Saturday, January 31, 2009

In Davos, protectionism is a dirty word
This is what happens when a country loses half a million jobs a month, and when the state becomes spender-of-last-resort. Taxpayers are tribal. They do not want precious stimulus to feed the foreigner.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hedge fund to offer shares priced in gold
Shares, which are normally quoted in a currency such as sterling or dollars, are to be available in a new denomination: gold.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. GDP was down an annual rate of 3.8%

  • The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment rose from 60.1 to 61.2

  • U.S. employment cost index rose 0.5%.

  • Japan’s household spending fell 4.6%
  • Japan’s industrial production fell 9.6%
  • Japan’s consumer prices rose 0.4%.

  • Canada’s GDP fell 0.7% MoM and 0.8% YoY.

  • Unemployment in the Euro area rose from 7.9% to 8.0%.
  • Euro area inflation was 1.1% per cent in January – the lowest since June 1999

  • Gold futures rose to their highest level in six months. Holdings in GLD (ETF) have reportedly reached record levels, now above that of Japan, the seventh-largest holder of gold on the planet.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Why dealing with the huge debt overhang is so hard
Let us start with some facts. The ratio of US public and private debt to gross domestic product reached 358 per cent in the third quarter of 2008. This was much the highest in US history (see charts). The previous peak of 300 per cent was reached in 1933, during the Great Depression.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims rose 3,000 last week to 588,000. The number of Americans drawing jobless benefits for a week or longer rose to 4,776,000.

  • U.S. durable goods orders fell 2.6% MoM, YoY orders fell 5.7%

  • (Reuters) - Government officials seeking to revamp the financial bailout have discussed spending another $1 trillion to $2 trillion to help restore banks to health.

  • (Reuters) – The cost of the government setting up a "bad bank" to buy up toxic assets from struggling U.S. banks could range as high as $4 trillion, according to some experts, Sen. Charles Schumer said on Thursday.

  • Japan’s retail sales fell 2.7% YoY

  • Japan’s unemployment rose to 4.4% from 3.9%

  • Canada’s industrial product price index fell1.9%

  • House prices in England and Wales fell by 13.5% YoY

  • (Bloomberg) -- Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., blamed banks and regulators for letting consumers amass debt like “weapons of mass destruction,” leading to the global economic crisis.

  • (Reuters) - Gold is likely to hit new record highs, spurred by serious concern about the U.S. currency and doubt about the state of the world economy, the chairman of Barrick Gold Corp. said on Thursday.
    There was even a possibility, although not a probability, central banks, including China's, might start to switch from dollar holdings to gold..

  • In its final days Bush imposed a 300% duty on Roquefort cheese.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Brave new connections The argument, simplified, goes like this: by dint of population, geography and culture, America is best placed to lead. Its immigrants make it a hub for the world’s best ideas. Its geography helps it reach out to other regions while insulating it from global problems such as refugees, cross-border conflicts and even some of China's air pollution. Its culture of openness, as well as constructive intellectual and commercial conflict, makes it a hive for innovation. Other countries suffer a disadvantage in these areas. In a world where hierarchical power is less important and relationships paramount, Ms Slaughter writes, America’s ability to orchestrate, not dictate, will bring it success.

Quick Overview

  • Obama said he's confident he will get his $900 billion economic stimulus bill approved.

  • (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve on Wednesday said it is prepared to buy long-term government debt if that would help improve conditions in financial markets and signaled some concern that deflation risks were rising.

  • Global survey taken among leaders of major companies around the globe has found deep pessimism. Just 21% believe that revenues will climb in 2009. (Hmmm)

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 6.2 million barrels last week to 338.9 million
    Supplies of gasoline fell 100,000 barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 1.9 million barrels.
    Refinery use fell from 83.3% to 82.5% of capacity
    Gasoline demand fell 1.7% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 3.0% YoY.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumer confidence fell from 38.6 to 37.7 in January -- a record low.

  • YoY the S&P’s/Case-Shiller index of home prices fell 18.2% in November

  • Germany's business climate index rose from 82.7 to 83.0

  • IMF scaled down estimates for 09 global growth to 0.5% from the 1.7% previously. The U.K. to contract (-1.3%) in 2009; Italy (-0.6%); Germany (-0.8%); France's (-0.5%) and Canada to grow 0.3%

  • AIG said to pay $450 million to retain about 400 derivatives employees, the very division that drove the company into the ground.

