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Guest Post: The Unadulterated Gold Standard

The choice of the word “unadulterated” is not accidental.  There were many different kinds of gold standard, including what we now call the Classical Gold Standard, the Gold Bullion Standard, and the Gold Exchange Standard.  Each contained flaws; each was adulterated.



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The Schrodinger (Non) Market Gets Extra-Schizophrenic

With US equity markets closed for the second day in a row, we remain at the whim of either wishful-thinkers on TV or pragmatic realists looking at other markets for clues. Guessing at tomorrow's cash open (or this evening's futures open) is a coin-toss. Gold's move today implies stocks open down around 1%; Treasury Futures imply stocks open down very modestly; the Canadian equity market indicates stocks open up around 1%; and EURUSD (and EURJPY) suggest equities open down slightly from this morning's closing level of 1411.25. So take your pick - up 1%, down 1%, or unch? Or all at the same time as the algos go full Baumgartner. S&P 500 futures will re-open at 1800ET.



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Disney Buys Lucasfilm, Star Wars 7 Coming In 2015

Just when you thought the Star Wars sexalogy had three horrifying episodes too much, here comes Mickey Mouse to buy the HoldCo (for $4 billion) and make sure that even more atrocious dancing takes place on the grave of the science fiction movie that defined a generation. That, and a whole lot more Lando Calrissian action figures. Because how does one know Hollywood has officially run out of ideas? Like this: "Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future." Surely Star Wars 7 will have a Retina Display, but if young Skywalker relies on Apple maps to get to Tatooine we will just wait for part 9 (not to be confused with how many inches the maxiPad will be). What we are most excited about, however, is Indiana Jones 7 - Raiders of the Lost Wheelchair. And the renaming of Star Wars IV, of course, to "A New Hope and Change."



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How To Vote Well

On the heels of Mr. Tilson's missive, we thought this brief clip might help. Voting well is not about being properly hydrated, reaching the polling booth on time, and placing your ballot slip (hanging chad-less) in the slot (without touching the sides); it is about removing your inherent cognitive biases and going with the facts - or trying to discern the facts - as much as possible. Making well-informed decisions with the cloud of spin and uncertainty that constantly bombards us is hard but as Jason Brennan notes in this brief clip, starting by recognizing our natural biases might help. By outlining the four common biases that tend to affect our voting (think back to 'The Other Side' post and how real it was!), he offers five suggestions that can lead us to be better voters.



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Did Whitney Tilson Just 'Netflix' Obama's Chances Of Winning?

Whitney Tilson, who needs no introduction given his omnipresence on the business media and anti-omniscience (e.g. the Anti-Tilson ETF here) when it comes to stock-picking, may just have put the final nail in the coffin of Obama's chances of winning the election. Via the quill of the man that top-ticked NFLX, "Why I'm Voting for Obama Again":

In virtually every area – the economy, jobs, social issues, foreign affairs, etc. – I think Obama has done well in his first term (and am optimistic that he’ll be even better in his second term), and going forward I believe Obama and the Democrats have a more clearly defined, realistic, better plan for our country than Romney and the Republicans.



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Quick: Per Se Still Has A 6:00 PM Reservation Opening Tonight

Update: 15 seconds later, all open Per Se reservations had been taken. Better luck after the next hurricane.

New York is back, baby. Best way to check? Restaurant reservations. And the best cross referencing place for that these days is OpenTable. A cursory check shows that of the 616 restaurants indicating availability for tonight, many already have the much desired 7:00 pm slot already booked up. Among these are such bastions of haute gourmet as Asiate, Rouge, Cipriani Caravaggio, Ouest, Felidia, Triomphe, and of course Dorsia Per Se. Which means only thing: New York has picked itself up, brushed off the rain drops from its $10,000 fitted Zegna suits, and is back to eating. The good news: Per Se still has a 6 PM opening (although probably not for long after this post).



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Stop Manipulating Bank Earnings With Loan-Loss Reserves, Currency Comptroller Warns

Readers of Zero Hedge know well that one of the most abhorred (by us) accounting gimmicks employed by banks each and every quarter over the past 3 years to boost their bottom line, is to engage in loan-loss reserve releases: a process which has absolutely no associated cash flow benefit, but merely boosts EPS for GAAP purposes. In some cases, like this quarter's absolutely farcical JPM earnings release, the abuse is beyond the pale, as the offending bank releases reserves even as it reports surging non-performing loans: two processes which in a normal world can not coexist. Yet quarter after quarter banks keep on doing this, and in fact a big part of Q3's to date EPS outperformance is courtesy of financial company "earnings", of which, in turn, loan losses amount to about 50% of the entire blended financials bottom line. Yet while we can rage and warn, nothing usually happens until there is a market crash due to the gross manipulation of reality that such an activity entails. Luckily, this time someone with more clout in the legacy establishment has now stood up to warn about the mounting dangers associated with the relentless abuse of loan-loss reserve releases: none other than the US Comptroller of the Currency.



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And The Survey Says: If Obama, Sell Stocks; If Romney, Sell Bonds

The US elections have the potential to have a significant impact on US equities and rates markets, according to a recent survey by Barclays Research. Investors seem to believe in a more promising growth outlook under a Romney win, in spite of their concerns about a likely tighter monetary policy stance. They favor long equities and short bond portfolios as the best way to express a Romney win. Under an Obama win, investors favor bonds and are divided about the direction of equities, but would choose bonds and equities over FX and commodities to express this scenario. Obama’s victory would likely be perceived as preserving the status quo (asset market moves are expected to be muted across the board), while a Romney win is more likely to suggest a change of direction to clients by way of a better growth outlook. Congressional deadlock remains the biggest economic/policy concern no matter who wins.



