by ilene - February 27th, 2011 8:22 am
Here’s the latest edition of Stock World Weekly: Irresistible Forces Meet Immovable Objects. - Ilene
On Saturday, February 27, the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) voted unanimously to institute sanctions on Libya, including travel bans and freezing the assets of Muammar al-Gaddafi and others associated with his regime. Protests have dragged into their twelfth day, and protestors refuse to yield in the face of utterly horrific retaliation by Gaddafi’s loyal forces. U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice said, “When atrocities are committed against innocents, the international community must act with one voice – and tonight it has.”
The Telegraph reported over the weekend that Gaddafi apparently made good on his threats to trigger a civil war, using irregular forces largely composed of hired mercenaries to launch a counterattack against protesters. “Anywhere we go there is danger,” said one woman, a 28-year-old mother of four who asked not to be named. “All we want is food and fresh water for our children but it is impossible to find. Security is the only concern of the authorities.”
An accurate report of the death toll is impossible to obtain at this time, but on Wednesday, Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini said, “We believe that the estimates of about 1,000 are credible.” The situation in Libya has deteriorated since then. Multiple stories coming in from all over the country have cited dozens to hundreds of casualties in each city. It appears that Libya has slipped into the abyss of complete social breakdown and civil war.
This is just one example of the tide of popular unrest that has been unleashed in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s and other central banks’ inflationary policies. The chart below shows the U.S. Adjusted Monetary Base increasing from $1.75Tn in 2009, to $2.0Tn in 2010, and now nearing $2.3Tn, an increase of $300Bn in just two months! This represents an increase of 35% in less than 18 months. (The U.S. Monetary Base is the total amount of currency that is circulating in the hands of the public or in the commercial bank deposits held in reserves of member banks of the Federal Reserve System.)
by ilene - February 24th, 2011 10:16 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
Are you ready for an economy that has high inflation and high unemployment at the same time? Well, welcome to "Stagflation 2011". Stagflation exists when inflation and unemployment are both at high levels at the same time. Of course we all know about the high unemployment situation already. Gallup’s daily tracking poll says that the U.S. unemployment rate has been hovering around 10 percent all year so far. But now thanks to rapidly rising food prices and the exploding price of oil, rampant inflation is being added to the equation.
Normally inflation is a sign of increased economic activity, but when the basic commodities that we depend on to run our economy (such as oil) go up in price it actually causes a slowdown in economy activity. When the price of oil goes up high enough, it fundamentally changes the behavior of individuals and businesses. Suddenly certain types of economic activities that were feasible when oil was very cheap are not profitable any longer. When the price of oil rises to a new level and it stays there, essentially what is happening is that more "blood" is being drained out of our economy. Our economy will continue to function when there are higher oil prices, it will just be a lot more sluggish.
In some way, shape or form the price of oil factors into the production of most of our goods and services and it also factors into the transportation of most of our goods and services. A significant rise in the price of oil changes the economic equation for almost every business in the United States.
Today, the price of WTI crude soared past 100 dollars a barrel before closing at $98.10. The price of Brent crude increased 5.3 percent to $111.25. The protests in Libya are certainly causing a lot of the price activity that we have seen over the past few days, but the truth is that oil has been going up for a number of months. Right now we are only seeing an acceleration of the long-term trend.
Things are likely to get far worse if the "day of rage" planned for Saudi Arabia next month turns into a full-blown revolution. Up to this point, the revolutions that have been sweeping the Middle East have been organized largely on Facebook, and now there are calls all over…
by ilene - February 16th, 2011 7:29 pm
Courtesy of SurlyTrader
In the future they might coin this the “Bernanke Effect” or maybe the great commodity bubble of 2011. The truth is that commodity prices are rising…dramatically. You might have started to notice this disconnect in your grocery store shopping or in gasoline prices, but if you were to ask our government they would tell you that a basket of goods consumed (CPI) is rising modestly. How modest do these numbers appear to you?
Sugar and Corn? Those are luxury goods.
If the basic ingredients to food are skyrocketing, then prices of food will eventually have to keep pace which will directly hurt consumers.
