• Pivotfarm
    04/18/2014 - 12:44
    Peering in from the outside or through the looking glass at what’s going down on the other side is always a distortion of reality. We sit here in the west looking at the development, the changes and...

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M2 Update: 14th Consecutive Weekly Increase Even As Main Street Accelerates Cash Withdrawal From Banks

The only thing mirroring the relentless outflow from stocks these days (now in their 23rd week) is the increase in the M2 money supply: the week ending October 4th was the 14th consecutive weekly increase in the broadest money aggregate compiled by the Fed which hit $8,752.4 billion, an increase of $20 billion from the $8,732.8 billion the week before. Curiously, the Fed decided to massively revise all previous numbers (as if the amount of money that goes in and out of a bank, and should be recorded electronically the second it happens is subject to change). Yet the strangest number to come out of the huge revision had to do with with the flow of money in and out of Small Denomination (under $100,000) time deposits, or in other words the place where the bulk of Main Street America parks their money for some pursuit of nominal yield. The kicker - since the beginning of the year there has not been one weekly inflow into small denomination time deposits! (go ahead and check it) It appears either the less than richest Americans need to constantly pull money out of the bank, as they give up yield (and in a Zero Interest Rate environment there is no yield to be given up) in order to pay their bills, or simply have decided to no longer keep their money with the big (and small) banks (as this includes both commercial banks and thrifts). Could the "starve the banks" campaign be working? If Americans succeed in pulling enough money from their banks via deposit redemption, coupled with the stock trading boycott, it will be the end of Wall Street post haste.



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Are Irish Taxpayers About To Bail Out Goldman? Is Peter Sutherland Stealing From His Own People To Give To The Vampire Squid?

It is deja vu all over again. To little media fanfare the dire financial situation in Ireland is nothing less than a repeat of the Lehman collapse in those dark days of September 2008. With the recent nationalization of half of the country's six big banks, and the blanket guarantee over the rest of them, the Irish government has effectively made sure that bondholders in all banks, even those which such as long insolvent Anglo Irish bank will be made whole by the long-suffering Irish taxpayers. And despite rumors of haircuts for at least sub debtholders, actual facts validating this possibility remain unseen. Which begs the question why is everyone in the world so terrified of taking mark to market losses on even a few billion in debt? Simple: as all of the world's banks, but Europe more so than anyone else, are now caught in the biggest circle jerk ever imaginable, with one entity's liabilities making up another's assets, which in turn are someone else's liabilities, and so forth in a MC Esher (or is that HR Giger?)-esque flow chart of the surreal (as can be seen here), even one dollar of write downs can spiral and affect tens if not hundreds of billions of downstream assets (and thus liabilities). Which explains why the ECB and everyone else in Europe is so intent on preventing a failed auction in Ireland (we previously disclosed that virtually every September auction of Irish bonds was purchased by the ECB, either directly and indirectly): should the banks that are on the hook actually validate their impairment, Europe is one step away from activating its own $1 trillion TARP package. Yet what is amusing is that inbetween the cracks of exclusively European-bank based senior and subordinated bondholders in such bankrupt banks as Anglo-Irish, a familiar name emerges: Goldman Sachs.



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The Clusterfuck Is Complete: Meet Those Most Hurt By The Earls' Squatting: Conejo Capital Partners... And Soon Millions Of Other "Soon To...

