RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – In September, police investigating a wave of killings in the northern Rio de Janeiro suburbs followed a tip to the isolated scrubland near the massive Duque de Caxias oil refinery.
Ryanair’s boss has warned that all UK flights to Europe could be suspended in March 2019 – is it true?
Back in October 2015, roughly around the bottom of the recent commodity cycle, we reported a stunning statistic: more than half of Chinese companies did not generate enough cash flow to even cover the interest on their cash flow, and as we concluded “it is safe to assume that up to two-third of Chinese commodity companies are now at imminent danger of default, as they can’t even generate the cash to pay down the interest on their debt, let alone fund repayments.“
While commodity prices have staged a powerful bounce over the past 18 months, and despite the government’s powerful drive to avoid major defaults over concerns about resulting mass unemployment, the inevitable default wave has finally arrived, and as Bloomberg reports overnight, “China’s deleveraging push has racked up the most defaults on corporate bonds ever for a first quarter, and the identity of the debtors is pretty revealing.”
Seven companies have defaulted on a total of nine bonds onshore so far in 2017, versus 29 for all of last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In a sign of the struggles facing China’s old economic model, most of them depend on heavy industry and construction. While it’s still far from a crisis point, the defaults shows how policy makers’ efforts to reduce the liquidity that had propelled the bond market until late last year is exacting casualties.
Cited by Bloomberg, Liu Dongliang, a senior analyst at China Merchants Bank Co. in Shenzhen said that “weak companies can’t sell bonds, which adds to the pressure on their cash flow.” As a result, “the pace of defaults will continue. It will be even more difficult for weak companies to sell bonds because corporate bond yields may rise further — the current yield premium doesn’t provide enough protection against credit risks.”
As discussed in recent months, the Chinese central bank has been curbing leverage in money markets leading to a spike in borrowing costs…
… which has also hit issuance: making rolling over of existing debt prohibitive for many. Firms rated AA, generally considered junk in China, sold 33 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) of bonds in the first quarter, the least since 2011, Bloomberg data show. Chinese companies have scrapped 129 billion yuan of bond sales since Dec. 31, a jump of more than 50 percent from the same period a year before.
Continuing the deleveraging push, and further tightening financial conditions, over the weekend, the PBOC boosted rates on loans aimed at small- and medium-sized financial institutions while as reported last weekend, smaller and mid-size banks have been caught in the cross hairs of shadow banking deleveraging, with some said to have missed debt payments in March.
Not surprisingly, Bloomberg reports that four of this year’s nine defaulted bonds were issued by companies based in the northeast rust-belt province of Liaoning, which has been among the areas hit hardest by China’s focus on reducing capacity in industries such as steel and coal. Another key Chinese commodity producing province, Hebei, which is the nexus of China’s steel-production has so far been spared as a result of lying about its production cuts, however recent revelations have prompted Beijing to crack down on local factories, resulting in the recent decline in iron-ore prices, which will likely have adverse impacts on Chinese upstream steel suppliers, and result in even more defaults in the coming months.
Courtesy of Bloomberg, here is a summary of the companies that have defaulted so far in 2017:
1. Dalian Machine Tool Group Corp.
The top perpetrator, this Liaoning manufacturer defaulted on three bonds this year, after issuing new securities as recently as October. The tool making industry has a large number of players, and is ripe for consolidation, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. Dalian Machine is also based in a province that tumbled into an outright recession last year. The securities involved include a note due in May 2017, one due in July and another due in January 2019.
2. Dongbei Special Steel Group Co.
This steelmaker based in Dalian, a port city on the Yellow Sea, is a good example of Liaoning’s troubles. The company, partially state owned, was already bailed out in the early 2000s before it had to grapple with the challenges of China’s economy decelerating from around 10 percent growth to sub-7 percent. It’s now defaulted on its sixth bond since its latest financial difficulties began a year ago. The company is in bankruptcy proceedings. The note defaulted on was originally issued in 2013 and is due in January 2018.
3. Inner Mongolia Berun Group Co.
This investment company is based in the heart of the northern province of Inner Mongolia, which saw a surge in construction during the record credit boom unleashed during the global financial crisis. Berun Group’s home city, Ordos, was dubbed China’s biggest “ghost town,” for all the vacant buildings that went up during the stimulus period. This was the second default within two months for the company, which invests in chemicals and logistics. The defaulted security was a note issued last year that was due in January.
