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The False Promises Of 2% Inflation

A specter is haunting the world, the specter of two percent inflationism. Whether pronounced by the U.S. Federal Reserve or the European Central Bank, or from the Bank of Japan, many monetary central planners have declared their determination to impose a certain minimum of rising prices on their societies and economies. One of the oldest of economic fallacies continues to dominate and guide the thinking of monetary policy makers: that printing money is the magic elixir for the creating of sustainable prosperity. Once the inflationary monetary expansion ends or is slowed down, it is discovered that the artificially created supply and demand patterns and relative price and wage structure are inconsistent with non-inflationary market conditions. Governments and their monetary central planners, therefore, are the cause and not the solution to the instabilities and hardships of inflations and recessions.



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It Cost Ukraine's Government $4 Billion To Get Re-Elected

As the world grows used to hearing of reserve depletion among less-developed nations defending their currencies from collapse, we thought the following chart might open a few eyes as to the real driver of attempting to create 'stability' by intervention. In the run-up to October's parliamentary election in Ukraine, the Hryvnia became oddly stable - signaling to the world that the current government had everything under control and should be re-elected. Since the re-election, the Ukrainian currency has re-collapsed to record lows. How did the Ukrainian government 'ensure' re-election via 'stability'? By blowing almost $4bn (a record 23% of reserves) in one month to maintain the currency's level...



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Defiant North Korea Says Can Prove It Is Not Behind Hack "Without Resorting To Torture Like The CIA"

Surely, the punchline is that even a tiny backwater, dictatorship can now make fun of US "moral high ground" courtesy of the recent CIA torture disclosure. “We have a way to prove that we have nothing to do with the case without resorting to torture, as what the C.I.A. does,the North Korea statement said. Oops.



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Just What Is China Buying?

Something strange is going on in China.



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The Biggest Economic Story Going Into 2015 Is Not Oil

Once again oil is not even the biggest story today. It’s plenty big enough by itself to bring down large swaths of the economy, but in the background there’s an even bigger tale a-waiting. Not entirely unconnected, but by no means the exact same story either. It’s like them tsunami waves as they come rolling in. It’s exactly like that. That is, in the wake of the oil tsunami, which is a long way away from having finished washing down our shores, there’s the demise of emerging markets. And we're not talking Putin, he’ll be fine, as he showed again yesterday in his big press-op. It’s the other, smaller, emerging countries that will blow up in spectacular fashion, and then spread their mayhem around. And make no mistake: to be a contender for bigger story than oil going into 2015, you have to be major league large. This one is.



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The Burning Questions For 2015

"Most investors go about their job trying to identify ‘winners’. But more often than not, investing is about avoiding losers. Like successful gamblers at the racing track, an investor’s starting point should be to eliminate the assets that do not stand a chance, and then spread the rest of one’s capital amongst the remainder." So as the year draws to a close, it may be helpful if we recap the main questions confronting investors and the themes we strongly believe in, region by region.



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Gun Violence In America (In 6 Uncomfortable Charts)

A recent report, The Annual Review of Public Health, summarizes the basic facts of firearm violence, a large and costly public health problem in the United States for which the mortality rate has remained unchanged for more than a decade. It presents findings for the present in light of recent trends. Risk for firearm violence varies substantially across demographic subsets of the population and between states in patterns that are quite different for suicide and homicide. Suicide is far more common than homicide and its rate is increasing; the homicide rate is decreasing. As with other important health problems, most cases of fatal firearm violence arise from large but low-risk subsets of the population; risk and burden of illness are not distributed symmetrically. Compared with other industrialized nations, the United States has uniquely high mortality rates from firearm violence.



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Archaea Capital's 5 Bad Trades To Avoid Next Year

Blind faith in policymakers remains a bad trade that’s still widely held. Pressure builds everywhere we look. Not as a consequence of the Fed’s ineptitude (which is a constant in the equation, not a variable), but through the blind faith markets continuing to place bets on the very low probability outcome – that everything will turn out well this time around. And so the pressure keeps rising. Managers are under pressure to perform and missing more targets, levering up on hope. Without further delay we present our slightly unconventional annual list. Instead of the usual what you should do, we prefer the more helpful (for us at least) what we probably wouldn’t do. Five fresh new contenders for what could become some very bad trades in the coming year.



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The Annotated History Of Russian Crises Since 1860

While the current episode of Russian geopolitical and economic turmoil may seem significant, the following chart from Goldman Sachs shows the tempestuous time the nation has had over the past 150 years...



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I'm Not Buying It - Not The Wall Street Rip, Nor The Keynesian Rap

The current illusion of recovery is a result mainly of windfalls to the financial asset owning upper strata, the explosion of transfer payments funded with borrowed public money and another supply-side bubble - this time in the energy sector and its suppliers and infrastructure. But that’s not real growth or wealth. Indeed, the desultory truth about the latter is better revealed by the fact that the American economy is not even maintaining its 20th century level of breadwinner jobs. And the real state of affairs is further testified to by the lamentable trend in real median household incomes. That figure - not distorted by the bubble at the top of the income ladder - is still lower than it was two decades ago. So much for the Keynesian rap. Yet that’s about all that underpins the latest Wall Street rip.



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The Baltic Dry Index Has Never Crashed This Fast Post-Thanksgiving

We are sure it's nothing - since stock markets in China and The US are soaring - but deep, deep down in the heart of the real economies, there is a problem. The Baltic Dry Index has fallen for 21 straight days, tumbling around 40% since Thanksgiving Day. This is the biggest collapse in the 'trade' indicator (which we should ignore unless it is rising) since records began 28 years ago...



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Junk Bonds Are Going To Tell Us Where The Stock Market Is Heading In 2015

Do you want to know if the stock market is going to crash next year?  Just keep an eye on junk bonds.  Prior to the horrific collapse of stocks in 2008, high yield debt collapsed first.  And as you will see below, high yield debt is starting to crash again. 



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China's Stocks Worth 50% More Than Rest Of BRICS Combined

Thanks to the massive surge of speculative trading account openings, Chinese stocks are up 28% in the last month and a stunning 52% since China unleashed 'QE-Lite'. This has sent the total market capitalization of China's stocks soaring relative to the rest of the BRICS. In fact, Chinese stocks are now worth 55% more than Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa combined... the most ever.



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The Housing Bubble Explained in One Little Gem of an Excerpt...

It feels like a good time to review what we can expect when our government and its agencies attempt to create wealth out of thin air.  We can see the absurdity and hubris of our policymakers who believe they can circumvent economic laws in the following excerpt from the “The National Homeownership Strategy: Partners in the American Dream”. This little gem which we are suggesting is the document that led us to the economic devastation from which we are yet to crawl out. "For many potential homebuyers, the lack of cash available to accumulate the required downpayment and closing costs is the major impediment to purchasing a home. Other households do not have sufficient available income to to make the monthly payments on mortgages financed at market interest rates for standard loan terms. Financing strategies, fueled by the creativity and resources of the private and public sectors, should address both of these financial barriers to homeownership." So what lesson did we learn the hard way?  Looking around today, absolutely nothing.



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