As China Admits It Lied About Its Local Debt Levels, Local Billionaires Are Quietly Liquidating Their Assets

Overnight something unexpected happened: Sheng Songcheng, the director of the statistics division of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), was quoted by the National Business Daily on Saturday whereby he essentially admitted China had been lying about not only its local debt exposure but the level of NPLs across the economy.  The punchline: Sheng warned about the risks of local government debt, saying that 2 trillion yuan in bond swaps may not be able to fully cover maturing debt, according to the report. What he really said, as paraphrased by Bloomberg, is that "local govt's tended to not report all their debts when audited in June 2013, thus the 2 trillion yuan debt swap plan arranged this year may not cover all debts due, Sheng cited as saying."

Oops.

We're Not All Gordon Gecko - Dan Loeb Defends 'The Activist' Investor

Lately, a varied chorus of powerful union bosses, politicians and candidates, an asset management company executive, and a few ivory tower types have asserted that activism is short term in nature, engaged in by “hit and run”  investors who care only about making a quick buck while leaving a company and its employees in ruins. It might surprise people to hear that we agree completely that the sort of activism they describe is abominable.  Luckily, it does not really exist, and certainly not at Third Point.  Activists today are very different from corporate raiders of the ‘80’s (about whom these criticisms might have been leveled fairly).

China's 1929 Moment

Bubbles collapse, period; and government interventions don't stop them. Furthermore, we are beginning to see a crack widen in the foundations of China's capital markets that could end up undermining the whole economy. If Plan A fails, it is time for Plan B...

Are We Being Forced Into A "Second American Civil War"… If So, Who Will Win?

A report from the U.S. Army War College discusses the use of American troops to quell civil unrest brought about by a worsening economic crisis. The report from the War College’s Strategic Studies Institute warns that the U.S. military must prepare for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States” that could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse” or “loss of functioning political and legal order.” [The report also warns of a possible “rapid dissolution of public order in all or significant parts of the US.”]

The Tide Has Turned And These Charts Predict The Next Stop

Be prepared for the now imminent equity valuation reset.  It is true the Fed now has the ability to manipulate the market well beyond anything we’ve ever seen before.  However, it is also still true that when the bursting bubble achieves full momentum the Fed will be helpless to stop it.   While the Fed feels increasingly omnipotent they will once again learn, that while natural laws can be bent, they cannot be broken.

Venezuela Increasingly Looks Like A War Zone

While mocking socialist paradises everywhere is a recurring theme especially once they have completely run out of other people's money to burn through, what always follows next is far less amusing - complete social collapse, with riots, civil war and deaths not far behind. That is precisely what the video shown below has captured. In the clip, a demonstration against Venezuela's poor transportation services quickly turned violent. End result: one person dead from a gunshot wound, more than 80 arrested and four shops looted on the Manuel Piar Avenue in San Felix.

American (Predatory) Capitalism Explained In 130 Seconds

Now, more than ever, with Greece and Ukraine front and center, understanding how corporations take control of countries, and how capitalism drives the expansion of the Military Industrial Complex is crucial: "we have created a mutant form of predatory capitalism which has created an extremely unstable, unsustainable, unjust and very very dangerous world."

Bubble Finance And A Tale Of Two Spheres

We have argued that it is a perilous myth that central bankers these days control a general price level. They instead incentivize massive financial flows into securities markets and fashionable sectors. Over time, ramifications and consequences reach the profound. For one, excess liquidity promotes over/mal-investment. It’s only the scope and nature that remain in question. If major Bubble flows inundate new technology investment, the resulting surge in the supply of high-margin products engenders disinflationary pressures elsewhere. Policy responses to perceived heightened “deflation” risks then only work to exacerbate Bubbles, mounting imbalances and structural fragilities. This was a critical facet of “Roaring Twenties” analysis that was lost in time.

This Coal Mine Valued At $630 Million In 2011 Just Sold For One Dollar

To get a sense of the complete devastation in the world of commodities, consider the curious case of Australia's Isaac Plans coking coal mine, which was valued at $630 million in 2011. It sold on Thursday for $1.  it gets worse: based on data from Citi Research, 90% of all M&A that miners did since 2007 has been written off. The commodity bubble has officially burst - feel free to thank China.

Gold And The Grave Dancers

Back in the 1960s, Alan Greenspan wrote a well-known essay that to this day is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand the present-day monetary and economic system (which is a kind of “fascism lite” type of statism, masquerading as capitalism) and especially the almost visceral hate etatistes harbor toward gold. Greenspan’s essay is entitled “Gold and Economic Freedom”, and as the title already suggests, the two are intimately connected.

11 Red Flags As We Enter The Pivotal Month Of August 2015

Things are unfolding in textbook fashion for another major global financial crisis in the months ahead, and yet most people refuse to see what is happening.  In their blind optimism, they want to believe that things will somehow be different this time.  Well, the coming months will definitely reveal who was right and who was wrong.  The following are 11 red flag events that just happened as we enter the pivotal month of August 2015...

Did We Just Hit The Threshold For Short Covering In Gold?

Two weeks ago we noted something that has never happened before in gold - hedge funds, according to CFTC, had a net short position for the first in history. The past week saw a very surprising negligible shift of just 11 contracts as the short position shrank to 11,334 contracts. However, the aggregate net long position has dropped to a level that in the past has represented a threshold for signficant short-covering (21% and 17% rallies respectively). So with hedgies as short as they have ever been in history and aggregate positioning at a historically crucial level, one wonders if gold is due for a bounce...

The Great Greek Fudge

A third Greek bailout involving loans from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), the eurozone’s bailout scheme, is now being negotiated. The start was quite rocky, with haggling over the precise location in Athens where negotiations need to take place and Greek officials once again withholding information to creditors. Therefore, few still believe that it will be possible to conclude a deal in time for Greece to repay 3.2 billion euro to the ECB on 20 August. Several national Parliaments in the Eurozone would need to approve a final deal, which would necessitate calling their members back from recess around two  weeks before the 20th, so it’s weird that French EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici still seems so confident that the deadline can be met.

"Asia Crisis, Tech Bubble Burst, Lehman"... And Today

Note that the classic sign of crisis and capital flight, higher interest rates, falling currency, and falling bank stocks are now visible in Brazil (and elsewhere). Indeed, the correlation between Brazilian bond yields and Brazilian financials/BRL turned sharply negative during each of the past 3 systemic crises (Asia ‘98, Tech ‘02 & Lehman ’08) and is doing so again today.

The Latest Government Trust Fund To Go Bankrupt

Earlier this week I told you about Social Security’s Disability Insurance Trust Fund (DI), which will become insolvent in a matter of months.  The DI problem (just like the rest of Social Security) has been a long time coming.  But rather than form some meaningful solution, Congress has instead opted to commit financial fraud by commingling DI monies together with the other Social Security funds. Now comes the Highway Trust Fund. The difference between DI and the Highway Trust fund is that this one won’t be insolvent in a matter of years or months. Their own data shows that it may very well be toast… today.