Guest Post: The Growing Risks To The Dollar

The United States’ current fiscal and monetary policies are unsustainable. The US government’s net debt as a share of GDP has doubled in the past five years, and the ratio is projected to be higher a decade from now, even if the economy has fully recovered and interest rates are in a normal range. An aging US population will cause social benefits to rise rapidly, pushing the debt to more than 100% of GDP and accelerating its rate of increase. While the future evolution of these imbalances remains unclear, the result could eventually be a sharp rise in long-term interest rates and a substantial fall in the dollar’s value, driven mainly by foreign investors’ reluctance to continue expanding their holdings of US debt. Investors frequently rely on two key arguments to dismiss the fear of a run on the dollar: the dollar is a reserve currency, and it carries fewer risks than other currencies. Neither argument is persuasive.

A Bitcoin for Your Thoughts

The best performing currency year-to-date has no home country, no central banker and no physical scrip; it is the online-only ‘Bitcoin’ and as we noted recently, it is becoming more mainstream.  BTC, as the currency is known, up 130% year to date in dollar terms, thanks to rising demand from a wide variety of adherents, which ConvergEx's Nick Colas notes, includes libertarian activists, small businesses, online drug dealers and gambling sites.  That makes the Bitcoin a controversial subject, to be sure, but Nick notes we can also learn from this unique case study a lesson in global economics.  Bitcoin ‘Money supply’ growth is capped at a slow rate – far below its current levels of demand.  That makes it prone to boom-bust cycles.  It also has no sovereign sponsorship, which means it works outside any nation’s security apparatus.  Lose your bitcoins to hackers?  Tough luck – there is no FDIC in these parts.  Still, Colas concludes, in the creation and growth of the Bitcoin it is not hard to see the online future of currency, especially as real-world alternatives continue to struggle with sluggish economies.

Groupon CEO to Staff: "Today, I Was Fired" - Full Letter

Andrew Mason, the CEO of once fast-money favorite Groupon has been, umm, let go. With the shares trading 77% below their IPO price, dumping 25% today alone, the board has decided enough is enough. His witty letter to 'the People of Groupon' (in full below) starts, "After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why... you haven’t been paying attention." Shares popped 12% after-hours on the news (ouch), and of course in the whimsical land of the BLS this 'layoff' will be seasonally-adjusted into broad-based hiring in the tech sector.

You Rarely Know You're In A Recession Until It's Too Late

Whether or not you believe it would have made a difference to 'know' or not, the facts are that over the course of US economic history, you rarely know you're in a recession until long after it starts. Would you still chase day after day? Could you stand to watch the greater fools buying in the belief they are not the patsy? The following six facts might put things into perspective...

At Least They Are Finally Honest... Again

It seems the truthiness is growing louder in Washington:


Once again, there you have it, as we noted here, the admission that indeed it is the Fed that has been the visible hand. Fisher went on to note:


Fog, smoke, and mirrors... perhaps those tin-foil-hat wearing digital dickweeds were on to something?

Stocks Plunge To Red As 'All-Time High' Hopes Fade

We came so close. Every trick in the bag was pulled to run stops and get the momos to take us into virgin territory for retail investors following the Dow. Think of the headlines on the news tonight... But alas, we will have to wait for tomorrow's POMO to see if it comes then. From the moment voting began, equities rolled over and as the slide picked up speed so did volume and trade size. We noted that Bonds and FX markets were largely unimpressed by equity's lurch for the highs, and sure enough, stocks rotated lower into the close but still green for the month of February (just to ensure the headlines remain positive). S&P futures dropped 1% off their highs into the close and the deadbeat volume of the dribble higher surged above average. Treasuries ended the day -2bps (-8bps on the week so far) with 10Y back under 1.90%; the USD rallied as JPY and EUR weakened taking DXY up 0.6% on the week; VIX's bearish divergence from yesterday seemed prescient as it snapped higher to 15.5% on the day suggesting caution was high into the close.

Thursday Humor: The Trader's 'Paper Clip' Helper

As equity indices 'stabilize' ready for their CNBC-counted-down surge to new all-time highs and the holy grail of economic-growth-creating money-printing-fed inflationary-wealth-effect, we thought a blast from the past would 'help'...

Sequestration On, Risk Off

The push higher in stocks today peaked as the voting began and now as we receive the 'shocking news' that:

Senate Lacks Votes to Advance Democratic Sequestration Plan

We see the equity market fading fast - reverting to VWAP first of course. Whocouldanode? What happens next is anyone's guess but FX and bonds sure aren't buying it.

Guest Post: Diminishing QE Returns And The Coming 40% Correction

Chris Martenson is issuing an official warning of a major stock market correction within the next few months. He's only done this once before (in 2008). He's seeing a convergence of both technical and fundamental data that are flashing oversized risks to the downside for asset prices, despite the Federal Reserve's money printing mania (which is showing signs of hitting diminishing returns). He expects the fall in equity prices to happen within the May-September window. This downdraft will be characterized by lots of volatility, formed by market routs and Fed-inspired rescues, alternating until some form of bottom is reached. Along the way there will likely be a flight for "safety" into the dollar and Treasury paper, but only during the first stage of this crisis. Once a bottom is reached - he expects anywhere from 40% to 60% lower than the current ~1500 level on the S&P 500 - the process will begin to be dominated by rising government borrowing which will cause interest rates to begin to rise. When that happens, expect capital to flee the paper market for hard assets. In particular, that's when the upwards price revolution in the gold and silver markets will kick into high gear.