  • Canada's unveiled a $32 billion plan to stimulate the flagging economy.

  • (Reuters) - The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp is aiming to take control of a widely mooted "bad bank," to be set up by the US government to mop up toxic assets of struggling banks, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.S. existing home sales were at an annual rate of 4.74 million units, up 6.5% MoM, stronger than expected

  • U.S. leading indicators rose 0.3% in December, stronger than expected.

  • Iceland's government collapsed, days after its prime minister called for early elections amid popular anger over a financial crisis that has gutted the economy.

  • Pfizer agreed to pay $68 billion to acquire Wyeth in the largest pharmaceutical deal in a decade.

  • China-Japan November's container trade down 15%

  • Argentina's president declared an agricultural emergency Monday in the nation's breadbasket provinces, responding to a key demand by powerful farm organizations amid the worst drought in decades... In some areas, officials say it is the worst drought since the 1930s. Winds across the pampas are whipping up once-fertile soil that has turned to sand.
    Weather forecasts for Argentina are for a continuation of the hot and dry pattern.

  • Australia’s sentiment index rose 10 points to minus 20 from November.

  • Ex Lehman Brothers chief Dick Fuld has sold his 13m £9.3m Florida mansion to his wife for $100.

  • Citibank has new Taxpayer funding so they decide they need a new corporate jet to replace their old one.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bad news: we're back to 1931. Good news: it's not 1933 yet
It is worth glancing at the
front page of New York Times on Monday March 6, 1933 to see what the world looked like three days after Franklin Roosevelt moved into the White House. (

The newspaper splashed with the story that FDR had closed the US banking system – invoking the Trading with Enemies Act – and ordered the confiscation of private gold. From left to right, the headlines read: "Hitler Bloc Wins A Reich Majority, Rules Prussia"; "Japanese Push On In Fierce Fighting, China Closes Wall, Nanking Admits Defeat"; "City Scrip To Replace Currency"; "President Takes Steps Under Sweeping Law of War Time"; "Prison For Gold Hoarders".
Asian Stocks Rise as Shippers Advance on Fees; Contractors Drop
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, gained 3.7 percent amid rising demand for iron ore. On Jan. 23, nickel futures jumped 10 percent, copper surged 5.4 percent and gold futures added 6.7 percent.

Bet against a sovereign government if you dare
That’s an opening the size of the Gotthard Tunnel for any government that decides it doesn’t like a bunch of rootless cosmopolite speculators borrowing its bonds for the purpose of short selling. Say.
Biblical debt jubilee may be the only answer
There is no guarantee that the measures will succeed. The vast scale of government borrowing may exhaust the stock of global capital. Markets are already beginning to question the credit-worthiness of sovereign states. The Fed may find it harder than it thinks to disengage from colossal intervention in the bond markets
Israel promises troops legal backing over Gaza war
Last week, the military censor ordered local and foreign media in Israel to blur the faces of army commanders in photos and video footage of the Gaza war for fear they could be identified and arrested while traveling abroad.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

When markets turn
GEORGE SOROS, one of the original hedge-fund managers, believes that every boom in the making is tested. Often the potential bubble succumbs and is forgotten. If it survives, the market’s misplaced faith is redoubled. That, Mr Soros says, is when things become dangerous.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quick Overview

  • (Reuters) President Barack Obama said on Friday he expected an $825 billion economic recovery plan to be approved by his target of mid-February.

  • California's unemployment rate rose to 9.3 percent in December

  • U.K. GDP fell 1.5% QoQ but rose 0.7% YoY
    U.K. retail sales rose 1.8% YoY

  • Canada’s consumer prices rose 1.2% YoY

  • Japan Nov All Industry Index fell -2.3% from -0.5%

  • Australia 4Q Import Price rose 10.8% from 5%; Export Price rose 15.9% from 13.8%.

  • A new measure to pay owners of old cars €2,500 to junk their wrecks and buy something new has proven popular in Germany.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Merrill Lynch CEO Thain Spent $1.22 Million On Office
Area Rug $87,784
Mahogany Pedestal Table $25,713
19th Century Credenza $68,179
Pendant Light Furniture $19,751
4 Pairs of Curtains $28,091
Pair of Guest Chairs $87,784
George IV Chair $18,468
6 Wall Sconces $2,741
Parchment Waste Can $1,405
Roman Shade Fabric $10,967
Roman Shades $7,315
Coffee Table $5,852
Commode on Legs $35,115

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims rose 62,000 to 589,000.

