The Gold Conspiracy

As increasingly more conspiracy 'theories' become conspiracy 'facts', The History Channel discusses "The Gold Conspiracy" in this brief documentary. Gold is one of the most precious metals in the world. A glittering commodity so rare that people will go to great lengths to obtain it. But who sets the price? And what are the secret methods to control its value? History uncovers the clandestine world surrounding the highly prized precious metal. How much gold does the United States really have – and where is it locked away? Is the American government overstating the amount of gold in its reserves to create the mystique of financial superiority?

Previewing Tomorrow's Payroll Number

With a 9 standard deviation range between the highest and lowest excuse for a forecast from the 81 "qualified" economists on Bloomberg's survey, there is plenty of room for noise to dominate signal with tomorrow's payrolls data. Goldman forecasts a softer-than-consensus 210k increase in non-farm-payrolls as May employment data flow looks more mixed, and they expect that the unemployment rate rose two-tenths to 6.5% in May (vs. consensus 6.4%). Average hourly earnings (AHE) are likely to be in focus again following several months of heightened attention to wage growth and labor market slack; Goldman expects an increase of 0.2% in May (vs. consensus 0.2%).

The Purchase Of Our Republic

The massive consolidation of wealth, combined with the removal of any limits on money in campaigns, has allowed for the purchase of our government. Americans know that something is wrong, deeply wrong. They see signs of the problem everywhere: income inequality, growing concentration and power of mega corporations, political donations/corruption, the absence of jobs with decent salaries, the explosion of the US prison population, healthcare costs, student loan debt, homelessness, etc. etc. However, the true causes and benefactors behind these problems are purposely hidden from view. What Americans see is Kabuki Theater of a functioning form of capitalism and democracy, but beyond this veneer our country has devolved into the exact opposite.

What Mario Draghi Did Today: Goldman Sachs Explains

Since Mario Draghi is merely a frontman for (and former employee of) Goldman Sachs in yet another central bank, and since his policy mandate is implemented only after extensive drafting and pre-clearance with 200 West, the best "most-mortem" of what happened today comes from the firm that was responsible for today's announcement in the first place: Goldman Sachs itself.

Fed President Defends Blowing Bubbles: It's In The Best Interest Of "Irrational Investors"

It would appear the Fed, after being angry at itself for creating the "complacency" evident in the markets globally has reached the pinnacle of critically circular logic in its defense of policies that are aimed at financial stability (i.e. prices flat or rising but absolutely not falling). Fed's Williams, a la Greenspan's "a-ha" moment, appears to have realized that investors are not always 'rational' and "bull markets may cause investors to get ‘carried away’ over time and confuse what is a one-time, perhaps transitory, shift in fundamentals for a new paradigm of rising asset prices."

Peak Oil Revisited...

Over the last few years central banks have had a policy of quantitative easing to try to keep interest rates low – the economy cannot pay high energy prices AND high interest rates so, in effect, the policy has been to try to bring down interest rates as low as possible to counter the stagnation. The severity of the recessions may be variable in different countries because competitive strength in this model goes to those countries where energy is used most efficiently and which can afford to pay somewhat higher prices for energy. Whatever the variability this is still a dead end model and at some point people will see that entirely different ways of thinking about economy and ecology are needed – unless they get drawn into conflicts and wars over energy by psychopathic policy idiots. There is no way out of the Catch 22 within the growth economy model. That’s why de-growth is needed.

Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Tepper?

Most market participants know that "you don't fight the Fed" or ECB or BoJ etc... (unless they tell you markets are complacent or frothy or "to sell"). But what really scares market participants... based on today's horrifying short squeeze... is the word of the follicularly-challenged master of the universe...

SocGen 10-Year Outlook: 100% Chance Of Recession; S&P To 4,000 Or... 500

No matter what, SocGen sees US equity performance over the next 10 years as modest at best. They note that US equities face three headwinds: cyclically-adjusted valuations (CAPE, starting date 1881) have returned to very expensive territory, corporate margins stand at historically high levels, and after already five years of growth from the 2009 trough, we estimate that the probability of another recession kicking in is close to 100% within the forecast timeframe (the longest cycle ever was 120 months, or 10 years). While their central case is 'moderate growth and inflation', they project a possible high growth surge to 4000 for the S&P 500 and a deflation scenario which would put the S&P 500 at 500 (-12% per annum).

Thursday Humor: Did Amazon Just Unveil "The Magnifying Lens"?

As the world waits with bated breath over the magic time-transporting baby unicorn that Jeff Bezos is teasing us with, we can't help but think the following commercial looks like the product is a magnifying lens and the testers just discovered their wedding-tackle... on the serious side, as long as this new "thing" is cashflow negative then it should be good for another 10-20% in AMZN stock - here's to hoping...

