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Jeffrey Osborne has left the building

This week…

Was mostly about Ben Bernanke and the path of macro conditions he chose for the coming month. So QE could be gone for good sometime next year, given supporting data, that we are now waiting for under sweat and tears. read Alphaville

In fact, Bernanke himself could be gone as well, as Obama indicated that the chairman could retire in the near future. read Financial Times

Economists polled by Bloomberg now suggest that the cutting will begin in September, to be finished by June 2014. A tight schedule considering when the rumors started. read Bloomberg

And if that’s not enough for you, there is always China and the fear of worse days ahead, pointing towards a credit squeeze. In short (by WSJ):

Early Friday, rates in China’s money markets fell sharply on rumors that Beijing had ordered its big banks to loosen up cash. Still, they remain more than double than average for the year, and the turbulence suggest continued uncertainty in the market in coming days.

Probably equally noteworthy was the G8 meeting in Northern Ireland, the possibly biggest take-away from which was that Barack Obama kept referring to George Osborne as “Jeffrey Osborne“. read Financial Times

Jeffrey Osborne himself, an American soul singer, proceeded to offer George a duet, which was turned down because the Chancellor neither laughs nor sings. read BBC

In Turkey, things are getting interesting for bankers, Erdogan‘s new found enemy. According to the prime minister, the recent crisis was due to the “interest-rates lobby” trying to push yields up. To put this in perspective, the words “blood-sucking” were used, although government officials refrained from sea food comparisons. read Bloomberg

Next week…

The US brings us June consumer confidence data (Tuesday), which is expected to have dropped from May, while consumer spending (Thursday) is meant to have increased slightly; the latest first quarter GDP reading will come in on Wednesday and is expected flat at 2.4%. Jobless claims are published on Thursday morning.

There is whole array of business climate and consumer confidence indicators as well as inflation data due in Europe, including Germany, France, Italy and the eurozone as such are, while the UK is also reporting first quarter GDP growth and the current account deficit.

Japan is due to report on unemployment and indeflation. On Wednesday, Japan reported higher May exports than expected, export value increased the most since 2010, indicating that Abenomics are working. And you say currency wars do no good. On that note, read Bloomberg

Have a good one.

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OMG, Japan is actually growing

Yesterday…
US jobless claims came in higher than expected and housing data disappointed as well, raining on the American recovery 2013 parade and adding to the uncertainty over the future of the Fed‘s asset purchasing program. read New York Times
At the same time, those with disposable income seem to be working on a new housing bubble of sorts. read Bloomberg

Japan reported its economy grew in the first quarter of the year, leading to a 3.5% annualized growth leap and supporting Shinzo Abe’s approach since his inauguration in September. Most of the growth is attributed to private consumption. read Bloomberg

Meanwhile, Japanese companies prefer to look for opportunities elsewhere, for example the US, where a handful of corporates bought into the US shale gas market for several billion dollar. read Financial Times

Following the Bloomberg user data debacle, Citigroup has banned its fixed income traders from participating in Bloomberg chat groups to shield the banks from any security breaches. read Financial Times

This morning…
Lloyds Banking Group might just be short of fully returning into private sector hands, as the bank’s shares rose higher than the government’s cut-off point for a sale of 61.2 pence per share. Over the past weeks, David Cameron had reiterated that bailed out and partly nationalized institution shouldn’t stay government owned for longer than needed. read Reuters

Word got out that Qatar spent up to $3bn on supporting the Syrian opposition since 2011, the same year in which Libya’s rebels also received support, fueling rivalry over political influence between Arab countries. read Financial Times

Other than that, there is not much going on, time to get on the below.

Weekend reading…

Bangladesh, globalization and the price of your t-shirts, read New York Times
– from pork bellies to ruling the world – a brief history of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, read Economist
gold bulls vs bears, read Alphaville
– Super Abe and the fight for a prosperous Japan, read Economist leader
– on the uselessness of asset management, read Harvard Business Review

Have a good one.