  • U.S. housing starts fell 15.5% MoM and 33% YoY.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of that crude oil rose 6.1 million barrels to 332.7 million
    Supplies of gasoline rose 6.5 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 1.4 million barrels.
    Refinery use fell from 85.2% to 83.3%.
    Gasoline demand fell 1.6% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 2.6% YoY.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.K. unemployment rate rose to 6.1% from 6.0%

  • Canada’s wholesale sales fell 1.6% in November.

  • Brazil cut interest rate a full point to 12.75%

  • YoY China's gross domestic product grew 6.8% in Q4 -- slowest in seven years.

  • YoY Japan’s exports fell 35% -- sharpest decline since 1980

  • The forecast for Argentina remains hot and dry next five days

  • The National Weather Service issued a hard freeze warning for central Florida on Thursday morning.

  • Indian gold imports for 2008 fell by 47%.

  • The level of idle containerships has risen to 255 -- 5.5% of the global fleet, a historic high.
Options on Eurodollars to Let Traders Bet on Negative Rates

This is sensible contingency planning as you don’t want to be caught out by something that might in other times seem impossible or unexpected,” said Nick Parsons, head of markets strategy in London at NabCapital, a unit of National Australia Bank Ltd., the country’s largest bank. “We’re in an era now where the return of capital is more important than the return on capital.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Stock markets often decline on inauguration day
I will say, however, that sentiment in recent days has finally taken steps in the right direction. The Hulbert Stock Newsletter Sentiment Index (HSNSI) dropped nearly 17 percentage points on Tuesday, bringing this sentiment benchmark to below where it stood at the Nov. 20 market low

UK cannot take Iceland's soft option
Britain has foreign reserves of under $61bn dollars (£43.7bn), less than Malaysia or Thailand. The foreign liabilities of the UK banks are $4.4 trillion – or twice annual GDP – according to the Bank of England. The mismatch is perilous.
.. know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

Obama Inaugural Address

Quick Overview

  • (Bloomberg) -- U.S. financial losses from the credit crisis may reach $3.6 trillion, suggesting the banking system is “effectively insolvent,” said New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini.

  • U.K. consumer prices rose 3.1% YoY

  • The British Pound fell against the dollar and hit a record low against the yen. Jim Rogers, chairman of Singapore-based Rogers Holdings, said the “U.K. is finished” and investors should sell the currency.

  • Japan’s consumer confidence fell from 28.4 to 26.2 in December -- the lowest on record

  • Canada cuts rate to record 1% -- signals more easing.

  • Germany's BMW is looking into applying for state guarantees to back up its borrowings.

  • Fiat is acquiring a 35% stake in Chrysler.

  • Continuing hot and dry weather in Argentina continues to support corn and beans.

  • Gazprom resumed gas supplies across Ukraine to Europe

Monday, January 19, 2009

If the state can't save us, we need a licence to print our own money
It bypasses greedy banks. It recharges local economies. It's time to think seriously about an alternative currency
U.S. stimulus not enough, TARP bailout misused: Soros
"If they are successful...the deflationary pressures will be replaced by the specter of inflation and the authorities will have to drain the excess money from the economy almost as quickly as they pumped it in. Of the two operations the second one is going to be, politically, even more difficult than the first," he said.

Robert Fisk: So, I asked the UN secretary general, isn't it time for a war crimes tribunal?
After killing hundreds of women and children, Israel was the good guy again, by declaring a unilateral ceasefire that Hamas was certain to break. But Obama will be smiling on Tuesday. Was not this the reason, after all, why Israel suddenly wanted a truce?

Quick Overview

  • RBS fell almost 67% after warning that it could face losses of up to £28bn for 2008 - the largest ever in UK corporate history.

  • The U.K. has taken the first step towards quantitative (=printing) easing by authorizing the Bank of England to buy up to £50bn of private sector assets as part of a wider drive to get banks lending again.

  • Germany's top 20 banks still have around 300 billion Euros of toxic securities on their books and have written off only a quarter of that, according to an official survey, SPIEGEL reports.

  • The total cost of the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States will likely top $150 million.

  • Hungary cut its interest rate to 9.5% from 10% – the fourth 1/2 point cut in less than two months.

