Imagine downloading your favorite flick in 31 thousandths of a second. Such insane internet speeds are now a. Continue reading
Imagine downloading your favorite flick in 31 thousandths of a second. Such insane internet speeds are now a. Continue reading
"It is not a case of choosing those [faces] that, to the best of one's judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those that average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be."(Keynes, General Theory of Employment Interest and Money, 1936).
According to preliminary data, the light aircraft collided with a snow-cleaning machine on takeoff, a source at the capital’s airport told RIA.The aircraft was sending distress signals while still in the air and reporting an engine fire and fuselage damage, LifeNews reports. Upon crashing on the runway, the aircraft was engulfed in flames, reportedly killing everyone on board.While initials reports suggested four people died in the tragedy, officials report that five bodies were found at the crash site, one allegedly being the driver of the snow-cleaning vehicle.Vnukovo Airport has temporarily suspended all flights following the incident.“A criminal investigation has been opened into the violation of safety regulations after a light aircraft crash in the capital's Vnukovo airport,” transport official Tatyana Morozova told RIA.An investigative group is working at the crash site, Morozova added. In addition to people who were on board the plane, she said, the driver snowplow was killed.Debris from the aircraft was scattered up to 200 meters from the crash site, according to the rescue services. The engine was found some 50 meters from the crash site, while one of the landing gears was ripped off and discovered nearly 200 meters from the main mass of debris.
Oil major Total's chief executive said on Saturday the euro should have a bigger role in international trade although it was not possible to do without the U.S. dollar.Christophe de Margerie was responding to questions about calls by French policymakers to find ways at EU level to bolster the use of the euro in international business following a record U.S. fine for BNP...."There is no reason to pay for oil in dollars," he said. He said the fact that oil prices are quoted in dollars per barrel did not mean that payments actually had to be made in that currency.
“Can we live without Russian gas in Europe? The answer is no. Are there any reasons to live without it? I think – and I'm not defending the interests of Total in Russia – it is a no,” the Total boss told Reuters back in summer.
The infrastructure that processes large payments including house purchases between British banks has gone offline, the Bank of England has said.
The central bank said the “Real Time Gross Settlement Payment System” (RTGS), which settles large transfers between banks, had gone offline, and remained so on Monday morning.
It said that the biggest payments were being processed manually and reassured the public that all payments would be on Monday.
The RTGS is set up to settle large payments in real time, rather than at the end of the day, reducing risk.
The system - which processes payments such as house purchases - has been down since 6am on Monday morning. The large banks were contacted early in the day, and the Bank disclosed the fault at around 11.30am.
The RTGS routes payments made through CHAPS (the Clearing House Automated Payments System), which settles important and time-sensitive payments, including house purchases.
According to the CHAPS website, it processed £70 trillion of payments last year and is used by 5,000 financial institutions.
The system helps keep the day-to-day running of banks going by acting as an intermediary between banks. If a payment is going to be made between banks, RTGS credits the bank receiving the funds quickly, and takes funds from the bank sending money, removing the risk for the receiving bank.
In effect, RTGS sits at the top of the payment structure for banks, as shown by this Bank of England document:
A group of 30 doctors and scientists have published their findings on the website of the New England Journal of. Continue reading
Blind spot from the outset in “weak yen = export recovery” scenarioA weak yen boosts export price competitiveness, fueling a recovery in export volume that supports a sustained economic recovery via improved corporate earnings, capex recovery, and wage growth. At least, this was the scenario painted when bold monetary easing was launched as the first arrow of Abenomics to induce yen depreciation. Government officials and market participants alike believed for a long time that the yen’s rapid depreciation thereafter would at some point drive an export recovery. However, a tangible recovery in export volume is yet to materialize.Actually, this is not the first time a weaker yen has failed to revive exports. Since the 1990s, Japan has experienced four phases of yen appreciation followed by depreciation, but in none of those phases was there any clear correlation between exchange rate and export volumes. Equating yen depreciation with export recovery would appear to invite multiple misconceptions and miscalculations (see Exhibit 1).Firstly, a weaker yen does not necessarily result in lower export prices (on a local currency basis). Since a weak yen also increases exporters’ input prices, it is unlikely that export prices will fall at the same rate that the yen declines in value. Export prices also have a more limited impact on export volume than global demand, making the latter a more important determinant for exports.
