Macro Links Feb 27th – Xi Goes Mao

Macro Links Feb 27th – Xi Goes Mao

You are viewing the Macro Links delayed archive. The real time Macro Links, posted each trading day, are available via the Mercenary Research Suite. To see how it works, click here.

MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)

TOP

XI JINPING POWER GRAB

China will scrap limit on presidential terms, meaning Xi Jinping can stay on | South China Morning Post

China will remove the constitutional restriction on the maximum number of terms the president and vice-president can serve, Xinhua reported on Sunday, paving the way for President Xi Jinping to stay on beyond 2023.

China sets stage for Xi to stay in office indefinitely – Reuters

Sunday’s announcement, carried by state news agency Xinhua, gave few details. It said the proposal had been made by the party’s Central Committee, the largest of its elite ruling bodies. The proposal also covers the vice president position.

With Xi’s Power Grab, China Joins New Era of Strongmen – The New York Times

The list includes Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, all of whom have abandoned most pretenses that they rule according to the people’s will. Authoritarianism is also reappearing in places like Hungary and Poland that barely a quarter-century ago shook loose the shackles of Soviet oppression.

Xi Jinping May Be President for Life. What Will Happen to China? | The New Yorker

On the current trajectory, Xi’s economy and military will pose a far greater challenge to American leadership than Putin’s. Xi, in his first five years in power, dismantled what are known in China as the qian guize (the “unwritten rules”), which allowed people to bribe their way to higher office or to skirt the edges of censorship. Now he is throwing out the written rules, and to the degree that he applies that approach to the international system—including rules on trade, arms, and access to international waters—America faces its most serious challenge since the end of the Cold War.

Term Limits Will Officially No Longer Apply To Xi Jinping – Sinocism

In this new Xi Era the world must learn to deal the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, while China itself is now the strongest it has been in centuries, with plans to become even more economically, militarily and culturally powerful, on the road to its Great Rejuvenation.

Power grab strengthens Xi’s influence on China economic reforms – FT

The best historic analogy is the final years of Mao, after he had eliminated competing factions through the Cultural Revolution, says Victor Shih, Ms Shirk’s colleague at UCSD. Personal loyalists with thin governing experience will rise to high positions, especially if Mr Xi’s reign stretches into a third and fourth term. “Decision making will increasingly resemble an echo chamber,” he says. “If Xi makes a wrong decision it is going to be a big one and no one will oppose it internally.”

Xi Jinping Thought Explained: A New Ideology for a New Era – The New York Times

Officially known as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” the ideology will soon be given an even more prominent platform: the preamble of China’s Constitution. Boiled down, the doctrine is a blueprint for consolidating and strengthening power at three levels: the nation, the party and Mr. Xi himself.

TOP

BITCOIN, CRYPTOCURRENCY, INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS

Crypto Legend Who Bought Pizza With 10,000 Bitcoin Is Back At It – Bloomberg

“I wanted to show that yes, you still can buy pizzas with Bitcoin,” Hanyecz said in a telephone interview from Jacksonville, Florida. “But if it’s a $50 pizza and a $100 transaction fee, that doesn’t work. The idea is that on Lightning Network we can get the security of Bitcoin and instant transfers. You don’t have to wait for a blockchain confirmation.”

Women in Cryptocurrencies Push Back Against ‘Blockchain Bros’ – The New York Times

Virtual currencies and blockchain, the digital ledger that forms the basis of the cryptocurrencies, were intended to be democratizing and equalizing forces, buoyed by a utopian exuberance. But women who have been trying to participate in the gold rush are finding a lopsided gender divide. And some say the culture is getting worse, with the male-dominated culture buoyed by a new fleet of wealthy crypto speculators known as “blockchain bros.”

Coinbase Informs 13K Affected Customers Of Imminent Data Handover To IRS | Cointelegraph

US-based cryptocurrency exchange and wallet service Coinbase sent an official notice Friday, Feb. 23 to approximately 13,000 of its customers whose information it is legally required to turn over to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Self-Proclaimed Bitcoin Inventor Accused of Swindling $5 Billion of Cryptocurrency – Bloomberg

Craig Wright, the self-proclaimed inventor of bitcoin, is accused of swindling more than $5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency and other assets from the estate of a computer-security expert. Kleiman’s family contends they own the rights to more than 1 million Bitcoins and blockchain technologies Kleiman mined and developed during his lifetime and that the assets’ value exceeds $5 billion, according to the Feb. 14 filing in federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Mobile Payments App Circle Acquires Crypto Exchange Poloniex For $400 Mln | Cointelegraph

The Poloniex exchange offers trades in 68 different coins, and is currently the 14th largest crypto exchange by 24-hour volume on CoinMarketCap, trading a total of almost $140 million today to press time. In today’s announcement on the Circle blog, Circle co-founders Sean Neville and Jeremy Allaire wrote that the first step for Circle is to address customer support and the technical side needed to support the Poloniex platform.

