the Australian Federal Police, the Dutch Foreign Ministry, and the Japanese Government; plus Raytheon, Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Boeing — the leading arms-exporting corporations of the US. European arms builders also funding ASPI include the European missile-maker MBDA, BAE Systems, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Rheinmetall, Airbus, and Navantia, the Spanish state shipbuilder. When Australians march into the field against the Russians, these suppliers aim to provide the best kit Australian money can buy.

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Tsipras might have done well to pay some more attention.

US Economist Galbraith Sheds Light On Varoufakis ‘Plan X’ (Kath.)

The Plan B for Greece that was drafted by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis foresaw the declaring of a state of emergency, the immediate nationalization of the Bank of Greece, the transformation of bank deposits into a New Drachma and emergency public order measures, according to a book by American economist James Galbraith, Varoufakis’s chief coordinator for the plan. In the book, “Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe,” which has been translated into Greek, Galbraith describes in detail Varoufakis’s plan for moving Greece to a parallel banking system last year.

Those privy to the Plan B – or Plan X as Varoufakis is said to have called it – would meet in conditions of high secrecy involving secure communications and the depositing of cell phones in hotel refrigerators. According to Galbraith, during the transition phase, the ministries of Defense and the Interior would have been responsible for public order, fuel supplies would be controlled, while employees at important public institutions (schools, hospitals, police) would be mobilized. Even though there was a high-level meeting about the plan, Galbraith said the prime minister did not ask to be briefed, so work on the endeavor ended with the submission of an extensive memo in May.

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At some point, indictment or not, enough people will realize that Clinton is too much of a risk for the credibility of the entire American political system.

Wikileaks Publishes More Than 1,000 Hillary Clinton War Emails (Ind.)

WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy website, has released more than 1,000 emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server pertaining to the Iraq War. The website tweeted a link to 1,258 emails on Monday that Clinton sent during her time as secretary of state. According to the release, the emails were obtained from the US State Department after they issued a Freedom of Information Act request. However, it’s unclear if any of the information is classified. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange previously claimed that his website obtained enough proof for the FBI to indict the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

“We could proceed to an indictment, but if Loretta Lynch is the head of the DOJ in the United States, she’s not going to indict Hillary Clinton,” Assange told ITV. “That’s not possible that could happen.” The newly released information will likely only serve as political fodder for the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, as Clinton met with FBI investigators over the weekend wrapping up the lengthy investigation. Sources close to the probe recently told CNN that the bureau will announce no charges against Clinton in the weeks to come.

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Ha! Funny! But I think Lynch’s involvement is far more insidious than this.

Who The F**k Is Charlotte? (Jim Kunstler)

The mighty Shakespeare in his direst night sweats could not have conjured up the Clinton family in all their sharp angles and dark corners, but we can try to reconstruct the scene last week on Loretta Lynch’s plane out on the Phoenix airport tarmac.

Former president Bill steps aboard:
• Loretta: What the fuck are you doing here?
• Bill: I just had to tell you what Charlotte did last week.
• Loretta: Who the fuck is Charlotte?
• Bill: Our grand-kid. She’s turning into a good little earner.
• Loretta: We can’t meet like this. We’re about to depose your wife.
• Bill: Charlotte gave a speech to the whole Citibank C-suite.
• Loretta: I don’t give a fuck. Get off my plane right now!
• Bill: Well, I don’t know if ‘speech’ is the right word. She gurgles nice.
• Loretta: I guess you didn’t hear me.
• Bill: She pulled in fifty grand for that. Of course it was 100% remitted to the foundation. Well, bye now. (Exits plane).

I have a theory about the Clinton family dynamic. Bill does not want Hillary to win because he doesn’t want to live in the White House again. For sure he does not want to live with The Flying Reptile, but he especially doesn’t want to be on display in that fishbowl where folks pretty much can see what you’re up to 24/7. For one thing, “The Energizer” can’t discreetly come and go. But he certainly doesn’t want to concern himself as “First Husband” or “First Gentleman” (title TBD) with deciding which fabric to choose in replacing the East Room draperies. So Bill decided to fix things for sure with that innocent visit to the US Attorney General’s airplane to talk about grand-kids.

