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A Look At How Nestle Makes Billions Selling You Groundwater In A Bottle

A Look At How Nestle Makes Billions Selling You Groundwater In A Bottle

A few weeks ago we shared with readers a lawsuit filed in Connecticut against Nestle Waters North America, Inc. alleging that the water they marketed as Poland ‘Natural Spring Water’ was actually just bottled groundwater…the same water that runs through the taps of many American households.

Now a new investigation from Bloomberg Businessweek reveals how large water bottling companies choose their plant locations based not on the steady supply of pristine, natural drinking water, as their labels and other marketing campaigns would lead you to believe, but based on which economically depressed municipalities offer up the most tax breaks and have the most lax water laws. 

As an example, even in the drought stricken state of California, Bloomberg notes that Nestle was able to strike a sweetheart 20-year supply agreement with the U.S. Forest Service to pay roughly $0.000001 for the water in each bottle that consumers blindly drop a couple bucks to purchase.

But it illuminates how Nestlé has come to dominate a controversial industry, spring by spring, often going into economically depressed municipalities with the promise of jobs and new infrastructure in exchange for tax breaks and access to a resource that’s scarce for millions. Where Nestlé encounters grass-roots resistance against its industrial-strength guzzling, it deploys lawyers; where it’s welcome, it can push the limits of that hospitality, sometimes with the acquiescence of state and local governments that are too cash-strapped or inept to say no. There are the usual costs of doing business, including transportation, infrastructure, and salaries. But Nestlé pays little for the product it bottles—sometimes a municipal rate and other times just a nominal extraction fee. In Michigan, it’s $200.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hurricane Maria Floods San Juan, Knocks Out Power Across Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria Floods San Juan, Knocks Out Power Across Puerto Rico

Even after weakening to a category 4 storm shortly before making landfall along the southeastern coast of Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria has caused unprecedented devastation to the cash-strapped island, knocking out electricity for all residents. Worse still, the island’s governor has said it could be months before power is restored to all customers, according to the Associated Press.

The strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in nearly 90 years tore off roofs and doors and caused flooding across the island – including in downtown San Juan, including the capital’s Hato Rey financial district. Its 20+ inches of rain, 9 nine-foot storm surge and 155 mph winds hammered the island’s fragile power grid, which had yet to be fully repaired from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma just two weeks ago.

Many of residents had yet to see their power restored after Irma’s assault, and thousands remained in government-run shelters.

Rivers overflowed and the winds downed trees and damaged homes and buildings, including several hospitals. The storm was downgraded to a category 3 with 115 mph gusts as it traversed the island, according to Bloomberg.

Maria is expected to linger over the island, carrying life-threatening winds, for between 12 and 24 hours.

Widespread flooding was reported across the island, with dozens of cars half-submerged in some neighborhoods and many streets turned into rivers. People calling local radio stations reported that doors were being torn off their hinges and a water tank flew away.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said more than 11,000 people, and nearly 600 pets, were staying in government-run shelters.
In one neighborhood, nearly 80% of homes were destroyed, according to initial estimates.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Whole Towns Have Been Wiped Out” Hurricane Maria Devastates Tiny Caribbean Island Of Dominica

“Whole Towns Have Been Wiped Out” Hurricane Maria Devastates Tiny Caribbean Island Of Dominica

In a testament to the sheer power of Hurricane Maria, the most destructive storm to hit the Caribbean in nearly a century, civilization on the tiny island of Dominica was essentially wiped out after Maria – then a category 5 storm – battered the island with 160 mph gusts, leveling whole towns and wiping out the island’s electricity and communications infrastructure.

The death toll on the island has climbed to 7 – but a complete count of casualties likely won’t be possible for at least a few more days, as the island’s shaken residents sift through the debris and contemplate what to do now that everything they and their neighbors owned has been destroyed.

When CNN flew over the island to survey the damage, it captured startling footage depicting whole villages decimated and thousands of trees snapped in half across the island. Houses ripped open. Evidence of numerous landslides.

