by ilene - January 20th, 2011 12:56 pm
Courtesy of Michael Snyder at Economic Collapse
What could cause an economic collapse in 2011? Well, unfortunately there are quite a few "nightmare scenarios" that could plunge the entire globe into another massive financial crisis. The United States, Japan and most of the nations in Europe are absolutely drowning in debt. The Federal Reserve continues to play reckless games with the U.S. dollar. The price of oil is skyrocketing and the global price of food just hit a new record high. Food riots are already breaking out all over the world. Meanwhile, the rampant fraud and corruption going on in world financial markets is starting to be exposed and the whole house of cards could come crashing down at any time. Most Americans have no idea that a horrific economic collapse could happen at literally any time. There is no way that all of this debt and all of this financial corruption is sustainable. At some point we are going to reach a moment of "total system failure".
So will it be soon? Let’s hope not. Let’s certainly hope that it does not happen in 2011. Many of us need more time to prepare. Most of our families and friends need more time to prepare. Once this thing implodes there isn’t going to be an opportunity to have a "do over". We simply will not be able to put the toothpaste back into the tube again.
So we had all better be getting prepared for hard times. The following are 12 economic collapse scenarios that we could potentially see in 2011….
#1 U.S. debt could become a massive crisis at any moment. China is saying all of the right things at the moment, but many analysts are openly worried about what could happen if China suddenly decides to start dumping all of the U.S. debt that they have accumulated. Right now about the only thing keeping U.S. government finances going is the ability to borrow gigantic amounts of money at extremely low interest rates. If anything upsets that paradigm, it could potentially have enormous consequences for the entire world financial system.
#2 Speaking of threats to the global financial system, it turns out that "quantitative easing 2" has had the exact opposite effect that Ben Bernanke planned for it to have. Bernanke insisted that the main goal of QE2 was to lower interest rates, but instead all it has done is…
by ilene - November 22nd, 2010 12:13 pm
Ever feel like this market just does not provide enough unique and suicidal ways for you to lose your hard stolen money within nanoseconds of trade execution? Never fear – here comes the TVIX, a levered third derivative bet on volatility: simply said, the TVIX will be the world’s first double leveraged VIX ETF. According to the ETF creator, VelocityShares, "the TVIX and TVIZ ETNs allow traders to manage daily trading risks using a 2x leveraged view on the S&P VIX Short-Term Futures™ Index and S&P 500 VIX Mid-Term Futures™ Index, respectively, while the XIV and ZIV ETNs enable traders to manage daily trading risks using an inverse position on the direction of the volatility indices. The indices were created by Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, a division of the McGraw Hill-Companies, Inc." Then again, why not just call these what they are: a novel way (brought to you via the synthetic CDO legacy product known as ETFs) to lose money with a 99.999% guarantee. As always, we wonder why anyone would trade this product, when, with much better odds, one would at least get comped in Vegas…
Here is the full product suite about to launched by Credit Suisse.
One has to love the fine print:
The ETNs, and in particular the 2x Long ETNs, are intended to be trading tools for sophisticated investors to manage daily trading risks. They are designed to achieve their stated investment objectives on a daily basis, but their performance over longer periods of time can differ significantly from their stated daily objectives. Investors should actively and frequently monitor their investments in the ETNs. Although we intend to list the ETNs on NYSE Arca, a trading market for the ETNs may not develop.
In this case, and as in everything else related to the market, our advice is stay away from these synthetic contraptions which are merely CDOs (and now CDOs cubed) for public consumption. On the other hand, we can’t wait for someone to finally release an ETF or any other mechanism, that allows for the simple shorting of GM stock.
by ilene - September 23rd, 2010 7:34 pm
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
This is a superb summary of Paul Volcker’s must read comments at the Federal
1) Macroprudential regulation — “somehow those words grate on my ears.”
