Monday, September 10, 2012

Today's links

1--Iraq Carnage: 107 Killed, 484 Wounded As VP Condemned to Death,

2--The Canadian Housing Bubble Nears Implosion, ETF Daily News

3--Weak China trade data raises Beijing spending stakes, Reuters

Weak Chinese trade data on Monday underlined the likelihood of more Beijing-backed spending to deal with the damage done to the domestic economy by firms cutting production, inventories and imports in the face of anemic global demand.

Imports fell 2.6 percent on the year in August, confounding expectations of a 3.5 percent rise. Exports grew 2.7 percent, below forecasts for a 3 percent rise in a Reuters poll.

Such weak data is grim news in a country where exports generate 25 percent of gross domestic product, support an estimated 200 million jobs and where analysts already expect the economy to have its weakest year of expansion since 1999.

4--The UK economy is in a "double dip" recession, with the longest recovery in recent history - and still nowhere close to the pre-recession GDP, Sober look

Worse than the Great Depression

5--The Tag-Along Market, Businessweek
Five years after the last market high, the remarkable recovery in markets still feels nervous, and a little synthesized.

6--Hungary Throws Out Monsanto AND The IMF, Automatic Earth

Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Maize Fields

In an effort to rid the country of Monsanto's GMO products, Hungary has stepped up the pace. This looks like its going to be another slap in the face for Monsanto. A new regulation was introduced this March which stipulates that seeds are supposed to be checked for GMO before they are introduced to the market. Unfortunately, some GMO seeds made it to the farmers without them knowing it.

Almost 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said. The GMO maize has been ploughed under, said Lajos Bognar, but pollen has not spread from the maize, he added.

Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. The checks will continue despite the fact that seed traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free, Bognar said. During their investigation, controllers have found Pioneer and Monsanto products among the seeds planted

7--Troika demands lower wages, pensions, and regulations in secret memo to Greece, Yanis Varoufakis

8--It’s the (German) banks, stupid!, yanis varoufakis

Lest I be misunderstood, the Greek crisis, however monstrous by Greek standards, is in itself no more than an annoyance for Europe’s surplus countries. A gross sum of €200 to €300 billion could be restructured quite easily or at least dealt with somehow....

So, what is the Great Banking Conundrum that Europe is now facing? Put bluntly, Germany’s banks have not been cleansed of much of the worthless toxic paper of the pre-2008 era and, on top of that, are replete with bonds issued by the now insolvent peripheral member-states. French banks are in a similar state, with even more of an exposure to Spanish debt. Spanish banks are fibbing about the extent of their potential losses from falling real estate prices (which need to be added to their exposure to Portuguese and Spanish sovereign debt). Meanwhile, the ECB-system is massively exposed to the totality of this combination of stressed sovereign debt and unrelenting bank losses (actual and potential).

9--A Poor Argument for Poverty, economists view

After the tax and transfer system kicks in, however, the US has the highest poverty rate of all the countries in the sample

10--Labor participation for men in the US hit the lowest level on record; decline among younger men is particularly sharp, sober look

11--The Fed Is Expected to Launch QE3 Next Week ... Which Would Help the Rich and Hurt the Little Guy, zero hedge

12--Debt Collectors Cashing In on Student Loans, NYT

13--Cheerleading Wa Post wrong about NAFTA, CEPR

In reality Mexico had the slowest growing economy in Latin America over the last decade, but what do you expect, it's the Washington Post.

14--More scary stories from the WA Post, CEPR

Today Fred Hiatt celebrates Rhode Island's Treasurer Gina Raimondo, who cut public employee pensions while partially replacing them with 401(k) accounts that should mean millions of dollars in additional revenue for the financial industry. This is the sort of upward redistribution that the Post loves.

In the course of praising Raimondo, the Post throws in a few lines about the need to cut Social Security, trying to scare readers with talk of the program's $7 trillion deficit over its 75-year planning horizon. Are you scared, are you really scared?

Serious newspapers would put this measure in a context that readers could understand. They presumably know that none of their readers has any clue what $7 trillion means over the next 75 years means. On the other hand, the Post could have said the projected shortfall was equal to 0.5 percent of GDP, but hey, that probably doesn't sound scary enough.

15--Vital Signs Chart: More Auto Loans Going to Subprime Borrowers, WSJ

More car loans are going to risky borrowers. Nearly 12% of new auto loans went to subprime borrowers — those with credit scores below 620 — in the second quarter, the most since the market for risky loans dried up in 2008. Somewhat safer “outside of prime” loans — those to borrowers with scores below 680 — rose to 25.4% in the second quarter, up from under 17% in 2009.

16--Are things looking up?, prag cap

17--Debt-to-income ratios must be limited to prevent future housing bubbles, OC Housing

Areas which experienced the largest run-ups in household leverage tended to experience the most severe recessions as measured by the subsequent fall in durables consumption or the subsequent rise in the unemployment rate (Mian and Sufi 2010)....

Overall, the data suggests the presence of a self-reinforcing feedback loop in which an influx of new homebuyers with access to easy mortgage credit helped fuel an excessive run-up in house prices. The run-up, in turn, encouraged lenders to ease credit further on the assumption that house prices would continue to rise. Recession severity in a given area appears to reflect the degree to which prior growth in that area was driven by an unsustainable borrowing trend–one which came to an abrupt halt once house prices stopped rising (Mian and Sufi 2012).

I am quite relieved to see the federal reserve finally gets this. Their verbose explanation is a fancy way of saying lenders were running a Ponzi scheme.

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