Philmore Mullin, head of Antigua and Barbuda’s National Office of Disaster Services, told CNN the only power available on the island was from emergency generators and car batteries. “Damage is severe and widespread. We know of casualties, but not in detail. We’ve heard of many missing but we just don’t know much at the moment.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Albert Edwards: “Citizen Rage” Will Soon Be Directed At “Schizophrenic” Central Banks

Albert Edwards: “Citizen Rage” Will Soon Be Directed At “Schizophrenic” Central Banks

Perhaps having grown tired of fighting windmills, it was several weeks since Albert Edwards’ latest rant against central banks. However, we were confident that recent developments out of the Fed and BOE were sure to stir the bearish strategist out of hibernation, and he did not disappoint, lashing out this morning with his latest scathing critique of “monetary schizophrenia”, slamming all central banks but the Fed and Bank of England most of all, who are again “asleep at the wheel, building a most precarious pyramid of prosperity upon the shifting sands of rampant credit growth and illusory housing wealth.”

Follows pure anger from the SocGen strategist:

These of all the major central banks were the most culpable in their incompetence and most prepared with disingenuous excuses. And 10 years on, not much has changed. The Fed and BoE are once again presiding over a credit bubble, with the BoE in particular suffering a painful episode of cognitive dissonance in an effort to shift the blame elsewhere. The credit bubble is everyone’s fault but theirs.

First, some recent context with this handy central bank holdings chart courtesy of Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid which alone is sufficient to make one’s blood boil.

For those familiar with Edwards’ writings over the years, the gist of his note will come as no surprise: after all, how many different ways can you say that central banks have broken the market, have caused a credit bubble, and will be responsible for the crash when they finally run out of cans to kick.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump To Impose More Sanctions On North Korea Today

Trump To Impose More Sanctions On North Korea Today

Update: According to Bloomberg, Trump won’t be declaring war (yet), and instead the announcement is sanctions related.

  • TRUMP’S N. KOREA ANNOUNCEMENT TO BE SANCTIONS-RELATED: OFFICIAL
  • TRUMP SAYS `WE WILL BE PUTTING MORE SANCTIONS ON NORTH KOREA”

* * *

Following yesterday’s anticlimatic Rex Tillerson press conference in which the Secretary of State was expected, by some, to make an important announcement only to disappoint, moments ago National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said on CNN that “the president will make an important announcement today about the continuation of our efforts to resolve this problem with North Korea short of war.”

McMaster added that Trump will “make that announcement as he meets with our very close allies South Korea and Japan.”

As Bloomberg reminds us, President Trump is set to meet with South Korea President Moon Jae-inat 11:30am and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at 12:15pm in New York.

 

To Prevent Rebellion, Spain Docks Cruise Ship Housing 16,000 Riot Police In Barcelona Port

To Prevent Rebellion, Spain Docks Cruise Ship Housing 16,000 Riot Police In Barcelona Port

Efforts by Madrid to stop a Catalonia independence vote, currently slated for October 1st, seem to be growing more hostile by the day.  Earlier this week Spanish police seized control of Catalonia’s finances, seeking to ensure that separatist politicians could not spend further public funds on the referendum, and conducted raids across Catalonia to confiscate ballots and campaign materials from printing shops and delivery companies.

Now, as the New York Times notes this morning, Spanish police have detained 14 people during operations conducted yesterday which included the secretary general of economic affairs, Josep Maria Jové.

The Spanish police detained more than a dozen people in the region of Catalonia on Wednesday, drastically escalating tensions between the national government and Catalan separatists. The episode occurred less than two weeks before a highly contentious referendum on independence that the government in Madrid has vowed to block.

The police raided the offices of the Catalan regional government early Wednesday and arrested at least 14 people, including Josep Maria Jové, secretary general of economic affairs. The arrests were not expected, but hundreds of mayors and other officials in Catalonia had been warned that they would be indicted if they helped organize a referendum in violation of Spanish law.

Hundreds of supporters of Catalan independence immediately took to the streets of Barcelona to protest the arrests. Jordi Sanchez, the leader of one of the region’s biggest separatist associations, used Twitter to urge Catalans to “resist peacefully,” but also to “come out and defend our institutions.”

According to Reuters, the increasingly hostile crackdown by the Spanish police has led Catalan leaders to acknowledge for the first time today that plans to hold a referendum on independence are now in doubt following the arrest of senior regional officials and the seizure of campaign material by national police.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Economic Data No Longer Matters

Why Economic Data No Longer Matters

Back in mid-2009, we said that with the Fed and central banks nationalizing capital markets, macro and even micro data and newsflow will matter increasingly less and less, and the only thing that does matter is the Fed’s weekly H.4.1 statement, showing the changes to the Fed’s balance sheet. It also means that so-called “data dependency” is a farce (it is, and has always been “Dow dependency”), and that the impact of incremental newsflow will shrink with every passing week until virtually nobody pays attention (we have largely reached this state now).

