Don’t worry everybody. Federal Reserve Chairman "Helicopter Ben" Bernanke says that the U.S. economy is going to be just fine, and that if it does slip up somehow the Federal Reserve is ready to rush in to the rescue. That was essentially Bernanke’s message to an annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday. Bernanke insisted that even though the Federal Reserve has already cut interest rates to historic lows it still has plenty of tools that could be used to stimulate the U.S. economy if necessary.
Well, considering Bernanke’s track record, the "don’t worry, be happy" mantra is just not going to cut it this time. After all, if Bernanke and his team were such intellectual powerhouses the "surprise" financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 would not have caught them with their pants down. The truth is that just before the "greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression" Bernanke was telling everyone that the economy was just fine. So are we going to let him fool us again?
But Bernanke insists that this time is different. This time the Federal Reserve really has got a handle on things. During his remarks at Jackson Hole, Bernanke said that the Fed will adopt "unconventional measures if it proves necessary, especially if the outlook were to deteriorate significantly."
Could that be a thinly veiled way of saying that Helicopter Ben and his pals will do as much "quantitative easing" as they feel is necessary to keep the economy moving forward?…
As jobs dry up, people are rushing to find some other source of income.
Both statistically and anecdotally, a rush to tap non-wage sources of income is underway. While shopping in an old-line hardware store slated for closure, the clerk assisting us noted as an aside, "I’m 62, so I can retire." He is not alone, as correspondent Craig M. sent in this story describing a leap in Social Security applications: Social Security Applications Almost Double Because of Recession
Applications for Social Security benefits rose almost 50 percent more than expected this year because of the recession, according to the federal retirement program.
“We are seeing a significant increase in both retirement and disability applications as a result of the recession,” said Mark Lassiter, a Social Security spokesman.
The 150,000 extra retirees may add to the financial pressure on the entitlement program. In May, Social Security trustees said expenses would exceed revenue beginning in 2016, one year earlier than their previous forecast.
The Social Security Administration had projected an increase of 315,000 applicants for the 12 months ending Sept. 30 partly because the first baby boomers — those born right after World War II — are starting to retire.
The actual increase was higher. Agency statistics show that 2.57 million people requested benefits, up from the 2.10 million applications received during the previous 12 months. That’s an increase of 465,000, or 47 percent higher than the expected rise.
Another standard source of non-wage income is disability and workers compensation. Social Security is receiving more applications for disability, and at least anecdotally there is some evidence that people about to get laid off are attempting to tap the workers compensation system as a backup source of income, in effect saving their unemployment insurance. Filing a "stress claim" just prior to being laid off freezes the worker’s employment status: they remain employed but are not costing the employer wages.
Eventually, the workers compensation fund paid by employers is depleted and the rates employers pay into the system will rise--but as a stopgap, an injury or stress claim relieves both employer and employee.
This being a litigious society, I suspect there is a rise in employment-related lawsuits. One of our friends who operates a small restaurant was just served with…
Here’s a credit-crisis video retrospective from the Wall Street Journal. It is chapter one of a three part series. Notice the Wall Street meme that subprime borrowers caused the crisis which is patently false. It’s all about dodgy credits and Fannie and Freddie? Total rubbish.
Easy money, as the clip says, is the culprit. And this money went into credit cards, leveraged buy outs, residential housing, student loans, commercial property and on down the line. It’s not about subprime, my friends I like the rest of it, but remember the Wall Street Journal has a certain bias and it is reflected here.
Chapter One: In the first of this three-part series, WSJ reporters explain how the housing bubble inflated and burst, and why easy money led to the collapse of Wall Street’s biggest financial institutions.
This is part two of the End of Wall Street series the Wall Street Journal is producing.
Chapter Two of A WSJ series: What was going through the minds of CEOs, corporate boards, fund managers and mortgage lenders as they created hard-to-understand derivatives Warren Buffett once called "weapons of financial mass destruction."
You have to love how it starts off with Alan Murray saying “There’s plenty of blame to go around. I think in retrospect lots of people who were doing stupid things.” Then the famous NYSE opening bell goes off and they cut to a shot of Alan Greenspan.
I couldn’t help but think about Tim Iacono’s site when I saw this. Watch this video. They really takeoff the gloves here. Regulators and the rating agencies get a severe beat-down. Well-done.
NYT--The chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday accused the Central Intelligence Agency of improperly removing documents from computers that committee staff members had been using to complete a report on the agency’s detention program, saying the move was part of an effort to intimidate the committee.
...The Republican Governors Association today ordered its members to discontinue the use of e-mail, “effective immediately.”
According to a memo sent to all Republican governors, “Any plots, schemes, conspiracies, or violations of campaign-finance laws should be conducted using pay phones or easily disposable cell phones such as the ones used on ‘The Wire.’ ” The governors were instructed to read the memo once and then either burn or eat it.
The Conflict-of-the-Day is over rule PRN 2013-138, an amendment to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission's Licensing Service regulations for licensed moto...
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Understanding the economic slowdown in the Chinese economy is very important because not only does it impact American companies doing business there, but what happens in the Chinese economy -- now the second-largest economy in the world -- affects the global economy.
While media outlets tell us the Chinese economy will grow by about seven percent this year (30% below the 10% the economy has been growing annually over the past few years), the statistics I see point to much slower growth.
In February, manufacturing activity in the Chinese economy contracted and hit an eight-month low. The final readings on the HSBC Purchasing Managers? Index (PMI) for February showed manufacturing output and new orders decli...
Shares in McDonald’s are up the most in the Dow Jones Industrial Average today, rising nearly 4.0% to $98.92 and the highest level since November 26th during the first hour of the session. The rally in shares of the world’s largest restaurant chain today is more than making up for yesterday’s dip in the price of the underlying on the heels of a larger than expected dip in February same store sales. Options traders hungry for continued gains in the stock in the very near term appear to be snapping up weekly options across several striking prices today.
The most traded weekly options by volume are the 14 Mar ’14 $97 strike...
DAILY PRICE REPORT
Today’s AM fix was USD 1,348.00, EUR 973.57 and GBP 810.44 per ounce.
Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,334.25, EUR 961.55 and GBP 800.87 per ounce.
Gold rose $0.7 or 0.05% yesterday, to $1,339.90/oz. Silver dropped $0.08 or 0.38% to $20.81/oz.
Gold in US Dollars - 1 Year (Bloomberg)
Gold rose in all currencies again today and headed towards a four month high in dollar terms as the standoff between Russia and Ukraine led to demand for gold as a haven. Silver surged 1.4%, platinum added 0.3% to $1,481.60/oz and pal...
Today was the beginning of “spring break” for the market. At least it seemed that way with a very low trading volume of only 600M shares on the NYSE. Either the college crowd does more trading than we imagined or parents are taking the week off as well.
The market barely woke up for the session with the S&P 500 down 0.05% and the NASDAQ down 0.03%. However, the DJI must have gotten extra sleep this weekend as it was up 0.21%. Small caps took a bigger hit with the Russell 2000 dropping nearly 0.50% percent. There was nothing major in the news other than a disappointing trading figure from China. Indeed, the whole week will only include a meager four major economic reports with Wholesale Inventories tomorrow, Retail Sales and Jobless Claims on Thursday, and Producer Price In...
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This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).
We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options.
Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.
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Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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