German Gold Manipulation Blowback Escalates: Deutsche Bank Exits Gold Price Fixing

Germany's blowback against gold manipulation is accelerating. Following yesterday's report that Bafin took a hard line against precious metals manipulation, after its president Eike Koenig said possible manipulation of precious metals "is worse than the Libor-rigging scandal", today the response has trickled down to Germany and Europe's largest bank, Deutsche Bank, which announced that it would withdraw from the appropriately named gold and silver price "fixing", as European regulators investigate suspected manipulation of precious metals prices by banks. As a reminder, Deutsche is one of five banks involved in the twice-daily gold fix for global price setting and said it was quitting the process after withdrawing from the bulk of its commodities business. The scramble away from gold fixing was certainly assisted by the recent first (of many) manipulation expose in the legacy media, when Bloomberg revealed "How Gold Price Is Manipulated During The "London Fix." And sure enough, with Germany already very sensitive to the topic of its gold repatriation, and specifically why it is taking so long, it was only a matter of time before any German involvement in gold manipulation escalated to the very top.

Citi Fears The Sustainability Of The US Equity Market Rally

"We are concerned about the sustainability of the Equity market rally at this stage," warns Citi's FX Technicals' Tom Fitzpatrick. Between price action parallels to those seens around the peaks in 2000, the fragility of confidence, the Fed taking its "foot off the gas" and bonds now yielding considerably more than stocks, Citi adds, though we are yet to see bearish breaks, they doubt higher highs wil be sustained for long.

Jeff Gundlach Fears The 'Unthinkable': "It Feels Like An Echo Of The Late-90s"

On the heels of his less-than-optimistic presentation, DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach tells Europe's Finanz und Wirtschaft "he's concerned about the growing amount of speculation" and draws a parallel between today’s markets and the dot-com boom of the late Nineties. This excellent interview takes the themes of his recent conference call and extends them as he warns "In the over thirty years I’ve been in the financial investment industry, I don’t recall a single year where I saw the year begin with the consensus being so solidified in its thinking across virtually every asset class." His biggest worry (for investors, as opposed to his funds), "the most unthinkable things happen this year and that is a basic pain trade that forces people into treasury bonds."

Guest Post: Hitler’s Economics & Why You Should Know A Thing Or Two About Them

Hjalmar Schacht was Hitler’s economic guy. According to Wikipedia, Schacht: ”became a supporter of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and served in Hitler’s government as President of the Reichsbank and Minister of Economics. As such, Schacht played a key role in implementing the policies attributed to Hitler.” Now, we all know what happened to Hitler. But what about Schacht?

Krugman Can't Understand How Someone Could Be So Stupid As To Believe What He Used To Believe

Krugman frequently accuses his opponents of being stupid and/or evil, when they present a view that he himself advanced in other circumstances. His typical readers would have no idea that Krugman once worried about bond vigilantes, or that his books lay out the standard case for why generous government unemployment benefits might contribute to structural unemployment. No, Krugman has led such typical readers to believe that anyone espousing such views is either a complete idiot - immune to theory and evidence that we’ve had since the 1930s - or is a paid shill who hates poor people.

Friday Horror: Forget "Bros" And Easy Women - Obamacare's Latest Pitchman Is Richard Simmons

In order to appeal to their target demographics, the smart people in the marketing department at Obamacare central have provided us with such wonders as kegstanding "bros" and easy-women. However, the following clip - which almost defies description - shows just how desparate (or clueless) the administration has become, as a #GetCovered promo turns dirty-dancing-meets-twerking as Richard Simmons and an unknown male assailant begin to...well just watch...

IMF Representative Killed In Coordinated Taliban Assault On Upscale Kabul Restaurant

The IMF has reported that its resident respresentative in Afghanistan - 60-year-old Wabel Abdallah - is among the 15 people killed in a coordinated assault at a Kabul restaurant by the Taliban. The upscale taverna is well-known to be frequented by foreigners and ex-pats. As Reuters reports, Abdallah had been leading the IMF's office in the Afgan capital since 2008 and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said "this is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated."

Up Close And Personal: Volgograd Suicide Bomber Moment Of Detonation Caught On Tape

Just before New Year's Day, as we previously reported, Russia's city of Volgograd, located in close proximity to Sochi where the Winter Olympics begin in a few weeks, was rocked by two powerful suicide bombings, the first of which took place in its train station - one of Russia's largest. At least 14 people were killed. Yesterday, footage released by shows the suicide bomber as he approaches the train station, and then explodes as he crosses the metal detectors. Up close and personal, not for the faint of heart.