Since then it has been entertaining to watch how one after another stoic trader and commentator has thrown in the towel on conventional market orthodoxy to adopt precisely this kind of “tinfoil” thinking, the latest example being Bloomberg’s macro commentator Mark Cudmore, who in his overnight Macro View writes that “traders should should spend less time studying economic releases and listen to the clear guidance from officials instead.”

The relevance of data is declining. Policymakers around the world are trying to make crystal clear that they’ll ignore that which doesn’t fit their narrative. Many financial commentators have failed to make the transition and are incorrectly transfixed by each data release.

Or, in short, data no longer matters in a world of central planning.

Here is his latest Macro View in which Cudmore explains why “It’s Time for Traders To Listen Rather Than Watch

Data-dependency is becoming passé for global policymakers. Traders should should spend less time studying economic releases and listen to the clear guidance from officials instead.

For years, policymakers have been emphasizing data dependency. Investors took a while to fully register the message and, as a result, often got whipsawed by throwaway comments from officials.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Japan’s “Deflationary Mindset” Grows As Household Cash Hordes Reach Record High

Japan’s “Deflationary Mindset” Grows As Household Cash Hordes Reach Record High

After being force-fed more stimulus than John Belushi, and endless rounds of buying any and every asset that dares to expose any cracks in the potemkin village of fiat folly, Japan remains stuck firmly in what Abe feared so many years ago – a “deflationary mindset.”

As Bloomberg reports, cash and deposits held by Japanese households rose for 42nd straight quarter at the end of June as the nation’s consumers continued to favor saving over spending.

The “deflationary mindset” that the Bank of Japan is battling to overcome was also evident in the money laying idle in corporate coffers, which stayed near an all-time high, according to quarterly flow of funds data released by the BOJ on Wednesday.

Still, as Bloomberg optimistically notes, with the economy expanding much faster than its potential growth rate, greater inflationary pressures could be on the way, which may prompt a shift in behavior by consumers and companies… or not!

S&P Downgrades China To A+ From AA- Due To Soaring Debt Growth

S&P Downgrades China To A+ From AA- Due To Soaring Debt Growth

Four months after Moody’s downgraded China to A1 from Aa3, unwittingly launching a startling surge in the Yuan as Beijing set forth to “prove” just how stable China truly is, moments ago S&P followed suit when the rating agency also downgraded China from AA- to A+ for the first time since 1999 citing risks from soaring debt growth, less than a month before the most congress for Chiina’s communist leadership in the past five years is set to take place. In addition to cutting the sovereign rating by one notch, S&P analysts also lowered their rating on three foreign banks that primarily operate in China, saying HSBC China, Hang Seng China and DBS Bank China Ltd. are unlikely to avoid default should the nation default on its sovereign debt. Following the downgrade, S&P revised its outlook to stable from negative.

“China’s prolonged period of strong credit growth has increased its economic and financial risks,” S&P said. “Since 2009, claims by depository institutions on the resident nongovernment sector have increased  rapidly. The increases have often been above the rate of income growth.  Although this credit growth had contributed to strong real GDP growth and higher asset prices, we believe it has also diminished financial stability to  some extent.”

According to commentators, the second downgrade of China this year represents ebbing international confidence China can strike a balance between maintaining economic growth and cleaning up its financial sector, Bloomberg reported. The move may also be uncomfortable for Communist Party officials, who are just weeks away from their twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle.

The cut will “have a relatively big impact on Chinese enterprises since corporate ratings can’t be higher than the sovereign rating,” said Xia Le, an economist at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA in Hong Kong. “It will affect corporate financing.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russian Depositors On Edge After Second Major Bank Fails In Under A Month

Russian Depositors On Edge After Second Major Bank Fails In Under A Month

If once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and three times is a full-blown collapse in the financial system, then Russia may be getting close.

Just three weeks after Russia bailed out its largest and very politically connected private bank, Otkritie, after an unexpectedly acute bank run resulted in the bank’s near-collapse, already nervous Russian depositors shifted their attention to another domestic lender, and earlier today Russia’s B&N Bank, the country’s 12th biggest lender by assets, also sought a bailout from the central bank. While it is unclear how much this bailout would cost Russian taxpayers, when the central bank took over Otkritie last month, it said it might need up to $6.9 billion, the biggest ever bailout in the country.

