Posts Tagged ‘free markets’

Mass Delusion – American Style

Mass Delusion – American Style

Courtesy of Jim Quinn of The Burning Platform

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” – Charles Mackay - Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness of Crowds

 

The American public thinks they are rugged individualists, who come to conclusions based upon sound reason and a rational thought process. The truth is that the vast majority of Americans act like a herd of cattle or a horde of lemmings. Throughout history there have been many instances of mass delusion. They include the South Sea Company bubble, Mississippi Company bubble, Dutch Tulip bubble, and Salem witch trials. It appears that mass delusion has replaced baseball as the national past-time in America. In the space of the last 15 years the American public have fallen for the three whopper delusions:

  1. Buy stocks for the long run
  2. Homes are always a great investment
  3. Globalization will benefit all Americans

Bill Bonner and Lila Rajiva ponder why people have always acted in a herd like manner in their outstanding book Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics:

“Of course, we doubt if many public prescriptions are really intended to solve problems. People certainly believe they are when they propose them. But, like so much of what goes on in a public spectacle, its favorite slogans, too, are delusional – more in the nature of placebos than propositions. People repeat them like Hail Marys because it makes them feel better. Most of our beliefs about the economy – and everything else – are of this nature. They are forms of self medication, superstitious lip service we pay to the powers of the dark, like touching wood….or throwing salt over your shoulder. “Stocks for the long run,” “Globalization is good.” We repeat slogans to ourselves, because everyone else does. It is not so much bad luck we want to avoid as being on our own. Why it is that losing your life savings should be less painful if you have lost it in the company of one million other losers, we don’t know. But mankind is first of all a herd animal and fears nothing more than not being part of the herd.”

Stocks for the


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Never Let the Threat of a Manufactured Crisis Go to Waste

Never Let the Threat of a Manufactured Crisis Go to Waste

Courtesy of Mark Thoma, Economist’s View 

There’s been a lot of speculation about the motives of the Austerians — those who want to begin balancing budgets now because they believe that’s what markets want. For example, Paul Krugman attributes it, in part, to

moralizing and posturing. Germans tend to think of running deficits as being morally wrong, while balancing budgets is considered virtuous, never mind the … economic logic. “The last few hours were a singular show of strength,” declared Angela Merkel … after a special cabinet meeting agreed on the austerity plan. And showing strength — or what is perceived as strength — is what it’s all about.

But there is another argument based upon the notion of "never let a crisis — or the manufactured threat of one — go to waste." This is an opportunity to "starve the European Beast" in the eyes of many European conservatives, and there are those who are using the "that’s what markets want" argument as cover for an ideological agenda:

The spectre of laissez-faire stalks Britain, by Jeremy Seabrook, CIF: The relish with which David Cameron announced that our whole way of life would be affected for years by impending cuts, and no one in the land would be exempt from the asperities about to be inflicted, suggested to many that he and his fellow cabinet-millionaires will probably weather the coming storm better than the rest of us.

His parade of Margaret Thatcher, who resembled nothing so much as a faded kabuki performer, outside 10 Downing Street, was also highly symbolic. It was a redemptive moment, the "ultimate" triumph of policies she advocated (but did not entirely follow) 30 years ago. It exhibited the qualities of purification ritual, reversion to a more severe form of capitalism; and in the process a transformation of nanny state into stepmother state.

Nick Clegg’s pious assertion that cuts would be fair and compassionate was at odds with Cameron’s gusto, which is familiar enough in Conservative rhetoric: Cameron confronting an overweening state, which will be shrunk so the private sector might flourish once more. When he said the effects of his policies would be felt for decades to come, he meant something more than a mere diminution of the structural deficit. He admitted as much… 

While cutting back big government may appear a


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DOJ Antitrust Division Considering Launching Investigation Into Silver Market Manipulation By JPM

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Eric King reports the breaking news that in a letter obtained by Ted Butler, the DOJ’s Antitrust department is considering launching an investigation into silver market manipulation by JP Morgan. Should an announcement of a full formal probe of manipulation by JPM follow, it would be tantamount to a confirmation of what numerous individuals have been claiming over the years, that JP Morgan, the LBMA, the CFTC, various banks, and even that kindly old grandpa who was so much against derivatives except when he was about to lose money as a result of regulation that he is spending the whole weekend telling his investors in Omaha to run, not walk, to Borsheim’s, and buy all their massively overpriced trinkets (you can’t be a quadrillionaire without first being a trillionaire), are nothing but a borderline criminal cabal that traffics in wealth extraction courtesy of a few monopolist players. As Eric King discloses in its letter the Anti-Trust division announces that "it will carefully consider the issue of silver market manipulation by JP Morgan and other traders. Generally the CFTC investigates these types of market manipulations. However, the suggestion that JPMorgan Chase may be signaling other traders, warrants further analysis. The DOJ will carefully consider the issue you raise, and you can be assured that if we conclude that silver traders have engaged in anti-competitive conduct, we will take appropriate enforcement action."

