Posts Tagged ‘The Treasury’

Fraud and Complicity Are Now the Lifeblood of the Status Quo (Banality of Financial Evil, Part 2)

Fraud and Complicity Are Now the Lifeblood of the Status Quo (Banality of Financial Evil, Part 2)  

Miniature figure of a devil

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith (read part 1 of the "Banality of Financial Evil" series here)

Fraud and Complicity Are Now the Lifeblood of the Status Quo (Banality of Financial Evil, Part 2) 

The status quo would collapse were systemic fraud and complicity banished. Rather than the acts of evil conspirators, they have become the foundation of the U.S. economy and financial system.

Though fraud and complicity are presented in the mainstream media as isolated conspiracies outside the status quo, the truth is that the status quo is now entirely dependent on fraud and complicity for its very survival. Every level of the status quo would immediately implode were fraud and complicity suddenly withdrawn from the system.

How is this true? let me count the ways.

1. The mortgage market. As I reported recently in this Daily Finance story, the private market for mortgage-backed securities is dead. Now that we all understand the entire mortgage is not just riddled with fraud and misrepresentation of risk, but it is entirely dependent on fraud and misrepresentation of risk to function, no one is willing to touch any of this debt--except if it is guaranteed by the Federal government (and thus by its taxpayers).

Now that the systemic fraud and misrepresentation of risk have been exposed, the $10 trillion mortgage market has ceased to function except as a dumping ground where private players can dump 100% of their losses on the taxpayers (profits were privatized, losses are socialized).

2. Foreclosures and our Banana Republic system of "law". There are two sets of laws (and two sets of books) in status quo America: one set of laws for "too big to fail" banks and Wall Street, and one for the rest of us peons.

Courts Helping Banks Screw Over Homeowners.

3. Housing and commercial real estate (CRE). Does anyone seriously think housing is recovering from organic demand? Does anyone seriously think housing wouldn’t fall off a cliff if the Central State withdrew its collusive propping-up of the real estate market?

As I reported in These Numbers Paint a Bleak Picture for Housing, there is essentially no evidence that housing is recovering due to "organic" (that is, non-State-manipulated) supply and demand.

Rather, Home Prices
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The Banality of (Financial) Evil

The Banality of (Financial) Evil 

financial evil Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

[Artwork: courtesy of William Banzai7]

The Banality Of (Financial) Evil

The financialized American economy and Central State are now totally dependent on a steady flow of lies and propaganda for their very survival. Were the truth told, the status quo would collapse in a foul, rotten heap.

Google’s famous "don’t be evil" is reversed in the American Central State and financial "industry": be evil, because everyone else is evil, too. In other words, lying, fraud, embezzlement, mispresentation of risk, material misrepresentation of facts, the cloaking of truth with half-truths, the replacement of statements of fact with propaganda and spin: these are not the work of a scattered handful of sociopaths: they represent the very essence and heart of the entire status quo.

Hannah Arendt coined the phrase the banality of evil to capture the essence of the Nazi regime in Germany: doing evil wasn’t abnormal, it was normal. Doing evil wasn’t an outlier of sociopaths, it was the everyday "job" of millions of people, Nazi Party members or not.

Not naming evil is the key to normalizing evil. Evil must first and foremost be derealized (a key concept in the Survival+ critique), detached from our realization and awareness by naming it something innocuous.

Here is a telling excerpt from the book Triumph of the Market:

Normalization of the unthinkable comes easily when money, status, power, and jobs are at stake…. Intellectuals will be dredged up to justify their (actions). The rationalizations are hoary with age: government knows best, ours is a strictly defensive effort, or, if it wasn’t me somebody else would do it. There is also the retreat to ignorance, real, cultivated, or feigned.

Can any of the tens of thousands of people working on Wall Street or in the bowels of the Federal Reserve, Treasury, Pentagon, etc. truthfully claim they "didn’t know it was wrong" to mislead the citizenry, the soldiers, the investors and the buyers of their fraud? On the contrary, every one of those tens of thousands of worker bees and managers knows full well the institution they toil for is doing evil simply by hiding the truth of its operations.

The entire status quo of the American Empire is built on lies.
Now the dependence on lies, fraud and misrepresentaion is complete; Wall…
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Volcker Rules?

Volcker Rules?