The combination of these two misconceptions has led to a miscalculation about the latest phase of yen depreciation. Export prices have not decreased as much as in past yen depreciation phases and global demand has lacked vigor. Fiscal austerity, chiefly in the US and Europe and implemented around the same time as Abenomics, has weighed on activity, resulting in a muted global economic recovery. This alone is a key factor behind the miscalculation of the export recovery scenario, in addition to which Japan’s export volume has been less responsive to global demand than before.
Misconception 1: Export prices do not fluctuate as much as forexIt appears to be commonly accepted that a strong yen increases export prices and lowers export volume, negatively impacting the Japanese economy, whereas a weak yen lowers export prices, raising the price competitiveness of Japanese products and in turn spurring an export recovery, with positive implications for the economy. We see two misconceptions here. First is that export prices do not fluctuate as much as forex. When the yen is strengthening, prices of Japanese products rise on a local currency basis and price competitiveness falls, while the opposite is true when the yen is weakening. However, in past yen depreciation phases, export prices on a contract currency basis have only fallen by around 30% of the rate of yen depreciation. Looking at the 12-month average, excluding extreme forex movements, the fluctuation in export prices is minor (see Exhibit 2).Given that imported input costs fall and that hiking export prices undermines competitiveness when the yen is strong, the gap between the rate of yen appreciation and the degree of increase in export prices is large. In phases of yen depreciation, yen-based input prices rise, so covering higher costs does not require export prices to fall as much as the yen declines in value.Miscalculation 1: Export prices have not fallen as much as in past phases of yen depreciationOne miscalculation regarding the current phase of yen depreciation is that the decline in export prices relative to how far the yen has weakened has been milder than in past phases of yen depreciation. This is because rising crude oil prices and other fuel-related costs have inflated manufacturers’ input prices by 6.1% on aggregate since September 2012 and manufacturers have not been able to lower export prices and at the same cover the higher input costs. When the yen weakened in 1995-1998 and between late 1999 and early 2002, manufacturers’ input prices fell only marginally despite higher import prices driven by the weak yen. This made it easy for manufacturers to lower export prices to factor in the weaker yen. Conversely, when the yen depreciated between 2004 and 2007, manufacturers’ input prices rose 20% on aggregate on sharply higher crude oil prices, and they were able to hike export prices (see Exhibit 3).We see other factors behind the narrower decline in export prices this time. One is external considerations regarding government-led efforts to rapidly weaken the yen since the launch of Abenomics. The US has supported the BOJ’s quantitative and qualitative easing as a means of helping Japan escape deflation. However, concerns about the yen’s sharp depreciation are evident within the US. In January this year, US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew made comments seeking to curb excessive yen weakness, saying that Japan would not see long-term growth if it overly relies on the forex rate. More recently, on September 22, William C. Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said that if the US dollar were to gain substantially in value then trade figures would worsen, impacting economic growth. Partly because US midterm elections are looming, there is consideration on the Japanese export industry side not to cause trade friction by using the weak yen to lower export prices and provoke a backlash from the US auto industry and other exportrelated sectors. We believe this stance is also intended to give Japan an advantage in remaining negotiations with the auto sector in the final stages of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. Therefore, we think one reason the 25% fall in the value of the yen has not led to lower export prices is foreign diplomacy and trade friction considerations.It is also possible companies have not ventured to lower export prices. The Development Bank of Japan (DBJ) has conducted a survey asking manufacturers why they have chosen to keep manufacturing functions in Japan. Interestingly, 54% of respondents cited mother factories (for production of core components) and 27% high-value-added production as key factors after management and R&D. Mass production of commodity products was a low 7.6%. An even higher percentage, more than 60%, cited product and service quality and performance as sources of their competitiveness, while a mere 1% said the currency afforded them a competitive advantage. Products still manufactured in Japan for export tend to offer high-value-added with strengths in terms of quality and performance, or are essential core components with high price and volume elasticity (i.e., products whose sales volumes increase if local sales prices fall), as opposed to mass-produced items. We think Japanese companies may also feel they can preserve the brand image of Japanese products as offering high-value-added and high performance by maintaining a certain local sales price. For the above reasons, we think Japanese