It seems to be working. If there was any question that Loretta Lynch could just sit on her hands about Hillary’s email investigation through the November election, it went up in a vapor last week. It also left the FBI director on the hot seat because now he will have to either cough up a referral to Justice Department prosecutors, or he’ll have some ‘splainin to do in the heat of a presidential election campaign. If you thought Watergate was a ripe peach, this one is beginning to look like a stinking durian (Durio zibethinus).

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Jun 302016
 
 June 30, 2016  Posted by at 8:32 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  


Harris&Ewing F.W. Grand store, Washington, DC 1925

The End Of The EU Is Coming: Ron Paul (CNBC)
‘British Pound Signals US Stocks Are About To Fall Hard’ (CNBC)
US Banks Beat Fed Stress Test as Deutsche Bank, Santander Fail Anew (BBG)
Deutsche Bank Is The Riskiest Financial Institution In The World: IMF (ZH)
Steve Keen on Brexit (Hartmann)
Singapore Bank Suspends London Property Loans (R.)
Was Brexit Fear A Giant Hoax Or Is This The Calm Before The Next Storm? (AEP)
Poland Calls For Juncker To Quit As Others Fume EU Has Too Much Power (EUK)
Japan Factory Output Hits 3-Year Low On Weak Domestic Demand, Exports (R.)
China’s Analysts Haven’t Been This Wrong on Equities Since 2009 (BBG)
Yuan Heads for Worst Quarter on Record as Outflows Seen Rising (BBG)
New Zealand Businessmen Mull Buying Cruise Ship To House Homeless (G.)
More Than 57,000 Migrants And Refugees Stranded In Greece (Kath.)

 

 

“It really is coming to an end. It doesn’t mean tomorrow or the next day, but people are going to be really unhappy…”

The End Of The EU Is Coming: Ron Paul (CNBC)

The historic U.K. vote to leave the European Union is a sign of a major global meltdown, not just a watershed that marks the end of a unified continent, former Rep. Ron Paul says. “I think [the EU] will become nonfunctional,” Paul told CNBC’s “Futures Now” on Tuesday. “It really is coming to an end. It doesn’t mean tomorrow or the next day, but people are going to be really unhappy. The end is coming, but it isn’t coming because of the breakup,” he added. Paul attributed the fallout to “bad fiscal policies” around the globe. He said that as long as interest rates remain low, the markets will remain in bubble territory.

“I think what everyone is looking at is there was a vote, an important vote and it went differently than expected and it sent shock waves through the markets, but I think the concentration is on the wrong issue,” the former Libertarian and Republican Party presidential candidate said. Instead, he said, what has caused so much turmoil is what happened before the recent declines. “What has been preceding this situation that we have throughout the world and this country as well is artificially low interest rates. It causes people to make mistakes in buying bonds,” he said.

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Interesting correlation.

‘British Pound Signals US Stocks Are About To Fall Hard’ (CNBC)

The euro’s considerable rise against the British pound signals trouble to come for U.S. markets, according to Evercore ISI technical analyst Rich Ross. The euro and the pound fell against the dollar after the U.K. voters opted to leave the EU, but sterling fell further, hitting three-decade lows against the dollar. According to Ross, the relative weakness in the British currency mirrors the euro’s huge rally against the British pound from 2007 to 2009. During that period, U.S. stocks plummeted. As a result, Ross is particularly wary of the euro’s recent strength against the pound.

“This surge that we’re seeing is breaking this multiyear downtrend, breaking out through that 200-week moving average,” Ross said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Trading Nation.” “That could potentially spell problems for the S&P 500 and for risk assets [based on the past], so we want to watch that euro-pound.” Ross believes that the euro’s strength against the pound could just be getting started. “I think there could eventually be upside in the euro-pound to just around 86 cents, and that would likely correspond with further downside for risk assets like stocks, like the S&P 500,” Ross added.

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Take a pinch of salt with every stress test.

US Banks Beat Fed Stress Test as Deutsche Bank, Santander Fail Anew (BBG)

Federal Reserve officials cleared dozens of U.S. banks to boost shareholder payouts after conducting annual stress tests that proved too rigorous, again, for subsidiaries of Deutsche Bank and Banco Santander. JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America and 27 other firms with major U.S. operations passed the exam Wednesday, with many unveiling plans to distribute more capital through dividends and stock buybacks. Even Morgan Stanley, which must shore up internal systems before the Fed issues a final verdict, got conditional permission to boost its dividend 33%. Deutsche Bank and Santander were alone in failing, due to “broad and substantial weaknesses across their capital planning processes,” the Fed said.