Courtesy of Simon Johnson at Baseline Scenario 

Paul Volcker Testifies Before House Financial Services Committee

Bloomberg reports this morning that Treasury is gently letting the Volcker Rule (limiting proprietary trading for big banks) slip — Secretary Geithner would grant greater discretion to regulators which, in today’s context, most likely means not make the restriction effective.

This step is consistent with the broader assessment of the Volcker Rules that Peter Boone and I have in The New Republic (print and on-line): the underlying principles are sound, but the Rules have not been well-designed, and top people in the administration show little sign of wanting to make them effective.  This dimension of financial reform does not appear to be headed anywhere meaningful – and the main issues (bank size, capital, and derivatives) are not yet seriously on the table.

In the recent Senate Banking hearings on the Volcker Rules, John Reed – former head of Citibank – was adamant that the Volcker Rules made sense and could be made to work.  His point is that the executives know who is taking risk with the bank’s balance sheet – it’s a well-defined group within any bank with its own (speculative) culture – and this should be discontinued for banks that are in any sense too big to fail. 

You really do not want high octane speculators at the heart of this country’s largest banks.   Make banking boring, Reed argues with conviction.  


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Distortions, Lies, and Muggings by the Fed, Bank of England

Distortions, Lies, and Muggings by the Fed, Bank of England

Courtesy of Mish

The first priority of Central Bankers in any crisis is to buy time by any method available. By now, it should be perfectly clear that Central Bankers are willing to unconstitutionally usurp authority in an effort to buy that time.

I talked about that idea most recently in Hussman Accuses the Fed and Treasury of "Unconstitutional Abuse of Power"

Hussman: "The policy of the Fed and Treasury amounts to little more than obligating the public to defend the bondholders of mismanaged financial companies, and to absorb losses that should have been borne by irresponsible lenders. From my perspective, this is nothing short of an unconstitutional abuse of power, as the actions of the Fed (not to mention some of Geithner’s actions at the Treasury) ultimately have the effect of diverting public funds to reimburse private losses, even though spending is the specifically enumerated power of the Congress alone.

Needless to say, I emphatically support recent Congressional proposals to vastly rein in the power (both statutory and newly usurped) of the Federal Reserve."

Fed Uncertainty Principle

Long before that, and even before such blatant abuses occurred, I predicted such happenings in the Fed Uncertainty Principle, written April 3, 2008.

Uncertainty Principle Corollary Number Two: The government/quasi-government body most responsible for creating this mess (the Fed), will attempt a big power grab, purportedly to fix whatever problems it creates. The bigger the mess it creates, the more power it will attempt to grab. Over time this leads to dangerously concentrated power into the hands of those who have already proven they do not know what they are doing.

Uncertainty Principle Corollary Number Four: The Fed simply does not care whether its actions are illegal or not. The Fed is operating under the principle that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. And forgiveness is just another means to the desired power grab it is seeking.

Ironically, after being lied to for years by the likes of Bernanke and the BOE, the Central Bankers act shocked at proposals like "Audit The Fed".

With that backdrop, let’s now look at shenanigans, lies, and manipulations by the Bank of England.

Bank of England Props Up RBS, HBOS at Height of Crisis

Inquiring minds are reading Bank of England propped


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Janet Tavakoli: Risk of deflationary collapse greater now than in 2007

Janet Tavakoli: Risk of deflationary collapse greater now than in 2007

Janet TavakoliCourtesy of Mish

Janet Tavakoli is On The Edge With Max Keiser. Tavakoli says the Risk of deflationary collapse greater now than in 2007.

We’ve just interviewed Janet Tavakoli for our first episode of The Keiser Report. If you don’t know her, you should. She wrote a fantastic book, Dear Mr. Buffett. Max and I are on our second read of it. You really must get this book if you want to understand derivatives from one of the foremost experts on it who writes in plain English about how these financial tools became instruments for widespread fraud that then led to financial crisis. She also gives loads of positive advice and insight.

Here is a summary she provided for MaxKeiser.com on where she thinks we are today two years since the crisis began:

"Regarding the outlook, my analysis is grim. I am not a doomsayer, I follow the cash, and so far, I’ve been correct, and the government has been wrong. Here’s the situation. We are at greater risk of a total meltdown due to a deflationary collapse than we were in 2007. After the greatest Ponzi scheme in the history of the capital markets, we’ve seen history’s greatest fiscal and monetary expansion, but it hasn’t worked. Debt levels of consumers and business exceed the capacity to repay."

Travakoli makes six points about deflation. I concur with all of them. Here are three of them.