  • Standard & Poor cut Spain’s credit rating from AAA+ to AA

  • Czarnikow estimates a global sugar shortfall of 5.8 million tons this year. Indian production is now estimated at 18 MT compared with 19.2 MT forecast in Dec.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Monetary union has left half of Europe trapped in depression
Don't expect tremors before an earthquake – and there is no fault line of greater historic violence than the crunching plates where Latin Europe meets Teutonia.
21,000 Jobs Worldwide Erased in Day as Recession Chokes Demand
About 2.1 million U.S. jobs will be lost in 2009, Lonski predicted, with 80 percent of the layoffs by the 4th of July.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Citigroup’s Pandit Tries to Save the Little That’s Left to Lose
Relief isn’t in sight. North American credit-card losses, as a percentage of total loans, climbed to 8.04 percent in the fourth quarter from a third-quarter rate of 7.13 percent, the bank said. During the early 1990s recession, the losses peaked at 6.44 percent.

Forgive and Forget?
And to protect and defend the Constitution, a president must do more than obey the Constitution himself; he must hold those who violate the Constitution accountable. So Mr. Obama should reconsider his apparent decision to let the previous administration get away with crime. Consequences aside, that’s not a decision he has the right to make.

Our world may be a giant hologram
Fermilab scientists have found anomalous "holographic noise" in their GEO600 gravitational-wave detector that suggests the possibility that we live in a hologram..

Quick Overview

  • U.S. industrial production fell 2.0% in December, and 7.8% YoY

  • U.S. Consumer prices fell 0.7% in December. YoY prices rose 0.1% -- a half-century low. Excluding food and energy prices rose 1.8% YoY

  • The Fed will hand Bank of America another $20 billion and guarantee $118 billion of “assets”.
  • Citigroup posted an $8.29 billion loss, twice as much as analysts expected, and wants to split in two. They are trying to salvage what’s worth something – and get rid of the rest. For his troubles, Robert Rubin retiring from his post as senior counselor pocketed $115 million in pay since 1999, excluding stock options.

  • (Bloomberg) -- The heads of the US Treasury and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. gave further momentum to the idea of a new government-backed bank to remove toxic assets from lenders’ balance sheets.

  • The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment rose from 60.1 to 61.9

  • The Canadian Real Estate Association said home sales fell 17% YoY.

  • Snow cover in southern Illinois and Missouri remains lacking, exposing wheat to the coldest temperatures in several years.

  • Reuters reported that 300,000 cattle have died in Argentina's worst drought since 1961.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims rose 54,000 to 524,000.

  • The New York Fed’s index of manufacturing improved from -27.88 to -22.20.

  • The Philadelphia Fed index of manufacturing improved from -36.1 to -24.3

  • The European Central Bank cut its interest rate from 2.50% to 2.00%

  • Democrats in the U.S. House will push for a $825 billion economic stimulus

  • News that Bank of America needs another government cash infusion sent stocks sliding.

  • Consumer prices rose 1.6% in the Euro area

  • Australia's unemployment rate rose from 4.4% to 4.5% MoM

  • YoY South Africa’s gold production fell 8.7% in November

  • According to unidentified industry sources in Singapore, an increasing number of containers were being shipped from Asia to Europe at a freight rate of zero dollars and shipping lines were only charging the bunker fuel cost.

  • The UN's Gaza City HQ is shelled by Israel.

The White House Moron Stumbles to the Finish
In 2002 I designated George W. Bush “the White House Moron.” If there ever was any doubt about this designation, Bush’s final press conference dispelled it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.S. retail sales fell 2.7% in December, the sixth consecutive decline.

  • Industrial production in the Euro area fell 1.6% MoM, and 7.7% YoY.

  • Japan’s machine orders, fell 16.2 % MoM -- the biggest decline since the survey began in 1987

  • Canada's Nortel Networks filed for U.S. bankruptcy-court protection

  • Fears of mass unemployment and social unrest in China have prompted the Communist Party to issue a stern warning over protests.

  • The number of Internet users in China has reached 298 million

  • Bank lending rose19% in China last month, showing that Beijing's stimulus measures are working.

  • (WSJ) The U.S. government is close to committing billions in additional aid to Bank of America as it tries to digest its acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

  • Standard & Poor's has downgraded Greek sovereign debt in a move that will make it even harder for the country to finance its ballooning deficits

  • A federal judge denied another bid by prosecutors to jail Madoff.

