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Physical demand for coins and bars internationally continues and is the strongest since the immediate aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse on September 15, 2008, and the consequent global financial crisis.

Government mints, refiners and bullion dealers internationally are reporting demand as high as in the aftermath of the Lehman crisis.

Sentiment Muted Ahead Of Payrolls Report

While everyone's attention this morning will be focused on the sheer, seasonally-adjusted noise that is the monthly NFP report (keep in mind that any number +/- 200,000 of the actual, is entirely in the seasonal adjustments and is thus entirely in the eye of the Arima X 13 beholder), which is expected to print at 140,000, resulting in an unemployment rate of 7.6%, there were some events overnight worth noting. First, the China non-manufacturing PMI printed at 54.5 in April, down from 55.6, and tied with the lowest such print in two years. The biggest red flag was that New Orders dropped below 50, with the price index also declining sharply, indicating that either the Chinese slowdown is for real, and the national bank will have no choice but to ease unleashing inflation, or that the politburo wishes to telegraph to the world that China is slowing, because what goes on in China, and what data is released out of China are never the same thing. Elsewhere, in Europe Mario Draghi's henchmen were stuck in damage control mode, and Ewald Nowotny said markets over-interpreted a signal yesterday that the ECB would consider a deposit rate below zero. Policy makers have “no plan in this direction,” Nowotny said in an interview with CNBC today. This helped boost the EUR from its languishing levels in the mid 1.30s higher by some 50 pips following his statement.

Richard Koo On The Ineffectiveness Of Monetary Expansion

Nomura's Richard Koo destroys the backbone of the modern central bankers only tool in the tool-box in his latest paper. "As more and more people began to realize that increases in monetary base via QE during balance sheet recessions do not mean equivalent increases in money supply, the hype over QEs in the FX market is likely to calm down ...The only way quantitative easing can have a positive impact on economic activity is if the authorities’ purchase of assets from the private sector boosts asset prices, making people feel wealthier and thereby encouraging them to consume more. This is the wealth effect, often referred to by the Fed chairman Bernanke as the portfolio rebalancing effect, but even he has acknowledged that it has a very limitmed impact... In a sense, quantitative easing is meant to benefit the wealthy. After all, it can contribute to GDP only by making those with assets feel wealthier and encouraging them to consume more."

Desperately Seeking $11.2 Trillion In Collateral, Or How "Modern Money" Really Works

Over a year ago, we first explained what one of the key terminal problems affecting the modern financial system is: namely the increasing scarcity and disappearance of money-good assets ("safe" or otherwise) which due to the way "modern" finance is structured, where a set universe of assets forms what is known as "high-quality collateral" backstopping trillions of rehypothecated shadow liabilities all of which have negligible margin requirements (and thus provide virtually unlimited leverage) until times turn rough and there is a scramble for collateral, has become perhaps the most critical, and missing, lynchpin of financial stability. Not surprisingly, recent attempts to replenish assets (read collateral) backing shadow money, most recently via attempted Basel III regulations, failed miserably as it became clear it would be impossible to procure the just $1-$2.5 trillion in collateral needed according to regulatory requirements. The reason why this is a big problem is that as the Matt Zames-headed Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (TBAC) showed today as part of the appendix to the quarterly refunding presentation, total demand for "High Qualty Collateral" (HQC) would and could be as high as $11.2 trillion under stressed market conditions.

Why Is The VIX Not Higher (Or Much Lower)?

People always stop and stare at traffic accidents (no matter how minor) and arguing couples (no matter how unattractive); ConvergEx's Nick Colas has the same problem with the ever-moribund CBOE VIX Index, even though it’s essentially the exact opposite of the proverbial train wreck.  Even with the zombie-like march higher for US stocks, surely the uncertain state of the world would demand more than a 13-handle VIX?  Well, it doesn’t; and Nick offers up some off-the-beaten track explanations for why “13” isn’t the right answer.  Implied volatility should either be higher or…  (gulp)… much lower.  The biggest overlooked factor for both directions: the role of technology in society and commerce.

Perth Mint Demand Highest Since Lehman Brothers, Refines Coins, Bars During Weekend

Australia’s Perth Mint, the largest refinery in Australia and one of the largest in the world, said that demand has jumped to the highest level since the Lehman crisis in 2008. Demand has been robust due to currency devaluation concerns and then the 15% price fall led to a massive surge in demand as store of wealth buyers leapt at the chance to acquire physical bullion at much cheaper prices. This led to the Perth Mint which refines nearly all of the nation’s bullion, having to stay open over the weekend to meet orders. There’s been strong interest, including from the U.S., with buyers confident that the metal will rebound from the decline, Ron Currie, sales and marketing director, told Bloomberg in a phone interview from Perth.  “We haven’t seen levels like this since the 2008 global financial crisis,” Currie said yesterday. “Compared to March sales, April sales have doubled or tripled,” he said. “We worked all weekend to keep the factory running to make more stock and that was only to fill orders,” Currie said from the facility founded in 1899. “We’re being inundated with people buying products.”

Chief Advisor To US Treasury Becomes JPMorgan's Second Most Important Man

The man who is the chief advisor to the US Treasury on its debt funding and issuance strategy was just promoted to the rank of second most important person at the biggest commercial bank in the US by assets (of which it was $2.5 trillion), and second biggest commercial bank in the world. And soon, Jamie willing, Matt is set for his final promotion, whereby he will run two very different enterprises: JPMorgan Chase and, by indirect implication, United States, Inc.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you take over the world.

