Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Today's links

1---How Bad Can The Junk-Bond Sell-Off Get? So Bad It’ll Take Down Stocks , wolf street

2---Wall Street Journal Reporter: “The Entire United States Market Has Become One Vast Dark Pool” , Wall Street on Parade

3---Renting drives U.S. homeownership to 19-year low , Reuters

5---Lawsuit Stunner: Half of Futures Trades in Chicago Are Illegal Wash Trades , WSOP

6---Another Wall Street Inside Job?: Stock Buybacks Carried Out in Dark Pools , WSOP

7---Blackstone adviser: Investors worried about ‘serious correction’, HW

8--U.S. housing data weaker than expected, but services sector expands, Reuters

9---Abenomics Virtuous Cycle Spinning More Slowly, wsj

10--Housing Slowdown? The Case-Shiller Index in Five Charts , wsj

As expected, the pace of U.S. home price gains has slowed this year. Prices rose 9.3% from a year earlier in May in 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, down from the 10.8% increase reported last month for April.
Price gains have been expected to flatten out after sales slowed last summer following a sustained run-up in mortgage rates and prices. The Case-Shiller index is also heavily influenced by the share of homes selling out of foreclosure, and as the share of distressed sales fell two years ago, home prices began to look much better. Now that foreclosures are fading from the market, prices may show less volatility.
Some economists were surprised Tuesday by the index’s seasonally-adjusted series, which showed that prices actually fell in May. Home prices tend to rise in the spring and summer because there are more transactions, and prices aren’t as strong in the fall and winter, when transaction volumes decline. To account for this, Standard & Poor’s applies a seasonal adjustment to the series.
But in 2010, S&P warned that the seasonal adjustment wasn’t behaving normally because of the distorting effects of foreclosed-property sales. Because mortgage companies sell homes throughout the year, those sales followed less of the seasonal pattern exhibited by normal owners. Since April 2010, the index committee at S&P hasn’t given much attention to the seasonally adjusted data, given concerns over its reliability.
Bearing that in mind, the 1.1% monthly price gain in May became a 0.3% decline after adjusting for seasonal factors. While all 20 cities showed monthly gains in home prices, some 14 cities showed monthly declines after the seasonal adjustment was applied.
Either way, it’s clear that home prices are slowing, though it’s an open question when prices will settle at a pace of appreciation that matches income gains and inflation. Last year, huge price gains stoked fears of a bubble. A deceleration in price gains should smother those worries.
What does the broader picture show? Prices have risen this year at a slower pace than last year, and at a slower pace than in the pre-crash period. But for now, this bears less resemblance to the depression of 2007 to 2011.
More context: Home prices are now 17.4% below their 2006 peak. By contrast, prices stood around 35% below the 2006 peak when they hit bottom in March 2012. Two cities have returned to all-time highs: Denver and Dallas. Several others, including Las Vegas and Phoenix, remain far below their previous highs, despite huge gains over the past two years.
A final word on the Case-Shiller index: while it was the among the first of its kind to measure prices of homes based on repeat transactions, it isn’t perfect. The index actually measures homes on a three-month moving average and it reports on a two-month delay. That means that in late July, we’re getting a picture of home prices for the three months ended in May.
Moreover, the index reports prices based on closed transactions, and those transactions typically go to contract one to three months earlier. So in late July, we’re getting a picture of what the housing market looked like in the February-to-April period. The widely cited 20-city index is also value weighted, meaning that changes in the prices of more expensive homes in coastal California and the New York metro area can heavily influence the overall index.

10--The Libyan catastrophe, wsws
This weekend’s panicked evacuation of US diplomatic staff from Tripoli, Libya to nearby Tunisia is the culmination of the disaster unleashed by the US-NATO war in Libya three years ago.
The fighting in the Libyan capital between rival militias was so intense that US officials did not dare fly out from the nearby Tripoli airport. Instead, the diplomats and their heavily armed Marine guards fled overland, in a caravan of buses and sport utility vehicles. Drones and jet fighters flew overhead and a destroyer cruised offshore, ready to blow up anyone who got in their way.

Washington and the other imperialist powers armed these same militias in 2011 as part of a war for regime change to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. They left behind a country blown to pieces, its oil industry, the heart of the economy, in a state of collapse and all of Libya engulfed in a spreading civil war.

As the WSWS warned at the time, the war was an imperialist rape of a defenseless ex-colonial country. Tens of thousands of Libyans died as the United States, Britain, France and their Middle East allies bombed Libya, while arming a patchwork of Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militias, tribal forces, and units led by Gaddafi-regime turncoats as their foot soldiers.

11---Blaming Russia as "Flat Fact", Robert Parry

12---Ukraine: Pentagon Sees Ballistic Missile Launches - Why Then No MH17 Data? Moon of Alabama

Pentagon officials tell CNN (video) that the Ukrainian government fired three ballistic missiles towards the federalists during the last 48 hours. Such missiles have ranges from 50 miles up to some 600 miles and carry warheads with some 1,000 pounds or more of explosives.
This is a huge qualitative escalation of the conflict. It shows that the Ukrainian military is in real trouble as it now has resorts increasingly to very indiscriminate, imprecise and large weapons.
But there is one even more important issues that CNN will certainly not mention.

The U.S., like Russia, has satellites that watch for bigger missile launches. Some of these satellites are in a geostationary orbit. They permanently observe one area. Other are in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and give a more detailed picture, but as they circulate the earth, for only the time of the overflight. That the Pentagon watched three ballistic missile launches lets me believe that a geostationary satellite with permanent observation was used in this case.

But if there is a U.S. geostationary infrared satellite watching Ukraine all the time it must also have observed the alleged launch of a BUK-1 anti-air missile against the flight MH17. Air-defense missiles release a lot of energy at launch and would be seen as significant, very fast growing white blob on an infrared picture.
The U.S. therefore obviously knows if, when and exactly from where a BUK-1 missile was launched against MH17. That the U.S. detected the ballistic missile launches makes this conclusion inevitable.
Why then is the U.S. not releasing the data of the BUK-1 launch against MH17?

13---MH17 tragedy: Beating drums for war in Ukraine, RT

Let’s start with how all US media refer to the Kiev revolutionary government as the legitimate government of Ukraine. By that logic, if Tea Party-affiliated white supremacist militias based in Wisconsin and Idaho staged a rebellion that forced Barack Obama to take refuge in Canada, shut down the US government, and then those militias declared Chicago our new capital, everything would be fine.
The current Kiev government was the result of a coup by fascist-linked goons with heavy-hitter support in conservative Washington think tanks left over from the Cold War. Those Ukrainian interests had enough political clout in past decades to shut down investigations of Ukrainian war criminal collaborators with the Nazis from WWII.

14---A third of Americans delinquent on debt, USA Today

15---Libya is now officially a failed state, RT

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