  • The U.S. Navy was granted a one-year permit to train with sonar and bombs in Hawaii waters so long as it “tries” to protect whales and other marine animals from harm.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shipping rates hit zero as trade sinks Freight rates for containers shipped from Asia to Europe have fallen to zero for the first time since records began, underscoring the dramatic collapse in trade since the world economy buckled in October.

Quick Overview

  • (Bloomberg) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Benanke warned that a fiscal stimulus won’t be enough to spur an economic recovery and that the government may need to buy or guarantee banks’ tainted assets.

  • U.S. exports fell $8.7 billion in November to $142.8 billion while imports fell $25.0 billion to $183.2 billion.

  • China’s exports fell 2.8% -- the most in almost a decade
  • According Chinese customs data:
    Imports of iron ore into China rose to 34.53 Mt in December. This marks an increase of 2.0 Mt MoM and up 0.3 Mt YoY. Soyabean imports for 2008 showed an increase of 6.6 Mt YoY. December imports of 3.30 Mt took the annual total to 37.44 Mt.

  • Canada’s exports fell 6.8% in November while imports fell 4.8%
    Canada’s new home prices fell 0.3% in November.

  • The ICO raised its guess of the world's 2008-2009 coffee crops from 132.5 to 134.2 million bags, YoY this is up from 116.2. Consumption for 2008 remained unchanged at 128 million bags. For 2009 they anticipate consumption at 132 million bags.
    The ICO said Brazil’s coffee production, which follows a biennial cycle (high output one year followed by low the next), could fall from 46m 60kg bags in 2008-09 to between 36.9m and 38.8m bags this year, a drop of 16 to 20 per cent.

  • The Florida Department of Citrus said there were 104.9 million gallons of frozen orange juice concentrate in inventory -- up 77% YoY
No need for condoms – GE corn can do the job
New research from Austria shows that a commercial strain of Monsanto-made GE corn causes mice to have fewer and weaker babies. What is this doing to human fertility?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Blood-Stained Monster Enters Gaza
Nearly seventy ago, in the course of World War II, a heinous crime was committed in the city of Leningrad. For more than a thousand days, a gang of extremists called “the Red Army” held the millions of the town’s inhabitants hostage and provoked retaliation from the German Wehrmacht from inside the population centers. The Germans had no alternative but to bomb and shell the population and to impose a total blockade, which caused the death of hundreds of thousands.

Quick Overview

  • Russia will resume pumping gas to third countries via Ukraine from Tuesday morning, the EU says.

  • The FDIC pushed the more than 5,000 banks it regulates to provide information on how they are using billions of dollars in taxpayer aid.

  • The USDA's 2008-2009 ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was raised from 1.474 to 1.790 million bushels.
    Soybeans were raised from 205 to 225 million bushels.
    Wheat was increased from 623 to 655 million bushels.
    Sugar was increased from 961,000 to 1,072,000 tons.
    Cotton was dropped from 7.1 to 6.9 million bales.

  • The USDA's 2008-2009 world ending stocks estimate for:
    Corn was increased from 124 to 136 million tons.
    Soybeans were unchanged at 54 million tons.
    Wheat was raised from 147 to 148 million tons.
    Cotton unchanged at 59 million tons.
    The USDA said 42.1 million acres of winter wheat were planted last fall, down 9% YoY

  • Corn fell the exchange limit in Chicago and soybeans and wheat also plummeted on the news.

  • As of December, the USDA said there were:
    10.1 billion bushels of corn stocks, up 2% YoY.
    2.28 billion bushels of soybean stocks, down 4% YoY.
    1.42 billion bushels of wheat stocks, up 26% YoY.

  • The USDA lowered its guess of the Florida orange crop from 165 to 162 million boxes, but increased the projected juice yield from 1.58 to 1.62 gallons per box.

  • Medical officials said the Palestinian death toll in the offensive Israel began 17 days ago had risen past 900 and included at least 380 civilians.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The bond bubble has long since burst: investors, ignore this at you peril

The Fed's December minutes reek of fear. The Bernanke team is no longer sure that stimulus will gain traction in time.

The Fed's "Monetary Multiplier" has collapsed, falling below 1. This is unthinkable. We are in a liquidity trap.

So yes, printing money is not as easy as it looks, but to conclude that the Fed cannot bring about inflation is a leap too far.

