May 7, 2012

Austerity Takes a Beating

As if politicians in the US need another excuse not to pursue austerity, they can now look across the pond and see what will happen to their jobs if they were to do so.  Greek, Italian and French voters rejected austerity and the status quo by overturning the incumbent parties in favor of anti-austerity incumbents.  The biggest turn came in France, where incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy was ousted by socialist Francois Hollande, throwing into doubt France’s support for German austerity programs.  Greece is again the real problem, with multiple parties splitting the votes, resulting in no true majority.  This will make future action difficult to undertake as Greek politicians will have look to other parties to create uneasy alliances.  Who said a 17 country union couldn’t work?   

Global equity markets were down last night after the election results, but here in the US markets are opening flat after futures plummeted last night.  Bond yields are unchanged this morning as the 10 year treasury sits at 1.87%.  Oil continues its recent decline on economic concerns, and WTI now sits at $97, below February’s high of $110. 

In spite of the market’s rebound from the March 2009 lows, trading volumes are still well below historical highs.  According to Credit Suisse, trading volume of US stocks in April was 6.5 billion shares, which is just more than half of 2008’s peak volume of 12.1 billion shares.  HFT’s are still running about 70% of the volume, which is a bit scary. 

Senator Ron Wyden is urging Japan to accept international help to stabilize dangerous spent fuel pools at Fukushima.  “The radiation caused by the failure of the spent fuel pools in the event of another earthquake could reach the West Coast within days.  That absolutely makes the safe containment and protection of this spent fuel a security issue for the United States,” said the Senator.  According to nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen, the fuel pool at unit 4 has more cesium than in all 800 nuclear bombs exploded above ground throughout history.  Where to go?  How about the Southern Hemisphere? 

Disney (DIS) made up for a disastrous John Carter by releasing The Avengers this past weekend with a record breaking $200 million box office  This is the first Marvel movie released by DIS since acquiring the company in 2009. 

Can it get any better in the local pro sports scene?  The Lakers (up 3-1), Kings (sweep), and Clippers (up 2-1) all are in the playoffs and looking strong.  In baseball Albert Pujols hit his first home run in an Angel victory last night.  The Dodgers lost, but that’s not the worst thing in the world for an Angel fan.

Have a great day


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