We're doomed, doomed, I tell you.
Josh Barro of Bloomberg has an interesting theory. According to him, conservatives in modern day America have become so infatuated with the school of Austrian economics that they no longer listen to reason. It is because of this diehard obsession that they reject all empirical evidence and refuse to change their favorable views of laissez faire capitalism following the financial crisis. Basically, because the conservative movement is so smitten with the works of Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek, they see no need to pose any intellectual challenge to the idea that the economy desperately needs to be guided along by an “always knows best” government; much like a parent to a child. CNN and Newsweek contributor David Frum has jumped on board with Barro and levels the same critique of conservatives while complaining that not enough of them follow Milton Friedman anymore.
To put this as nicely as possible, Barro and Frum aren’t just incorrect; they have put their embarrassingly ignorant understandings of Austrian economics on full display for all to see.
Germany's Bundesbank confirmed yesterday that the German gold reserves are held overseas by the Federal Reserve, the Bank of England and the Banque de France. The German parliament, the Bundestag, has been examining the accounting of German gold reserves at the Bundesbank. The parliament's Budget Committee, one of the most powerful committees in the German parliament, had requested a critical report by the Federal Audit Office. "The decision has been unanimous," the paper quoted the Christian Social Union budget expert Herbert Frankenhauser. The newspaper report alleged "account cheating" regarding the German gold reserves. According to a Bild report, the federal auditing office complained of "inadequate diligence of the accounting of the gold reserves, which are stored in some foreign countries. Repatriation of the gold reserves is encouraged.” The Bundesbank confirmed that it, like many central banks, keeps part of its reserves in vaults at foreign central banks and said some of its gold is held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the Banque de France and the Bank of England. It declined to say how much gold in total is held overseas or how much gold is stored with the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Banque de France. The Bundesbank statement said it had complete confidence in the integrity of the central banks where the gold is held. "From these central banks, the German Bundesbank annually gets confirmation of the gold holdings in troy ounces as a basis for its accounting," the Bundesbank’s statement said.
Jim Rogers is hedging his gold (and silver) positions reflecting that this is normal, following such a tremendous run, and that this is good for the precious metal in the long-run. In his discussion with Maria Bartiromo this afternoon, he notes India's anti-gold 'protectionism' (and its potential balance of payments issues) that are trying to force the hoarding into risky 'productive' assets (as others might say). The immutable commodity maven suggests JPMorgan (and its peers) could be behind the drops in the overall commodity complex as the uncertainty of their positions (and liquidation potential to raise cash as bank examiners begin their forensics) becomes more important. He holds the USD, which he hates; has a number of equity shorts; and is most fearful of banks - specifically admitting he is a serial seller of calls on JPMorgan. His advice, and perhaps Maria should look into it given their ratings recently, is to become a farmer; own farmland; and speculate on agriculture. On the dismal 'ethical' state of our leaders and management, the thoughtful Rogers opines, "You can read world history for decades. There are always people doing things wrong. We have not changed our human nature and we will continue to have scandals and problems" and in a follow-up to CNBC's standard 'money-on-the-sidelines' argument he crushes the money-honey's dreams: "Finance had a great 30 years. That's finished. Now to advance, we have too many people, too many MBAs, too much leverage and too many governments that don't like us". A must-see rebuttal to the 'normal' CNBC hopium with more on China's slowdown, a US recession, Europe and a Greek exit, QE3, and 'tractors'.
'Gold Bullion or Cash' Shows Buffett, Roubini, Krugman Mistaken; Faber, Rogers, Bass, Einhorn, Gross CorrectSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/24/2012 07:33 -0500
Currency debasement of all major currencies is happening today on a scale never before seen in history. Yet there continues to be a complete lack of awareness amongst the majority in the western world as to the risks posed by our currency monetary and financial system. There continues to be a lack of knowledge and indeed often wilful ignorance regarding gold. Indeed, some comments on gold are so ignorant of the historical and academic record that they have all the hallmarks of crude anti-gold propaganda – and will be seen as such in time. Gold is a proven safe haven asset and currency. Despite much recent academic evidence and the historical record showing this and despite voluminous articles, research and evidence, (evidence succinctly summarised in the video 'Gold Bullion or Cash'), there continue to be frequent anti gold outbursts by some of the most respected and trusted people in the western financial and economic world. Such attacks on gold have come from men such as Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini and more recently Warren Buffett. Alan Greenspan correctly wrote in 1966 that "an almost hysterical antagonism toward the gold standard is one issue which unites statists of all persuasions”. Today, an almost hysterical antagonism towards gold bullion as a diversification and as a store of wealth alternative to fiat currencies unites beneficiaries of the current status quo – both intellectual beneficiaries and material beneficiaries. That status quo is a massively leveraged and insolvent monetary, financial and economic system.
While Marc Faber shares the usual stock of insightful market commentary, together with timing inflection points, and extended thoughts in the attached Bloomberg TV clip, it is the fact that he has officially joined Bill Gross, and so many others, in supporting the candidacy of Ron Paul as president. It is rather sad that only those who see beyond the surface of the current pyramid scheme facade, are bold enough to endorse the only man who is right for the White House. Fast forward to 15 minutes into the video to hear Marc Faber: "Ron Paul would be a very good president."