Miner of Biggest Diamonds Buys Blockchain Firm as CEO Exits – Bloomberg

The Vancouver-based miner joins much larger rivals De Beers and Russia’s Alrosa PJSC in exploring blockchain tech. De Beers said last month it was piloting a virtual ledger to reassure buyers that stones are genuine and aren’t funding armed conflicts. Such systems may also guard banks against fraud in a secrecy-cloaked industry, where loans are often based on paper invoices.

Poll: Bitcoin More Popular With Czechs than the Euro – Bitcoin News

Czechs are more inclined to store value in cryptos than in euros, according to a new poll gauging attitudes toward currencies other than the koruna. When asked about their intentions to acquire foreign cash, twice as many respondents said they were interested in buying bitcoin than purchasing US dollars.

EU says stands ready to regulate crypto-currencies – Reuters

The European Union stands ready to regulate crypto-currencies if risks from the sector are not tackled at the global level, the bloc’s financial services chief said on Monday. “This is a global phenomenon and it’s important there is an international follow-up at the global level,” Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters.

Elon Musk Revealed How Much Bitcoin He Owns | Money

“I literally own zero cryptocurrency, apart from .25 BTC that a friend sent me many years ago,” Musk said in a tweet on Thursday. That’s about $2,552.42 as of Friday afternoon (Bitcoin values fluctuate constantly). Musk, by contrast, is worth $21.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.

46% of Last Year’s ICOs Have Failed Already – Bitcoin News

It has always been assumed that a large number of ICOs will fail, be it at the fundraising stage or when it comes to delivering the actual project. It’s hard to settle on a precise figure, however, as most dubious ICOs don’t exit scam: they slowly tiptoe away, like a sneak thief rather than a smash-and-grab robber. Having completed an extensive study into last year’s crowdsales, news.Bitcoin.com can report that 46% of them are effectively dead already – despite raising over $104 million.

50 Cent to Feds: You Won’t Get a Bitcoin Outta Me; I Have None – Bloomberg

Fiddy encouraged the rumors — even posting on Instagram about his would-be crypto windfall — because he “does not feel the need to publicly deny the reporting” of a story, especially “when I feel the press report in question is favorable to my image or brand, according to the documents.”

US Navy Investigators Bust Bitcoin Drug Ring at Naval Academy – Bitcoin News

Despite recent claims that bitcoin is becoming less popular for illicit dealings on the dark web, investigations show that it is still the payment method of choice for many. The most recent example comes from the US Navy, where a few entrepreneurial cadets reportedly used bitcoin to buy drugs which they distributed to their classmates for profit.

What to Look for in ICO Terms and Conditions – CoinDesk

Essentially, the terms and conditions are the formal agreement between an investor and the ICO issuer. Proper T&Cs should connect an ICO’s tokens with the deal presented. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. T&Cs can include alarming provisions. For example, in the Tezos project’s Terms and Explanatory Notes (the analogue of T&Cs for token purchase purposes) referred to token purchases as a “non-refundable donation.”

Goldman Sachs Latest to Label Crypto A Business Risk – CoinDesk

Investment banking giant Goldman Sachs has cited its connection to cryptocurrencies and blockchain as a potential business risk, public records show. In a way, the disclosure echoes one published last week by Bank of America, which warned at the time that it faces both competitive and compliance risks as a result of the technology.

Hacker Returns $26 Million in Ether Months After ICO Theft – CoinDesk

A hacker who stole more than 43,000 ether tokens from would-be investors in CoinDash has returned a majority of the funds to the startup. The company reported that the thief returned 30,000 tokens over two different transactions, the first in September 2017 and the second last Friday, to CoinDash’s wallet. At press time, the tokens were worth a little more than $26 million. The thief still has some 13,400 tokens ($11.6 million) after the second transaction.

TOP

BLOCKCHAIN, FINTECH, DIGITAL PAYMENTS

Oil Buyers Ditch Paper for Blockchain to Track Tanker Sales – Bloomberg

Every day, dozens of oil tankers — some as long as five football fields — set sail for ports around the world carrying millions of barrels of crude and a piece of paper that generations of sea captains have held as dear as their cargo. The bill of lading is the document that verifies ownership of a commodity that can be worth more than $122 million per ship. Without it, buyers and sellers who trade $2.7 billion of crude daily are unable to do business in an ocean-going tanker market that supplies almost half of the oil consumed globally.

18G27 - OIL SHIPMENTS

TOP

TRADE, PROTECTIONISM, REGULATION, OVERSIGHT

Trump’s protection plan to keep ‘competitor’ China at bay – FT

The plans for Cfius strike to the heart of the Trump administration’s dilemma over how to deal with China, which it has called a strategic “competitor”. White House officials and their allies in Congress are struggling to respond to what they see as an existential economic threat from a China that aims to be the leader in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and other new industries.