2) Banking — Investment banks became “trading machines instead of investment banks [leading to] encroachment on the territory of commercial banks, and commercial banks encroached on the territory of others in a way that couldn’t easily be managed by the old supervisory system.”
3) Financial system — “The financial system is broken. We can use that term in late 2008, and I think it’s fair to still use the term unfortunately. We know that parts of it are absolutely broken, like the mortgage
marketwhich only happens to be the most important part of our capital markets [and has] become a subsidiary of the U.S. government.”
4) Business schools — “We had all our best business schools in the United States pouring out financial engineers, every smart young mathematician and physicist said ‘I don’t want to be a civil engineer, a mechanical engineer. I’m a smart guy, I want to go to Wall Street.’ And then you know all the risks were going to be sliced and diced and [people thought] the market would be resilient and not face any crises. We took care of all that stuff, and I think that was the general philosophy that markets are efficient and self correcting and we don’t have to worry about them too much.
5) Central banks and the Fed — “Central banks became…maybe a little too infatuated with their own skills and authority because they found secrets to price stability…I think its fair to say there was a certain neglect of supervisory responsibilities, certainly not confined to the Federal Reserve, but including the Federal Reserve, I only say that because the Federal Reserve is the most important in my view.”
6) The recession — “It’s so difficult to get out of this recession because of the basic disequilibrium in the real economy.”
7) Council of regulators — “Potentially cumbersome.”
8 ) On judgment — “Let me suggest to you that relying on judgment all the time makes for a very heavy burden whether you are regulating an individual institution or whether you are regulating the whole market or whether you are deciding what might be disturbing or what might not be disturbing.
by ilene - September 22nd, 2010 3:51 pm
Brief review of why it’s about time Summers says goodbye. – Ilene
Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist
It’s no secret that the economic recovery in the United States has been meager at best (and that’s assuming you believe this is not just one ongoing recession). While there is plenty of blame to go around for our current plight the buck ultimately stops with the most influential people in this
I’ve been highly critical of Obama’s economic team over the years because many of them were key players in helping cause the financial crisis. Tim Geithner was the head of the NY Fed when the banks were busy turning themselves into casinos. Ben Bernanke (who Obama should have never reconfirmed) failed to even acknowledge the potential existence of problems in the U.S. economy leading up to the financial crisis and then implemented his great monetarist gaffe which has now been proven to be what I called it from the very beginning – a bailout of Wall Street and a slap in the face for Main Street. He receives endless praise for helping to avoid a supposed second Great Depression. This is like the man who sees a fire in his front yard, ignores it, then when it’s finally becoming a widespread danger decides to save his own house from burning (the banks), lets all of the surroundings houses burn to the ground (Main Street) and then receives endless praise for his courage under fire.
But there have been few people in power over the last 25 years that have been more misguided and downright destructive than Larry Summers. This is a man who believes that women are intellectually inferior (I’ll tell you one thing – this economy wouldn’t be such a mess if it wasn’t run primarily by arrogant, narcissistic males) and has done more to help
by ilene - August 12th, 2010 2:20 pm
Here’s an article in Rolling Stone by Matt Taibbi about Goldman Sachs and Financial Reform. Not surprisingly, it’s questionable whether the new financial reform bill will harm GS’s reign of financial terror in any significant way. – Ilene
Just a quick note about a very interesting story that appeared in the LA Times.
More recently, however, top Goldman executives privately advised analysts that the bank did not expect the reform measure to cost it any revenue."The statement was perhaps surprising in its level of conviction," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Guy Moszkowski wrote in a note to clients, "but we’ve learned to take such judgments from GS very seriously."
The other part of the new law that was supposedly going to hurt the banks was a new requirement that all derivatives be traded and cleared on open exchanges. Up until now banks like Goldman had a massive advantage in the derivatives market because they…
by ilene - July 23rd, 2010 6:05 pm
Now that Obama has signed FinReg into law, Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal appeared on The Breakdown with Chris Hayes yesterday to discuss the bill. Confused about the entire financial meltdown? Mike’s got you covered. He breaks the crisis down into four interconnected sectors: an exploitative, under-regulated system of consumer finance; dark markets in derivatives; the failures of “too big to fail” banks and the ripple effects they caused; and shadow banks that were able to avoid regulations (and also lacking, as Mike says, the “toilet training” necessary to behave).
