The height of absurdity in yesterday’s hearing probably came during the testimony from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in which the agency’s chief cited the 'benefits' of digital currencies, including anonymity, simple, easy to navigate, lower fees than the conventional financial system, globally accessible, can be used as both a store of value and medium of exchange, security, etc. Yet in listing all of these benefits, FinCEN’s chief was actually trying to make a case 'against' Bitcoin! In her mind, only criminal terrorists want low-fee, secure, globally accessible money. So we can expect more hearings, more regulation, more disclosures. At least, in the Land of the Free. However, on the other side of the world, though, they’re not afraid of Bitcoin.
- J.P. Morgan, U.S. Reach Historic Settlement (WSJ)
- OECD cuts global growth forecast (AP)
- Guess the profit margin: Wal-Mart Touts $98 TV as Holiday Seen Weakest Since 2009 (BBG)
- Republicans defy threat, block another Obama judicial pick (Reuters)
- Fed Ponders How to Temper Tapering Without Rate Increase (BBG)
- Wall Street uses 'merchant' workaround to cling to commodity assets (Reuters)
- PBOC to ‘Basically’ End Normal Yuan Intervention, Zhou Says (BBG)
- Italy’s leader warns Germany of rise of anti-European sentiment (FT)
- Yellen Nomination for Fed Chairman to Get Vote This Week (BBG)
- As U.S. default threatened, banks took extraordinary steps (Reuters)
- NSA vowed repeatedly to fix its collection errors (AP)
In 1997, the SE Asian Tigers all faced severe economic stresses, partially triggered by a primarily foreign capital-funded massive real estate bubble in Thailand. Today the EXACT same thing is happening as untempered foreign investment into Thailand’s real estate market has created not a “soaring” real estate market as economists always incorrectly explain them, but massive real estate market distortions better known as a bubble.
Within the last seven years 11 countries (Poland (2006), Russia (2008), Finland (2009), France (2009), Sweden (2010), Iceland (2011), Spain (2011), Denmark (2012), Singapore (2012), Canada (2012) and Japan (2013) have realized the need to appoint their own Arctic ambassadors. These ambassadors are used for analysis and situational assessments in the emerging “grand Arctic game,” with the ultimate aim of exploiting mineral resources and using the Arctic route for shipping cargo from Europe to Asia. At present, China’s Arctic initiatives suggest that Beijing is eager to camouflage its true interests in the region with environmental monitoring, Arctic life protection and concerns about indigenous peoples. At the same time, Beijing is dropping hints that China is not satisfied with the current balance of power in the Arctic region.
The third stage of bull markets, the mania phase, can last longer and go farther that logic would dictate. However, the data suggests that the risk of a more meaningful reversion is rising. It is unknown, unexpected and unanticipated events that strike the crucial blow that begins the market rout. Unfortunately, due to the increased impact of high frequency and program trading, reversions are likely to occur faster than most can adequately respond to. This is the danger that exists today. Are we in the third phase of a bull market? Most who read this article will say "no." However, those were the utterances made at the peak of every previous bull market cycle.
Yesterday, the World Gold Council released its Gold Demand Trends 2013 Report which demonstrates quite clearly that the Chinese continue to accumulate gold; gold continues to flow east to both government and consumer channels.
Allegations of JP Morgan’s use of clever tactics to bribe Chinese officials recently received mainstream attention when Salon journalist Alex Pareene mentioned it in a comical and classic interview on CNBC (you need to watch the video before reading this) with presstitute Maria Bartiromo. When Mr. Pareene mentioned these claims against the TBTF bank, CNBC mocked him. Howeverer, this article from the New York Times details how JP Morgan paid $75,000 a month to an obscure consulting firm called Fullmark Consultants, which had only two employees. The firm was run by a woman named Lily Chang, which in reality was the alias used by Wen Jiabao’s only daughter Wen Ruchun. Wen Jiabao was the Prime Minister of China at the time.