Of the 853 ETF’s that I looked at, which unleveraged funds do you think had the greatest return over that same time period? It is not a trick question:
Are you noticing a theme?
My conclusion is simple: this time is NOT different. Commodity prices cannot go up forever and China will not continue to support the market regardless of prices. What is this “Bernanke Effect” doing to farmland prices? Well, according to a survey by Farmer’s National Company:
“non-irrigated crop land in central Kansas averaged $3,000 an acre, up 50 percent since June…
Crop prices have seen an extraordinary run since early July. A bushel of wheat priced about $4 a bushel on July 4 is now more than $8.50. Other crops have experienced similar increases.
As the land generates more income, it puts more cash in the pockets of the most likely buyers, nearby farmers. It also provides an attractive return for investors who then rent it out to farmers.
The result: Auctions are drawing twice the number of bidders as before, said area agents.”
As with all hot speculation, the commodity run will surely come to an end and will probably have repercussions for all financial markets. We should have learned by now that large financial dislocations tend to not occur in isolation.
by ilene - February 3rd, 2011 9:45 pm
H/t Barry Ritholtz, Did the Fed Cause Unrest in the Arab World?
by phil - January 6th, 2011 7:29 am
Russell 8-0-0, Russell 8-0-0! Wherefore art thou Russell8-0-0? Deny thy dollar and refuse to fall, or, if thou spike not, be but consolidating at resistance and I’ll happily Capitulate….
If it’s good enough for fair Juliet, it’s going to have to be good enough for us as the Russell finally makes it over our 800 target – the last barrier that was keeping us on the bearish side. Above these lines – it’s time to stop worrying and love the rally as we romanticize the deadly combination of QE2 the Obama tax cuts as: "A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life, whose misadventured piteous overthrows doth with their death bury their parents’ strife."
Of course Willie Shakespeare has nothing on Jimmy Cramer, who’s pearls of wisdom are also sure to be repeated centuries from now. Last night the Bard of Wall Street sang a veritable sonnet in praise of the stock market and foretold a tale of woe for anyone dumb enough to take profits into this rally:
We got the correction this morning, Dow fell 35 points… Today’s action was proof positive that you need to stop worrying and learn to love corrections… What scares me, and what should scare you, is that if you sell your stocks here, you won’t be able to get back in. You should be worried about stocks getting away from you, because I think we can be on the verge of something big – something very positive. FORGET the fact that stocks have run up a lot in the last 6 months. For more than 10 years, this market has done nothing, THAT is the most important frame of reference…
What’s changed? We are finally starting to see big breakouts from a slew of breakouts from several large cap companies including: CAT, UTX, FCX, SWK, CBE, ETN, CSX, UNP and so many other big industrials. Ladies and gentlemen, we have waited over a decade for this move and what do people want to do now that it has arrived? They want to sell! That’s right, they want to sell. That’s right. They want to dump the stocks (sell button sound effect) because they are up way too much short-term or because they think the moves are illusory or driven by short squeezes that will
by phil - January 1st, 2011 8:28 am
I am still trying to get more bullish.
I was thinking about writing something cute like I resolve to get more bullish but that would be wrong. I try, in my own humble way, to "get" the market right. That means I am not bullish or bearish but Truthish (to further botch Stephen Colbert’s use of the word) and, as Buddah says: "There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting." Confucious reminds us that there are three methods by which we may learn wisdom: "First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."
In that spirit, we will spend the day in reflection so that we are better able to start on that long road to the truth so that we will be better able to imitate the things that will work in the year to come while trying to avoid making mistakes that will give us bitter experiences.
This post is not about me – We had a fantastic year and I’ve already given some outlook for 2011 back on the 19th in that weekend’s "It’s Never too Early to Predict the Future" and our current position is short-term bearish in the Jan-April time-frame, looking for a pullback to at least 1,200 on the S&P and possibly back to 1,150.
After that, we are expecting a return to steady gains but without the irrational exuberance we’re currently experiencing. So no, I am not bearish – I simply think we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves. Since we don’t know where the rally train will stop, we have our "Breakout Defense – 5,000% in 5 Trades or Less" from Dec 11th, which were a set of very bullish, highly levered plays where a little bet can pay off a lot if we simply hold our long-established breakout levels.
