Macro Links Dec 6th – Jerusalem Warning
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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)
- JERUSALEM WARNING
- GOP TAX PLAN
- RUSSIA CONTACTS, DEUTSCHE BANK SUBPOENA
- CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES
- RUSSIA OLYMPICS BAN
- TRADE TENSIONS
- RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
- USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
- GLOBAL ECONOMY DATA
- POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
- FOREX, CRYPTOCURRENCY, EXCHANGE IMPACTS
- REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL
- POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
- BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
- DACA, TRAVEL BAN, IMMIGRATION, WALL
- GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
- RESISTANCE, PROTEST, COUNTER-EFFORTS
- TRUMP WORLD
- ELECTORAL POLITICS
- SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
- RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX
- MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT
- AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
- ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH
The status of the divided city is hugely sensitive and its fate is one of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Israel regards Jerusalem as its undivided capital and claims sovereignty over the whole city. But the international community views East Jerusalem as occupied land and the Palestinians consider it their future capital.
President Donald Trump told Arab leaders in phone calls on Tuesday that he intends to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Arab officials said, a move that could upend the U.S. leader’s plans to launch an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and risks sparking violence across the Middle East.
Igniting fears of violence in the region, President Trump’s decision could derail any peace initiative, Arab and European leaders warn.
Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson’s reception in Brussels was distinctly chilly, as disappointment among European diplomats in President Trump’s nationalistic tone and insulting messages on Twitter built into quiet fury on the eve of an expected announcement that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Such a move could infuriate the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem to be their capital in a future Palestinian state.
GOP TAX PLAN
The Senate on Saturday decided to keep a corporate alternative minimum tax, or AMT, a move that gave the senators $40 billion over a decade to use on other priorities, according to the official estimate.
The move blindsided CEOs and business groups, who acted quickly on Monday to try to persuade legislators to kill or modify the provision, arguing that keeping it would undercut several goals of the legislation, including fostering investment in the U.S.
As legislators in Washington work to get the most sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code in three decades, regions including the European Union and China are expressing their concern that the bill may not comply with international rules and frustration about the effect it may have on local markets.
The Republican-led effort to reform the U.S. tax code, which would cut the corporate rate to 20 percent from 35 percent, has caused jitters beyond Europe’s borders, with Chinese officials expressing worries that a sweeping policy shift could negatively impact domestic markets. Finance ministers, who discussed the issue over breakfast on Tuesday, also expressed concern that the legislation would affect transparency and asked if the U.S. would continue to share tax information.
Two polls released today showed similar levels of disapproval over the GOP tax plan, with a Gallup finding 29% approval against 56% disapproval and Quinnipiac showing 29% approval against 53% disapproval. Both polls broke down along party lines with high approval from Republicans (Gallup: 70%; Quinnipiac: 67%) and high disapproval from Democrats (Gallup: 87%; Quinnipiac: 84%). Independents overwhelmingly disapproved of the plan in both polls (Gallup: 25% approval vs. 56% disapproval, Quinnipiac: 27%/54%).
Top House Republicans said Tuesday they were exploring changes to their tax plan that would lower tax bills for Californians and others who pay high state income taxes — including by allowing Americans to deduct some state income tax payments from what they owe in federal taxes. But making any new ideas work within the larger plan could be difficult.
Because Democratic voters are more concentrated in high-tax states like New York and California, taxpayers in counties that voted for Hillary Clinton take much larger SALT deductions on average. Upper-class taxpayers are much more likely to claim more than the higher proposed standard deduction (roughly $24,000 for couples in both versions of the bill).
The bill, if enacted into law, could send home prices tumbling 10 percent or more in parts of the New York area, according to one economic analysis. It could increase the regional tax burden, complicating companies’ efforts to attract skilled workers. It could make it harder for state and local governments to pay for upgrades to the transit system and other infrastructure. And it could force cuts in federal programs that help immigrants, the elderly and other low-income residents afford the region’s high cost of living.
RUSSIA CONTACTS, DEUTSCHE BANK SUBPOENA
K.T. McFarland, a former aide to President Trump, told a senator that she did not talk with Michael T. Flynn about his contacts with a Russian official. Emails suggest she knew of a key phone call.
The subpoena requested documents and data about accounts and other dealings tied to relationships with Mr. Trump and people close to him, the person said. The bank has lent more than $300 million to entities affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to public disclosures.