18G27 - CHINA DIRECT INVESTMENT

TOP

BUDGET, INFRASTRUCTURE, HEALTHCARE, IMMIGRATION

Supreme Court Deals Setback to Trump Immigration Policy on ‘Dreamers’ – WSJ

The Supreme Court dealt a setback to President Donald Trump’s immigration policy on Monday, declining to take up an administration appeal that sought a quick end to the Obama-era program protecting young, undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Supreme Court Turns Down Trump’s Appeal in ‘Dreamers’ Case – The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Monday declined an unusual White House request that it immediately decide whether the Trump administration can shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The move meant that the immigrants, often called “Dreamers,” could remain in legal limbo for many months unless Congress acts to make their status permanent.

TOP

GUN CONTROL, MARIJUANA BOOM, PUBLIC POLICY

Trump Says He Would Have Rushed in Unarmed to Stop School Shooting – The New York Times

President Trump asserted Monday that he would have rushed in to save the students and teachers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School from a gunman with an assault weapon, even if he was unarmed at the time of the massacre.

Trump stops short of full endorsement of gun proposals – The Washington Post

President Trump stopped short Monday of a full-throated endorsement of any legislative proposals to tighten gun restrictions while lawmakers insisted that the fate of any changes lay in the president’s hands. While Senate leaders explored the possibility of passing a modest improvement to the national background-check system for firearm buyers, House action was uncertain, and Trump again turned attention away from guns and toward the various security breakdowns that preceded the Feb. 14 rampage inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead.

Delta and United Join Companies Dumping the NRA – Bloomberg

Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. became the latest companies to cut ties with the National Rifle Association after a call to boycott the lobbying group became a top trend on Twitter Friday. The online furor continued into the weekend after the NRA’s leaders attacked the media and Democrats, claiming the fallout from last week’s Florida high school massacre was being politicized.

Lines Out the Door and Strong Sales at Tampa Gun Show – The New York Times

The lines stretched out the door this weekend at a gun show in Tampa, Fla., as thousands of potential buyers and the merely curious waited for their turn to browse booths stocked with the latest firearms, ammunition, customizable holsters and patriotic paraphernalia.

Trump Goes Full Duterte, Suggests “Death Penalty” for Drug Dealers | Vanity Fair

Five sources who have spoken with Trump about the issue say he has a habit of declaring drug dealers to be no better than serial killers. “Trump has said he would love to have a law to execute all drug dealers here in America,” Swan writes. Any sentence that exhibits sympathy for the accused, according to the president, is bound to fail.

Gun Background-Check Bill Slows Even as Trump, NRA Say Go Ahead – Bloomberg

Senate legislation that would enhance reporting to the gun-buyers background check system hit a roadblock on Monday, as Congress and the White House struggled to come up with a swift response to the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.

Florida sheriff faces intensifying political scrutiny, calls to resign in wake of school shooting – The Washington Post

The chief law enforcement officer responsible for safety at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has become an unlikely political lightning rod two weeks after a mass shooting there claimed 17 lives, with his department coming under intense scrutiny for its handling of the attack.

Former Florida School Officer Says He Believed Gunfire Was Outside School – WSJ

In comments included in his attorney’s statement, Mr. Peterson said upon arriving, he “heard gunshots but believed that those gunshots were originating from outside of any of the buildings on the school campus.” He then took up a tactical position between two other buildings, consistent with his training for handling outdoor gunfire, and initiated a lockdown for the entire campus, the statement said.

Georgia Republicans Vow to Kill Airline Tax-Cut Bill After Delta Ends N.R.A. Discount – The New York Times

A proposed $50 million tax break on jet fuel which would primarily benefit Delta is in jeopardy after the airline eliminated a discount for the N.R.A. Mr. Cagle, a Republican, fired the salvo at Delta on Twitter on Monday afternoon, saying that the Atlanta-based company must restore its program. “Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back,” Mr. Cagle, who had expressed his support for the bill earlier this month, said on Twitter.

TOP

TAXATION, WEALTH HAVENS, INEQUALITY

Trump’s Tax Cuts in Hand, Companies Spend More on Themselves Than on Wages – The New York Times

President Trump promised that his tax cut would encourage companies to invest in factories, workers and wages, setting off a spending spree that would reinvigorate the American economy. Companies have announced plans for some of those investments. But so far, companies are using much of the money for something with a more narrow benefit: buying their own shares.

TOP

RUSSIA MEDDLING, RUSSIA PROBE

Manafort’s LA bankruptcy fight may offer new avenue for Mueller probe – Reuters

Federal prosecutors who have already indicted President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on charges of money laundering, bank fraud and covertly lobbying for pro-Russian interests may have additional leverage arising from a loan he received while engaged in the bankruptcies of properties in California, several former law enforcement officials say.