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US payrolls estimate up; Twitter IPO rumors back

Yesterday…
the ECB shook up Europe for a moment, with government debt yields falling to new lows under the soothing sound of disgruntled murmuring Germans. The ECB is ready for more [again], it says, but Germans on the policy committee are going to do everything to keep rates from tumbling. In ze mozerland, Economists are scared of a real estate bubble and argue that banks could use the freshly pressed money to bolster their equity capital, dragging the effect away from the real economy. read FT read Die Zeit

This morning…
The EU deficit report came out, showing that France, Spain and the Netherlands will breach deficit agreements, limiting countries to 3%. Italy got in just below at 2.9% (based on 2013 forecast). Because France and the Netherlands aren’t the real bad guys, and you can’t leave one standing alone in the rain (unless it’s Greece), all of them are expected to receive extensions for reaching their deficit goals. France got its waiver this morning. read FT read Reuters

Its jobs Friday in the US: nonfarm payrolls are seen up at 148,000 (almost double), with the unemployment rate unchanged at 7.6%. But stakes are high as the estimates vary within a range of 90,000 jobs added. March payrolls came in below estimates, for example, but jobless claims have been declining over the past weeks. After the jobs report, there will be April non-manufacturing PMI, which is expected to fall slightly to 54. Data releases begin at 8.30am EST. read WSJ

In the background, rumors of Twitter’s IPO are going wild after the company hired Morgan Stanley’s Cynthia Gaylor for corporate development, despite co-founder Jack Dorsey saying he was “not even thinking” about going public. read Bloomberg read Bloomberg (Dorsey)

On Monday, the UK will be out for the early May bank holiday.

Weekend reading…IvyConnect: is a ‘fascinating individual’ necessarily a douchebag? read Bloomberg
– the real culprits behind the Libor scandal are London broker nights, read WSJ
– ze Germans are gestuck with the Euro, read Bloomberg
– stripped off the alter ego: ex-Barclays CEO Bob Diamond takes the subway now, read NYTimes
– terrorism, conspiracy and the media, read New York Magazine

Have a good one.

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US budget deficit decreases; ECB rate cut likely

Yesterday…
The IMF warned of the Asian bubble, saying too much FDI was leading to explosive credit growth and property prices, and it was to get even worse if Japan’s monetary policy was to have the intended effect on the Japanese economy (hold your horses, Christine). read FT

Deutsche Bank is issuing €2.8bn of new stock to improve its capital base. According to WSJ, Deutsche Bank has one of the lowest capital ratios among European banks. read WSJ

This morning…
The Dutch Queen Beatrix abdicated, to be replaced by her son Willem-Alexander. She will be demoted to Princess Beatrix. read BBC

The US Treasury is expecting the first lowering of the budget deficit since 2007 between April and June 2013, when it is looking to repay $35bn, against the February estimate of shouldering another $103bn in debt. The deficit cut is due to tax increases, spending cuts and tax revenues recoveries. read FT

There was a whole flood of data out of Europe this morning: both Eurozone and German inflation came in at 1.2%, lower than expected, making a rate cut by the ECB on Thursday more likely. German unemployment added to its rise in March, but the adjusted rate is still only marginally above the two-decade low of 6.8%. Eurozone unemployment climbed to 12.1%. No surprise there, when has it not been rising… read Alphaville

Spain reported GDP growth for the first quarter – keyword ‘growth’ – at -0.5%, leading the Bank of Spain to lower it 2013 growth expectations from -0.5% to -1.3%. read CNBC

So long.

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Letta new Italian PM; Apple profits drop for first time in decade

Yesterday…
It was a dark day for the European economy, with April PMIs across the globe disappointed, except for France, which beat expectations and soared to four-months highs. China and Germany on the other hand, undercut expectations – Germany even fell below the magic mark of 50, to 48.8, the lowest level in six months. read Bloomberg

After all the united G20 talk of appropriate monetary measures, S&P said that there’s a 30+% chance that Japan will lose its AA rating. The reasoning: it’s great to have quantitative easing, stimuli and private sector involvement, but that strategy doesn’t work if all you do is print money. read Reuters

Meanwhile in Portugal, the government is planning to lower corporate taxes to attract business. Good timing. read WSJ

Right after close, the Twitter account of the Associated Press was hacked, posting a tweet about attacks on the White House. The Syrian Electronic Army claimed responsibility. read Alphaville read BBC

Otherwise, it was all about Apple. The tech giant posted first quarter earnings,showing that profits dropped for the first time in a decade in year-on-year comparison. Alongside quarterly results, the company also announced an expansion to its now $100bn share buyback program to return money to investors. read WSJ

This morning…
Italy is set to announce a new Prime Minister. The current candidates are Guiliano Amato (Prime Minister 1992-1993 and 200-2001), Matteo Renzi (Mayor of Florance) and Enrico Letta (center-left deputy leader), all of which are less crazy than Berlusconi and none of which have worked for Goldman Sachs. read Reuters
BREAKING: Enrico Letta set to become Italy’s new prime minister

In anticipation on next week’s ECB meeting, rumor has it the Mario Draghi is likely to cut another quarter of a point off current interest rates, as inflation rates are below target and the eurozone finds itself back in recession. read Reuters

So long.

