A hearing that is sure to spark a lot of controversy and debate will be held today at 10 am EDT, by the Domestic Monetary Policy Subcommittee, chaired by presidential candidate Ron Paul. As noted, "The hearing will explore the fundamental role that U.S. government debt
plays in the monetary system; the use of Treasury debt by the Federal
Reserve in conducting monetary policy; and the troubling reliance of
Congress on the Fed to print money to facilitate deficit spending." Alas, there will be no Fed members testifying at the hearing, instead we will hear from Dr. Richard Ebeling, Professor of Economics, Northwood University, Bert Ely, Ely & Company, Inc., and Dr. Matthew J. Slaughter, Associate Dean, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College.
And another advocate for the only logical outcome out of the disastrous monetary and fiscal catastrophe the US finds itself in emerges in the face of billionaire, and open administration critic, Steve Forbes. From Human Events: "A return to the gold standard by the United States within the next five years now seems likely, because that move would help the nation solve a variety of economic, fiscal, and monetary ills. “What seems astonishing today could become conventional wisdom in a short period of time,” Forbes said. Such a move would help to stabilize the value of the dollar, restore confidence among foreign investors in U.S. government bonds, and discourage reckless federal spending, the media mogul and former presidential candidate said. The United States used gold as the basis for valuing the U.S. dollar successfully for roughly 180 years before President Richard Nixon embarked upon an experiment to end the practice in the 1970s that has contributed to a number of woes that the country is suffering from now, Forbes added." Of course, for this to happen the US would first need to allow a full public audit of its gold 8,000+ ton reserves held at Fort Knox and elsewhere. And that may be problematic.
It was only a matter of time before the combination of a suddenly alienated Pakistan and a top secret stealth helicopter crashed deep in its territory, would raise the specter of China, and specifically its military complex hinting it would be delighted to peek under the dress of said crashed chopper to fortify its expanding stealth program. ABC reports: "Pakistani officials said today they're interested in studying the remains of the U.S.'s secret stealth-modified helicopter abandoned during the Navy SEAL raid of Osama bin Laden's compound, and suggested the Chinese are as well. The U.S. has already asked the Pakistanis for the helicopter wreckage back, but one Pakistani official told ABC News the Chinese were also "very interested" in seeing the remains. Another official said, "We might let them [the Chinese] take a look." Gee, following two weeks of demonization did anyone possibly consider that Pakistan would now scramble to reallign itself with China? Surely not the Clinton stepford wife (or is that husband).
And just as Citigroup predicted, US imports surge even as US exports jump to a record $172.7 billion. But the story is once again in the GDP reducing imports which jump by a whopping $220.8 billion, a $10.4 billion jump M/M. The total deficit of $48.2 billion is the highest since the June 2010 spike which hit $49.9 billion. From the release: "Exports increased to $172.7 billion in March from $165.0 billion in February. Goods were $124.9 billion in March, up from $117.8 billion in February, and services were $47.7 billion in March, up from $47.2 billion in February. Imports increased to $220.8 billion in March from $210.4 billion in February. Goods were $187.0 billion in March, up from $176.9 billion in February, and services were $33.8 billion in March, up from $33.5 billion in February. For goods, the deficit was $62.1 billion in March, up from $59.1 billion in February. For services, the surplus was $13.9 billion, up from $13.7 billion in February." Ah, financial innovation being exported as per usual. Look for another round of Q1 GDP downgrades as this number takes out a few basis points in growth. As we know from China that April exports to the US jumped even more, this import surge will likely carry over into Q2 and result in more GDP cuts.
- U.S. post has $2.2 billion loss, warns of Sept insolvency (Reuters)
- Partisan Divides Harden on Debt Accord as Options Are Rejected (Bloomberg)
- EU Slows Drive for More Greek Aid as Merkel Seeks ‘Proven’ Steps (Bloomberg)
- AIG sets $9 billion stock offer, half of expected (Reuters)
- China Inflation Signals More Tightening to Come (Bloomberg)
- Japan Aims for Tepco Compensation Scheme this Week (Reuters)
- U.N.Chief BanCalls forCeasefire in Libya (Reuters)
- Syria Extends Armed Push; EU Sanctions Begin (WSJ)
Game Over RAB Capital: London's Once Star Fund Delists Following Terminal Deluge In Redemption RequestsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/11/2011 - 07:04
RAB Capital, once the poster child of the London credit bubble, whose assets peaked at $7 billion in 2007, has seen its shares tumble over 30% in afternoon trading, following an announcement that the firm will delist after a terminal surge in redemption requests. From the FT: "RAB, which at the beginning of the year oversaw assets of just over $1bn – a far cry from its peak of $7bn in 2007 – has seen its remaining assets evaporate in recent weeks. Investors pulled $370m from RAB’s flagship $470m Special Situations fund last month when a three-year moratorium on withdrawals finally expired....Since then, clients – fearful of the RAB’s viability – have abandoned the company’s other strategies. The firm’s $120m Cross Europe fund has been swamped by redemption requests, say people familiar with the company. In addition, one of RAB’s remaining star money managers, Gavin Wilson, is to retire from the firm. Mr Wilson’s $250m Energy fund has been one of RAB’s best performing offerings of late." Well, if other, much better managed hedge funds are any indication, Mr. Wilson's Energy Fund likely got annihilated last week, putting the final nail in the 4 year public stint of this vehicle to bring leverage to leverage.
Today, we get the March trade balance and JOLTS reports. Also, the Treasury continues its exercises in debt ceiling breach by issuing another $24 billion in 10 Year notes, while the Fed explains its monetization intentions for the next month as it releases the latest POMO schedule at 2 pm EDT.