Hope Hicks to Appear Before House Intelligence Panel, Officials Say – Bloomberg

White House communications director Hope Hicks is scheduled to be interviewed privately Tuesday by the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to two House officials familiar with the matter.

TOP

NORTH / SOUTH KOREA, IRAN, NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Rewrite Iran Deal? Europeans Offer a Different Solution: A New Chapter – The New York Times

President Trump’s threat to rip up the Iran nuclear deal has touched off an urgent scramble in European capitals to preserve the agreement — not by rewriting it, but by creating a successor deal intended to halt Iran’s ballistic missile program and make permanent the restrictions on its ability to produce nuclear fuel.

TOP

INFLATION, RATES, DEBT AND CREDIT, BALANCE SHEETS

Buffett says ‘terrible mistake’ for long-term investors to be in bonds – Reuters

Billionaire Warren Buffett prodded ordinary investors on Saturday to stay invested in U.S. stocks, ignoring price swings, guidance from people with fancy credentials and the temptation to load up on bonds. Buffett said it is a “terrible mistake” for investors with long-term horizons – among them, pension funds, college and endowments and savings-minded individuals – to measure their investment “risk” by their portfolio’s ratio of bonds to stocks.

King Cash Threatens the Reign of Credit Markets From U.S. to Europe – Bloomberg

Global credit markets are on the cusp of a post-crisis regime shift as higher rates on short-dated U.S. Treasuries challenge the investment case for high-grade corporate bonds — on both sides of the Atlantic. For Citigroup Inc. strategists including Joseph Faith and Matt King, that dynamic suggests an asset-allocation shift looms — with possible reverberations across the euro area.

Morgan Stanley Takes on Goldman, Buffett With Bullish Bond Call – Bloomberg

Morgan Stanley says it’s time to get bullish on bonds — even as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Warren Buffett issue warnings. The sell-off in Treasuries, that began in earnest in September and ramped up in January, is ending, according to Morgan Stanley strategists. Not so for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which is running its models through a scenario in which yields on 10-year notes hit 4.5 percent — though it expects that number to be closer to 3.25 percent by the end of this year.

Hong Kong’s Dilemma Is What to Do With Its Massive Cash Pile – Bloomberg

As Hong Kongers suffer through the world’s least affordable property market, their government is enjoying the flip-side of the real-estate and stock-market boom: One of the biggest fiscal surpluses anywhere. On a quarterly basis, the budget surplus hit 8.6 percent of gross domestic product in the third quarter of 2017, the highest since at least 1999, Bloomberg data show.

How Corporate Debt Confirms The “Everything Bubble” | RIA

The starting point of every bubble examination in today’s environment is extremely simple, yet overlooked by the overwhelming majority of economists and financial journalists: record low interest rates. Interest rates (both domestic and foreign) have been trending lower since the early-1980s, but have been pushed to extreme levels by central banks – including the U.S. Federal Reserve – since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. In order to create an economic recovery, central banks have held benchmark interest rates at artificially low levels and pumped trillions of dollars worth of liquidity into the global financial system and markets. As a result, there has been a world-wide “yield-chasing” boom as liquidity flows into increasingly riskier assets in order to earn a return.

18G27 - CORPORATE BUBBLE

Caution Prevails When It Comes to U.K. Corporate Borrowing – Bloomberg

Borrowing by U.K. companies fell the most in almost three years in January, according to new figures from the banking industry. Lending to non-financial companies dropped 1.4 percent from a year earlier, led by declines in construction and property-related sectors, lobby group UK Finance said Monday. Separate data showed mortgage approvals for house purchase declined almost 10 percent last month compared with a year earlier.

18G27 - CAUTION PREVAILS

After Anbang Takeover, China’s Deal Money, Already Ebbing, Could Slow Further – The New York Times

The Chinese government’s seizure of Anbang Insurance Group on Friday has regulators in the United States and elsewhere struggling to figure out what that means to the properties the company owns around the world. It is also raising questions about Beijing’s deep role in the Chinese economy and its sway over private companies — especially those that own or run big businesses abroad.

Anbang’s Rescue Is China’s Too-Big-to-Fail Moment – WSJ

A Chinese government takeover of Anbang Insurance Group Co. throws a lifeline to its policyholders—support denied to frustrated clients of some lesser-known financial firms when those companies hit turbulence before ultimately collapsing. Known abroad for bold acquisitions such as New York City’s Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the unlisted Beijing-based firm owes its war chest to legions of individuals who lent it money when they became policyholders.

TOP

MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS

China’s Authoritarian State Has an Edge in Artificial Intelligence Development – WSJ

The Wall Street Journal has detailed how Beijing has turned its western Xinjiang region into a warren of facial scanners to track millions of Uighur minorities. Police there use hand-held devices to search smartphones for encrypted chat apps. A new twist: mobile facial-recognition units mounted on eyeglasses that police use to search crowds for fugitives, among other uses. “A repressive state can be an engine of innovation,” says Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a tech policy center.

