Today, people who believe that gold is money think that one should hoard gold. They seek to take possession personally. Or when they have it stored professionally, they look for a private vault outside the banking system where they can (hopefully) trust their warehouse receipt. And why shouldn’t they avoid the banking system? Its corruption was always inevitable. The advent of the central banks before World War I ensured it. The theft (in the US) of the gold of the people in 1933 cemented it, along with the dollar devaluation. The treaty at Bretton Woods in 1944, in which the world agreed to treat the US dollar as if it were gold nailed it in place. The default on the US government’s gold obligations in 1971 by President Nixon set it in stone. Today, we have a corrupt central bank that centrally plans money, credit, discount, and interest. The regime of irredeemable paper money is going to collapse. Anyone who understands it should want to get out of it, and not be a creditor to insolvent banks. This is a rational personal response to an irrational system. But it is not necessarily a vision for how the world ought to be run, or how a banking system should be designed. Today, it is necessary to hunker down, trust no one, hide one’s gold, and take no unavoidable or unnecessary risk. Today, one is concerned with one’s stocks of gold. One has what one has, one tries to get a little more while one can, and then one hopes that after “it” happens, one will have enough.
In his best Lewis Black impression, TrimTabs CEO Charles Biderman succinctly destroys the 'growth' myth behind Obama's budget plan as nothing but a handout and money-printing exercise in futility and drain-circling. Based on the $3.8tn budget plan, the TrimTabs truth-seeker notes that current government tax revenues are about $2.4tn, and growing at no more than $100bn each year, making the math surprisingly simple - we spend around $300bn per month and receive only $200bn with the missing $100bn to pay for the US government's largesse (income shortfall) coming from - 'printing money'. The spin is, of course, that revenues will somehow magically start to grow faster than spending and shrink the budget deficit. With take home pay at $6.3tn for everyone who pays taxes, up $300-400bn from the 2009 low, but still well below the $7.1tn rate from early 2008; Biderman's consternation at the self-hypnosis that a $200bn tax increase in an economy where take-home pay has been growing by only $100bn per year will somehow create anything other than slow-growth at best (or more likely contraction) is palpable. This slow- or no-growth will mean less tax revenue and more spending on safety-nets and thus the Sausalito-savant factually points out that most people do not realize that government spending is simply giving people money whether they do anything useful with it or not and still the governments of the US, Japan, and Europe want us to believe that our economies will grow faster if we keep taking more money from the workers and give that money to the government.
A&G's AIG Moment Approaching: Moody's Downgrades Generali, Cuts Megainsurer Allianz Outlook To NegativeSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/15/2012 - 20:58
For a while now we have said that the very weakest link in Europe is not the banks, not the ECB, not triggered CDS, and not even the shadow banking system (well, infinitely rehypothecated Greek bonds within a daisychain of broker-dealers, which ultimately ends up at the ECB at a negligible repo discount, that could well be the weakest link - we will have more to say about this over the weekend) but two very specific insurers: Italy's mega insurer Assecurazioni Generali, which at last check had more Greek bonds as a % of TSF than anyone else, and Europe's biggest insurer and Pimco parent, Allianz, which is filled to the gills with pretty much everything (for more on Generali, or as we like to call it by its CDS ticker ASSGEN read here, here, here, and here). Well, Moody's just gave them, and the entire European space, the evil eye, and soon the layering of margin calls upon margin calls, especially if and when Greece defaults and a third of ASSGEN's balance sheet is found to be insolvent, will make anyone who still is long CDS those two names rich. Assuming of course the Fed steps in and bails out the counterparty the CDS was purchased from.
Previously we presented some alternative thoughts to the mainstream misperception of the Iranian "isolation" by some of its biggest oil trading partners. Unlike others, we simply believe that the gulf nation, together with the new axis of anti-USD (as confirmed once again earlier today) is simply preparing itself for a barter based economy, or alternatively, one with commoditized intermediates. However, this ignores the likelihood of geopolitical instability caused by intervening US and Israeli interest in the region. Below are some thoughts from Doug Casey of Casey Research on the likelihood of another full blown shooting war erupting in the Persian Gulf, as well as his thoughts on how one may prepare for such a contingency.
