Friday, October 31, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. employment cost index rose 0.7% in the third quarter.

  • YoY the core rate of personal consumption expenditures rose 2.4% in September.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose to 57.6 from 57.5

  • Canada’s GDP fell 0.3% in August rose 0.6% YoY.

  • Unemployment rate in the Euro area remained at 7.5% in September.

  • Japan reduced its interest rate from 0.50% to 0.30%
    Japan’s consumer prices rose 2.1% YoY.
    Japan’s unemployment rate improved from 4.2% to 4.0%.

  • F.O. Licht estimates world sugar consumption up 1.8% in 2008-2009 outpacing production by 472,300 tons.

  • Fortis Bank estimates world coco production to exceed consumption by 52,000 tons in 2008-2009.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. GDP shrank 0.3% in the third quarter.

  • U.S. jobless claims were unchanged last week.

  • China lowered interest rates from 6.93% to 6.66%.

  • Canada's industrial prices fell 1.2% in September, but rose 8.0% YoY.

  • Japan proposed a new stimulus package by giving $600 to every family household.

  • Unemployment in Germany fell under the 3m, the lowest in 16 years.

  • (Reuters) - U.S. state leaders, trade groups and economists descended on the House of Representatives on Wednesday to help work out a second economic stimulus bill that one influential Congressional member said would be introduced on November 17.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

World will struggle to meet oil demand Without extra investment to raise production, the natural annual rate of output decline is 9.1 per cent, the International Energy Agency says in its annual report, the World Energy Outlook, a draft of which has been obtained by the Financial Times.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. durable goods orders rose 0.8% in September. Excluding transportation orders fell 1.1%.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 500,000 barrels
    Supplies of gasoline fell 1.5 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil rose 400,000 barrels.
    Refinery use increased last week from 84.8% to 85.3% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand fell 3.4%YoY
    Distillate demand fell 5.2% YoY.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities fell 1.0% in August and 16.6% YoY. YoY prices fell more than 30% in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Prices in Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego all fell more than 25%.

  • The Conference Board's index of consumer confidence fell from 61.4 to a record low 38.0 in October.

  • Iceland’s raised interest rates to 18% to prop up its frozen currency and markets.

  • Because of a computer error the USDA issued new supply and demand estimates for 2008-2009 corn and soybeans.
    Corn was reduced from 1.154 to 1.088 billion bushels.
    Soybeans were reduced from 220 to 205 million bushels.

  • Canada had 12.8 million hogs in inventory on October 1st, down 10.9% YoY.

  • (Reuters) - Iraq's government denounced on Tuesday a U.S. air strike on a Syrian border village in an unexpected rebuke of Washington.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sales of ships for scrap being 'suffocated'
"All the issues that will help the recovery are probably coming faster than people expect," Mr Soanes said.

IMF may need to "print money" as crisis spreads
"The IMF can in theory create liquidity like a central bank," said an informed source. "There are a lot of ideas kicking around."

Forecasters Race to Call the Bottom to the Market Even in normal times, forecasters have a strong incentive to make extreme predictions, which is why those “Dow 1,000!” reports persist. “It’s eye-popping. It’s relevant. It seems exciting,” Mr. Lamont said. Such predictions attract publicity, name recognition and a bigger client base in a business where investors pay thousands, if not millions, for stock advice and investment guidance.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. new home sales were at an annual rate of 464,000 in September, up 2.7% MoM and down 36% YoY.

  • Australia intervened on Friday and bought Australian dollars.

  • Japan's retail sales fell 0.4% YoY

  • The Group of Seven expressed concern about the soaring Japanese yen – are they next to intervene?
Farm-Credit Squeeze May Cut Crops, Spur Food Crisis (Update1)
(Bloomberg) -- The credit crunch is compounding a profit squeeze for farmers that may curb global harvests and worsen a food crisis for developing countries.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Europe on the brink of currency crisis meltdown
Experts fear the mayhem may soon trigger a chain reaction within the eurozone itself. The risk is a surge in capital flight from Austria – the country, as it happens, that set off the global banking collapse of May 1931 when Credit-Anstalt went down – and from a string of Club Med countries that rely on foreign funding to cover huge current account deficits.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The National Association of Realtors said existing home sales were at an annual rate of 5.18 million units, up 5.5% in September.

  • U.K.'s GDP fell 0.5% in the third quarter.

  • YoY Canada’s consumer prices rose 3.4%.