How much is "a lot"? Well my GE trade idea, for example, was to sell the 2013 $12.50 puts for $1.10 (net $1.15 in ordinary margin according to TOS) and to use that money to buy the 2012 $17.50/20 bull call spread for .95, which was a net .15 credit on a $2.50 spread that was on the money at the time. GE has gained about .75 since the 11th and…
by phil - December 16th, 2010 8:27 am
What a joke the oil market is!
First of all, the NYMEX contracts for January delivery close on Tuesday and there are still 132,168 open contracts or 1,000 barrels each (132M) scheduled for delivery to Cushing, OK, a facility that can handle at most, 45Mb of crude and is, at the moment, full. The price of those barrels surged from $86.82 all the way back to our shorting target of $89 yesterday, where we once again had a nice ride down. Now, in pre markets, it is back over $89 again and we’ll short it again so I’m not complaining about the action but I am upset that this blatant rip-off of the American consumer can go on right under our "leadership’s" noses.
Logic alone dictates that if 132M barrels are on order for delivery to a storage facility that can only handle 45M barrels that the orders are mostly bogus. You can track the open interest every day right here so don’t take my word for it, watch what happens over the next few days as the people who are currently pretending to demand oil in January, roll their contracts to pretend demand for February (already at a ridiculous 268M barrels), March (172Mb) and April (60Mb). Like the great Carnac, I will put the envelope to my head and predict that, by Tuesday, the January barrel count will fall to under 30,000 contracts, while the new front three months will rise by close to 100,000 contacts.
This is scam #1 in the energy market and it goes on every month since the "Commodity Futures Modernization Act" of 2000 made it possible for thieves to run the energy markets with virtually no regulations. I’ve been speaking out on this for years and just this weekend, the NYTimes picked up the ball I tossed up over a year ago (better late than never!), when I pointed out that the Global oil scam was costing us 50 times more than the Madoff scandal EVERY YEAR! We’re not going to go into all that again as I want to highlight scam #2 in the energy markets and that is the weekly manipulation of the oil inventory reports.
by phil - December 10th, 2010 7:07 am
"Woke up this morning, what did i see
A big black cloud hanging over me
I switched on the radio and nearly dropped dead
The news was so bad that i fell out of bed
There was a gas strike, oil strike, lorry strike, bread strike
Got to be a superman to survive
Gas bills, rent bills, tax bills, phone bills
I’m such a wreck but i’m staying alive" – Kinks
I thought some uplifting music might help today as the markets have not been turning in a super performance this week despite a $1Tn tax cut/stimulus package pumped into it just 3 days ago. That morning, I posted Chris Kimble’s charts from our Chart School and we were looking at key resistance at S&P 1,224, Nasdaq 2,600 (NDX 2,191), NYSE 7,751 and Russell 756. We’re above all those this morning but what we’re not above is my 11,500 level on the Dow. In fact, if you look at the Dow over the past 6 sessions, you’ll notice we hit quite a wall at about 11,375.
What’s it going to take to punch through that wall and get us up over our 11,500 breakout target? We had this same problem in early November, when the Dow just couldn’t close the deal over 11,450 and fell sharply after 3 days of trying despite the fact that the Dow Transports are up significantly (but also flatlining) since then (how now Dow theory?).
I had said we would wait PATIENTLY for confirmation at 11,500 but it’s already getting tedious. Our picks from Tuesday’s post were C at $4.56 and BAC at $11.79, with BAC outpacing C but both positions much more exciting with option plays than straight stock picks, of course. By Wednesday morning I had done the math on the Obama Tax Cut and concluded that, for 95% of America, all we could say was "Thanks for the Gas Money, Mr. President" and I’m not even sure we’ll get that as oil once again tests $89 this morning, which is fine for us as that’s our shorting spot on the Futures and has paid us for many, many tanks of gas this week.
