By now it is more than obvious except to a few economists (yes, we realize this is a NC-17 term) that QE2 will be an absolute and unmitigated disaster, which will likely kill the dollar, send risk assets vertical (at least as a knee jerk reaction), and result in a surge in inflation even as deflation on leveraged purchases continues to ravage Bernanke’s feudal fiefdom. So all the rational, and very much powerless, observers can do is sit back and be amused as the kleptogarchy with each passing day brings this country to final economic and social ruin. Oddly enough, as Paul Farrell highlights, the list of objectors has grown from just fringe blogs (which have been on Bernanke’s case for almost two years), to such names as Buffett, Gross, Grantham, Faber and Stiglitz. And that the opinion of all these respected (for the most part) investors is broadly ignored demonstrates just how unwavering is the iron grip on America’s by its economist overlords. Which brings us back to the amusement part. Here are Farrell’s always witty views on the object which very soon 99% of American society will demand be put into exile: the genocidal Ph.D. holders of the Marriner Eccles building.
Warning, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s foolish gamble to stimulate the economy will backfire, triggering a new double-dip recession. Bernanke is “medding” too much in the economy, say Marc Faber, Bill Gross, Jeremy Grantham, Joseph Stiglitz and others.
The Fed is making the same kind of mistakes Japan made that resulted in its 20-year recession. The Washington Post says Larry Mayer, a former Fed governor, estimates that to work it would take QE2 bond purchases of “more than $5 trillion …10 times what analysts are expecting.”
Bernanke’s plan is designed to fail. And, unfortunately, that will make life far more dangerous for American investors, consumers, taxpayers and voters.
“I’m ultrabearish on everything, but I believe you’ll be better off owning shares than government bonds,” said Hong Kong economist Marc Faber at a recent forum in Seoul. He sees a repeat of dot-com-bubble insanity today. Faber publishes the Gloom, Boom & Doom Report.
The American people are experiencing financial death by a thousand cuts and most of them don’t even realize it. The U.S. government, state governments, local governments and the financial elite are draining us financially in dozens upon dozens of different ways, and yet we have become so programmed to accept it that it just seems normal to us. 2011 is rapidly approaching, and a whole slate of federal taxes is scheduled to go up, state taxes are being increased from coast to coast, local governments are finding new and creative ways to stick it to us and the financial elite are becoming more predatory than ever.
Meanwhile, the incomes of many average Americans are actually going down. According to the Census Bureau’s annual survey of income and poverty in the United States, of the 52 largest metro areas in the nation, only the city of San Antonio did not see a decline in median household income during 2009. Tens of millions of Americans are flat broke and they are getting pissed off. According to a new poll conducted by CNBC, 92 percent of Americans believe that the U.S. economy is either "fair" or "poor". The American people desperately want someone to fix the economy, but instead our "leaders" are trying to come up with new and creative ways to drain even more money out of us.
In no particular order, the following are 75 ways that the U.S. government, state governments, local governments and the financial elite will be sucking even more of the life blood out of the American people in 2011….
#1 State governments across the U.S. are raising fees and taxes in so many different ways it is staggering. A reader named Richard recently sent me an email in which he described the shock that he experienced when he recently received his license plate renewal notice in the mail….
I just got a license plate renewal notice from the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. When I opened the envelope and saw the amount of the renewal, I was shocked. The amount seemed much higher than usual.
I have a computerized record of all my financial transactions over the last many years. I looked up previous DMV license plate renewals and I saw
I would like to place this seminar’s topic, ‘Global Governance,’in the context of global control, which is what ‘governance’ is mainly about. The word (from Latin gubernari, cognate to the Greek root kyber) means ‘steering’. The question is, toward what goal is the world economy steering?
That obviously depends on who is doing the steering. It almost always has been the most powerful nations that organize the world in ways that transfer income and property to themselves. From the Roman Empire through modern Europe such transfers took mainly the form of military seizure and tribute. The Norman conquerors endowed themselves as a landed aristocracy extracting rent from the populace, as did the Nordic conquerors of France and other countries. Europe later took resources by colonial conquest, increasingly via local client oligarchies.
The post-1945 mode of global integration has outlived its early promise. It has become exploitative rather than supportive of capital investment, public infrastructure and living standards.
In the sphere of trade, countries need to rebuild their self-sufficiency in food grains and other basic needs. In the financial sphere, the ability of banks to create credit (loans) at almost no cost on their computer keyboards has led North America and Europe to become debt ridden, and now seeks to move into Brazil and other BRIC countries by financing buyouts or lending against their natural resources, real estate, basic infrastructure and industry. Speculators, arbitrageurs and financial institutions using “free money” see these economies as easy pickings. But by obliging countries to defend themselves financially, their predatory credit creation is ending the era of free capital movements.
