By standards of previous generations, the middle class has been stripmined of income, assets and purchasing power. So what does it take to be middle class nowadays? A recent paper used Census data to discuss what sort of income it takes to qualify as middle class but income is not the only the metric - indeed, it can be argued that 12 other factors are more telling measures of middle class membership than income.
The Hong Kong branch of Spink & Son, a British firm originally founded in the mid-1600s, was putting a series of Bruce Lee memorabilia under the hammer. When the bidding for the first lot opened, the price immediately surpassed the auctioneer’s initial estimates. It was a frenzy. Now, we know that modern auctions are supposed to be a pure form of the free market– buyers from around the world meeting for the purpose ‘price discovery’, with the item eventually going to the highest bidder. Further, economists and university finance often teach that such markets are ‘efficient’, meaning that prices always reflect the most relevant information and are hence an accurate reflection of an asset’s value. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The auction was an emotional frenzy. It’s not an efficient market. It’s full of fear, euphoria, and aggression. The stock market is the same way. Even though just about every rational metric suggests that many global markets (especially the US) are absurdly overvalued, emotional investors keep bidding prices up.
Bitcoin could become a major means of payment for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money-transfer providers, BofAML notes in a report today, adding that as a medium of exchange, Bitcoin has clear potential for growth, in our view. Despite Greenspan's inability to find "value", BofAML prefers not to call the crypto currency a bubble, and assigns a maximum fair-value of $1,300, but does warn that the 100 fold increase in Bitcoin prices this year is at risk of running ahead of its fundamentals.
It is important that one owns physical gold and not paper or electronic gold which could be subject to bail-ins. Owning a form of paper gold and derivative gold such as an exchange traded fund (ETF) in which one is an unsecured creditor of a large number of custodians, who are banks which potential could be bailed in, defeats the purpose of owning gold.
Physical Gold, held in secure conferring outright legal ownership through bailment remains the safest way to own gold.
"In order for currencies to be 'exchangeable' they have to be backed by something," is the remarkably ironic initial comment from none other than debaser-of-the-entirely-fiat-dollar Alan Greenspan when asked about the "bubble in bitcoin," by Bloomberg TV's Trish Regan. Unable to "identify the intrinsic" backing of Bitcoin (or see bubbles in equity, credit, real estate, or greater fools) Greenspan is, apparently, capable of identifying Bitcoin "as a bubble," because "there is no fundamental means of "repaying' it by any means that is universally accepted." The farcical double-speak continues as the Maestro does a great job of making Bitcoin (which Ron Paul earlier noted could be the "destroyer of the dollar") look even better than the readily-printed fiat we meddle with every day.
First things first. Losing 39% of your purchasing power over the course of 13 years is criminal. This was purposely created by Greenspan/Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. We're quite sure that most Americans have not seen their wages go up by 39% since 2000; therefore the average American has lost ground. No matter how you cut it, Federal Reserve created inflation slowly but surely destroys the middle class and benefits the ruling class. Ben isn’t working for you. His mandate of stable prices has been disregarded. He does not have it contained.
The era of bondholder bailouts is ending and that of depositor bail-ins is coming.
In that context a move to increased allocation of savings including a prudent allocation of some 5% to 10% to precious metals, is a sensible policy.
Getting ready for Christmas? What’s Santa got in his sack for you this year? Well, if there’s one thing you should be preparing for, then it can only be the big crash of February 2014.
A world, in which former permabears David Rosenberg, Jeremy Grantham and now Hugh Hendry have thrown in the towel and gone bull retard, and where none other than the Chief Investment Officer of General Re-New England Asset Management - a company wholly-owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, has issued one of the direst proclamations about the future to date and blasts the Fed's role in creating the biggest mess in financial history, is truly upside down...
Even if you don't have a Nobel Prize, it should be glaringly apparent to anyone with half a brain - the financial markets have been soaring while the overall economy has been stagnating. Despite assurances from the mainstream media and the Federal Reserve that everything is just fine, many Americans are beginning to realize that we have seen this movie before. We saw it during the dotcom bubble, and we saw it during the lead up to the horrible financial crisis of 2008. So precisely when will the bubble burst this time? Nobody knows for sure, but without a doubt this irrational financial bubble will burst at some point. Remember, a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts, and the following are 15 signs that we are near the peak of an absolutely massive stock market bubble...
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.
As we explained over two months ago, and as the Fed is no doubt contemplating currently, the primary topic on the agenda of central bankers everywhere and certainly in the Marriner Eccles building, is how to boost inflation expectations as much as possible, preferably without doing a thing and merely jawboning "forward expectations" (or more explicitly through the much discussed nominal GDP targeting) in order to slowly but surely or very rapidly and even more surely, get to the core problem facing the developed world: an untenable mountain of debt, and specifically, inflating it away. Of course, higher rates without a concurrent pick up in economic activity means a stock market tumble, both in developed and emerging countries, as the Taper experiment over the summer showed so vividly, which in turn would crush what many agree is the Fed's only achievement over the past 5 years - creating and nurturing the "wealth effect" resulting from record high asset prices, which provides lubrication for financial conditions and permits the proper functioning of capital markets. Perhaps this is the main concern voiced by JPM's chief US economist Michael Feroli who today has issued an interesting piece titled simply enough: "Raising inflation expectations: a bad idea." Is this the first shot across the bow of a Fed which may announce its first taper as soon as two weeks from today, in order to gradually start pushing inflation expectations higher?
Now that the eminently trustworthy financial pundits are claiming the current stock market rally is good to go until 2016, it's appropriate to see where the market will be in 2016 if current trends hold.
"What keeps us up at night? Well I can’t speak for the others, having spoken too much already to please PIMCO’s marketing specialists, but I will give you some thoughts about what keeps Mohamed and me up at night. Mohamed, the creator of the “New Normal” characterization of our post-Lehman global economy, now focuses on the possibility of a” T junction” investment future where markets approach a time-uncertain inflection point, and then head either bubbly right or bubble-popping left due to the negative aspects of fiscal and monetary policies in a highly levered world. ... investors are all playing the same dangerous game that depends on a near perpetual policy of cheap financing and artificially low interest rates in a desperate gamble to promote growth. The Fed, the BOJ (certainly), the ECB and the BOE are setting the example for global markets, basically telling investors that they have no alternative than to invest in riskier assets or to lever high quality assets. “You have no other choice,” their policies insinuate.... Deep in the bowels of central banks research staffs must lay the unmodelable fear that zero-bound interest rates supporting Dow 16,000 stock prices will slowly lose momentum after the real economy fails to reach orbit, even with zero-bound yields and QE." - Bill Gross
- With website improved, Obama to pitch health plan (Reuters)
- Joe Biden condemns China over air defence zone (FT)
- Tally of U.S. Banks Sinks to Record Low (WSJ)
- Black Friday Weekend Spending Drop Pressures U.S. Stores (BBG)
- Cyber Monday Sales Hit Record as Amazon to EBay Win Shoppers (BBG)
- Ukraine's Pivot to Moscow Leaves West Out in the Cold (WSJ)
- Investment banks set to cut pay again despite rise in profits (FT)
- Worst Raw-Material Slump Since ’08 Seen Deepening (BBG)
- Democrats Face Battles in South to Hold the Senate (WSJ)
- Hong Kong reports 1st case of H7N9 bird flu (AP)
- In Fracking, Sand Is the New Gold (WSJ)