Because the latest fad amongst the voodoo shamanry known as econ Ph.Ds, especially those who have a blog in uber-liberal daily publications courtesy of a nominal gift from the status quo for valiant efforts in preserving the status quo, is to always and without fail assume that correlation is and always implies causation, we make, with the help of John Lohman, the following argument: since global leverage (via Debt-to-GDP) has a greater correlation to the "Temperature Anomaly" aka Global Warming, at 0.79, than CO2 concentration, at 0.69, it is obvious that global warming is purely a function of ever increasing leverage, and not, as is widely accepted by various ecological consultancies, carbon dioxide concentration. And now you see how easy it is to make idiotic, and totally spurious statements (which however serve as fodder for even more idiotic peer-reviewed white papers and journal submissions this keeping lots of people employed while contributing absolutely nothing to society), which given enough time, will become religion to a new breed of shamans once the old ones are forcibly kicked out of their comfortable corner offices.
In the first few days of 2012, the US mint has already sold 4.3 million ounces in silver coins. This is more than in all individual months of 2011 except for January and September, when the mint sold 6.4 million and 4.5 million ounces. Is the retail love affair with physical silver coming back with a vengeance?
The Swiss had a rough couple of years; first the national airline crashes, then the banking secret, and, now, their central bank. It seems someone from inside the SNB finally woke up and skilfully played the Swiss media to work on Hildebrand’s expulsion. There is only one problem for the SNB: how to get out of the hole before the Euro blows up? The sharks are already circling their prey; the Swiss Franc decoupled from the Euro the moment SNB chairman Hildebrand resigned: The exchange rate got dangerously close to the “Rubicon” of 1.20 (the level the SNB vows to defend with utmost determination). The SNB is basically 100 pips away from extinction.
Fannie CEO Michael Williams To Quit After 2 Years, Pockets Millions After Receiving $60 Billion In Bail Out CashSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/10/2012 - 18:14
A few months ago we learned that outgoing Freddie CEO Ed Haldeman quit Freddie after just two years of work, pocketing over $4 million primarily to collect over $21 billion in bailout funds from the US government. Now, it is the turn of the other broke GSE: according to a just filed 8K, Fannie Mae CEO Michael Williams is also stepping down without a replacement, so obviously the decision was made in haste and is an indication that nobody at the helm of the two largest mortgageholders want to do anything with what Obama and the Chairsatan have in store for the two behemoths holdings over $6 trillion in mortgages in their books. Incidentally, according to Forbes, Williams made $4.84 million in comp last year. His claim to fame: receiving a total of $60 billion in Treasury bailout cash (net of $17.2 billion in dividend payments) - hard job that one.
Whoever says there are no winners in the European banking crisis apparently has never woken up with a horse's head in their bed. According to a new report by Italian anti-crime group SOS Impresa, as reported by Reuters, "Organised crime has tightened its grip on the Italian economy during the economic crisis, making the Mafia the country's biggest "bank" and squeezing the life out of thousands of small firms, according to a report on Tuesday." You mean kinda like Intesa credit cards demanding a 39.95% APR: we knew we had seen that "life squeezing" thing before somewhere. Of course at least with the mafia you know that it will never rely on fake Libor fixings to pretend it is alive, or need an ECB bailout the next day due to being overly invested in US subprime mortgages (unless of course Goldman's rolodex stretches even further than we thought possible). It sure does, however, bring a new definition to the term "shadow banking"... or is that the old one, where nobody cared about repos, money markets, overnight drafts, and hyperrehypothecation and all the complexity could be explained away with a baseball bat. Yet the conclusion, no matter how defined, still strikes us as hilarious: '"With 65 billion euros in liquidity, the Mafia is Italy's number one bank," said a statement from the group, which was set up in Palermo a decade ago to oppose extortion rackets against small business." Because as we pointed out yesterday, it was companies which were responsible for bailing out banks in Europe. How long then until La Cosa Nostra provides a lifeline to UniCredit, but only if half the BOD is replaced with guys in tracksuits and buzzcuts? Actually, not too long we would wager...
Nearly 10-years ago to the day, the government of Argentina collapsed. Beset by weighty deficit spending and a completely unrealistic currency peg to the US dollar, Argentina became the poster child for the golden rule of economics: ‘that which is unsustainable will not be sustained.’ It’s reversion to the mean. Within a matter of days, the country had burned through several presidents, the currency collapsed, inflation soared, unemployment shot up, crime rates spiked, and the government defaulted on its debt. After limping along for most of the last decade with a socialist agenda, the government of Argentina is at it again. The economy is rapidly deteriorating, and street-inflation has surpassed 25%.