“We have confirmed that the news reports that the Special Counsel had subpoenaed financial records relating to the president are false,” Sekulow told Reuters in a statement. “No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources.”
Banks can be ordered not to notify a customer and presumably lawyers who represent them when grand jury subpoenas are issued for banking records. Sekulow is mainly an activist and a TV lawyer. I don’t remember now whether he practiced criminal law in the distant past. But at least over the last two decades he’s represented clients in cases seeking to expand ‘religious liberty’ law. Is he even that familiar with how these things work?
Ferocious fires tore through Southern California on Tuesday, burning massive stretches of land in a matter of hours and forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes.
As firefighters in Ventura County grappled with an explosive blaze northwest of downtown Los Angeles, others across the region confronted additional fires that burned during the day and forced additional evacuations. Authorities issued ominous warnings of more dangers to come during a “multi-day event” across the area, as weather forecasters said the region faces “extreme fire danger” through at least Thursday due to intense Santa Ana winds and low humidity that could cause the fires to grow rapidly.
RUSSIA OLYMPICS BAN
Russia has become the first country in sporting history to be banned from sending athletes to an Olympic games for doping, in a move the Kremlin has argued represents a western conspiracy to humiliate the nation.
The International Olympic Committee banned the Russian federation from the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea on Tuesday, while leaving the door open for individual Russian athletes to compete, in a historic act of punishment for widespread doping Olympic officials believe was supported by the Russian government.
Canada is scrapping a plan to buy 18 Boeing Co (BA.N) Super Hornet fighter jets amid a deepening dispute with the U.S. aerospace company, three sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
The U.S. trade deficit widened in October to a nine-month high on record imports that reflect steady domestic demand, Commerce Department data showed Tuesday.
RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
House Republicans were unsettled Tuesday about how to keep the federal government open after Friday, hours after a group of hard-line conservative threatened to derail the GOP’s high-profile tax bill in a bid to change developing plans to avoid a shutdown.
Meanwhile, Democrats have yet to lay out how they intend to approach the coming weeks of negotiations — some liberals want to force Republicans to use the spending bill to enact permanent legal protections for a segment of illegal immigrants, known as “dreamers,” while moderates are less keen on a holiday season spending fight.
The impasse runs the risk of Congress missing Friday’s spending deadline and could complicate the GOP’s ongoing talks to implement significant reforms to the nation’s tax code.
Many, though not all, federal government functions are frozen, and many federal employees are furloughed. Agencies in the executive branch, the one with the largest workforce and budget, regularly review shutdown plans that spell out what work must continue, and how many employees will be retained, during a “short” lapse (one to five days) and during one that lasts longer.
The stoppages that invariably draw headlines during a shutdown are closures of national parks and monuments and the Smithsonian museums in Washington. Other activities that generally stop, at least if the shutdown lasts more than a couple days, are processing of applications for passports and visas; new enrollments in experimental treatments under the National Institutes for Health; and the maintenance of U.S. government websites, including ones with data used by businesses and researchers.
There have been 12 shutdowns since 1981, ranging in duration from a single day to 21 days, according to the Congressional Research Service. The last one was a 16-day shutdown in 2013. The 21-day one, in December 1995 and January 1996, was a famous budget showdown that pitted President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and the Republican House speaker, Newt Gingrich.
The flattening of the Treasury yield curve, a persistent theme over the past several weeks, appears to have no shortage of momentum. On Tuesday, the spread between five- and 30-year U.S. yields tumbled below 60 basis points to the lowest since November 2007. The market is beginning to price in more rate hikes from the Federal Reserve next year, which is causing short-end yields to climb, while long bonds rally from demand for duration.
The Baltic Dry Index, a benchmark of shipping rates, surged 73 percent in 2017 to a four-year high because of a slowdown in new bulk freight capacity. More than 85 percent of global trade in grains and oilseeds is transported by dry-bulk carriers, according to Rabobank International.
Higher shipping costs will make agriculture goods from farther away less competitive and could push up food prices, the bank said in a report Monday. The United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization expects the world food bill to be the second-highest on record this year, driven by more expensive freight and rising demand for foodstuffs.
U.S. student loan debt now equals the size of the $1.3 trillion U.S. high-yield corporate bond market, presenting investors with a whole different range of risks.
“Delinquency rates on student loans are much higher than those on auto loans or mortgages, due to loose student loan underwriting standards, the unsecured nature of student debt, and the inability to charge off non-performing student loans in bankruptcy,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts Marty Young and Lotfi Karoui wrote in a note Tuesday. “The substantial majority of student loan default risk is borne by the U.S. Treasury.”
