Macro Links Jan 17th – Shutdown Fight
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MACRO LINKS TABLE OF CONTENTS (Click or Scroll Down)
- SHUTDOWN FIGHT
- GE BREAKUP TALK
- BITCOIN, CRYPTOCURRENCY, INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS
- FOREX, CARRY TRADES, EXCHANGE RATES
- FINTECH, BLOCKCHAIN, DIGITAL PAYMENTS
- TAXATION, WEALTH HAVENS, INEQUALITY
- RUSSIA PROBE
- NORTH / SOUTH KOREA, IRAN, NUCLEAR WEAPONS
- RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
- MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
- CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
- POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
- COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS
- DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS
- HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT
- ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
- ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
- POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
- BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
- DACA, TRAVEL BAN, IMMIGRATION, WALL
- GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
- TRUMP WORLD
- SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
- AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
- AEROSPACE, MILITARY & DEFENSE
Republican leaders in Congress are angling for another short-term funding measure to avert a government shutdown at the end of this week while trying to keep a dispute over immigration separate from their attempts to get agreement on spending priorities.
Senators worked Tuesday to salvage a bipartisan plan to protect ‘Dreamers’—young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents—as the divide grew over an immigration deal seen as key to avoiding a government shutdown this weekend.
Congress has until Friday to pass a bill to avoid a shutdown, but Republicans and Democrats remain divided on key issues, and the president isn’t helping.
Acrimony between Donald Trump and Democrats over explosive remarks by the president last week has undermined hopes of a deal on government funding and immigration, with aides now working towards a spending fix that would last only a few weeks.
GE BREAKUP TALK
The 125-year-old business, which was once the most valuable U.S. company and still employs about 300,000 people, sells everything from airplane engines to hospital incubators. But in the past year the company that came to embody America’s industrial power has fallen on hard times, prompting it to change CEOs, sell assets and slash its dividend.
General Electric Co.’s new boss said he’s weighing potentially dramatic changes including a breakup into separate businesses, after the iconic manufacturer said it would take a major charge related to a legacy insurance operation.
The partial or total spin-offs under consideration would represent the latest step in dismantling the sprawling conglomerate built under Mr Welch, who ran GE from 1981 to 2001 as it expanded in areas as diverse as financial services and reality television.
Peltz had expected GE to be a growth investment lasting perhaps three years and for the shares to increase to more than $40 by the end of 2017, sources said. Now, GE, at best, will become a successful long-term investment only if a Peltz-sparked operational turnaround is successful, sources said.
BITCOIN, CRYPTOCURRENCY, INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS
The price of bitcoin plunged by as much as 25% amid concerns about tighter regulation, with the volatile virtual-currency dipping below $11,000 for the first time since early December.
Ethereum was trading below $1,000 on Tuesday as most of the major cryptocurrencies plummet.
Ripple’s XRP has seen gains of more than 4,000% in the past year, but recent slumps have wiped out more than half its value in less than two weeks.
Each coin would be backed by one barrel of Venezuelan crude, though the coins can’t be exchanged for the actual oil. Officials expect a higher price in the second sale after the initial auction demonstrates that demand for the cryptocurrency exists. Each petro will be divisible by 100 million units and the minimum exchange unit will be called the mene, according to the draft proposal, which could change before the currency is launched.
Litecoin has plunged to the sixth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap after losing half of its market value in less than a month.
The $1.2 billion sale would be the largest ICO by far, topping the $257 million raised by Filecoin last year. While startups raised more than $4 billion in 2017 through ICOs, the proposed Telegram sale comes as prices of digital tokens have tumbled this year.
The team found that many instances of price manipulation happened simply because the market was very thin for various cryptocurrencies including early Bitcoin. The manipulation happened primarily via two bots, Markus and Willy, that seemed to be performing valid trades but did not actually own the bitcoin they were using.
A new hacking offensive against cryptocurrency investors uses malware similar to that deployed in North Korea’s attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and its WannaCry ransomware assault, cybersecurity researchers said, providing further evidence of Pyongyang’s involvement in crypto heists.
“Some people want to buy products in krypto to prove a point. We are happy to make it easy for them,” Cuban wrote in the email. “And for Existing Mavs fans who prefer to spend krypto currency we are happy to make it easy for them.”
Want to get your friends into cryptocurrency? CBlocks can send them a mystery box filled with five random currencies from the top 300 on CoinMarketCap.
Among the others in this surreal cast of characters is a mixed martial arts fighter that discovered cryptocurrencies through his passion for “vintage pornography,” and a 26-year-old who cradles a cat named Mr. Bigglesworth and claims to be sitting on a crypto fortune worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
BitConnect said it’s closing the company’s cryptocurrency exchange and lending operation after receiving two cease-and-desist letters from state authorities for the unauthorized sale of securities and suffering from denial-of-service attacks.
