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Saudi Arabia Surprises Market With Supply Cut Announcement, Oil Jumps

Zerohedge - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:19

Saudi Arabia, it appears, had enough of shooting itself in the foot for its American 'partners', and has admitted for the first time that it slashed supply in September. As Bloomberg reports, OPEC’s biggest producer cut supply to mkt by 328k b/d in September to 9.36m b/d, from 9.688m b/d in August, according to a person with knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s oil policy. Prices in September were flat admit this supply cut which suggests along with the build in EIA inventories seen yesterday that Saudi Arabia may have also been forced by global demand weakness to cut supply through October also.

 

It appears the Saudi supply cut in September offset any demand weakness as prices remained flat... which makes one wonder what the plunge in October represents (global demand weakness or a flip-flopping Saudi Arabia?)

 

The intrday reaction to the first public admission of supply cuts








Defending the Gypsy Cab Driver

Mises Canada - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 09:00

[Excerpted from Defending the Undefendable.]

The taxi business in the United States usually works to the detriment of the poor and minority groups in two ways — as consumers and as producers. As consumers, their plight is well demonstrated by ethnic “taxicab jokes,” and by the subterfuge and embarrassment blacks undergo in order to get a cab, which they are frequently unable to do.

The reasons are not difficult to fathom. Taxi rates are set by law and are invariant, regardless of the destination of the trip. However, some destinations are more dangerous than others, and drivers are reluctant to service these areas, which are usually the home neighborhoods of the poor and the minorities. So when given a choice, cab drivers are likely to select customers on the basis of their economic status or skin color.

It is important to realize that given the differential crime rates, it is solely government control of taxi rates that engenders this situation. In the absence of such controls, rates to unsafe areas could be set so as to compensate cab drivers for the greater risks involved.

If this were done, blacks would have to pay more than whites for a cab, if not in the form of higher payments on the meter, perhaps in the form of older or lower quality cabs. But at least they would be able to secure the services of a taxi if they so desired. Under the present system, they do not even have the choice.

The inability to obtain a cab is not a small inconvenience to the poor black consumer, although many of the white middle class might think otherwise. Public transportation (bus, trolley, and train) plans and routes were designed and constructed 50 to 75 years ago. In those years transportation lines were usually owned by private concerns that were dependent on their customers for their profits and success. They were designed specifically to meet customer needs. In many cases, these transport lines are unsuitable for the needs of the present-day community.

Transit lines today are publicly owned and, therefore, lack the incentive to tailor them to the needs of the customer. If customers refuse to patronize a transit corridor, and that corridor becomes unprofitable, the public authority simply makes up the difference out of general tax revenues.

Consequently, city dwellers must choose between a fast ride home by taxi, and a long, indirect, and halting ride via public transit. This is especially true for the poor and minority groups who lack the political power to influence public transit authorities or decisions concerning the construction of new lines.

Restricted access to cabs in areas where public transportation is inadequate is often more than inconvenient. When health is involved, for example, the cab is an excellent and cheap substitute for an ambulance. But in poor neighborhoods, which are inadequately served by public transportation and whose residents cannot afford private cars, it is usually difficult to find a taxi.

Under the present system, the poor also suffer as producers. In New York City, for example, the government requires all cabs to be licensed. The licenses — medallions — are strictly limited in number — so much so, that they have been sold for as much as $30,000. The price varies, depending on whether the medallion is for an individual cab or part of a fleet. This effectively bars the poor from entering the field as owners. What would have happened to the Horatio Alger hero if he had needed $30,000 before he could enter the shoe shining or newspaper delivery business?

Some years ago, in response to the limitations placed upon them both as consumers and as producers, the poor and minority group members began to enter the taxi industry in a time honored American tradition dating back to the Revolutionary War of 1776 — disobedience of the law. They simply had their used cars outfitted with meters, special lights and signs, and declared them to be cabs.

In these “gypsy” cabs, they cruised the streets of the ghetto areas that were shunned by medallioned taxi drivers, and began to earn an honest, albeit illegal, living. Their initial success in avoiding punishment under the existing laws was probably due to two factors: police fear of “unrest” in the ghetto if these cabs were harassed, and the fact that the gypsies worked only within the ghetto, and, therefore, did not take business from the medallioned cabs.

These idyllic times, however, were not to last. Gypsy cab drivers, perhaps emboldened by their success in the ghetto, began to venture outside. If the medallioned taxi drivers had looked upon the gypsies with suspicion before, they now exhibited outright hostility toward them.

And with good reason. At this time, the taxi lobby in New York succeeded in pressuring the City Council to enact a bill allowing an increase in taxi fares. Patronage dropped precipitously and the immediate effect was a sharp decrease in the income of medallioned taxi drivers. It became obvious that many of their former riders were using gypsy cabs.

At this juncture irate medallioned taxi drivers began to attack and burn gypsy cabs, and they retaliated in kind. After a few violent weeks, a compromise was reached. Yellow, the traditional color of taxicabs, was to be reserved for medallioned cabs. The gypsies would have to use another color. A tentative plan for licensing gypsy cabs was also discussed.

What of the future of the taxi industry in New York City? If the dominant “liberal consensus” politics holds sway, as it usually does in questions of this kind, some compromise with the gypsies will be reached and they will be brought under the rule of the taxi commission. Perhaps they will be granted a restricted license, out of deference to the yellow cabs. If so, the system will remain the same as it is at present — a situation that resembles a gang of robbers allowing a few new members to join.

But the robbery will not be halted, nor the victims substantially helped. Suppose, according to one plan, 5,000 new licenses are created. This may help in a minor way in that there will be extra cabs potentially available for blacks. Thus, although blacks will still be second-class citizens, they may have a slightly easier time finding a cab.

But, paradoxically, this concession to the greater need for cabs will stifle future demands for improvements. It will enable the taxi commission to pose as the liberal and bountiful grantor of taxi medallions based on its act of “generosity” in licensing gypsy cabs (even though it has not granted a single extra medallion since 1939).

As producers and entrepreneurs, the position of the poor may improve somewhat, for an additional 5,000 licenses may result in a decreased purchase price of a medallion. However, there is a possibility that the purchase price will rise after the extra 5,000 licenses are granted. For the great uncertainty presently keeping down the value of a medallion may well end. If it does, the value of medallions will remain high, and the position of the poor will not have improved at all.

No! A proper solution to the taxicab crisis is not to co-opt the movement of gypsy cab drivers by the offer to take them into the system, but rather to destroy the system of restrictive cab licenses.

In terms of the everyday workings of the market, it would mean that any qualified driver with a valid chauffeur’s license could use any vehicle that has passed the certification examination to pick up and deliver fares to any street of their mutual choosing, for any mutually agreeable price.

The market for taxicabs in New York City would thus work in much the same way that rickshaws work in Hong Kong. Or, to take a less exotic example, the taxicab market would work in much the way that the babysitter market operates — completely dependent upon mutual agreement and consent between the contracting parties.

The taxi problems encountered by the poor and minority group members would be quickly resolved. Residents in high crime areas could then offer the cab drivers a premium. Though it is deplorable that they will be forced to pay this premium, they would no longer be second-class citizens insofar as obtaining a cab was concerned.

The only real and lasting solution to this problem, however, is a reduction in the high crime rate in ghetto, which would be responsible for the extra charges. For the present, however, the people living in these areas must not be prohibited from taking the necessary steps to obtain adequate cab service.