B&N Bank, which is controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Gutseriev and was not on the central bank’s list of systemically important lenders, said it had under-estimated the problems within the banks it had bought during an expansion drive. “Our objective is, with the support of the central bank … to conduct an effective financial rehabilitation of the bank,” said Mikail Shishkhanov, who was named as chairman of B&N Bank, whose assets account for 2 percent of the Russian banking system, according to ratings agency Fitch.


Mikhail Gutseriev

Some background on the now defunct bank: B&N Bank, founded in 1993, is [or rather was] part of a sprawling conglomerate controlled by energy tycoon and billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev – said to be worth over $6 billion – that includes oil firms, a property development portfolio and an electronics retailer.

The bank embarked on an expansion drive after 2010, buying smaller lenders including Moskomprivatbank, Rost Bank, SKA-Bank before completing its biggest deal in 2016, a merger with MDM Bank, one of Russia’s largest lenders.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fed’s Asset Bubbles Now At The Mercy Of The Rest Of The World’s Central Bankers

Fed’s Asset Bubbles Now At The Mercy Of The Rest Of The World’s Central Bankers

“Like watching paint dry,” is how The Fed describes the beginning of the end of its experiment with massively inflating its balance sheet to save the world. As former fund manager Richard Breslow notes, however, Yellen’s decision today means the risk-suppression boot is on the other foot (or feet) of The SNB, The ECB, and The BoJ; as he writes, “have no fear, The SNB knows what it’s doing.”

As we reported previously, In the second quarter of the year, one in which unlike in Q1 fund flows showed a persistent and perplexing outflow from US stocks, a trading desk rumor emerged that even as institutional traders dumped stocks and retail investors piled into ETFs, a “mystery” central bank was quietly bidding up risk assets by aggressively buying stocks.

The answer was revealed this morning when the hedge fund known as the “Swiss National Bank” posted its latest 13-F holdings. What it showed is that, as rumored, the Swiss National Bank had gone on another aggressive buying spree in the second quarter, and following its record purchases in the first quarter, the central bank boosted its total equity holdings to an all time high $84.3 billion, up 5% or $4.1 billion from the $80.4 billion at the end of the first quarter.

Via Bloomberg,

So here we go with the latest installment of the Fed’s will they or won’t they show. It seems from reading all the insights that we’re meant to expect a dovishly spun hawkish move.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Venezuela Bankrupt? Caracas Fails To Make Sept 15 Interest Payment

Venezuela Bankrupt? Caracas Fails To Make Sept 15 Interest Payment

Exactly one week ago, we wrote that a “Venezuelan default is only a matter of time”.  We said that “while debt servicing has been a government priority, declining external liquidity and a deteriorating domestic situation (three-digit hyperinflation, shortages, and a political crisis between the government and the National Assembly) make it a daunting task. By 2020, the country must repay 30% of the external debt due to expire in the next 23 years.”

Among other things we warned that “default seems inevitable in the medium term due to the prolonged period of low oil prices and increased US sanctions. President Trump’s executive order of August 24, 2017, strengthened sanctions against PDVSA by prohibiting all transactions related to new debt with a maturity greater than 90 days and by forbidding Citgo from repatriating dividends in Venezuela.”

Well, the default may have come in far sooner than even we expected as moments ago Bloomberg reported that according to sources, intermediaries tasked with processing Venezuela’s $185 million interest payment due Sept. 15 haven’t received the cash to do so.

It adds that “several holders of bonds due in 2027 haven’t received a payment”, and that an “official at the public credit office in Caracas declined to comment on whether the funds have been transferred or when investors will receive them.”

Further suggesting that Venezuela may have indeed entered its 30 day grace period, the country’s National Office of Public Credit hasn’t made any public statements about transferring funds for the coupon. In the past, Bloomberg notes that the office has used its Twitter account to alert the market when the bond’s fiscal agent has been paid.

For now the bond market appears to not have noticed with Venezuela bond issues still trading at respectable levels.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This” – Maria Slams Puerto Rico With 9-Foot Storm Surge, 155Mph Winds

“We’ve Never Seen Anything Like This” – Maria Slams Puerto Rico With 9-Foot Storm Surge, 155Mph Winds 

Hurricane Maria made landfall near the city of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, at around 6:15 am Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center, battering the densely populated eastern side of the island with torrential rains and 155 mph gusts as hundreds of thousands of people hunkered down in one of the island’s 500 storm shelters in hopes of riding out the second major hurricane to impact the island within two weeks.

Category 4 Maria slammed the island with winds of 155 mph, just 2 mph short of category 5 status.

