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
At Friday's close the eight markets on my world watch list turned in a mixed weekly performance, with four winners and four losers. The spread between the 3.79% rally for India's SENSEX and the -3.52% rout for Germany's DAXK is the largest of the 10 weekly closes in 2014 the the gang of eight. Japan's Nikkei finished in second with a 2.92% gain. And the S&P 500 took third place with an even one percent rise for the week. Germany was joined by the other two European indexes on my watch list for the bottom trio.
The Shanghai Composite remains the only index on the watch list in bear territory -- the traditional designation for a 20% decline from an interim high. See the table inset (lower right) in the ...
With a March 16th date set for Crimea's referendum (to confirm that the region, which has an ethnic Russian majority, is a part of Russia) and a few short days after Ukraine's Prime Minister Yatsenyuk is due to meet President Obama in the White House, Reuters reports that The United States will not recognize the annexation of Crimea by Russia if residents of the region vote to leave Ukraine. Obama has said a referendum on Crimea would violate international law and the Ukrainian constitution... but this raise 3 awkward (and apparently hypocritical) ques...
Jack Delano for OWI Female Gas Attendant, Philadelphia, PA June 1943
Forests and trees. We live in a world built on such an overkill of 24/7 propaganda and misinformation that some of it easily slips by. At that point you need to rely on the little man inside to raise a warning sign. That’s about how I felt when I read yesterday about EU plans to deliver gas to Ukraine by reversing the flow through existing pipelines. That made me wonder things like: ‘How would that work in practice?’ and: ‘Which gas?’ While the little man simply said: ‘I don’t believe a word of this’.
And before you know it, you spend many hours trying to get a clearer picture. Here’s an idea of how that went for me. First, the ...
Japan’s government said Bitcoin isn’t a currency amid calls for its regulation a week after the bankruptcy of Mt. Gox, the Tokyo-based exchange that was once the world’s biggest.
There is no law to define Bitcoin and relevant ministries are gathering information on it, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet said in a statement in response to questions from an opposition party lawmaker. Bitcoin transactions can be taxed, according to the s...
The Global X Social Media Index ETF (Ticker: SOCL) touched fresh record highs on Thursday morning, surprising no one given the top three holdings of the Fund are Hong Kong-based Tencent Holdings (12.678%), Facebook Inc. (12.506%) and LinkedIn Corp. (8.166%), which are up 130%, 160% and 22%, respectively, since this time last year. The SOCL reflects the performance of companies involved in the social media industry, including companies that provide social networking, file sharing and other web-based media applications. Shares in the ETF rose 1.3% today to a new high of $23.00, and have soared approximately 65% since this time last year.
Today brought three better than expected economic releases from Construction Spending, ISM Manufacturing, and Personal Income. The ISM figure was quite unexpected and Personal Income was well above expectations. If we ignore for a moment that the Final GDP reading for Q4 was lowered on Friday (which may or may not have been primarily caused by severe weather), we have had a week of better than expected economic numbers. Corporate earnings have also continued to exceed forecasts, albeit with a bit more cautious guidance.
Of course, none of that matters when the “war drums” start beating. Russia and the Ukraine are engaged in a serious game of “chicken” with a bear in the hen house. The Russian ruble has borne the brunt of the damage so far with a double digit drop today again...
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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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