Poor people would benefit as producers, as they set up their own businesses. They would, of course, have to assume ownership of a car, but the artificial and insurmountable $30,000 barrier would be removed.

There are, however, objections that will be raised to a free market in taxicabs:

  1. “A free market would lead to chaos and anarchy if medallions were eliminated. Taxis would flood the city and weaken the capacity of any cab driver to earn a living. So drivers would leave the industry in droves, and there would be far fewer taxis available than needed. Without medallions to regulate the number of taxis, the public would be caught between two unsatisfactory alternatives.”The answer is that even if there were an initial rush into the industry, and the market was glutted, only some drivers would leave the field. The number of cabs, therefore, would not swing erratically from a horrendous oversupply to none at all and back again. Moreover, the drivers who would tend to leave the industry would be the inefficient ones whose earnings were low or those with better alternatives in other industries. By leaving they would allow the earnings of those who remained to rise and thus stabilize the field.

    One does not, after all, gain any insurance against the possibility of too many or too few lawyers, doctors, or shoe-shine boys by fixing an arbitrary upper limit to the number of people who can enter these occupations. We depend upon the forces of supply and demand. When there are too many workers in a field, the relative salaries decrease, and some will be encouraged to enter other occupations; if too few, wages and new occupants increase.

  2. The argument that licensing protects the riding public is one of the most disingenuous arguments for taxi medallions. It is the same one used by psychiatrists, who strive to “protect” us from encounter groups and others who make inroads in their incomes, by lily white unionists who “protect” the public by keeping qualified blacks out, and by doctors who “protect” us by refusing to grant medical licenses to qualified foreign doctors. Few people are fooled by these arguments today. Surely the special chauffeur’s license test and car inspections can ensure the quality of drivers and cars.
  3. “The medallion would have no value if there were an unlimited amount of taxis. This would be unfair to all those who have invested thousands of dollars in the purchase of their medallions.”Some light can be shed on this argument by considering a short fable:

    A warlord granted permission to a group of highwaymen to rob all passersby. For this right, the warlord charged the highwaymen a fee of $2,500. And then the people overthrew the system.

    Who should bear the cost of what turned out to be an unprofitable investment on the part of the highwaymen? If the choice was limited to the warlord and the robbers, we might say, “A plague on both your houses.”

    If we had to choose between them, we might root for the highwaymen, on the grounds that they were less of a threat than the warlord, and perhaps had made the original payment out of money honestly earned. But in no case would we countenance a plan whereby the long suffering highway travelers were forced to pay off the highwaymen for having lost the privilege of robbing them!

    In the same way, the argument should not be accepted that the long-suffering, taxi-riding public should compensate owners for valueless medallions already purchased. If it ever came to a showdown between medallion owners and medallion grantors (politicians), the public should perhaps favor the owners, on the grounds that they pose less of a danger to them and perhaps had originally paid for their medallions with money honestly earned.

    It is the politicians’ personal funds, or the funds of their estates, which should be used to pay off the medallion owners. A warlord is a warlord. Payment out of public funds would only amount to further penalizing the public.

    If the money is not forthcoming from the politicians’ personal funds, the medallion owners must suffer the loss. When a permit that permits the robbery of the public is purchased, the purchaser must accept the risks attendant to his investment.

This Is How Caterpillar Just Blew Away Q3 Earnings

Zerohedge - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:58

Those who have been following Caterpillar actual top-line performance know that things for the industrial bellwether have been going from bad to worse, with not only retail sales declining across the globe, as documented here previously, but with the current stretch of declining global retail sales now longer than during what was seen during the Great Recession.

 

And yet, moments ago, CAT, which is a major DJIA component, just reported blowaway EPS of $1.72, far above the $1.35 expected. How did it achieve this stunning number which has pushed DJIA futures higher by almost half a percent?

Simple: first there was the usual exclusions, with "restructuring costs" adding back some $0.09 to the bottom line number.

But the punchline was this: "In addition to the profit improvement, we have a strong balance sheet and through the first nine months of the year, we've had good cash flow.  So far this year, we've returned value to our stockholders by repurchasing $4.2 billion of Caterpillar stock and raising our quarterly dividend by 17 percent," Oberhelman said."

And here is just how the surge in buyback activity looked in comparison to Q3 2013...

... and since the start of 2013:

One can only assume the collapse in CapEx spending is because the company is so enthused about its global growth prospects.

But wait, there's more, because another reason why the stock is soaring is because CAT actually boosted EPS guidance despite the ongoing retail sales collapse. To be sure, CAT did not boost revenue guidance, and "The company now expects 2014 sales and revenues to be about $55 billion, the middle of the previous outlook range of $54 to $56 billion."

What it did do was say that "with 2014 sales and revenues of about $55 billion, the revised profit outlook is $6.00 per share, or $6.50 per share excluding $450 million of restructuring costs.  That is an improvement from the previous profit outlook of $5.75 per share, or $6.20 per share excluding $400 million of restructuring costs at the mid-point of the previous sales and revenues outlook range of $54 to $56 billion. The improvement in the profit outlook is a result of our continuing focus on execution and cost control, favorable currency impacts and a favorable tax item that occurred in the third quarter."

Actually no. The improvement is the result of a surge in current and upcoming buybacks.

Recall: "As previously announced, the company repurchased $2.5 billion of Caterpillar common stock during the third quarter of 2014.  This repurchase is part of the $10 billion stock repurchase authorization approved by the Board of Directors in the first quarter of 2014."

In other words, expect about $2.5 billion of stock buybacks per quarter, reducing the company's outstanding share count, and thus boosting its Earnings Per Share number.

What else did CAT say:

Despite cautious optimism for improved global economic growth, significant risks and uncertainties remain that could temper growth in 2015.  Political conflicts and social unrest continue to disrupt economic activity in several regions, in particular, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Africa and the Middle East.  The Chinese government's push for structural reform is slowing growth, and the ongoing uncertainty around the direction and timing of U.S. fiscal and monetary policy actions may temper business confidence.  As a result, our preliminary outlook for 2015 expects sales and revenues to be flat to slightly up from 2014.

 

"At this point, our view of 2015 sales and revenues isn't significantly different than 2014.  Our order backlog was up a little in the third quarter and was slightly higher than at this point last year.  We're hopeful that economic growth will improve in 2015, but are mindful of the uncertainties and risks.  We have continued to improve operational execution, and if we see more positive economic momentum, we believe we're well-positioned to respond and deliver for our customers and stockholders," Oberhelman added.

So much more buybacks. Because in the new normal, if you can't grow, you just buy your way to growth. On margin.








