Listen up muppet masters - if you have put in a bid for that Greek jewel of Santorini on Ebay, it may be time to quietly withdraw from the auction. Because according to Georgia Tech, things may get rather shaky soon. Literally: "After decades of little activity, a series of earthquakes and deformation began within the Santorini caldera in January of 2011,” said Newman, whose research is published by Geophysical Research Letters. “Since then, our instruments on the northern part of the island have moved laterally between five and nine centimeters. The volcano’s magma chamber is filling, and we are keeping a close eye on its activity.” Because the only thing that Greece, whose primary business is tourism, needs, is for the biggest Cyclades tourist attraction to go up in a pyroclastic cloud.
We have long shown that "investors" whatever that term means in the New Normal - those gullible enough to put their money in Bennie Madoff, pardon Bennie Bernanke Asset Management? - have been not only reluctant to put their money into stocks, but despite week after week of artificial, low volume highs, driven entirely by Primary Dealers (and now European banks post the $1.3 trillion in LTROs, not to mention even foreign Central Banks recently buying high beta stocks) spiking the market ever higher courtesy of record reserves, but in fact continue to pull their cash out of the stock market with every thrust higher. Why, just last week another $1.4 billion in cash was pulled from domestic equity funds, nominal Dow 13,000 be damned. The truth is that the banks are desperate to start offloading their risk exposure to retail investors, and instead of selling, are furiously trying to send the market ever higher just to get that ever elusive "investor" back: just look at how much the market rose by last week, CNBC will say: do you really want to be out of this huge rally? Alas, the damage has been done: between the Great Financial Crisis, the Flash Crash, a massively corrupt regulator, rehypothecating assets that tend to vaporize with no consequences, and a central bank which effectively has admitted to running a Russell 2000 targeting ponzi scheme, the investor is gone. But what if? What if the retail herd does, despite everything, come back into stocks? After all the money is in bonds, or so the conventional wisdom states. What harm could happen if the 10 Year yield goes back from 2% to 3%, if the offset is another 100 S&P points. After all it is good for the velocity of money and all that - so says classical economic theory. Well, this may be one of those "be careful what you wish for." Because while investors have indeed park hundreds of billions out of stocks and into bonds, the real story is elsewhere. And the real story is the real elephant nobody wants to talk about. Presenting: America's combined cash hoard, which between total demand deposits, checkable deposits, savings deposits, and time deposits (source H.6), is at an all time high of $8.1 trillion.
Following the posting of a comment letter two days ago that has sent some in the commodity world agog, as it was supposedly by a JPM insider (who could have in that case provided evidentiary data from the JPM system to validate his accusations instead of merely providing blanket truism statements), even if it said absolutely nothing new and merely regurgitated existing speculation and assumptions, the CFTC has as of minutes ago gone one step ahead and truly stirred up the conspiracy theory hornets' nest, by taking down the entire comment pdf. So put it up one day, and take it down 48 hours later? Anyway, let the conspiracy theories commence.
Back in early February, Zero Hedge was among the first to suggest that abnormally warm temperatures and a record hot winter, were among the primary causes for various employment trackers to indicate a better than expected trendline (even as many other components of the economy were declining), in "Is It The Weather, Stupid? David Rosenberg On What "April In January" Means For Seasonal Adjustments." It is rather logical: after all the market is the first to forgive companies that excuse poor performance, or economies that report a data miss due to "inclement" weather. So why should the direction of exculpation only be valid when it serves to justify underperformance? Naturally, the permabullish bias of the media and the commentariat will ignore this critical variable, and attribute "strength" to other factors, when instead all that abnormally warm weather has done is to pull demand forward - whether it is for construction and repair, for part-time jobs, or for retail (and even so retail numbers had been abysmal until the just released expectations meet). Ironically, while everyone else continues to ignore this glaringly obvious observation, it is Bank of America, who as already noted before are desperate to validate a QE as soon as possible (even if their stock has factored in not only the NEW QE, but the NEW QE HD), that expounds on the topic of the impact of record warm weather. In fact, not only that, but BofA makes sense of the fact why GDP growth continues to be in the mid 1% range while various other indicators are representative of much higher growth. The culprit? Global Warming.
A few days after the one year anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, nobody talks about it anymore. After all it's "fixed", and if it isn't, the Fed will fix it. Remember in the New Normal nothing bad is allowed the happen. So for those who have forgotten, here is a reminder.