  • OPEC wants to cut oil production by 1.5 million barrels a day

  • The port of Rotterdam announced that throughput during the first nine months of the year rose by 6.1% YoY. Most types of cargo showed a positive trend, with agribulk up 26% YoY, liquid bulk up 16%, ores and scrap up 11%, coal up 9%, crude oil up 7%, containers up 6%.

  • The IMF is aiding Iceland with about $2.1bn.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tough to believe Greenspan's disbelief .."those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholder's equity (myself especially) are in a state of shocked disbelief."
Cue up Casablanca, and the "I'm shocked, shocked, to find gambling here," line from the Captain Renault character.
The truth is that the executives at financial institutions had very little interest in protecting shareholder's equity.

GLG's Roman, NYU's Roubini Predict Hedge Fund Failures, Panic
Nouriel Roubini, the New York University Professor who spoke at the same conference, said hundreds of hedge funds will fail as the crisis forces investors to dump assets. ``We've reached a situation of sheer panic,'' said Roubini, who predicted the financial crisis in 2006. ``Don't be surprised if policy makers need to close down markets for a week or two in coming days.''

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims were up 15,000 last week to 478,000, more than expected.

  • Sweden cut its interest rate from 4.25% to 3.75%

  • U.K.'s retail sales volume fell 0.4% in September.

  • Industrial new orders in the Euro area fell 1.2% in August

  • RealtyTrac said 765,558 foreclosure filings were made on U.S. properties in the third quarter of this year - up 3% from the second quarter and 71% YoY.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Greenspan Urges Tighter Regulation After `Breakdown' (Update1)
(Bloomberg) -- Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan called for tighter regulation of financial companies, distancing himself from the free-market culture that he helped to create.

Credit-Rating Companies `Sold Our Soul' for Pay, Employees Said
(Bloomberg) -- Employees at Moody's Investors Service told executives that issuing dubious creditworthy ratings to mortgage-backed securities made it appear they were incompetent or ``sold our soul to the devil for revenue,'' according to e-mails obtained by U.S. House investigators.

Quick Overview

  • Canada’s retail sales fell 0.3%. Excluding autos, retail sales rose 0.4%
    Canada’s index of leading indicators fell 0.2% in September

  • New Zealand's central bank cut its benchmark interest rate by a record 1% to 6.5%

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 3.2 million barrels to 311.4 million barrels
    Supplies of gasoline rose 2.7 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil rose 800,000 barrels.
    Refinery use increased from 82.2% to 84.8% of capacity
    Gasoline demand fell 4.3% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 5.8% YoY

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Don't make a drama out of this financial crisis
The scale of what has happened is breath-taking. The oil price has halved since July. Wheat prices have halved since spring. Rice prices are down by a third. Remember that early this year there were riots in many developing countries – not over the antics of Wall Street investment bankers but over the price of food. And in many countries, until recently anyway, the forces pushing towards recession have been more about the squeeze on real incomes than about the credit crunch. What will happen now is that, thanks to the fall in commodity prices, the squeeze will go into reverse, thereby handing purchasing power back to the consumers.

Spreading the wealth
And there is a lot of spreading potential: income distribution in America is the widest of the 30 countries of the OECD. The top 10% (or decile) of earners have an average $87,257 of disposable income, while those in the bottom decile have $5,819, among the very lowest of any country.

Quick Overview

  • The Chicago Federal Reserve's index of national activity fell from -1.81 to -2.57 in September.

  • Canada reduced its interest rate from 2.50% to 2.25%.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Argentine bonds plunged, sending benchmark dollar yields over 24 percent, and stocks sank the most in a decade on speculation the government will nationalize pension funds in a bid to attain financing and stave off a second default this decade.

  • Cash strapped Pakistan is looking for loans from the IMF and other bodies of up to $15 billion to avert a balance of payment crisis.

  • China will raise tax rebates for a quarter of its exports and jumpstart infrastructure projects, trying to buffer the impact of weaker overseas demand.

  • China intends to set up a soybean reserve of up to 1.5 million tonnes.
The United States, Europe and Bretton Woods II
The Europeans are not looking to challenge the reality of American power, they are looking to increase the degree to which the rest of the world can influence the dynamics of the American economy, with an eye toward limiting the ability of the Americans to accidentally destabilize the international financial system again.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Coffee and chocolate are the key to long life
Chocolate, coffee and tea are among the key foods and drinks needed to live a long and healthy life, according to a leading nutritional scientist.