companies in the latest phase of yen depreciation have likely adopted a strategy of securing yen profits arising from the currency’s lower value without cutting export prices (See Exhibit 4).Misconception 2: The key determinant of export volumes is global demand, not pricesThe second misconception is the commonly held belief that export volumes will recover if prices of Japanese products fall in export markets. Even in past yen depreciation phases the correlation between export prices (contract currency basis) and export volumes has changed from time to time, meaning lower export prices do not always translate into higher export volumes. From the end of 1999 in particular, although export prices dropped sharply as the yen weakened due to the BOJ’s zero interest rate policy and quantitative easing, export volumes also slid in the face of cooling overseas demand resulting from the bursting of the IT bubble.In short, overseas demand is the key determinant of Japan’s real exports. Indeed, exports and our Global Leading Indicator (GLI), a gauge of global economic trends, are closely correlated (see Exhibit 6).Miscalculation 2: Elasticity of export volume versus global demand falls, global demand softensA major miscalculation in the latest phase of yen depreciation is that global economic recovery has been muted owing to fiscal austerity undertaken mainly in the US and Europe during 2013. That the export volume reaction to global demand has been weaker than in the past has acted as a further headwind against the Japanese export recovery scenario. Comparing our export volume model calculations, in which export prices and GLI are explanatory variables, with actual export volume, we note that the latter has been constantly below the former since around the March 2011 earthquake (see Exhibit 7).We see several reasons why Japan’s export volume has not kept pace with the global economy: (1) Japanese companies have offshored production; (2) Japanese products are now less competitive than overseas products from other Asian economies and elsewhere; and (3) Japanese companies have adopted a strategy of emphasizing quality and brand and decided not to lower prices to gain global share (see Exhibits 8 and 9).We think exports have failed to recover during the latest yen depreciation phase due to several misconceptions and miscalculations: (1) Yen weakness does not necessarily result in a decline in export prices and this has been the case more so this time; (2) the impact of lower export prices on export volume is far more limited than global demand (GLI) in the first place; (3) despite the correlation between GLI and export volume, the offshoring of production and lower competitiveness of Japanese products have resulted in export volume being consistently below GLI since the March 2011 earthquake; and (4) the lackluster US and European economic recoveries have raised the risk of a further slowdown.
The administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis continues to be marked by double talk, runaround and. Continue reading
Bank of Japan bought 2.62t yen ($25b) of Japan’s treasury-discount bills from financial companies today, compared with the 3t yen that the BOJ offered to acquire.This is the first time the central bank failed to meet its purchase target for t-bills since at least April 2013, when Governor Kuroda stepped up quantitative easing
The Bank of Japan’s unprecedented asset purchase program has released a creeping paralysis
that is freezing government bond trading, constricting the yen to the
tightest range on record and braking stock-market activity....“All the markets have been quiet,” said Daisuke Uno, the Tokyo-based chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. “We’ve
already seen the BOJ dominance of JGBs since last year, but recently
participants in currency and stock markets are also decreasing as those
assets have traded in narrow ranges.”...“The flows on both the buying side and selling side continue to fall,”
said Takehito Yoshino, the chief fund manager at Mizuho Trust &
Banking Co., a unit of Japan’s third-biggest financial group by market
value. “Falling volatility is a very serious problem for traders and
dealers who are unable to get capital gains.”
"We have a worst-case scenario, and you don't even want to know," warns Alessandro Vespignani, a researcher. Continue reading
THE RANT THAT SHOOK THE ECCLES BUILDINGHow the Fed Got Cramer’dAfter climbing steadily for four and a half years, the stock market weakened during August 2007 under the growing weight of the housing and mortgage debacle. Yet in response to what was an exceedingly mild initial sell-off, the Fed folded faster than a lawn chair in a desperate attempt to prop up the stock averages. The “Bernanke Put” was thus born with a bang.The frenetic rate cutting cycle which ensued in the fall of 2007 was a vir- tual reenactment of the Fed’s easing panics of 2001, 1998, and 1987. As in those episodes, the stock market had again become drastically overvalued relative to the economic and profit fundamentals. But rather than permit a long overdue market correction, the monetary central planners began once more to use all the firepower at their disposal to block it.The degree to which the Bernanke Fed had been taken hostage by Wall Street was evident in its response to Jim Cramer’s famous rant on CNBC on August 3, 2007, when he denounced the Fed as a den of fools: “They are nuts. They know nothing . . . the Fed is asleep. . . . My people have been in the game for 