There’s a growing debate over how much power will be sucked up by the world’s growing ranks of cryptocurrency miners.
FOREX, CARRY TRADES, EXCHANGE RATES
FINTECH, BLOCKCHAIN, DIGITAL PAYMENTS
While almost 60 percent of all blockchain-related patents filed in the U.S. belong to blockchain-specific companies, financial services have become more aggressive with a greater share than traditional technology firms.
TAXATION, WEALTH HAVENS, INEQUALITY
A Wall Street Journal analysis suggests that 311 large publicly traded companies could generate nearly $250 billion of the estimated $339 billion repatriated over a decade. But the levy will affect different industries and companies very differently.
The $1.5 trillion tax overhaul signed into law late last year provided deep and lasting tax cuts to all types of businesses, but financial institutions are among the biggest winners so far, reaping benefits from a lower corporate rate and more preferable tax treatment for so-called pass-through companies, which include many small banks.
Citigroup reported its largest quarterly loss ever after its earnings were wiped out by a $22 billion charge related to the new tax law. Investors looked past the immediate results to the near-term future, when they expect the tax law will boost earnings for Citigroup and other banks.
The move marks the first time the special counsel is known to have used a grand jury subpoena to seek information from a member of President Trump’s inner circle.
Trump’s one-time chief strategist and current frenemy may have been tight lipped with Congress. He won’t be that way with the special counsel.
President Donald Trump said he has “no idea” whether money from Kazakhstan was invested in Trump SoHo, a condominium hotel in lower Manhattan, while meeting with the country’s authoritarian president.
U.S. counterintelligence officials in early 2017 warned Jared Kushner that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, could be using her close friendship with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to further China’s interests.
The U.S. Treasury Department is finishing its first official list of “oligarchs” close to President Vladimir Putin’s government, setting off a flurry of moves by wealthy Russians to shield their fortunes and reputations.
NORTH / SOUTH KOREA, IRAN, NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued a false alarm on Tuesday saying North Korea appeared to have launched a missile and urging people to take shelter, but it managed to correct the error within minutes.
The broadcaster’s swift rectification of its error stands in contrast to the 38-minute delay by officials in Hawaii on Saturday to cancel warnings of an incoming ballistic missile. It took a further five hours for Hawaii’s governor, David Y. Ige, to apologize for the mistake.
RATES, LIQUIDITY, SYSTEMIC RISK, BALANCE SHEETS
Traders have begun offloading Treasury bills maturing in early March amid concern efforts to extend America’s borrowing capacity may become conflated with measures to set spending priorities.
The shape of the curve has implications beyond the fixed-income universe. Inversion has tended to be a reliable indicator of impending recessions over the past several decades. When the spread between short- and long-term debt shrinks, it tends to hurt bank earnings and the real economy.
Volatility can’t stay this low forever — or so investors have been saying for what feels like forever. They may have finally found their moment.
Greece’s parliament voted on dozens of fiscal, labor and energy reforms, as the government seeks to wrap up the current review of its bailout program, leaving just one inspection before the end of the country’s bailout regime after eight years.
In Beijing and Shanghai—two China’s largest housing markets—and other megacities, property sales have stalled and prices have dropped, and the high levels of debt that fueled a housing boom make the slowdown particularly perilous.
MACRO OP-EDS, INSIGHT, EVENTS AND TRENDS
The biggest risk may no longer be a weak Beijing, but a strong Xi administration which local officials are terrified to defy. That brings up ghosts of a darker time. Back in the late 1950s, millions of Chinese died of starvation because no one was brave enough to tell Chairman Mao his economic program had caused a disastrous famine.
China’s national statisticians regularly discount local data to correct for local officials’ habit of inflating figures to look good. This “smoothing” masks fluctuations in China’s economic cycles and reduces the utility of publishing statistics in the first place.
The world’s governments have spoken. Germany’s citizens are the travelers most welcome to cross their borders. The Henley Passport Index, an annual ranking of passport power by the citizenship planning firm, came out today for 2018. Germany is at the top for the fifth year in a row, with visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 177 countries, up from 176 last year.
The allure of 1,000 percent returns in a market of unsophisticated punters who behave in herd-like ways is undeniable. But how long before crypto fund managers start having their own bedtime terrors?
Bitcoin’s recent wobbles have given fresh urgency to a question that’s gripped market observers for much of the past year: Will the cryptocurrency go down as one of history’s most infamous bubbles, alongside tulipmania and the dot-com craze?
Whatever the original intention, Bitcoin has morphed into an asset whose only purpose is speculation. “There is simply no way to predict what it will be worth,” said Pete Kight, a fintech investor who founded Checkfree in 1981. That is its fatal flaw as an electronic currency.