New Report on Emerging AI Risks Paints a Grim Future – Gizmodo

A new report authored by over two-dozen experts on the implications of emerging technologies is sounding the alarm bells on the ways artificial intelligence could enable new forms of cybercrime, physical attacks, and political disruption over the next five to ten years. “It is often the case that AI systems don’t merely reach human levels of performance but significantly surpass it,” said Miles Brundage, a Research Fellow at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute and a co-author of the report, in a statement. “It is troubling, but necessary, to consider the implications of superhuman hacking, surveillance, persuasion, and physical target identification, as well as AI capabilities that are subhuman but nevertheless much more scalable than human labour.”

How Do Pundits Never Get It Wrong? Call a 40% Chance – WSJ

Talking heads have learned if you predict something is 40% likely to happen you’ll never be wrong. It’s a favorite tactic of Wall Street analysts and other prognosticators trying to make bold calls without being too bold. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said last month there’s a 40% chance that Brexit will be reversed; Citigroup Inc. analyst Jim Suva wrote that there’s a 40% chance Apple Inc. buys Netflix Inc.; and Nomura Holdings Inc. economist Lewis Alexander said there’s a 40% chance Nafta gets ripped up. The nice thing about 40% is that you never have to say you were wrong, says Peter Tchir, a market strategist at Academy Securities.

How Long Can John Kelly Hang On? – The New York Times

Today Kelly holds the support of two incongruous constituencies: those who cheer him on immigration and those who assume, despite the strikes against him, that he is preventing catastrophes no one can see. But this base is shrinking. “One Donald is bad enough,” Reines, one of the last Democratic holdouts, tweeted as Kelly cycled through conflicting explanations of the Porter timeline in February. “We don’t need two.” Older friends have greeted recent events with a deeper despair. Some war buddies, eager to publicly support Kelly when he took the job, have begged off entirely. “I’d prefer not to talk anymore about him,” Mark Hertling, a retired three-star general who served with Kelly in Iraq, told me, “given what I’ve seen lately.”

How Softbank, World’s Biggest Tech Investor, Throws Around Its Cash – WSJ

Tech magnate Masayoshi Son often befuddles people in his industry with the large sums he is willing to pay for stakes in companies. That includes his directors. Shigenobu Nagamori says he objected when Mr. Son, chief executive of SoftBank Group Corp., told his board in 2016 he wanted to pay $32 billion for Arm Holdings PLC. The U.K. chip-design firm was worth a 10th of that, Mr. Nagamori, then a SoftBank outside director, says he told Mr. Son. Mr. Son paid it anyway.

Russia, America and a contest of sick systems – FT

Throughout the cold war, the Soviet bloc and the west had prepared for military confrontation — a climactic tank battle across the plains of central Europe, or even a catastrophic nuclear exchange. But in the end, victory and defeat were decided with scarcely a shot being fired. The Soviet system collapsed internally. The crucial variable was not the military strength of either side — but their internal resilience. In a similar way, the power struggles of the 21st century — between the US and Russia, as well as China and the EU — are more likely to be determined by domestic resilience than by external strength.

Tech Envisions the Ultimate Start-Up: An Entire City – The New York Times

To planners and architects, all of this sounds like the naïveté of newcomers who are mistaking political problems for engineering puzzles. Utopian city-building schemes have seldom succeeded. What we really need, they say, is to fix the cities we already have, not to set off in search of new ones. But it is hard to overstate the degree to which these tech entrepreneurs are looking at the world in ways that would be almost unrecognizable to anyone already working on urban problems.

Lower Oil Prices Force Saudis to Widen Their Circle of Friends – The New York Times

Saudi Arabia has long been the dominant force in oil, leaving the world at the mercy of its ambitions and its interests. Now the kingdom must refresh its strategy to reflect a weaker hand — and in many ways, a different game. The changing nature of the energy industry — the oil production boom in American shale fields, the persistence of lower crude prices, and the rise of natural gas — has transformed the geopolitical equation. While Saudi Arabia is still a major energy producer, it must compensate for its lost revenue. And the United States, China and Russia are all circling in hopes of gaining a financial advantage.

TOP

CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY

Fed governor raises prospect of faster US growth – FT

The US may be on the cusp of a shift to higher sustained growth, pointing to a possible rise in the interest rate needed to maintain stable prices and full employment, a senior Federal Reserve policymaker said on Monday. Randal Quarles, the vice-chairman for financial supervision at the Fed’s board of governors, told a conference that growth may outpace central bankers’ forecasts as post-crisis drags abate, even if it was too soon to call a turning point.