25 years . . . these firms are going out of business . . . open the darn [discount] window.”In going postal, Cramer was not simply performing as a CNBC commentator, but functioning as the public avatar for legions of petulant day traders who had taken control of the stock market during the long years Greenspan coddled Wall Street. What the Fed utterly failed to realize was that these now-dominant Cramerites had nothing to do with free markets or price discovery among traded equities.AUGUST 2007: WHEN THE FED CAPITULATED TO FINANCIAL HOODLUMSThe idea of price discovery in the stock market was now an ideological illusion. The market had been taken over by white-collar financial hoodlums who needed a trading fix every day. Through Cramer’s megaphone, these punters and speculators were asserting an entitlement to any and all gov- ernment policy actions which might be needed to keep the casino running at full tilt.If that had not been clear before August 2007, the truth emerged on live TV. The nation’s central bank was in thrall to a hissy fit by day traders. In a post the next day, the astute fund manager Barry Ritholtz summarized the new reality perfectly: “I have two words for Jim: Moral Hazard. Contrary to everything we learned under Easy Alan Greenspan, it is not the Fed’s role to backstop speculators and guarantee a one way market.”Yet that is exactly what it did. Within days of the rant which shook the Eccles Building, the Fed slashed its discount rate, abruptly ending its tepid campaign to normalize the money markets. By early November the funds rate had been reduced by 75 basis points, and by the end of January it was down another 150 basis points. As of early May 2008 a timorous central bank had redelivered the money market to the Wall Street Cramerites. Although the US economy was saturated with speculative excess, the Fed was once again shoveling out 2 percent money to put a floor under the stock market.This stock-propping campaign was not only futile, but also an exercise in monetary cowardice; it only intensified Wall Street’s petulant bailout de- mands when the real crisis hit a few months later. Indeed, on the day of Cramer’s rant in early August 2007, the S&P 500 closed at 1,433. The broad market index thus stood only 7 percent below the all-time record high of 1,553, which had been reached just ten days earlier in late July.Ten days of modest slippage from the tippy-top of the charts was hardly evidence of Wall Street distress. Even after it drifted slightly lower during the next two weeks, closing at 1,406 on August 15, the stock market was still comfortably above the trading levels which prevailed as recently as January 2007.Still, the Fed threw in the towel the next day with a dramatic 50 basis point cut in the discount rate. Although no demonstration was really needed, the nation’s central bank had now confirmed, and abjectly so, that it was ready and willing to be bullied by Cramerite day traders and hedge fund speculators. The latter had suffered a “disappointing” four weeks at the casino; they wanted their juice and wanted it now.Needless to say, the stock market cheered the Fed’s capitulation, with the Dow rising by 300 points at the open on August 17. The chief economist for Standard & Poor’s harbored no doubt that the Fed’s action was a deci- sive signal to Wall Street to resume the party: “It’s not just a symbolic ac- tion. The Fed is telling banks that the discount window is open. Take what you need.”The banks did exactly that and so the party resumed for another few months. By the second week of October the market was up 10 percent, enabling the S&P 500 to reach its historic peak of 1,565, a level which has not been approached since then.Pouring on the monetary juice and signaling to speculators that it once again had their backs, the Fed thus wasted its resources and authority for a silly and fleeting prize: it was able to pin the stock market index to the top rung of its historic charts for the grand duration of about six weeks in the fall of 2007. There was no more to it, and no possible excuse for its panic rate cutting.HOW THE FED GOT CRAMER’DThe Fed’s abject surrender to the Cramerite tantrums in the fall of 2007 was rooted in ten years of Wall Street coddling. Mesmerized by its new “wealth effects” doctrine, the Fed viewed the stock market like the famous Las Vegas ad: it didn’t want to know what went on there, and was therefore oblivious to the deeply rooted deformations which had become institu- tionalized in the financial markets. The sections below are but a selective history of how the nation’s central bank finally reached the ignominy of being Cramer’d by financial TV’s number one clown.The monetary central planners only cared that the broad stock averages kept rising so that the people, feeling wealthier, would borrow and spend more. It falsely assumed that what was going on inside the basket of 8,000 publicly traded stocks was just the comings and goings of the free market— and that this was a matter of tertiary concern, if any at all, to a mighty cen- tral bank in the business of managing prosperity and guiding the daily to-and-fro of a $14 trillion economy.But what was actually going on in the interior of the stock market was nightmarish. All of the checks and balances which ordinarily discipline the free market in money instruments and capital securities were being evis- cerated by the Fed’s actions; that is, the Greenspan Put, the severe repres- sion of interest rates, and the recurrent dousing