4. China Shanshui Cement Group Ltd.
While this company is based in Shandong, a province southeast of Beijing that’s better off than its neighbor across the Yellow Sea, Liaoning, cement has become a tougher industry since regulators took steps to rein in China’s property sector. China Shanshui Cement Group has defaulted on several bonds since November 2015 after a boardroom fracas stymied financing. Its Hong Kong-traded shares are suspended. The bond in question was three-year note issued in February 2014.
5. China City Construction Holding Group Co.
This builder is based in the national capital, but Beijing’s ongoing property boom wasn’t enough to prevent it from missing interest payments. A change in the contractor’s ownership last April triggered early redemption of a Dim Sum bond, and then China City faced difficulties transferring funds offshore to repay the debt. The shifting shareholder structure has had a “serious” negative impact on the company’s ongoing ability to secure funding, according to China Lianhe Credit Rating Co. The company defaulted again early last month. The security was a bond due in March 2021.
6. Huasheng Jiangquan Group Co.
Another Shandong-based company, this steelmaker suffered “huge losses” after its subsidiary cut manufacturing of the alloy, according to Dongxing Securities Co., the lead underwriter on the defaulted bond. Premier Li Keqiang said in his address to the National People’s Congress last month that China wants to reduce steel capacity by about 50 million tons. Huasheng Jiangquan repaid the overdue amount on the debt March 22. The 800 million-yuan bond that was defaulted on was due in March 2019.
7. Zhuhai Zhongfu Enterprise Co.
A bottle maker for Coca-Cola Co., this company sticks out because it hails from Guangdong, China’s powerhouse exporter province. Zhuhai Zhongfu said in a statement last week that it’s running at a loss amid competition in the industry and weak demand. The company’s controlling shareholder says Zhuhai Zhongfu is planning to make an overdue payment by April 26 on the bond that it defaulted on March 28. The firm defaulted on a separate bond in 2015 and repaid the debt five months later.
The US said the agency partners with Chinese government programmes that support coercive abortions.
Ever since Mike Cernovich dropped the bombshell report over the weekend outing Obama’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, as the person behind the unmasking of the identity of various members of Trump’s team who were ‘incidentally’ surveilled during the 2016 campaign (see “Confirmed: Susan Rice “Unmasked” Trump Team“), a report which was subsequently confirmed by Eli Lake of Bloomberg earlier this morning, everyone has been wondering who within the Trump White House or the intelligence community supplied him with such a massive scoop.
But, as it turns out, Cernovich didn’t need a ‘deep throat’ within the NSA or CIA for his blockbuster scoop, all he needed was some well-placed sources inside of a couple of America’s corrupt mainstream media outlets. As Cernovich explains below, his sources for the Susan Rice story were actually folks working at Bloomberg and the New York Times who revealed that both Eli Lake (Bloomberg) and Maggie Haberman (NYT) were sitting on the Susan Rice story in order to protect the Obama administration.
“Maggie Haberman had it. She will not run any articles that are critical of the Obama administration.”
“Eli Lake had it. He didn’t want to run it and Bloomberg didn’t want to run it because it vindicates Trump’s claim that he had been spied upon. And Eli Lake is a ‘never Trumper.’ Bloomberg was a ‘never Trump’ publication.”
“I’m showing you the politics of ‘real journalism’. ‘Real journalism’ is that Bloomberg had it and the New York Times had it but they wouldn’t run it because they don’t want to run any stories that would make Obama look bad or that will vindicate Trump. They only want to run stories that make Trump look bad so that’s why they sat on it.”
“So where did I get the story? I didn’t get it from the intelligence community. Everybody’s trying to figure out where I got it from. I got it from somebody who works in one of those media companies. I have spies in every media organization. I got people in news rooms. I got it from a source within the news room who said ‘Cernovich, they’re sitting on this story, they’re not going to run it, so you can run it’.”
“If you’re at Bloomberg, I have people in there. If you’re at the New York Times, I have people in there. LA Times, Washington Post, you name it, I have my people in there. I got IT people in every major news room in this country. The IT people see every email so that’s how I knew it.”