Frontrunning: October 23

Zerohedge - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 08:32
  • Canada PM vows crackdown after capital shocked by fatal attacks (Reuters)
  • Canada Gunman Was Convert to Islam With Criminal Record (BBG)
  • Some U.S. hospitals weigh withholding care to Ebola patients (Reuters)
  • But... Great rotation... Bond funds stock up on Treasuries in prep for market shock (Reuters)
  • Saudis at War With Islamic State Confront Echo of Kingdom’s Past (BBG)
  • EU’s Top Banker Warns of Rule Fixation ‘Going Beyond Reason (BBG)
  • U.S.-led air strikes killed 521 fighters, 32 civilians in Syria (Reuters)
  • Growing Kurdish Unity Helps West, Worries Turkey (WSJ)
  • Don’t Be Distracted by the Pass Rate in ECB’s Bank Exams (BBG)
  • Hedge Funds Add to Venture-Capital Bounty (WSJ)
  • Speed-of-Light Trading Grows in Europe With McKay Network (BBG)
  • Buffett copycats risk a pounding as Berkshire portfolio suffers (Reuters)
  • Shale Boom’s Allure to Wall Street Tested by Bear Market (BBG)
  • Athletes took fake classes at University of North Carolina (Reuters)
  • Credit Suisse Profit More Than Doubles as Trading Rises (BBG)
  • In Ebola-Afflicted Liberia, Orphanages Make a Tragic Comeback (WSJ)
  • UBS Hunts for Millionaires in Hong Kong’s Nine Dragons (BBG)
  • Alabama man gets $1,000 in police settlement, his lawyers get $459,000 (Reuters)
  • Tesco Chairman to Leave as Accounting Missteps Hit Profit (BBG)
  • Lloyds Said to Cut 9,000 Jobs Amid Online Banking Shift (BBG)

 

Overnight Media Digest

WSJ

* The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office is investigating whether air bag supplier Takata Corp made misleading statements about the safety of its air bags to U.S. regulators, people familiar with the matter said. The probe is at a preliminary stage and could end without any charges filed. (http://on.wsj.com/1uHz4kS)

* Several executives at JPMorgan Chase & Co in New York were warned of potential problems related to the bank's hiring practices in China more than a year before the program came under scrutiny by the U.S. government, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. (http://on.wsj.com/1thx2ew)

* Maverick Capital Ltd, one of the oldest hedge-fund firms, plans to launch its first venture-capital fund on Jan. 1, according to investors, with hopes of raising $400 million to take stakes in young companies. (http://on.wsj.com/1wdmbEQ)

* Procter & Gamble Co shook up its senior management ranks, naming new leaders for key businesses and narrowing the field of potential successors to Chief Executive A.G. Lafley. Melanie Healey, currently P&G's head of its North America business and once considered a potential successor to Lafley, will leave the company next year, according to an internal memo distributed to employees Wednesday. (http://on.wsj.com/1xafS1J)

* The asset-management industry suffered a setback when regulators rejected a proposal by BlackRock Inc to launch an exchange-traded fund, that would have kept its holdings hidden from investors. The product, known as a "nontransparent ETF", is a key part of the industry's attempt to broaden its customer base beyond traditional index-tracking investments by selling more funds that are actively managed. (http://on.wsj.com/1owlQuN)

* Luxottica Group SpA named Procter & Gamble Co veteran Adil Mehboob-Khan as a co-chief executive on Wednesday, seeking to put an end to a month of turmoil caused by the return of founder Leonardo Del Vecchio to active management of the world's largest eyewear group. (http://on.wsj.com/1wqjV9S)

* Nickel prices have sunk to their lowest level since March, as slowing economies in Europe and China rattle investors, while a financing scandal in China has prompted companies to dump tons of nickel and other metals on the market. (http://on.wsj.com/1FGujRd)

 

FT

Lloyds Banking Group Plc is set to unveil its plans to cut 9,000 jobs next week, which comprise 10 percent of its workforce. The move is part of its new three-year strategy to create digital, marketing and customer development function to focus on developing new and improved products. The Co-operative Bank's failed bid for hundreds of Lloyds Banking Group Plc's branches should have been stopped much earlier, a group of British Members of Parliaments said. A report from the Treasury committee, published on Thursday, blames the failed deal on the Co-operative Bank's managers, its regulators and auditors at KPMG.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc has launched a multi-billion-pound restructuring plan that includes a potential floatation of its HIV drugs unit. The move is aimed at winning back shareholder support after the drugmaker faced corruption allegations and faltering sales. HSBC Holdings Plc and a unit of Allied Irish Banks Plc have been publicly reprimanded by Britain's antitrust watchdog for breaching competition rules by pushing small and medium-sized companies to open current accounts when taking out loans.

 

NYT

* Financial regulators, trying to increase access to home loans, have relaxed many rules designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 subprime crisis. Some six years after the financial crisis, thousands of apparently creditworthy borrowers are being shut out of the housing market because they cannot get mortgages. (http://nyti.ms/1wujbCA)

* Capitol Hill increased pressure on the Japanese auto supplier Takata Corp and federal safety regulators on Wednesday as two senators demanded wider recalls to fix millions of defective airbags and a House committee said it wanted a fuller accounting of how the recalls were handled. (http://nyti.ms/1sRObdr)

* Concern over the safety of guardrails manufactured by Trinity Industries Inc spread further on Wednesday as two more states said they would ban the use of the company's ET-Plus rail head, which is thought to have a dangerous defect. (http://nyti.ms/ZOpELY)

* Total SA, the French oil giant, on Wednesday appointed two insiders to lead the company, moving swiftly to replace Christophe de Margerie, its chairman and chief executive, who died Monday in an airplane accident. (http://nyti.ms/1rr2DoM)

* A group of Washington investors with high-level political backing and a $5 billion commitment from the Japanese government is pressing ahead with its vision of a high-speed train that could whisk passengers between New York and Washington in about an hour. (http://nyti.ms/1owbued)

 

China

- Several commercial banks are expected to issue preference shares within one month and the Agricultural Bank of China LTd could be among the first batch, industry insiders said.

- Seven regulators, including the National Development Reform Commission and Ministry of Industry and Information Techonology of China, have launched a plan to promote wider adoption of green vehicles for public transportation. The regulations will promote the use of a total of 20,222 green buses from 2014 to 2015 in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region.

CHINA DAILY

- China will launch an experimental spacecraft this weekend to test a technology seen as crucial to a future lunar probe that will return to Earth with soil samples.

- Guangdong province plans to tighten rules preventing officials who have spouses and children living overseas from attaining leadership positions in government, public institutions and state-backed enterprises.

SHANGHAI SECURITIES NEWS

- China's insurance regulator has released new investment rules which include barring insurance firms from putting more than 30 percent of their total assets in related companies.

SHANGHAI DAILY

U.S. insurer American International Group plans to expand its operations from China's coastal areas to the inland and it looks to support overseas expansion of Chinese companies.

Britain

The Times

RATES HELD DUE TO FEARS OVER GLOBAL ECONOMY

The downturn in Europe is posing a risk to Britain's economic recovery, which appears already to have begun to slow, the Bank of England has warned. The minutes to this month's rate setting meeting said there were signs in the UK "of a slight loss in momentum" and that "the pace of growth was beginning to ease". Pessimism about the global economic outlook was blamed, drawing particular attention to the Eurozone. (http://thetim.es/12dB3GR)

EE SPEEDS AHEAD AS EUROPE'S LARGEST 4G NETWORK

EE has laid claim to the title of Europe's largest 4G network after the launch of the iPhone 6 pushed its customer base for the faster network well beyond the 5 million mark. (http://thetim.es/1CXjW7e) HOMEBASE TO CLOSE A QUARTER OF ITS STORES Roughly a quarter of Homebase Group Ltd stores are to close by 2018, leading to job losses, as the DIY chain undergoes a three-year turnaround plan. Home Retail Group Plc, which owns Homebase and Argos, said that after conducting a review of the DIY chain, it had found "several challenges", including inconsistent standards across its stores, as well as larges stores with low sales. (http://thetim.es/1t5t0pW)