Does Brazil really need inflows of foreign credit for domestic spending when it can create this at home? Foreign lending ends up in its central bank, which invests its reserves in US Treasury and Euro bonds that yield low returns and whose international value is likely to decline against the BRIC currencies. So accepting credit and buyout “capital inflows” from the North provides a “free lunch” for key-currency issuers of dollars and Euros, but does not help local economies much.
The natural history of debt and financialization
Today, financial maneuvering and debt leverage play the role that military conquest did in times past. Its aim is still…
Yesterday’s "paper" (more in the napkin sense than as a synonym for "intellectual effort") by Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder, which was nothing more than a glorified cover letter for selected perma-Keynesian posts in the administration’s Treserve complex, was so outright bad we did not feel compelled to even remotely comment on its (lack of any) substance. A man far smarter than us, Stanford’s John Taylor (the guy who says the Fed Fund rates should be -10%, not the guy who says the EURUSD should be -10), has taken the time to disassemble what passes for analysis by the tag team of a Princeton tenurist (odd how those always end up destroying the US economy when put in positions of power), and a Moody’s economist, who is undoubtedly casting a nervous eye every few minutes on the administration’s plans for EUCs and other jobless claims criteria. Below is his slaughter of dydactic duo’s demented drivel.
Yesterday the New York Times published an article about simulations of the effects of fiscal stimulus packages and financial interventions using an old Keynesian model. The simulations were reported in an unpublished working paper by Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi. I offered a short quote for the article saying simply that the reported results were completely different from my own empirical work on the policy responses to the crisis.
I have now had a chance to read the paper and have more to say. First, I do not think the paper tells us anything about the impact of these policies. It simply runs the policies through a model (Zandi’s model) and reports what the model says would happen. It does not look at what actually happened, and it does not look at other models, only Zandi’s own model. I have explained the defects with this type of exercise many times, most recently in testimony at a July 1, 2010 House Budget Committee hearing where Zandi also appeared. I showed that the results are entirely dependent on the model: old Keynesian models (such as Zandi’s model) show large effects and new Keynesian models show small effects. So there is nothing new in the fiscal stimulus part of this paper.
Iceland represents an interesting situation. Most people are not very familiar with it. With only 300,000 inhabitants, Iceland certainly fits the description of a ‘microcosm.’ The story of the privatization of the Icelandic banks, and the ensuing orgy of credit expansion and fraud, is well worth some attention.
Banks that are private sometimes should be allowed to fail. One might consider saving the depositors, especially if it is a fraud, and certainly if the accounts are explicitly insured, but the creditors and investors should be wiped out, utterly and completely. This is the only way to wring moral hazard out of the system. This of course should be accompanied by vigorous and aggressive investigations for fraud, and prosecutions if the evidence indicates for indictment. I would follow those perpetrators to the ends of the earth, seeking their extradition, to insure that justice was done. These people are little better than traitors to their country and their people.
We tend to treat these sorts of banking frauds far too lightly. They are like poison to the system, because they not only involve the theft of funds, but the destruction of the confidence and integrity which permits the social system to function.
Their reform movement and new approaches to banking in Iceland are hopeful signs. They should not even think about joining the EU, or taking any loans for their banks.
They might also consider relieving the Social Democrats of power, because it sounds as if they are not interested in serving the people. The only question I would have is, "Why are they still in office, and not out on the street looking for employment?"
While not mentioned in the video, the implications of the recent Icelandic Supreme Court’s decision on the illegality of loans indexed to foreign currency baskets may be significant.
Under the provisions of the IMF Articles of Agreement, courts of other member states, including the US, UK and the Netherlands, are presumably/arguably barred from reaching a different conclusion. See, Article VIII, Section 2(b):
(b) Exchange contracts which involve the currency of any member and which are contrary to the
On one side are the bankers, who say borrowers should be liable for what they owe. On the other side are real estate agents, who say those who lost their houses should not be so burdened by debt that they cannot move on.
The differences have real financial consequences: bankers want to collect on billions of dollars in outstanding loans; real estate agents want as many people as possible to return to the housing market.
For the first time, the debate is spilling into the realm of law making, with state legislators in California considering a bill that would redefine the obligations of many defaulting homeowners.
Obviously the bankers are "in the right" as far as wanting homeowners to meet their obligations. Strategic default is cute, and in some cases it is economically the smart move, although these are adults that signed their name to a piece of paper so there should be a consequence. That said, in many instances, these loans were grotesque characitures of fair contracts so it’s hard to empathize with the creditors.
The realtors on other hand will make the case that the silver lining of strategic default is that at least it keeps properties turning over and the real estate market moving. They are jackals and a rapid turnover of homes with less consequence to the defaulter leads to buy and sell commissions, which is really all they’re after.