These four sectors will also be the basis used for grading the potency of the bill. And as Mike notes, while it offers opportunities for some much-needed changes, it still falls short in several areas.
Listen to the audio file on the Original Page.
And check out some of Mike’s latest pieces on ND20:
by ilene - July 16th, 2010 8:56 pm
Courtesy of Mish
The time for a dollar bounce is at hand. One reason I make that statement is the single best contrarian indicator on the US dollar has spoken.
Please consider Dollar Rout by Peter Schiff, July 15, 2010.
Peter Schiff has proven to be a huge contrarian indicator on commodities, on China, on foreign investments, and on the US dollar. I suspect this video will be no different.
In the video, Schiff makes a case that it was impossible to see these bounces coming. I disagree and have called for several of them.
Political Alignment vs. Investment Decisions
Politically I align with Peter Schiff. The financial sector bailouts were obscene, as are all of the stimulus efforts. There will be hell to pay for both.
However, investment-wise I cannot and do not agree with Schiff. His hyperinflationary rants are simply unfounded. The reason he cannot see the forest for the trees is he fails to consider the role of credit in a fiat-based credit world.
Credit dwarfs money supply. Much of that credit cannot and will not be paid back. Schiff got that part correct, in spades, predicting as many others did a collapse in housing. His mistake was in assuming the dollar would crash with it.
Think about that for a second. If the dollar crashed to zero, the number of dollars it would take to buy a house would be infinite. There has never been a hyperinflation in history where home prices crashed and barring some war-zone anomaly, I doubt it ever happens.
If hyperinflation was in the cards, the correct response would be to buy as much real estate as possible given real estate only requires 5% down. That amount of margin is hard to come by in any other play except derivatives.
Are we "Trending Towards Deflation" or in It?
For a recap on the inflation-deflation debate, please see Are we "Trending Towards Deflation" or in It?
One of us took into consideration the role of credit, one of us didn’t.
Technical Euro Bounce
The reason for the recent bounce in the Euro is without a doubt a pledge by European governments to adhere to various austerity measures. Another reason is purely technical.
by ilene - June 24th, 2010 2:01 am
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
[click on images/tables to enlarge]
Pic credit: MTTS
A-ha! I f**king love "reform" in this country. God bless America!
Three of the five U.S. banks that dominate swaps trading already perform most transactions outside their depository institutions and would face minimal disruption from a congressional proposal to reorder the derivatives business, financial statements and banking records show.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. would be hit hardest by the proposal, crafted by Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln, to wall off swaps desks from commercial banks. JPMorgan had 98 percent of its $142 billion in current value derivatives holdings inside its bank in the first quarter of this year while Citigroup had 89 percent of $112 billion, the records show.
Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., each of which entered the commercial banking business in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis, would be less affected. Morgan Stanley kept just over 1 percent of its $86 billion in derivatives holdings in its bank in the first quarter, and Goldman Sachs Group’s held 32 percent of its $104 billion. Bank of America Corp., which absorbed broker-dealer Merrill Lynch in 2009, had 33 percent of its $115 billion in its bank.
Now might be a good time to introduce a handy chart that shows the latest OCC data on derivatives exposure, or, more specifically, shows the concentration of said derivatives exposure among FIVE banks. You know, that would be the five banks that Blanche Lincoln might have wanted to target with this "reform" plan of hers. Just sayin, cue chart:
And let’s see, just who are those five banks?
JP Morgan, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citi, and Wells Fargo eh? Well four out of five ain’t bad except that fifth is a b#*ch, how on Earth does Goldman get to weasel out of this?
