Thailand is known for a lot of things – quintessential white sandy beaches, hard partying nightlife, quiet Buddhist reverence... But what a lot of people don’t realize is that Bangkok is probably one of the most important cities in the world when it comes to illegal trafficking. Human trafficking. Narcotrafficking. Money laundering. Weapons. Forged documents. Etc. Bangkok is just as vital to these industries as New York or London to the global financial sector. And now, thanks to India’s sagging economy, they can add one more to this list: gold smuggling... In Thailand, however, gold demand is up 125% from the 3rd quarter of 2012.
UnitedHealth, the nation's largest provider of privately managed Medicare Advantage plans, has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks citing "substantial funding pressure from the federal government." The WSJ reports that physician groups are protesting as many elderly patients are now unsure about whether they need to switch plans to keep seeing their doctors. Doctors in at least 10 states have received termination letters, some citing "significant changes and pressures in the health-care environment." UnitedHealth said its provider networks are always changing and that it expects its Medicare Advantage network "to be 85% to 90% of its current size by the end of 2014," due to the new health law (Obamacare). More job creation?
Nobel Winner Dares To Go There: "No Reason To Fear Deflation... Greece May Benefit From Gold Standard"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/16/2013 - 13:45
"Historically, there is no reason to fear deflation," Nobel Laureate Thomas Sargent explains to Germany's Wiwo.de, "we all benefit from lower prices." Crucially, he continues, "countries with declining prices, such as Greece, must improve the competitiveness they have lost in recent years," requiring falling wages and rising productivity (and falling unit labor costs) which will lead to companies cutting prices, "this is not a dangerous deflation, but part of the necessary correction so that these countries are internationally competitive again." That central banks pursue an inflation rate of around 2%, Sargent blasts, is because they consider it their job to "make bad debt good debt," adding that inflation is "a major redistribution machine - reducing the real debt burden for the benefit of creditors and devaluing the assets of the creditors." A return to a gold standard,he concludes, to prevent governments and central banks from limitless money-printing "would not be foolish."
Not only is there a positive relationship between stronger public finances during the crisis and faster post-GFC growth, but the relationship holds both within and outside Europe. We have two observations. First, the results may help explain why Keynesian pundits resort to nonsensical arguments. They often claim that poor performance in countries attempting to contain public debt proves austerity doesn’t work, which is like deciding your months in rehab stunk, and therefore, rehab is bad and heroin is good. A more honest approach is to compare fiscal actions in one time period with results in later periods, after the obvious short-term effects have played out. But if Keynesians did that, they would reveal that their own advice has failed. Second, the effects discussed by Aslund don’t receive enough attention. As Tyler Cowen (who gets credit for the pointer) wrote, Aslund’s perspective “is underrepresented in the economics blogosphere.”... Until now, we haven’t offered research on intermediate-term effects – horizons of 2-5 years as in the charts above.
When Tim Geithner announced his departure from the US Treasury in January, the only question was how long would it take the former NY Fed head to get a job with the only industry that he cared about as either a Fed or Treasury official: Wall Street. Tim did his best to diffuse such speculation with amusing stories about writing books, which were accentuated by his refusal to join the Fed chairmanship race. Why not? After all there was nobody that Wall Street would benefit more from as the head of the Fed than TurboTax Tim. Today, less than a year after his exit from public service, the answer has presented itself - Tim Geithner is joining private equity titan Warburg Pincus, his first private sector job in decades since working for Henry Kissinger early in his career.
By now, thanks to Edward Snowden, it is common knowledge and not just conspiracy theory, that every bit of information sent out into the wired or wireless ether is scanned, probed, intercepted and ultimately recorded by the NSA and subsequently all such information is and can be used against any US citizen without a court of law (because the president's pet secret NISA "court" is anything but). Sadly, in a country in which courtesy of peak social networking, exhibitionism has become an art form, the vast majority of Americans not only could not care less about Snowden's sacrificial revelations, but in fact are delighted the at least someone, somewhere cares about that photo of last night's dinner. However, it turns out that far from being a passive listener and recorder, the NSA is quite an active participant in using the internet. The weaponized internet.
Within the last seven years 11 countries (Poland (2006), Russia (2008), Finland (2009), France (2009), Sweden (2010), Iceland (2011), Spain (2011), Denmark (2012), Singapore (2012), Canada (2012) and Japan (2013) have realized the need to appoint their own Arctic ambassadors. These ambassadors are used for analysis and situational assessments in the emerging “grand Arctic game,” with the ultimate aim of exploiting mineral resources and using the Arctic route for shipping cargo from Europe to Asia. At present, China’s Arctic initiatives suggest that Beijing is eager to camouflage its true interests in the region with environmental monitoring, Arctic life protection and concerns about indigenous peoples. At the same time, Beijing is dropping hints that China is not satisfied with the current balance of power in the Arctic region.
You know it's bad when...
With the market ebullient at the prospect of more "miracles" from Yellen, we thought it worth dusting off the following brief clip discussing what it would mean to "end the Fed." In order to answer this question, we examine countries throughout history that did not have an established central bank. So who performs the functions of a central bank in these countries? Professor White cites private institutions, including clearing house systems, banks, and financial companies, as the main actors in the monetary systems of countries without a central bank. Ultimately, he concludes that the Federal Reserve is not necessary. Evidence shows that nations can survive without a central bank. What the Federal Reserve does well can be done even better by private institutions, and the institution is capable of serious errors.
The third stage of bull markets, the mania phase, can last longer and go farther that logic would dictate. However, the data suggests that the risk of a more meaningful reversion is rising. It is unknown, unexpected and unanticipated events that strike the crucial blow that begins the market rout. Unfortunately, due to the increased impact of high frequency and program trading, reversions are likely to occur faster than most can adequately respond to. This is the danger that exists today. Are we in the third phase of a bull market? Most who read this article will say "no." However, those were the utterances made at the peak of every previous bull market cycle.
How many more quarters of this Einsteinian insanity will it take for investors to realize the sell-side analysts' "forecasts" are worse than useless...?
One of the biggest lies in finance is this perpetual deception that inflation is good. Ben Bernanke, the current high priest of US monetary policy, recently remarked that it’s “important to prevent US inflation from falling too low.” Well of course, we wouldn’t want that, would we? Just imagine the chaos and devastation that would ensue if the cost of living actually remained… you know… the same. One shudders at the mere thought of price stability.
The Unspoken, Festering Secret At The Heart Of Shadow Banking: "Self-Securitization" ... With Central BanksSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/15/2013 - 17:45
The implication of this particular and quite unprecedented shadow banking circle jerk, which could very easily make even the direct wealth transfer resulting from trillions in QE pale by comparison, is so stunning that we leave it up to the reader to come to their own conclusion.