If the U.S. really does have the sort of widespread monopsony problem this paper documents, it would be one more important point on the constellation of reasons workers have fallen so far behind this century. It would also change the way we need to think about certain public policy issues.
CENTRAL BANKS & MONETARY POLICY
The Bank of Japan, after goosing Japanese share prices with a $50-billion-a-year program of stock purchases, now confronts a decision facing many other developed country central banks: when to stop.
In their first take since the SNB’s December policy meeting, when the central bank adjusted its forecasts, economists still see Switzerland’s deposit rate staying at a rock-bottom minus 0.75 percent until late 2019. A 25-basis point tightening is predicted in fourth-quarter 2019, with another in the first three months of the following year.
POSITIONING, INFLECTION, MARKET CALLS
Over the five days through Friday, investors added $474 million to the iShares Edge MSCI USA Momentum Factor ETF, or MTUM, the largest sum since the funds inception in 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Previously the weekly inflow record was $221 million — which MTUM had absorbed just the week before.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch on Tuesday, in its latest monthly summary of market positioning, noted that allocation to equities has climbed to a two-year high, while money devoted to bonds has fallen to a four-year low. “Investors are the most overweight equities relative to government bonds since August 2014,’’ said the bank.
COLOR, EARNINGS, SENTIMENT, VALUATIONS
The rally in the equity market is running hot by almost every standard, from sentiment to momentum signals. Yet anyone worrying about a meltdown can take comfort in an equally strong trend in corporate earnings.
DEALS, MERGERS, IPOs, LBOs, RESTRUCTURINGS
HEDGE FUNDS, PRIVATE EQUITY, MONEY MGMT
Allergan shareholders sued Pershing Square and Valeant in 2014, claiming they were duped as the two traded on inside information while snatching up Allergan shares in advance of making their failed hostile bid for the Botox maker that year.
For decades Wall Street’s dominant commodities trader, Goldman performance was dragged down by losses in gas and power. The slump means the bank’s storied natural resources unit fell behind competitors such as Morgan Stanley, where net revenue in the sector rose by about a fifth last year, one of the people said — a reversal of fortunes for the two banks known as the “Wall Street refiners.”
“This must be frustrating to you, our Partners. It is certainly frustrating to us. And, yet, as we were in the batter’s box so to speak, it felt like we were swinging well and hitting the ball hard. We just didn’t deliver a satisfactory result on the scoreboard. There were plenty of nights we happily went to sleep with company results that matched our non-consensus expectations, but it didn’t translate into a win the following day. It’s a long season and we are ready for the next game. Let’s see what happens.”
ENERGY CRUDE OIL, OIL SANDS, SHALE
The pace at which China exports the fuel it doesn’t want is set to jump by more than four times in 2018, according to the nation’s biggest energy producer. That’s a harbinger of bad news for processors in the rest of Asia — from South Korea to Japan and India — who now have to contend with higher crude prices as well as the threat of the flood dragging down refining margins.
Tensions in Iran, record-breaking cold weather in the United States and a year of production cuts have contributed to higher prices, and they could go higher still. The dynamics at play are in sharp contrast with the situation just a year ago. The market has gradually realigned, in large part because of an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Russia — two of the world’s three largest oil producers — to restrain output.
ENERGY RENEWABLES, NUCLEAR
Morocco, on the western fringes of the Middle East, is joining a regional push to expand in renewables. The country imports almost all its energy and has scant reserves of oil and natural gas, unlike neighboring Algeria and Egypt. In an effort to cut purchases from abroad, it plans to produce more than 40 percent of its electricity from renewables by the end of the decade.
POLLUTION, CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
These waste pools — known as tailings ponds — represent perhaps the most serious environmental challenge facing the oil-sands industry. Now, the battle over how quickly to clean them up — and fears about who will pay — are escalating anew.
The European Commission on Tuesday launched a drive to clean up the plastic choking oceans and filling landfills. Its Plastics Strategy is an attempt to get companies and consumers to drop their addiction to plastic, with the goal of ensuring all plastic packaging is reusable or recyclable by 2030.
An oil spill from an Iranian tanker that sank in the East China Sea is rapidly spreading, officials said Tuesday, alarming environmentalists about the threat to sea and bird life in the waterway. The disaster could be the worst oil spill in decades, and Greenpeace calls it a threat to “an important spawning ground” for fish and several whale species.
Eyelashes freeze; frostbite is a constant danger; and cars are usually kept running even when not being used, lest their batteries die in temperatures that average minus-58 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, according to news reports. This is Oymyakon, a settlement of some 500 people in Russia’s Yakutia region, that has earned the reputation as the coldest permanently occupied human settlement in the world.
