Monday, December 22, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quick Overview

  • Bush threw auto makers a $13.4 billion lifeline from the U.S. bank-bailout program.

  • YoY Canada’s consumer prices rose 2.0% in November.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

London Banker: “The market has failed, and officialdom is perpetuating that failure
The problem isn’t just money either, but how quickly the money is turned over.

Consumers Get Important New Credit Card Protections While praising the new protections, Consumers Union criticized the 18 month delay before consumers finally get relief.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims were down 21,000 to 554,000 last week

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's index of manufacturing improved from -39.3 to -32.9

  • U.S. leading indicators fell 0.4% in November

  • U.K. retail sales rose 0.3% MoM and 1.5% YoY

  • (Bloomberg) -- The Bank of Japan cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.1 percent and introduced new ways of pumping money into the banking system to bolster the ailing economy.

  • German business confidence (IFO) fell to its lowest level ever in December amid concerns of a prolonged recession.

  • Canada’s retail sales fell 0.9% in October.
    Canada’s leading indicators fell 0.7% in November.

  • (Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co.’s debt ratings outlook and those of its GE Capital finance arm were changed to negative from stable by Standard & Poor’s, reflecting concern earnings could deteriorate further than previously thought.

  • Bush is looking at "orderly" bankruptcy as a way to deal with the U.S. auto industry.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

South African central bank gold sales dry up .. Demby also pointed out that demand for gold coins and bullion now exceeded supply by a huge margin as investors were seeking a safe haven from the prospective fallout in the wake of mammoth money supply creation by the United States government.

Quick Overview

  • U.K. unemployment rate was 6.0, up from 5.8% MoM.

  • Construction output in the Euro area rose 0.1% in October, but down 4.0 YoY
  • YoY Consumer prices in the Euro area rose 2.1%

  • Canada wholesale sales fell 1.8% in October

  • Norway cut its interest rate from 4.75% to 3.00%

  • OPEC will be cutting oil production by 2.2 million barrels a day as of January 1.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 500,000 barrels to 321.3 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline rose 1.3 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil supplies rose 600,000 barrels.
    Refinery use dropped from 87.4% to 84.1% of capacity
    Gasoline demand fell 2.7%
    Distillate demand fell 4.5%.

  • Russia's central bank allowed the ruble to slide for the second time this week, speeding up the gradual depreciation policy

  • French antitrust authorities ruled that Apple must allow other operators other than France Telecom to sell its iPhone, saying the exclusive deal was unfair for competition.

  • Morgan Stanley reported a wider-than-expected $2.2 billion quarterly loss.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quick Overview

  • The Fed cut the fed funds rate from 1.00% to .125%, and signaled they will keep rates "exceptionally low" for some time amid rapidly waning price pressures.

  • U.S. housing starts were at a record (since 1959) low annual rate of 625,000 in November, down 18.9% MoM.
    Building permits fell 15.6% MoM.

  • The U.S. consumer price index fell 1.7% in November rose 1.1% YoY

  • YoY U.K. consumer prices rose 4.1% in November

  • Manufacturing and services index in the Euro area fell from 38.9 to 38.3

  • China’s November steel output fell by 12.4% YoY

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bush Shoe Tosser Signed By The Seattle Mariners SEATTLE, Washington - The Seattle Mariners who in 2008, had the worst record in the American League (61-101) have just signed Muntazer al-Zaidi to a three year, $3 million pitching contract.

Our Updated Take on Gold Prices
The last era of any significant period of deflation was in the 1930s. Although gold was fixed for a long time at $20.67 per ounce, in 1934 a massive devaluation of the U.S. dollar saw its fixed price jump to $35 per ounce. During this period of entrenched deflation, and in spite of the fixed price of the metal, gold proxies saw a dramatic rise in price. The NYSE-listed shares of Homestake Mining Company rose from about $4 to $500 from 1929 to 1935; the company operated for some 120 years until its flagship Homestake mine in Lead, S.D., ran out of economic reserves a few years ago and the company ceased to exist.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. industrial production fell 0.6% in November and 5.5% YoY

  • Japan's Tankan fell from -3 to -24

  • China's industrial output rose 5.4% YoY
    China’s November iron ore imports rose 6% MoM