While both had adequate capital and showed improvement after failing last year, their plans still relied on assumptions and analyses that “are not reasonable or appropriate,” the regulator said. The findings show U.S. banks have largely adapted to the Fed’s stiffer oversight of capital and internal controls in the wake of 2008’s financial crisis. After years spent cleaning up their balance sheets and stumbling in past exams, Citigroup and Bank of America cleared handily this time and are now moving beyond the penny and nickel dividends they’ve been stuck paying. Deutsche Bank and Santander, meantime, both vowed anew to do better next time.

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We knew from their derivatives portfolio.

Deutsche Bank Is The Riskiest Financial Institution In The World: IMF (ZH)

[..] not only did Deutsche Bank just flunk the Fed’s stress test for the second year in a row, but moments ago in a far more damning analysis, none other than the IMF disclosed that Deutsche Bank poses the greatest systemic risk to the global financial system, explicitly stating that the German bank “appears to be the most important net contributor to systemic risks.” Yes, the same bank whose stock price hit a record low just two days ago. Here is the key section in the report:

Domestically, the largest German banks and insurance companies are highly interconnected. The highest degree of interconnectedness can be found between Allianz, Munich Re, Hannover Re, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and Aareal bank, with Allianz being the largest contributor to systemic risks among the publicly-traded German financials. Both Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are the source of outward spillovers to most other publicly-listed banks and insurers. Given the likelihood of distress spillovers between banks and life insurers, close monitoring and continued systemic risk analysis by authorities is warranted.

Among the G-SIBs, Deutsche Bank appears to be the most important net contributor to systemic risks, followed by HSBC and Credit Suisse. In turn, Commerzbank, while an important player in Germany, does not appear to be a contributor to systemic risks globally. In general, Commerzbank tends to be the recipient of inward spillover from U.S. and European G-SIBs. The relative importance of Deutsche Bank underscores the importance of risk management, intense supervision of G-SIBs and the close monitoring of their cross-border exposures, as well as rapidly completing capacity to implement the new resolution regime.

The IMF also said the German banking system poses a higher degree of possible outward contagion compared with the risks it poses internally. This means that in the global interconnected game of counterparty dominoes, if Deutsche Bank falls, everyone else will follow.

Notwithstanding moderate cross-border exposures on aggregate, the banking sector is a potential source of outward spillovers. Network analysis suggests a higher degree of outward spillovers from the German banking sector than inward spillovers. In particular, Germany, France, the U.K. and the U.S. have the highest degree of outward spillovers as measured by the average percentage of capital loss of other banking systems due to banking sector shock in the source country.

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Obviously, I’m with Steve on this.

Steve Keen on Brexit (Hartmann)

Thom Hartmann talks to Prof. Steve Keen of Kingston University, London, about why Brexit is a response to failed neoliberal policies and why that could be good for all of us.

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One less bubble maker.

Singapore Bank Suspends London Property Loans (R.)

United Overseas Bank, Singapore’s number 3 lender, became the first bank in the city state to suspend its loans program for London properties in the wake of uncertainties caused by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. As Brexit spooked global markets and pushed the pound to multi-year lows, other Singaporean banks were also advising clients about risks such as currency losses even though they have not followed UOB’s move. “We will temporarily stop receiving foreign property loan applications for London properties,” a UOB spokeswoman said in an email.

“As the aftermath of the UK referendum is still unfolding and given the uncertainties, we need to ensure our customers are cautious with their London property investments.” The Singaporean dollar has gained 10% against the British pound since the referendum, eroding the value of assets held in Britain. Other risks for Singaporean banks have been exacerbated in recent months by an economic slowdown in Asia and rising bad debts in energy-related industries. Moody’s Investors Service on Thursday revised the outlook on Singapore’s banks to negative from stable. This reflected the “weaker operating conditions” against the backdrop of softer regional economic and trade growth, Moody’s said.

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Deflation is coming from the east.

