The economic news has turned decidedly negative globally and a sense of ‘quiet before the storm’ permeates the financial headlines. Arcane subjects such as a Hindenburg Omen now make mainline news. The retail investor continues to flee the equity markets and in concert with the institutional players relentlessly pile into the perceived safety of yield instruments, though they are outrageously expensive by any proven measure. Like trying to buy a pump during a storm flood, people are apparently willing to pay any price. As a sailor, it feels like the ominous period where the crew is fastening down the hatches and preparing for the squall that is clearly on the horizon. Few crew mates are talgking as everyone is checking preparations for any eventuality. Are you prepared?
What if this is not a squall but a tropical storm, or even a hurricane? Unlike sailors, the financial markets do not have the forecasting technology for protection against such a possibility. Good sailors before today’s technology advancements avoided this possibility through the use of almanacs, shrewd observation of the climate and common sense. It appears to this old salt that all three are missing in today’s financial community.
Looking through the misty haze though, I can see the following clearly looming on the horizon.
Since President Nixon took the US off the Gold standard in 1971, the increase in global fiat currency has been nothing short of breath taking. It has grown unchecked and inevitably has become unhinged from world industrial production and the historical creators of real tangible wealth.
Do you believe trees grow to the sky?
Or, is it you believe you are smart enough to get out before this graph crashes?
Apparent synthetic wealth has artificially and temporarily been created through the production of paper. Whether Federal Reserve IOU notes (the dollar) or guaranteed certificates of confiscation (treasury notes & bonds), it needs to never be forgotten that these are paper. It is not wealth. It is someone else’s obligation to deliver that wealth to the holder of the paper based on what that paper is felt to be worth when the obligation is required to be surrendered. It must never be forgotten that fiat paper is only a counter party obligation to deliver. Will they?…
Quite possibly this has something to do with the fact that Arnie just had a very vivid Total Recall from the future in which California had filed Chapter 66 (a brand new invention in honor of the famous route), mere months after he had decided to institute the latest round of furloughs and once again paying using IOUs.
Increasing pressure on lawmakers to negotiate a state budget that closes a $19 billion shortfall, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency over the state’s finances on Wednesday.
In the declaration, Schwarzenegger ordered three furlough days per month beginning in August for thousands of state employees to preserve the state’s cash to pay the state’s debt obligations and for essential services.
California’s budget is several weeks overdue and Schwarzenegger and top lawmakers are at impasse over how to balance the state’s books. Analysts say it could be several more weeks before the Republican governor and leaders of the Democrat-led legislature reach an agreement, a delay that may threaten to lower the state’s already weak credit rating, now hovering just a few notches above "junk" status.
California undergraduates and their parents just got hit with a 32% increase in tuition by next summer.
With hundreds of angry students chanting outside their meeting at UCLA, the California Board of Regents approved the $2,500, two-step fee hike, which will raise the basic tuition at the 10-campus University of California system to $10,300 a year. That’s three times what it cost a decade ago. Other fees, books, and room and board adds an additional $16,000.
With the state $21 billion in the hole and slashing funding for education, the regents said they had no choice. At the same time, UC is restricting new admissions in a bid to save money.
More increases seem inevitable.
UC President Mark Yudof has asked for $913 million more next year for the UC system and says he "can’t make any promises" to not raise fees again if the state doesn’t come through. "When you have no choice, you have no choice," Yudof said after a regents’ committee endorsed the fee plan Wednesday. "I’m sorry."
California Deficit Hits $21 Billion
California is back in another deep hole. A $21 Billion Fiscal Shortfall Could Mean More Cuts, Higher Taxes and the Return of IOUs to Meet Obligations. Please consider Budget Gap Widens in Sacramento.
California is deep in red ink again, according to a new report projecting that the cash-strapped state faces a $21 billion budget shortfall through June 2011.
Facing so much fiscal red ink, Californians could see another round of spending cuts and tax increases. Since September 2008, state lawmakers have enacted three budgets to close a cumulative $77 billion shortfall. They closed the gap largely through spending cuts and tax increases, but also with federal-stimulus funds and one-time accounting gimmicks. At one point, California was so close to insolvency it was forced to issue IOUs.
The report’s conclusions now raise the likelihood of another lengthy impasse among the state’s hyper-partisan legislators that could threaten California’s solvency and force officials to again
You know, all this time we’ve been saying that the difference between California and the Federal Government was that California couldn’t print currency to get out of a pinch.
But really, isn’t printing currency exactly what issuing IOUs is? Granted, it’s not the most solid currency given with the state you’re dealing with, but it’s something.