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BoJ to buy derivatives; US unemployment down to 7.7%

Haruhiko Kuroda, who is likely to be confirmed as the next governor of the Bank of Japan soon enough, declared that he will look into buying derivatives to send a strong message regarding the BoJ’s willingness to continue stimulating the economy. Kuroda, unlike many economists, doesn’t think the 2% inflation target would be at risk following this move. The last time a central bank engaged in derivatives purchases as part of their monetary policy was in 2008, as part of the Federal Reserve’s rescue program of Bear Stearns. read article 

Meanwhile, Japanese manufacturing isn’t doing so well, with machinery order having dropped 13.1% between December and January, showing that the economy is slow to respond to the new government and its actions. According to the WSJ, the median estimate had only been -1.4%. read article 

Over the weekend, there was a bunch of economic data from China giving mixed indications for 2013:

The short version is that some growth indicators were significantly weaker than expected, but others beat consensus forecasts – and consumer inflation appears to be on the rise again, even when the new year effect is discounted. This comes after strong export growth and weak import data surprised everyone late last week.

And right before the weekend, the US jobs report came in quite positive, cutting the unemployment rate to 7.7%, a number last achieved in 2008. read article

After much clamoring over financial regulation from Brussels, the UK’s Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards has now deemed the British government’s own regulatory proposal too weak, back-stabbingly risking tighter rules for City banks than elsewhere on the continent… or so the FT writes. All in all, it remains to be said that there will be regulation – and everyone knows that – the degree of which may be a lot less important than whether or not it is sensible and appropriate. To be continued.

On that note, a [last] defense of banker bonuses, conveniently summarized in an RSA-like cartoon drawing (including some critical notes from Alphaville). read article 

Otherwise, Intrade has put its website services on hold due to an investigation into possible “financial irregularities”. read article

As for the rest of the week, there will be industrial production data from all around Europe, as well as unemployment and inflation numbers on Friday.

Have a good week.

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Italian elections – Berlusconi with a vengeance

Italy is left in limbo without a conclusive election result, probably another round of elections looming, preceded by an embarrassing attempt by [presumably] Pier Luigi Bersani to form a coalition, and a full re-appearance of Silvio Berlusconi on the political stage (in the Senate). But despite the obvious screw-up that this election seems to be, there are clear winners and losers: Mario Monti, in the rational corner, plays the role of the latter. Beppe Grillo, anti-euro comedian in the ridiculous corner, came out heading the largest single party in the country’s lower house. Winner. Inconclusive is only one way of putting it, although I guess we can gather that the Italian people generally have an issue with austerity measures. Let the name-calling begin. read article

Just in: Bersani will hold a press conference at 5pm CET in Rome.

Summarizing some reactions:

Notably, the European markets display alarming symptoms of contagion: Italian elections drove up yields in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland, and pulled down yields in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland.

Meanwhile, everything Italian that can be bought or rather sold is about to be subject to a short-selling ban. Elsewhere, US stocks fell the most since November of last year, with the volatility index at its 2013 record high.

But there are a couple of other things quietly happening in the background. The Japanese government will sell a third of its 50+% stake in Japan Tobacco, the third largest tobacco company and formerly a Japanese monopoly. The sale comes as part of policies to reduce stakes in state-backed companies to raise funds for this economic recovery that’s taking so long. read article

Over in the Netherlands, Rabobank, commonly clean slate poster-child bank, one of the safest institutions and bailout-free, is looking at a $440m+ in fines for involvement in the Libor rate rigging scandal. The fine could come as early as May. read article

Back in New York at Moody’s, it seems like lessons have been learned since 2008. The rating agency announced that any mortgage-backed securities can’t receive top ratings any longer. Aa is the new Aaa. Other agencies are expected to follow suit. read article

So long.

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The sequester is back, as is Europe’s political madness

In the US, the chaos that is the national budget and the cuts thereof is picking up in newsworthiness again. Yesterday, President Obama tried to guilt Republicans into agreeing with his proposal, which didn’t achieve all that much. New estimates say the sequester could chop 0.5% off this year’s GDP and destroy 700,000 jobs. Others say that besides the overall effect, the demand side won’t feel the $85bn spending cuts. read article

Something that won’t suffer cuts is medical research, generally a positive thing, with the billion dollar research project Brain Activity Map (BAM), the first neurological project of its kind, starting in a couple of weeks. read article

As of today, Bulgaria is without government, after the country protested against austerity measures, utility prices and corruption. In next steps, a caretaker government will be formed, before official elections sometime in Springread article

In other European news, Italy’s center-left Democrats are trying to build a coalition government with Mario Monti to fight the good fight against Berlusconi, while Mariano Rajoy of Spain said the Spanish economy was seeing “no green shots or recovery in any shape or form.