The hundred years' war
How growing rejectionism, the rise of religion, a new military doctrine and a new cold war keep peace at bay

Merrill Lynch says rich turning to gold bars for safety
"They are so worried they want a portable asset in their house. I never thought I would be getting calls from clients saying they want a box of krugerrands," he said.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. unemployment rate rose from 6.7% to 7.2% in December
  • Non-farm payrolls revised from -533,000 to -584,000. This is the worst year for job losses since 1945

  • Canada’s unemployment rate rose from 6.3% to 6.6%
  • Canada’s building permits fell 11.8% in November.

  • U.K. manufacturing output fell 2.9% MoM and down 7.4% YoY
  • The Government should buy homes on the brink of repossession to help those people who may struggle to pay their mortgages through the recession two former Bank of England economists have recommended.

  • Germany's government bails out Commerzbank, amid renewed anxiety about financial markets

  • Agricultural commodities are "the most cheaply priced"
    of the commodity sectors, says Deutsche Bank. "

  • Argentina’s weather forecasts flipped from wetter to not only drier, but much hotter. Argentina’s drier and warmer weather may spread into southern Brazil and Paraguay next week, increasing stress on corn and soybean crops.

  • Continental, the world’s fifth largest airline has taken one of its passenger jets on a test flight using biofuel made from sustainable sources.

  • (Reuters) - Israel rejected a U.N. resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza on Friday and jets and tanks again pounded the Palestinian enclave.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Europe's economy contracts at rates not seen since 1930s
Jacques Cailloux, from the Royal Bank of Scotland, said the pace of contraction in Europe is now disturbingly close to levels seen in the Great Depression. The eurozone bloc shrank by 3pc in 1930, 5pc in 1931, and 4pc in 1932.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 24,000 last week to 467,000.

  • The Bank of England cut rates from 2% to 1.5%, the lowest since 1694.

  • Chancellor Alistair Darling denies he is planning to "print money" in order to boost the UK economy.

  • Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon promised nearly $150m to struggling industries in a bid to save hundreds of thousands of jobs.

  • Euro zone business sentiment fell to 67.1 from Novembers 74.9 - the lowest level since records started in 1990.

  • Euro zone GDP fell 0.2% QoQ,

  • Euro zone unemployment rate rose from 7.7% to 7.8%.

  • Australia's building approvals fell 12.8% in November.

  • The Japanese central bank is providing banks with emergency loans ($13bn) in a new bid to stimulate its worsening economy.

  • Brazil cut its corn production estimate by 85 million bushels. Soybean production forecast was lowered by 36.8 million bushels.

  • (WSJ) The No. 1 problem facing US taxpayers? A tax code so complex that Americans spend $193 billion per year just trying to figure out how much they owe.

  • In a report just published, "The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity and Revitalize America," the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) finds that a $30 billion investment in America's digital infrastructure -- broadband networks, health IT, and a smart power grid -- will spur significant job creation in the short run, creating approximately 949,000 U.S. jobs while leading to higher productivity, increased competitiveness, and improved quality of life

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

'Buy USA' push may see America slip from free trade church
Pascal Lamy, the WTO chief, is so worried he has taken to displaying portraits of Willis C. Hawley and Reed Smoot at his Green Room in Geneva, evoking the arch-villains of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that set off the trade wars of the Great Depression. The Act was forced upon a disgusted President Herbert Hoover in June 1930. This is the pattern in democracies. Lawmakers – with a constituency base – are the first to push for protection.

Quick Overview

  • The U.S. budget deficit in 2009 is projected to spike to a record $1.2 trillion, or 8.3% of GDP.

  • Employer Services’ report that payrolls shrank by 693,000 jobs last month, the most since records began in 2001.

  • Australia's retail sales rose 0.1% in November

  • Euro area’s producer prices fell 1.9% MoM, but rose 3.3% YoY.

  • Russia shut down all gas flows to Europe through Ukraine on Wednesday.

  • Germany saw its unemployment levels rise to 7.6%.

  • Intel expects fourth-quarter revenue to fall 23% YoY because of weak demand and inventory reductions by its customers.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 6.7 million barrels to 325.4 million barrels
    Supplies of gasoline rose 3.3 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 900,000 barrels
    Refinery use increased from 82.5% to 84.6%.
    Gasoline demand fell 2.2% YoY
    Distillate demand rose 0.3% YoY.

