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Protests Spread To Vietnam

After protests recently shifted to Korea, they have now migrated to very tightly controlled Vietnam (and some were wondering what the reason for the orchestrated take down of rice in the past week was), in the first public demonstration by unhappy farmer against the controlling regime in many years. In the meantime, as the media blackout over developments in Korea, Bahrain and just as importantly Algeria continues (not to mention China), keeping in mind that as Nomura predicted, a shut down in Algerian and Libyan oil production is all that is needed for crude to hit $220, we now look forward to Venezuela to join the revolutionary ranks, with the culmination being when Afghanistan and Pakistan, and associated nukes, go in play.



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Albert Edwards On The Resurgence Of The "Conspiracy Of Optimism" As Groupthink Is Back To Record Levels

As regular readers know too well, one topic Zero Hedge enjoys ridiculing with the disdain it deserves is groupthink of any form. The phenomenon, which is nothing but transference of laziness by those who manage other people's money with complete disregard for the consequences of their actions, was among the main reasons for the Great Financial Crash.  As nobody was willing to engage in any form of critical thought, and with the market "only" going up, any investment thesis was predicated solely on what the "other guy" was doing. Of course when it all blew up, it was time to blame the evil rating agencies. After all, heaven forbid someone actually think about the logic behind the credit ratings of hundreds of billions in synthetic CDOs, or worse still, take responsibility for their own stupidity and laziness. We are now precisely in the same place we were when the market peaked last time around, with groupthink rampant, with any attempt at opposing thought squashed for fears it will end the party early, with sellside analyst optimism at all time highs, and with the administration actively encouraging rampant lies and perpetuation of the myths that take hold in the market with no factual footing whatsoever. The "conspiracy of optimism", as dubbed once by James Montier, has once again fully taken hold. As SocGen's Albert Edwards points out "despite another post mortem on forecasting failure, nothing has or will change": this is true... until the next crash. Then the finger pointing will begin anew, theatrics about the change in the Status Quo will resume, and once again the Fed will attempt to reflate the latest bubble crash. Only this time there will be no reflation, as the central planning committee's reign of terror will be over, and the fiat monetary system will have ended. Below we present Edwards' most recent solemn and very troubling thoughts on the latest break out of the great groputhink malaise, which will only last as long as the great chairsatan has some control over events. Luckily, with the amplitude from a stable market equilibrium shifting ever greater in either direction, and as the Fed's very existence (remember: the whole point of the central bank is to contain price stability) is repudiated, the time until the reset is now shorter than ever before in history.



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Gaddafi's Ukrainian "Love Interest" Nurse Deserts Deranged Dictator

Following the departure of Gadaffi's private jet pilot, Odd Birger Johansen, who quietly left the country two days ago, the latest to flee the sinking ship is none other than the dictator's favorite Ukrainian nurse Galyna Kolotnytska, who has taken her leave from Tripoli permanently. The approximately 38 year old nurse was first exposed in WikiLeaks cables which Zero Hedge referenced previously here. The fact that Galyna was so close to the dictator and was a potential "love interest" apparently in no way increased her resolve to pull an Eva Braun and join Gaddafi when he finally realizes the end is nigh. And while Gaddafi will be able to do without sponge baths for a day or two, it may prove to replace the pilot of a jet already supposedly loaded up with gold and ready to go, on such short notice.



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Buffett's 2010 Letter To Shareholders

For those who care what the man whose corporate existence is intimately tied to the government's bailout of the financial system, has to say, below we present Buffett's 2010 letter to shareholders.



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Your Chance To Own A Tiny 3" Piece Of Hank Paulson

As if adding insult to injury each and every day with wave after wave of POMO, even as the criminals on Wall Street continue to go about their business, collecting record bonuses, without even the remotest threat of prosecution, wasn't enough the US Mint is now openly micturating in the face of what little is left of US middle class with the issuance of the "Peregrine" Paulson (3 inches) bronze medal. That's right: starting today, everyone can own a tiny 3 inch piece of Hank: the same man who in October 2008 barged into congress with a three page proposal demanding Congress give him supreme dictatorial powers over this country, and to dispense an uncapped amount of money in rescuing his former company and anyone else he saw fit. The description of the reverse: " The image of the peregrine falcon represents Secretary Paulson’s commitment to conservation and his long-time interest in birds of prey." Wouldn't it be more fitting to find a creature celebrating Hank's commitment to fraud, communism, bail outs, and the Goldman way? We eagerly await William Banzai's take on the Silver Vampire Squid Paulson coin which, if we find an appropriate dealer, we would be happy to sell directly to readers (if there is any physical silver remaining of course). Failing that a coin showing Blythe Masters on the front and Gary Gensler on the back would be a perfect substitute...



