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.
Two months ago, we warned that Deutsche Bank "raised the warning flag", when its strategist Jim Reid, referring to the infamous chart showing the correlation of the Fed's balance sheet and the S&P 500 said:
The risk sell-off we've seen in recent weeks frustrates us a little as the chart we've published most this year has pretty much predicted that tougher times would come around July. We've been paying it a lot of attention for over a year now but decided to wait until the autumn before we raised the warning fla...
Quick take: At the end of September the inflation-adjusted S&P 500 index price was 89% above its long-term trend, up from 85% above trend the previous month.
About the only certainty in the stock market is that, over the long haul, over performance turns into under performance and vice versa. Is there a pattern to this movement? Let's apply some simple regression analysis (see footnote below) to the question.
Below is a chart of the S&P Composite stretching back to 1871 based on the real (inflation-adjusted) monthly average of daily closes. I've using a semi-log scale to equalize vertical distances for the same percentage change regardless of the index price range.
The regression trendline drawn through the data clarifies the secular pattern of variance from the trend — those multi-year periods when the marke...
Exceptionally good news from California today: A federal judge ruled CALpers claim of "Sanctity of Pensions" is invalid. Today's ruling went even further than the bankrupt city of Stockton originally sought in court.
Better than a Bitcoin? The Mexican Libertad is a real coin made out of silver or gold whose value is based on the price of silver or gold. It's tangible, like our coins and paper money, but the value is pegged to its weight in previous metal.
The Libertad is a Mexican coin that was first issued in 1981 in .999 fine gold and then in silver in 1982. Beginning in 1991, the Libertades became the only coins in the world that were issued in the convenient sizes of 1/20, 1/10, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 ounce—again, in both gold and silver. This made them very practical if they were to be used as currency.
The CBOE Vix Index topped 17.0 and the highest level since early-August on Monday morning amid declines in U.S. equities to start the trading week. The volatility index is off its earlier highs to trade 5.0% higher on the session at 15.65 as of 11:30 am ET. Options volume on the VIX is hovering near 360,000 contracts, or just more than 50% of the average daily reading of around 660,000 contracts. Calls are far more active than put options, as evidenced by the call/put ratio up above 4.2 in morning trading, perhaps as some traders position for volatility to stick around.
Large call spreads traded on the VIX today caught our attention as one big optio...
Yes, the market showed significant weakness last week for the first time in quite a while. In fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average moved triple digits each day. But it was all quite predictable, as I suggested in last week's article, and certainly nothing to worry about. Now the market appears to be poised for a modest technical rebound, and longer term, U.S. equities should be in good shape for a year-end rally. However, I still believe more downside is in order before any new highs are challenged. Moreover, market breadth is important for a sustained bull run, so the challenge for investors will be to put together broader bullish conviction, including the small caps.
In this weekly update, I give my view of the current market environment, offer a technical analysis of the S&P 500 chart, re...
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Ebola is spreading too quickly for Ebola-vaccine makers to conduct typical studies of safety and efficacy on experimental vaccines. Instead, vaccines will be tested for basic safety, but then deployed with protocols devised now in order to test for efficacy essentially on the field. Testing has to be expedited because the situation in West Africa gets worse every day while there are no approved vaccines or other treatments.
The chart below is from a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine showing estimates of the virus's trajectory projecting out to November 1, 2014. If current trends continue...
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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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