Solar Installations Surge 95% In 2016

The solar industry posted its best year on record in 2016, obliterating previous records by installing a smashing 14.6 gigawatts of new solar in the U.S. That is a 95 percent increase from the 7.4 GW installed in 2015, which happened to be the previous record. It was the best year in the history of the U.S. solar business, according to new data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Even more impressive is the fact that with a cumulative installed capacity at just over 40 GW, roughly one third of all solar capacity…

The Selling Ends: Foreign Central Banks Buy The Most Treasuries In Over Two Years

Over half a year after we first reported last August that foreign official institutions – central banks, sovereign wealth funds and reserve managers – are liquidating US Trasuries in record amounts, a process that only accelerated into last month when official entities sold a record $405 billion in US paper in the LTM period, Bloomberg decided to catch up to the topic with “America’s Biggest Creditors Dump Treasuries in Warning to Trump.”

Well, not so fast, because as we also warned last month, based on more concurrent data from the Fed, showing Treasuries held in custody, the selloff most likely peaked in November, as December was a month in which foreigners were actively buying, not selling Treasuries.

Moments ago, data released by Treasury International Capital confirmed this, when it showed that in December after 12 consecutive months of selling by foreign official institutions amounting to $405 billion, in December the selling finally reversed, and foreign central banks added $18.6 billion in Treasuries, the single biggest monthly purchase of US paper since June of 2014….

… pushing total LTM sales by $67 billion higher to $338 billion.

The flipside to this buying, however, is that while official accounts were waving it in, foreign private accounts, i.e., corporate institutional and retail investors were selling. In fact, in December they sold $40.4 billion in Treasurys, the single largest monthly amount going back to April.

Furthermore, with all eyes on China, it was Japan where the action was because as reported earlier this week using Japanese government data, in the last month of the year Japan sold $21 billion in TSYs: the biggest net selling since May 2013.

Today’s TIC confirmed as much, because while China actually added $9 billion in Treasurys, pushing its total from a 5 year low to $1,058.4 billion, it was Japan – the (recently) largest US creditor – that sold some $18 billion in US paper, bringing its total below $1.1 trillion for the first time in over a year, or $1,090.8 billion to be precise.

Still, despite Japan’s selling, it was everyone else who chipped in, and in December, the report of major foreign holders showed a rebound in the total foreign holdings, which had recently dropped to a 5 years low of $5.944 trillion, back over six trillion or $6,003.9 billion to be precise. And, of this number, it was the foreign official holdings, i.e., foreign central banks, that saw the biggest rebound, rising from $3,770.5 billion to $3,814.1 billion.

So is the selling over? Probably not: while custody holdings rebounded in December by almost $60 billion, the selling has since resumed and at last check total Treasury holdings were back down to $2.848 trillion, with the recent jump in 10Y yields hardly serving as a solid basis for foreign official buyers to step in front of what may soon be an inflationary steamroller. 

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What Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador REALLY Discussed

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was fired by Trump.  Flynn
was caught discussing sanctions with the Russian ambassador even before Trump took office.

Sounds bad, right?

Maybe …

But Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake – the
former senior national security correspondent for the Daily Beast, who
covered national security and intelligence for the Washington Times, the
New York Sun and UPI
notes:

One White House official with knowledge of the conversations told me that the Russian ambassador raised the sanctions to Flynn and that Flynn responded that the Trump team would be taking office in a few weeks and would review Russia policy and sanctions. That’s neither illegal nor improper.

If true, then all that happened is that the Russian ambassador asked
about sanctions, and Flynn responded that he couldn’t say anything until
he got marching orders from the Trump administration after it took the
helm.

In other words, just more anti-Russia hysteria.

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<b>CrUDE oil</b>

NEW YORK Oil prices pared gains after the settlement Tuesday, as evidence of surging US crude oil stockpiles underscored concerns that shale …The post <b>CrUDE oil</b> appeared first on crude-oil.news.

Trump Utters The Magic Word (Again) And The Dow Surges Above 20,600 (Despite VIX Spike)

Apologies for earlier error in title.

Surging inflation, plunging real wages, jumping mortgage delinquencies, and record crude and gasoline inventories… then Trump drops the ‘t’ word and the market melts up…

 

Intraday, March rate-hike odds hit 46%, seemingly surging off “off the table” levels before the week began…

Record all-time highs across everything…

 

It’s all banks all the time…

 

The Dow topped 20,600 – even as VIX spiked above 12…

 

The S&P 500 is up 7 days in a row – the longest streak since Sept 2013…

 

The VIX-S&P decoupling is growing wider…

Chatter of a major liquidation of S&P call spreads – which fits with the collapse of the VIX term structure – VIX jumping as VXV tumbles)

 

S&P 500 Price to Book is now well over 3.00x – well above the 2007 peak valuation….

 

Bonds were battered again on data then rallied back…

 

As it seems 3.10% is a cap for now on 30Y…

 

The Dollar Index began the day rising for the 11th straight day – the longest winning streak since 2012 – but after spiking higher on surging inflation, the USD tumbled all day (weak IP, weak mortgage?)