California Bankers versus Realtors to me is like if the Hells Angels and the Mongols fought for territorial control over a gas station bathroom. Whatever.
The IMF, like many other international institutions, asserts that it has a “preferred creditor status”, and this has been a practiced convention in the past. Thus, IMF has de facto seniority rights over private creditors despite the fact that there is no legal or treaty-based foundation to support this claim and this seniority of rights for IMF will continue under the recent EU rescue plan announced as well as it has not been noted otherwise implicitly nor explicitly. This is the reason why Sarkozy said it is a said day when the EU has to accept a bailout from the IMF (aka, the US). The EU now, and truly, contains a significant parcel of debtor nations.
To add fuel to this global macro tabloidal fire, the Euro members’ loan will be pari passu with existing sovereign debt i.e. it will not be considered senior. Although there is no written, hard evidence to support this claim, it is our view that otherwise there will be no incentive for investors to hold the debt of troubled countries like Greece, which will ultimately defeat the whole purpose of the rescue package. Moreover, there are indications that support this idea. As per Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager, “We are not talking about a special preference for the eurogroup loans, that’s not possible because then you would have the situation that already-existing rights of creditors at the moment would be harmed.” (reference http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-04-16/netherlands-excludes-senior-status-for-greek-aid-update1-.html). Of course, if more investors did their homework and ran the numbers, that same disincentive can be said to exist with the IMF’s super senior preference given the event of a default and recoverable collateral after the IMF has fed at the trough.
IMF’s preferred creditor status coupled with the expensive Euro members’ loans which are part of the rescue package can create a public debt snowball effect that could push the troubled countries towards insolvency when the IMF debt becomes repayable in three years time. This could be seen particularly in case of Greece (subscribers, please reference Greece Public Finances Projections). Even if all the spending cuts and revenue raising are achieved as planned for Greece, its debt will peak to 149.1% of the GDP in 2013. Please keep…
By now you have heard that Dubai World, the investment company, has asked its creditors for a six-month delay in repaying its debt (see articles in links). This is what is commonly referred to as default. Now many are wondering if Dubai the country is on the verge of default and asking who is most exposed. Markets are selling off in a major way. While this situation has been building for sometime, the announcement was an unexpected shock – an exogenous event – which has some talking about Creditanstalt and 1931.
Dubai is not an oil-rich country. It certainly has the greatest population amongst the United Arab Emirates, but oil and natural gas provide only 6% of income to the country. The country’s oil is expected to be depleted in as little as 20 years. Dubai is now much more dependent on its services like sporting events, trade and entrepôt services, and financial services and especially on property. So, when the Dubai property bubble went spectacularly bust in the credit crisis, Abu Dhabi, a UAE emirate with considerably more oil revenue, stepped into the breech in February.
Even before the Abu Dhabi bailout, I thought the Dubai property boom and bust was a marvel to watch. In January, I commented:
I am fascinated by Dubai. They don’t have oil and they massively overbuilt. I would very much like to keep tabs on this economy because its position in the Middle East makes it a symbol for much of the interconnected financial bubble-like world we have just exited.
I think of the events in Dubai as having a bit of the butterfly effect to it – with everything…
In a last ditch effort to stall the Chrysler sale, the Indiana Pension Fund has moved its objection to the 363 sale away from Gonzalez who flatly denied the plaintiff’s objection, and have moved it, with the assistant of White & Case’s Tom Lauria to NY Southern District Court. A hearing with Judge Thomas Griesa commenced at 11:45am today, ahead of tomorrow’s bankruptcy court hearing to approve the sale. From the memorandum filed in district court (attached below in its entirety):
Rather than pay the secured creditors as required, the Debtors – at the Government’s direction – are essentially transferring the Collateral with any value to New Chrysler and then divvying up the majority of that value among unsecured creditors (the United Auto Workers (“UAW”)) and third parties (the US Treasury Department and Fiat).
In response to this action, the U.S. Treasury Department had the following retort: "Put simply, it is nothing more than a last-ditch, eleventh-hour effort by a dissident faction of the debtors’ senior secured lenders to obstruct and impede core matters in Chrysler’s chapter 11 cases from being heard in bankruptcy court, which is the proper forum."
While it is unclear how quick the turnaround on the case should be, and just how the two venues would interact, at this point it is safe to say that Lauria is willing to take this matter to the Supreme Court if need be (and need likely will be). He better hurry before brand spanking new Obama nominee Sotomayor is inducted.
There are many things going on in the Greece vs Institutions+Germany negotiations, and many more on the fringe of the talks, with opinions being vented left and right, not least of all in the media, often driven more by a particular agenda than by facts or know-how.
What most fail to acknowledge is to what extent the position of the creditor institutions is powered by economic religion, and that is a shame, because it makes it very difficult for the average reader and viewer to understand what happens, and why.