  • The Supreme Court ruled that cigarette companies can be sued by smokers who claim they were deceived by advertisements promoting “light” cigarettes.
Madoff and the Global Economy
The big unanswered question, for years, was why this money flow persisted. Why the heck were foreign investors willing to lend the U.S. such large amounts of money on such good terms? Economists and journalists spun out hypothesis after hypothesis (we'll see more below), but there was no agreement on why.
At Last, A Date
Around 2020. That casts the issue in quite a different light. Mr Birol’s date, if correct, gives us about 11 years to prepare. If the Hirsch report is right, we have already missed the boat. Birol says we need a “global energy revolution” to avoid an oil crunch, including (disastrously for the environment) a massive global drive to exploit unconventional oils, such as the Canadian tar sands. But nothing on this scale has yet happened, and Hirsch suggests that even if it began today, the necessary investments and infrastructure changes could not be made in time. Fatih Birol told me “I think time is not on our side here.”

Shipping charter rates soar One of the world’s key shipping markets has begun to recover from a slump, with a revival in Chinese demand for iron ore and coal pushing some average charter prices up almost threefold in the past week.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fear triggers gold shortage, drives US treasury yields below zero
The investor search for a safe places to store wealth as the financial crisis shakes faith in the system has caused extraordinary moves in global markets over recent days, driving the yield on 3-month US Treasuries below zero and causing a rush for physical holdings of gold

Friday, December 12, 2008

Capitalist Fools by Prof. Joseph E. Stiglitz
Behind the debate over remaking U.S. financial policy will be a debate over who’s to blame. It’s crucial to get the history right, writes a Nobel-laureate economist, identifying five key mistakes—under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II—and one national delusion.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. retail sales fell 1.8% in November

  • U.S. producer price index fell 2.2% in November and up 0.4% YoY

  • The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment rose from 55.3 to 59.1

  • Industrial output in the Euro area fell 1.2% in October and 5.3% YoY

  • The EU will spend 200 billion Euros, 1.5% of GDP, to help the economy.

  • Japan will spend 23 trillion yen ($255 billion) to help the economy.

  • Bush dropped his opposition to using the $700 billion bank bailout to provide help for U.S. automakers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Quick Overview

  • (Bloomberg) -- Senate negotiations for a U.S. automaker bailout plan collapsed, in a blow to General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, which may run out of cash early next year.
    “It’s over with,” Majority Leader Harry Reid said.

  • U.S. jobless claims rose 58,000 last week to 573,000, the most in 26 years.

  • The U.S. trade deficit widened in October 1.1 % to $57.2 billion from a revised $56.6 billion in September

  • Switzerland lowered its interest rate target from 1.00% to .50%.

  • Korea reduced its interest rate from 4.0% to a record low 3.0%

  • Australia's unemployment rate increased from 4.3% to 4.4%

  • The USDA's 2008-2009 U.S. ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was raised from 1.124 to 1.474 million bushels, more than expected.
    Soybeans unchanged at 205 million bushels.
    Wheat was raised from 603 to 623 million bushels.
    Sugar was raised from 907,000 to 961,000 tons.
    Cotton was raised from 6.2 to 7.1 million bales.

  • The USDA's 2008-2009 world ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was raised from 110 to 124 million tons.
    Soybeans unchanged at 54 million tons.
    Wheat was raised from 145 to 147 million tons.
    Cotton was raised from 57 to 59 million tons.

  • USDA lowered its estimate of the 2008-2009 Florida orange juice crop from 166 to 165 million boxes. The projected juice yield was also reduced, from 1.59 to 1.58 gallons per box.

  • India said war is no solution to stop Pakistan based militants from launching anti-India attacks.

Foreclosure Storm Will Hit U.S. in 2009 as Loan Changes Fail
Rising unemployment, expiring foreclosure moratoriums and state efforts that “run out of steam” will push monthly filings toward the record of more than 303,000 set in August, Sharga said. The number of homes that revert to lenders, the last stage of foreclosure and known as “real estate owned” or REO properties, will increase to 1 million from as many as 880,000 this year, he said.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Commodity crash tests faith in supercycle
There is no such thing as consensus in the commodity world, but most experts still think that the economic arrival of two billion people in Asia is a "game-changer" that will underpin prices for years to come..