Today, the problem is less one of complacency about inflation than the difficulty of understanding how the economy works in the post-crisis environment, securing a safe exit from unconventional central bank measures and handling the political fallout from rising inequality that has been exacerbated by central bank market rigging — all this against a background of bigger deficits and debt.
The new tax package, as well as being an unnecessary fiscal stimulus in an economy growing at an annualised rate of 3.3 per cent, will further increase inequality. The impending Trump bear market in bonds will not want for excitement.
The European Central Bank is set to rethink its plans to force eurozone lenders to face up to their bad loans after a wave of criticism from EU lawmakers and political leaders who say the proposals overstep the central bank’s authority and have sown confusion.
USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES
Growth in U.S. service industries cooled by more than forecast in November after the fastest expansion since 2005, as orders eased and supply chains normalized following two hurricanes, an Institute for Supply Management survey showed Tuesday.
Fleets are adding capacity as strong economic growth fuels surging volumes of freight through the nation’s transportation networks. Trucks are in high demand to carry record imports from ports to distribution centers, move machine parts and heavy goods for manufacturers and merchandise during the holiday shopping season. Shippers are paying higher rates as capacity tightens, creating an incentive to put more trucks on the road.
GLOBAL ECONOMY DATA
Listed companies are at their most profitable on record after a bumper year of earnings growth across global equity markets. The earnings-per-share of a FactSet index of over 20,000 listed companies from around the world has now reached an average of $9.69, increasing nearly 19% in the last year.
That is the fastest year-over-year rise since 2011, surpassing the late-2014 high of $9.55. While the FactSet data only stretch back to 2001, increased earnings in emerging markets like China, among other factors, mean that the per-share level has likely never been higher.
Euro-area economic momentum accelerated to its fastest pace in over six years in November, setting the scene for a buoyant end to a year that saw political wobbling across much of the region. A Purchasing Managers’ Index for manufacturing and services rose to 57.5 in November, IHS Markit said on Tuesday. That’s up from 56.0 in October and matches a Nov. 23 flash estimate. Output was bolstered by booming manufacturing, which only saw one stronger expansion in the 20-year survey history.
Starbucks is making a super-sized bet on China, where it is opening a premium roastery that will be its largest outlet in the world as part of efforts to maintain its upscale reputation in an increasingly important market.
The Seattle-based company has spread to more than 130 cities in China, where it operates about 3,000 stores. It is opening new outlets at a rate faster than one a day as it seeks growth in the country following several quarters of underwhelming results in the US, its biggest market.
POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
The popular narrative is that stock pickers are selling tech after the massive runup this year and are piling into companies set to benefit from U.S. tax cuts. But observers such as Andrew Lapthorne of Societe Generale SA don’t buy it. They look at the contours of the selloff over the past few days and have a different take: A few heavy hitters are dumping factor positions that incidentally hurt chipmakers and software companies and once they’re done, the rally will resume.
“It seemed to be tax-related, but it was pretty extreme. To get such a rapid move on a particular day must be a function of flow,” Lapthorne, the global head of quantitative strategy at Societe Generale, said in an interview. “To get such a strong relationship between a factor and performance always seems a little bit smacking of systematic.”
Steel’s breath-taking rally just scaled a fresh peak, with prices hitting the highest since the world economy tanked almost a decade ago during the financial crisis ushered in by the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
As China curbs supply this winter to cut pollution and ensure its citizens can breathe, the spot price of reinforcement bar advanced for a sixth straight day to 5,044 yuan ($763) a metric ton on Tuesday. That’s the highest level since September 2008, the same month that Lehman filed for Chapter 11.
FOREX, CRYPTOCURRENCY, EXCHANGE IMPACTS
The dollar is heading for its worst year in more than a decade, and bearish projections are still piling up. Analysts say the steady unraveling of the greenback’s post-crisis bull run will be confirmed next year as global growth gathers pace and central banks converge on a more hawkish tone.
“Beware of sleeping volcanoes and seriously undervalued currencies,” Kit Juckes, global fixed-income strategist at Societe Generale SA, wrote in a report Tuesday. With global “growth becoming more balanced and more synchronized, the dollar looks expensive.”
REAL ESTATE, HOUSING, REITS, COMMERCIAL
Singapore developers may extend their share rally into 2018 on a reviving home market, according to money managers and analysts, who say the central bank’s warning on a potential oversupply may not play out for years.