Mike Krieger submits: "I’ve always loved history. Even all the way back to grade school I remember it being my favorite subject. Very early on I noticed certain patterns in history and I wondered why they occurred. When I was first exposed to European history, I recall being absolutely floored by how certain countries could become so rich and powerful and then subsequently collapse so stunningly and rapidly. The one that really boggled my mind was Spain - the homeland of my maternal grandfather who I never met. Here was a country that conquered and viciously looted essentially all South America other than Brazil (thanks to the pope being magnanimous enough to grant that part of the world to Portugal in the Treaty of Tordesillas), Mexico, Central America and parts of the United States. The gold and especially silver that was taken back to Spain was the stuff of legend, yet almost at the same time they had defeated the native peoples overseas their kingdom at home was crumbling. Not to bore anyone with too much history, but by the mid 1500s the Spanish had essentially conquered the Aztecs (Mexico) and the Incas (Peru). At the time, the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan was estimated to be larger than any city in Europe. Despite these tremendous “successes” and the riches that came with them, the battle of Rocroi in Northern France in 1643 less than one hundred years later marked the end of Spanish dominance in Europe. What is so fascinating to me is that while the conquistadors were out raping and pillaging halfway around the world the domestic economy was experiencing economic crisis. There were episodes of major currency debasements in the homeland as the crown was forced to fight wars on their borders as well as fund the excursions abroad. It is important to note that the collapse came pretty quickly as it was only in 1627 when things were still looking pretty good for the empire that The Count-Duke Olivares famously stated: “God is Spanish and fights for our nation these days.” Does this story sound familiar?"
- Market talk of a French sovereign downgrade continues to do the rounds – Unconfirmed
- German Unemployment Change (000's) (Dec) M/M -22K vs. Exp. -10K (Prev. -20K, Rev. to -23K)
- EU says the commission and member states have submitted amendments for new EU treaty
Continuing our tradition of listing what according to Zero Hedge readers were the key news events of the year for the third year in a row (2009 and 2010 can be found here and here), we present, as is now customary, the most popular posts of the year as determined by the number of page views, or said otherwise - by the readers themselves. So without further ado, here are this year's top 20.
Typically limited to 90 second soundbite-gathering exercises on mainstream financial media, Australia's Finance News Network gives Jim Rogers the chance to discuss much more broadly his outlook not just for 2012 but beyond. Surprised by the false optimism he sees globally, he is not concerned that consensus is too bearish, and worries that the political pressure and central banker un-independence will inevitably lead to more and more money printing. We have discussed the kick-the-can thesis extensively but Rogers moves from the desire-to-print to the consequences while covering Ron Paul and the US election, the myth of government job creation, his potentially controversial view of the Euro (and separately the Euro-zone) - all the while reminding us that he expects at least another lost decade for the US and Europe as Japan ebbs ever lower. With a view to both his geographical location and his investments, the global commodity bull remains optimistic that a Chinese slowdown will not be the end of the Asian economy (as we see in Western economies) but is broadly short equities around the world while urging investors to own real assets. Summing up, Rogers notes "...the problems are going to continue to get worse until somebody solves the basic underlying problem of too much spending and too much debt... [governments and central bankers] are not going to do anything until there’s a serious crisis or semi-crisis."
Rogers took a swipe at the Fed, central banks money printing and rating agencies, while discussing his latest investment strategy
A bullish argument? In three words: Print More Money.
Paulson & Co. sold a third of the their SPDR holding which is quite a large liquidation. However, Paulson remains bullish on gold as was seen in positive comments he made recently so it would seem likely that this sale may have been an effort to raise cash after his fund suffered sharp losses in the last quarter. Some hedge funds sold the ETF to cover losses during a rout that erased $7.8 trillion from the value of global equities since May. Soros Fund Management LLC held 48,350 in the SPDR Gold Trust as of Sept. 30, compared with 42,800 shares at the end of the second quarter. The increase in Soros gold holdings are meager at some $10 million worth but suggest that Soros is not as bearish on gold as the multitude of news headlines, regarding his comments regarding gold being “the ultimate asset bubble”, would suggest. Soros added 145,000 call options and 120,000 puts in SPDR Gold in the third quarter. This confirms that Soros is not as bearish on gold as some would have us believe. There is also the real possibility that Soros’ fund, like other hedge funds, may have opted to own allocated bullion rather than a gold trust. Some hedge funds have opted for allocated gold bullion due to it being more discreet with a lack of disclosure (no quarterly filings), due to the lower long term costs and due to allocated accounts having less counter party risk than a trust with many indemnifications. Steven Cohen’s SAC Capital Advisors LP and New York- based Touradji Capital Management LP established gold positions in the third quarter. SAC Capital, which manages $14 billion and is based in Stamford, Connecticut, held 184,601 shares in the SPDR Gold Trust as of Sept. 30. Paul Touradji had 45,000 shares compared with none on June 30, the filings show.