Fed’s John Williams Sees Three or Four Interest-Rate Increases in 2018 – WSJ

San Francisco Fed President John Williams said he could see the central bank raising short-term interest rates this year by as much or more than it did last year, amid a brightening economic outlook. “Based on where I see [the economy] going, it makes sense to think about three or four rate increases in 2018,” Mr. Williams said to reporters gathered after a speech at the City Club Los Angeles.

TOP

USA ECONOMY DATA, CITIES AND STATES

U.S. New-Home Sales Drop Again, but Economists Don’t See Housing-Market Downswing – WSJ

Purchases of newly built single-family homes—a relatively narrow slice of all U.S. home sales—fell 7.8% in January after dropping 7.6% in December, according to data released Monday by the Commerce Department. Purchases have declined for four of the past six months. The January drop bucked the 4.0% growth economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected.

A Third of U.S. Homebuyers Are Bidding Sight Unseen – Bloomberg

Thirty-five percent of homebuyers in the U.S. aren’t even visiting the property before they put in a bid, amid torrid competition in a tight market, according to the latest survey by Redfin Corp. The competition for homes is fierce, and brokerage firms such as Redfin have taken advantage of the tumult to promote online virtual tours. In addition to ordinary home hunters scrambling for an edge, out-of-town and foreign buyers sometimes bid without visiting. While a jump from a fifth to a third of buyers in a little over a year is striking, the survey’s relatively small sample size may be a factor.

The American midwest is quickly becoming a blue-collar version of Silicon Valley — Quartz

What about Columbus and Indianapolis and Kansas City? After years in the doldrums, their fortunes are rising. Venture capital firms are setting up shop. Startups are clustering in old industrial strongholds. But the region’s tech sectors look different than their coastal cousins. The Midwest is seeing the rise of “mid-tech.”

TOP

POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS

S&P 500 Erases All Losses From Worst Day of February Selloff – Bloomberg

A third straight day of gains has pushed the S&P 500 Index back above the level where it was before the equity benchmark’s biggest slump in more than six years. That drop, on Feb. 5, was one stop on the way to a 10 percent correction. Since bottoming three days later, the benchmark equity gauge has rebounded almost 8 percent. It remains more than 3 percent below its all-time high.

18G27 - SPX BREAKS FEB SELLOFF LEVEL

China Stock Rally Was Filled With Duds – Bloomberg

It was a decent stretch for Chinese stocks before the Shanghai Composite Index’s peak on Jan. 24, that is unless investors looked at where the gains were coming from. Or more importantly, where they weren’t. In the 12 months prior to the benchmark’s recent high, only a third of onshore Chinese stocks rose. Excluding those that listed in 2017 and this year, four out of five dropped. The lack of breadth meant that when sentiment turned, the market’s source of upward momentum disappeared as everyone rushed to exit the same stocks at once.

TOP

COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS

General Electric to restate two years of earnings – Reuters

The updated accounting standard, which will take into account revenue from long-term contracts, will result in a 13 cent cut in reported earnings per share for 2016 and a cut of 16 cents per share for 2017, according to the company’s 10-K filing. GE is adopting the new accounting standards as the Securities and Exchange Commission investigates the company over its accounting for long-term service contracts.

Shares of lithium producers rattled by gloomy forecast – FT

A warning from investment bank Morgan Stanley that new supply of lithium will swamp demand for a metal that has been prized for its role in electric car batteries sent shares in its two largest producers tumbling on Monday. Lithium has become one of the world’s hottest commodities, with its price more than doubling over the past two years, as forecasts that electric cars will dominate the auto industry proliferate. But a debate over how much new lithium supply will arrive on the market — and how quickly — has muddied the outlook for the metal.

TOP

DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS

Comcast Offers to Buy Sky in $30 Billion Challenge to Fox – Bloomberg

The bid comes about two months after Disney’s $52.4 billion agreement to buy most of Fox’s film and TV assets, including its stake in Sky. Fox is trying to win U.K. regulatory and shareholder approval to acquire the 61 percent of Sky that it doesn’t already own and then would sell the entire business to Disney.

Jobs Website Glassdoor Interviews Banks for 2018 IPO – Bloomberg

Glassdoor Inc. is interviewing banks to advise on an initial public offering that could come as soon as this year, people familiar with the matter said. The employment website operator is aiming to sell shares in the second half of 2018, the people said, asking not to be identified as the details aren’t public. Revenue at the Mill Valley, California-based company is growing about 30 percent year-over-year and Glassdoor is breaking even, the people said.

Qualcomm open to Broadcom bid but seeks $160bn price tag – FT

Qualcomm has dropped its objections to being acquired by Singapore’s Broadcom and is willing to agree a deal with its rival chipmaker if it raises its takeover offer to $160bn including debt, according to people involved in the negotiations. The shift in stance marks a significant change for Qualcomm executives, who had been objecting to the deal on antitrust grounds. People close to Qualcomm said Broadcom has recently made enough progress in addressing the competition issues to allow the talks to shift to reaching an agreed price.