Payback sure is a bitch. After being demonized for everything from the tiniest tick down in the EURUSD, to blowing out spreads in CDS, to plunging stocks across the insolvent continent, hedge funds, long falsely prosecuted for everything, even stuff they patently did not do, are about to have their day in the sun, precisely in the manner we predicted back in June of last year when we posted: "Greek Bailout #2 Is Dead On Arrival: A Few Good Hedge Funds May Have Called The ECB's Bluff, And Hold The Future Of The EUR Hostage." Back then we wrote: "we may suddenly find ourselves in the biggest "activist" investor drama, in which voluntary restructuring "hold out" hedge funds will settle for Cheapest to Delivery or else demand a trillion pounds of flesh from the ECB in order to keep the eurozone afloat. In other words, the drama is about to get very, very real. And, most ironically, a tiny David is about to flip the scales on the mammoth Goliath of the ECB and hold the entire European experiment hostage..." Sure enough, we were right yet again. Ekathimerini writes: "Hedge funds are taking on the powerful International Monetary Fund over its plan to slash Greece's towering debt burden as time runs out on the talks that could sway the future of Europe's single currency. The funds have built up such a powerful positions in Greek bonds that they could derail Europe's tactic of getting banks and other bondholders to share the burden of reducing the country's debt on a voluntary basis." Oh no, they will let it happen, but first Europe will pay, with real interest, for every single incident of hedge fund bashing and abuse over the past 2 years. We estimate the final tally, to US taxpayer mind you, will be about $20 billion, to remove the "nuisance factor" of hold out hedge funds. Congratulations Europe - you have proven to be a continent full of idiot "leaders" once again.
Not even an hour after we asked the question, The Hill gives us the answer: "The Obama administration will be asking Congress to raise the debt limit in the coming days, White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday. "I'm confident it will be executed in a matter of days, not weeks," he told reporters. The notification by the administration — which had been scheduled for last month — was delayed because Congress has been holding only pro forma sessions. The White House will be asking Congress to raise the U.S. borrowing limit by $1.2 trillion. The move would mark the third and final increase from the debt-ceiling deal reached last year by Congress." Of course, the optics of yet another debt-ceiling increase, even a preapproved one, are simply horrible during campaign season. But such is life. Here is the kicker though: the US has preapproval for $1.2 trillion in debt issuance, as per the August 2011 agreement. So far so good. The problem is that since then the US has issued $900 billion in debt in five short months! In other words, somehow the remaining buffer of just $300 billion, or a final debt ceiling of $15.5 trillion, is supposed to last the US until after the presidential election, because this topic flaring up just before Obama is due to hit the debate circuit will be reelection suicide. So our question is: how will the US, which has a gross debt issuance rate of over $100 billion per month on average, last for a year with just $300 billion in dry powder? And even if the $1.2 trillion count begins from the new request, it still means the new debt ceiling will be breached some time in August/September, as we expected last year when we did the calculation assuming a $180 billion gross issuance per month ($900 billion in 5 months). We can't wait to hear the OMB's explanation.
Those who depend on a strategy of pleading with central authorities to continue funding at old levels are doomed to disappointment--all systems follow an S-Curve of rapid expansion, stasis and decline. The Central State is no different. The solution is localism. By creating cheap housing with its own modest tax resources, then the village attracts young families, whose children will keep the village school from closing, and the commerce brought to the village and its post office will keep it above the "closure" threshold. Passively hoping that centralized concentrations of wealth and power will return to pre-eminence is a losing strategy, the equivalent of a cargo cult ritualistically hoping for a return to World War II-era bounty. Focusing local resources on obvious bootstrap solutions is the winning strategy, not just in the U.S. but globally.