Quick Overview

  • Bernanke endorsed a new economic stimulus package -- Bush is open to the idea.

  • YoY China's economy expanded at 9% in the third quarter.

  • Sweden became the latest European economy to introduce a bailout plan to support its banks.

  • Canada wholesale sales fell 1.5% in August

  • U.K.'s budget deficit out at 37.6 billion pounds in the first half of 2008-2009.

  • India cut its discount rate from 9% to 8%.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lahde Quits Hedge Funds, Thanks `Idiots' for Success (Update1)
``I was in this game for money,'' Lahde, 37, wrote in a two-page letter today in which he said he had come to hate the hedge-fund business. ``The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government.

``All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other sides of my trades. God Bless America.''

Quick Overview

  • Warren Buffett said “bad news is an investor's best friend” – he’s buying U.S. stocks.

  • U.S. housing starts were at an annual rate of 817,000 in September, down 6.3% MoM, and down 31% YoY.

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index fell from 70.3 to 57.5

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumer price index unchanged in September -- up 4.9 YoY. Excluding food and energy prices rose 0.1% -- up 2.5% YoY.

  • U.S. industrial production fell 2.8% in September

  • U.S. Capacity utilization fell from 78.7% to 76.4%.

  • The Philadelphia regional index of manufacturing fell from +3.8 to -37.5

  • Canada’s manufacturing sales fell 3.7% in August.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 5.6 million barrels to 308.2 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline rose 7.0 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 200,000 barrels.
    Refinery use rose 80.9% to 82.2% last week.
    Gasoline demand fell 5.2% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 6.9% YoY.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. stocks dropped the most since the crash of 1987, fed by bleak economic data.

  • Japan pledged unlimited supply of dollars to lenders.

  • European car sales fell 8.2% last month. BMW has begun to idle three plants - Opel has shut a factory.

  • U.S. retail sales fell 1.2% in September, weaker than expected.

  • The Empire State manufacturing index fell from -7.4 to -24.62 in October.

  • YoY consumer prices in the Euro area rose 3.6% in September.

  • Investors pulled at least $43bn from US hedge funds in September.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Bloomberg (October 14, 2008) Roubini Sees Worst Recession in 40 Years, Rally's End (click for video):

Europe stuns with €1.5 trillion bank rescue, as France plays role of saviour
Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Holland and Austria have joined forces to launch the greatest bank bail-out in history, offering over €1.5 trillion in guarantees and fresh capital in a "shock and awe" blitz to halt the credit panic.

Quick Overview

  • Bush said the government is taking a $250 billion stake in the nation's top financial institutions as part of its latest plan to tackle the credit crisis.

  • U.K.'s consumer prices rose 5.2%.

  • Industrial production in the Euro area rose 1.1% in August, but fell 0.7% YoY.

  • Australia will spend A$10.4 billion to help stimulate the economy.

  • Europe's cocoa grind fell 0.7% QoQ. YoY it is up 2%.
Paulson's statement on actions to protect the US economy
Today I am announcing that the Treasury will purchase equity stakes in a wide array of banks and thrifts. Government owning a stake in any private U.S. company is objectionable to most Americans – me included. Yet the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable. When financing isn’t available, consumers and businesses shrink their spending, which leads to businesses cutting jobs and even closing up shop.

Monday, October 13, 2008

This Is What Denial Does
But one of the benefits of modernity is our ability to spot trends and predict results. If fish in a depleted ecosystem grow by 5% a year and the catch expands by 10% a year, the fishery will collapse. If the global economy keeps growing at 3% a year (or 1700% a century) it too will hit the wall.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. government is closed for Columbus Day.

  • The Dow Industrials rose 936.42 points -- 11%, as global plans to rescue banks through capital injections sent the DJI to its biggest one-day point gain ever.

A light at the end of the tunnel?
..At first blush—and in contrast to previous failures after half-hearted efforts—the new plans seem to be working...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

European Leaders Vow Bank Guarantees, Bid to Stop Financial Rot
The key measures announced today are: a pledge to guarantee new bank debt issuance until the end of 2009; permission for governments to shore up banks by buying preferred shares; and a commitment to recapitalize any ``systemically'' critical banks in distress.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lehman Brothers demise triggers huge default
An auction of Lehman’s bonds yesterday determined that the bank’s borrowings were worth only 8.625 cents on the dollar. The valuation leaves the insurers of the debt a bill of about $365 billion. It is not clear whether the insurers, which are required to settle the bill in the next two weeks, will be able to pay – a development that could further undermine increasingly stressed capital markets.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Paulson Says Will Buy Bank Equity `Soon as We Can' (Update2)
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the U.S. will buy equity ``as soon as we can'' in banks and other financial institutions to restore market stability and revive economic growth.