Eventually, people will discover that they cannot save in terms of dollars (those who don’t figure it out will be rendered economically irrelevant as their wealth is removed from their hands). Savings is a necessary prerequisite for investment. Investment is necessary for companies to grow, to develop new technologies, products, and markets. Growth is necessary to hire new workers. As existing companies achieve higher productivity of labor, and do not need as many workers to perform the same work, they lay off unneeded people. In a free market, the unemployed would quickly be hired by growing companies that expand and develop new businesses. But today’s structurally high unemployment can be traced back to Friedman’s quack prescription (among other government interference). Weakening the currency not only discourages savings, it also weakens businesses who have to keep the currency on their balance sheet and who have to import some of their inputs. When a currency loses value, then all who hold it incur a loss. It is not possible to employ workers and run a business in a country without holding significant amounts of its currency. Currency debasement therefore imposes constant losses on enterprises that try to operate in such an environment.
Where does one even possibly start with this: from the WSJ: "Morgan Stanley’s CEO James Gorman this morning criticized an op-ed written by a former Goldman Sachs Group employee, saying “I didn’t think it was fair.” Gorman, at a breakfast sponsored by Fortune Magazine in New York, said that he told the operating committee of his New York firm, not to try to take advantage of the criticisms of Goldman in the op-ed, which described a toxic culture in which profits come before client service."...“I don’t really care what one employee said,” said Gorman, who became CEO of Morgan Stanley at the beginning of 2010. “At any point, someone is unhappy… To pick a random employee, I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t think its balanced.” That's funny - Gorman is only the second CEO after Jamie Dimon to "not take advantage of the criticisms" and we wonder why? Could it have something to do with the fact that every single bank is in the same position, and both Dimon and Gorman know very they are both just one disgruntled employee away from having the truth about their own sinking ships exposed to the world? Could it also be that both of them also realize that with Wall Street compensation packages now effectively downshifted for good, that the incidence of precisely such "whistleblowing" Op-Eds will soar astronomically? Finally, could Mr. Gorman perhaps comment on the allegations of yet another whistleblower who emerged right here on Zero Hedge, who alleges that it was none other than Morgan Stanley who influenced the CBO in its "conclusions" over the implications of the robosigning scandal? We would be delighted in posting Mr. Gorman's view. Alternatively, we would be just as delighted in posting the views of his employees, whether happy or unhappy. Or at least those employees who are not fired in retribution for emailing Zero Hedge... wink wink Morgan Stanely - and now you know that we know that you know that we know.
When it comes to being a NWO debt slave, one can accept their fate demurely and bent over, like a conditionally habituated dog electroshocked into perpetual submission just as the banker elites like it, with threats that the world would end the second one dared to change the status quo (see Greece), or one can do something about being a debt slave. Like Iceland. And then rapidly proceed to be the best performing economy in Europe. And reading some of the latest news out of Hungary, which has to count its lucky stars is not stuck in the inflexible nightmare that is the mercantilist Eurocurrency union, gives us hope that we may soon witness the next sovereign rebellion against the banker yoke. The WSJ reports: "Hungary's premier fired a new broadside in the country's running battle of wills with the European Union, saying that Hungarians should be free to make their own laws without interference from Brussels. Speaking to a large crowd of supporters celebrating the anniversary of a 19th-century Hungarian revolt against Austrian rule, Prime Minister Viktor Orban said: "Hungarians will not live as foreigners dictate." This has promptly generated the anticipated response from European unelected dictator Barroso, who minutes ago said that Hungary's Orban doesn't get democracy. Oh, we think he does. What he doesn't seem to get, or like, is existence in a banker-governed technocratic, klepto-fascist state, in which the peasantry is merely an intermediary vessel for asset confiscation by insolvent banks. Like Greece... which however already is the butt of all jokes of personal submission to a foreign oppressor, so there is no dignity in kicking a dog that is down.
As I look out past the near horizon of this time, and this nation, I see considerable potential for a revitalization of that which is best in humanity. I see a population that strives for independence. I see a return to the entrepreneurial spirit of discovery. I see unhindered freedom of thought and action feeding a fire of creativity that inspires us to unimaginable heights. I see new expression given license not just by the masses, but by structures of a government which truly follows the will of the common man, and not the will of an elite few. I see America breathing full, eyes wide open and alive. However, this potential future would have to come at a considerable cost. America has so strayed from its founding roots that it now hungers; starving for lack of nutrients from its natural soil. As with all other catastrophic societies of the past, we have been manipulated and conned into overlooking and over-rationalizing astonishing injustice and in some cases, unmitigated evil. I frankly don’t know what else to call it. There are some acts of malevolence that go beyond human weakness and inadequacy and reach into realms of calculation that are so cold, so soulless, there is simply no other way to describe them. These actions and attitudes tend to run rampant in dying nations but are rarely singled out and criticized by those in the midst of the great fall. Each begins with the loss of particular principles and inherent morals that are normally prized under more healthy circumstances, but are despised in times of chaos and uncertainty.