And while this could certainly be interpreted as a clever ploy to protect his real sources, Cernovich’s video comments seem to be validated by both his tweet from yesterday afternoon…
Obama may be the first POTUS brought down by a scandal after he left office. Every major outlet had this scoop, none would run it. https://t.co/LvPEGqJxtk
— Mike Cernovich ???????? (@Cernovich) April 2, 2017
…and the fact that Eli Lake of Bloomberg was able to conveniently confirm Cernovich’s story with his own article this morning.
All of which just begs the question of what other stories the mainstream media is sitting on in an effort to protect their chosen candidates.
There’s an old truism people forget all too often. It has many variations and is attributed to even more, its core meaning goes something like this:
“If the government can give it to you, than it can also take it away.”
Some of you might be wondering if I’m talking about the current “tax” advantages that have made these vehicles so popular over the years. To that I’ll say no, not at this current time. But I feel that will be the least of worries coming down the pike in the not so distant future.
No, what I’m directly addressing is what is now emanating from the one and only non-government, privately held institution, directed by a consortium of non-elected, Ivory Towered, policy wonks: The Federal Reserve.
And those emanations are anything but 401K holder friendly. Let me explain…
I know many are wondering how a government inspired quote, a private institution, their retirement account, or savings account fits under one banner, or are some how all connected. Well, that’s easy:
The Federal Reserve has been the sole entity that dictates what any of them are currently worth. And if you don’t like their choices or decisions? Tough. There’s nothing you can do about it. Period.
Maybe that’s not quite correct: It’s not that there’s “nothing you can do.” The problem is – there’s nothing you’ll want to do. Hence where the real issues lie.
The following is for those who know of no other “investing” world (or 401K holder) other than after the financial crisis of 2007/08. Or put differently – if you’ve been working and saving only for the last decade or so. i.e., in the 35ish – 40-year-old bracket and younger.
Back in ancient history before algorithmic HFT parasites roamed the trading world (circa 2008 A.D.) One could retire comfortably with a modest sum of money and find relatively safe places to hold their assets receiving some form of interest payment for its usage. CD’s (certificates of deposit) bonds (such as U.S. Treasuries) and others were some of the most popular.
That was until the Fed. decided interest rates and everything that was connected to them was secondary (and even expendable) as to subjugate the financial markets and bring them into such a reflexive corollary that even if a Fed. official whispered- the effect on Wall Street was a realtime example of that other adage “When a butterfly flaps its wings…”
That’s what pumping (and printing) $4+TRILLION dollars via differing iterations of QE, Twist and a relentless death grip for years at the Zero-bound will buy you.
For those who don’t remember, it used to be when understanding investing prowess people used to say (or was advertised) things like, “When E.F. Hutton speaks – people listen.” Now it’s: “When The Federal Reserve whispers – Wall Street jumps!”
That’s what the greatest expression for capital formation the world has ever known has now become. i.e., Nothing more than a trained jumping flea circus. And again – all in less than 10 years.
Does a “Mission Accomplished” banner come with that? But I digress.
One of the reasons I can attest to much of what has been thrust upon (or taken from) retirees and others is that I actually am one, became one right at the beginning of the financial crisis. I was fortunate enough (via hard work and forethought) as to retire at the age of 45. A “dream” or ‘brass ring” many find elusive if not near impossible back in 2005.
It was a dream come true. However – it was also smack-dab right before, and squarely into the teeth of the “out of the blue” financial shock and market melt down for the ages that would transform everything. And I do mean: everything!
Suddenly the idea of diversifying one’s financial assets into relative safety was gone – and I do mean just that – gone. Which is, by-the-way, why I detest and so adamantly stand against all this over-simplified drivel once again appearing from so-called financial “expert” landscape. It’s going to hurt far more people than it’ll ever help.
The Federal Reserve decided in its infinite “wisdom” that interest rates were now to be considered a “poison” to the economy and not only cut – but slashed them, and held them at the Zero-bound for years. What this meant was one could no longer expect to receive any interest bearing accounts to live. i.e., Eat, pay bills, et cetera. And I won’t even get into what it has done to pensions and insurance companies.