As AAPL dominates the headlines for its dramatic 5% reversal intraday and biggest drop in over two months, perhaps it is worth pointing out that the lacking volumes have returned with a flourish. ES (the e-mini S&P futures contract) saw its heaviest volume since this mid-December rally began (30% above average) as our recent pontification on the messages from the credit market (along with the rhythmic periodicity of the rally's size and length) may be starting to wear on investors' risk appetites. After European credit markets accelerated to the downside today, US investment grade and high-yield credit was not buying any of the overnight rally in stock futures and moved wide of yesterday's pre-Samaras rally out of the gate. Stocks surged upwards, tracking uber-stock AAPL but as chatter of a NASDAQ rebalance sent game-theorists scrambling to migrate, AAPL's slump dragged everything down (sadly) with ES stalling at the pre-China rumor level before falling to pre-Samaras levels from yesterday's lows. A lack of rumors and no QE mention from FOMC minutes along with lackluster news from the Eurogroup did nothing to rescue the situation as EURUSD ended on its lows (-1% on the week now) and USD Strength saw carry trades dragging stocks down. Interestingly, post-FOMC Treasuries came off their best levels in the afternoon (even as stocks were tanking) but we saw Gold rallying (in the face of a stronger USD) - does make one wonder on where the safety trade is now. WTI closed near its highs of the day (over $102) and as we noted earlier Brent in EUR closed at record highs as Copper is -1.3% on the week and Silver is tracking USD -0.75% or so on the week.
Greek President (And Nazi Resistance Fighter) Lashes Out At "German Boot" For Pushing Country To The BrinkSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/15/2012 - 17:28
The following extract from a Bloomberg article suggests that the German mission of getting Greece to file for bankruptcy on its own, thus removing the perception that Europe has given up on the first (of many) terminal patient, own has almost succeeded. "Greek President Karolos Papoulias slammed Germany’s finance minister for recent comments about his country as stalled bailout talks stoked tensions between Greece and the northern European countries funding its rescue. “I don’t accept insults to my country by Mr. Schaeuble,” Papoulias, who fought in the resistance against the Nazis during World War II, said in a speech today. “I don’t accept it as a Greek. Who is Mr. Schaeuble to ridicule Greece? Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finns? We always had the pride to defend not just our own freedom, not just our own country, but the freedom of all of Europe."
What is better than a one-front European war on insolvency? Why two-fronts of course. But not before many "soothing" words are uttered (no really). From Reuters: "Portugal's international lenders arrived in Lisbon on Wednesday to review the country's bailout, with soothing words of support likely to dominate as Europe gropes for success stories to counteract its interminable Greek headache. As the euro zone's second weakest link, Portugal's ability to ride out its debt crisis will be key to Europe's claim that Greece is a unique case. Despite a groundswell of concerns that Portugal - like Greece - may eventually have to restructure its aid programme, the third inspection of Lisbon's economic performance in the context of its ongoing 78-billion-euro rescue should make that contention clear. "The review will be all about peace and harmony," said Filipe Garcia, head of Informacao de Mercados Financeiros consultants. "The important thing for Europe is to isolate Portugal from Greece, to put it out of Greece's way in case of a default or even an exit from the euro." That makes sense - after all even Venizelos just told Greece that the country is not Italy. And if that fails, the Don of bailouts, Dr Strangeschauble will just give the country will blessing to use a few billion in cash. Oh but wait. It can't. Because as as we pointed out in late January, and as the market has so conveniently chosen to forget, Portugal, unlike Greece, has simple, clean and efficient negative pledge language in its non-local law bonds. Which means "no can do" to any additional bailouts under its current capitalization. Which may very well mean that Portugal is stuck with its existing balance sheet unless the country succeeds in doing an exchange offer which takes out all UK- and other strong-protection bonds. All of them. And as Greece has shown, that is just not going to happen.
Presented with little comment except to note that the fact that the price of Brent Crude in its local Euro currency has broken all-time highs from July 2008 - which we are sure won't impact the already recessionary environment facing many European nations.
As the NFP print from two weeks ago proved (</sarcasm>), the US is gaining jobs rapidly. Of course the argument that government cannot create jobs remains (just ask the 100,000s of Wall Streeters looking for blogs to write for thanks to Dodd-Frank perhaps?). Bloomberg's outstanding Chart of the Day sums it all up nicely as the incredible rise in Financial Regulators continues. Since 2004, the number of federal employees at financial regulators will have almost doubled to 20,805 in 2013 - with the FDIC dominating the gains. What is also interesting is DoubleLine's Gundlach's recent observation (via Cato) that Federal employees earn almost twice what private employees do on average. Well done government.