After double-digit gains this year, Morgan Stanley sees a 42 percent jump in shares of CapitaLand Ltd., the nation’s largest developer, and a 24 percent increase in City Developments Ltd., the second-biggest, in the next 12 months. Property companies such as City Developments and UOL Group Ltd. are among the top performers in Singapore in 2017, with developers collectively on track for their best annual performance in five years.
POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
Each year, Greenland loses 270 billion tons of ice as the planet warms. New research shows that some of the water may be trapped in the ice sheet, which could change how scientists think about global sea levels.
Companies producing oil and gas in the US have signed up to a voluntary scheme that aims to cut emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane, in the face of Trump administration efforts to weaken or cancel Obama-era rules with the same aim.
The American Petroleum Institute, the industry group, has organised an initiative called the Environmental Partnership that will work on cutting leaks from wells, pipelines and other sources from US onshore production.
BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
“Any regulatory alignment we get as part of a Brexit deal for Northern Ireland will apply for the whole country,” he said.
The comments brought Conservative divisions over Europe back into the open just as the government prepares to debate what kind of Brexit it seeks — one closer to the EU or more detached from the bloc, a so called hard Brexit.
“We must be able to define our own position and, if necessary, draw red lines, in partnership, but oriented around our own interests,” Mr. Gabriel said, adding that the Trump administration sees the world as an arena for competition in which even Europe can be an economic adversary.
DACA, TRAVEL BAN, IMMIGRATION, WALL
The number of people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Department of Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.
GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
U.S. intelligence and military officials believe Kim Jong Un is a “rational actor,” a conclusion that for now is guiding Washington’s approach to the North Korean leader as he risks economic sanctions and military reprisals to build nuclear weapons and threaten rivals.
A month after he declared under Saudi Arabian pressure that he was quitting his post, Lebanon’s prime minister officially rescinded his resignation on Tuesday, closing a chapter in a curious political saga that threatened to destabilize Lebanon and transfixed the region.
The reversal by the prime minister, Saad Hariri, was considered a setback for Saudi Arabia and its brash young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who had summoned Mr. Hariri to Riyadh last month.
A day after Houthi rebels in Yemen killed the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, his son was reported on Tuesday to have emerged from enforced seclusion in the United Arab Emirates and to have vowed to avenge his father’s death.
The son, Ahmed Ali Saleh, once a powerful military commander, made the pledge as warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition bombed Sana, the Yemeni capital, news reports said, striking targets including the presidential palace.
Yemen’s Houthi rebels said on Sunday that they had fired a cruise missile at a $20 billion nuclear power plant under construction in Abu Dhabi, but the United Arab Emirates’ state-run news agency immediately denied the claim.
RESISTANCE, PROTEST, COUNTER-EFFORTS
“The president stole your land,” reads an overlay on Patagonia’s website posted Monday afternoon. “This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.”
The California-based retailer has long been known for its environmental activism, but this week’s political stance — and a promise by its founder to sue the Trump administration — represents a shift, experts say, in how corporations are speaking up, not just on behalf of their executives and employees, but also their customers.
“This is a sea change in activism like nothing I’ve ever seen,” said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist at public relations firm Weber Shandwick. “CEOs are not just raising flags anymore, they’re actually taking action and asking their customers to do the same.”
The website of outdoor apparel retailer Patagonia struggled to handle traffic after the company condemned President Donald Trump’s move to remove federal protection from swaths of public land.
Police have refused to take any action against protesters amid violent demonstrations and a curfew imposed on Monday. The police strike began with the elite US-funded Cobra squad and appeared to have spread at least in part to other units — although not yet to the army or military police considered loyal to President Juan Orlando Hernández.
“Personally, I think the President is a ‘rubber room’ politician. He’s crazy. He needs a straitjacket. He’s in there for his self. He’s not in there to help America keep jobs. Because if he was we wouldn’t be in the predicament that we’re in every day. He keeps howling, ‘Make America great.’ But he can’t make America great if all the jobs are leaving the States and going to Mexico. People can’t support their families.”
Mick Mulvaney, installed by the White House as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has signalled his readiness to reverse much of the work of an agency established under former President Barack Obama in the wake of the financial crisis.
“Virtually the entire range of regulations previously adopted by the CFPB could be subject to review,” says Quyen Truong, a former senior figure at the agency who is now a partner at law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. “There’s no particular set of rules that would be considered sacrosanct.”