Also from Spain, the government is imposing a yield limit on regional government bonds to combat the country’s overall debt burden. The new limit will be set at 100 basis point above government debt, a benchmark that Catalonia has long passed. read article

In other news, Microsoft has abandoned Hotmail, phasing out the emailing service by this summer. All 350 million users (seriously, who still uses Hotmail??) will be moved to Outlook.com, which already has 60 million users of its own. read article

So long.

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Politics is about expectations: a referendum, taxes and inflation

Brace yourselves, it’s a Europe-heavy news day.

The big news of today is David Cameron’s EU speech, announcing a UK membership referendum sometime between now and 2017. Britons are applauding, while the rest of the EU is in a state of frustration. With the words of Laurent Fabius, Foreign Minister of tax hell France: “If you join a football club, you can’t say you want to play rugby.” Well, no. But was that what he was doing? Not really. Good analogy nonetheless. It set the tone for European politics this yearread article 

Eleven European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Portugal, Belgium, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia) have proceeded to drafting legislation for a financial transaction tax on the trading of stocks, bonds and derivatives. That sounds specific, but really isn’t, as Brussels hasn’t decided on specifics at all. So one of the best reasons not to go on a rant of the ineffectiveness of the policy that is meant to generate €57bn for various rescue vehicles, is that it might be stuck in parliaments across the continent for a while, despite its scheduled implementation of January 2014read article

In Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu has been re-elected, though not exactly by a landslide. In the sobering words of the BBC:

It was relief more than real jubilation. The simple truth was that the combined list of candidates headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had performed disappointingly. But politics is about expectations.

More analysis from Israel, here: read article

In Davos, where the World Economic Forum [attended by both Merkel and Cameron – awkward] has begun, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich has admitted that Russia’s perception abroad is bad for foreign investments and is holding the country back. watch video

Overseas news bring us the policy decision of the Bank of Japan, which is braced to do what new PM Abe talked about all January: pump money in the economy to meet the 2% inflation target. In fact, Japan has never had a firm inflation target like that, so you’d expect it to be big news. Yet, nobody, from analysts to the IMF’s Christine Lagarde, seems overly impressedread article

In the background, Deutsche Bank has to simulate a breakup of its consumer and investment banking units. read article

So long.

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Eurozone crisis: Just grow out of it, stupid!

After yesterday’s news of the shrinking German economy, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy called on all those country’s who aren’t Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Cyrpus, really also Italy and maybe not even France, to implement growth stimulating policies as long as they can, because Spain sure can’t. This is the same Spain that still hasn’t called the ECB for help. Should someone break the news that Europe might not just grow out of this crisis? Maybe. But it’s siesta now. Let’s wait. read article

In the meantime, the German central bank is working on the logistics of getting 700 pounds of gold back into German vaults. At this point most of it is stored at the New York Fed, with the rest of it locked up in Paris, a precaution that is still in place from the cold warread article

The Netherlands‘ fourth largest bank SNS Reaal announced that it would need a restructuring due to its toxic property loans in autumn 2012. Now, the bailout will have to be carried out by the government. According to a decision by the European Commission, Dutch banks ING and ABN Amro will not be allowed to be part of the restructuring, because they received bailouts during the financial crisis. One scenario would be the creation of a bad bank for said loans, with all other big Dutch banks as shareholders. Hello over there at the Basel committee! Does this sound systemically risk-free to you? Altogether, it is estimated that SNS Reaal will need about €1.2-1.8bn to keep its doors open. In 2008, the bank received €750m from the government. read article

Otherwise, there are a number for “Facebook searching for revenue” headlines out there, because the website just launched its own search function, which despite it’s lose limits on Facebook itself, is stepping onto Google’s turf. Has that ever been a good idea? read article

And speaking of corporate catfights. It seems obvious that EADS has won the “massive plane”-round against Boeing. The Dreamliner (787), competitor aircraft to the A380, doesn’t seem to fly so well. This morning All Nippon Airlines and Japan Air grounded their 787 fleets for review, after yet another Dreamliner had to perform an emergency landing due to technical difficulties. read article

A whole truckload of banks announce fourth quarter earnings today, including JP Morgan, which has just announced to cut CEO Jamie Dimon’s salary in response to his responsibility in the London Whale case.

So long.

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