With US leaks about Israeli air strike on Syria, John Kerry stirring the civil war pot in Egypt, and the closure of US embassies across the Muslim world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Yemen, UAE, Algeria, Mauritania, Sudan, Israel (Tel Aviv) and Jordan), it appears something is afoot. To add to the intrigue, the US State Department just issued a worldwide travel alert for US citizens.
*STATE DEPARTMENT WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT EXPIRES AUGUST 31, 2013
*STATE DEPT ISSUES WORLDWIDE TRAVEL ALERT FOR U.S. CITIZENS
An Al-Qaeda threat has been posited but with no follow-up but we can't help but fear what we wondered about previously - the need for deficits to re-awaken (via some external event that no-one can 'un-patriotically' demur) providing more room for Bernanke to avoid his need for Taper.
Elliott Management's 22-page letter to investors has something for everyone as Paul Singer ascribes his uniquely independent wisdom. From the fragility of the financial system to the hubris of academic pretenders; from inflation's various devious impacts on assets and reality to the floundering of the world's bankers; from America's "cooked data" to the pending social unrest in Europe and the perils of centralized power, Singers stresses "the temptation to debase fiat currencies... means owning claims on paper money is an act of either faith or denial." Recent market movements, Singer warns "indicate a world on life-support," and "for every day, month and year that policymakers try to substitute failed, inappropriate and risky QE policies for pro-growth policies, the debt mounts, as does resentment among middle-income families that their situation is not improving." The fact of the matter is that "no government has ever reached fiscal 'nirvana,' yet our central bank (and its peers) continues to push the envelope of risk, confidence and inflation." Despite the confident and brave words in which they are wrapped, central bank actions currently seem underscored by quiet panic.
Indian philanthropist and cardiac surgeon, Devi Prasad Shetty is obsessed with making heart surgery affordable for millions of Indians. As Bloomberg notes, Shetty is not a public health official motivated by charity. He’s a heart surgeon turned businessman who has started a chain of 21 medical centers around India. By trimming costs, he has cut the price of artery-clearing coronary bypass surgery to 95,000 rupees ($1,583), half of what it was 20 years ago, and wants to get the price down to $800 within a decade. The same procedure costs $106,385 at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic. Of course, this will come as no surprise after we showed the incredible spread of the price of an appendectomy. “It shows that costs can be substantially contained,” notes the World Heart Federation, "it’s possible to deliver very high quality cardiac care at a relatively low cost." But, for Americans of course, when you have government footing the cost (and deficit spending), who cares?
As the President prepares to address Congress (and the nation) with his next new new 'better bargain' deal to secure the economic future for the US, we thought it appropriate to dust off the economic scorecard for how things are going under his old new deal. Obviously, the President of the United States is not really solely responsible for where we are economically. The condemnation, or praise, must be applied equally to all branches of government responsible for the fiscal and monetary policy decisions made. The problems that exist today were not due to just the last few years of excess but rather come as a result of more than 30 years of fiscal irresponsibility that spans both Republican and Democratic Administrations alike. However, since President Obama has taken the position of responsibility for "clearing away the rubble and getting us back to where we were", we can review the economic data to see whether, or not, this is indeed the case.
Last year, Senator Schumer (Democrat, N.Y.) famously told Fed chairman Ben Bernanke "You are the only game in town." Really, Senator? What about the real economy? Bernanke and the Fed's machinations are indeed the only game in town for the parasitic financiers, but unnoticed by the Senator, America's real economy is innovating away from the dead hand of the Fed and its toxic spew of free money to the predatory class. There's actually three games in town: the financier game the Fed is playing that will end in collapse, the Federal government's borrow-and-blow trillions of dollars game that will also end badly, and the real economy, where millions of people don't give a rat's rear-end about Bernanke's latest attempt to placate the financial Monster Id he has created.
