BOTTOM LINE: The President’s proposal is larger than expected, with spending proposals and tax cuts both somewhat greater than expected. This proposal does not imply a significant shift in the fiscal restraint in 2012, but it is consistent with our expectation that the payroll tax cut will be extended, and the fact that some of the new proposals involve additional tax cuts increases the probability that Congress will enact them.
In my opinion, the Swiss and Brazilian moves signaled the true beginning of the global currency wars. The depreciation race to the bottom has begun. Trade wars will be next. This is just getting started. Once FX interventions fail, governments suffering from falling exports will attempt to protect local champions via protective taxes, tariffs and the limiting of certain imports. Affected governments and industries will retaliate for their own loss of exports and so on and so forth. Welcome to the currency wars....Bottom line: now is a great time to get out of govt paper and many miles away from the large US and European banks. I am a broken record on this but you should own gold and silver miners, fertilizer companies, oil companies and water companies. Some technology stocks could make sense and reasonable exposure to Asia and Latam. Corporate bonds of companies providing any of the products listed above (gold/silver, fertilizers, oil and water) makes a ton of sense. I would avoid the large multi-nationals here as I think trade wars are coming and their cash flows from foreign operations are about to come under fire.
Following today's New York Times invasion of CNBC, where two of its most irrelevant columnists are now part of CNBC's most irrelevant hourly block so at least it is symmetric, Rick Santelli and "The Earth is flat...but I sure am round" author Tom Friedman had a choice exchange of words which culminated with Rick Santelli finally telling the world's most overhyped patron saint of globalization the bitter truth. In the meantime, not even the very non-flat Friemdan had an answer to Santelli's very simple question: is Social Security a ponzi scheme... And while we are there, we wonder just what noun would be used to describe Friemdan if asked if the entire Keynesian model is an even bigger ponzi.
Yesterday we documented that the by now widely bashed Operation Twist has been a failure before it was even launched as confirmed by recent trends in mortgage refinancing, or more specifically, lack thereof. Today, none other than market (and alleged bar) veteran Art Cashin confirms precisely what we said: that the one goal of the Twist - to get mortgage rates lower and refinancing higher - is and will be a failure. Again, it is very unfortunate that what is by now glaringly obvious to all will never become clear to the Fed until after the economy has finally been pushed over the precipice.
EUR/USD traded lower during the European session as the market looked ahead to ECB Trichet’s press-conference following the rate-decision, where some analysts expect the central bank to portray a dovish tone. In other forex news, after trading lower for a vast majority of the session, GBP received a boost across the board after the BoE refrained from further monetary easing this month. The BoE kept its benchmark interest rate and asset purchase facility unchanged at 0.50% and GBP 200bln, respectively, as expected. Elsewhere, European equities traded higher during the session on anticipation of monetary easing by the ECB today. Financials traded higher, with outperformance seen in the Italian FTSE MIB and Spanish IBEX 35 indices, after the Italian Senate and the French lower house of Parliament approved measures to strengthen the EFSF. However, DAX came under pressure following a sharp decline in German exports. Moving into the North American open, apart from the ECB’s rate announcement followed by Trichet’s press-conference, markets look ahead to key economic data from the US in the form of jobless claims and trade balance. Canadian trade balance and housing data is also scheduled for release later. In fixed income, 3-, 10-, and 30-year Note refunding announcement from the US is due later, whereas markets will keep a close eye on comments from Fed’s Bernanke.
New research from Dr Constantin Gurdgiev, Head of Research with St Columbanus AG, member of the investment committee of GoldCore and the adjunct lecturer in finance in Trinity College, Dublin, questions the widely held belief that retail investors are “piling into” gold in a speculative frenzy. “The U.S. Mint data on sales of gold coins suggests that we are not in the last days of the ‘bubble’,” finds Gurdgiev. Buyers of gold bullion coins such as the US Mint’s gold eagles are store of value buyers and sometimes collectors, Gurdgiev points out. Most buyers of gold coins are motivated not by a return on capital but by a return of capital and by wealth preservation. Gurdgiev points out that “gold coins are traditionally held by retail investors as portable units to store wealth. Due to this, plus demand from collectors, gold coins are less liquid and represent more of a pure ‘store of value’ than a speculative instrument.” The data shows that there has not been a dramatic increase in demand for the US Mint’s Gold Eagles with annual demand in 2011 set to be some 1,275,000 oz which is below the levels since back in 1986-1987, in 1998-1999 and more recently in 2009 when demand was 1,435,000 oz. Gurdgiev excellent article concludes that the data and evidence from the US Mint regarding the “behaviourally anchored, longer-term demand for gold coins as wealth preservation tool for smaller retail investors” does not “appear to support the view of a dramatic over-buying of gold by the fabled speculatively crazed retail investors that some media commentators are seeing nowadays.”
