Friday, February 27, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.S. GDP contracted at a 6.2% annual rate in Q4

  • The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index fell from 61.2 to 56.3 in January

  • Chicago's purchasing managers' index rose from 33.3 to 34.2 in February

  • Unemployment in the Euro area rose from 8.1% to 8.2% in January.

  • Consumer prices in the Euro area rose 1.1% YoY

  • Japan's factory output fell 10.0% in January
    Japan’s household spending fell 5.9% YoY

  • The U.S. government will boost its equity stake in Citigroup to 36%.

  • Sweden’s GDP contracted 10% on an annualized basis.

  • General Electric Co. will cut its quarterly dividend to 10 cents a share from 31 cents, according to CNBC.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Exclusive: Derivatives for Dummies by The Other Katherine Harris
Imagine being able to insure a car that you don’t own or use. Imagine it’s the car your neighbors will let their teenage son drive, when he gets his license in a few weeks — and you know the kid is a reckless brat.
Now imagine that, by using financial derivatives called swaps, you can purchase as many insurance policies on this car as you can afford to pay premiums on.
"There are potentially hundreds of millions of other dollars, and we have no idea where that money is," Klein said, adding that there could be more than 350 victims.
Las Vegas Running Out of Water Means Dimming Los Angeles Lights
In Asia, developing giants are battling pollution as their populations grow. China, home to 21 percent of the world’s people last year, has just 7 percent of the water. Nine in 10 Chinese-city groundwater systems are fouled by industrial toxins, pesticides and human waste..

..In India, with 1.2 billion people, three-quarters of the surface water is contaminated, that country’s government said in September.

The Iran-Israel nuclear endgame is now much closer
In recent days, four key developments have clicked in to edge Iran and Israel much closer to a military denouement ..

Quick Overview

  • U.S. jobless claims rose 36,000 last week to 667,000, the most in over 16 years. Americans continuing to receive unemployment benefits topped 5.1 million.

  • U.S. durable goods orders fell 5.2% MoM.

  • UK Feb. House Prices fell 17.6% YoY vs. 17.1% expected

  • GM lost $9.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009.

  • The number of troubled U.S. banks rose 47% to 252 in Q4 the FDIC said.

  • PepsiCo has announced it will be introducing a new line of ‘pure sugar’ soft drinks in late April.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quick Overview

  • Existing-home sales fell 5.3% to a nearly 12-year low in January, and the median home price fell to $170,300 from $199,800 YoY.

  • U.K. GDP fell 1.5% in the fourth quarter

  • Industrial new orders in the Euro area fell 5.2% MoM and 22% YoY.

  • YoY EU steel production fell 45.9% in January

  • Czarnikow increased its estimate of the 2008-2009 world sugar production deficit from 5.8 to 10.4 million tons.

  • The U.S. DOE said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 700,000 barrels to 351.3 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline fell 3.4 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 300,000 barrels.
    Refinery use fell from 82.3% to 81.4% of capacity
    Gasoline demand fell 1.7% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 1.6% YoY

  • South Africa's Chamber of Mines said the nation's gold production fell 14% in 2008 to the lowest level since 1922.

  • Bernanke said at risk homeowners need a bailout - even if they knew they couldn't afford their home in the first place.

  • (Reuters) - The Arctic and Antarctic regions are warming faster than previously thought, raising world sea levels and making drastic global climate change more likely than ever, international scientists said on Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quick Overview

  • YoY the S&P's/Case-Shiller home price index of 20 cities fell 18.5% in December

  • U.S. consumer confidence fell to a record low of 25 from Januarys 37.4 the Conference Board said

  • German business confidence index (IFO) fell to 82.6 from 83 in January

  • Pimco's Gross said that any effort by the U.S. government to nationalize floundering banks wouldn't work, partly because of the number of banks involved.

  • YoY air cargo flying on Latin American airlines fell 25.4% in December

Monday, February 23, 2009

Will Germany deliver on the Faustian bargain that created monetary union?
The vast imbalances that have been allowed to build up under the seductive protection of EMU leave German taxpayers facing bail-out liabilities that exceed the cost of reparations after the First World War, in proportional terms.

Obama’s Policy on Civil Liberties: Bush Lite?
.. Unfortunately, instead of prosecuting Bush administration officials, including George W. Bush, for violating criminal statutes against torture, illegal wiretapping of Americans, and other misdeeds—thus avoiding the bad precedent of giving a president a free pass on illegal acts—Obama appears ready to vindicate the prior administration’s anti-terrorism program by adopting Bush Lite.