  • According to a report on, the continued dry weather in top-producing areas of southern Brazil could mean a drop in corn and soybean production

  • Madoff and his wife sent at least 16 watches, a jade necklace and a diamond bracelet to family and relatives.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

From Wall Street to Washington
It's All One Big Lie
The first panel to testify included H. David Kotz, the Inspector General of the SEC. Mr. Kotz has the youngish, fresh-scrubbed, optimistic face of someone who hasn’t been exposed to Wall Street for very long. He’s been at the SEC for 13 months. Before that he served as Inspector General at the Peace Corps. (Yes, Peace Corps.) Before that he worked at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). He is a lawyer but apparently has no securities background to untangle the web at the SEC that permitted the largest and most complex securities fraud in the history of the world.

One clear sign of the End Time is when the media starts publishing my opinions on the economy.
wonder what people mean when they say the economy will recover in 2010. The only way that can happen is if another irrational bubble forms thus creating an illusion of wealth similar to our previous illusions. If you take illusions out of the equation, there isn't anything to get "back" to. The wealth was never there in the first place.

US stockmarket returns
Booms and busts
Comparisons to the Depression are clear: only in 1931 and 1937 were there similarly abysmal losses

Quick Overview

  • (Bloomberg) -- President-elect Barack Obama said he expects to inherit a $1 trillion budget deficit and that similar shortfalls are in store “for years to come”

  • U.S. factory orders fell 4.6% in November, twice as much as forecast.

  • U.S. pending U.S. home sales fell 4.0% in November, weaker than expected. The National Association of Realtors says this is the lowest level on record.

  • The Institute of Supply Managements' index of services rose from 37.3 to 40.6

  • An index of services in the U.K. rose from 40.1 to 40.2

  • U.K. House prices fell by 15.9% last year.

  • Inflation in the eurozone fell more than expected to 1.6% in December.
  • (FT) The German government’s second fiscal stimulus could reach €50bn ($68bn, £47bn) over 2 years.
  • Pakistani troops moving against Taliban guerrillas have intermittently blocked the one supply route through the Kyber Pass from Pakistan into Afghanistan.
  • (WSJ) Russian gas supplies to a swathe of Europe were all but cut off as temperatures plummeted across the region, raising the stakes in a pricing dispute between Moscow and Ukraine.
  • GM, Toyota and Ford all reported U.S. sales decline of more than 30% for December.
  • Oil prices hit $50 a barrel amid escalating violence in the Middle East.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.S. construction spending fell 0.6% MoM and 3.3% YoY.
  • The N.Y. Fed said that it has begun buying fixed rate mortgage backed securities, as it previously announced it would do.
  • (WSJ) Madoff's firm was examined at least eight times in 16 years by various agencies, which never came close to uncovering his alleged scheme.
  • The Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of China's manufacturing sector climbed 2.4% MoM to 41.2% in December. A reading above 50% indicates expansion, while one below 50% indicates contraction.
  • Construction activity index in the U.K. fell from 31.8 to 29.3 in December.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A special report on the sea
Troubled waters
The evidence abounds. The fish that once seemed an inexhaustible source of food are now almost everywhere in decline: 90% of large predatory fish (the big ones such as tuna, swordfish and sharks) have gone, according to some scientists. In estuaries and coastal waters, 85% of the large whales have disappeared, and nearly 60% of the small ones. Many of the smaller fish are also in decline. Indeed, most familiar sea creatures, from albatrosses to walruses, from seals to oysters, have suffered huge losses.

Asia needs to fully wake up to the scale of the West's economic crisis
The defenders of this dead-end strategy are now coming up with astonishing proposals to put off the day of reckoning. Akio Mikuni, head of Japan's credit agency Mikuni, has called for a "Marshall Plan" to bail out America by cancelling $980bn of US Treasury bonds held by the Japanese state.

Quick Overview

  • The Feds Yellen on Sunday urged "pulling out all the stops" by implementing a big fiscal stimulus program to turn around a possible long period of economic stagnation in the United States.

  • The purchasing managers index published by China’s Federation of Logistics and Purchasing rose to 41.2 in December from the record low of 38.8 in November.

  • The U.S. ISM index of manufacturing fell from 36.2 to 32.4 in December, the lowest level since 1980.

  • Russia has shut off natural gas to Ukraine, saying that the country owes it $600 million for previous sales.

  • Manufacturing activity in the Euro area fell from 35.6 to 33.9 in December,

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

  • According to SSY’s Australian Coal Port Congestion Index, average delays are now 9.93 days, the highest since June 2008. Congestion at Australia’s coal ports has contributed to the recent upward movement in freight rates.

  • Japan’s factory output fell 8.1% in November -- the fastest pace in 55 years.