  • Our fundamental financial and economic problems, i.e. overleveraging, lack of transparency, have not been solved.
  • Since 2008, capacity utilization has plummeted; businesses have no pricing power; U.S. lost 6.7 million jobs but numbers are underreported; personal income tax receipts are down 21%; corporate tax receipts are down 58%; U.S. deficit will exceed $1.8 trillion; govt. spending is now 185% of tax receipts; 13% of mortgages are seriously delinquent and/or in foreclosure; huge decrease in personal net worth; 15 million mortgages exceed the home value. We’re on a massive debt spending spree.
  • Income on all levels is not sufficient to make debt payments.

Inquiring minds will certainly want to play the videos where she also addresses the role of derivatives.

Janet Tavakoli Part 1 

Janet Tavakoli Part 2

By the way, the reason we are worse off than in 2007 is…
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Why The Dollar May Not Be Doomed

Why The Dollar May Not Be Doomed  

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds

dollar - photo at TIME
dollars

It seems a given now that the U.S. dollar is doomed to either slow depreciation or devaluation. Perhaps--but the consensus seems too easy. Yes, money supply and liquidity have exploded as the Fed and Treasury fight deflation, and yes, history suggests expanding the money supply debases the currency.

That the dollar has been debased is clear enough if we measure the dollar’s value in gold. Priced in gold, the dollar has lost over 2/3 of its value in a mere decade. Courtesy of contributor Harun I., here is a chart of gold:

Where it took less than $300 to buy an ounce of gold in 2001, it now costs about $1,000. Thus the dollar has lost 70% of its purchasing power when priced in gold.

Correspondent Jim S. observed that this depreciation has been a trend for the entire 20th century:

At the barbershop, the barber asked me if the dollar was at risk of failing. The dollar is not at risk of being wiped out, IT ALREADY HAS BEEN WIPED OUT, and the world is moving on. From 1789 to 1912, the dollar appreciated a full 11%. From 1912 to 2001, it has lost 95% of its value under the fractional reserve banking system of the Fed Reserve, massively overleveraged further since the inventive application of credit derivatives since the ‘90s.

In 2001, a dollar index of $1.2 (as charted by the Dollar Index) existed and now it is at about .76. This recent drop results in a dollar loss greater than 95% from the 1912 value. The dollar HAS been destroyed in the proper historical perspective!

A world-wide move underway, recognizing that the dollar is now unsustainable as a reserve currency, to a new form of reserve currency/currencies, will take some time, and, our dollar will remain as the reserve currency for a while as something new emerges. Regional currencies may evolve in the meantime: Yuan? AMERO? EURO? A worldwide, single, unified currency is too utopian for applicability.

Regional currencies have yet to be proved sustainable either. We are in limbo with a sinking dollar. Geopolitical instability of increasing scope, including at least cultural and resource wars, are in the offing before anything gets settled. Remember the ‘100 years war’?

Indeed, debased currencies and the evaporation of
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“New Rules” Hope to Stave Off Commercial Real Estate Defaults

"New Rules" Hope to Stave Off Commercial Real Estate Defaults

commercial real estateCourtesy of Mish

Mortgage services face a potential minefield of problems as New Rules Ease the Restructuring of CMBS Loans.

The Treasury, responding to the growing pain in the commercial real-estate industry, released new tax rules that make it easier for distressed property owners to restructure loans that were packaged by Wall Street firms and sold as securities.

Most in the real-estate industry, which lobbied intensely for the move, applauded the action. But some warned it has opened a Pandora’s box, especially for servicers of the securities who will likely come under new pressure from borrowers and competing classes of investors.

The move is the first round of "additional guidance" the Treasury is weighing to stave off what many fear will be a commercial real-estate crisis, according to people familiar with the matter.

But some investors holding CMBS bonds are watching nervously because loan modifications, known as "mods," mightn’t always be in their best interest. CMBS have junior and senior pieces, and the senior holders may be in a better position, when a borrower defaults, to foreclose and liquidate the property rather than modify the loan. Junior holders, on the other hand, might benefit from a mod because they mightn’t get their money back in a forced sale.

"The biggest concern is that the guidance could open the floodgate for everyone to try to get some sort of loan modifications," said Aaron Bryson, a CMBS analyst at Barclays Capital. "There is a tremendous burden on the servicers to uphold their end of the bargain."