Quick Overview

  • (Bloomberg) -- U.S. financial regulators pledged to inject additional funds into the nation’s major banks to prevent their collapse and will this week begin examinations to determine if they have enough capital.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Asian nations will form a $120 billion pool of foreign-exchange reserves that can be used by countries to defend their currencies in an expansion of efforts to battle fallout from the global financial crisis.

  • Hillary is pleading with China to continue buying US Treasury bonds amid mounting fears that Washington may struggle to finance bank bailouts and ballooning deficits over the next two years.

  • Obama has set the goal of cutting the federal government's budget deficit in half by the end of his first term.

  • Canada’s retail sales were down 5.4% in December

  • Political unrest by Argentinean farmers continues over the issue of export taxes.

  • The USDA said frozen pork supplies were up 3.5% YoY.

  • The USDA said frozen supplies of orange juice concentrate were up 42% YoY

  • Cocaine has fallen in price. It's now cheaper than beer, says the Telegraph.

Friday, February 20, 2009

UBS wobbles as Swiss fear for banking icon
"Without banking secrecy, we would have a million people unemployed over the next years," Freysinger said. "People cannot imagine how much depends on the banking secrecy and what it means for Switzerland's welfare."

Jumbo Loan Defaults Rise at Fast Pace as Rich Suffer (Update2)
“They’re telling me the house is only worth $1.3 million,” said Young, 46. “I’m upside down. I’m stuck. I’m in bailout mode but they’re bailing out banks and they’re not bailing out homeowners.”

Quick Overview

  • U.S. consumer price index rose 0.3% MoM and is unchanged YoY. Excluding food and energy, prices rose 0.2% MoM and up 1.7% YoY

  • (FT) US financial stocks endured more heavy losses early as fears persisted that the government would be forced to nationalise a key institution and thus wipe out shareholders

  • U.K. retail sales rose 0.7% MoM and up 3.6% YoY

  • UK car production fell 58.7% in January.

  • YoY Canada consumer price index rose 1.1% in January.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Quick Overview

  • Europe's institutions are scrambling to prevent financial contagion from Ukraine and potentially setting off a full-blown banking crisis in Austria.

  • Daily Telegraph: Global fund managers are betting that a powerful rebound in China will revive demand for commodities and lead global industry out of slump.

  • U.S. Leading indicators rose 0.4% in January, more than expected, and led by a jump in money supply.

  • U.S. producer price index rose 0.8% MoM and fell 1.0% YoY

  • U.S. jobless claims were unchanged at 627,000.

  • The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional index of manufacturing fell from -24.3 to -41.3

  • Japan kept rates unchanged at 0.10%

  • Canada’s leading indicators fell 0.8%

  • The U.S. DOE said:
    Supplies of crude oil fell 200,000 barrels to 350.6 million barrels.
    Supplies of gasoline rose 1.1 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 700,000 barrels
    Refinery use rose from 81.6% to 82.3% of capacity
    Gasoline demand rose 0.8 YoY
    Distillate demand rose 0.3% YoY

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ukraine must be rescued from tragi-comedy for Europe's sake
Meanwhile gross domestic product has contracted by 20pc over the last year, apparently worse than early Bolshevism or the Stalin famine.
UBS Will Disclose Names, Pay $780 Million to End U.S. Tax Case
Feb. 19 (Bloomberg) -- UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, will pay $780 million and disclose the names of some secret account holders..
Madoff Loss Spawned in ‘Bargain With Devil’ at Cerberus Bank
..As many as 50 percent of companies owned by private-equity firms may default by 2011, according to a study of 328 holdings by Boston Consulting Group.

Obama Sets $75 Billion Plan to Stem U.S. Foreclosures (Update1)
Homeowners also are eligible for $1,000 annually for five years for remaining current on their loans, according to the plan.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. housing starts plunged 17% percent last month to an annual rate of 466,000.

  • The Mortgage Bankers' Association said mortgage applications rose 46% last week.

  • Canada’s wholesale sales fell 3.4% in December

  • Construction output in the Euro area fell 2.2%MoM and 10.1% YoY.

  • Demand for gold rose by 29% to $102bn last year, according to the World Gold Council.