The Guardian

GLAXOSMITHKLINE TO FLOAT MINORITY STAKE OF HIV TREATMENT COMPANY

The British drugs group GlaxoSmithKline Plc is planning to create a new 15 billion pound ($24.07 billion) FTSE 100 company by spinning out a subsidiary focused on treating HIV. The pharmaceuticals group is looking to float a minority stake of ViiV Healthcare, a division in which it owns a near-80 percent stake and which raked in pre-tax profits of 880 millio pound last year. US rival Pfizer Inc and Japanese drugs group Shionogi & Co Ltd hold the rest of the shares. (http://bit.ly/10oOK5h)

The Telegraph

LLOYDS TO CUT AROUND 9,000 JOBS

Lloyds Banking Group Plc plans to cut around 9,000 jobs, roughly a tenth of its entire workforce, over the next three years as the taxpayer-backed bank's staff are replaced by digital technology. (http://bit.ly/ZHg4KC)

EE CHIEF POURS COLD WATER ON RENEWED TALK OF 10 BLN STG SELL-OFF

Olaf Swantee, chief executive of EE, has said there is "no rush" to sell off Britain's biggest mobile operator after it emerged its owners, the French and German telecoms giants Orange and Deutsche Telekom, had reopened talks on the future of the business. (http://bit.ly/1s9xQgd)

The Independent

BRITISH COMPETITION WATCHDOG BLASTS BANKS OVER SME LOANS

The British competition watchdog has criticised a group of banks, including HSBC Holdings Plc, Barclays Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, over its small and medium-sized businesses lending practices. The Competition and Markets Authority said HSBC and the Northern Irish bank, First Trust, had breached an undertaking not to force businesses to open a current account with them when they offered them a loan. (http://ind.pn/ZHhAMU)

 

Fly On The Wall Pre-Market Buzz

ECONOMIC REPORTS

Domestic economic reports scheduled for today include:
Jobless claims for week of October 18 at 8:30--consensus 285K
FHFA house price index for August 9:00--consensus up 0.3%
Markit manufacturing PMI for October at 9:45--consensus 57.0
Leading indicators for September at 10:00--consensus up 0.6%

ANALYST RESEARCH

Upgrades

AbbVie (ABBV) resumed with an Overweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
Boston Scientific (BSX) upgraded to Neutral from Sell at Goldman
Dow Chemical (DOW) upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank
Fifth Third Bancorp (FITB) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) upgraded to Overweight from Equal Weight at Barclays
Tesoro Logistics (TLLP) upgraded to Outperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Tractor Supply (TSCO) upgraded to Strong Buy from Market Perform at Raymond James
UniFirst (UNF) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Union Bankshares (UBSH) upgraded to Outperform from Neutral at RW Baird
Yelp (YELP) upgraded to Buy from Neutral at B. Riley

Downgrades

3D Systems (DDD) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Brean Capital
Angie's List (ANGI) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Wunderlich
Angie's List (ANGI) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at Piper Jaffray
Angie's List (ANGI) downgraded to Underperform from Market Perform at Raymond James
Avalon Rare Metals (AVL) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Citigroup
Axiall (AXLL) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
BB&T (BBT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at Goldman
Boeing (BA) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Boulder Brands (BDBD) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Canaccord
Citrix (CTXS) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
DTS, Inc. (DTSI) downgraded to Underweight from Neutral at JPMorgan
GulfMark Offshore (GLF) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform at Cowen
ICON plc (ICLR) downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at First Analysis
IPC The Hospitalist Co. (IPCM) downgraded to Market Perform at Wells Fargo
Mercer (MERC) downgraded to Neutral from Outperform at Credit Suisse
Owens Corning (OC) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Regency Energy Partners (RGP) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
The Medicines Co. (MDCO) downgraded to Neutral from Buy at BofA/Merrill
Tupperware Brands (TUP) downgraded to Neutral from Overweight at JPMorgan
Union Bankshares (UBSH) downgraded at RW Baird
VOC Energy Trust (VOC) downgraded to Underperform from Sector Perform at RBC Capital
Yelp (YELP) downgraded to Hold from Buy at Stifel

Initiations

Alibaba (BABA) initiated with an Overweight at Barclays
Elephant Talk (ETAK) initiated with a Speculative Buy at Taglich
Endo (ENDP) initiated with a Buy at Guggenheim
Gulfport Energy (GPOR) initiated with a Positive at Susquehanna
Netgear (NTGR) initiated with a Neutral at Buckingham
Southwestern Energy (SWN) initiated with a Positive at Susquehanna
Whiting Petroleum (WLL) initiated with a Positive at Susquehanna

COMPANY NEWS

EU to boost Ebola research with EUR 24.4M (PPHM, TKMR, SRPT, BCRX, CMRX, NLNK, LAKE, APT, SMED)
Rio Tinto (RIO) extended tenure of CEO Sam Walsh, CFO Chris Lynch
CarMax (KMX) raised share repurchase authorization by $2B
Select Comfort (SCSSS) increased share repurchase authorization to $250M
GFI Group (GFIG) special committee to review tender offer from BGC Partners (BGCP). The Board has not changed its recommendation with respect to, and continues to support, the pending transaction with CME Group (CME)
AT&T (T) reported Q3 net increase in total wireless subscribers of 2M

EARNINGS

Companies that beat consensus earnings expectations last night and today include:

Alexion (ALXN), Arctic Cat (ACAT), Cenovus Energy (CVE), NorthWestern (NWE), Carter's (CRI), Lazard (LAZ), WESCO (WCC), Cash America (CSH), Cenovus Energy (CVE), Silicon Laboratories (SLAB), Cabot Microelectronics (CCMP), Dunkin' Brands (DNKN), JAKKS Pacific (JAKK), Check Point (CHKP), Volaris (VLRS), Logitech (LOGI), Northfield Bancorp (NFBK), Farmers Capital Bank (FFKT), NXP Semiconductors (NXPI), Euronet (EEFT), Core Laboratories (CLB), IBERIABANK (IBKC), Core Laboratories (CLB), MSA Safety (MSA), Teradyne (TER), Pacific Continental (PCBK), Old Second Bancorp (OSBC), Albemarle (ALB), TAL International (TAL), Mellanox (MLNX), Orrstown Financial (ORRF), TriState Capital (TSC), Oritani Financial (ORIT), MKS Instruments (MKSI), O'Reilly Automotive (ORLY), NVE Corp. (NVEC), CoreLogic (CLGX), Exponent (EXPO), Tyler Technologies (TYL), Deltic Timber (DEL), Equifax (EFX), ServiceNow (NOW), Infinera (INFN), Financial Institutions (FISI), Marketo (MKTO), Fortinet (FTNT), Leggett & Platt (LEG), Graco (GGG), Lam Research (LRCX), Everest Re (RE), Covanta (CVA), Digimarc (DMRC), C.R. Bard (BCR), 8x8, Inc. (EGHT), Clearwater Paper (CLW), Polycom (PLCM), Monarch Casino (MCRI), Citrix (CTXS), Yelp (YELP), Skechers (SKX), Open Text (OTEX), CA Technologies (CA), Sangamo (SGMO), Select Comfort (SCSS), Tractor Supply (TSCO), Banner Corp. (BANR), Acacia Research (ACTG)

Companies that missed consensus earnings expectations include:

AT&T (T), Invacare (IVC), Eli Lilly (LLY), Alamos Gold (AGI), Patterson-UTI (PTEN), Diamond Offshore (DO), Colfax (CFX), Potash (POT), Sequans (SQNS), Proto Labs (PRLB), Quality Systems (QSII), Precision Castparts (PCP), Weatherford (WFT), Sun Bancorp (SNBC), Horizon Bancorp (HBNC), Susquehanna (SUSQ), United Stationers (USTR), Morningstar (MORN), Horace Mann (HMN), Allied World (AWH), A. Schulman (SHLM), Varian Medical (VAR), United Financial (UBNK), Cheesecake Factory (CAKE), IPC The Hospitalist Co. (IPCM), Torchmark (TMK), Plexus (PLXS), La Quinta (LQ), Allegiant Travel (ALGT)

Companies that matched consensus earnings expectations include:

United Community Banks (UCBI), QCR Holdings (QCRH), CVB Financial (CVBF), Sallie Mae (SLM), Interface (TILE)

NEWSPAPERS/WEBSITES

Procter & Gamble (PG) narrows potential CEO successors to four, WSJ reports
PetSmart (PETM) attracts interest from KKR (KKR), NY Post reports
Credit Suisse (CS) head detects no tangible worries in forex probe, Reuters says
Apple (AAPL) to increase Apple-brand retail stores in China to 40, WSJ reports
Government relaxing mortgage regulations, NY Times says (BAC, C, GS, JPM, MS, USB, WFC)

SYNDICATE

AmSurg (AMSG) files to sell common stock for holders
FreeSeas (FREE) files to sell 17.5M shares for holders
New Mountain Finance (NMFC) files to sell 5M shares of common stock
Pointer Telocation (PNTR) files to sell 2.33M ordinary shares for holders
WidePoint (WYY) files automatic common stock shelf








Futures Bounce On Stronger Europe Headline PMIs Despite Markit's Warning Of "Darker Picture" In "Anaemic" Internals

Zerohedge - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 07:59

Perhaps the most interesting question from late yesterday is just how did the Chinese PMI rebound from 50.4 to 50.2, when the bulk of its most important forward-looking components, New Orders, Output, New Export Orders... 

... posted a material deterioration? When asked, not even Markit could provide an explanation that seemed remotely reasonable so we can only assume the headline was goalseeked purely for the kneejerk reaction benefit of various algos that only focus on the headline and nothing else. Luckily, we didn't have much time to ponder this quandary as a few hours later we got the latest batch of Eurozone PMI numbers.

The reason the PMI "soft-data" surveys are relevant, if mostly again for the benefit of kneejerk reacting algos, is because as Deutsche Bank said, "These real time numbers are clearly going to be important at the moment with many fearing an inflexion point in the global data." So what better way to instill some confidence in a triple-dipping Europe, if only on actual "hard" data, than by providing cherry-picked, seasonally adjusted survey responses.

And sure enough, Markit did not disappoint when following an ugly French PMI number (because as we have shown before, France is long gone from anyone's idea of Europe's core), which printed at 47.3 for Manufacturing, down from 48.8 in September, and below the 48.5 expected, and a Services print of 48.1, down from 48.4 and below the 48.3 expected, we got yet another magical turnaround in Europe, driven once again by Germany, whose Mfg PMI printed at a whopping 51.8, far above the contractionary 49.5 which was expected, and up from the 49.9 contraction Markit reported a month ago. This was the highest reading since July 2014, and up from the 51.7 reported a year ago. It was high enough to offset the tiny decline in the Services PMI which dipped from 55.7 to 54.8 below the 55 expected. This in turn helped boost the composite European PMI to 52.2, from 52.0, above the 51.1 expected, driven by a rise in manufacturing from 50.3 to 50.7, below the contractionary print of 49.9 expected, even as Services remained flat at 52.4.

Ironically, just like in China, new orders were flat but the forward-looking orders-to-stock difference fell 0.8pt! But as long as the headline number picked up all is well, and judging by the violent reaction in USDJPY and futures, Markit achieved its mission for the day.

This is how Goldman summarized Europe's Deus Ex PMI data:

The Euro area composite PMI edged up by 0.2pt to 52.2 in October, against consensus expectations of a contraction (Cons: 51.5, GS: 51.2). The rebound in the composite PMI was driven by a 0.4pt increase in the manufacturing component to 50.7, while the services PMI was flat at 52.4. The level of PMIs continues to point to small positive growth rates in Q3 and now early Q4.

 

1. The manufacturing PMI increased marginally from 50.3 to 50.7 in October, after five months of consecutive declines. The services PMI was unchanged at 52.4 (Exhibit 1). The consensus expectation was for small declines in both the manufacturing and services PMI.

 

2. The breakdown generally showed a mixed picture. New orders were flat but the forward-looking orders-to-stock difference fell 0.8pt. Other subcomponents of the manufacturing PMI were more positive, with output rising 0.9pt and employment rising 0.5pt. The forward-looking subcomponents (which are not part of the headline services PMI figure) were weak: 'business expectations' fell 3.1pt and 'incoming new business' fell 1.1pt.

 

3. In addition to the Euro area aggregate, Flash PMIs were released for Germany and France. The German composite PMI edged up 0.2pt to 54.3, against consensus expectations of a 0.5pt decline (Cons: 53.6). This was driven by a strong 1.9pt increase in the German manufacturing PMI (while the German services PMI eased 0.9pt). In contrast, the French composite PMI printed at 48.0 in September, 0.4pt below the previous month's reading, against consensus expectations of a small increase (Cons: 48.7). The French PMI decline was driven by weakness in the manufacturing sector. In a separate release, the French INSEE manufacturing confidence survey sent a diverging signal, posting a small 1pt increase to 97. Overall, the German/French PMI gap widened by 0.6pt in October and is now greater than 6pt (Exhibit 2).

So what does the latest PMI print imply for GDP? Goldman said that "based on historical correlations, a reading of 52.2 is associated with +0.2%qoq GDP growth. In the same vein, our CAI points to similar growth in October (+0.2%), in line with the September reading." Well, it is positive...

But the best indication of just how ridiculous the headline prints were came from Markit itself, which clearly did not believe the numbers it had reported: This is what Markit's Chris Williamson said:

“The Eurozone PMI rose in October but anyone just watching the headline number misses the darker picture painted by the survey’s other indices, which show  the region teetering on the verge of another downturn. 

 

“Growth of new orders slowed closer to stagnation and backlogs of work fell at a faster rate, causing employment to be cut for the first time in nearly a year.

 

“Business confidence in the service sector also slid to the lowest for over a year and prices charged fell at the fastest rate since the height of the global financial crisis, adding to an increasingly downbeat assessment of business conditions. 

 

While the survey suggests the euro area has so far avoided a slide back into recession this year, a renewed downturn cannot be ruled out. Growth is so anaemic that increasing numbers of companies are being forced into laying off staff and slashing prices in an attempt to cut costs and boost sales through discounting."

The message is clear: we needed a stronger headline number, but weak enough to prompt the ECB to do something. Good luck.

In other news, Asian equities traded on a sombre note following suit from yesterday’s negative Wall Street close, led by weakness in energy shares amid a sharp drop in oil prices. Hang Seng (-0.3%) and Shanghai Comp (-1.0%) traded lower, shrugging off a better than expected Chinese HSBC manufacturing PMI (50.4 vs. Exp. 50.2), as new orders and output (50.7 vs. Prev. 51.3) metrics fell, the latter printing at the lowest since May’14. The Nikkei 225 (-0.37%) finished the session in the red in a continuation of the negative US close while also tracking the move lower in USD/JPY overnight.

Despite opening in the red in a continuation of the move lower seen on Wall St. and overnight, European equities enter the North American open in a sea of green with the exception of the FTSE 100. Despite a lower than expected French PMI release, with all three components falling short of expectations which initially placed further weight on equities, attention instead turned towards the strong German and Eurozone PMI releases. With the data points going against the grain of recent lacklustre Eurozone releases, European equities emerged back into the green with the DAX moving higher by a total of 150 points, which subsequently dragged fixed income products lower as Bunds moved back below 150.50. On a sector specific basis, telecommunication names lead the way following strong earnings updates from the likes of Nokia, Orange and Tele2.

Looking forward, we will get initial jobless claims (expected in at 281k vs +264k previously). We will also get earnings reports from the likes of Credit Suisse, Daimler and Tesco in Europe, and American Airlines, GM, Microsoft and Amazon in the US.

Bulletin Headline Summary from Bloomberg and RanSquawk

  • European equities shrug off lacklustre French and Chinese PMI releases as attention turns towards better than expected German and Eurozone figures, while the FTSE 100 remains firmly in the red.
  • UK retail sales (Ex Auto M/M -0.3% vs. Exp. 0.0%), provide a further source of concern for the UK economy, which subsequently saw GBP/USD briefly break below 1.6000.
  • Looking ahead, attention turns towards the release of the weekly US jobs data, US manufacturing PMI as well as a host of large cap. US earnings including the likes of Microsoft, Comcast, Caterpillar, Eli Lilly, GM and Amazon.
  • Treasuries steady, 10Y and 30Y yields at highest since early October as market focus begins shifting to next week’s Fed meeting.
  • Fed is slated to complete $10b of UST purchases in October next week; those will be the final events of QE3 “if the FOMC decides to end its current program of asset purchases at the next meeting,” schedule says
  • A China manufacturing gauge rose in October, with HSBC/Markit’s PMI rising to 50.4 from 50.2 the previous month
  • Markit’s euro-area manufacturing PMI rose to 50.7 in October from 50.3; in Germany, factories rebounded from a slump in September while in France both services and manufacturing shrank more than forecast
  • ECB has purchased more than EU800m of covered bonds in the first three days of its asset-purchase program, according to estimates from three traders
  • U.K. retail sales fell 0.3% in September, more than forecst, with clothing and footwear sales dropping 7.8%, the most since April 2012, the Office for National Statistics said in London today
  • Terror reached Canada this week when a “radicalized” convert to Islam on Monday ran down and killed a soldier with a car and a gunman yesterday invaded the capital and murdered a soldier at a war memorial before entering Ottawa’s parliament building where he was shot to death
  • The attack may add fuel to a more than decade-long debate over the country’s participation in U.S.-led military operations in the Middle East that has divided political parties and public opinio
  • Heightened U.S. regulatory scrutiny of leveraged lending is leading the biggest banks to back away from funding some takeovers financed by debt, creating an opportunity for smaller competitors to step in
  • Goldman Sachs Asset Management used the recent selloff in U.S. high yield bonds as an opportunity to add to its position, betting that a strengthening of the world’s largest economy will keep defaults low
  • Sovereign yields mostly higher. Asian stocks decline, European stocks mixed, U.S. equity-index futures gain. Brent crude gains, copper and gold fall

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Chicago Fed National Activity Index, Sept., est. 0.15 (prior -0.21)
  • 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, Oct. 18, est. 281k (prior 264k)
    • Continuing Claims, Oct. 11, est. 2.380m (prior 2.389m)
  • 9:00am: FHFA House Price Index m/m, Aug., est. 0.3% (prior 0.1%)
  • 9:45am: Markit US Manufacturing PMI, Oct. preliminary, est. 57 (prior 57.5)
  • 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, Oct. 19 (prior 36.2)
  • 10:00am: Leading Index, Sept., est. 0.7% (prior 0.2%)
  • 11:00am: Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Activity, Oct., est. 6 (prior 6)
  • 11:00am: Fed to purchase $1.35b-$1.65b notes in 2020-2021 sector
  • 11:00am: U.S. to announce plans to auction 2Y/5Y/7Y notes, 2Y FRN
  • 1:00pm: U.S. to auction $7b 30Y TIPS in reopening

ASIA

JGBs traded up 3 ticks at 146.32 after tracking overnight gains in USTs and further underpinned by earlier weakness in Japanese stocks. Asian equities traded on a sombre note following suit from yesterday’s negative Wall Street close, led by weakness in energy shares amid a sharp drop in oil prices. Hang Seng (-0.3%) and Shanghai Comp (-1.0%) traded lower, shrugging off a better than expected Chinese HSBC manufacturing PMI (50.4 vs. Exp. 50.2), as new orders and output (50.7 vs. Prev. 51.3) metrics fell, the latter printing at the lowest since May’14. The Nikkei 225 (-0.37%) finished the session in the red in a continuation of the negative US close while also tracking the move lower in USD/JPY overnight.

FIXED INCOME & EQUITIES

Despite opening in the red in a continuation of the move lower seen on Wall St. and overnight, European equities enter the North American open in a sea of green with the exception of the FTSE 100. Despite a lower than expected French PMI release, with all three components falling short of expectations which initially placed further weight on equities, attention instead turned towards the strong German and Eurozone PMI releases. With the data points going against the grain of recent lacklustre Eurozone releases, European equities emerged back into the green with the DAX moving higher by a total of 150 points, which subsequently dragged fixed income products lower as Bunds moved back below 150.50. On a sector specific basis, telecommunication names lead the way following strong earnings updates from the likes of Nokia, Orange and Tele2.

However, to the downside, the FTSE 100 has underperformed throughout the session following Tesco’s (down as much as 7%) pre-market update which revealed a larger than expected overstatement and scrapping of guidance. Further negative sentiment from the UK has also stemmed from UK property seller Foxtons (-15%) who noted a fall in home sales volumes.

Prelim Barclays month end extension for US treasuries +0.08yrs, Pan Euro Agg month-end extensions +0.08yrs (Prev. +0.09yrs), 12-month average +0.08yrs, Prelim Barclays Sterling Agg month-end extensions +0.06yrs

FX

In FX markets, USD/JPY has been one of the notable movers during the European session after breaking above Monday's and last week's highs alongside the move lower in fixed income products as USD/JPY gained amid favourable interest differential flows. The move to the upside was also exacerbated by the pair tripping stops through 107.55 and talk of leveraged names on the bid which also saw the pair break above an option expiry at 107.50. Elsewhere, GBP/USD has been weighed on by a disappointing UK retail sales release (Ex Auto M/M -0.3% vs. Exp. 0.0%), which saw the pair briefly break below 1.6000 to the downside, with the ONS noting that the fall in clothing sales volumes is the biggest since April 2012. NZD was a notable mover overnight, with NZD/USD falling just shy of a point, weighed on by NZ CPI (1.0% vs. Exp. 1.2%) which printed at its lowest level since June 2013, prompting several large investment banks incl. Barclays and JP Morgan, to push back their forecast for next RBNZ OCR hike.

COMMODITIES

Heading into the North American open, WTI and Brent crude futures trade in relatively neutral territory in a modest recovery of yesterday’s DoE inspired losses which saw WTI hit its lowest level in two years, with a lack of further newsflow to dictate price action. Precious metals markets also trade in relatively neutral territory, while residing modestly below yesterday’s lows. However, copper prices have been provided some reprieve following the Chinese manufacturing PMI release, although the move to the upside was capped as attention turned towards the output component of the release. Elsewhere, Anglo American have lifted their annual output targets for all its major commodities with the exception of platinum.

* * *

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight recap

Kicking off this morning we’ve already had the flash PMI print in China with the 50.4 reading modestly better than market expectations of 50.2. The benign reading has done little to spark any sort of confidence in investors following the GDP print earlier in the week with the local benchmark unchanged at the time of writing. We’ve also had PMI out of Japan which surprised to the upside, the 52.8 print up from 51.7 in September. Markets in the region are trading mostly in the red. The Nikkei, Hang-Seng and Kospi are -0.2%, -0.3% and -0.3% down whilst in credit iTraxx Asia is +3 bps wider.

These real time numbers are clearly going to be important at the moment with many fearing an inflexion point in the global data. To help take stock this morning we resurrect our simple grid looking at the relationship between manufacturing PMIs and equity markets (using YoY % change). This analysis looks at the correlation between these two variables across a selection of key countries over time and which allows us create a simple regression to see whether any anomalies currently exist.

Of our 8 sample countries plus the Eurozone, seven currently see manufacturing PMIs between 48.8 (France) and 51.7 (Japan). Depending on the country and based on these numbers, our regressions suggest that these equity markets should generally be flat to slightly higher than 12 months ago. In actuality they're slightly lower suggesting that the market expects PMIs to edge lower or that equities are cheap if they don't. The biggest exception is in the US where the last PMI was 56.6 which corresponds to a 18% YoY gain rather than the 11% we actually have. So the US is 'cheap' if the PMIs don't decline from current levels.

We've used this measure less over the last couple of years as central banks have increasingly distorted the relationship between fundamentals and valuation. However all-in-all the relationship looks pretty appropriate over the last 12 months. Those equity markets with lower domestic PMIs are generally the ones struggling and vice-versa. The results are in today's pdf but remember that we always treated this as a back of the envelope guide to value rather than anything more substantial. So treat with care.

In terms of what's expected today, for Europe consensus is for a general slip in the PMI’s, with the euro area composite, manufacturing and services PMI dropping to 49.9, 52 and 51.5 respectively. We will also get the French and German numbers with the market expecting the French composite to rise slightly (to 48.7) whilst the German composite is expected to fall (to 53.6).

Across the Atlantic, we will get the flash US manufacturing PMI which is also expected to fall (though only to 57).

Market performance was mixed yesterday as European assets were broadly up whilst the US struggled. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 closed the day up +0.7% whilst in credit markets iTraxx Xover tightened -6bps. EURUSD fell another -0.4%. After opening on a positive note US equities closed at their lows. The index fell -0.7% whilst credit also struggled with CDX HY widening by +5bps. Markets drifted lower as energy stocks took suffered following an EIA report that showed the US is stockpiling oil reserves at surprisingly high levels for this time of year, WTI sold off 1.9% to trade at close to $80/barrel. The weaker sentiment was further compounded by a mixed batch of earnings releases. Towards the end of the day, news emerged in Ottawa that a gunman had fatally killed a soldier and opened fired inside the parliament building close to the Canadian PM Stephen Harper (BBC). We are yet to hear any confirmation on whether or not the gunman was linked to a known terrorist group.

The main macro release of the day was US September CPI which came in slightly ahead of expectations at +0.1% MoM and +1.7% YoY, whilst estimates of core CPI came in at expectation (at +0.1% MoM and +1.7% YoY). In other headlines the ECB entered its third day of asset purchases, with Bloomberg News reporting it had bought Spanish covered bonds, whilst it is also adding to its French and Portuguese purchases. In other ECB news, ECB Governing Council Member Luc Coene said in an interview with Les Echos that “we could extend our interventions to other instruments such as corporate bonds” but that, “there is no concrete proposal on the table at the moment.” In the UK, the BoE minutes saw sterling fall as the minutes showed that whilst 2 members continued to vote for a hike, 7 opted to keep rates unchanged, with the minutes also showing increased pessimism about the global economy.

Looking ahead European banks will this evening get the results from the AQR, before the full results are released on Sunday. It’s likely that leaks about the results will intensify in this interim period. Data wise, beyond the PMI’s we will get French confidence numbers and UK September retail sales, whilst in the US we will get initial jobless claims (expected in at 281k vs +264k previously). We will also get earnings reports from the likes of Credit Suisse, Daimler and Tesco in Europe, and American Airlines, GM, Microsoft and Amazon in the US.








The American Dream Is Still Possible, Just Not In The US

Dollar Vigilante - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 05:40

[The following post is by TDV Contributor Ron Holland]

Although there are no firm statistics on the number of Americans living outside the US, the US State Department estimates that somewhere between 3 and 6 million Americans now live offshore. I think this is a low estimate and the number is clearly growing.

I now live in Canada but often travel back to the United States. Driving through Customs near Buffalo is usually not a big ordeal but it does involve a time-wasting delay much like visiting the post office or any other US government bureaucracy. But governments should police their borders, as this is one of the few legitimate functions of a central government.

Still, whenever I'm there I do notice the America I grew up in and once knew has really changed since 9/11. The trend toward a more militarized and aggressive police force continues to quicken. I know most Americans accept this as part of the consequences of the War on Terror just as they do the loss of financial privacy, increased fines and asset seizures.

The Canadian government recently warned citizens to be careful when taking cash to the US because of the risk of police taking their cash for hyped-up offenses. Did you know that in the last 13 years, over $2.5 billion has been stolen by law enforcement in almost 62,000 cash seizures? I have to say that as an American, I'm outraged at the situation and always on guard when in the USSA.

I fear many Americans who don't travel internationally might have become somewhat immune to the intrusive, arbitrary nature of today's American government and its institutions. Here in Canada, law enforcement is almost always professional and courteous and even the bureaucrats are friendly and helpful, which simply amazes me.

So to my American family, friends and business associates, I want you to know it is still possible to achieve the American Dream of a simple life with opportunity for wealth creation, fun, freedom and good times without an overly intrusive, threatening government ... just not in the United States. Many other nations, in Central and South America and elsewhere, certainly also experience corruption and inefficiencies but government threats remain outside of everyday life for most citizens and expats.

Following are a few things I've noticed recently pertaining to international real estate and lifestyle decisions many people are considering, ranging from a new presidential executive order to mouth-watering Austrian chalets.

I mention the latest presidential executive order not because it concerns your lifestyle or real estate but because this is how you are likely to lose more liberties, have your gold confiscated or your bank safe deposit box frozen during a future real or contrived crisis. Roosevelt used this governmental tool to illegally confiscate private gold in 1933 and there is no immediate defense or remedy to a presidential executive order. Yes, Congress can act over time but exactly how this would help after the fact is a question no one can answer.