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Is Brian Moynihan The Latest Entrant In The 10(b)-5 Fraud Club After Misrepresenting Foreclosure Halt Charges?

While reading Bank of America's 631 page 10K (oh yes, someone will read it cover to cover), the first thing we spotted was the followingL "On February 24, 2011, the company and Brian T. Moynihan, President and Chief Executive Officer, entered into a non−exclusive aircraft time sharing agreement (the “Agreement”), which will permit Mr. Moynihan to lease the company’s aircraft for his use." And just why did Mr. Moynihan not simply get a NetJets timeshare lease instead we wonder? We are confident that the terms of the arrangement will be promptly made public for everyone interested to remove any doubt there is any preferential behind the scenes dealing in allowing the former GC to fly anywhere he chooses on a taxpayer's dime (speaking of, BofA, how is that TLGP repayment coming? Ahead of schedule? Behind?). But far more important than the CEO's private jet arrangements, is the following blurb hidden deep inside the bowels of the paperweight:"our agreements with the GSEs and their first mortgage seller/servicer guides provide for timelines to resolve delinquent loans through workout efforts or liquidation, if necessary. In the fourth quarter of 2010, we recorded an expense of $230 million for compensatory fees that we expect to be assessed by the GSEs as a result of foreclosure delays." Keep that statement in mind as we wonder out loud whether or not the CEO actively lied to investors during the company's November 2010 financials conference, not to mention the bank's Q3 conference call.



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Will AIG Implosion 2.0 Lead To QE 3.0?

There was a time when everyone thought CDOs are perfectly safe. That ended up being a tad incorrect. It resulted in AIG blowing up, recording hundreds of billions in losses and almost taking the rest of the financial world with it, leading ultimately to the first iteration of quantitative easing. A few years thereafter, several blogs and fringe elements suggested that munis are the next major cataclysm and will likely require Fed bail outs (some time before Meredith Whitney came on the public scene with her apocalyptic call). It would be only fitting that the same AIG that blew up the world the first time around, end up being the same company that does so in 2011, and with an instrument that just like back then only an occasional voice warned is a weapon of mass destruction: municipal bonds. AIG dropped over 6% today following some very unpleasasnt disclosures about its muni outlook, and corporate liquidity implications arising therefrom: "American International Group Inc., the bailed-out insurer, said it faces increased risk of losses on its $46.6 billion municipal bond portfolio and that defaults could pressure the company’s liquidity." So how long before we discover that Goldman has been lifting every AIG CDS for the past quarter? And how much longer after that until someone leaks a document that the company's muni strategy was orchestrated by one Joe Cassano?



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The Bears Recreate... Charlie Sheen's Rant

Who said the xtranormal cottage industry's only expertise is the Ben Bernank, the Tim Jeethner, the Goldman Sack, the JP Morgue, QE, BTFD, bond trading, gold and silver manipulation, the Chinese trade surplus and other typically incomprehensible by the lay person concepts. Sometimes they also tackle Charlie Sheen. Here is the result.



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Guest Post: Here's How We Get to Energy Independence

As of yesterday we need to immediately open up ANWR and the shallow off-shore regions to exploration and drilling. I love caribou as much as the next person, but this must be done. Even the most conservative estimates tell us that by 2018 if development were green-lighted today, ANWR could be producing as much as 780,000 and then slowing to 710,000 barrels a day by 2030. Also it is estimated that 18 billion barrels of crude oil are contained in areas currently off-limits to drilling for environmental reasons. No nation has denied itself so much abundance of its own domestic natural resources as has the USA.



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FMX Connect Afternoon Gold Fix: "Yesterday’s Sell Off From The 1415 Area Seemed Almost Orchestrated"

It’s becoming increasingly annoying watching dealers buy call and sell puts the day before we rally $20, and then the next day buy put and sell call the day before we drop $20. Yesterday’s sell off from the 1415 area seemed almost orchestrated. At the very least, the futures selling came in during the thinnest trading hours. While exchanges herald the benefits of electronic trading there is one thing wrong with it. Electronic trading minimizes the information leakage associated with using brokers, for sure, but it is also allows oligarchic organizations to anonymously manage price movement while hiding behind digital displays. We won’t use the word manipulate, in part because of our libertarian bent, but it’s getting ridiculous. Where there used to be 50 5-lot thieves on the floor now there are 5 Too-Big-To-Fail banks with infinite fed-sponsored balance sheets doing whatever they please. The idiot locals on the floor, fragmented as they were, served to keep the big banks in check because there was transparency of price and to a large extent, the players were known. This doesn’t exist anymore and we don’t see an end to it. Instead of thinning the forest for the trees, technology, regulatory and economic factors have killed the saplings and destroyed market diversity. This translates to a narrow and deep liquidity pool in trading venues; god forbid if one of them fails.