Treasury Yields Tumble To 2-Month Lows; Dow/S&P Still Red In 2014

JPY crosses were in charge of stocks again today - and not in a good way - as a sideways market gave way to weakness late on as Goldman released part two of their market-bashing research. With the dramatic help of AXP and V (78 of the Dow's 41 points!), the Dow was the only index green today and managed to close just green on the week. Since the taper, Homebuilders have tumbled from heroes to almost zeroes (+1.5% from +6.5% at year-end in spite of the big drop in TSY yields in recent weeks) with Healthcare outperforming (+5.5%). Away from stocks, things were also escalating rapidly this afternoon. Treasury yields limped lower all day then dropped notably starting around 1445ET with 30Y -5bps on the week (and 5s30s at 212bps - the flattest term structure in 4 months). The USD rose on the day (up 0.75% on the week) led by EUR weakness (JPY was relatively stable). Despite the USD strength, gold and silver closed green on the week (+0.25% and+0.7% respectively) but WTI crude led the way up 1.5% on the week at $94.10. Despite valiant efforts to VIX-slam the market higher into the close, the S&P closed red and VIX +0.6vols higher on the week at 12.7%

Refuting The Biggest "Recovery" Lies In Four Simple Charts

"US profits are growing, companies have underinvested and have no choice but to spend more on CapEx, and corporations have much less debt than they did during the crisis thanks to a massive cash build up."

These are the generic go to explanations by soundbity talking heads for why the US recovery is gaining traction with US corporations, if not so much Joe Sixpack, and why companies are still cheap. There is one problem: they are all wrong. As SocGen's Andrew Lapthorne shows conclusively, "US profits are not growing, companies are over not underinvesting (they may in fact have overinvested), and corporates are carrying more (not less) net debt than they were in 2009. It would appear that many believe the opposite to be true, yet corporate report and accounts data seems to say otherwise.""

American Express & Visa Account For 103% Of The Dow's Intraday Gains

Visa and American Express are up over 4.5% each today (the latter more earlier) to new record highs (on a day when Facebook, Google, and Apple are plumbing the day's lows). The combined effect of the Visa and American Express gains are over 67 Dow points... the Dow is up 65.8 points on the day...


US equity investors have not been this "euphoric" since the peak of the US equity market in 2000. As Citi's Tobias Levkovich notes, while he is longer-term a believer is the secular bull, one has to remember that there can be a secular run with substantive bumps along the way. No one questions the 1982-2000 equity bull market but there were some awful moments in that 18-year period including the stock market crash of 1987 and the sharp pullback in 1990 as well as in 1998. With Citi's proprietary Panic/Euphoria model at levels that imply an 80% probability of a negative return in the next 12-months, Levkovich warns chasing the tape simply on the basis of momentum may not be a good strategy since expecting another 25%-30% appreciation in 2014 seems rather excessive.

The New Normal Paradox: All The Job Gains With Half The Hiring?

Why is hiring important? Because that is the actual process by which those without a job end up with a job. And as we just learned today after the latest JOLTS release, which showed that there were over 4 million job openings (4,001 to be precisely) for the first time since 2008, a far more important number is the update on Hires which at 4.5 million barely changed from last month, but more importantly, is barely a fraction of where it should be based on the number of job gains reported by the BLS monthly. The chart below confirms this stunning discrepancy: a surge in jobs with barely half the pre-recession hiring?

If You Are A "Value Investor", Whitney Tilson Has A Deal For You

It's just not Whitney Tilson's year/decade... the "money-manager" and co-founder of the invaluable Value Investor Insight newsletter has decided, with the exit of yet another partner - John Heins - that it is time to sell. In an email from the ex-financial-media-darling, Tilson explains "the business is a beautiful, high-margin cash cow," is looking for a partner to buy the business.

An Update On The Housing "Recovery"

The housing recovery is ultimately a story of the "real" employment situation. With roughly a quarter of the home buying cohort unemployed and living at home with their parents the option to buy simply is not available. The rest of that group are employed but at the lower end of the pay scale which pushes them to rent due to budgetary considerations and an inability to qualify for a mortgage. The optimism over the housing recovery has gotten well ahead of the underlying fundamentals. While the belief was that the Government, and Fed's, interventions would ignite the housing market creating a self-perpetuating recovery in the economy - it did not turn out that way. Instead, it led to a speculative rush into buying rental properties creating a temporary, and artificial, inventory suppression. While there are many hopes pinned on the housing recovery as a "driver" of economic growth in 2014 - the lack of recovery in the home ownership data suggests otherwise.

Gold Jumps Above $1250 As USD Relationship Drops To 3-Month Lows

Gold and silver are rising notably this morning with little specific news aside from the Bafin precious metals manipulation furore. Silver bounced off $20 and is now over $20.40 and Gold is back over $1250. What is perhaps more notable is that the USD is higher once again which supports the fact that the relationship between precious metals and the US Dollar is at its weakest since October (as opposed to its more normal negatively correlated relationship). As Dean Popplewell notes, "we are seeing a short-term phenomenon of physical demand supporting gold and helping to negate the strength in the dollar," as sales of American Eagles coins in January have topped the previous month. However, the tumble in correlation on a longer-term scale suggests gold has more upside to go in the short-term.