But no one has cared – especially the Fed. Let me use the following for demonstration purposes…
Let’s say you were an entrepreneur and sold your business, or were able to some how via thrift or shrewd business acumen, and were able to amass a nest egg of let’s say $3Million dollars for the entrepreneur, and $1Million for the shrewd. Both scenarios are quite feasible for the prudent minded.
Just 10 years ago it was also not only feasible, but rather probable, one could safely allocate their resources finding returns of 5% (and higher, depending) in such mundane vehicles as CD’s, Treasuries, and more.
So, using nothing more than napkin math, one could easily calculate using the $1MM example that money would generate approximately $50,000.00 per year without touching the principal for one to live on. This was also a relatively accurate proposition because there was precedent going back decades. Sure, $50K ain’t what it used to be, but it’s sure a hell of a lot more than Zero – which is precisely what interest rates have been now going on years. And on $3MM? It’s the same. i.e. Zero, as in zip, zero, nada.
“But wait! There’s more!!!” as they say, but it’s not a bonus anyone wants to hear about. What is that you say? Glad you asked…
Not only does having a $Million dollars get you nothing at a bank (correct, not even a lousy toaster) if you are one of the fortunate (or unfortunate depending on perspective) who wants to put that hard-earned money safely under “lock and key” via the auspices of some bank – it’s going to cost you! And in some instances – they might not even want your deposit at all. Why?
Why else – it’ll cost them, and that’s a no-no in banking. Costs are something you pay – not them. And if enough profits can’t be made on legitimate transactions? See Wells Fargo™ for clues.
So what was the flip side? Here’s my opinion…
Welcome to the “markets” (or should I say casino) of today. Where 401K holders, and corporate buy-backs supported via the Fed’s balance sheet accrual, and zero interest rate financing meet the front running, algorithmic, headline reading HFT parasites which enabled the BTFD phenom to appear time, after time, after time, after time. Which, by its very nature and existence has allowed “investing” to be the equivalent of nothing more than following the strategy of a chimp hurling darts at ETF symbols backed by a central banks “bulls-eye.”
Ah, but what a difference an election does make, no? For that was then – and this is now. And “now” seems to be that the Federal Reserve is hell-bent as to raise interest rates regardless of what the “markets” desire.
Can you say, “Oh-oh?”
For years the cries of savers, pension plans, insurance companies and more have fallen on deaf ears. Actuary tables that prove these bedrocks of society can not sustain or endure under a Fed. policy such as what has been thrust upon them was relegated to the, “Who cares the “markets” up – deal with it!” status.
Now – That all seems to have changed.
Suddenly (as in the last few months) interest rates not only need to go up. They need to go up stat!
The Fed. via its differing speakers in public comments are signaling that not only is the raising of rates further, and quicker on the table, but so too is the balance sheet as to begin down sizing it.
If the above is to be taken at face value (and why shouldn’t it, after all, isn’t this why the Fed. makes public comments to begin with?) with signaling (via the Dot Plot and more) now stating 3 rate hikes for 2017 and some Fed. speakers signaling the possibility of even 4. Along with the abrupt metamorphosis of doves turning into hawks (using Ms. Yellen, and Ms. Brainard as examples) the “markets” are going to find fuel to propel them higher using what precisely?
The only fuel that has enabled the “markets” to propel this high has been all Fed. funded. And now this same Fed. is in no uncertain terms professing they’re out of the “hopium” business. Or at least – want to appear that way.
If this is true, taking them not just at their words, but rather via their actions – we now have 2 rate increases in 90 days with near shouting (as compared to prior discussions) that the Fed. is far more interested in raising further, and faster, than previously discussed. All while remembering it was only a few short weeks prior the Fed. Chair herself was touting the need for running a “high pressure economy” and has now flipped to jettison anything of the such – and is now the undisputed leader of “hawks are us.”
The issue here is – the “markets” have been levitated via the “wings of doves.” Suddenly – those “doves” have all but vanished. And if that’s true? What’s vanished with it may just be the BTFD genius along with it. And that will turn into a very big problem indeed if correct.
When savers were (and still are) getting crushed, no one cared, not even the Fed. The problem?
It seems just as the Fed. turned its back on savers pain all these years – they might be signaling how they’re going to feel about any 401K holders losses that may appear via their new-found policy stance. To Wit:
ZeroHedge: “What is the biggest S&P drop the Fed will accept before intervening?”