Was Brexit Fear A Giant Hoax Or Is This The Calm Before The Next Storm? (AEP)

Devaluation strikes no fear in a chronic deflationary world where almost every major country is trying to push down its currency to break out of the trap, and largely failing to do so. It would facetious to suggest that Britain has pulled off this trick. Crumbling investor confidence is never a good thing. But the UK has stolen a march of sorts, carrying out a beggar-thy-neighbour devaluation by accident. The pound needs to fall further. It is still too strong for a country with a current account deficit running consistently above 5pc of GDP. The IMF said just before Brexit that sterling was 12pc to 18pc overvalued, and may have to fall more than this to force a lasting realignment of the British economy.

This cure has hardly begun. As of today, sterling is 5pc below its trading range for the last month against the euro and the Chinese yuan. It is weaker against the US dollar but the dollar is on steroids, much to the horror of the US Treasury. The more sterling falls, the greater the net stimulus for the British economy. The reverse holds for the eurozone. It is a further deflationary shock at a time when Europe is already in deflation, when inflation expectations are in free-fall and bond yields are collapsing below zero, and when the ECB is running out of options. There are two dangers for the world economy. One is that China is exporting deflation with alarming intensity. Morgan Stanley estimates that China’s trade-weighted devaluation is running at an annual rate of 11pc, and factory gate deflation adds another 2pc.

This is a tsunami coming from the epicentre of global overcapacity. The other danger is that British and European politicians fail to understand what is coming straight at them from Asia. Britain’s Brexiteers must come up with a coherent policy on trade very fast, and the EU must come off their ideological high-horse and face the reality that they have absolutely no margin for economic error. US Secretary of State John Kerry warned in stark terms on his post-Brexit swoop into Europe that nobody should lose their head, or go off half-cocked, or “start ginning up scatter-brained or revengeful premises.” Nobody seemed to heed his words at the EU’s imperial summit in Brussels, an exercise in righteous anger but not much else. The markets may yet speak in harsher language.

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Why do I have the impression the right is sharper these days than the left?

Poland Calls For Juncker To Quit As Others Fume EU Has Too Much Power (EUK)

After Britain’s shock vote to quit the EU, remaining countries are looking for better deals for themselves, and ordering the union to learn from its mistakes or face further calls for a total break up. Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic called on Tuesday for the powers of the European Commission to be curbed with Warsaw calling for the dismissal of Mr Juncker, the executive’s head. Last week’s referendum alarmed governments in the former communist eastern region of the EU who had seen London as their main eurosceptic ally in efforts to reduce centralised control from Brussels. Poland’s Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said: “We are asking if this leadership of the European Commission has a right to continue functioning, fixing Europe.

“In our opinion, it does not. New politicians, new commissioners should undertake this task, and first of all we should give new prerogatives to the European Council, because it consists of politicians who have a democratic mandate.” Warsaw has clashed with the Commission over its controversial attempt to curb the powers of the constitutional court, which led Brussels to launch an investigation into the rule of law in Poland. Tension between the Brussels executive, which drafts and enforces EU legislation, and member states, which exercise their authority collectively in the EU Council, has been a permanent feature of the bloc over six decades.

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And then throw a surging yen into the mix.

Japan Factory Output Hits 3-Year Low On Weak Domestic Demand, Exports (R.)

Japan’s industrial output slid in May at the fastest rate in three months to its lowest level since June 2013, highlighting concerns about falling exports and weak consumer spending. May’s 2.3% fall in industrial output considerably exceeded the median estimate for a 0.1% decline forecast in a Reuters poll. “The decline in industrial output is directly related to the decline in exports,” said Hidenobu Tokuda, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute. “Another factor is the slow recovery in domestic consumer spending. The government should consider some measures to improve domestic demand.” Japan’s government plans to announce more fiscal stimulus spending this autumn to revive Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic agenda.

Strengthening domestic demand has become even more urgent as gains in the yen further threaten exports. Output fell in May due to declines in the production of chemicals, cosmetics, construction equipment and semiconductors, data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed. Manufacturers surveyed by the ministry expect output to rise 1.7% in June and increase 1.3% in July. Exports fell at the fastest pace in four months in May on supply chain disruptions from an earthquake and slow growth in emerging markets, data earlier this month showed. The Bank of Japan’s closely-watched tankan business sentiment survey due on Friday is forecast to show confidence fell to the lowest in three years in April-June.

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When things get serious, you lie. Shanghai’s 49% crash over the past year is serious.