In the strive for zero labor factories we are nearly there. Is 90% good enough?
China Daily reports Manufacturing Hub Starts Work on First Zero-Labor Factory. A manufacturing hub in South China's Guangdong province has begun constructing the city's first zero-labor factory, a signal that the local authorities are bringing into effect its "robot assembling line" strategy.
Dongguan-based private company Everwin Precision Technology Ltd is pushing toward putting 1,000 robots in use in its first phase of the zero-labor project, China National Radio reported. It said the company has already put first 100 robots on the assembly line.
"The 'zero-labor factory' does not mean we will not employ any humans, but what it means is that we will sc...
After 2 volatile days, a return to more calm on Thursday as the S&P 500 fell 0.13% and the NASDAQ 0.17%. The daily Greek drama continues; IMF Managing Director Christine Lagare told a German newspaper that a Greek exit from the euro zone was possible but that this would probably not herald the end of the euro currency. On Wednesday, both U.S. and European equities rallied after Greece said it had stated crafting a “staff level agreement” with its international bailout supervisors. However, European officials rebuked the claims on Thursday, saying there was some way to go before any agreement could be drawn up and that they were surprised by the upbeat sentiment from Greece.
Indexes look much the same as we entered the week.
The tug of war between the bulls and bears has created an unusual situation this year, a historically tight trading range! The chart below reflects that the Dow Jones has traded within a 6.68% high to low trading range this year. That is the 4th tightest trading range through May, in the past 115 years.
CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE
The inset table to the right looks at future performance of the Dow following narrow trading ranges through May. As you can see, most of the time the market has ended the year to the upside. Will it be different this time?
Early last week, stocks broke out, with the S&P 500 setting a new high with blue skies overhead. But then the market basically flat-lined for the rest of the week as bulls just couldn’t gather the fuel and conviction to take prices higher. In fact, the technical picture now has turned a bit defensive, at least for the short term, thus joining what has been a neutral-to-defensive tilt to our fundamentals-based Outlook rankings.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, review our weekly fundamentals-based SectorCast rankings of the ten U.S. business sectors, and then offer up some actionable trading ideas, including a sector rotation strategy using ETFs and an enhanced version using top-ranked stocks from the t...
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Understanding the new normal of a business model is key to the success of any company. The managment of companies need to adapt to the changing demand, but first they must recognize what changes are taking place. Big Pharma's business model is changing rapidly, and much like the airline industry, there will be but a handful of pharma companies left at the end of this path.
Most Big Pharma companies have traditionally done everything from research and development (R&D) through to commercialisation themselves. Research was proprietary, and diseases were cherry picked on the back of academic research that was done using NIH grants. This was in the heyday of research, where multiple companies had drugs for the same target (Mevocor, Zocor, Crestor, Lipitor), and could reap the rewards on multiple scales. However, in the c...
Bitcoin, the virtual digital currency, has been called the future of banking, a dangerous fad, and almost everything in between, but we're finally about to get some solid data to help settle the debate.
On Monday, the Nasdaq (NDAQ) stock exchange said it would ...
Chris Kimble likes the idea of shorting the US dollar if it bounces higher. Phil's likes the dollar better long here. These views are not inconsistent, actually, the dollar could bounce and drop again. We'll be watching.
Phil writes: If the Fed begins to tighten OR if Greece defaults OR if China begins to fall apart OR if Japan begins to unwind, then the Dollar could move 10% higher. Without any of those things happening – you still have the Fed pursuing a relatively stronger currency policy than the rest of the G8. So, if anything, I think the pressure should be up, not down.
UNLESS that 95 line does ultimately fail (as opposed to this being bullish consolidation at the prior breakout point), then I'd prefer to sell the UUP Jan $25 puts for $0.85 and buy the Sept $24 call...
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
Kim Parlee interviews Phil on Money Talk. Be sure to watch the replays if you missed the show live on Wednesday night (it was recorded on Monday). As usual, Phil provides an excellent program packed with macro analysis, important lessons and trading ideas. ~ Ilene
The replay is now available on BNN's website. For the three part series, click on the links below.
Part 1 is here (discussing the macro outlook for the markets)
Part 2 is here. (discussing our main trading strategies)
Part 3 is here. (reviewing our pick of th...
This is a non-trading topic, but I wanted to post it during trading hours so as many eyes can see it as possible. Feel free to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Last fall there was some discussion on the PSW board regarding setting up a YouCaring donation page for a PSW member, Shadowfax. Since then, we have been looking into ways to help get him additional medical services and to pay down his medical debts. After following those leads, we are ready to move ahead with the YouCaring site. (Link is posted below.) Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated; not only to help aid in his medical bill debt, but to also show what a great community this group is.
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