ETC

The Wisdom Of Looking Like An Idiot Today

Faith in the current system is as high as it has ever been, and folks don't want to hear otherwise. If you're one of those people who thinks it prudent to have intelligent discussion on some of these risks -- that maybe the future may turn out to be less than 100% awesome in every dimension -- you're probably finding yourself standing alone at cocktail parties these days. A helpful question to ask yourself is: if I could talk to my 2009 self, what would s/he advise me to do? Don't put yourself in a position to relearn that lesson so soon after the last bubble. Exercise the wisdom to look like an idiot today.

One "Big" Problem With Bitcoin...

Bitcoin is on fire. Mainstream media coverage is everywhere. No doubt, digital currency is a growing trend in Latin America… particularly in neighboring Argentina where the government has been nationalizing everything that isn’t nailed down. As a result, Bitcoins in Argentina frequently trade for more than 30% higher than in neighboring countries… presenting a rather interesting arbitrage opportunity. With all the mainstream attention, though, Bitcoin has been building its share of detractors. Most of these pieces roll out the same tired points– that nobody knows anything about the mysterious programmer who put it together… that it’s too volatile… etc. But, for the US investor, there is one big issue that remains entirely unclear...

Another Central Bank Warns Of Bitcoin Risks

First the ECB, then the Fed, and now the Dutch central bank have come out and explicitly warned of the dangers of virtual currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin. Their explicit statement this morning, raising questions about deposit guarantees, central issuer responsibility, and volatility do their best to inform potential users (or traders) of the alternative currency that it is the devil incarnate. It seems, despite the mainstream media's guffawing at the swings and outrageous fortune in the market's early days, that the powers that be see these crypto-currencies as anything but benign.

America's Excuse Book: Take Your Choice, Victim Or Heartless Hypocrite

Here's your Excuse Book, America. There's something for almost everyone. Luckily, there is still an infinite abundance of excuses, guilt-tripping, victimhood, rage against those with "more" (never mind what they sacrificed to build it) and denial of choice, consequence, risk and fact. Sadly, there are consequences to the pursuit of victimhood and the denial of will, choice, consequence, risk and fact, and they will be consequential indeed.

Metallic Money (Gold/Silver) vs. Credit Money: Know The Difference

You've probably read many articles about money - what it is (store of value and means of exchange) and its many variations (metal, paper, etc.). But perhaps the most important distinction to be made in our era is between metallic money and credit money. As the following 16 reasons make very clear, it is no exaggeration to say that the transition from gold money to credit money changes everything. The key distinction of all these important differences is the ephemeral nature of credit-money (and any form of fiat currency). History teaches us that a financial-political crisis of sufficient magnitude reveals the underlying value of credit-money - i.e. zero - in a brief but cataclysmic loss of faith/trust.

Citi "Skeptical Of The Sustainability Of This Uptrend"

As the S&P 500 continues to make higher highs, Citi's FX Technicals group attempts to identify important levels to watch. As they have highlighted before, while they respect the price action and the fact that the markets are making higher highs, there is an underlying degree of skepticism surrounding the sustainability of this uptrend from a more medium term perspective. Important levels/targets on the S&P 500 converge between 1,806 and 1,833. A convincing rally through this range (weekly close above) may open the way for a test of the 1,990 area (coincidentally the Fed balance-sheet-implied levels for end-2014); however, at this stage they are watching closely over the coming weeks as we approach the New Year.

The Top Ten Market Mysteries

To paraphrase Mark Twain, "It isn't the stuff you don’t know that will kill you – it's the stuff you're sure about but is totally wrong that will do you real harm."  As a corollary to this fateful phrase, Convergx's Nick Colas has collected a list of market "knowledge" that is questionable at best and harmful at worst.

Guest Post: Take The Money And Run: China's Ill-Gotten Wealth Flees Overseas

The first thing to understand about China is there is always a front door and a back door to everything. The front door is what's presented to the outside world; the back door is for everything that doesn't fit the PR image created by the front door. The front door presents positive "face," the back door is for everything that would "lose face," so it's hidden and never discussed, except in private, and only with trusted family or friends. The front door is covered with official pronouncements of "the China Dream" and blustery demands of hegemony, but the back door is choked with members of the financial/political Elite fleeing China and taking their wealth with them.

Guest Post: Inflation Is Raging – If You Know Where To Look

Most people – certainly most governments and economists – define inflation as a general rise in prices. But this is wrong. Inflation is an increase in the money supply, of which a rising general price level is just one possible result – and not the most common one. More often, excessive money creation shows up as asset bubbles, where the new money, instead of flowing equally to all the products that are for sale at a given time, flow disproportionately into the ‘hottest’ asset classes. In each case, mainstream economists and government officials pointed to modest consumer price inflation as a sign that things were fine. And in each case they were simply looking in the wrong place and completely missing the destabilizing effects of an inflating money supply. Now we’re at it again, with economists, legislators and central bankers using low consumer price inflation as a rationale for even easier money, while ignoring epic bubbles in sovereign bonds, equities, high-end real estate and collectibles around the world. A chart tracking the tangible asset classes of the super-rich would show all lines going parabolic - except one, gold - for now.

Taking Stock Of The 21st Century: What's Fundamentally Different

Anyone suggesting that things are unraveling in fundamental ways quickly encounters a standard reflex response: "same as it ever was."

  • Environmental degradation? Same as it ever was: humans have been trashing the environment for thousands of years.
  • The influence of money in politics? Same as it ever was: money has always been the mother's milk of politics.
  • The dominance of central bankers? Same as it ever was: the banks and the Federal Reserve have been colluding for decades. Income inequality? Same as it ever was: there will always be rich and poor, etc.
  • The rise of the National Security State/Empire? Same as it ever was: Manifest Destiny, etc.

History lessons are all well and good, but this constant refrain of "same as it ever was" is actually a pernicious form of perception management, i.e. propaganda. The desperation is obvious, and so is the agenda: mask the reality that things are unraveling, and that it's no longer "same as it ever was."