3 Year Auction Prices At Record High Bid To Cover, Direct Bidders At 2 Year Low, Even As Debt Ceiling Breached AgainSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/10/2012 - 14:21
We may well have reached the point where every single bond auction has to be a new record in something, or else (the else being the point where a reversal in yields becomes self-sustaining with trillions and trillions of ZIRP cash sloshing around and the smallest increases in rates could wreak havoc within the entire system)... Today, the record in the just completed $32 billion 3 Year auction was the record high Bid To Cover, which came at an all time high, obviously, 3.73, compared to 3.624 before, and 3.314 last 12 auction average. The bond priced at 0.37% (44.86% allotted at the high), with the low yield coming at a tiny 0.276%. Naturally, there always is more than meets the eye, with the bulk of the demand coming from Dealers, who took down 56.1% in the never-ending game of repo-mediated ponzi, while Indirects were accountable for just 38.%, and Directs coming at a 2 year low of 5.3%: this should probably be a warning sign to some. Probably a far more important question is why the Treasury is issuing debt in the first place: as Zero Hedge first (and so far only) pointed out last week, the Treasury has, or rather had, a $25 million buffer before it breaches the ceiling - in other words no capacity for gross issuance (not even net of the $77 billion Fed remittance). Simply said, this means every auction means more plunder from government retirement accounts - a replay of what happened in late July. Obviously, at some point the president will make it a point to push the interim debt ceiling higher, just probably not before the state of the union speech.
Hyperinflation has struck again, this time at ground zero of the most sensitive geopolitical conflict in ages: Iran. EA WorldView reports:
An EA source reports that a relative in Tehran ordered a washing machine for 400,000 Toman (about $240) this week. When he went to the shop the next day, he was told that --- amidst the currency crisis and rising import costs --- the price was now 800,000 Toman (about $480). Another EA source says that the price of an item of software for a laptop computer has tripled from 50,000 Toman to 150,000 Toman within days.
And so the opportunity cost for the Ahmedinejad regime to preserve its status quo gradually grinds to zero, as the entire economy implodes (courtesy of a few strategic financially isolating decisions) making further escalation virtually inevitable, in a 100% replica of the US-planned Japanese escalation that led to the Pearl Harbor attack, and gave America the green light to enter the war.
When one has $2.9 trillion in costless AUM (because if the cost is breached, one just doubles down, especially if one prints the money), it is not all that surprising to generate $77 billion in profits in one year (think of the hubris emanating from that particular year end letter), or even $385 billion in profits in the past 10 years. Yet it is still a stunning number considering the rest of the $2 trillion hedge fund industry lost about 10% in 2011. Which is why we all bow down to what is without doubt the world's most lucrative and profitable generator of P&L in history: the Federal Reserve, which for the second year in a row has printed (pun intended) over $70 billion in profits. And who is the lucky LP? Why the US Treasury of course, which for the second year in a row will pocket all the proceeds from PM Ben's immaculate trading perfection. Of course, there is one caveat for this spotless performance sheet: what happens when Fed interest expense surpasses interest income? But why worry - everyone tells us this can never happen, so it obviously can never happen...
One of the recurring analogues we have used in the past to describe the centrally planned farce that capital markets have become and the global economy in general has been one of a increasingly chaotic sine wave with ever greater amplitude and ever higher frequency (shorter wavelength). By definition, the greater the central intervention, the bigger the dampening or promoting effect, as central banks attempt to mute or enhance a given wave leg. As a result, each oscillation becomes ever more acute, ever more chaotic, and increasingly more unpredictable. And with "Austrian" analytics becoming increasingly dominant, i.e., how much money on the margin is entering or leaving the closed monetary system at any given moment, the same analysis can be drawn out to the primary driver of virtually everything: the inflation-vs-deflation debate. This in turn is why we are increasingly convinced that as the system gets caught in an ever more rapid round trip scramble peak deflation to peak inflation (and vice versa) so the ever more desperate central planners will have no choice but to ultimately throw the kitchen sink at the massive deflationary problem - because after all it is their prerogative to spur inflation, and will do as at any cost - a process which will culminate with the only possible outcome: terminal currency debasement as the Chaotic monetary swings finally become uncontrollable. Ironically, the reason why bring this up is an essay by Pimco's Neel Kashkari titled simply enough: "Chaos Theory" which looks at unfolding events precisely in the very same light, and whose observations we agree with entirely. Furthermore, since he lays it out more coherently, we present it in its entirety below. His conclusion, especially as pertains to the ubiquitous inflation-deflation debate however, is worth nothing upfront: "I believe societies will in the end choose inflation because it is the less painful option for the largest number of its citizens. I am hopeful central banks will be effective in preventing runaway inflation. But it is going to be a long, bumpy journey until the destination becomes clear. This equity market is best for long-term investors who can withstand extended volatility. Day traders beware: chaos is here to stay for the foreseeable future." Unfortunately, we are far less optimistic that the very same central bankers who have blundered in virtually everything, will succeed this one time. But, for the sake of the status quo, one can hope...