Ted Butler, always cutting to the point, says: "It’s about time a major government organization stepped up to end what has been a very serious crime in progress that has basically covered two decades…[JP Morgan's] level of concentration only exists in the silver markets. Concentration is the hallmark of manipulation or a monopoly. Our markets are supposed to be free markets, they are not supposed to be controlled by anybody. Right now the silver market is a monopoly, the chief monopolist is JP Morgan, and the only entity that can step up to JPM is the Antitrust division of the DOJ…If you want to put it into perspective, more important and more serious than what is currently happening with Goldman Sachs. This is a crime in progress, this is an allegation of current market manipulation. This is as serious as you get. You don’t get bigger than market manipulation."

And, as a scheduled daily reminder to Christine Varney: if you are evaluating JP Morgan…
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The New Perspective

"At Davos, the Globalizers Are Gone," is an excellent article by Ian Bremmer, and in sharp contrast to another excellent article I posted yesterday by George F. Smith writing at Mises Daily, By the Way, Free Markets Are Free. I would submit that the ideals of a truly free market are an illusion because we do not have the political system and laws framed in such a way as to support a truly free market system. We cannot go straight to free market remedies because we cannot dispense with the need for a functional, non-corrupted, political and legal system – laws constraining freedom – to provide the framework in which a free market can operate.  And hence, "free" is not completely free and it can’t be. – Ilene

The New Perspective

Woman Standing on Globe Beach Ball

Courtesy of Michael Panzner at When Giants Fall

Say what you will, but one reason why globalization has had the traction it has up until recently, despite anecdotal and other evidence that it has not lived up to many of the promises of its proponents, is because of the support of the movers and the shakers. In America and elsewhere, corporate executives and other powerful interests have used their money and influence to ensure that policymakers were not swayed to move in a different direction. But the times are a-changin’. As foreign policy expert Ian Bremmer notes in a commentary for the Washington Post, "At Davos, the Globalizers Are Gone," some of the biggest supporters of unfettered cross-border trade and free markets, no doubt shaken by the events of the past two years, seem to have lost their mojo.

For 40 years there’s been a consensus view at the Davos World Economic Forum that globalization’s increasingly free cross-border flow of ideas, information, people, money, goods and services is both irreversible and a powerful force for prosperity. As with meetings of the G7 group of industrialized nations, there was broad agreement on the proper role for the state in the performance of markets. Sure, a French cabinet official and an American investment banker might spar over the relative merits of state paternalism and Anglo-Saxon labor laws, but the bargaining table was still reserved for champions of Western-style free market capitalism.

Davos has always had its critics. For those who believe globalization empowers the rich at


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Greed is not good

To make an analogy with the living body – growth is good. Nutrition and a healthy environment are vital for healthy cells growing in a healthy organism. Cancer – uncontrolled, excessive growth of a renegade line of cells – is not good.  One way or another, it kills the whole system.  Greed in an economic/political system is like cancer in a living being. – Ilene

Greed is not good

Courtesy of Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns

gordon-gekko In the 1987 movie classic Wall Street, the sinister protagonist Gordon Gekko played by Michael Douglas gives this famous quote:

In the last seven deals that I’ve been involved with, there were 2.5 million stockholders who have made a pretax profit of 12 billion dollars. Thank you. I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.

Since that time, this quote has become famous as the “Greed is Good” philosophy of capitalism.  Gekko symbolizes an era in which it is believed that the free hand of market capitalism will steer the economy efficiently and effectively with little need for government intervention or regulatory oversight. Instead, so the theory goes, we are each allowed encouraged to pursue our manifest destiny of getting filthy rich. Screw everybody else.

Well, let me tell you something greed is not good.  Greed is corrosive and it is tearing at the very fabric of our democracy. A generation ago most people in America worked for a few institutions in their lifetimes.  Many had employer-paid healthcare and employer-financed defined benefit pension plans.

But, since the 1980s the moorings have come off and set us adrift in a world of economic insecurity.


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Zero Hedge

'Father Of Credit Risk Modeling' Has Ominous Warning Over "Insolvent" Companies Piling Up Debt

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

“When there is an increase in insolvency risk, what you do not need is more debt. You need less debt.”