Wimpy was a glutton, and would consume burgers at a ferocious rate but could rarely pay for his habit. The phrase implies the underlying feeling that the person will unlikely actually pay for the hamburger (or whatever) on Tuesday (or ever, for that matter). Does that describe the United States of America in general and specifically our Keynesian President Barack Obama? Obama’s speech tomorrow night is no longer a secret. For whatever reason, the White House purposely leaks the major themes of the speech. Based on the Bloomberg article below I’d say my article from two weeks ago anticipating Obama’s plan is about 99% on the mark. How stupid and gullible can the American people be? One month ago Obama signed a supposed $2.1 Trillion deficit cutting bill over ten years with 60% of the identified cuts between 2018 and 2021 (TUESDAY). A full 1% of the total cuts ($21 billion) were slated for 2012. The left wing libtards screamed like a stuck pig about these horrific cuts that would destroy the American economy and starve orphans and old people. Paul Krugman’s head started to spin and green vomit was projected all over the NYT press office. Well our cost cutting, spending focused, deficit hawk president (WIMPY) held the line on spending for exactly 30 days. He is asking for $300 billion of burgers for 2012 and he promises to pay for them at some time in the future (after his hoped for 2nd term is up in 2016). The balls on this guy are immense. Not only that, but its the same bullshit he’s been peddling for two and a half years.
Presenting the chart of Greek 1 Year bonds. Looking at this alone, one might get the feeling that not all that much is fixed in Europe, whose weakest link is about to file for bankruptcy any minute.
As bizarre as it is to say, but yesterday felt like a short squeeze in the US. In spite of SPX finishing down 9 points, the price action felt like shorts getting squeezed. How can that make sense? Well, anyone who set a short ahead of Jackson Hole or just after the speech, likely set it in the 1130-1160 range. The memory of stocks rallying up to 1228 is too fresh in everyone's mind, so shorts were nervous, and longs may have been set too, as hope remained that Obama, Bernanke, Trichet, and Merkel would say or do things to support the market. I believe yesterday's bounce from the lows, then late day 10 point down and back up swing cleaned up a lot of shorts, so the market is much more balanced at 1175 than it was at 1175 at Jackson Hole time. This gives us a lot more ability to trade lower. Maybe it is too bizarre to believe that we can have a short squeeze on a massively down day, but it felt like that, and it feels like people are positioned less bearish than they feel. With nothing resolved in Europe, and some signs of continued deterioration, the market is more vulnerable to a sell-off. My favorite spin yesterday was that the US will muddle along even if Europe is in trouble. Wasn't it just a few months ago that analysts were saying it is okay if the US does poorly, because over half of S&P 500 profits come from overseas? Weren't profits being enhanced because companies were selling things in Europe and translating those profits back into dollars at favorable exchange rates? Is that story gone and now globalization doesn't matter?
Gold Falls 2% in Minutes In Asian Trade – Global Currency Wars Resume and Markets Digest German DecisionSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/07/2011 07:25 -0400
Gold closed in New York at $1,870.70/oz yesterday and then traded sideways prior to sharp selling in Asian trading saw gold fall 2.3% or nearly $50 in minutes ($1,871/oz at 0514 GMT to a low of $1,827/oz at 0523 GMT). The price fall was odd as there was no breaking news or ostensible reasons for the sell off and other markets were unchanged at the time. Speculation was that the falls were technical in nature after stop losses were triggered. However, Asian traders spoke of some 4,000 lots of gold being ‘dumped’ on the COMEX and of a “large sell order”. This would suggest that the sellers may not have been profit motivated and official selling may have been involved. After the Swiss franc intervention and currency debasement yesterday, market participants are wary of further official government and central bank intervention. With further gains for the Swiss franc artificially capped (at least in the short term), it would be naïve to exclude the possibility of intervention in the gold market and a continuing strategic capping of the price. “The start of full-on currency wars has started in earnest,” said Maurice Pomery, chief executive at Strategic Alpha, quoted in the front page of the Financial Times today. “After currency wars come trade wars and as we see the exporting world pressured as the developed world contracts, tensions will rise.” Central banks, from the SNB to the Bank of Japan, are openly intervening in the currency markets and devaluing their currencies and therefore may be surreptitiously intervening in the gold market.
