May 2nd, 2013
The Government – Which Has Taken Away Our Liberties and Destroyed Our Prosperity to Fight An Endless War On Terror – Has Been Arming, Funding and Otherwise Backing the Very Terrorists Who Are Carrying Out Most of the Attacks
IRS to Spy on Our Shopping Records, Travel, Social Interactions, Health Records and Files from Other Government InvestigatorsSubmitted by George Washington on 05/02/2013 12:58 -0500
More and More People Are Staring Into Our Fishbowl
Things in the 'economy' must be good - investors are nearing their most levered long to US equities ever. As Sean Corrigan notes, Net Margin (defined as NYSE Margin Debt minus Mutual Fund Liquid Assets) is within a hair of its all-time record high and relative to the March 2000 peak in the Wilshire 5000 (broadest US equity market cap), we are rapidly approaching 'peak' exuberance levels. Indicatively this should make sense since the market is at all time highs, but it is so because of central banks, not because of individual investors. So why would the investors themselves be just as stretched as the global central banks, and how does this leverage upon leverage unwind in the end?
Healthy female participation rates in the labor force and in leadership are a reflection of inclusiveness in countries and companies; and as Goldman Sachs recently noted, inclusive institutions lead to more innovation, more enduring competitive advantages and a more efficient use of available resources (capital, physical and people). The idea that empowering women employees and entrepreneurs contributes to a virtuous cycle as higher female disposable income trickles down to increased spending on education and healthcare, is not lost on Warren Buffett who writes at length in his latest Op-ed of the possibilities for America should the other 50% of America become productive, "women should never forget that it is common for powerful and seemingly self-assured males to have more than a bit of the Wizard of Oz in them. Pull the curtain aside, and you'll often discover they are not supermen after all." And with the oracular Omahan now on Twitter, can we expect more bitesize insights - perhaps the anti-Bill-Gross tweet.
Presenting the new Google ass...
Tuesday's Case Shiller update index showed something very troubling: as a whole, the US housing market in its broadest sense, has barely budged in the past four years (chart). And yet, what is unmistakable, and what has given many the impression that there is a "recovery" (despite clear recent signals to the contrary) are media attempts to spark a buying frenzy in several of the key markets that were responsible for the prior housing bubble, such as Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona. And how do we know they are succeeding, if only until the Bernanke liquidity bubble pops again? Courtesy of articles such as this: "25 markets where flipping homes is most profitable." Nuff said.
With Lumber prices plunging to 5 month lows, we have just one question for those buying homebuilder stocks as they push new highs - what are they building houses in this new normal?
Gross: World awash in money. Fed buys 85 billion per month. BOJ 75 billion. ECB hints at neg interest rates. Don’t buy – sell risk assets.
— PIMCO (@PIMCO) May 2, 2013
There continues to be difficulty in securing physical bullion in large volumes, particularly in the small coin and bar market and particularly in the silver market.
With the Bank of England cutting its wholesale interest (bank) rate to historic lows and now the ECB slashing 50bps off its key rate (as well as remonstrating on the reduction in fragmentation across European nations), it is perhaps perplexing (or simply too obvious) that a bank would raise its mortgage rates. As the Daily Mail reports, government-owned Bank of Ireland (BOI) doubled mortgage rates for 13,500 customers in the UK leaving homeowners with huge increases in their monthly payments. The bank, exploiting small print in the legacy mortgage contracts, will hike the interest cost for 1-in-14 homeowners from 2.25% to 4.99% (raising the spread over the bank rate on these loans from 1.75% to 4.49%). Anger is rife as customers complain "it's all very frustrating," adding that they thought this was a 'tracker' mortgage but BOI defends their massive rate hike on increased funding costs and the need to maintain higher levels of capital. The disconnect between wholesale gorging provided by the Central Bank and wholesale gouging of the real economy grows ever wider it seems.
Think frontrunning clients, trading against recommendations, manipulating LIBOR, and slamming gold at the London fixing is all investment bankers do? Wrong. What really happens in banker life is far more exciting and enjoyable (at least for preferred banker clients) as the following story by the WSJ's David Enrich shows. In reality, the activities that bankers seem to spend the most time on, is treating their "preferred clients" with free gambling trips to Las Vegas, skiing in Chamonix, flying wives and girlfriends in helicopters, doing blow in industrial amounts, and, of course, cavorting with strippers and hookers. All paid for by some unwitting clients of course. It is this environment of utter and perfectly permitted, if not encouraged, debauchery that allowed scandals such as the Libor fixing "conspiracy" (first theory, then fact of course), to flourish, and which makes being a banker still the most desired job in the world (contrary to beliefs that it was all about the passion of crunching goalseeked DCFs at 2 am in the morning).
It is just incredible how quick NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is to throw a temper tantrum whenever anyone dares question his crusade to rid the nation of its remaining civil liberties. In this case, his targets are those that criticize his feudalistic and extraordinarily racist "stop and frisk policy."
In what may be a historic first, as part of his answer to the last conference question on whether it is time for the ECB to start onboarding risk on its balance sheet, Draghi had a simple answer:
- DRAGHI SAYS ECB DOESN'T GO AROUND WITH HELICOPTER MONEY
Now... is that just a little chopper envy, bourne out of disdain for the Buba's "just say 9,9,9" position, or is this the start of an actual slamdown between the ECB and the Fed. Surely even Draghi realizes that with the private sector in Europe hibernating with zero or negative loan creation in the past four years, and with the ECB unwilling to inject unsterilized liquidity, there is no hope of actual European growth ever (because sadly we live in a Keynesian world in which economic growth is always and only a function of new money injected into the system). And yes, BOJ and Fed cash will only push stock markets higher for so long before the economic tide goes out, youth unemployment hits 100% and the revolution finally takes place.
The first relatively big bombshell has been dropped:
*DRAGHI SAYS ECB HAS OPEN MIND ON NEGATIVE DEPOSIT RATE
*DRAGHI SAYS WILL COPE WITH NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES IF WE ACT
This has crashed EURUSD and smashed German 2Y rates into negative territory