TOP

HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT

Quantitative hedge funds take February beating – FT

Hedge funds known as “commodity trading advisers” or managed futures funds — which surf the momentum of markets — got sucked into big bets on stocks from last year’s rally, which culminated in the strongest monthly equity fund inflows since 1987 in January. But the rally unravelled in dramatic fashion in early February, slamming trend-followers. Société Générale’s CTA index is down 5.55 per cent this month, even after the recent market rebound, making it the worst period for these systematic hedge funds since November 2001.

TOP

ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE

Libya Oil Field Halted Amid Still-Fragile Recovery – Bloomberg

The company operating the 70,000 barrel-a-day El-Feel deposit, also known as Elephant, suspended output late Thursday after armed guards who work at the facility decided to occupy it to protest at unpaid wages, a person with knowledge of the matter said, asking not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak to the media. Most workers were evacuated and the protesters threatened further action if their claims aren’t resolved.

Make Room OPEC: U.K. Is Set to Become Net Crude Oil Exporter – Bloomberg

For all the talk of aging oil fields and shrinking production, the U.K. is about to achieve a surprising feat: it’s on the brink of becoming a net crude oil exporter for the first time in 14 years. To put the milestone into context, it’s one of the key criteria for joining OPEC. A handful of new projects in the North Sea that will come on stream this year will lift the nation’s crude output above 1 million barrels a day, according to JBC Energy GmbH, a Vienna-based forecaster.

TOP

COMMODITIES BASE METALS, MATERIALS

Iron Ore Surges to 10-Month High – Bloomberg

Iron ore rallied to a 10-month high on the possibility that steel supply curbs in China could go on beyond the winter, which would buttress demand for higher-grade material and may put top-quality ore on course to hit $100 a metric ton. The spot price for benchmark 62 percent content ore advanced 1.1 percent to $79.65 a ton on Monday, the highest since April 6, according to Mysteel.com.

18G27 - IRON ORE BULL RUN

TOP

COMMODITIES AGRICULTURE & SOFTS

Cuban cigar sales hit record as China demand surges – Reuters

A surge in sales of Cuba’s legendary cigars in China helped manufacturer Habanos S.A.’s global revenue rise 12 percent to hit a record of around $500 million last year, the company said on Monday at the start of Cuba’s annual cigar festival. Habanos S.A., a 50-50 joint venture between the Cuban state and Britain’s Imperial Brands Plc, said sales in China, its third export market after Spain and France, jumped 33 percent in value in 2017.

The U.S. Can’t Get Enough of Australia’s Goats – Bloomberg

Growing demand for goat meat in the U.S. from ethnic minority groups and foodies has made an unlikely export superstar for Australian farmers, with exports surging to a record. The value of goat meat shipments from Australia, the world’s biggest exporter, jumped 38 percent to A$277 million ($218 million) last year, with the U.S. by far the biggest customer, according to data provided by Meat & Livestock Australia. Overseas sales have more than quadrupled in a decade.

Funds Turned Positive on Grains for First Time Since August – Bloomberg

For the first time in six months, hedge funds are betting on a rally in the grain markets. A combined measure of investor holdings for the big three U.S. crops — corn, soybeans and wheat — turned positive in the week ended Feb. 20, government data showed Friday. Soybeans were the big driver, with money managers more than doubling their wagers on higher prices.

18G27 - GRAIN MARKETS

TOP

POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists – The Washington Post

The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s normally close to the coldest time of year, but an extraordinary and possibly historic thaw swelled over the tip of the planet this weekend. Analyses show that the temperature warmed to the melting point as an enormous storm pumped an intense pulse of heat through the Greenland Sea.

TOP

BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY

EU Stokes Brexit Tensions With 100-Page Draft Exit Deal – Bloomberg

The European Union will challenge Theresa May on Wednesday when it publishes a draft Brexit treaty that ignores some of the U.K. prime minister’s most important demands. The bloc is planning to set out in legal detail how it expects the U.K. to depart in just over one year’s time, and the terms of a transition period that will follow, according a person familiar with the matter. A German official added that the 27 members oppose an extension of the transitional period.

TOP

EUROPE

‘Anti-Merkel’ propelled to frontline of German politics – FT

For the openly gay Mr Spahn, who married his partner, the journalist Daniel Funke, shortly before Christmas, this could be just the start. He has never concealed his ambition to become chancellor one day. Achieving a ministerial post at the age of 37 could put him firmly on the path to power. “I think he’ll be in pole position when the post-Merkel era begins,” says Olav Gutting, a CDU MP.

TOP

GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM

China’s Flagship Port in Pakistan Shackled by Heavy Security – Bloomberg

For the thousands of attendees it was meant to be a conference to showcase China’s flagship Belt and Road project in Pakistan — the port in southwestern Gwadar that gives Beijing access to the Arabian sea. In the evenings the almost 8,000 delegates were wowed with cultural shows and a firework display at the newly opened five-story Gwadar Exhibition Center which was host to about 100 companies last month. Yet what really caught the attention of some investors were the hundreds of Pakistani troops patrolling the roads and guarding high-end hotel lobbies.