The island’s governor has said the hurricane will likely cause “catastrophic” damage to the island’s power grid and infrastructure, much of which has yet to be repaired following Hurricane Irma, which didn’t make landfall in Puerto Rico, but passed close enough to cause $1 billion in damage.

SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT:
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…
* U.S. Virgin Islands
* British Virgin Islands
* Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques
* Dominican Republic from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata
* Turks and Caicos Islands and the Southeastern Bahamas
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…
* Saba
* St. Maarten
* Dominican Republic west of Puerto Plata to the northern border of
the Dominican Republic and Haiti
* Dominican Republic west of Cabo Engano to Punta Palenque
A Hurricane Watch is in effect for…
* St. Maarten
* St. Martin and St. Barthelemy
* Dominican Republic from Isla Saona to Cabo Engano

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello is saying Maria is “potentially most catastrophic hurricane to hit” the U.S. territory in a century. Rossello said up to 25 inches of rain could fall in some areas and he urged anyone in a flood-prone, mudslide-prone or coastal area to leave.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“We Are In A State Of Siege”: Spanish Police Arrest Top Catalan Officials In Referendum Raids

“We Are In A State Of Siege”: Spanish Police Arrest Top Catalan Officials In Referendum Raids

Spanish police arrested top-ranking Catalan officials including the region’s junior economy minister Josep Maria Jove, as Madrid launched a crackdown on Catalonia over the upcoming Independence referendum Reuters reported. Jove, who is a senior member of the Republican Left of Catalonia political party, was detained following a Wednesday morning raid carried out by Spain’s Civil Guard, which has the authority of both the Interior and the Defence ministries.

At least a dozen high-ranking local officials were arrested, La Vanguardia newspaper said. Among those detained are Josue Sallent Rivas from the Centre of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Xavier Puig Farré from the Office of Social Affairs and Josep Maria Salvat Tenesa from the Ministry of Economics and Finance.

Police, acting under court orders, have stepped up raids on printers, newspaper offices and private delivery companies in recent days in a search for campaign literature, instruction manuals for manning voting stations and ballot boxes.

On Tuesday, Spain’s Civil Guard, a national police force, seized more than 45,000 envelopes packed in cardboard boxes that the Catalan government was ready to send to notify people around the region about the referendum.

Catalonia is now in a state of siege ”, Catalonia’s Minister of Labor, Social Affairs and Family Dolors Bassa said on Twitter, confirming that the Civil Guard has also entered her department.


I ara,a nostre departament també , acaba d’entrar la Guardia Civil.Estem en un estat de setge ! Vergonyós !@govern .Votarem


Meanwhile, the fiercely pro-independence leader of the regional government, Carles Puigdemont, has called an emergency meeting of his cabinet for 10:30 CET (8:30 GMT), the sources said.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Morning After: Mexican Earthquake Leaves Over 248 Dead, Millions Without Electricity

The Morning After: Mexican Earthquake Leaves Over 248 Dead, Millions Without Electricity

Across central Mexico, rescue workers including soldiers and volunteers worked late into the night Tuesday to free the living who were still trapped in the rubble of collapsed buildings following Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in more than 30 years.

The death toll from the 7.1 magnitude quake – which bizarrely occurred on the anniversary of a 1985 quake that left 5,000 dead – has climbed to 248, with more than half of those deaths occurring in the Mexican capital city.  It also comes two weeks after another powerful quake left nearly 100 dead in Mexico City. The quake was unusually close to Mexico City, located just 60 miles south of the capital in Chiautla de Tapia, a small town in neighboring Puebla state, according to Mexico’s seismological service.

More are feared dead, including possibly dozens of teachers and schoolchildren feared buried in the rubble of a Mexico City school, one of hundreds of buildings that was destroyed by the quake, according to Reuters.

Additionally, several buildings collapsed in the chic neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa in central Mexico City, where many foreigners live. In Condesa, rescue workers scrambled to find eight to 10 people believed trapped under the debris of a building that collapsed near Mexico Park, one of the city’s most famous parks. Hundreds of volunteers formed a human chain to help clear rubble and bring food and water to rescue workers.

Mexico was also hit earlier this month by Hurricane Katia, which killed two. Even the Popocatépetl volcano southeast of the city sent a large cloud of ash into the sky on Tuesday. “This is too much. It’s like we’re cursed or something,” said Marcos Santamaría, a 62-year-old retiree.

Philippines and the United Nations have offered to support the recovery effort. At least 30 second-grade students are still missing, along with eight adults.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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