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.
There is plenty of economic data this week and earnings season is in full swing. Despite this, I suspect that news from Europe will dominate the market discussion.
I expect market participants to be watching closely for The Message from Europe.
Prior Theme Recap
In last week’s WTWA I predicted that there would be a focus on the message from corporate earnings reports. That was very accurate for the week as a whole. The big exception was the ECB celebration and commentary on Thu...
The middle class has shrunk consistently over the past half-century. Until 2000, the reason was primarily because more Americans moved up the income ladder. But since then, the reason has shifted: There is a greater share of households on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
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Last week, the S&P 500 put an end to its streak of weekly losses, despite giving back some gains on Friday. Thursday provided the big catalyst, with the ECB’s announcement of its bold new monetary stimulus plan. Investors were cheered and soothed for the moment. And U.S. fundamentals still look strong. But with Greece trying to turn back time, with volatility elevated (and likely to continue as such), and with the technical situation still dicey, the near term outlook is still worrisome.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart...
It's time again for my weekly gasoline update based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Rounded to the penny, Regular dropped two cents and Premium three. Regular is at its lowest price since April 2009.
According to GasBuddy.com, Hawaii has the highest average price at $3.23. The highest continental average price is in California at $2.45. Missouri has the cheapest Regular at $1.78....
An interview with John Ehlers of Stock Spotter and Mesa Software
Ilene: John, in our last discussion about trading systems in general and yours in particular (Can trading be reduced to cycles, stresses and vibrations?) you mentioned Monte Carlo simulations and their use in measuring performance. Can you explain more about how you measure the performance of a trading system?
John: Let's start with comparing trading with gambling. The two have several things in common. In both ...
So as I was saying yesterday (Bitcoin: The Biggest Clown Show In History?), Bitcoin has several obstacles on the path to potential success as an alternative currency. But I forgot to mention hacking and theft at Bitcoin exchanges and other technical problems. This is related to the lack of government backing and the fact that the value of Bitcoins is based entirely on confidence.
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PSW Members - well, what a year for biotechs! The Biotech Index (IBB) is up a whopping 40%, beating the S&P hands down! The healthcare sector has had a number of high flying IPOs, and beat the Tech Sector in total nubmer of IPOs in the past 12 months. What could go wrong?
Phil has given his Secret Santa Inflation Hedges for 2015, and since I have been trying to keep my head above water between work, PSW, and baseball with my boys...it is time that something is put together for PSW on biotechs in 2015.
Cancer and fibrosis remain two of the hottest areas for VC backed biotechs to invest their monies. A number of companies have gone IPO which have drugs/technologies that fight cancer, includin...
Stocks got off to a rocky start on the first trading day in December, with the S&P 500 Index slipping just below 2050 on Monday. Based on one large bullish SPX options trade executed on Wednesday, however, such price action is not likely to break the trend of strong gains observed in the benchmark index since mid-October. It looks like one options market participant purchased 25,000 of the 31Dec’14 2105/2115 call spreads at a net premium of $2.70 each. The trade cost $6.75mm to put on, and represents the maximum potential loss on the position should the 2105 calls expire worthless at the end of December. The call spread could reap profits of as much as $7.30 per spread, or $18.25mm, in the event that the SPX ends the year above 2115. The index would need to rally 2.0% over the current level...
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.
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