Following the latest temporary swoon in gold, the PM naysayers have once again crawled out of the woodwork, like a well tuned Swiss watch (made of 24K gold of course). Of course, they all crawl right back into their hole never to be heard of again until the next temporary drop and so on ad inf. Naturally, the latest incursion of "weak hand" gold longs is screaming bloody murder because the paper representation of the value of their hard, non-dilutable, physical gold is being slammed for one reason or another. Ironically, these same people tend to forget that the primary driver behind the value of gold is not for it to be replaced from paper into paper at some point in the future, but to provide the basis for a solid currency following the reset of a terminally unstable system, unstable precisely due to its reliance on infinitely dilutable currency, and as such any cheaper entry point is to be applauded. Yet it seems it is time for a refresh. Luckily, SocGen's Dylan Grice has coined just that with a brief explanation of "when to sell gold" which while having a modestly different view on the intrinsic value of gold, should provide some comfort to those for whom gold is not a speculative vehicle, but a true buy and hold investment for the future. And in this day and age of exponentially growing central bank balance sheets (chart), this should be everyone but the die hard CNBC fanatics. In brief: "Eventually, there will be a crisis of such magnitude that the political winds change direction, and become blustering gales forcing us onto the course of fiscal sustainability. Until it does, the temptation to inflate will remain, as will economists with spurious mathematical rationalisations as to why such inflation will make everything OK. Until it does, the outlook will remain favorable for gold. But eventually, majority opinion will accept the painful contractionary medicine because it will have to. That will be the time to sell gold."
Gold traded lower on Friday, moving towards a third straight week of losses on the backdrop of a recovering US economy, which prompted investors to put their money in other vehicles, while India’s plan to double the import duty on gold bullion erased some early gains. On news that Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee proposed to double the 4% customs duty on gold from April 2012, physical dealers saw some panic buying from India, the world’s largest gold consumer. In January, India raised the gold import duty 90% and doubled the tax on silver as the government is struggling with a growing fiscal deficit and looked to increase revenues. Growing subsidies for fuel and food have left the government struggling to meet its budget target. Indian investors, who are the largest consumer group of gold in the world, rushed to buy gold in advance of the government’s plan to increase the 4% customs tax in April 2012. The resulting gains where then eroded by stronger then expected US economic growth numbers.
The Schrodinger economy continues to chug along, with another economic data point miss to follow the blistering beats of the various regional Fed indices: Industrial production was unchanged in February after having risen 0.4 percent in January. Expectations were for a 0.4% increase relative to the pre-revision 0.0% change. Instead we got a slow down in expansion. From the Fed: "Previously, industrial production was reported to have been unchanged in January. Manufacturing output moved up 0.3 percent in February. Within manufacturing, the index for motor vehicles and parts fell 1.1 percent after jumping 8.6 percent in January, but the index for manufacturing excluding motor vehicles and parts increased 0.4 percent in February. Production at mines fell 1.2 percent, while the output of utilities was unchanged. At 96.2 percent of its 2007 average, total industrial production for February was 4.0 percent above its year-earlier level." In other words, instead of growing in February as previously expected, the economy will now have grown in January. Also Capacity utilization for total industry edged down to 78.7 percent, a rate 1.2 percentage points above its level from a year earlier but 1.6 percentage points below its long-run (1972--2011) average. This was the first decline in utilization since April 2011.
Now in the curious world we live in today; this only came out in public as the answer to a question raised in the German Parliament. Some reflection on the nature of these guarantees, that the European Union had decided not to tell us about, causes me to think of them as “Ponzi Bonds.” These are the seeds of a great scheme that has been foisted upon us. Bonds of a feather that have flocked together and arrived with the black swans one quiet Wednesday afternoon. The quoted and much ballyhooed sovereign debt numbers are now known to be no longer accurate and hence the lack of credibility of the debt to GDP data for the European nations. Stated more simply; none of the data that we are given about sovereign debt in the European Union is the truth, none of it. According to Eurostat, as an example, the consolidated Spanish debt raises their debt to GDP by 12.3% as Eurostat also states, and I quote, that guaranteed debt in Europe “DO NOT FORM PART OF GOVERNMENT DEBT, BUT ARE A CONTINGENT LIABILITY.” In other words; not counted and so, my friends, none of the data pushed out by Europe about their sovereign debt or their GDP ratios has one whit of truth resident in the data.
The Schrodinger Inflation: Ignore All Time High March Gas Prices, BLS Tells You Inflation Is Lower Than ExpectedSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/16/2012 - 08:42
Just spent a record high amount at the gas pump for this time of year? The BLS says you didn't, and after all when it comes to reality, the BLS has a right of first refusal. The just printed headline CPI came at 0.4%, just in line with expectations of 0.4%, while core CPI of 0.2%, missed expectations of 0.3%. That's right: not only is inflation meaningless, it is less than expected, leading to surge higher in stocks, bonds and the EURUSD. As for those items which are once again soaring in prices such as food and gas? Luckily, those can be hedonically adjusted by everyone to virtually zero. (wait? You still pay your mortgage or rent? Sucker!) Remember: the iPad is deflationary.