Herbalife To Appoint Two Icahn Directors, Icahn Gets Right To Boost HLF Holdings To 25%

This is not Bill Ackman day. After getting creamed on JCP, here comes Icahn to make sure Ackman never forgets the day the DJIA is set to rehit all time highs.


HLF stock halted, then unhalted and, not unexpectedly, up.

Detroit To Be Taken Over By The State

Usually, when the administration needs a distraction from just how broke and insolvent in reality the country is, it sends the stock market soaring higher. As such it is beyond ironic that as the S&P is set to hit an all time high, Detroit - that shining symbol of the Obama administration's bailout of General Motors - effectively goes broke.



At 13:19:58, in a brief 1 second interval, it appears someone (or thing) decided it was time to slam $138mm notional to work with no consequence for market impact or cost basis. 15,700 S&P 500 e-mini contracts surged through in that second, running all the stops above the highs of the day to test up to the highs from Monday (pre-election). Meanwhile, FX and Treasury markets are not at all enthused... but whetever it takes to get the Dow to all-time highs...

Japan Food Prices Set To Soar As Government Hikes Wholesale Wheat Prices By 10%

If the past three months have been any indication of what Japan has to look forward to from Abenomics, we have a feeling his tenure will be as short, if not shorter, than all of his recent (and numerous, among which he, himself) predecessors. Because while the stock market may have risen in lock step with the plunge in the Yen, what has also soared are costs. And while a very select few benefit from the transitory surge in the Nikkei, the rising costs, i.e., inflation, hit everyone equally. But while the "no free lunch" reality has until now mostly been felt by those who need energy, as shown in "You Wanted Inflation, You Got It: Japanese Gasoline Price Rises To Eight Month High" the inflationary impact on Chinese imports is about to hit everyone like a sledgehammer right where it hurts the most: in the stomach, as the inevitable has finally happened, and the agriculture ministry announced that wholesale wheat prices are set to rise by a near-record 9.7% in April, which will shortly thereafter send regular food prices soaring.

Silver Demand Surges To Record For February

We noted the strange divergence between the surge in physical demand for precious metals and the falling price of gold and silver yesterday and today; sure enough, just as they give back some short-term gains, we find that with one day left in the month, the US Mint has seen the largest demand for physical silver coins ever for a February at 3.37mm ounces. We are sure this all makes perfect sense somewhere in the leasing, backwardation, securitization, paper world of precious metals pricing but one thing appears sure, more than just Russia is backing up the truck for physical bullion.

Guest Post: Oil, Much As Weapons, Is Dangerous In The Wrong Hands

The discovery of oil in the Middle East around the 1930s has had a drastic effect on the lives of the people in the region.  In most instances this black gold buried under the sands of Arabia has impacted the lives of the people in a rather positive manner. But not always. Syria today is burdened with the largest refugee crisis in the world - mostly displaced internally - a clear indication of population shifts. And as population shifts so too do demarcation lines, with the rebels claiming now to be in control of some of the oil producing sites. Will the opposition fare any better once they manage to get the oil facilities to operate once more? Or will they also contribute towards making the people who sell guns all that richer? How will they use the revenue if the manage to operate the facilities?

Delinquencies On Student Loans Surpass Those On Credit Card Debt

Those who have been following our year-long series exposing the student debt bubble are by now well aware that this latest $1 trillion+ reincarnation of subprime will have a very unhappy ending. Which is why today's release of the quarterly Fed report on household debt and credit will hold few surprises for them. There is however, one data point which is notable: as of December 31, 2012, the soaring delinquency rate on student loans (first reported here, and subsequently confirmed by the Fed itself), has surpassed that of credit card debt.

Name The Worst-Performing Currency Of The Year

On the heels of Abe's final decision to appoint a somewhat middle-of-the-road 'dove' as BoJ Governor, we thought it appropriate to look at the year's FX performance to see who is 'winning' the currency wars so far this year. The answer may surprise you (or not if you had read this or this).

"The Great American Housing Rebound"

When it comes to provocative financial magazine covers, until now this has been the domain mostly of the Economist and Barrons. Which is why we were not surprised to see Bloomberg do all it can (and it sure can afford to do a lot) to steal the spotlight. With this week's cover page of "The Great American Housing Rebound" it may have done just that, for obvious reasons, or rather one politically uncomfortable reason. And just as expected, the blistering critique is already quite fast and certainly furious - precisely as had been intended all along.

Guest Post: Why Central States/Banks Inflate Asset Bubbles, And Why They Implode

That the policies of central states and banks have led to one disastrous asset bubble after another over the past 15 years is undeniable. This poses the question: is this serial bubble-blowing intentional, or are the bubbles merely unintended consequences of the neoliberal, neofeudal model of financialization that dominates global finance? The answer boils down to this: inflate assets or die. Inflating phantom assets to collateralize expanding debt is failing due to diminishing returns on stimulus, zero-interest rates, money-printing and monetization of Federal debt.