The move by the Treasury reflects the deep concern in government and industry circles over the problems looming in the $6.5 trillion market for commercial real estate. Just as the U.S. economy is struggling to regain its footing, defaults are mounting because of credit-market turmoil, along with declining property cash flows and plunging property values.

Previously, because of tax laws, servicers would not modify terms unless someone fell behind on payments. Now, many who can afford to pay will seek relief. As a result, servicers will have a more difficult time of deciding who is solvent and who is not, and what the right thing to do in picking winners and losers between junior and senior holders.

That the Treasury has to change such rules on the fly shows their


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Treasury, FDIC And More: How Many Lies?

Treasury, FDIC And More: How Many Lies?

Courtesy of Karl Denninger at The Market Ticker


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US Consumer Demand Off a Cliff as the Crisis Deepens

US Consumer Demand Off a Cliff as the Crisis Deepens

Courtesy of Jesse’s Café Américain

As we said, we would be taking a closer look behind the headline GDP numbers recently released. The advantage of procrastination is that eventually a capable person will chart up the data which you have been studying. So thank you to ContraryInvestor for his excellent charts. His site is among the best, and we read it regularly.

The big story is the collapse of the US consumer, unprecedented since WW II, and possibly the Great Depression. This is apparent in the numbers despite the epic restatement of GDP having just been done by the BLS in their benchmark revisions.

If the Fed and Treasury were not actively monetizing everything in sight, we would certainly be seeing a more pronounced deflation as prices fall WITH demand. And if they continue, we may very well feel a touch of the lash of that hyperinflation that John Williams is predicting. We still think a stiff stagflation is more likely, but are allowing that the Fed and Treasury may indeed be ‘just that dumb enough’ to trigger something less probable.

Until the consumer returns to some semblance of health, there will be no sustained recovery. It really is that simple.

The Fed will have to stop artificially draining credit supply by paying such a high rate of interest on reserves. They know this. It will stimulate lending, even to less worthy borrowers. But this is not a cure. It is one of the paths to more inflation, fresh asset bubbles, and the devaluation of the dollar. And ‘stimulus’ handouts are no better. Healthcare reform is a step in the right direction. The US consumer pays far too much for the same (or less) level of care in most of the developed nations. But that is not enough.

The cure will be to increase the median wage, and to stop the transfer of the national income to fewer and fewer hands. For that is how the system is set up today. It is not the result of ‘free markets’ but a sustained transfer of wealth through regulatory and tax policies, and a pernicious corruption of the nation most significantly starting in 1980, although a case has been made for 1913.

It is an ironic echo that our current over-his-head badly advised President seeks…
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ValueWalk

Louis Gave: In Three Years, China Won't Have Capital Controls Anymore

By Mauldin Economics. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Louis Gave, co-founder and CEO at Gavekal, is unequivocally bullish on China.

Speaking at the Strategic Investment Conference in Orlando, Florida, he stated his firm belief that China will soon open up its economic restrictions and become more accessible to investors worldwide.

Unsplash / PixabayReasons Behind China Capital Outflows

Asked about rumors of capital flight out of China into Western assets like Vancouver and Toronto real estate, Gave—who lives in Hong Kong—pointed out that there are several different reasons....



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Zero Hedge

Bitcoin Is Crashing

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

What goes up exponentially, falls vertically... or something like that...

Bitcoin has plunged 13% in the last few minutes... no catalyst evident for now...

However, in context, it's a fleshwound...

...

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Phil's Favorites

Fed Eyes Second Quarter Recovery, Expects Trump Fiscal Policy Will Expand Economy

Courtesy of Mish.

Data supporting the second quarter recovery thesis is nonexistent. Four out of four of the recent hard data economic reports have been negative.

Soft data diffusion indexes do not look so hot either.

Earlier today the Census Bureau reported the trade deficit widened. The same report shows retail and wholesale inventories declined by 0.3% each.

Advance Wholesale Inventories

Wholesale inventories for April, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $592.0 billion, down 0.3 percent (±0.4 percent)* from March 2017, and were up 1.8 perce...



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Market News

News You Can Use From Phil's Stock World

 

Financial Markets and Economy

OPEC Boss Embraces Shift to Top Diplomat (The Wall Street Journal)

During a turbulent year for oil prices, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ top official, Mohammad Barkindo, has embraced a role as the global energy industry’s chief diplomat.

Eurozone ‘still fragile’ despite growth spurt, warns European Central Bank (The Telegraph)

Europe’s sovereign debt crisis might seem like a distant memory as the eurozone economy ...