Italy's Monte Paschi Got A Sovereign Bailout To Avoid Being Corzined

Those who think back to November 2011 will recall that it wasn't Jon Corzine's wrong way bet on Italian bonds that ultimately led to the bankruptcy of MF Global, well it did in part, but the real Chapter 11 cause was the sudden liquidity shortage due to the way the trades were structured as a Repo To Maturity, where the bank had hoped to collect the carry from the bond coupons, thereby offsetting the nominal repo cost of funding. The kind of deal which is the very definition of collecting pennies in front of a steamroller, as while the funding cost may be tiny and the capital allocated negligible (due to the nearly infinite implied leverage involved when using repo), when the underlying instrument crashes, and the originating counterparty has to fund a massive variation margin shortfall, that is when the shadow transformation cascade triggers an immediate liquidity crisis, which can result in liquidation cascade in a few brief hours. It happened with MF Global, it happened with Lehman too. And, we now learn, it also happened with Italy's most troubled and oldest bank, Monte Paschi (BMPS), whose endless bailouts, political intrigue, depoit runs, and cooked books have all been covered extensively here previously.


CNBC Viewership Plunges To Eight Year Lows

Update: we decided it may be an opportune time to remind readers of this particular fact, not opinion, not propaganda, not insinuation.

One of the main, unintended consequences of this development to prop up markets at all costs, even if it means removing all logic and reliance on fundamental data, has been the complete evaporation of interest in any finance-related media, forcing the bulk of financial outlets to rely on such cheap gimmicks as slideshows, pictures of kittens, trolling and generally hiring liberal arts majors straight out of school to copy and paste articles while paying them minimum wage, and providing absolutely no insight (and then wondering why the Series ZZ preferred investors will never get their money back, let alone the A round). However, nowhere is this more obvious than in the relentless imploding viewership of once financial media titan, CNBC, which lately has become a sad, one-sided caricature of its once informative self, whose only agenda is to get the most marginal Joe Sixpack to dump his hard-earned cash into 100x P/E stocks, and where according to data from Nielsen Media Research, the total and demographic (25-54) viewership during the prime time segment (9:30am - 5:00 pm) just tumbled to 216K and 40K - the lowest recorded viewership since mid 2005 and sliding.

US GDP Will Be Revised Higher By $500 Billion Following Addition Of "Intangibles" To Economy

Those who have been following the US debt to GDP ratio now that the US officially does not have a debt ceiling indefinitely, may have had the occasional panic attack seeing how this country's leverage ratio is rapidly approaching that of a Troika case study of a PIIG in complete failure. And at 107% debt/GDP no explanations are necessary. Luckily, the official gatekeepers of America's economic growth (with decimal point precision), the Bureau of Economic Analysis have a plan on how to make the US economy, which is now growing at an abysmal 1.5% annualized pace, or about 5 times slower than US debt growing at 7.5% annually, catch up: magically make up a number out of thin air, and add it to the total. And it literally is out of thin air: according to the FT the addition will constitute of a one-time addition of intangibles, amounting to 3% of total US GDP, or more than the size of Belgium at $500 billion, to the US economy.

An Unprecedented $660 Billion In Excess Debt Demand, And What It Means For Bond Yields

When the BOJ announced two weeks ago the full details of its expanded easing program, which amounts to monetizing a whopping $720 billion in government bonds over the next year (a move which makes even the Fed's own open-ended QE appear like child's play in perspective), one thing it did was lay to rest any hope of a rotation, great or non-great, out of bonds and into equities. The reason is simple: while the Fed is en route to monetize $1,080 billion in UST and MBS debt in the current year, when there is just $760 billion in net US issuance, what the BOJ has done is add a bid for another $720 billion when Japanese net supply of debt is just $320 billion in the next 12 months. In other words, between Japan and the US, there is now some $660 billion in secondary market debt that the two banks will have to purchase over and above what their respective treasury departments will issue.

Ben Bernanke To Miss Jackson Hole Symposium Due To "Scheduling Conflict"

The Fed's Jackson Hole, Wyoming symposium is one of the most sacred of annual Fed meetings: it is here that the Fed has historically hinted at any and all upcoming episodes of major monetary experimentation. As such, presence by the high priests of global monetarism is not only compulsory, it is a circular stamp of approval of the Fed's ongoing status quo-preservation capabilities. Which is why the fact that the man at the top himself, Ben Bernanke, whose term is due to expire just five months after this year's Jackson Hole gathering, will be absent "due to a scheduling conflict", is set to spark a fire of questions, first and foremost of which: is this the sign Bernanke is handing over the suitcase with the printer launch codes to some yet unspecified, second in command? Or, even worse for those addicted to monetary heroin, will Bernanke simply try to put as much distance as possible between himself and the place where (and when) the Fed announces the grand "open-ended" QE experiment is set to begin tapering?

How A Misplaced Decimal Comma Left Dick Bove Unemployed

Well-known permabull financial analyst Dick Bove lost his job in November 2012. Not due to his ineptness, but due to his Rochdale Securities colleague David Miller who today plead guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy over an epic Apple trade gone wrong. As Reuters reports, Miller faces a maximum 25 years (though is expected to suffer less) after falsely telling his bosses that he executed a 1,625 share trade for a client, when in fact he bought 1,623,375 shares of the 'never-gonna-fall' stock on the day of its earnings release (October 25th 2012). When the bet backfired, Rochdale was on the hook for the losses which led the firm to cease operations and to provide the market with a brief respite from Bove's 'loan-loss-provision'-ignoring, 'we're-going-to-the-moon-Alice' investment advice on US banks. What a difference a decimal place makes...