Hooray, ECB Saves Eurozone 2nd Time; Allied Irish Bonds Bid at 45% of Face Value, Anglo Irish SubDebt has 99.99% Default Odds;Irish Citizens “Namatized”
by ilene - November 19th, 2010 6:49 am
Hooray, ECB Saves Eurozone 2nd Time; Allied Irish Bonds Bid at 45% of Face Value, Anglo Irish SubDebt has 99.99% Default Odds;Irish Citizens "Namatized"
Courtesy of Mish
Market participants are giddy today on the great news that Ireland will go deeper in debt in a foolish attempt to bail out the German and UK bondholders who were in turn foolish enough to lend ridiculous amounts of money to Irish banks in various real estate schemes.
The Irish government was of course foolish enough to guarantee all of this foolishness which means that Irish citizens many of whom were sucked into buying property at foolish prices are now on the hook to bail out the bondholders, rubbing salt into the wounds of Irish taxpayers, not all of whom were foolish enough to freely participate in the general foolishness.
Here is a short video from the Wall Street Journal that explains why the bailout will not work.
Ireland Nears Bailout
Now let’s consider details of this foolishness in greater detail, starting with Crude Oil Rises From Four-Week Low as Ireland Nears Bailout
Crude oil increased from a four-week low as Ireland moved closer to a European Union-led financial bailout, strengthening the euro and boosting commodities.
Irish Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said in an interview with state broadcaster RTE today he expects the country to ask the EU and the International Monetary Fund for “tens of billions” of euros to rescue its banks.
“If these talks were to result in a substantial contingency capital funding” pool that didn’t need to be drawn down, that “would be a very desirable outcome,” Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said in the Irish parliament in Dublin today. He said no agreement has yet been reached.
Fairy Tale Nonsense
Check out that fairy tale silliness from Finance Minister Brian Lenihan, then answer this question: What are the odds that a "substantial contingency capital funding” would not be drawn down?
If you answered zero percent you are a winner, which makes the Irish taxpayer a loser.
Allied Irish Bonds Have Face Value Bid of 45 Percent
Bloomberg reports Allied Irish Bonds Fall on Concern IMF ‘Bad Guy’ to Impose Loss.
Allied Irish Banks Plc’s 12.5 percent subordinated bonds due 2019 were quoted at a bid price of about 45 percent of face value, according to Jefferies International in London, down
by ilene - November 17th, 2010 4:42 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Rising costs and taxes and declining income have mugged Main Street while Wall Street revels in the Fed-engineered "recovery"--in the stock market.
The Fed would have us believe that the stock market is the leading indicator of the economy: if stocks are rising, then that is strong evidence the economy is improving.
This is the bogus "wealth effect" I have taken pains to discredit:
Fraud and Complicity Are Now the Lifeblood of the Status Quo (Nov. 12, 2010)
Fed’s QE2 Misadventure Costs U.S. Households $4.6 trillion (Nov. 10, 2010)
Main Street didn’t buy "the stock market is rising, so you must be richer" either, for the simple reason that Main Street’s wallet is now much thinner. Even as the S&P 500 has soared 80% from its March 2009 lows, 70% of Americans don’t believe the recession is over.
That must really hurt the apparatchiks in the Ministry of Propaganda and the Fed. Here they go to all this trouble to orchestrate a bogus stock market rally and Mainstream Media propaganda campaign hyping "the recovery," and Main Street America refused to buy it. How irksome.
It seems Main Street’s grasp on reality is firmer than that of either the Fed or its partner, Wall Street.
Let’s consider income.
The stock market rally off the March 2009 lows was by some measures the sharpest such advance in the past 100 years. Yet as stocks went on a tear,household income actually declined. According to the Census Bureau, the median household income fell 0.7% to $49,777 in 2009, down 4.2% since pre-recession 2007.
The Federal Reserve’s stated policy objective is to boost the stock market to trigger a "wealth effect" which will then lead consumers to open their wallets.
As noted here before, the Fed failed to notice that only the top 10% of households hold enough stocks to see much benefit from a rising market. Household income actually fell, despite the huge run-up in stocks.
In other words, a rising stock market did not increase household incomes. The Fed is gambling on an effect with no evidence to support it.
How about jobs?