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Silver Retraces Entire Post Crude Margin Hike Loss, Even As General Collateral Rates Rise On Broad Liquidity Withdrawal

While the equity market resumed its now traditional (for the past 6 months) smooth levitation, with little to no volatility and even less volume, the most interesting asset class was silver, which after dropping to under $32 yesterday, following the various attempts by the administration to kill assorted commodities, rose by 4% today, closing at the day's highs and wiped out the entire loss from yesterday. Ironically, this happened even as general collateral rates rose today. "The reason for the rise is an increase in the volume of Treasury securities available to be used in the repo market as general collateral. The Treasury Department on Friday settled an issue of $25 billion in 49-day cash management bills, and the $99 billion in new notes it auctioned this week will settle on Monday." Of course, this was offset by another 56-Day CMB offsetting the winding down SFP (total SFP holdings are now cut in half to just $100 billion). So despite a major liquidity extraction from the market, not only did stocks rise (which can traditionally be attributed to POMO in a low volume environment), but the biggest beneficiary was silver, meaning that even in a tight liquidity regime, most investors now prefer to pursue commodities as an investment class, something which had not happened previously.



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Guest Post: 2011 Tipping Points

Throughout my 2010 article series "Extend & Pretend" and "Sultans of Swap" I stressed that we were rapidly moving from the Financial Crisis of 2008, through the Economic Fallout of 2009 -2010, towards a Political Crisis in 2011 -2012. We are now clearly beginning to see the early emergence of the final part of this continuum. From North Africa to Wisconsin all are fundamentally based on the single insidious underlying problem - excessive global debt and credit levels. It is now time to revisit our Tipping Points framework to see where this is leading. A framework that is clearly pointing to a global fiat currency failure and an emerging new world order which is detailed in our "2011 Thesis - Beggar-thy-Neighbor". Our Tipping Points which are outlined below are adjusted continuously based on daily news flow analysis. Through a proprietary 'Process of Abstraction' news is tracked and consolidated around these potentially critical flash points.



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Ted Butler Urges Everyone To Submit A Response To The CFTC On Silver Manipulation Schemes

On several occasions over the past couple of years, thousands of you have taken the time to write to The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) concerning the issue of position limits in COMEX silver. Now the CFTC has solicited your opinion again for what will be the last time. The current open comment period, through March 28, is the culmination of all the public hearings and commentary over the past two years. Your comments on silver position limits make a difference. Private legal counsel and even sources within the Commission have assured me that there can be serious consequences for the CFTC should they ignore the will of the public, when that public opinion is reasonable.



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The Truth About Your Politician: An Interactive Guide

Curious to know just how liberal or conservative your representative politician (either in the Senate or the House) has been in the past year? Courtesy of the National Journal, now you can. In the following list, members and senators are assigned separate scores for their roll-call votes on key economic, social, and foreign-policy issues during 2010. The senators are rated in each of the three issue categories on both liberal and conservative scales, with the scores on each scale given as percentiles. An economic score of 87 on the conservative scale, for example, means that the senator or member was more conservative than 87 percent of his or her colleagues on the key votes in that issue area during 2010. Composite scores are calculated based on the issue-based scores. Members with the same composite scores are tied in rank.



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Why The Pacific Decadal Oscillator Means Five More Years Of Very Bad Fed Luck

These days the Fed is blamed for everything: from liberating the world from oppressive regimes, to the resultant genocide that accompanies such a process, not to mention to reflating record bubbles that guarantee to wipe out another generaton's wealth as soon as this latest and greatest episode of central planning fails. Yet one thing the Fed can not be blamed for (yet) is the weather. And unfortunately for the Chairsatan, storm clouds are (literally) building up for the next five years. While some have blamed the recent surge in food prices on inclement weather, including floods here, droughts there, and massive conflagrations in Russia, the case is, as UBS points out, that weather over the next five years will likely be very unpredictable, and result in increasingly supply shocks and commodity price imbalances (at least for those commodities that are harvested; that the Fed's liquidity is at base reason for the surge in everything not nailed down, just look at the price action in items that do not need watering, or direct sunlight). Enter the Pacific Decadal Oscillator, and if UBS is right, things will continue to be ugly at least until 2016.



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