By now the 30 minutes of media fame of the Simi Valley's most (in)famous squatters - the Earls is running out. Yet the consequences of the their actions will resound for a long, long time. The victims: all those may have bought a house in a foreclosure auction, or any other form of existing property sale, without a "lis pendens" or other form of pre-existing legal action, will suddenly think twice about purchasing a home from a bank, or any other owner who may have had a mortgage on the property (now in MERS limbo), and simply end up unwinding the sale. The reason, as Conejo Capital Partners notes, is that nobody will now know when some other set of squatters, who may have owed as much as the Earls (almost a million), and did not contest their loan in good standing with a bank, decide to take the law into their own hands and move right back in. "The most innocent of all victims in this situation
are the new buyers who had signed a contract to purchase the Mustang
property. They are a family of 4 who are adopting their first child this
month.  They had already funded their loan, spent money on appraisals,
given notice at their current residence and were scheduled to take
possession of 5893 Mustang Drive on Tuesday the 12th.  They
have now cancelled the transaction and are scrambling to find a place to
live as they will be homeless at the end of the month.  They are scared....
We
especially feel for the children who are being subjected to this, and the
new buyers who will be temporarily homeless as a result of these events. In all likelihood, there is no way for us to recover the damages we have
suffered, this is no longer about winning; it is about what is right." And the tragedy in all of this, is that there is no clear guily party, as everyone is to blame: the banks, for rushing on the original sale to rake up the NINJA fees, the foreclosure experts for robosigning to accumulate the lowest possible cost basis on the subsequent MBS resale for the mortgage servicer, and the squatters, for deciding to take the law into their own hands, when suddenly there is no law. One thing is certain, this incident will propagate and will make existing home sale next to impossible. And yes, inventory will accumulate, but demand will plunge, resulting in a total collapse of the supply-demand equilibrium point, better known to those idiots a/k/a economic Ph.Ds, as price. But that is precisely what happens when in the pursut of material gains, by everyone, the rule of law is now completely trampled in the USA.



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Art Cashin Explains Why The Stock Market Is Broken, Shares More Perspectives On Hyperinflation

In today's interview with King World News, Art Cashin confirms that through its endless meddling, intervention and manipulation over the past two years, the Fed has essentially broken the market: "You used to have markets that were not particularly correlated. The asset classes now seem to be so heavily dominated and in inverse relationship to the dollar, and in direct relationship to the euro... It's frustrating having honed my skills over 50 years to be able to interpret news, and look at a piece of economic data, and try and outwit the rest of the world by figuring out how it would work, and now all you have to do is look and see how the dollar is reacting and know how everything else works. And that huge correlation is not good for people because if everything is correlated in a basket like that, it is very difficult for people to hedge and protect themselves, and therefore when assets move they tend to move altogether." In other words, step aside Value Investor Congress - meet Lack of Value Dollar Correlation Congress. But readers have known that for over three months. Just as they know that lately the biggest concern on Cashin's mind is hyperinflation "the difficulty is while you can get what appears to be nominal benefit out of [hyperinflation], when you try to convert to a hard asset, or even use it to try to buy a needed good, and the perfect example is Zimbabwe. If you were from out of space, and just could get the records of the Zimbabwe stock market you would say, "wow, they are having a pretty good time down there." But they are going up because the assets they hold are going higher and higher in a debased currency." And Cashin on his hyperinflationaty musings from earlier in the week: "My hope is that we don't get anything like that - hyperinflation would be destructive to civilization... But you are right, not only Zero Hedge, I think that was the most emailed comment that day all over the country." He may well be right. And he is certainly right about the Shazam moment: "Money only gets velocity when you lend it or spend it. The difficulty with studying things like the Weimar republic, is that the money supply growing drastically the initial reaction was small. There was very little doing, and it went slowly, until it went suddenly, and when it went suddenly, it went parabolic."



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Goldman Sachs Admits The Truth: "The Economy Is Not The Market And QE2 Is Not A Panacea"

In a stunning turn of honesty, Goldman's David Kostin does a 180 and renounces everything that the Fed wishes the gullible public would swallow hook line and sinker. But first the facts: while the strategist has no choice but to raise his 12 month S&P forecast (this is a new development for all the headline chasers) from 1,250 to 1,275, which is a token nothing compared to the recent 12 month gold price boost from $1,365 to 1,650. This merely reinforces the Zero Hedge view that gold has now become the natural, higher beta, and unlimited upside short hedge to stocks. Indeed, a 1% boost in the S&P PT, is meager compared to the 20% expected gold appreciation. And digging between the facts, we encounter this stunning admission, that would force all current and former Fed chairmen to spin in their graves, assuming a deceased state is attributed them all: "The economy is not the market and QE2 is not a panacea." Read that again, because this is only the first time in history a sellside advisor, especially one who works for Goldman Sachs, has said this truth so fundamental, that nobody actually dares to admit it, least of all the public or the Fed. Below, we present the latest strategy piece by David Kostin which is probably about the most bearish note released by the traditionally permabullish successor to Abby Cohen.



