Trust is gone and credit is going and debt is sitting between a rock and a hard place with its grubby hands pressed together, praying that it will be forgiven, forgotten, or overlooked a little while longer. By the way, the reason trust and credit are gone is because oil is no longer cheap and world economies can’t grow anymore. They can’t afford to run the day-to-day operations of a techno-industrial society. They can only pretend to afford it. The stock markets are mere scorecards for players who can only lie and cheat now to keep the game going. Somewhere beyond all the legerdemain and fraud, however, there remains a real world that is not going away. We just don’t know what it will look like when the smog of fraud clears.
- Winter Storm Expected to Make Northeast Commutes Harder (BBG)
- Invasion of Spanish Builders Angers France Struggling to Compete (BBG)
- Toronto mayor, caught ranting on video, admits drinking a 'little bit" (Reuters)
- IBM's Hardware Woes Accelerate in Fourth Quarter (WSJ)
- Sharp Divisions Come to Fore as Peace Talks on Syria Begin (NYT)
- Afghanistan cracks down on advertising in favor of U.S. troops (Reuters)
- Microsoft CEO Search Rattles Boards From Ford to Ericsson (BBG)
- Banks Sit Out Riskier Deals (WSJ)
- Netflix Seen Reporting U.S. Web Users Reach 33.1 Million (BBG)
As a result of this, the financial sector remains rife with fraud and impossible to accurately value (how can you value a business that is lying about its balance sheet?).
"Paper and digital markets levitate, central banks pull out all the stops of their magical reality-tweaking machine to manipulate everything, accounting fraud pervades public and private enterprise, everything is mis-priced, all official statistics are lies of one kind or another, the regulating authorities sit on their hands, lost in raptures of online pornography (or dreams of future employment at Goldman Sachs), the news media sprinkles wishful-thinking propaganda about a mythical “recovery” and the “shale gas miracle” on a credulous public desperate to believe, the routine swindles of medicine get more cruel and blatant each month, a tiny cohort of financial vampire squids suck in all the nominal wealth of society, and everybody else is left whirling down the drain of posterity in a vortex of diminishing returns and scuttled expectations."
The CFTC has won a consent order against MF Global requiring it to pay $1.212 billion in restitution to customers and a further $100 million civil penalty:
- *MF GLOBAL TO PAY $1.2 BLN RESTITUTION, $100M PENALTY
- *CFTC:PENALTY TO BE PAID AFTER MF FULLY PAYS CUSTOMERS/CREDITORS
- *CFTC:LITIGATION CONTINUES VS CORZINE,O'BRIEN,MF GLOBAL HOLDINGS
- *CFTC: MF GLOBAL ADMITS TO ALLEGATIONS OF LIABILITY IN ORDER
The big question is - of course - where is the money coming from?
Today the FSB was kind enough to explain in two short paragraphs and one even simpler chart, just how the aggregate leverage for the participants in even the simplest repo chain promptly becomes exponential, far above the "sum of the parts", and approaches infinity in virtually no time.
- Christie Sets Himself Up for Run in 2016 (WSJ)
- De Blasio Elected Next New York City Mayor in Landslide (WSJ)
- Hilsenrath: Fed Study: Rate Peg Off Mark (WSJ)
- MF Global Customers Will Recover All They Lost (NYT) - amazing what happens when you look under the rug
- Virginia, Alabama Voter Choices Show Tea Party Declining (BBG)
- Explosions kill 1, injure 8 in north China city (Reuters)
- Toyota boosts full-year guidance as weak yen drives revenues (FT)
- Starbucks wants to recruit 10,000 vets, spouses to its ranks (Reuters)
- U.S. Economy Slack Justifies Stimulus, Top Fed Staff Papers Show (BBG)
- Israel set to become major gas exporter (FT)
The sad, stark fact is that oil is now too expensive to permit further expansion of economies and populations. Expensive oil upsets the cost structure of virtually every system we need to run modern life: transportation, commerce, food production, governance, to name a few. In particular expensive oil destroys the cost structures of banking and finance because not enough new wealth can be generated to repay previously accumulated debt, and new credit cannot be extended without a reasonable expectation that more new wealth will be generated to repay it. Through the industrial age, our money has become an increasingly abstract and complex product of debt creation. In short, a society with deeply impaired capital formation has turned to crime, corruption, fakery, and subterfuge in order to pretend that “growth” — i.e. expansion of capital — is still happening.