Quick Overview

  • U.S. wholesale sales totaled $377.4 billion in October, down 4.1% MoM, but up 2.7% YoY. Inventories fell 1.1%.

  • U.S. foreclosure activity dipped 7% MoM, but jumped 28% YoY RealtyTrac said.

  • YoY Chinese exports fell 2.2% in November

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 400,000 barrels to 320.8 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline rose 3.8 million barrels to 202.7 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil rose 1.7 million barrels.
    Refinery use increased from 84.3% to 87.4% of capacity.
    Gasoline demand fell 3.2% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 4.0% YoY.

  • Bloomberg reported that world’s largest iron ore consumer China may ask global iron ore majors to accept an 82% price cut for iron.

  • Bloomberg reported that BHP Billiton Ltd shipped the least amount of iron ore from Australia in 9 months amid plunging demand from China.

  • Rio Tinto is cutting 14,000 jobs.

  • Chinas President Hu reiterated the government’s commitment to use all tools at its disposal to maintain economic growth at 8% in 2009.

  • (Reuters) - A prominent team of U.S.-based researchers predicted 14 tropical storms in the 2009 Atlantic hurricane season on Wednesday and said seven would develop into hurricanes.

  • China’s November iron ore imports rose by 6% MoM.
    China's producer price decelerated to an annual rise of 2%.

  • American Iron & Steel Industries said US weekly raw steel production fell by 44% YoY

Q Ratio Signals ‘Horrific’ Market Bottom, CLSA Says (Update1)
At the end of the four largest U.S. bear markets in 1921, 1932, 1949 and 1982, the Q ratio fell to 0.3 or lower, and history is likely to repeat, said Napier. From the 1982 trough, the S&P 500 grew more than 14-fold to the middle of 2000, when Napier says the last bull market ended.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Asian trade in 'Free-Fall' The Baltic Dry Index measuring freight rates for bulk goods began to collapse in June, dropping 96pc over the five months in the most dramatic fall in shipping fees ever recorded. It was a leading indicator of what we are now seeing in Asian trade

Global demand for oil to plummet
“The increasing likelihood of a prolonged global economic downturn continues to dominate market perceptions, putting downward pressure on oil prices,” it said, forecasting that demand would drop 50,000 barrels a day this year and a hefty 450,000 b/d in 2009. US oil demand will drop next year to the lowest level in 11 years.

Quick Overview

  • Economic sentiment in Germany rose from -53.5 to -45.2

  • White House, Congress reach 15 billion auto bailout deal.

  • Japan machinery orders fall 4.4% in October

  • U.K.'s manufacturing output fell 1.4%.

  • Canada reduce its interest rate from 2.25% to 1.50

  • Japan's GDP fell 0.5% QoQ and 0.4% YoY.

  • YoY South Africa's gold production fell 14.4% in October

  • Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, responding to evaporating profits and public ire, won't pay bonuses this year to their chief executives.

  • (Reuters) - The United States and other rich nations must pledge by the end of next year specific targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to win agreement on a U.N. climate pact, the U.N.'s top climate official said.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Cisco Systems Inc., General Electric Co. and Emcor Group Inc. may be winners as President-elect Barack Obama seeks to revive the U.S. economy by rewiring classrooms and libraries for high-speed Internet service and repairing bridges and highways.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Quick Overview

  • Stocks are up on signs that the automakers will be able to avoid bankruptcy and Obama’s proposed stimulus plan.

  • Housing starts in Canada’s fell 19% MoM.

  • The USDA estimates 2008-2009 world ending stocks of coffee at 39.6 million bags -- 29% of use.
  • (Bloomberg) -- World coffee consumption may outstrip production by as much as 8 million bags in 2009-10 because of the smaller crop in Brazil,

  • More than half of all homeowners who had their loans modified to make the payments more affordable in the first half of the year are already in default again, banking regulators said.
Bulk shipping cos may benefit from early ore price resolution "Should China Iron and Steel Association successfully achieve an early reduction in contracted iron ore prices, the dry bulk market could experience a revival as iron ore shipments to more profitable steel mills resume", Nokta said in a report published on Friday

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Deflation virus is moving the policy test beyond the 1930s extremes
His point was that central banks never run out of ammunition. They have an inexhaustible arsenal. The world’s fate now hangs on whether he was right (which is probable), or wrong (which is possible).