G-7 Commit to `All Necessary Steps' to Stem Crisis (Update2)
``The current situation calls for urgent and exceptional action,'' the G-7's finance ministers and central bankers said in a 266-word statement after talks in Washington. Officials pledged to ``take all necessary steps to unfreeze credit and money markets'' without detailing how that would be accomplished.

Quick Overview

  • All hands on deck! Officials from G-7 /G-8 meet to conside ways to stem the panic.

  • (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve Bank of New York plans to meet with the credit-default swap industry to accelerate plans for a central clearinghouse for the $55 trillion market.

  • Preliminary results of the auction credit-default swaps indicate an initial value of 9.75 cents on the dollar

  • U.S. exports fell $3.4 billion in August to $164.7 billion while imports fell $5.5 billion to $223.9 billion -- resulting in imports of $59.1 billion.

  • Canada's unemployment rate remained at 6.1%.

  • Germany is working on a plan to prop up its major banks that may well include taking government stakes.

  • The USDA estimates 2008-2009 ending stocks for:
    Corn was increased from 1.018 to 1.154 billion bushels.
    Soybeans were increased from 135 to 220 million bushels.
    Wheat was increased from 574 to 601 million bushels.
    Sugar was increased from 505,000 to 656,000 tons.
    Cotton was increased from 4.90 to 6.20 million bales.

  • The USDA estimates 2008-2009 world ending stocks for:
    Corn was reduced from 110 to 108 million tons.
    Soybeans were increased from 51 to 55 million tons.
    Wheat was increased from 140 to 144 million tons.
    Cotton was increased from 52 to 55 million tons.
    The USDA estimates the Florida orange crop at 166 million boxes, down from last season's 170 million boxes. The projected juice yield was 1.59 gallons per box at 42.0 degrees Brix, down from last year's record high 1.67 gallons per box.

  • The International Energy Agency reduced its forecast of 2008 world oil demand from 86.7 to 86.5 million barrels per day, an increase of just 0.5% from last year. In 2009, the IEA is expecting world demand to increase 0.8% to 87.2 million barrels per day.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. wholesale sales fell 1.0% in August -- inventories rose 0.8%.

  • U.S. jobless claims fell 20,000 last week to 478,000.

  • Australia's unemployment rate fell from 4.3% to 4.1% in September

  • Japan's machinery orders fell 14.5% in August,

  • GDP in the Euro area fell 0.2% in the second quarter.

  • S&P put GM's credit on a negative watch list. GM dropped 31%, their lowest level since 1950 as it contends with a deteriorating global sales and deteriorating cash reserves.
Financial Crisis: Who is going to bail out the euro?
The US has guaranteed the $3.5 trillion money market funds. It has nationalised the $5.3 trillion pillars of the mortgage market, Fannie and Freddie. The Fed is accepting any junk as collateral at its lending window. This week it went the whole hog after panic hit the $1.6 trillion market for commercial paper. It is now offering loans without any security at all. The US government has become a bank. Yes, this is US socialism. What is the alternative

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Attacking Cancer Stem Cells
A team of researchers at Harvard Medical School has now developed a new way to find drugs that selectively kill cancer stem cells or prevent them from dividing.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Fed lowered rates from 2.00% to 1.50%.

  • The ECB, Bank of England, Bank of Canada and Sweden each cut their benchmark rates by half a percentage point.
    The ECB's rate is now 3.75 %; Canada's 2.5%; the U.K.'s at 4.5%; and Sweden's rate at 4.25%.

  • China cut its interest rate from 7.20% to 6.93%

  • U.S. pending home sales rose 7.4% in August, more than expected.

  • The U.S. DOE said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 8.1 million barrels to 302.6 million barrels,
    Supplies of gasoline rose 7.2 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies were up 400,000 barrels.
    Refinery use rose from 72.3% to 80.9%
    Gasoline demand fell 5.3% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 8.3% YoY.