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No Joy In Cupertino: Europe Implies Sub-$600 AAPL After Firings

While every talking-head that is not bailing out their Westchester McMansion is claiming that AAPL's firing of its iOS and Retail division heads is somehow a bullish thing, European traders in AAPL disagree. Given where the European composite price for AAPL (via Deutsche Bourse) is trading, it would appear AAPL is back back under $600 - quick, we need another narrative for why stocks will open up tomorrow!



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NYSE, Nasdaq To Reopen Tomorrow

Because while to ConEd, the bulk of New York south of 34th Street can operate without electricity for days, the stock exchange must.be.online.or.else.the.terrorists.win:

  • NYSE TO OPEN FOR NORMAL TRADING OPERATIONS ON WEDNESDAY
  • NASDAQ STOCK MARKET, OTHER NASDAQ OMX-OWNED EXCHANGES OPEN WED

Why? Just so hedge funds can square away position for month end. In other news, CNN furious trying to figure out how the NYSE TV stuido in downtown Manhattan (because all the trading actually takes place out of a fortress in Mahwah, NJ), can operate under 3 feet of water.



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EURUSD Roller-Coaster Continues As Greek Bonds Slide

European stocks popped at the open and then generally trod water for the rest of the day. The initial liquid-driven surge had no follow through and in fact European sovereigns bled wider most of the day - with Greek govvies now down almost 10% (in price) in the last week.  Credit markets re-racked along with stocks - with XOver outperforming and Main (investment grade) underperforming (along with financials). The story of the day was yet another 100pip-or-so rampapalooza in EURUSD - the 3rd in 5 days - as we noted earlier, when everything else is shut, EUR is simplest lever to drive markets higher given the correlations (and no Treasury police to keep things under control). Despite today's push, Spain's IBEX remains -0.5% on the week (as its peers are all up around 0.5%) and Italy and Spain bond spreads are up around 15bps on the week. So with EUR up around 0.22% vs USD on the week and fulcrum securities from Spain down, take your pick on where risk is being flushed.



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Oh (Ramping) Canada, Again...

Canada's TSX is now up over 1% from its pre-vertical ramp yesterday afternoon as it is now extremely clear, to all those who take the time to consider why, that as central bank liquidity provision must flow somewhere, so the algos latch on and follow the momentum. We have just had what will likely be the most costly US disaster in history, earnings are anything but robust, BoJ's QE9 failed instantly last night, Greek Government Bonds are fading (now off almost 10% from recent highs) as deals look set to be voted down, and European sovereign bonds are leaking wider; and so - with US equities shut, that PBOC/BoJ liquidity must flow somewhere and the closest proxy is our Canadian brethren. TSX current price implies S&P futures around 1425 and S&P cash at around 1430 - back to Bernanke's starting point for QEtc. We suspect this is just auctioning up to previous resistance but USD weakness is helping modestly (even as commodities slide lower) but of course it is just as likely to be all about slamming the European close.



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Greek Ruling Coalition Collapses Days Ahead Of Critical Vote

If one is curious why the EURUSD has been ramping as if no one will ever sell one more euro ever again, the reason is simple: the BIS is desperate to mask the fact that the fragile Greek coalition, whose creation sent Europe to the edge back in June during the Greek re-elections that just barely avoided a Grexit, has just crumbled. And with an illiquid market, the reflexive argument always is a simple one: if someone is buying, the news must be good, so dear momo-chasers - buy along. Only the news isn't good, and in a centrally-planned world, the only buyer left are central banks, who are now solely political, and not market, forces. What the news really is, is that with Greece poised to vote on critical labor reforms (read more layoffs) next week, which must be passed in Parliament with a majority vote in order to get the next Troika bailout tranche, the Samaras-led coalition just lost one of its three members, after the Democratic Left announced it would take its 16 votes and vote against any further austerity. In doing so it has effectively joined Syriza and any other anti-bailout powers, and has made certain that yet another Greek election is imminent, one which will finally see the rise of the "anti-memorandum" forces on top, and finally launch the 3 year overdue departure of the Greek ferryboat from the monetary landmass, with even more dire consequences for the USS EURtanic.



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Now The Rats Are Sinking The Leaking Ship

While the massive population of New York City is awfully impacted by Sandy, there is a more populous and even more caustic population that is struggling with the aftermath: Rats! As Forbes notes, the NYC Subway is notorious for its rat population and with all five subway tubes now submerged, one can only imagine where these cute cuddly rabies-wielding devil rodents will make their new homes. "Rats are incredibly good swimmers and they can climb" is hardly the reassuring news lower Manhattan homeowners were looking for, and as the Daily Mail notes, this could bring infectious diseases such as leptospirosis, hantavirus, typhus, salmonella, and even the plague into human contact. On the bright side (well not really), rats don't need to bite a human to transmit its gross payload; rodent feces and urine can spread conditions like hantavirus just as easily - get long hand sanitizer stocks!



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Eric Sprott On America's Great Endangered Species: "The 99%"

Other than some obligatory arrests for disorderly conduct, the Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated its one year anniversary this past September with little fanfare. While the movement seems to have lost momentum, at least temporarily, it did succeed in showcasing the growing sense of unease felt among a large segment of the US population – a group the Occupy movement shrewdly referred to as “the 99%”. The 99% means different things to different people, but to us, the 99% represents the US consumer. It represents the majority of Americans who are neither wealthy nor impoverished and whose spending power makes up approximately 71% of the US economy. It is the purchasing power of this massive, amorphous group that drives the US economy forward. The problem, however, is that four years into a so-called recovery, this group is still being financially squeezed from every possible angle, making it very difficult for them to maintain their standard of living, let alone increase their levels of consumption.



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