Use Lower Gear: The lackluster recovery is likely to keep lacking luster. The growth seen in the last half of 2013 was driven by inventory accumulation, not an increase in end demand, which is the real driver of a consumer-based economy. Expect the recovery to lag even further as the inventories are allowed to deplete. Many will blame the terrifying taper by the Fed, but the real culprit is the simple truth that the consumer either hasn't got a job and hasn't got a raise and thus isn't consuming.
The Natural: Why can products that contain synthetic preservatives and artificial flavors be labeled 'natural'? Because they're profitable, there's no legal definition of 'natural' and greed is very natural.
Connections: Venezuela has become a complete basket case. Turkey is in the midst of a political and financial crisis, Argentina is floundering, China is slowing, Brzail, India, Indonesia and South Africa are trying to contain the damage. But the damage is not limited to the emerging markets, European banks are on the hook for $3.4 trillion in EM debt. And $1.7 trillion of that is spread among six too-damned-big European banks. "What QE giveth, the end of QE taketh away."
Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Denial... Climate change isn’t the news, it is the future. The news is those stories that we can relate to and put into the little boxes in our minds. But we don't have a place for anything on the scale of the disaster we are closing our eyes to in the hopes it will never happen. But it will. The science of what will happen if we keep adding carbon to the atmosphere is clear, as is our apparent insistence of keeping on adding carbon to the atmosphere. We all know and our leaders know and the CEOs of the world's energy companies know and we are all going to pretend we don't. And that's not news, either. As a footnote, reports from Greenland tell us that the Jakobshavn glacier is moving ice into the ocean at the fastest rate ever recorded.
Banking On It: Morgan Stanley has agreed (without admitting any wrongdoing) to pay the FHFA $1.25 billion to go away. Meanwhile, a judge has put BofA's $8.5 billion mortgage fraud settlement on hold because it seems to be too little.
Theoretical Behavior: The CBO, fully committed to rational man economics, says that Obamacare's subsidies will result in a significant number of low-paid workers choosing to work fewer hours. “primarily because it's a means-tested welfare program, and means-tested programs always reduce employment among the poor.” You do the math; apparently they do.
In Bad Faith: A British judge has ordered the president of the Mormon Church to produce evidence proving the faith's origins and claims or be found guilty of perpetrating a fraud by profiting from statements it knows to be factually untrue. Why the Mormons should be singled out is one of those mysteries of faith, or the lack thereof.
Eden Isn't: Duke Energy has dumped 82,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of polluted water into the Dan River at Eden, NC. Accidentally. And they neglected to tell the public until the next day. Accidentally.
Asked &Answered: Is the growing market share of ARMs cause for concern? Depends on how you feel about another housing market crash.
The Deficit, The Deficit, The Deficit: The CBO reports that the federal budget deficit will be just over $500 billion this year – down from $1.4 trillion 5 years ago. That's 3.0% of GDP, about the average over the last 40 years. Could the GOP please stop harping on it now?
The Parting Shot: