Dizzying home-price increases fused with pandemic hype and trillions from the Fed into a self-propagating force. It’s now accepted that housing will recover all the way to where it was in 2006, a sign the Fed has done its job, that it cured the ill that has dogged this economy for so long. Prices of 2006 are no longer “the peak of the housing bubble” but a goal.
Verizon will unleash a tsunami of money on Wall Street. To pay for its $130 billion acquisition of Vodafone’s share of Verizon Wireless, it will print $60 billion of its own inflated stock. It will borrow the rest – much of it via the largest bond sale in history, though it’s drowning in debt. Now that sale is slamming the already deflating bond bubble.
“Seize the ground of new media,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said elegantly when he told state-owned media to get on the ball. So, effective today, the next chapter in seizing the ground of “new media” is this: people found by the Chinese judicial machinery to have posted libelous language online can expect three years in the hoosegow. Conditions apply.
So the Japanese economy is booming. GDP growth in the April-June quarter was revised up to 3.8%, driven by higher big-ticket spending and government outlays. The January-March quarter was revised up to 4.1%. Three quarters in a row of growth, fed by something we’ve seen before. In 1996. And it ended in tears.
For Japan’s megabanks, lending has rebounded. But instead of funding industrial projects in Japan, they’re funding acquisitions overseas and highfalutin real-estate speculation in Tokyo. They wrote up stock holdings and extracted fees from frenzied trading. Profits surged. They’re the prime beneficiaries of Abenomics. But smaller banks are not so lucky.
When the Fed said it wanted to print more money in order to create jobs, it’s this graph that came to mind. And when it now says that it wants to taper that process because it already created enough jobs, it’s also this graph that comes to mind. Job creation and economic growth were just a pretext – a pretext that has been very crummy.
The bond-fund massacre is spectacular. Antsy investors yanked $7.7 billion in August out of the world’s largest bond fund, Pimco’s Total Return Fund. In July, they’d yanked out $7.5 billion, in June $14.5 billion. From May 1 through August 31, the fund’s assets shriveled 14%. Other bond funds got hit too. And September is shaping up to be even worse.
An American attack on Syria would just be a punitive action for the gruesome gas attacks. “Regime change” wouldn’t be part of it. That was the idea. Now the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to authorize President Obama to wage war on Syria, but amendments suddenly set new goals – smack-dab in the middle of a distant lala-land.
In Paris, “Chinese” has a new meaning: money. This phenomenon shows up by the busload at luxury retailers where sales staff say a few words of bad Mandarin, instead of bad English, in hawking overpriced handbags and glittery baubles. Now Aéroports de Paris has put a number on it. A glimmer of hope for France, though perhaps of the wrong kind.
Germany’s industrial conglomerates and the vibrant Mittelstand (privately held enterprises that were world leaders in their niche until the Chinese came along), decorated with real wage declines since the heyday of Reunification… all have been bandied about as economic model for troubled, if unenthusiastic Eurozone countries. But there is a darker side.