of the primary dealers with large dollops of fresh cash owing to its huge government bond purchases.This kind of central bank action has pernicious consequences, however. By pegging money market rates, it fosters carry trades that are a significant contributor to unbalanced markets. Carry trades create an artificially en- larged bid for risk assets. So prices trend asymmetrically upward.The Greenspan Put also compounded the one-way bias. For hedge fund speculators, it amounted to ultra-cheap insurance against downside risk in the broad market. This, too, attracted money flows and an inordinate rise in speculative long positions.The Fed’s constant telegraphing of intentions regarding its administered money market rates also exacerbated the stock market imbalance. By peg- ging the federal funds rate, it eliminated the risk of surprise on the front end of the yield curve. Consequently, massive amounts of new credit were created in the wholesale money markets as traders hypothecated and re- hypothecated existing securities; that is, pledged the same collateral for multiple loans.The Fed’s peg on short-term rates thus fostered robust expansion of the shadow banking system, which as indicated previously, had exploded from $2 trillion to $21 trillion during Greenspan’s years at the helm. This vast multiplication of non-bank credit further fueled the “bid” for stocks and other risk assets.Fear of capital loss, fear of surprise, fear of insufficient liquidity—these are the natural “shorts” on the free market. The paternalistic Dr. Green- span, trying to help the cause of prosperity, thus took away the market’s natural short. In so doing, he brought central banking full circle. William McChesney Martin said the opposite; that is, he counseled taking away the punch bowl, thereby adding to the short. Now the punch bowl was over- flowing and the short was gone.Speculators were emboldened to bid, leverage their bid, and then to bid again for assets in what were increasingly one-way markets. As time passed, more and more speculations and manipulations emerged to capi- talize on these imbalances.“Growth stocks” were always a favored venue because they could be bid- up on short-term company news, quarterly performance, and rumors of performance (i.e., “channel checks”). During these ramp jobs, which ordinarily spanned only weeks, months, or quarters, traders could be highly confident that the Fed had interest rates pegged and the broad market propped.Financial engineering plays such as M&A and buybacks came to be es- pecially favored venues because these trades tended to be event triggered. Upon rumors and announcements, these trades could generate rapid replication and money flows. Again, speculators were confident that the Fed had their back, while leveraged punters were pleased that it had seconded to them its wallet in the form of cheap wholesale funding.At length, the stock market was transformed into a place to gamble and chase, not an institution in which to save and invest. Since this gambling hall had been fostered by the central bank rather than the free market, it was not on the level. That means that most of the time most of the players won and, as shown below, the big hedge funds which traded on Wall Street’s inside track with its inside information won especially big and un- usually often.Needless to say, frequent wins and hefty windfalls created expectations for more and more, and still more winning hands. As the Greenspan bub- bles steadily inflated—both in 1997–2000 and 2003–2007—these expecta- tions morphed into virtual Wall Street demands that the Fed keep the party going. Wall Street demands for a permanent party, at length, congealed into the presumption of an entitlement to an ever rising market, or at least one the Fed would never let falter or slump.Finally, this entitlement-minded stock market became a blooming, buzzing madhouse of petulance, impatience, and greed. Cramer embodied it and spoke for it. By the time of his rant, the Fed had become captive of the monster it had created. Now, fearing to say no, it became indentured to juicing the beast. After August 17, 2007, there was no longer even the pretense of reasoning or deliberation about policy options in the Eccles Building. The only options were the ones that had gotten it there: print, peg, and prop.One of the great ironies of the Greenspan bubbles was that the free market convictions of the maestro enabled the Fed to drift steadily and irreversibly into its eventual submission to the Cramerite intimidation. It did so by turning a blind eye to lunatic speculations in the stock market, dismissing them, apparently, as the exuberances of capitalist boys and girls playing too hard. By the final years of the first Greenspan bubble, however, there were plenty of warning signals that there was more than exuberance going on. Hit-and-run momentum trading and vast money flows into the stocks of serial M&A operations were signs that normal market disciplines were not working. Indeed, the M&A mania was a powerful indictment of the Fed’s prosperity management model.These hyperactive deal companies with booming share prices were be- ing afflicted ever more frequently with sudden stock price implosions that couldn’t have been merely random failures on the free market. Yet, as in the case of the subprime mania, the central planners undoubtedly read the headlines about these recurring corporate blowups and never bothered to connect the dots.
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