Anyway, we’ll get to find out, because California has missed (surprise!) its deadline for closing its budget gap and is now set to hand out IOUs instead of actual money.
Reuters: The notes will mark the first time in 17 years the most populous U.S. state’s government will have to resort to the unusual and dramatic measure.
Democrats who control the legislature could not convince Republicans late on Tuesday night to back their plans to tackle a $24.3 billion budget shortfall or a stopgap effort to ward off the IOUs. The two sides agree on the need for spending cuts but are split over whether to raise taxes.
The state still has some cash, but that will be reserved strictly for its bondholders and education spending (the kids!). But vendors, college students, state agencies will get some paper.
Please, please, please let there be an after-market in these IOUs. We’d love to see how they’re valued and how businesses will conduct exchange using them.
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 email@example.com 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.
Day after day after day this 'market' is manipulated and managed by headlines that memory-less machines read and act upon. Today - yet again - at 210am Japan time, Nikkei news decides it is time to print these headlines:
*JAPAN GPIF TO CUT JAPAN DEBT ALLOCATION TO 35%, RAISE DOMESTIC STOCK ALLOCATION TO 25%: NIKKEI
Tim Cook discusses being gay on BusinessWeek. Recent bullying statistics show that gay teens are from 2 to 3 times more likely to commit suicide than others, and almost 30% of completed suicides are related to problems dealing with sexual identity. Perhaps Tim Cook's story will help people accept their differences, whatever they are, and move on to achieve their goals.
Note from dshort: The charts in this commentary have been updated to include the Q3 2014 Advance Estimate.
The chart below is my way to visualize real GDP change since 2007. I've used a stacked column chart to segment the four major components of GDP with a dashed line overlay to show the sum of the four, which is real GDP itself. Here is the latest overview from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The increase in real GDP in the third quarter primarily reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), exports, nonresidential fixed investment, federal government spending, and state and local government spending that were partly offset by a negative contribution from private inventory investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, decreased.
Bulls showed renewed backbone last week and drew a line in the sand for the bears, buying with gusto into weakness as I suggested they would. After all, this was the buying opportunity they had been waiting for. As if on cue, the start of the World Series launched the rapid market reversal and recovery. However, there is little chance that the rally will go straight up. Volatility is back, and I would look for prices to consolidate at this level before making an attempt to go higher. I still question whether the S&P 500 will ultimately achieve a new high before year end.
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 o...
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If you're following Valeant's proposed takeover (or merger) of Allergan and the lawsuit by Allergan against Valeant and notorious hedge fund manager William Ackman, for insider trading this is a must-read article.
Linette Lopez describes the roles played by key Wall Street hedge fund owners--Jim Chanos, John Paulson, and Mason Morfit, a major shareholder in Valeant. Linette goes through the con...
There is lots of action in Southwest Airlines Co. November expiry call options today ahead of the air carrier’s third-quarter earnings report prior to the opening bell on Thursday. Among the large block trades initiated throughout the trading session, there appears to be at least one options market participant establishing a call spread in far out of the money options. It looks like the trader purchased a 4,000-lot Nov 37/39 call spread at a net premium of $0.40 apiece. The trade makes money if shares in Southwest rally 9.0% over the current price of $34.32 to exceed the effective breakeven point at $37.40, with maximum potential profits of $1.60 per contract available in the event that shares jump more than 13% to $39.00 by expiration. In September, the stock tou...
Now that bitcoin has subsided from speculative bubble to functioning currency (see the price chart below), it’s safe for non-speculators to explore the whole “cryptocurrency” thing. So…is bitcoin or one of its growing list of competitors a useful addition to the average person’s array of bank accounts and credit cards — or is it a replacement for most of those things? And how does one make this transition?
With his usual excellent timing, London-based financial writer/actor/stand-up comic Dominic Frisby has just released Bitcoin: The Future of Money? in which he explains all this in terms most readers will have no tr...
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Well PSW Subscribers....I am still here, barely. From my last post a few months ago to now, nothing has changed much, but there are a few bargins out there that as investors, should be put on the watch list (again) and if so desired....buy a small amount.
First, the media is on a tear against biotechs/pharma, ripping companies for their drug prices. Gilead's HepC drug, Sovaldi, is priced at $84K for the 12-week treatment. Pundits were screaming bloody murder that it was a total rip off, but when one investigates the other drugs out there, and the consequences of not taking Sovaldi vs. another drug combinations, then things become clearer. For instance, Olysio (JNJ) is about $66,000 for a 12-week treatment, but is approved for fewer types of patients AND...
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