Wall Street engineering is back in the housing market. Its newest product is one heck of a contraption, a synthetic structured security of the type that helped blow up the financial system back in 2008. It’s like those triple-A rated mortgage-backed securities that became toxic waste in your “money-market-equivalent” bond fund – only worse.
Amazon’s promotion machine shifted into high gear to tout President Obama’s visit to one of its warehouses where he unveiled his “better bargain” for “middle class jobs.” The visit was artfully synced with Amazon’s announcement that it would create 7,000 jobs. Out of nothing. One of the ongoing lies in America’s jobs crisis – and Obama stepped right into it.
“The largest espionage scandal in the 21st century is shaking Germany,” wrote Peer Steinbrück, the man who's desperately trying to unseat one of the most popular German politicians, Chancellor Merkel. Massive anti-NSA protests spread across the country. Well, 1,000 demonstrators straggled through Frankfurt. It’s going to be tough for him.
“At junctures of extreme financial stress, the high level of carry trade funding” that hedge funds use during bubbles “results in violent market reversals,” David Stockman writes. “Wholesale funding evaporates and involuntary asset sales cascade into a bidless abyss.” Hence the collapse of 2000–2003 (45%) and 2008–2009 (55%). Now they’re doing it again.
Chicago CEO Club, With Rahm and Pritzkers on Board, Pushed for Chicago Bond Downgrade, Whacking Local Investors and Pension-Holders
By Yves Smith: Even more so than most cities, Chicago has had the best government money can buy. In this case, the money is willing to engage in a scorched-earth policy of crushing local investors and wrecking the city budget to achieve its end of taming unions and making Chicago even easier pickings for looting via infrastructure sales.
“You Are Who Google Says You Are”: This won’t help those who’re trying to dodge corporate or government surveillance, and it won’t do squat for NSA leaker Edward Snowden, the hottest brand on the internet, but for people with lesser challenges, a whole industry has jumped into this maelstrom where “privacy is dead” to manage their online lives.
People in the upper income categories, those who don’t have to worry about the price of toilet paper, have seen their incomes rise over the years. The rest are in a downward spiral: median household income, adjusted for inflation, has dropped 7.8% since 2000. The lower end got hit the hardest. For these folks, tissue makers have a special strategy: desheeting.
By Bud Conrad, Chief Economist, Casey Research: Foreigners recycling their trade surpluses with the US have been an important buyer of US government debt. But that buying collapsed during the financial crisis. Now, worried foreigners are once again bailing out. So far, the Fed is picking up the slack. But what if the Fed were to “taper” those purchases?
By Chriss Street: The FBI confirmed that a Task Force from the FBI, the IRS, the District Attorney’s Office, and the US Attorney’s Office is investigating political campaign corruption in Orange County, California. A Democrat Attorney General targeting Republican politicians in America’s most Republican county? Um, the District Attorney on the Task Force is a Republican. No, this is real.
From tiny app makers to giants like AT&T, they’re all part of Big Data. They chase after billions by collecting, storing, and mining personal data. Data is money. Much more than money, if governments get it. Which led documentary filmmaker Cullen Hoback to lament: “The craziest thing is that I didn’t realize I was making a horror film.”
The all-out effort by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to print money, stir up inflation, devalue the yen, blow asset bubbles, and pile on even more government debt – a newfangled religion called Abenomics – is bearing fruit. But the primary objective, creating a trade surplus to crank up the real economy, is failing miserably.
“We welcome the ruling party’s victory,” announced Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of Sumitomo Chemical, and chairman of the Japan Business Federation, the country’s largest business lobby. He is one of the faces of Japan Inc. He’d been handed a gift: the ruling coalition controls both houses of parliament and will push Abenomics deep into the system.
By Farah Halime, Cairo: Familiar faces are back (trying) to run Egypt – 11 of 34 ministers are veterans of Mubarak’s regime. Good news for business, given that many of the newcomers have backgrounds in economics and finance and are seasoned politicians. But it’s still an interim government backed by the military with no appetite for reforms.
When going overseas, Chancellor Merkel doesn’t leave home without planeloads full of executives from Germany's most coddled companies – exports being the core of foreign policy. And if these deals get snagged on the rusty nails of payment risks, it’s up to the government to help out with guarantees, even if they’re infested with conflicts.
Contributed by John Mauldin, Mauldin Economics: In bond markets around the world, governments are winning, and investors are losing. The Fed is helping the Treasury to borrow cheaply while the government expands its deficit spending and debt accumulation. Using inflation and low bond yields to reduce government debt is called financial repression.
Contributed by Don Quijones, Spain: Ester Quintana, a 42-year old Barcelona resident, was on her way home after taking part with friends in a demonstration to mark that day’s general strike. As she made her way past riot police vans parked in a narrow street just off Paseo de Gracia, she was hit in the face by a rubber bullet.
We do get into serious econ topics ... the bloodbath in Real Estate Investment Trusts, the negative feedback loop that their high leverage and forced sales of mortgage-backed securities have triggered, its impact on the housing market.... (video).
“As the Fed transformed Wall Street into a casino,” wrote David Stockman, “arrangements for insider speculation took on massive size,” with “hedge fund footings” soaring from $150 billion in 1990 to $3 trillion by the 2007–2008 peak. Trading books of Wall Street banks grew even more explosively. Together, they formed “the fast money complex.”
“Who Could Trust Such A Company?” – The Big Fat Lies About Radiation Exposure Of Workers At Fukushima
The nuclear fiasco in Japan has shaken the omnipotent nuclear industry – and government agencies that aided and abetted it. Yet they still obfuscate the consequences of the triple melt-down. Latest revelation: the number of workers at the plant with cancer-inducing radiation doses in thyroid glands was eleven times higher than disclosed last December.
“A culture of dangerous greed and excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world,” said Senator McCain last week. Senator Warren told Wall Street, where failure has been rewarded with bailouts and record bonuses, that “Banking should be boring.” They were pitching the “21st Century Glass-Steagall Act.” Wall Street must have gotten the willies.