That is the common-sense warning from Ed Altman that every talking head in the world seems incapable of understanding or admitting.

Altman, wh...



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Phil's Favorites

Was that the Top?

 

Was that the Top?

Courtesy of  (originally posted on July 13, 20) 

That was one heck of a reversal today in tech stocks. At one point the Nasdaq-100 was up more than 2%, but it gave up all of those gains and then some, finishing the day down over 2%.

After a 60% move off the March lows, the question on many investor’s minds tonight is, “was that the top?”

This type of reversal is rare and is only seen in volatile markets. It happened at the bottom in March 2020, and before that you’d have to go all the way back to the bottom of March 2009.

It’s happened at the bottom, but it also ha...



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Biotech/COVID-19

How 'good' does a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine need to be to stop the pandemic? A new study has answers

 

How 'good' does a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine need to be to stop the pandemic? A new study has answers

The lower the vaccine’s effectiveness, the more likely social distancing in some form may still be necessary. Gopixa via Getty Images

Courtesy of Bruce Y. Lee, City University of New York

The U.S. is pinning its hopes on a COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine, but will a vaccine alone be enough to stop the pandemic and allow life to return to normal?

The answer depends on a how “good” the vaccine ends u...



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ValueWalk

Whitney Tilson Is Bullish On Bank Stocks

By Jacob Wolinsky. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors disucssing him being bullish on bank stocks; the bear case; Doug Kass with the bull case.

Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Earnings Season For The Big Banks

1) It's earnings season for the big banks this week.

Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and Wells Fargo (WFC) reported this morning... Goldman Sachs (GS) is up tomorrow... and Bank of America (BAC) and Morgan Stanley (MS) round things out on Thursday.

The sector has been decimated this year. The Invesco KBW Bank Fund (KBWB) is down 35% year to date, vast...



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Digital Currencies

Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bloomberg, Kanye, Apple Twitter Accounts All Hacked In "Nigerian" Bitcoin Scam, Over $100,000 Stolen In Minutes

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

The twitter accounts of two of the world's richest men, Bill Gates and Elon Musk (and perhaps others) were hacked late on Wednesday, in what appears to be a version of a "Nigerian" bitcoin scam.

At 440pm ET, Musk tweeted the following:

Microsoft founder Bill Gates had a similar tweet.

As did Jeff Bezos:

...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Junior Gold Miners Working On 7-Year Breakout!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Its been a long 7-years if you happened to buy Junior miners ETF (GDXJ) back in 2013, as it has traded sideways since those highs.

This chart comes from Marketsmith.com, which reflects that GDXJ is trading above long-term moving averages and its relative strength continues to push higher.

GDXJ has spent the majority of the past 7-years inside of the trading range (1).

The rally off the bottom of the range in March, has GDXJ working on an upside breakout of this trading range at (2).

A...



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The Technical Traders

Second Phase Real Estate Collapse Pending

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Real estate, especially commercial real estate, is likely to be the first segment of the real estate market to enter the second phase of an extended collapse.  The COVID-19 virus has created an atmosphere where continuing operations for retail, restaurants, and many other business segments is virtually impossible to maintain.  Without the ability to earn sufficient income, thousands of restaurants and other retail businesses have already closed or are in the process of closing.  This has pushed the commercial real estate market into turmoil.  We believe the residential real estate market will follow the commercial market because consumers are going to suffer as commercial real estate collapses....



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Chart School

Dow 2020 Crash Watch - Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Like 1929 the markets have bounced. This time it is on the back of the FED $6.5T money printing.

Previous Post: Dow 2020 Crash Watch 

But can the FED blow $6T every time the market rolls down to test support.

Yes, maybe before the US 2020 elections the FED will do 'what it takes'. But post elections not so much, the year 2021 is a long way from the next election (presidential or congress) and defense of the markets may not be so supportive at $6T or $10T per market smash. The FED may hesitate, and that will be window for stocks to break lower.

The 36 month simple moving a...

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Lee's Free Thinking

These Charts Show COVID 19 Is Spreading in the US and Will Kill the Economy

 

These Charts Show COVID 19 Is Spreading in the US and Will Kill the Economy

Courtesy of  

The COVID 19 pandemic is, predictably, worsening again in much of the US. Only the Northeast, and to a lesser extent some Midwestern states, have been consistently improving. And that trend could also reverse as those states fully reopen.

The problem in the US seems to be widespread public resistance to recommended practices of social distancing and mask wearing. In countries where these practices have been practi...



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Members' Corner

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

 

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Courtesy of John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge; Stephan Lewandowsky...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

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