Minneapolis Fed. president Neel Kashkari: “Don’t care about stock market fall itself. Care abt potential financial instability. Stock market drop unlikely to trigger crisis.”
And with that, only one last saying comes to my mind:
Dear 401K holders – welcome to a savers world. Oh yeah, and buckle up. For things might get a little “bumpy” as that other saying goes.
There is so much excess liquidity in China that an 18-year-old Romanian model has agreed to sell her virginity to a “very friendly” – and generous – Hong Kong businessman for the “life-changing” sum of $2.45 million (€ 2.3 million).
In late 2016, Romanian Alexandra Kefren ignited a firestorm of outrage after it was reported that she had put her first sexual experience up for auction for a minimum of $1 million on Cinderella Escorts, a Germany-based agency which specializes in teens looking to sell their virginity online. According to the Shanghaiist, Kefren says she got the idea from watching Indecent Proposal when she was 15 years old.
After the news made headlines around the world, Kefren’s parents nearly disowned her. She later went on a British daytime television show to explain her decision. The teen said that she was selling her virginity so that she could pay for a good life for her parents, as well as a home and education for herself.
With the YouTube clip alone getting nearly 2 million views (unclear if it ran Coke ads), the surge in media attention caused the bids to skyrocket. Finally, an anonymous Hong Kong businessman offered $2.45 million for the privilege of lifting her, well, offer. It was an amount she could not say no to.
On Cinderella Escorts, Kefren explained her decision last month, asking “How many would possibly forgo their first time in retrospect if they could have 2.3 million euros instead?”
I am glad to have decided to sell my virginity throught Cinderella Escorts, I would never have dreamed that the bid would go so high and we would reach € 2.3 million. This is really a dream come true.
We had commandments from all over the world and there was a long process. I was criticized in the press.
It was felt as a taboo that I can do with my body what I want.
But I have kept to it that I wanted to sell my virginity with Cinderella Escorts rather than giving it to a future friend who might have left me anyway. And I think many other girls have the same attitude.
How many would possibly forgo their first time in retrospect if they could have 2.3 million euros instead? Everyone has to ask himself this question. Of course, there will be different opinions, but everyone should be able to represent and live their own.
Now everything has to be organized. The hotel is booked. Cinderella Escorts accompanies me to the meeting and stays nearby as security if problems arise. I have the possibility to terminate the meeting at any time, but I am quite confident. I could talk with the buyer before and we are very friendly.
But while Kefren may have hit the jackpot, if only once, the biggest recurring winner in the arrangement appears to be the agency, Cinderella Escorts, which will profit on this deal, taking a 20% commission from the transaction. Additionally, Kefren’s story appears to have inspired more girls to follow in her footsteps. The agency claims that they have received requests from 300 girls from around the country wanting to sell their virginity on the site as well.
As for Hong Kong and Chinese bidders, we are confident that they will soon figure out a novel way of converting this scheme into the latest and greatest way to funnel hot money out of China’s closed financial system and into more mature market. Curious where to “park” several million in “hot money”? Then head on over to the money laundering, pardon, virginity auction website.
Tucker Carlson tackled the subject of Susan Rice and privacy this evening — drawing a red line in the sand — proclaiming that ‘our laws provided no serious protections from being spied on for political reasons.’
Can anyone make an argument proving this to be a false statement?
All too often, lazy thinkers conclude that it is the right of government to spy on its citizens. Perhaps that is the case in Saudi Arabia or Canada, but it’s not supposed to be that way here. Either the promotional propaganda that lauds America’s democracy as being the ideal for representative forms of government are true or they aren’t. Providing the latter prevails, as it is now, no one will ever believe in the dream that was democracy — thanks to a cadre of corrupt mountebanks who’ve abused the goodwill of the American people and its systems for purposes of self-aggrandizement and a prevailing bias that wantonly eschews the liberty of its citizens — superseded only by a craven and insatiable appetite for power.
Content originally published at iBankCoin.com
French economist Frédéric Bastiat was a man far ahead of his time. He was a “classical liberal,” which today would identify him as a libertarian. He expanded upon the free-market argument set forth by Adam Smith in 1776.