"Perhaps the success that central bankers had in preventing the collapse of the financial system after the crisis secured them the public's trust to go further into the deeper waters of quantitative easing. Could success at rescuing the banks have also mislead some central bankers into thinking they had the Midas touch? So a combination of public confidence, tinged with central-banker hubris could explain the foray into quantitative easing. Yet this too seems only a partial explanation. For few amongst the lay public were happy that the bankers were rescued, and many on Main Street did not understand why the financial system had to be saved when their own employers were laying off workers or closing down." - Raghuram Rajan
If there is one chart that shows just how addicted the market has become to the Fed's soothing monthly bond bid come hell or high water, it is the following. It shows that on a rolling 6 month average, the Fed is now responsible for monetizing a record 70% of all net supply issued measured in 10 year equivalents. This represents a reliance on the market that is greater than ever before in history. It is somehow in this environment - when the Fed is monetizing more duration than ever on a relative basis - that the Fed believes it can wean the market off its support: a market that has never been more reliant on the Fed than it is now. And, hence, the Fed's Catch 22 - damned if you taper, damned if you don't.
Four words: financialization, debtocracy, diminishing returns. The entire global economy, developed and developing nations alike, is now dependent on cheap, abundant credit for everything: for "growth," for asset inflation, and ultimately for central state deficit spending, which props up all the cartels, rentier arrangements, fiefdoms and armies of toadies, lackeys, apparatchiks and embezzlers that suck off the Status Quo. The wheels fall off the entire financialized debtocracy wagon once yields rise.There's nothing mysterious about this.
This piece is timely as markets spit up the punch from Bernanke's bowl
Nike recently published a series of ads declaring “winning takes care of everything,” in reference to Tiger Woods’ recapture of the world #1 golfer ranking. The slogan went over with certain critics like an illegal ball drop. Many economists insist that “economic growth takes care of everything,” and the related debate is no less contentious than the Nike ad kerfuffle. Listening to some pundits, you would think there’s one group that appreciates economic growth while everyone else wants to see the economy crumble. It seems to me, though, that growth is just like winning – there’s no such thing as an anti-winning camp, nor is there an anti-growth camp. More fairly, much of the growth debate boils down to those who think mostly about long-run sustainable growth and those who advocate damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead growth. I’ll break off one piece of this and consider: How much of everything does growth take care of?
Earlier this month, in an article for “Project Syndicate” famous American economist Nouriel Roubini joined the chorus of those who declare that the multi-year run up in the gold price was just an almighty bubble, that that bubble has now popped and that it will continue to deflate. Gold is now in a bear market, a multi-year bear market, and Roubini gives six reasons (he himself helpfully counts them down for us) for why gold is a bad investment. His arguments for a continued bear market in gold range from the indisputably accurate to the questionable and contradictory to the simply false and outright bizarre. But what is most worrying, and most disturbing, is Roubini’s pathetic attempt to label gold bugs political extremists. It is evident from Roubini’s essay that he not only considers the gold bugs to be wrong and foolish, they also annoy him profoundly. They anger him. Why? – Because he thinks they also have a “political agenda”. Gold bugs are destructive. They are misguided and even dangerous people.
What you hear is a giant hissing sound. And what you get is capital destruction and wealth transfer.
There's no way to sugarcoat the dismal performance of the precious metals in recent months. But a revisitation of the reasons for owning them reveals no cracks in the underlying thesis for doing so. In fact, there are a number of new compelling developments arguing that the long heartbreak for gold and silver holders will soon be over.
Over the weekend we pointed out one of the more disturbing facets of the Snowden espionage affair: the covert, if massive (and very lucrative) symbiosis between private companies, who have explicitly opened up all private client data contrary to privacy disclosures, and a secretly uber-inquisitive government. We asked: "The reality is that while the NSA, which is a public entity through and through, is allowed and expected to do whatever its superiors tell it (i.e., the White House), how does one justify the complete betrayal of their customers by private corporations such as Verizon and AT&T? This may be the most insidious and toxic symbiosis between the public and private sector in the recent past." But while the quid was finally made public (if known by many long ago), the quo wasn't quite clear. It now is - the answer, as as always, is money. And not just any money, but in this specific case taxpayer money paid to either Google or Amazon by none other than the Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA for short. Lots of it.