This Is Charlie Hebdo's Next Cover

On the cover: the Prophet Mohammed holding the now iconic "I Am Charlie" sign, with "All is forgiven" written in the background.

When Even Bloomberg Makes Fun Of China's Stock Bubble

"I'm not sure how long this rally will last," warns one Chinese securities analyst, but adds, Chinese investors "tend to ignore important fundamentals" anyway. When even mainstream media is reporting on the epic farce that is the explosion of retail interest in Chinese stocks (and the concomittant surge in stock prices), perhaps it is time for the 'greater fool' to pull back a little. Perhaps the 'exuberance' is best summed up by the following from a security guard for Beijing's subway system, "low-priced stocks are less risky - big drops won’t result in huge losses for me - I don’t know much about investing, but the stocks my friends recommended have been soaring." Trade accordingly...

The Achilles Heel Of The Global Status Quo: Deflation

That the global Status Quo is terrified of deflation is the background of every policy decision and official PR sound-bite. The reason behind this unremitting terror: deflation is the Achilles Heel of the global Status Quo. Rather than being the Monster Under the Bed in central bank nightmares, deflation is the natural result of a competitive economy experiencing productivity gains.

Peak Propaganda: Meet "Joyflation"

Everyone has heard of "inflation" and "deflation" and, when things go really bad and another recession is just around the corner coupled with soaring prices and plunging wages like in Japan for example, "stagflation." But have you heard about its optimistic, happy-go-lucky cousin?

Meet Joyflation!

The 'Golden Age Of The Central Banker' Has Reached "The Cult Phase"

We are observing the emergence of a new phase in The Golden Age of the Central Banker – the cult phase – to use the sociological lingo. Joseph Heller’s brilliant book provides the starting point, not only by calling attention to the prevalence and power of Catch-22’s in the investment world today, but also in the creation of a self-regulated, faith-based system of social behavior. A Catch-22 world is not a happy world, but it is a very stable world, at least on its own terms. Change is very unlikely to come from within, and internal market risk indicators are all quite benign. But external market risk indicators are all screaming red, as the global environment has rarely been this worrisome for political shocks, trade/forex shocks, and supply shocks with the scope and power to challenge the Central Banking gods.

1 Reported Dead, 84 Hospitalized After Smoke Fills Washington Metro Station - Live Feed

Local NBC, FOX, and CBS stations are confirming earlier reports of smoke (so far of an unknown origin) which filled L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station in Washington D.C. this afternoon. Early reports suggested minimal injuries but NBC Washington now confirms one woman died and 84 have been hospitalized. The cause of the smoke remains under investigation - firefighters are on the scene but did not immediately find a fire.

The Value Of Wealth

"We have to rethink our world just about from scratch. Or else. We’ve lived chasing the recovery carrot for years now, but the economy won’t recover; it can’t. There hasn’t been any real growth since at least the 1980s, the only thing there’s been is increasing debt levels that we mistook for growth." We need to do a lot more thinking, and take a far more critical look at ourselves, than we do at present. We’re not even playing it safe, we’re only playing it easy. And that’s just not enough.

Germany's Sinn Blasts Draghi: "Deflation Is Just A Pretext To Bailout Southern Europe"

Germany could end up in a position where it would be constitutionally bound to leave the euro area, warns the IFO economic institute's Hans-Werner Sinn, which would force "somebody to give in and that would be the ECB." Sinn blasts the looming decision of ECB QE as an excuse to help weaker nations, exclaiming, as Bloomberg reports, "the risk of deflation is just a pretext for quantitative easing, for hammering out a bailout program for southern Europe."

'Charlie Hebdo' & French Revolution: Setting Aside Emotion & Seeking Reason

Throughout history, there have been cases where this willingness to live together vanished because a big part of the population expresses a desire to live under different rules. What happened last week in Paris begs the question whether Western Europe faces this problem; i.e., does France and its neighbors have a part of their population that rejects the rules on which the nation is based, and wishes to build a nation under a different set of rules?

Lazard's Antonio "Tax-Inverter" Weiss Withdraws Treasury Nomination (But End-Arounds Senate For 'Counsel' Role)

It appears Lazard's investment banker Antonio Weiss' "help" in tax inversions was just too 'unpatriotic' to scare President Obama off at the last minute.

  • *ANTONIO WEISS SAID TO WITHDRAW NAME AS TREASURY NOMINEE
  • *WEISS SOUGHT TO AVOID LENGTHY CONFIRMATION PROCESS (how thoughtful?)

The White House exclaimed "opposition to Weiss was unjustfied," so perhaps it was his $203 million in assets just would not have played well with Obama's new vision for the future. However, he has managed to get a position as "counselor" - which does not require Senate approval.

Oil & The Clash Of Civilizations

It is at least well-understood that there are seasons in history, but they seem to have a mysterious, implacable dynamism that mere humans can only hope to ride like great waves, hoping to not get crushed. In the background of the present disturbances are not only the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, but the imminent collapse of the machinery that boosted up the greater Islamic economy of our time: the oil engine. These are the stresses that are boiling over into the West these days. The long war underway is a race to the bottom where the human project has to re-set the terms of a life above savagery.

Shale War Full Frontal

Despite Saudi prince bin Talal's explanations of the imbalances between supply and demand being the prime driver of lower oil prices, we thought a look at just where that over-supply is coming from might provide some context into the 'shale oil war'. As the following chart shows, since the start of 2014, rig counts in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and UAE have surged (just as they did in the mid-2000s). As of this week, US rig counts are now at 14 month lows as it appears clear that the core OPEC producers are intent on drowning the shale oil industry in excess supply.

2015: The Year Of The Slump?

There is compelling evidence that 2015 will see a global slump in economic activity. This being the case, financial and systemic risks will increase as evidence of the slump accumulates. It can be expected to undermine global equities, property and finally bond markets, which are currently all priced for economic stability. Even though these markets are increasingly controlled by central bank intervention, it is dangerous to assume this will continue to be the case as financial and systemic risks accumulate. Precious metals are ultimately free from price management by the state. Furthermore, they are the only asset class notably under-priced today, given the enormous increase in the quantity of fiat money since the Lehman crisis. In short, 2015 is shaping up to be very bad for fiat currencies and very good for gold and silver.

Since QE Ended, Stocks Are Unchanged, Treasury Yields Down 60bps

Today's extension of Friday's losses has erased all the post-End-QE3 gains for stocks as the S&P 500 catches back down towards the Fed's flat balance sheet. During the last 2 months, however, 30Y Treasury yields have plunged almost 60bps (back below 2.50% today)...