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Guest Post: Currency Wars - Misguided US Economic Policy

The critical issues in America stem from minimally a blatantly ineffective public policy, but overridingly a failed and destructive Economic Policy. These policy errors are directly responsible for the opening salvos of the Currency War clouds now looming overhead. Don’t be fooled for a minute. The issue of Yuan devaluation is a political distraction from the real issue – a failure of US policy leadership. In my opinion the US Fiscal and Monetary policies are misguided. They are wrong! Now after the charade of Extend & Pretend has run out of momentum and more money printing is again required through Quantitative Easing (we predicted QE II was inevitable in March), the responsible US politicos have cleverly ignited the markets with QE II money printing euphoria in the run-up to the mid-term elections. Craftily they are taking political camouflage behind an “undervalued Yuan” as the culprit for US problems. Remember, patriotism is the last bastion of scoundrels. - Gordon T. Long



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Is MetLife's Foreclosure Process Review By Moody's A Harbinger Of The Excrement Show To Come?

As observant readers will recall, the one proximal catalyst that brought down the financial system last time around was something as innocuous as a rating agency downgrade of AIG, which precipitated a waterfall of margin calls and liquidity deficiencies, resulting in the near collapse of capitalism. This in itself was not surprising: it is always the least expected events (i.e., Moody's performing its function honestly and ethically) that tend to have the most adverse impact in a precarious scenario. Which is why when Moody's put MetLife's Home Loan Servicer ratings on downgrade watch it resulted in a chorus of fear and incredulity: after all Wall Street had seen this scenario all too recently. One person whose phone line off the hook was Morgan Stanley's Nigel Dally who sent out a letter to clients today trying to calm everyone down that this was not the apocalyptic event many are fearing it could be. True, as Nigel pointed out, MetLife only has $1.5 billion in mortgages serviced for others per SNL (whose data we presented yesterday when discussing exposure at JPM, WFC and BofA), but the fact that this is sufficient for Moody's to look at the company vis-a-vis its foreclosure practices should set red light everywhere. After all, in all the talk of gloom and doom, has anyone actually done any work to find out just what a home loan servicer downgrade means for the system? We didn't think so. And while MetLife is just $1.5 billion, recall that the Big Three share a quarter of a trillion among them. And yes, they are also about to be downgraded. Here is Morgan Stanley's unsuccessful attempt to make uber-nervous investor feel safe. Alas, it can only get worse from here, and what's worst, with consequences that nobody can really anticipate (ref: AIG).



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Guest Post: Is America On A Burning Platform?

The Federal Reserve is pulling out all the stops in attempting to invigorate the American economy. The stock market is surging. Everything is surging. The optimists are crowing that all is well. Deficits don’t matter. We can borrow our way to prosperity. Cutting taxes will not add $4 trillion to the National Debt if not paid for with spending cuts. All is well. So, the question remains. Was David Walker wrong? Are we actually on a perfectly sturdy solid platform? Or, are we on the Deepwater Horizon as it burns and crumbles into the sea? Let’s examine both storylines and decide which is true.



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The Empire Strikes Back: China Daily Warns About Currency War, Blames Dollar

You didn't think China was just going to do the rockaway and lean back, lean back, lean back. Nope - China Daily says: "A currency war is spreading as the dollar's value against major world currencies has continued to decline in recent days" and calmly confirms what everyone esle knows: "It is the dollar that triggered the currency war. Seemingly a market move, the depreciation of the dollar is actually active." Check to you, Tim Geithner and your currency manipulation report. What is remarkable, is how simply and accurately CD writer Li Xiangyang captures absolutely everything that Bernanke is trying to achieve.



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Chronicling Einhorn's Multi-Year Vendetta With St. Joe, And Some Relative Performance Perspectives