 

AUD and Yuan strength were the biggest weights on the dollar…

 

RBOB and WTI dumped (correctly) on record inventories, then algos panic-bid them before they plunged again…

 

Silver and Gold rallied back to unch on the week (as the dollar faded) but crude and copper faded…

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12 TSA Agents Just Indicted For Smuggling $100 Million Worth Of Cocaine

Submitted by Carey Wedler via TheAntiMedia.org,

The Department of Justice announced Monday that 12 former and current TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) employees were indicted for smuggling 20 tons, or $100 million worth of cocaine out of Puerto Rico over the course of an 18-year operation. This is not the first time TSA agents have been caught running drugs or breaking other laws.

According to a DOJ press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico:

During the course of the conspiracy, the defendants smuggled suitcases, each containing at least 8 to 15 kilograms of cocaine, through the TSA security system at the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (LMMIA). Sometimes as many as five mules were used on each flight, with each mule checking-in up to two suitcases. From 1998 through 2016, the defendants helped smuggle approximately 20 tons of cocaine through LMMIA.”

Though initial reports indicated the operation spanned from 2008 to 2016 and moved 1,500 kilograms of cocaine, the ongoing investigation apparently unearthed an additional ten years of misconduct (considering the TSA has only existed since 2001, Anti-Media has contacted the DOJ for clarification on how the operation worked from 1998-2001 and will update this article should they respond).

The Puerto Rican TSA agents were indicted by a federal grand jury on February 8 and charged with “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine,” according to Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.

According to DOJ press release, six current and former employees, José Cruz-López, Luis Vázquez-Acevedo, Keila Carrasquillo, Carlos Rafael Adorno-Hiraldo, Antonio Vargas-Saavedra, and Daniel Cruz-Echevarría worked as TSA screeners who monitored both checked and carry-on luggage. They “allegedly smuggled multi-kilogram quantities of cocaine while employed as TSA Officers at the San Juan airport.”

Luis Vázquez-Acevedo and two other defendants acted as facilitators between TSA employees and the cocaine supplier, an airport security employee. Another defendant, Javier Ortiz, worked for the Airport Aviation Services as a baggage handler and ramp employee. He would “pick up suitcases he know contained cocaine from the mules at the airline check in counter” and place the suitcases into X-ray machines manned by TSA agents involved in the scheme. He would then take the suitcases to their designated flights, making sure no narcotic K-9 unit or law enforcement personnel were present when the suitcase went from the checkpoint to the airplane.” Ortiz would then place a call to the drug trafficking organization, and mules would then board the plane.

The investigation into this drug trafficking operation was initiated by the TSA and the DEA. The two agencies are also collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Marshals, and the police of Puerto Rico.

Though it appears on the surface that the agencies in charge are taking swift action to punish the perpetrators, the case reveals a deeper issue with current airport security. First, it took the TSA over a decade to discover the operation. Officials expressed enthusiasm that they successfully used the AirTat initiative, a multi-agency project launched in 2015 with the goal of targeting transnational crime. Still, it took another two years to discover an elaborate, established drug trafficking ring reliant on employees within the very government agency tasked with weeding out crime.

This is hardly the first time TSA agents have been caught smuggling drugs. In 2016, a Charlotte, North Carolina, agent was caught smuggling narcotics. In 2015, an agent at Oakland International Airport was discovered smuggling marijuana. In 2014, an agent at Los Angeles International Airport was sentenced for participating in a drug trafficking ring.

The agents indicted in the Puerto Rico case face a minimum of ten years in prison for their “conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine.” Though there is no shortage of evidence that TSA agents are frequently incompetent and often criminal — from stealing passengers’ luggage to sexually harassing travelers — the broader takeaway of the ongoing investigation and prosecution is the failure of the war on drugs.

Regardless of how much effort government agencies exert in their attempts to stem the flow of narcotics, their missions undoubtedly come up short and fail to curb demand for drugs or efforts to deliver them.

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Macro Trader Warns “This Might Be As Good As It Gets” For US Investors

As credit and equity markets continue to grind higher with monotonous regularity, as bloviators fret about politics and analysts await clarity on monetary and fiscal policy, Bloomberg’s Cameron ‘macroman’ Crise is worried that “this might be as good as it gets for US investors.”

As Crise explains, one of his favorite metrics is one-year trailing return to volatility ratios in major markets, which mean-revert and thus can provide early warning signals for when things get extended.

Typically, high-yield credit markets top out at a ratio between 4 and 6, while anything above 2 for stocks suggests that the S&P 500 is looking toppy.

Those readings are currently 4.1 and 2.3, respectively.

As is clear from the chart above, each time (2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2015) saw a notable reversion in the US equity market.

As Crise notes, it’s pretty rare to see markets perform this way.

There have been 76 days this century where the IBOXHY ratio is above 4 and the SPXT ratio is above 2 — that’s just 1.8% of all trading days.

Does this mean that today is the peak and that it’s all downside from here? Of course not. (IG credit, for example, does not look at all extended by this measure.)

I would suggest, however, that if monetary conditions tighten notably or Trump over-promises and under-delivers, the halcyon days could come to an end very swiftly.

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