  • Latvia's Finance Ministry announced that the economy will shrink 12% this year.

  • Greenspan said the U.S. government may have to nationalize banks “temporarily”.

  • The number of idle containerships has increased to 392, aggregating to 1,100,000 TEU, or 8.8% of the box fleet, according to Paris-based AXS-Alphaliner News.

  • E*Trade reported a 30% slide in new accounts opened in January as it deals with a waning appetite for the equities markets.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Quick Overview

  • The New York Federal Reserve's regional index of manufacturing fell from -26.14 to -39.08

  • YoY, the number of U.S. airline passengers fell 12.8% in November – the biggest drop in domestic and international passengers since January 2002.

  • Singapore January exports fell 35% as global demand collapses.

  • Japan's GDP fell 3.3% in Q4

  • YoY U.K. consumer prices rose 3.0%

  • Canada’s manufacturing sales fell 8.0% in December

  • (CNN Money) There's a nice windfall for some homebuyers in the economic stimulus bill awaiting President Obama's signature on Tuesday. First-time buyers can claim a credit worth $8,000 - or 10% of the home's value, whichever is less - on their 2008 or 2009 taxes.

  • The SEC filed charges against R. Allen Stanford, alleging he orchestrated a multi-billion dollar scheme centering on an $8 billion CD program.

  • General Motors said it needs $16.6 billion in new U.S. loans. Chrysler needs another 5 billion

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eastern European currencies crumble as fears of debt crisis grow
Austria’s banks are the most exposed with the share of risk-weighted assets tied to the region reaching 54pc for Raffeisen and 38pc for Erste Bank. The exposure of Germany’s Bayern Bank is 48pc, Italy’s UniCredit is 45pc, and Swedbank is 29pc.

Banks Face Downgrades on Eastern European Losses, Moody’s Says
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Austrian, Swedish and other banks with subsidiaries in eastern European may face rating downgrades as economies in the region deteriorate, according to Moody’s Investors Service.
Still aglister gold supply will contract more slowly than demand, causing excess supply to rise by 21% to 553 tonnes. Only the worldwide flight to safety and the lack of appeal of other assets, it seems, will keep gold prices high.
Dreadful economic results in Japan suggest that things will only get gloomier
The preliminary estimate suggested that the economy had shrunk at an annualised rate of 12.7% during the period, the third consecutive quarter of contraction.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

When stress is at its worst, sex can stop you fretting When a couple are lying in bed and the man is worrying about his job and the woman is fretting about her savings, neither of them is properly primed for sex.
It is a pity..

Failure to save East Europe will lead to worldwide meltdown
Whether it takes months, or just weeks, the world is going to discover that Europe's financial system is sunk, and that there is no EU Federal Reserve yet ready to act as a lender of last resort or to flood the markets with emergency stimulus.

Friday, February 13, 2009

House panel adopts financial oversight bill
It would expand the authority of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, one of the smallest federal agencies, by giving it criminal prosecution power over companies and individuals that violate antifraud rules - something only the Justice Department is now empowered to do. And it specifically prohibits the Federal Reserve from regulating the derivatives markets, saying either the CFTC or the Securities and Exchange Commission could step into that role.

Quick Overvieww

  • The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment fell from 61.2 to 56.2

  • GDP in the Euro area fell 1.2% YOY

  • Germanys GDP fell 2.1% QoQ, the biggest drop since 1987

  • Canada’s new vehicle sales fell 14.8% MoM and 22.5% YoY.

  • (Reuters) - G7 finance ministers headed to Rome to discuss the global economic crisis on Friday with a warning from Germany that the world could be plunged back into the dark days of the 1930s if governments resorted to protectionism.

  • The U.K. government is urged to ensure bank chief executives have a "recognized banking qualification".

Thursday, February 12, 2009

High debt levels endanger Britain's AAA credit rating for first time
The massive bank bail-outs and fiscal packages have created a new hazard known as "risk socialisation".

Quick Overview

  • U.S. retail sales rose 1.0% in January

  • U.S. Jobless claims were 623,000 last week

  • Australia’s unemployment rate rose from 4.5% to 4.8%

  • Euro area industrial production fell 2.6% MoM and 12.0% YoY.

  • YoY prices of existing U.S. single-family homes fell 12.4% to $180,100 in the fourth quarter -- the National Association of Realtors said on Thursday.