  • (Bloomberg) Exports of palm oil from Indonesia, the largest producer, may decline by as much as 1.5 million metric tons a year after the nation made the use of renewable energy mandatory, a government official said.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

ECB sees crisis of "enormous proportions" as Spain creates mortgage rescue fund
The result is a mish-mash of policies that have eroded the confidence of Asian and Mid-East investors, sending the euro into free-fall. Economists have begun to warn openly about the risks of an EMU break-up.

Quick Overview

  • In its efforts to stem the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve and Treasury created a new lending facility to help backstop the commercial paper market.

  • The EU's Central Bank, Bank of England, and the Swiss National Bank injected $70 billion to the banking system to keep the sector liquid.

  • Iceland nationalized its second-largest bank and is negotiating a loan from Russia to shore up the nation's finances. Meanwhile Russia unveiled an aid package for its own banks.

  • Australia reduced its interest rate from 7.0% to 6.0% -- more than expected.

  • U.K.'s manufacturing output fell 0.4% in August.

  • Japan left interest rate unchanged at 0.50%.

  • The DOE said average household heating fuel costs this winter will be 15 percent higher than last year.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Quick Overview

  • Germanys Merkel announced that all private deposits in German banks would from now on be guaranteed.

  • The USDA said:
    14% of the corn crop was harvested, down from the five-year average of 30%.
    31% of the soybean crop was harvested, down from the five-year average of 41%.
    16% of the cotton crop was harvested, down from the five-year average of 24%.
    59% of the winter wheat crop was planted.

  • Bank of America announced a dividend cut and a plan to sell $10 billion in stock to raise capital.
A lighter view of the Sub Prime Crisis

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Germany takes hot seat as Europe falls into the abyss

Drastic rate cuts would be a good start. Central bankers still paralysed by a misplaced fear of inflation – whether in Europe, Britain, or the US – have become a public menace and should be held to severe account by our democracies. The imminent and massive danger is now self-feeding debt deflation.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. Payrolls fell by 159,000, the biggest job loss in over five years. U.S. Jobless rate remained at 6.1%.

  • Institute of Supply Managements' index of services fell from 50.6 to 50.2

  • Retail sales volume in the Euro area rose 0.3%

  • An index of services in the U.K. fell from 49.2 to 46.0 in September

  • World airfreight traffic saw its third consecutive month of contraction with a 2.7% decline for August.

  • Congress passed the $700 billion financial rescue

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Investors start fresh gold rush
The investors’ response is a rush into physical gold not seen since the second oil crisis in 1979, bankers say. The shift into gold coins and bars is so extreme that it is causing shortages at refineries and mints around the world.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Senate approved the $700 bailout plan.

  • U.S. factory orders fell 4.0% in August, more than expected.

  • The European Central Bank kept its interest rate unchanged at 4.25%. Trichet said policy makers “discussed” cutting interest rate.

  • Producer prices in the Euro area fell 0.5% in August.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Financial Crisis: So much for tirades against American greed
We now know that it was French finance minister Christine Lagarde who begged Mr Paulson to save the US insurer AIG last week. AIG had written $300 billion in credit protection for European banks, admitting that it was for "regulatory capital relief rather than risk mitigation". In other words, it was underpinning a disguised extension of credit leverage. Its collapse would have set off a lending crunch across Europe as banking capital sank below water level.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Senate set a vote for tonight on a $700 billion financial-rescue plan, along with raising the limit on federal deposit insurance to $250,000 from $100,000. Business and trade groups urged Washington to enact the plan, warning that inaction would have grim consequences

  • The Institute of Supply Managements' index of manufacturing fell from 49.9 to 43.5, a lot weaker than expected.

  • Unemployment for the Euro area rose from 7.4% to 7.5% in August.

  • U.K.'s index of services rose 0.6% in July
    U.K.’s manufacturing fell from 45.3 to 41.0

  • Japan's Cabinet agreed to a $17 billion stimulus package.

  • Manufacturing in Australia improved from 47.0 to 47.2

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 4.3 million barrels to 294.5 million barrels,
    Supplies of gasoline rose 900,000 barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies rose 1.3 million barrels.
    Refinery use improved from 66.7% to 72.3%
    Gasoline demand fell 4.5% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 8.4% YoY.

  • Sales of cars and light trucks fell 35% YoY at Ford, 32% at Toyota and 24% at Honda. GM's fell 16%, Nissan Motor fell 37 %.