When retiring overseas, many countries require a minimum pension or retirement income in order receive the coveted benefits of expat retirement and your Social Security benefits can be all or part of this package. Therefore, leaving the US does not mean you lose your "promised but not guaranteed" Social Security benefits ... at least not until Congress starts to "means test" Social Security in order to end benefits to the wealthy and middle class. It is possible to continue to receive your benefits. Read more here.

A couple of weeks ago I was flying back to Canada from a Casey Research conference in historic San Antonio, TX. The American Airlines flight magazine had an excellent article on the radical transformation of Colombia from a crime haven to a tourist haven and now the toast of South America. I have visited Colombia several times recently and you must put this exciting country on your bucket list for a visit. Read about it in "A Radical Transformation."

I don't have a compulsive bone in my body except for being on time and I unrealistically expect everyone else to be on time. This is a minor problem for me in the United States, Canada or Europe – other than in Switzerland where everyone and everything is done in a timely manner. But in Central and South America, nothing happens by the clock. This is something potential expats and others considering living in Latin cultures will want to be aware of. While this article focuses on Ecuador, it provides excellent insight into the entire region.

The Colombia economy is booming and is viewed increasingly by international investment managers as a good candidate for global diversification. The earlier long years of political upheaval and guerilla violence means that much of the reserves of this resource rich country including oil, gold and coal have not been explored and the reserves are still unaccounted for. Read what the NASDAQ has to say about the country at "Colombia Represents A New Vision in South America."

Of course, going offshore isn't restricted to the lower cost, tropical venues of Central and South America. Some people may enjoy the opportunities for cold weather sports and the history of a wonderful country like Austria. Think of Austria as similar to Switzerland or Germany but a place where locals and visitors alike have a lot more fun. While Austrian real estate is not a bargain as it still is in South America, compared to Switzerland it is an excellent value. Here are a few chalets to tempt your wandering eye.

The opportunities still available are truly amazing and I encourage you to takes steps to ensure your lifestyle and wealth now, while you can.

[Editor's Note: We cover up-and-coming countries, regions and global markets in the TDV Newsletter. At TDV Offshore create a wealth management strategy so you can experience that American Dream, wherever it may be.]

Join the discussion at The Dollar Vigilante today.

This article originally appeared at The Daily Bell.

Ron Holland is the author of several books, including The Threat to the Private Pension System, Escape the Pension Trap, and most recently, Restoring Our American Legacy, as well as numerous special reports and hundreds of articles on investment and political topics, many focusing on the interplay between politics and the investment markets. Selections of his essays can be found in the archives of TheDailyBell.com and LewRockwell.com.

Russia is de-dollarizing

Zerohedge - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:11

 

The ruble and other currencies do not compete against the dollar. They are dollar derivatives.

The dollar is headed to ruin, but that doesn’t mean that any other paper currency can replace it. The others will fail first.

The dollar will fail last.

 

The failure of the dollar, and the transition to gold happens to be the theme of an event The Gold Standard: Both Good and Necessary, in New York on Nov 1. There hasn’t been a real recovery from the crisis of 2008, and there won’t be until we return to the use of gold as money. Please come to this event to hear Andy Bernstein present the moral case for capitalism, and Keith Weiner present the case against the dollar and for the gold standard.








Gold and Silver an Antidote for the Internet of Money

Daily Bell - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:06
It seems these days that every time we identify a new meme, we see a "fast-track" evolution. The "Internet of Money" is no exception. We wrote about the Internet of Money on October 20, and now in this article in The Local, we see an apparent furtherance of this dominant social theme. We are told that physical money is becoming less and less important. Now the Danish central bank is going to outsource its printing and save millions. "Efficiency" itself is a meme. We ran into this recently when ...

Organic at McDonalds When Is a Meme not a Meme

Daily Bell - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:04
To call "organic food" a meme is questionable. From our point of view, the word "organic" by itself does not yet constitute a promotion. However, there is a debate taking place in the feedback section of The Daily Bell and it revolves around what actually constitutes a dominant social theme. The promotion – the meme – resides in the use of the word to imply certain qualities that are not present. Thus, if a firm trumpets organic food as more wholesome and healthy within the context of USDA ...

Figuring Out Life and Friendship

Daily Bell - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:02
I know the secret of life. You get up each morning and put both feet on the floor. You stand up and walk through the day in as straight a line as possible. Work diligently. Treat everyone with the civility they deserve. Treat those for whom you care with patience and generosity. Forgive yourself for honest mistakes and, then, forgive others. Smile and laugh as often as you can. Then go to bed and do exactly the same thing over again. The secret of friendship has been more difficult for me to ...

27% of Americans are now afraid to fly because of Ebola

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) Hyped-up Ebola fears have descended into the Western World, splattered all over the media and dripping like infectious blood through the minds of Americans. When the Western medical system failed to properly identify the first stray case of Ebola, two other nurses were...

Ebola doctor runs around NYC bowling alleys after telling authorities he was 'self-quarantined' - report

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) NY Daily News is reporting today that Dr. Craig Spencer ran around New York City "after first telling authorities he self-quarantined himself." [1] The paper also says Dr. Spencer "hit the [bowling] lanes in Williamsburg."Dr. Spencer recently returned from Guinea...

Big Berkey beats ProPur gravity water filter for removal of heavy metals and toxic elements

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) When it comes to the removal of heavy metals and toxic elements from water, Big Berkey water filters easily beat ProPur, according to independent lab tests conducted at the Natural News Forensic Food Labs and published online today.Full details of the tests conducted...

Rwanda to begin screening U.S. air travelers for Ebola - what do they know that the CDC doesn't?

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) The government of the African nation of Rwanda, in the eastern part of the continent, is now mandating that all visitors from the United States and Spain self-monitor for signs of Ebola, as well as complete an extensive questionnaire and report their medical condition...

Legendary virologist Dr. Jahrling warns today's Ebola strain appears to be far more infectious than any previous Ebola

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) An expert scientist from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) has publicly warned that the Ebola strain currently in circulation appears to be far more virulent and infectious than previous strains.Dr. Peter Jahrling has been on the ground...

Antibiotic and heavy metal contamination in environment contributes to resistance of harmful bacteria

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) Low concentrations of various pharmaceutical drugs are making their way into our water systems and soil through improper disposal, such as flushing, and through human excretion.When people take antibiotics, or other medications, they are often passed through the...

Celery may help kill cancer

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) If you need another reason to add more celery into your diet, researchers have now identified a compound in the vegetable that demonstrates anti-tumor activity. Effective against several types of cancer -- including those of the pancreas, ovaries, liver, small intestine...

Obama Administration forms military 'strike team' to respond to Ebola cases in the U.S

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) The Obama Administration has ordered the Department of Defense to form a 30-member military medical "quick strike team" that can deploy quickly -- within 72 hours -- to any new outbreaks of Ebola in the U.S., reports have said.The team will consist of five physicians...

CDC ends Ebola quarantine watch 3 weeks too early

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) Texas health officials as well as others with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have ended a 21-day quarantine and observation period for dozens of people suspected of being exposed to the United States' first domestically diagnosed Ebola patient, and while...

Cure fungal infections naturally

Natural News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 03:00
(NaturalNews) So you think you have a fungus infection? Or is it a yeast infection? Is there a difference?Mold, yeast, mildew - they are all fungi. Sometimes the words are used interchangeably. And sometimes the words yeast and fungus are used to describe different stages of the...

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