  • China's CPI rose 1.0% YoY

  • South African gold output fell 17.6% YoY

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

China’s New Loans Rise by Record on Stimulus Efforts (Update2)
The jump in new loans to twice the record set a year earlier shows China may succeed in reviving growth even as credit markets around the world remained locked..

Quick Overview

  • European banks sitting on £16.3 trillion of toxic assets may suffer massive losses according to a confidential Brussels document.

  • The U.S. trade deficit shrank 4.0% in December to $39.93 billion.

  • The U.K.'s unemployment rate at 6.3%, up from 6.1% MoM.

  • Canada’s exports fell 9.7% in December while imports fell 5.7%.

  • China's trade plunged in January. YoY exports fell 17.5%, imports fell 43%.

  • The Bank of England signaled it was prepared to take unconventional steps (printing) to boost the UK economy

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 4.7 million barrels last week to 350.8 million
    Supplies of gasoline fell 2.6 million barrels
    Supplies of heating oil fell 2.1 million barrels.
    Refinery use fell from 83.5% to 81.6%
    Gasoline demand rose 0.1% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 1.1% YoY

  • Ruth Madoff, the wife of Bernard Madoff, withdrew $15.5 million from a Madoff brokerage firm before her husband's arrest.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Geithner Says Bank-Rescue Plans May Reach $2 Trillion (Update1)
“Instead of catalyzing recovery, the financial system is working against recovery,” Geithner said in unveiling the Obama administration’s overhaul of the government’s financial-bailout plans in Washington today. “At the same time, the recession is putting greater pressure on banks. This is a dangerous dynamic, and we need to arrest it.”

Quick Overview

  • Japan's consumer confidence improved from 26.2 to 26.4

  • Australia’s business confidence fell from -20 to -32

  • The USDA estimates U.S. 2008-2009 ending stocks of:
    Corn unchanged at 1.790 billion bushels.
    Soybeans lowered from 225 to 210 million bushels.
    Wheat unchanged at 655 million bushels.
    Sugar was reduced from 1.072 to 1.066 million tons.
    Cotton was raised from 6.90 to 7.70 million bales.

  • The USDA estimates 2008-2009 ending stocks of:
    Corn was raised from 136 to 137 million tons.
    Soybeans were reduced from 54 to 50 million tons.
    Wheat was raised from 148 to 150 million tons.
    Cotton was raised from 59 to 62 million tons.

  • The USDA lowered 2009 beef production estimate from 26.54 to 26.11 million pounds

  • The USDA reduced its estimate of pork production from 23.035 to 22.980 million pounds

  • The USDA lowered its estimate of the 2008-2009 Florida orange crop from 162 to 158 million boxes and juice yield from 1.62 to 1.61 gallons per box.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Quick Overview

  • Japan's machinery orders fell 1.7% in December.

  • The International Coffee Organization increased its estimate of 2008-2009 world production from 132.5 to 133.4 million bags.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bond market calls Fed's bluff as global economy falls apart
The Fed has stepped into the breach, up to a point. It has bought $350bn of commercial paper, and begun to buy $600bn of mortgage bonds. That helps. But still it recoils from buying Treasuries, perhaps fearing that any move to "monetise" Washington's deficit starts a slippery slope towards an Argentine fate. Or perhaps Bernanke doesn't believe his own assurances that the Fed can extract itself easily from emergency policies when the cycle turns.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.S. unemployment rose from 7.2% to 7.6% in January -- the highest rate in 16 years.

  • Canada’s unemployment rate rose from 6.6% to 7.2% in

  • The U.K.'s manufacturing output fell 2.2%.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

China Declares Highest Level of Drought Emergency (Update2
(Bloomberg) -- China, the world’s largest grain producer, raised its drought emergency alert to level one, the highest class, for the first time, as dry weather threatened crops, livestock and rural incomes.

Cheap Crops Won’t Last, Credit Suisse Says: ..corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade, adjusted for inflation, are 32 percent below their monthly average price since 1972. Corn fell to an 18-month low on the CBOT in December. Soybeans futures are 27 percent cheaper than their monthly inflation-adjusted average, and wheat is at a 25 percent discount.

Let’s hope policy-makers have learnt the lessons of the Great Depression
Chapter one: debt-fuelled consumer binge. Chapter two: stock market slump. Chapter three: credit crunch. Chapter four: trade war. Chapter five: well, let's not go there. History does not have to repeat itself, despite its rhymes. Extremism and war concluded the slump of 70 years ago, but they needn't this time.