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Chart School

Gold supply and demand battle near resolution

Courtesy of Read the Ticker.

Energy builds up during a long slow sideways pattern which allow money managers to accumulate or distribute float, very soon either the demand or supply side is going to get knocked out. Soon we well have a winner! Both the moving averages and Gann angles show the tight APEX, a break out either way will happen. Our bias is to the upside.

If you review a hand full of gold stocks (say ABX, NEM, GG, HMY) you can see higher lows, and consolidations tightening after a period of volatility, this means those that wish to sell from the recent rally have done so, there done! Now the time for the next move is very near. The good news is that most big money managers missed the 2016 rally, and they are getting ready for the next move higher (we believe).

...

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Members' Corner

Robert Sapolsky: The biology of our best and worst selves

Interesting discussion of what affects our behavior. 

Description: "How can humans be so compassionate and altruistic — and also so brutal and violent? To understand why we do what we do, neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky looks at extreme context, examining actions on timescales from seconds to millions of years before they occurred. In this fascinating talk, he shares his cutting edge research into the biology that drives our worst and best behaviors."

Robert Sapolsky: The biology of our best and worst selves

Filmed April 2017 at TED 2017

 

p.s. Roger (on Facebook) saw this talk and recommends the book ...



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OpTrader

Swing trading portfolio - week of May 22nd, 2017

Reminder: OpTrader is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

This post is for all our live virtual trade ideas and daily comments. Please click on "comments" below to follow our live discussion. All of our current  trades are listed in the spreadsheet below, with entry price (1/2 in and All in), and exit prices (1/3 out, 2/3 out, and All out).

We also indicate our stop, which is most of the time the "5 day moving average". All trades, unless indicated, are front-month ATM options. 

Please feel free to participate in the discussion and ask any questions you might have about this virtual portfolio, by clicking on the "comments" link right below.

To learn more about the swing trading virtual portfolio (strategy, performance, FAQ, etc.), please click here ...



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Digital Currencies

Bitcoin Soars Above $2000 For First Time Ever

Courtesy of Zero Hedge

Bitcoin is now up over 100% in 2017, amid global political uncertainty and increased interest in Asia, suddenly spiking above $2000 this afternoon for the first time ever...

That is a year-over-year gain of more than 350%. The move comes, as CoinDesk notes, amid a broader boost in the cryptocurrency market, which broke the $60bn barrier today. The increase has taken place amid strong surges from Ripple's XRP, which seeks to lower costs in enterprise cross-border payments, and ethereum's ether token, a cryptographic asse...



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Biotech

Beyond just promise, CRISPR is delivering in the lab today

Reminder: Pharmboy is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Beyond just promise, CRISPR is delivering in the lab today

Courtesy of Ian HaydonUniversity of Washington

Precision editing DNA allows for some amazing applications. Ian Haydon, CC BY-ND

There’s a revolution happening in biology, and its name is CRISPR.

CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) is a powerful technique for editing DNA. It has received an enormous amount of attention in the scientific and popular press, largely based on the promise of what this powerful gene e...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Brazil; Waterfall in prices starting? Impact U.S.?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble.

Below looks at the Brazil ETF (EWZ) over the last decade. The rally over the past year has it facing a critical level, from a Power of the Pattern perspective.

CLICK ON CHART TO ENLARGE

EWZ is facing dual resistance at (1), while in a 9-year down trend of lower highs and lower lows. The counter trend rally over the past 17-months has it testing key falling resistance. Did the counter trend reflation rally just end at dual resistance???

If EWZ b...



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Mapping The Market

Bombing - Right or Wrong?

Courtesy of Jean-Luc

I am telling you Angel – makes no sense… BTW:

Republicans Love Bombing, But Only When a Republican Does It

By Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

A few days ago I noted that Republican views of the economy changed dramatically when Donald Trump was elected, but Democratic views stayed pretty stable. Apparently Republicans view the economy through a partisan lens but Democrats don't.

Are there other examples of this? Yes indeed. Jeff Stein points to polling data about air strikes against Syria:

Democr...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

Here's a free ebook for you to check out! 

Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

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All About Trends

Mid-Day Update

Reminder: Harlan is available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

Click here for the full report.




To learn more, sign up for David's free newsletter and receive the free report from All About Trends - "How To Outperform 90% Of Wall Street With Just $500 A Week." Tell David PSW sent you. - Ilene...

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