The global consumer society funded by credit is in its end-game, and is the "Central State as guarantor of private consumption" model in which governments borrow/print vast sums of fiat currency to distribute to their citizenry to prop up consumption. Once exports go away, then domestic economies the world over implode. Ironically, perhaps, the one nation which doesn't depend on exporting its surplus production for its stability is the U.S. This is one reason why the Swiss pegging their fiat franc to the Euro will fail to hold back the ceaseless tide eroding the Euro. You can play games with currency pegs for awhile, but ultimately the value and utility of a fiat currency is established by trade, energy and the geopolitical issues outlined above. If we don't understand trade flows, surplus production, the surplus in labor and the resultant decline in its share of national income, credit and currencies in this Marxist-inspired historical perspective, we cannot make sense of the financial/political crises which are sweeping over the global economy. The end-game is at hand, and we need models that are up to the task of explaining the vast forces now in play.
Currency markets have seen massive volatility this morning after the Swiss National Bank decision to fix the Swiss franc to the euro. Just prior to the announcement, spot gold for immediate delivery had risen to a new record nominal high of $1,921.15/oz in early morning trading in Europe. Then just before 0900 hours GMT came the news that the Swiss National Bank has decided to fix the country's exchange rate at 1.20 Swiss francs per euro. The SNB indicated it would buy an unlimited amount of euros regardless of the risk to maintain that value. In a matter of minutes, gold fell 3% from the high of $1,921.15 to an inter day low of $1,862.72. It then recovered as quickly and surged back to over $1,912/oz. Gold’s London AM fix this morning was USD 1,891.00, EUR 1,330.75, GBP 1,172.86 per ounce. Gold fixed lower in all currencies (USD 1,896.50, EUR 1,341.13, GBP 1,174.67 per ounce). The SNB announced the currency fix because of what it called "the current massive overvaluation of the Swiss franc." It said it will "no longer tolerate" an exchange rate below the minimum rate of 1.20 francs, which it said is still high.
Bring Out Your Dead - UBS Quantifies Costs Of Euro Break Up, Warns Of Collapse Of Banking System And Civil WarSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/05/2011 20:15 -0400
Any time a major bank releases a report saying a given course of action is too costly, too prohibitive, too blonde, or simply too impossible, it is nearly guaranteed that that is precisely the course of action about to be undertaken. Which is why all non-euro skeptics are advised to shield their eyes and look away from the just released report by UBS (of surging 3 Month USD Libor rate fame) titled "Euro Break Up - The Consequences." UBS conveniently sets up the straw man as follows: "Under the current structure and with the current membership, the Euro does not work. Either the current structure will have to change, or the current membership will have to change." So far so good. Yet where it gets scary is when UBS quantifies the actual opportunity cost to one or more countries leaving the Euro. Notably Germany. "Were a stronger country such as Germany to leave the Euro, the consequences would include corporate default, recapitalisation of the banking system and collapse of international trade. If Germany were to leave, we believe the cost to be around EUR6,000 to EUR8,000 for every German adult and child in the first year, and a range of EUR3,500 to EUR4,500 per person per year thereafter. That is the equivalent of 20% to 25% of GDP in the first year. " It also would mean the end of UBS, but we digress. Where it gets even more scary is when UBS, like many other banks to come, succumbs to the Mutual Assured Destruction trope made so popular by ole' Hank Paulson : "The economic cost is, in many ways, the least of the concerns investors should have about a break-up. Fragmentation of the Euro would incur political costs. Europe’s “soft power” influence internationally would cease (as the concept of “Europe” as an integrated polity becomes meaningless). It is also worth observing that almost no modern fiat currency monetary unions have broken up without some form of authoritarian or military government, or civil war." So you see: save the euro for the children, so we can avoid all out war (and UBS can continue to exist). The scariest thing, however, by far, is that for this report to have been issued, it means that Germany is now actively considering dumping the euro.