The Road To Serfdom, In Cartoons

For everyone (and on this site we hope this is everyone) who has read the Road to Serfdom before, feel free to "reread" it for the pictures. For everyone else: read it now. Feel free to stop when it becomes familiar.

Bubble, Bubble, Toil, And Monetary Policy Trouble

In his recent note “Treacherous Market Conditions,” Scotiabank's Guy Haselmann attempted to outline the precarious position the FOMC has put itself in. The Fed’s depleted ammunition applies greater pressure on its attempts to ensure a strong recovery; yet, as Haselmann hinted, the Fed is in a race against time, because risks to financial stability aggregate with each passing day, while economic benefits approach zero. Despite differences as to the extent and degree of financial risks, FOMC members have (finally) become aware that they have arisen. Draghi seems to share concerns about bubble conditions... and now the BIS fears that a "persistently aggressive monetary policy risks exacerbating collateral damage."

S&P 500 Hits Record High As Tepper Turnaround Trumps Draghi Disappointment

The initial exuberance over Draghi's actions (and promises) faded quickly with Treasury yields falling and the EUR surging back higher (to close at 10-day highs)... but thanks to sterling work by AUDJPY and some well chosen 'I'm not scared anymore' comments from David Tepper, US equities soared in a world of their own (as VIX dropped). Volume was also heavy (but the siz came on the downswing after the initial jerk higher from the ECB). The Russell 2000 soared ~2% (best day in 3 months), Treasury yields closed lower, the USD closed lower (as EUR surged) and unchanged on the week, and gold and silver jumped. VIX also helped to support stocks at it dropped modestly (but remains notably disconnected from the equity exuberance). NFP tomorrow... time to sell vol for sure!!

More On China's "Missing Commodity" Scandal: Fallout Spreads As Banks Get Involved

As we reported yesterday, the third largest Chinese port of Qingdao is being investigated for after a source at a local warehouse said that "it appears there is a discrepancy in metal that should be there and metal that is actually there... We hear the discrepancy is 80,000 tonnes of aluminium and 20,000 tonnes of copper... It's either missing or it was never there - there have been triple issuing of documentation." This has resulted in a prompt and acute selloff of copper and other commodities as we further documents, but the problems may only now be starting and the banks. As Reuters reports, worries over a probe into commodity stockpile financing at China's Qingdao port appeared to deepen on Wednesday as Standard Bank Group and a part-owned unit of Louis Dreyfus Corp warned of potential losses and copper prices fell further."

"We Have Nothing To Fear But The Lack Of Fear Itself"

"It's a record!" No not the S&P 500 - the total and utter lack of fear in the marketplace... Adding up Bearish AAII professionals, those who believe a Correction is coming, and the VIX; we have never (ever) been more complacent about stocks. Seems like the Fed's communications policy (about complacency being a concern) is not working...

White House Demands China "Account For" Tiananmen Square Victims

Just as the cyber-spat is off the headlines for a day... and no one from Treasury has discussed the need for the Renminbi to strengthen... The White House drops another well-timed China shot, calling on Chinese authorities to account for those killed, detained or missing in connection with the military assault on pro-democracy demonstrators at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square 25 years ago. Diplomatically, this could be a little awkward as China forbids public acknowledgment of the anniversary in the state-run media and censors the Internet to wipe away both direct and indirect references to the crackdown.

Ukraine Closes 8 Border Crossings On Reports Of Russian Troop Movement

On the eve of Obama and Putin coming face-to-face on the beaches in Normandy, tensions appear to be re-escalating in the south and east of Ukraine. As Ukrainian forces continue their "anti-terrorist" operations, newly 'elected' President Poroshsenko is steppung up the protection of his sovereignty:

*UKRAINE CLOSES 8 BORDER CROSSINGS WITH RUSSIA
*POROSHENKO: 'TERRORISTS' BEING SENT INTO UKRAINE TO SOW CHAOS

There is a great deal of chatter about Russian troop movements into Ukraine with " major accusations today that small units of well-armed militants, some of whom are traveling in armored vehicles, are crossing the Russian border and engaging in firefights with Ukrainian border guards." As if that was not enough, there are now reports that the Chief of Poroshenko's presidential campaign administration has died after an assassination attack in Nemirov city.

The ZIRP Economy Unmasked, Part 1: Zero Growth In Private Labor Hours Since 1998

Every now and again the apparatchiks who dutifully tend Washington’s statistical sausage factories accidently let loose a damning picture of what actually goes on inside. In that vein the BLS has just published the equivalent of a smoking gun. Namely, a study showing that in 2013—the year of 32% stock returns—the business sector of the US economy generated no more labor hours than it did way back in Bill Clinton’s blue dress period (1998) yet purportedly produced 42% more output in real terms... Stated different, the truth about the Fed’s dangerously misguided ZIRP policy is that it generates a ZIRP economy.