China’s Analysts Haven’t Been This Wrong on Equities Since 2009 (BBG)

China’s gap between profit forecasts and reality is turning into a chasm. Firms in the Shanghai Composite Index reported earnings per share for the past year that were 33% below what analysts had predicted 12 months ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The gap, which this month widened to the most since 2009, far outstrips the difference between projections and actual earnings in the U.S., and is more than double that of Chinese companies in Hong Kong. So how did they get it so wrong? China’s industrial giants are being squeezed as the government reorients the economy around services, leaving excess capacity that translates into volatile earnings.

Those stocks dominate the Shanghai Composite and have been among its steepest decliners in 2016, helping drag the gauge down 17%. As to why analysts didn’t anticipate the scale of the shift: Foundation Asset Management says in a market where short-selling is almost impossible, there’s little demand for negative research and strategists face more pressure to present an optimistic outlook. “The transitioning of the economy from exports to consumer, that’s a painful adjustment that occurs over a number of years,” said Ben Surtees at Jupiter Asset Management in London. “Analysts aren’t capturing the changes that are occurring.”

[..] In just over a year, China’s stock forecasters have weathered a rally that took the Shanghai Composite to a 7-year high in June 2015, and then a 49% crash that prompted authorities to crack down on alleged market manipulation by discouraging short-selling and targeting brokerage executives and journalists. That backdrop is an added reason to present positive research, Ample Capital’s Alex Wong said.

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“..37 times more money [left] China than enter[ed] so far this year.”

Yuan Heads for Worst Quarter on Record as Outflows Seen Rising (BBG)

The yuan’s worst quarterly performance on record is raising the risk of capital flight. China’s currency has slumped 2.9% since the end of March, the most since the nation unified the official and market rates at the start of 1994, to trade near its lowest level in five years. Losses deepened after the U.K.’s vote to secede from the European Union led to a jump in the dollar and dented the outlook for Chinese exports. After turmoil in its currency and stock markets in the past year shook investor confidence, China stopped granting quotas for residents to invest overseas and clamped down on illegal fund transfers to restrain capital outflows.

Policy makers are trying to guide the currency lower versus its trading partners as the economy slows while simultaneously damping expectations of faster depreciation. Goldman Sachs warned Thursday that metals investors are concerned China may sharply weaken its exchange rate. “We see a rising risk that capital outflows could pick up again causing negative headlines and adding to the fragility of current market sentiment,” said Allan von Mehren at Danske Bank. “We expect the depreciation pressure on the Chinese currency to continue over the coming years.” [..] A program allowing some domestic and Hong Kong mutual funds to be sold on either side of the border has seen about 37 times more money leave China than enter so far this year.

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Yes, housing bubbles leave people homeless in their wake.

New Zealand Businessmen Mull Buying Cruise Ship To House Homeless (G.)

A group of New Zealand businessman have come up with an idea to help New Zealand’s homeless – place them on a cruise ship. Charity groups in Auckland estimate hundreds of people are sleeping rough in the city every night, with dozens of working families also bedding down in cars, garages and Te Puea Marae (Maori meeting houses). Christchurch businessman Garry House said: “Living on a cruise ship is not a long-term solution but things are so bad for so many families now it could help ease the pressure for two or three years while longer-term strategies are put into place.”

House has, with a number of colleagues, begun investigating purchasing a 400-bed Italian cruise liner and docking it in Auckland harbour. He estimates the cost of purchasing and transporting it to New Zealand to be at least NZ$5m. It could reach New Zealand from Europe in a month, House said. Auckland’s housing market is one of the most expensive in the world; property prices have increased 77.5% in the past five years, and the average house price is more than NZ$940,000 (£498,000), according to property data provider CoreLogic New Zealand.

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Europe’s human values.

More Than 57,000 Migrants And Refugees Still Stranded In Greece (Kath.)

A total of 57,155 migrants and asylum-seekers are currently in Greece according to fresh data provided by the government. According to the data, 23,675 individuals are currently in northern Greece, 1,703 in central Greece, and 240 in southern Greece. An estimated 8,643 people are scattered around the Aegean islands. No arrivals were recorded in the past 24 hours, the government said. Meanwhile, up to 10,198 refugees are currently staying at official centres set up in Attica region, while the number of those camping out at makeshift facilities is 4,915.

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