Oil Contango Pays Most in Decade as Shell Holds Crude in Ships
Stockpiling crude may provide higher returns than commodities, stocks and Treasuries as the U.S., Japan and Europe endure simultaneous recessions for the first time since World War II.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. unemployment rate rose from 6.5% to 6.7%

  • The percentage of U.S. mortgage holders who were behind in their payments rose to 6.99%.

  • Canada’s unemployment rate rose from 6.2% to 6.3%

  • Germany's manufacturing orders fell 6.1% in October.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims fell 21,000 last week to 509,000,
  • U.S. factory orders dropped 5.1% in October.

  • The European Central Bank reduced its interest rate from 3.25% to 2.50%,

  • Australia reduced its interest rate from 6.5% to 5.0

  • Britain reduced its interest rate from 3.00% to 2.00%,

  • Sweden reduced its interest from 3.75% to 2.00%.

  • GDP in the Euro area fell 0.2% QoQ, but up rose 0.6% YoY.

  • (WSJ) Harvard University's endowment has investment losses of 22%, or about $8 billion, since the end of the school's fiscal year.

  • Bernanke called on government to ramp up efforts to stem home foreclosures.

Recession: When the money goes, so does the toxic wife
The Toxic Wife, first identified in these pages almost two years ago, is a particular and terrifying species.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Defaults May Beat Great Depression, Junk Bonds Say
Defaults and bankruptcies are accelerating as financing options for high-yield companies dwindle amid the longest U.S. economic recession in at least 26 years. The U.S. default rate rose to 3.3 percent in October, according to Moody’s, which forecasts the rate to increase to 4.9 percent in December and 11.2 percent by November 2009.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. nonfarm productivity rose 1.1% QoQ

  • U.S. Unit labor costs rose 2.8% QoQ

  • The ISM index of services fell from 44.4 to 37.3 -- new record low.

  • The Mortgage Bankers Association said U.S. mortgage applications rose 51% WoW -- helped by a 30-year fixed rate at 5.47%.

  • Retail sales in the Euro area fell 0.8% MoM and 2.1% YoY

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil fell 400,000 barrels to 320.4 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline fell 1.6 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 2.1 million barrels.
    Refinery use fell from 86.2% to 84.3% of capacity last week.
    Gasoline demand fell 3.2%

  • More than 100 countries sign cluster bomb ban. The U.S., China, India, Israel, Pakistan and Russia are among countries refusing to sign the ban.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

World stability hangs by a thread as economies continue to unravel
The working assumption of the "Great Boom" is – or was – that we live in a benign era where most societies are converging towards some form of market liberalism; where trade and capital flows are unrestricted; where governments have enough legitimacy to keep order by light touch; where a major war is unthinkable.

Quick Overview

  • Australia reduced its interest rate from 5.25% to 4.25%,

  • Producer prices in the Euro area fell 0.8% in October, but rose 6.3% YoY.

  • Thailand reduced its interest rate by 1% to 2.75%

  • November U.S. vehicle sales for:
    Ford fell 31% YoY
    GM fell 41% YoY
    Chrysler fell 47% YoY
    Toyota were down 34% YoY
    Honda were down 32% YoY.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Stocks in the U.S. and Europe will withstand a “full-blown” global recession to surge in 2009, UBS AG said.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Quick Overview

  • Bernanke said the Fed could directly buy securities and backstop markets as interest rates approach zero.

  • The Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing index fell from 38.9 to 36.2 in November.

  • U.S. construction spending fell 1.2% MoM.

  • Manufacturing in the U.K. fell from 40.7 to a record low of 34.4 in November.

  • Euro zone manufacturing fell from 41.1 to a record low of 35.6 in November.

  • OPEC members met but did not announce any production cuts.

  • The International Cocoa Organization estimated that world consumption exceeded production by 77,000 tons in 2007-2008.

  • Retailers got off to a better than expected start for the holiday shopping season, with consumers spending an estimated 7.2% more this year than last.

  • Ford may sell Volvo