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia prepares to auction detained billionaire’s real estate, cars – sources – Reuters

Saudi authorities are preparing to auction billions of dollars of real estate and cars belonging to billionaire Maan al-Sanea and his company as they look to hasten an end to one of the kingdom’s longest-running debt disputes. The planned sale is the latest signal that Saudi Arabia is serious about holding its elites to account. In an anti-corruption crackdown last November, authorities detained scores of senior officials on charges of alleged graft. Most have been released after being exonerated or agreeing to give the state money, assets or real estate.

TOP

PRIVACY, HACKING, CYBERWAR, SURVEILLANCE STATE

Apple to Start Putting Sensitive Encryption Keys in China – WSJ

When Apple begins shifting the iCloud accounts of its China-based customers to a local partner’s servers, it also will take a step that alarms some privacy specialists: store the encryption keys for those accounts in China. “Once the keys are there, they can’t necessarily pull out and take those keys because the server could be seized by the Chinese government,” said Matthew Green, a professor of cryptography at Johns Hopkins University. Ultimately, he says, “It means that Apple can’t say no.”

TOP

TRUMP WORLD

Tempers Flare as Panama Hotel Owners Try to Oust Trump Company – The New York Times

A bitter struggle between a Trump Organization hotel business and the owners of the Panama City hotel that carries the Trump name escalated on Monday when the Panamanian authorities announced that they had begun a formal investigation into the dispute. The country’s Public Ministry said in a brief statement that it was looking into whether there had been any “punishable conduct” in the matter.

TOP

CONSUMER TECH, SOCIAL MEDIA, E-COMMERCE, MOBILE

Apple confirms it uses Google cloud for iCloud – CNBC

A file that Apple updated on its website last month provides the first acknowledgment that it’s relying on Google’s public cloud for data storage for its iCloud services. The disclosure is fresh evidence that Google’s cloud has been picking up usage as it looks to catch up with Amazon and Microsoft in the cloud infrastructure business.

Apple plans biggest iPhone yet for 2018: Bloomberg

Apple Inc is preparing to release three new smartphones later this year, including the largest iPhone ever, a device that may have a bigger display than arch-rival Samsung’s flagship phone, Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the products.

TOP

HEALTH, PRODUCTIVITY AND WELLNESS

Here’s How Cornell Scientist Brian Wansink Turned Shoddy Data Into Viral Studies About How We Eat – Buzzfeed

Brian Wansink won fame, funding, and influence for his science-backed advice on healthy eating. Now, emails show how the Cornell professor and his colleagues have hacked and massaged low-quality data into headline-friendly studies to “go virally big time.” Ideally, statisticians say, researchers should set out to prove a specific hypothesis before a study begins. Wansink, in contrast, was retroactively creating hypotheses to fit data patterns that emerged after an experiment was over.

TOP

The Mercenary Trader Macro Links were created by Justice “Jack” Litle, aka Justice Litle / Jack Litle — the founder of Mercenary Trader — to provide a compact summary of daily information flows. They are accessed via the Mercenary Research Suite, the flagship offering of Mercenary Trader, which combines trading education and trading research. To see how it works, click here.



MEMBER UPDATES HOME
Recent updates and the latest member content.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

SIR ARCHIVE
The Strategic Intelligence Report, containing the Intermarket View, Macro View, Tactical View and portfolio.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

MACRO LINKS ARCHIVE
A daily curated, clickable summary of news, data, insights and opinion across the market spectrum.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

ANALYSIS ARCHIVE
Analysis write-ups, concise and chart-driven, with updates on new setups and position adjustments.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

METHODOLOGY ARCHIVE
Ongoing tutorials and explanatory materials in respect to pyramiding, position sizing, portfolio management, and more.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

PSYCHOLOGY ARCHIVE
Ongoing research and insights into personal psychology, crowd psychology, sentiment, behavioral analysis and more.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

PRODUCTIVITY ARCHIVE
Ideas, insights and research into more efficient use of time, energy and mental focus for enhanced personal performance.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

METAPROCESS ARCHIVE
Our proprietary toolset for cultivating superhuman performance via behavior adjustments and mental modeling.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

THEORY + MODELS ARCHIVE
Ideas, concepts and areas of exploration to better understand markets, probability, human behavior, finance and more.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

SPECIAL REPORTS ARCHIVE
An evolving look into specific market areas — e.g. a country, currency, commodity, industry, company, technology or trend.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<

PREMIUM REPORTS ARCHIVE
Unique and one-off collections of trading resources, interviews with top traders, deep dive topical investigations, and more.
>> CLICK HERE to access <<