- Spot the pattern: Senate Leaders Nearing a Deal (Politico), Senators say debt, shutdown deal is near (USA Today), Senate Leaders in Striking Distance of a Deal (WSJ), U.S. senators hint at possible fiscal deal on Tuesday (Reuters), Senate Debt-Limit Deal Emerging (BBG)
- U.S. debt ceiling crisis would start quiet, go downhill fast (Reuters)
- Uneasy Investors Sell Billions in Treasurys (WSJ)
- BOE’s Cunliffe Says U.K. Is Not in Grip of Housing-Market Bubble (BBG)
- Letta Mixes Tax Cut With Rigor in Post-Berlusconi Italian Budget (BBG)
- Japan Seeks to Export More High-End Food (WSJ)
- Burberry names Bailey CEO as Ahrendts quits for Apple (Reuters)
- China’s Biggest Reserves Jump Since 2011 Shows Inflow (BBG)
- Mounting Wall Street fears of US default (FT)
- This is what the US government does when it is "shut down" - CIA ramping up covert training program for moderate Syrian rebels (WaPo)
- SEC Weighs Overhaul of Exchanges’ Self-Regulatory System (WSJ) - just let Goldman and JPM do all the policing; not like anyone cares anymore
- Reid Sets Tone for Democrats in Shutdown Fight (WSJ)
- No Movement in Shutdown Standoff (WSJ)
- Shutdown will not slow Fed nomination, says Obama (FT)
- Syrian Regime Chokes Off Food to Town That Was Gassed (WSJ)
- Tesla Says Car Fire Began in Battery (AP)
- China Services Index Increases in Sign of Sustained Rebound (BBG) or sustained data manipulation
This is at a time when we have real economic growth barely above 2% and nominal growth of just over 3% (abysmal by any standards) after six years of monetary easing and 5 years of QE1; QE 2; Operation twist; QE “infinity” and huge fiscal deficits. After last week Citi notes it is not clear that this set of policies is going to end anytime soon. It seems far more likely that these policies will be continued as far as the eye can see and even if there are “anecdotal” signs of inflation this Fed (Or the next one) is not a Volcker fed. This Fed does not see inflation as the evil but rather the solution. Gold should also do well as it did from 1977-1980 (while the Fed stays deliberately behind the curve). Unfortunately Citi fears that the backdrop will more closely resemble the late 1970’s/early 1980’s than the “Golden period” of 1995-2000 and that we will have a quite difficult backdrop to manage over the next 2-3 years.
Still Laundering Terrorism and Drug Money ...
The man who could barely recall anything at his various Congressional hearings, has no problem with remembering one key aspect of the MF Global bankruptcy: Jon Corzine is innocent! And, as a result, yesterday his lawyers filed a motion to dismiss a civil case brought against him by the CFTC in which the legal team shows that the best defense is a good offense and openly critiques the commodities regulator. DealBook excerpts from the filing: "There is no evidence demonstrating that Mr. Corzine knowingly directed unlawful conduct or acted without good faith," wrote the lawyers from Dechert, Andrew J. Levander and Benjamin E. Rosenberg. "Rather than acknowledge that reality and move on, the C.F.T.C. has clung to its baseless presumptions and manufactured charges of wrongdoing that are supposedly connected to Mr. Corzine." Right: the commingling just happened on its own. Twas but a glitch.
- Obama Holds Fire on Syria, Waits on Russia Plan (WSJ)
- China Shadow Banking Returns as Growth Rebound Adds Risk (Reuters)
- Not one but two: Greece May Need Two More Aid Packages Says ECB’s Coene (WSJ)
- BoJ insider warns of need for wage rises (FT) ... as we have been warning since November, and as has not been happening
- California city backs plan to seize negative equity mortgages (Reuters)
- Home Depot Is Accused of Shaking Down Suspected Shoplifters (BBG)
- Most-Connected Man at Deutsche Bank Favors Lightest Touch (BBG)
- Norway Pledges to Limit Oil Spending (BBG)
- China Shadow Banking Returns as Growth Rebound Adds Risk (BBG)
- Gundlach Says Fed Is Mistaken in How It's Ending Easing (BBG)
It’s ironic, or it seems that way to us, that two of the least understood financial markets by equity investors are two of the most systemically important – repos and gold. Even more ironic is how so many investors don’t even consider them to be all that important. In our view, stability in both markets is a pre-requisite for maintaining confidence in the financial system and keeping the credit/asset bubble inflated. The significance of these markets is not lost on governments, central banks and regulators, although the definition of “stability” in each of them is slightly different. Looking underneath the bonnet/hood, we are doubtful that either of these markets, repos or gold, can reasonably be described as “stable” right now. There also seems to be a paradox where the current low repo rates and gold prices are, we suspect, fooling people into a false sense of complacency. What’s really piqued our interest, however, is whether there is a similar issue which is increasingly impacting both of these systemically important markets? This issue relates to the availability of sufficient collateral...