Famed investor George Soros is calling for a break-up of the banking oligopoly in the United States. His recent comments were made in reference to the big four U.S. banks that have come to dominate the banking sector. CitiGroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo now dominate the overwhelming majority of the U.S. bank market.
As regular readers know, I believe this oligopoly is part of the problem and that Ben Bernanke has likely increased the potential risks in the U.S. economy by further consolidating the sector. Perhaps most important, however, is the risks these four banks (and all banks for that matter) are allowed to take. Soros is in favor of the Volcker Rule which would segregate deposits from a bank’s risk taking operations such as hedge funds and prop trading. This appears like a no-brainer after what we just experienced, but unfortunately, with consolidated banking came consolidated lobbyists and that’s a recipe for even further power over Congress. The likelihood of the Volcker Rule passing is close to nothing at this point.
Soros has made a career out of being right. I am guessing he’ll be right again about the U.S. banking system, but it appears as though little will be done about it….
Here is an interesting chart that shows the ascendancy of the financial sector in the US.
Commercial banking is largely an administrative function, with a few highly paid decision makers, and many lower paid functionaries and clerks that make a decent if unspectacular wage commensurate with a utility function.
Starting with the Reagan privatization revolution, the finance sector began to grow in importance, moving from a utility serving the capital distribution and storage needs of the real economy taking a relatively small percentage of real output, to a dominant force in the national decision making process, controlling the allocation of capital through its powerful influence and lobbying in Washington, placement of its supporters in political positions of power, and the consolidation of the mainstream media into an oligopoly of four or five major corporations.
Now we have a financial sector dominated by a relatively few number of multinational corporations that are certainly not utilities serving the productive economy. In reality the big multinational banks have become hedge funds speculating in a broad range of markets, often in competition if not contrary to the interests of their customers, relying on other people’s money for capital to sustain an outsized leverage and a steady stream of rents and speculative winnings, and to cushion any losses in the event of the occasional market downturns.
And if we do not give the banks their demands, if we do not maintain the status quo, then they threaten that they cannot protect the world from financial ruin and a collapse of the money system, which they themselves control. And this is no mere extortion, no corruption of a single party or person, but the foundation of an enduring modern tyranny.
“Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing a people to slavery." Thomas Jefferson
The stock market decline doesn't feel like a gift right now, but there's a good chance it will turn into one, if you have a long-term time frame. And ironically, the downside risk is less now than it was in May of last year when stocks were hitting highs.
The S&P 500 closed at a 52-week low on January 20th for the first time since 2011. Last week I took a look at how stocks did in the year they made a 52-week low. Maybe not surprisingly, they performed significantly worse in the years when a 52-week closing low occurred, returning -10% on averag...
Tech averages had the weakest start, Powerful gap downs had set things off, but buyers were able to make a comeback into the close. However, morning gaps remain. Volume climbed to register as distribution, which for the Nasdaq was the second day of distribution in a row.
The Nasdaq 100 is on the fiftth day of selling in a row. The August swing low wasn't fully tested. Bulls will be looking for a bullish 'morning star' where today's candlestick 'hammer' is followed by an opening gap, then a rally for the rest of the day. Should this emerge, then a move to test 4,300 is next. If there is a weak open, then any chance for a bullish 'hammer' based on today's action is signifi...
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Throughout the past 30 days of wild volatility, here’s what I didn’t do.
Panic. Worry. Sell.
In fact, the best I did was add to a couple of positions yesterday. The world was already in an uncertain state for the past 3+ years. It’s just that with the market rising, we pushed the issue to the back of our mind and ignored it.
A number of systemic, structural forces are intersecting in 2016. One is the rise of non-state, non-central-bank-issued crypto-currencies.
We all know money is created and distributed by governments and central banks. The reason is simple: control the money and you control everything.
The invention of the blockchain and crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin have opened the door to non-state, non-central-bank currencies--money that is global and independent of any state or central bank, or indeed, any bank, as crypto-currencies are structurally peer-to-peer, meaning they don't require a bank to function: people can exchange crypto-currencies to pay for goods and services without a bank acting as a clearinghouse for all these transactions.
Last year, the S&P 500 large caps closed 2015 essentially flat on a total return basis, while the NASDAQ 100 showed a little better performance at +8.3% and the Russell 2000 small caps fell -5.9%. Overall, stocks disappointed even in the face of modest expectations, especially the small caps as market leadership was mostly limited to a handful of large and mega-cap darlings.
Notably, the full year chart for the S&P 500 looks very much like 2011. It got off to a good start, drifted sideways for...
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Baxter Int. (BAX) is splitting off its BioSciences division into a new company called Baxalta. Shares of Baxalta will be given as a tax-free dividend, in the ratio of one to one, to BAX holders on record on June 17, 2015. That means, if you want to receive the Baxalta dividend, you need to buy the stock this week (on or before June 12).
Back in December, I wrote a post on my blog where I compared the performances of various ETFs related to the oil industry. I was looking for the best possible proxy to match the moves of oil prices if you didn't want to play with futures. At the time, I concluded that for medium term trades, USO and the leveraged ETFs UCO and SCO were the most promising. Longer term, broader ETFs like OIH and XLE might make better investment if oil prices do recover to more profitable prices since ETF linked to futures like USO, UCO and SCO do suffer from decay. It also seemed that DIG and DUG could be promising if OIH could recover as it should with the price of oil, but that they don't make a good proxy for the price of oil itself.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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