South Africa’s Cape Town, one of the world’s iconic tourist destinations, could run out of water by April as the city’s worst drought in a century risks forcing residents to join queues for emergency rations.
BREXIT, SCOXIT, LONDON, UK ECONOMY
DACA, TRAVEL BAN, IMMIGRATION, WALL
A burst of public acrimony across Capitol Hill on Tuesday exposed how much negotiations on immigration and border security have been set back since President Trump’s use of a vulgar expression during a meeting on the issue.
With their fates split in the courts, in the halls of Congress, and, seemingly, the White House, DACA recipients across the country scrambled to do what was in their power.
GEOPOLITICS, CRIME, TERRORISM
Sweden is preparing to send a brochure to 4.7m households warning them for the first time in more than half a century of what they should do in the event of a war. The booklet will deal with issues such as how members of the public can take part in “total defence” during a war and how to secure basic needs such as water, food and heating. It will also cover other threats such as cyber attacks, terrorism and climate change.
Australia and Japan are set to discuss a major defence co-operation pact, against the backdrop of an increasingly assertive China and lingering concerns over the US commitment to the Asia-Pacific region.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said police officials are “investigating possible criminal charges related to items discovered during service of the search warrants.” Police declined to reveal the target of the investigation or any possible charges.
A plan to create a new American-backed, Kurdish-led border force in northeastern Syria has raised alarms in the region that the United States may be helping to cement an autonomous Kurdish enclave that could further divide the country.
Turkey’s president has warned of imminent military offensives on two Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria, as tanks and troops mass on the border.
The arrest of the former officer, Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 53, capped an intense F.B.I. investigation that began around 2012 after the C.I.A. began losing its agents in China.
Venezuelan Special Forces killed a former B-movie actor and members of his dissident group in a shootout after they called for armed uprising, officials said on Tuesday, as rights groups called the confrontation an execution.
This is a record not to be coveted: Donald Trump is wrapping up a year in office with the lowest average approval rating of any elected president in his first year. That’s according to polling by Gallup, which shows that Trump has averaged just a 39 percent approval rating since his inauguration.
Fox News had a story that detailed an alleged sexual relationship between porn actress Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump but opted not to publish it.
A new report says the adult-film star told a journalist she was negotiating a six-figure settlement not to discuss an affair with the future president.
President Trump’s White House physician said Tuesday that the president received a perfect score on a cognitive test designed to screen for neurological impairment, which the military doctor said was evidence that Mr. Trump does not suffer from mental issues that prevent him from functioning in office.
The president received a score of 30 out of 30 on the test that he requested, Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson said.
The gleaming embassy, in the formerly industrial Nine Elms neighborhood in south London, replaces the embassy in Grosvenor Square that had for decades been associated with the U.S. presence in the United Kingdom. That building has been sold to a Qatari government investment fund planning to turn it into a luxury hotel.
Three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service abruptly quit Monday night out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year.
SILICON VALLEY, UNICORNS, STARTUPS, VC
Google has quietly opened a third office in China, highlighting its growing hardware and ad businesses in the country even as the US tech company’s signature search engine remains blocked there.
AUTOS, ELECTRIC, SELF-DRIVING
The warnings come after years of surging global sales and rising profitability for the industry. US sales saw their first annual sales decline in 2017 since the financial crisis, slipping from a record 17.6m vehicles to 17.2m, and carmakers expect a further fall this year.
European car sales reached a 10-year high last year as widening economic growth boosted consumer confidence, with SUVs from French manufacturers Peugeot and Renault, Italian competitor Alfa Romeo and Japanese rival Toyota propelling demand.
Nissan Motor’s chief executive said the company believes it will need to build a new plant in the U.S. in four or five years, when the car maker would be ready for another push to expand.
SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund will invest 460 million euros ($560 million) in Auto1 Group GmbH, valuing the German used-car sales portal at about 2.9 billion euros.
Volkswagen AG’s global deliveries rose to a fresh record last year as robust customer demand helped the German manufacturer weather the financial fallout from its diesel-emissions crisis and — most likely — stay ahead of Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp.
AEROSPACE, MILITARY & DEFENSE
A successor to the iconic SR-71 Blackbird could cruise at speeds near Mach 6—but is it a real plane or a pipe dream? Lockheed officials have said the hypersonic SR-72—dubbed the “Son of Blackbird” by one trade journal—could fly by 2030.
Five Navy officers involved in deadly ship collisions that killed a combined 17 sailors last year will face a variety of criminal charges, including negligent homicide, the service announced Tuesday night.
The commanders of the two U.S. guided-missile destroyers involved in collisions that killed 17 sailors in Asia last year will be court-martialed on charges including negligent homicide.
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