Much noise has been made about David Einhorn's presentation of "more than a hundred" pages on St. Joe at the Value Investor Conference from earlier this week. What few however seem to know, is that this is merely round two in what is at least a three year ongoing vendetta between the Greenlighter and the Florida real estate company. On May 23, 2007 Einhorn gave what is essentially an identical presentation to the Ira Sohn conference held at the Lincoln Center. In other words, to say that this is a new idea for the hedge fund manager is certainly a stretch. Below are the full notes that Einhorn presented back then. Contrast these to today (you can read the full presentation at Market Folly). In essence the only thing that has changed is the price target: in 2007 Einhorn saw a fair value of JOE of $15, when the stock was $53. This time, when the stock was $25, he values it anywhere between $0 and $10. Could he eventually be proven right? Who knows: after all that's why he gets paid the big bucks, and has had some great calls in the past. However, his long matched calls at the 2007 Ira Sohn conference are certainly not among them. At the time, Einhorn was a fan of Helix Energy Solutions (HLX), back when the stock was $40, and now is $10, and Natixis (KN.FP) which was €13 and now is €4, both underperforming his short call materially in the past 3.5 years. A long HLX (or KN.fp)/short JOE pair trade has certainly cost anyone who put it on a pretty penny. So, as always, buyer beware. Just because a star hedge fund manager likes or does not like something, does not make it a slam dunk.



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John Williams Warns Of "Severe And Violent Sell-Off In Stocks"

Buying U.S. stocks because the Fed says it will proactively debase the U.S. dollar is like sitting on the beach in order to get a great view of an incoming tsunami. Any pleasure so derived should be short-lived, when the terror of underlying reality quickly takes hold. Given the current systemic distortions and extreme irrationality in the equity markets, a severe and violent sell-off in stocks would not be a shock, and it could come with minimal, if any, warning. It also might be coincident with a U.S. dollar-selling panic. - John Williams



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Lessons From Today's Flash Crash In Verifone

Well, none really, suffice to say that we have just had approximately the 20th flash crash in the past 2 months (all in rehearsal for when Apple goes bidless). After all this is to be expected when trading in a computerized, roboticized, broken market. But a point to consider: the NYSE decided to cancel all trades below $27.44, so to the unlucky human who bought at $27.43 tough luck. Of course, robotic readers who sold at that price: congratulations, the NYSE and SEC has your robotic back. We are now eagerly awaiting Monday's ongoing flash crashes.



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Goodbye Dennis: Kneale Going To Fox Business

Good news: the man who coined the phrase Digital Dickweed is gone; The Better news: he will be reunited with former CNBC colleague Charlie Gasparino. The Best news: the Fed did not buy Dennis' contract on behalf of taxpayers. Which is odd - the Fed is now in the business of buying EVERYTHING.



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Is China's Growth Rate Destined To Be Cut In Half?

A new report by MainFirst Bank provides more ammo to the China bears. In "Why China's Growth Rate May Halve" author Bijal Singh has a very gloomy forecast on the country's growth rate, concluding it may "struggle to grow faster than 6%, given that China is now fully employing the vast bulk of its available urban labour force, and given that the Chinese working age population has stopped growing and is on a declining path." Singh takes Rosenberg's earlier rhetorical question about why collapsing profit margins have not yet impacted prices and believes that increasingly more companies will be forced to rationalize their operations, driving a stake straight through the heart of all those pushing for the tech bubble part 2: "Demand growth of 4%-6% may cause Chinese firms to shift focus from growing capacity to better management of existing capacity. Rather than capex equipment providers, computer service firms may be the winners in China over the next five years." The main driver for the GDP growth is that, due to the GDP being a function of job growth and productivity growth, it is the latter of the two which casts the assumption of GDP growth of 8% in perpetuity in doubt. "Over the last decade, productivity growth in China may have been no different to that experienced in the developed world. But China has been able to throw capital at the economy to grow its workforce at a rapid rate without incurring inflationary pressures." Said inflationary pressures are precisely the reason why the country is so cautious to do anything material about either its exchange rate (and today we yet again got confirmation of just who wears the pants in the Sino-US relationship), as well as its interest rate. All in all, changing demographics and economic conditions will make it increasingly difficult for China to manipulate its way into the required growth curve, which may well be the biggest risk to not only the BRIC growth story, but to that of the developed world as well (because now, unlike before somehow, decoupling is expected to work).



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Weekly Geopolitical Summary, 15 October 2010

  • Head of Turkmengaz Fired and Replaced with Deputy
  • CYBERCOM to Go Operational This Month
  • Govt Takes over Hungarian Plant after Deadly Toxic Spill
  • French Transport and Oil Industry Strikes Risks Radicalization
  • Bolivia to Start Lithium Production in October
  • ISAF's Torkham AfPak Border Crossing Reopened
  • Iran's President Visits Lebanon in Clear Attempt to Boost Hezbollah


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