It was a bad week for freedom loving people, but I believe there are enough patriots left in this country to change our course. We are being buried under a blizzard of lies on a daily basis. We have a choice. We can support the existing corrupt crony capitalist establishment (Obama & Romney) or we can declare war on lies, deceit and misinformation by rallying behind the only person who would truly attempt to reverse decades of corruption, sleaze, incompetence, bloat, debt accumulation, and a warped version of free market capitalism – Ron Paul. He is the only public figure willing to level with the American people and tell them the truth. Will we let the concept of truth fade out of the world? The choice is ours.
“In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.” – George Orwell
The EURUSD just went apeshit surging by 50 pips as the robots merely read the favorable tone in the headlines as released by Bloomberg, while completely missing the point that absolutely nothing is done yet. Here there are, via BBG:
- JUNKER SAYS SUBSTANTIAL FURTHER PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE - EURUSD spikes 20 pips
- JUNCKER SAYS CONFIDENT EUROGROUP TO MAKE DECISIONS ON MONDAY -EURUSD unchanged
- JUNCKER SAYS TROIKA HAS PRESENTED DEBT SUSTAINABILITY REPORT - EURUSD spikes another 20 pips
- JUNCKER SAYS GREECE, TROIKA HAVE IDENTIFIED EXTRA BUDGET MOVES -EURUSD unchanged
- JUNCKER SAYS HE'S CONFIDENT OF FEB. 20 DECISIONS ON GREECE - it was supposed to be Feb 15 remember...
- JUNCKER SAYS GREECE SETS EU325 MLN IN EXTRA BUDGET MEASURES -EURUSD unchanged
- JUNCKER SAYS STRONG ASSURANCES FROM LEADERS OF 2 GREEK PARTIES - EURUSD says: "OOOPS"
And the one the robots have so far missed:
- JUNCKER SAYS FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS NEEDED ON SPECIFICS
Translating the last one: NOTHING HAS CHANGED!
Some of the key headlines from the just released FOMC minutes via Bloomberg, which however don't show anything out of the ordinary:
- A FEW FED OFFICIALS SAID MORE BOND BUYING MAY BECOME NECESSARY. So (1-Few) did not see it as necessary
- FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `GRADUAL’ IMPROVEMENT IN LABOR MARKET
- FOMC OFFICIALS SAW `MODERATE’ IMPROVEMENT IN HOUSEHOLD SPENDING
- FOMC PARTICIPANTS SAW `DEPRESSED’ HOUSING SECTOR
- FOMC OFFICIALS SAID GLOBAL FINANCIAL STRAINS POSED BIG RISKS
- FOMC PARTICIPANTS FORECAST INFLATION WOULD REMAIN `SUBDUED’
- SOME FED OFFICIALS FAVORED QE IF INFLATION FALLS, GROWTH SLOWS
Last week we discussed the gradual unraveling of a topic we had been following for the past 3 years, namely the brazen and criminal manipulation in the Libor market, which directly and indirectly impacts a stunning $350 trillion worth of securities (and thus, their implied risk, and hence, prices). Today we are delighted to learn that the retribution against these banks who have been artificially representing to the market that they are in better condition than in reality (courtesy of Libor's "strict" self-reporting approach), are beginning to see lawsuits filed against them, with Schwab merely the latest out of the gate. And just as fraudclosure was the litigation topic of 2010 and 2011, sit down and watch as Li(E)borgate explodes into the biggest litigation pain for banks, with litigation expenses that could easily surpass both the robosigning scandal (and its robo-settlement) and the escalating banks Reps and Warranties scandal. Because as recent evidence confirms, there are likely emails proving manipulation exists black on white, as discussed last week. Which means that the case of Schwab, noted last summer by Reuters, is about to become a pandemic.
While headlines yesterday crowed and complained of the small rise in the budget and the focus on taxing the wealthy - which admittedly given the peak polarization in political parties is unlikely to actually move into legislation anytime soon - JPMorgan's Michael Cembalest finds perhaps the most controversial part of the proposal hidden deep in the report. While the JPM CIO notes the CBO baseline and alternative scenarios, it is the difference between the $293bn benefit (CBO estimate from last year) and the Administration's new estimate of $584bn that caught his eye as buried on Page 73 of the Green Book were three new taxes on existing tax-efficient 'benefits'. Tax the mass-affluent (>$250k) seems indeed the new motto of this presidency.