Rep. John Conyers announced Tuesday he is leaving Congress immediately and endorsed his son, John Conyers III, to replace him following allegations of sexual harassment.
The Republican National Committee restored its support for Mr. Moore, the Senate candidate in Alabama who has stabilized in the polls after sexual misconduct accusations.
They may have found his actions unconscionable. They may have called on him to drop out. But now, he might win.
“Here’s my view on the Republican Party,” Hannity said to “Breitbart News Tonight” special edition host Stephen Bannon, President Trump’s former White House strategist. “It is a dead party. They are morally corrupt, they are weak. … They are ineffective, they’re vision-less, and they have no identity,” he said.
SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
The fund started by an AOL co-founder and an author has attracted a Who’s Who of American business to invest in the heartland’s entrepreneurs. On Tuesday, the fund, called Rise of the Rest, will disclose its investors, which has turned into a Who’s Who of American business.
Steve Case — cofounder of AOL and creator of the Rise of the Rest tours, which highlight startup activity in places outside of Silicon Valley — has secured $150 million for a new venture capital fund. He has procured backing from some big names in the Valley for the fund, which is also called Rise of the Rest and which will invest in startups in traditionally overlooked markets in the U.S.
RETAIL APPAREL, SPECIALTY, DINING, BIG BOX
Amazon quietly began operations in Australia on Tuesday, the start of what could be a shake-up of that country’s retail market, which is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
For Australian businesses, Amazon’s international expansion — which now includes more than a dozen countries — has brought with it hasty pivots and familiar feelings of enthusiasm, doubt and existential dread.
But people who posted on social media about Amazon’s debut were generally underwhelmed, with prospective Australian customers playfully pointing out lackluster product offerings and uncompetitive pricing.
United Parcel Service Inc. is struggling to handle the surge in shipments from online shoppers, resulting in delivery delays early in the critical holiday season and prompting the carrier to a push drivers to work extra hours.
MEDIA, CABLE, SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT
Ziff Davis, a digital media subsidiary of tech company J2, is buying Mashable for less than $50 million, according to people familiar with the transaction. In the spring of 2016, Time Warner’s Turner led a $15 million investment round that valued the company at $250 million.
AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
General Motors Co. is about to enable drivers to buy coffee, find gas or parking and make restaurant reservations with just a touch of the dashboard.
The automaker will roll out the new feature on millions of existing 2017 and 2018 model-year vehicles starting Tuesday. Called Marketplace, the system links drivers to vendors including Starbucks Corp., Dunkin’ Donuts Inc. and Priceline.com to place take-away orders or make reservations with taps of their touchscreens.
“The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road,” Santiago Chamorro, GM’s vice president of global connected customer experience, said at a press event in Detroit. “We want to make this time more productive, more enjoyable and safer.”
A new in-car application from General Motors Co. that lets drivers order coffee and browse for hotels while behind the wheel has been met with outcry from a prominent safety group.
Self-driving vehicles will be ready to roll next year, though the work to make them affordable to individual consumers is still “in the first inning,” according to the CEO of a company working on the technology.
Initial autonomous auto customers will be businesses deploying delivery vehicles and robot taxis, Kevin Clark, chief executive officer of Aptiv Plc, said in an interview Monday. Companies are motivated to eliminate the cost of drivers and better equipped to afford expensive self-driving tech than consumers.
A Morgan Stanley analyst said Tesla Inc. could struggle on its own and that Elon Musk’s attention may wander more toward his other-worldly endeavors, potentially leading to a combination with SpaceX.
“Investors widely expect Elon Musk to, over time, devote increasing amounts of his time and talents to SpaceX, raising the very real question of who could replace him at Tesla,” Jonas wrote. “A combination of efforts between the two firms could address this important issue.”
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, DRONES, FUTURE TECH
It turns out that many of the skills feathered predators use to find a tasty lunch can be applied to the developing field of drone defense. A U.S. Air Force-funded study by zoology researchers at Oxford University suggests that the means by which a peregrine falcon tracks its quarry could be effective in defending against drones that threaten troops, police or airports.
The researchers fitted the falcons with miniature video cameras and GPS receivers to track their angle and method of attack on other birds, or on bait being towed through the air by a drone. In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S., the falcons’ approach to intercepting its target aligned closely with the rules of proportional navigation, a guidance system used by visually-directed missiles.
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