In the Chinese bastion of capitalism, where there is demand, there will be supply. And in this case, the supply of gold storage is to be found in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, where the physical gold ends up in custodial limbo as it is not considered "imported" by China. In fact, the gold is theoretically in no man's land and as such can be reexported out of China, or sent deeper into the mainland, to China's banks or private buyers, on a whim. Of course, all that is on paper. If and when the Communist Party says "enough" all the gold in the FTZ would be "reappropriated." Bloomberg reports, that a gold vault that can store 2,000 metric tons, double China’s projected consumption this year, opened in Shanghai this month as owner Malca-Amit Global Ltd. seeks to benefit from rising demand in Asia’s largest economy.
"It will end badly," Marc Faber explains in this brief CNBC clip, "the question is whether we will have a minor economic crisis and then huge money printing or get into an inflationary spiral first." If you thought that "we had a credit crisis in 2008 because we had too much credit in the economy," then Faber notes "there is that much more credit as a percent of the economy now." Of course, as Bill Fleckenstein recently noted, as long as stocks are rising, investors remain blinded by the exuberance, but as Faber concludes, "we are in a worse position than we were back then," and inflation is already here...
The operator of Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will double the pay of contract workers as part of a revamp of operations at the station, after coming under criticism for its handling of clean-up efforts. Reuters reports, hazard pay for the thousands of workers on short-term contracts will be increased from 10,000 yen ($100) to 20,000 yen a day, Tokyo Electric Power Co said in a statement on Friday. The plan released on Friday also lays out improvements to the management of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water building up, which comes from groundwater mixing with coolant poured over melted uranium rods. All of this as the riskiest phase of the decommissioning of Fukushima begins soon...
As we are desperate not to miss the boat on the "Top XX Under YY" meme that is dominating social media clickbaiters currently, the following image - spotted in the playroom at a Hong Kong pre-school - sums up the 'world' in which we live so perfectly. And yes, e*Trade nailed it with their "baby" commercials.
With better US labor market data, the key event in the upcoming week could well be the Yellen nomination hearing in the Senate Banking Committee. Yellen will likely deliver brief prepared remarks followed by questions from members of the committee. Yellen is expected to be relatively circumspect in discussing potential future Federal Reserve policy decisions in the hearings. Nonetheless, the testimony may help clarify her views on monetary policy and the current state of the economy. Yellen has not spoken publicly on either of these topics since the spring of this year. In addition to the nomination hearing, there will be a series of Fed speeches again, including one by Chairman Bernanke.
- Philippines Left Reeling in Wake of Storm (WSJ)
- Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures (RTRS)
- Race to Bottom Resumes as Central Bankers Ease Anew (BBG)
- U.S. Postal Service to deliver Amazon packages on Sundays (LA Times)
- Obama Stocks Among Best After Re-Election as Rally Tested (BBG)
- Health-Law Rollout Weighs on Obama's Ratings, Agenda (WSJ)
- Twitter in Celebrity Spat With Facebook as Rivalry Builds (BBG)
- Iran deputy industry minister shot dead (AFP)
- Financier of Taliban-linked group shot dead in Pakistan (RTRS)
- Obama: The Lonely Guy (Vanity Fair)
Recent activity in asset markets suggests dangerous bubbles are building everywhere. It's time to bunker down and we look at ways to best protect your capital.
The death of the dollar is coming, and it will probably be China that pulls the trigger. What you are about to read is understood by only a very small fraction of all Americans. Right now, the U.S. dollar is the de facto reserve currency of the planet. Most global trade is conducted in U.S. dollars, and almost all oil is sold for U.S. dollars. More than 60 percent of all global foreign exchange reserves are held in U.S. dollars, and far more U.S. dollars are actually used outside of the United States than inside of it. As will be described below, this has given the United States some tremendous economic advantages, and most Americans have no idea how much their current standard of living depends on the dollar remaining the reserve currency of the world. Unfortunately, thanks to reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve and the reckless accumulation of debt by the federal government, the status of the dollar as the reserve currency of the world is now in great jeopardy.