From the OCC report:
The report shows that the notional amount of derivatives held by insured U.S. commercial banks increased by $8.5 trillion (or 4.2 percent) in the fourth quarter to $212.8 trillion. Interest rate contracts increased $7 trillion to $179.6 trillion, while credit derivatives increased 8 percent to $14 trillion.
The report also
by ilene - June 21st, 2010 7:31 pm
Courtesy of Simon Johnson at Baseline Scenario
The House-Senate reconciliation process is still underway and some details will still change. But the broad contours of “financial reform” are already completely clear; there are no last minute miracles at this level of politics. The new consumer protection agency for financial products is a good idea and worth supporting – assuming someone sensible is appointed by the president to run it. Yet, at the end of the day, essentially nothing in the entire legislation will reduce the potential for massive system risk as we head into the next credit cycle.
Go, for example, through the summary of “comprehensive financial regulatory reform bills” in President Obama’s letter to the G20 last week.
The president argues for more capital in banking – and this is a fine goal, particularly as the Europeans continue to drag their feet on this issue. But how much capital does his Treasury team think is “enough”? Most indications are that they will seek tier one capital requirements in the range of 10-12 percent – which is what Lehman had right before it failed. How would that help?
“Stronger oversight of derivatives” is also on the president’s international agenda but this cannot be taken seriously, given how little Treasury and the White House have pushed for tighter control of derivatives in the US legislation. If Senator Lincoln has made any progress at all – and we shall see where her initiative ends up – it has been without the full cooperation of the administration. (The WSJ today has a more positive interpretation, but even in this narrative you have to ask – where was the administration on this issue in the nine months of intense debate and hard work prior to April? Have they really woken up so recently to the dangers here?)
“More transparency and disclosure” sounds fine but this is just empty rhetoric. Where is the application – or strengthening if necessary – of anti-trust tools so that concentrated market share in over-the-counter derivatives can be confronted. The White House is making something…
by ilene - June 19th, 2010 11:25 am
The proposed financial reforms pending before Congress could cost Goldman Sachs nearly a quarter of its annual profits, Citigroup analysts estimate in a new report.
Goldman, the most profitable securities firm on Wall Street, could lose up to $5.06 in earnings on a per-share basis if Congress passes a bill that forbids banks from trading for their own profit, owning or sponsoring hedge funds and private equity funds, and compelling them to move most of their derivatives dealing into regulated markets, according to the research note.
Combined with a potential fee to recoup taxpayer losses on TARP and higher deposit insurance assessments on its bank, Goldman could lose up to 23 percent of its profits, giving it the distinction of being the firm most impacted by the financial reform legislation.
Morgan Stanley is a close second as the team of Citi analysts, led by Keith Horowitz, estimate that it could lose up to 20 percent of its profits. Up to 18 percent of JPMorgan Chase’s profits are at risk, while Bank of America, the nation’s largest bank by assets, could see up to 16 percent of its profits evaporate.
The so-called "Volcker Rules," which would ban banks from putting their own capital at risk in hedge funds, private equity firms and through proprietary trades, and limit the growth of the largest ones, could shave four percent off the banks’ bottom lines, the Citi analysts estimate. Tighter restrictions on prop trading, which come in the form of a provision pushed by Democratic Senators Carl Levin of Michigan and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, could cost the big banks five percent of their profits.
Combined with the various other aspects of the pending legislation — like compelling banks to hold better-quality capital, making the biggest ones pay more for deposit insurance and robust regulation of heretofore unregulated derivatives — and the nation’s biggest banks could collectively lose up to 11 percent of their annual profits, the Citi analysts estimate in their Wednesday report. Goldman, Morgan, JPMorgan and Bank of America would be the most impacted.
"[O]ne of the biggest areas of risk for the group is tougher trading rules via [a] narrow definition of what constitutes banned proprietary activity," the authors noted. They were also careful to note that while their estimates required…