Quick Overview

  • U.S jobless claims were up 35,000 last week to 626,000

  • U.S. productivity rose 3.2% in the fourth quarter, more than expected.

  • (Bloomberg) -- Moody’s Investors Service is reviewing the ratings of $302.6 billion in commercial mortgage-backed securities as real-estate values drop and property owners fall behind on payments.

  • U.S. Unit labor costs rose 1.8% in the fourth quarter, less than expected.

  • U.S. factory orders fell 3.9% in December,

  • England reduced its interest rate from 1.5% to a record low 1.0%

  • The European Central Bank kept its interest rate unchanged at 2.0%,

  • The USDA estimates Argentina's soybean crop at 42.5 million tons, down from the January 12th estimate of 49.5 million tons.

  • Brazil estimates the upcoming coffee crop at 39.4 million bags.

  • (Reuters) - The U.S. government has collected more than $271 million in dividends from ownership stakes in American banks.

  • Sales in China's auto industry exceeded the U.S. for the first time last month.

  • BHP Billiton said build-up of iron ore stockpiles in China that prompted suppliers to defer shipments last year is ending – causing ore shipments to rise, one broker said.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Quick Overview

  • The Institute of Supply Management's index of services rose from 40.1 to 42.9 in January

  • Retail sales in the Euro area fell 1.6% YoY

  • Services in the U.K. rose from 40.2 to 42.5

  • Australia’s retail sales rose 3.8% in December.

  • The U.S. Department of Energy said:
    Supplies of crude oil rose 7.2 million barrels to 346.1 million barrels
    Supplies of gasoline rose 300,000 barrels
    Supplies of heating oil rose 1.4 million barrels.
    Refinery use rose from 82.5% to 83.5% of capacity last
    Gasoline demand fell 0.5% YoY
    Distillate demand fell 3.7% YoY

  • Central Florida is under a hard freeze warning.

  • Bloomberg reported that India, the biggest maker of sugar after Brazil, produced 9.5 million metric tons in the four months through January, down 20% YoY as farmers harvested less cane

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Obama's Wars
The bombing of civilians from the sky is an old and questionable practice, argued over since the moment the military began to fly. It was deliberate strategy in World Wars I and II. American presidents approved it in Korea and extensively in Vietnam, again in the first Gulf War, then in Bosnia and Kosovo, and six years ago during the campaign of "shock and awe" over Iraq.

Quick Overview

  • U.S. pending home sales rose 6.3% in December, stronger than expected. (Is the housing sector beginning to show signs of turning the corner ?)

  • (Bloomberg) -- A record 19 million U.S. houses stood empty at the end of 2008 as banks seized homes faster than they could sell them and prices continued to fall.

  • Australia reduced its interest rate from 4.25% to 3.25%,

  • Industrial producer prices in the Euro area fell 1.3% MoM.

  • (Spiegel)... the US Senate is debating a 'Buy American' provision in its economic stimulus package. The European Union fears the US is trying to seal off its market -- and is using its diplomatic arsenal in a bid to stop the move.

  • Temperatures are expected to fall below freezing tomorrow morning in parts of northern and central Florida.

  • Merck and Schering Plough, as well as the homebuilder D.R. Horton posted better-than-expected earnings.

  • India announced approval for duty free imports of raw sugar.

  • Ford sales dropped 39% in January, Toyota sales fell 31.7%, Volkswagen sales declined 11.6%, and Mercedes reported a 35.5% drop.

  • (Bloomberg) -- China’s central bank may become less aggressive in cutting interest rates as lending surges and the world’s third-biggest economy shows signs of bottoming out, Deutsche Bank AG said.

  • Global corporate debt issuance recovered to levels more in keeping with boom times in January with buyers found for around 246bn of company bonds.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Quick Overview

  • U.S. personal incomes fell 0.2% in December while spending fell 1.0%.

  • U.S. construction fell 1.4% MoM and 5.1% YoY.
  • The Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing index rose from 32.9 to 35.6

  • USDA said that there were 94.49 million head of cattle in the U.S. on January 1st, down 1.6% YoY

  • Manufacturing in the U.K. increased from 34.9 to 35.8 in January.

  • Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Sunday he saw signs of recovery in the final days of 2008.

  • China’s government announced that more than one in seven rural migrant workers have been laid off.