Greece Stages Another 24 Hour Strike (Complete With Teargas) As European Officials Arrive To Enhance Austerity: Live Webcam From Constitution SquareSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/11/2011 - 06:33
On the one year anniversary of its first bailout, things in Europe's basket case are getting much worse once again. Even as senior EU and IMF inspectors arrived in Athens on Wednesday to press Greece to shore up its finances, workers walked off the job to protest against austerity-induced recession, culminating in a 24 hour strike which sees both airports and journalists taking a break from hard work. Oddly ironic this: the "bankers" arrive to make austerity even more aggressive (so there is more value left over to senior bondholders when the bankruptcy commences), just as the country experiences a deja vu moment of strikers on one side and teargas lobbing policemen on the other. Those who wish to follow the protests live, which so far the mainstream media has refused to show, can do so here.
Gold and silver have extended their recovery and may be headed for the fourth day of gains due to the continuing European sovereign debt crisis, Chinese inflation (+5.3%) and the real risk that rising oil and commodity prices are leading to an inflation spiral internationally and stagflation. German inflation data this morning was worse than expected jumping to 2.7% from 2.3% due to surging energy costs and despite recent strength in the euro. This has led to the euro falling against all currencies and especially against gold. The precious metals are likely to be supported later today when US trade deficit data is expected to be poor with still high oil prices leading to a very large expected deficit of $47.7 billion. This should see the dollar come under pressure and support gold. Stagflation or low economic growth, high unemployment and rising inflation is a clear and present danger to the UK, EU and U.S. economies and other economies internationally. This is especially the case in the UK where house prices have begun to fall again and may be set for sharp falls. Internationally, we are seeing significant debt deflation where the value of goods and assets bought with debt are falling (cars, property etc) while the value of finite, essential goods such as food and energy are rising. Safe haven and inflation hedging diversification into gold is likely to continue as inflation is deepening and there is a distinct whiff of stagflation in the air. It is too early to tell whether the recent sell off is over and a further correction is possible however global macroeconomic conditions suggest that gold and silver bull markets are very much intact. This is especially the case due to continuing Asian demand with gold again being bought on all dips in China, India and the rest of Asia.
Summary of takeaways:
- Activity growth was weak though there are some uncertainties in terms of how weak it is.
- The moderation in M2 and power shortages were the likely drivers of the slowdown.
- CPI came in slightly above our and market consensus forecasts, but it nevertheless represented a sequential moderation.
A snapshot of the European Morning Briefing covering Stocks, Bonds, FX, etc.
Market Recaps to help improve your Trading and Global knowledge
So much for the world's largest economy no longer overheating. CPI came ahead of expectations yet most other key economic indicators confirmed a slow down in the economy, even as borrowing appears to be picking up once again. Could China be exhibiting the very first symptoms of our very own stagflationary squeeze?
- CPI at 5.3%, Consensus at 5.2%, previous 5.40%
- PPI at 6.8%, Consensus at 7.0%, previous 7.3%
- Industrial Production up 13.4%, Consensus of 14.7%, previous at 14.8%
- Retail Sales 17.1%, Consensus of 18.0%, previous 17.40%
What kind of goddamned bubble pops and then goes right back up? Oh wait, did the Central Banks retract the 8-K where they all promised they are done printing for ever and ever (granted, countersigned by Linda Green and Jean Claude Junker, and edited by the WSJ)? That must be it! Oh, and gold at $1,521, back to those lofty, long ago levels from April 27. Cue CNBC on precious metals popping. And yes, that giant sucking sound is the CME preparing silver margin hike 6 through 666.
Banks Offer Paltry $5 Billion In Exchange For Full Expungement Of Robogate Charges And Complete Release Of Any Future ClaimsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 05/10/2011 - 19:59
And there were those who thought that the $20 billion demanded by state and federal officials of banks caught in various acts of robosigning fornication was a joke. According to the WSJ, "The nation's biggest banks are willing to pay as much as $5 billion to settle claims by federal and state officials of improper mortgage-servicing practices." Needless to say this is a sham of a farce of a "settlement", and amounts to one quarter in trading perfection for the likes of the afore discussed JPM, BofA or Goldman. Recall that Goldman pays well over three times this amount in bonuses each year. On the other hand, this is merely a counteroffer to the $20 billion preliminary bid. Which means that the final number to put the entire robosigning affair behind us will be about $10 billion give or take. And banks can go back to doing what they do best: post 0 trading losses per quarter, and other such infinite sigma events.
And just like that, the short trap is set: following some sideways movement over the past several months, in which the market grotesquely, mockingly did not proceed in a straight line up, unlike the 8 month "Birinyi Ruler" period from August to March which extrapolated to about S&P 2,800 in 2 years, some (naive) investors speculated that the Fed may be losing control of the market and proceeded to short ridiculously overvalued stocks, that no longer reflect not only the economy on Earth but probably on any other life-supporting planet in the known and unknown universe, in dimensions from 3 through 10 or anything else reasonably allowed by Kaluza-Klein. As a result, just announced short interest on the NYSE for the period ending April 29 has hit a fresh 2011 high, climbing to 13.094 billion shares from 13.05 billion . Alas, this comes just as the Treasury will do everything, and we mean everything, in its power to ram the market from the s to the p orbital, trap all the shorts, force the custodians to pull every share on borrow there is, and generally to make selling stocks illegal, probably coupled with a few thousand margin hikes in everything from precious metals to tetrahydrocannabinol over the next month just to keep traders' eyes focused on the ball, simply so it can divest some of its tens of billions in shares of AIG stock and claim victory over the tin foil clad skeptics. As usual, those hoping that the neo-feudal stock market is fair and/or efficient are about to be KYed.