"When it comes to market events, there have been no impactful black swans - the so-called unexpected 'tail events," Mark Spitznagel notes in his excellent new book, The Dao Of Capital: Austrian Investing in a Distorted World, explaining that, "what were unseen by most, were indeed highly foreseeable" by others. The Fed planted the seeds for the last financial crisis and "when you prevent the natural balancing act, you get growth that shouldn't be happening."
The financial crisis of 2008 could have been the wake-up tall that, like the Yellowstone fires of 1988, alerted so-called managers to the dangers of trying to override the natural governors of the system. Instead, the Federal Reserve, with its head "ranger," Ben Bernanke, has deluded itself into thinldng ft has tamped down every little smolder from becoming a destructive blaze, but instead all it has done is poured the unnatural fertilizer of liquidity onto a morass of overgrown malinvestment making a even more highly flammable. One day - likely sooner than later, it will burn, and when that happens, the Fed will be sorely lackng in buckets and shovels and must succumb to the flames.
Let’s see. Consumers are carrying more debt than they did in 2007. Corporations are carrying more debt than they did in 2007. The Federal government is carrying 60% more debt than it did in 2007. Cities and States are carrying more debt than they did in 2007. Interest rates have jumped by 80% in the last three months. The economy is clearly in recession, as retailer after retailer reports horrific results. Stocks are as overvalued as they were in 1929, 2000, and 2007. China is experiencing a real estate collapse. Japan is experiencing a cultural/economic/societal collapse. The Middle East is awash in blood. The European Union is held together by lies, delusion and false promises. What could possibly go wrong?
One of the most published academics on gold in the world is Dr Brian Lucey of Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and he and another academic who has frequently covered the gold market, Dr Constantin Gurdgiev have just this week had an excellent research paper on gold published.
They have researched the gold market, along with Dr Cetin Ciner of the University of North Carolina and their paper, ‘Hedges and safe havens: An examination of stocks, bonds, gold, oil and exchange rates’ finds that gold is a hedge against US dollar and British pound risk due to “its monetary asset role.”
Luckily, the average American is so bad at math they can’t read this chart and understand the implications.
If you want to track how close we are to the next financial collapse, there is one number that you need to be watching above all others. The number that we are talking about is the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries, because it affects thousands of other interest rates in our financial system. When the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries goes up, that is bad for the U.S. economy because it pushes long-term interest rates up. When interest rates rise, it constricts the flow of credit, and a healthy flow of credit is absolutely essential to the debt-based system that we live in.
John Adams famously described the American government as being “of laws and not men.” The managerial state has wiped clean that wisdom in favor of countless and arbitrary dictates enforced by worthless bodies. The narcolepsy-inducing USA Today recently reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation granted informants immunity to break government law in certain circumstances. Newly disclosed documents reveal that thousands of so-dubbed “crimes” were committed in 2011 by the FBI’s pet players. The misdeeds include drug trafficking, plotting robberies, and bribery. Last year, the New York Times published a damning report on how the good-natured agents of Washington’s infamous law investigator work tirelessly at foiling terrorist plots they go to great lengths at concocting. These faux plots of destruction are used to beef up the reputation of the agency so as to solidify its monopoly of police power. The selective enforcement of law negates the very purpose of social order. How can there be a universally recognized limits to mankind’s behavior if a minority are permitted to disregard governing laws? The result is a contradiction – either the law applies everywhere or it does not.
A recent survey of asset managers globally, managing USD 27.4 trillion between them, found that 78% of defined-benefit plans would need annual returns of at least 5% per year to meet their commitments, while 19% required more than 8%, "a target of 5% per year can be reached but only by using leverage, shorting, and derivavtives." And sure enough, as Deutsche Bank (DB) reports, in short, investors have rarely been more levered than today! According to DB, a MoM change in NYSE margin debt >10% has to be taken as a critical warning signal as there are astonishing similarities in the sequence of events among all crises. As the S&P 500 just hit a new all-time high, investors might want to ask themselves when it is a good time to become more cautious – yesterday, in our view. Simply put, the higher margin debt levels rise, the more fragile the underlying basis on which prices trade; with even a less severe sell-off in equities capable of triggering a collapse.
Traders and investors do not respond to sea changes instantly. The smart ones take note and begin adjusting their portfolios and hedging their bets. This doesn’t result in massive market moves as these investors are sophisticated enough to move out of old positions and into new ones without drawing too much attention
The “QE generates economic growth” story is officially dead. This will have severe repercussions throughout the financial system.
In a 43-page research report, the Federal Reserve has authored a rather concerning tome warning that the mechanical positive-feedback rebalancing of Leverage ETFs (LETFs) resembles the portfolio insurance strategies, which contributed to the stock market crash of October 19, 1987. The impact of LETFs on broad stock-market indexes become significant during periods of high volatility (shown empirically in 2008/9 and H2 2011) as they show that LETF rebalancing in response to a large market move could amplify the move and force them to further rebalance which may trigger a “cascade” reaction. Furthermore, executing orders within a short period of time, such as the last hour of trading, may cause disproportionate price changes (especially in financial stocks). The Fed warns that a significant price reduction at market close may also impair investor confidence with accelerating depressed prices at the close potentially driving large investor outflows overnight.
It is well-known that as part of the S&P500's ascent to new records, investor margin debt has also surged to all time highs, surpassing for the past three months previous records set during both prior, the dot com and the housing, stock market bubbles. And as more attention has shifted to the topic of speculator leverage once more, inquiries into the correlation between bets upon bets and stock performance are popping up once more, in this case in a study by Deutsche Bank titled "Red Flag! - The curious case of NYSE margin debt." Of particular note here is a historical comparison of margin-debt warnings that have recurred throughout history but especially just before major stock bubble crashes, such as in the period 1999/2000, 2007/2008 and of course today, which have time and again been ignored. Here is what was said then, what is being said now, and what is ignored always.
This insane world was created through decades of bad decisions, believing in false prophets, choosing current consumption over sustainable long-term savings based growth, electing corruptible men who promised voters entitlements that were mathematically impossible to deliver, the disintegration of a sense of civic and community obligation and a gradual degradation of the national intelligence and character. There is a common denominator in all the bubbles created over the last century – Wall Street bankers and their puppets at the Federal Reserve. Fractional reserve banking, control of a fiat currency by a privately owned central bank, and an economy dependent upon ever increasing levels of debt are nothing more than ingredients of a Ponzi scheme that will ultimately implode and destroy the worldwide financial system. Since 1913 we have been enduring the largest fraud and embezzlement scheme in world history, but the law of diminishing returns is revealing the plot and illuminating the culprits. Bernanke and his cronies have proven themselves to be highly educated one trick pony protectors of the status quo. Bernanke will eventually roll craps. When he does, the collapse will be epic and 2008 will seem like a walk in the park.
There is one vitally important number that everyone needs to be watching right now, and it doesn't have anything to do with unemployment, inflation or housing. If this number gets too high, it will collapse the entire U.S. financial system.
In the classic fantasy rom-com The Princess Bride, the beautiful maid Buttercup orders the farm boy Westley to perform numerous tasks to test his servitude. No matter the magnitude of the request, Westley simply answers "As you wish" and makes it so. Buttercup eventually comes to view Wesley with similar devotion, and true love is born. Similarly, investors have fallen back in love with the capital markets, whose continual response their increasingly irrational hopes has been "As you wish." It's inconceivable!