In 1845, the French government levied protective tariffs on scores of items, from sewing needles to locomotives. The intent was to protect French industries from companies outside France that could produce the goods more cheaply.
The reaction from Mister Bastiat was to publish “The Candlemakers’ Petition,” a satirical proposal to the government that was intended to help them see the nonsense of protective tariffs.
The petition was presented as having been sent by “the Manufacturers of Candles, Tapers, Lanterns, Sticks, Street Lamps, Snuffers, and Extinguishers, and from Producers of Tallow, Oil, Resin, Alcohol, and Generally of Everything Connected with Lighting.”
Their plea to the Chamber of Deputies was that the government pass a law “requiring the closing of all windows, dormers, skylights, inside and outside shutters, curtains, casements, bull’s-eyes, deadlights, and blinds—in short, all openings, holes, chinks, and fissures through which the light of the sun is wont to enter houses.”
Mister Bastiat’s satirical petition did an exemplary job of exposing the tendency of governments to pander to special interest groups to the detriment of everyone else.
Throughout the ages, protective tariffs have been created for this purpose and, historically, they work only briefly, if at all.
In 1930, the US introduced the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which raised tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods. Not surprisingly, the source countries for those goods retaliated by passing their own tariffs against the importation of American goods.
The net effect, in addition to the new laws cancelling each other out, was that free trade took a major hit. Consumers in all countries affected had less access to a variety of goods, and the GDP of each nation suffered as overseas orders dried up.
Of course, the justification for Smoot-Hawley was that the US had suffered a stock market crash and the demand to protect surviving businesses was considerable. It’s not surprising, then, that whenever a given country finds itself in an economic squeeze, industry leaders shout “foul!” and governments appease them with tariffs.
Again, not surprisingly, we observe the tariff question rearing its ugly head today, most visibly in the US, where new President Donald Trump has vowed to place tariffs on a number of countries, most notably on Mexico (20%) and China (a whopping 45%).
As is always the case when a government declares it will create a dramatic tariff, those who impose it look no further than the immediate effect—that of limiting importing goods to protect domestic industry. The immediate secondary effect is that goods from those countries suddenly become far more expensive, and domestic industry is either unable to produce the goods at all, or at best, it must do so at a much higher price.
At present, Chinese goods amount to 19% of American imports and Mexican goods amount to 12%. With nearly a third of all goods purchased by Americans during a difficult economic period increasing dramatically in price, the impact to the cost of living can be expected to be substantial. If the tariffs are extended to other jurisdictions, as in 1930, a few domestic industries would enjoy a brief period of benefit, but the population (and eventually all industry, through knock-on effects) would be heavily impacted.
So, why on earth are political leaders so quick to impose tariffs? Well, don’t forget: Tariffs are paid to the government. Any government that’s facing revenue problems will be tempted to go for a quick injection of revenue, even if it will ultimately be destructive. Regardless of how much damage tariffs do to the people of a country, tariff revenue is like manna from heaven for governments.
Of course, the revenue source tends to dry up before long as, ultimately, tariffs are destructive to free trade. Most tariffs are either abolished or at least lowered at some point. In the meantime, they’re like plaque in a body’s arteries, creating a sclerotic effect on the economy. Invariably, they’re a heavy price for a country to pay for a brief period of additional revenue that political leaders may squander.
But, understandably, the temptation is great for any government and, since memories tend to be short, governments can serially con the public into another round of protectionism every generation or so.
Returning once again to Mister Bastiat’s satirical petition, his final paragraph stated,
Make your choice, but be logical; for as long as you ban, as you do, foreign coal, iron, wheat, and textiles, in proportion as their price approaches zero, how inconsistent it would be to admit the light of the sun, whose price is zero all day long!
On the surface, tariffs sound like a good idea, but in reality, they’re veritable icebergs of economic destruction. Two principles should always be considered when musing on a tariff:
Tariffs (protectionism) never benefit a nation. They do, however, often increase the revenue received by the imposing government.
The more a people pay for products, the lower their standard of living.
It’s hard to overstate how much US consumers rely on cheap goods from countries like China and Mexico. But even without the Trump tariffs, many can already feel their once nice standard of living slipping away.
That’s because the US is on the cusp of an unprecedented economic storm—and we’re already feeling the raindrops.
* * *
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