While the world is terrified about what China - where corporate bond defaults are now permitted - may be about to unleash on the world, most are all too happy to remain in a state of delightful ignorance. We decided to take a peek behind the scenes.
There probably isn’t a more over-used phrase thrown across the media landscape than, “It’s different this time.” One can’t look at the financial markets, the political stage, and more without shaking ones head. Nothing seems to make sense. Yet if one wants to lazily answer, “It’s different this time.” Things become crystal clear. Water now seems to run uphill. The definition of words no longer mean what they once did. (we’re still marveling on what is – is) Free society means the loss of only a few freedoms per year, as opposed to everything at once. Work is a bad thing however, if someone else goes to work and pay for your things – then that’s good. You can keep your plan if you like your plan – but if we don’t like it – well – you can’t. The Federal Reserve would never monetize the debt – however if you’re a preferred dealer in the QE (quantitative easing) program – they’ll do it for you. These precarious times leave many scratching their heads. Expressed another way, When everyone is on the band wagon – except the band. You had better take notice.
As we initially exposed over five years ago, with luminary frat brothers and sister such as Jimmy Cayne, Richard Fuld, Stan O'Neil, Martin Gruss, Michael Bloomberg, Jon Corzine, Mary Shapiro, Alan Schwartz, Larry Fink, Larry Fink, Wilbur Ross, James McDonald, this "secret" organization puts the Masons, Bilderbergs, Skull and Bones, Templars, Fight Club and all other secret societies to shame. Now, as New York Magazine infiltrates the inner workings of the "Kappa Beta Phi" society, Liberty Blitzkrieg's Mike Krieger notes the following will confirm what everyone already thought - that a great many of these oligarch financiers are complete and total sociopaths and a menace to society.
For the first time ever, the majority of Americans are scared of their own federal government. A Pew Research poll found that 53% of Americans think the government threatens their personal rights and freedoms. Americans aren't wild about the government's currency either. Instead of holding dollars and other financial assets, investors are storing wealth in art, wine, and antique cars. The Economist reported in November, "This buying binge… is growing distrust of financial assets." Every central banker on earth has sworn an oath to Keynesian money creation, yet the yellow metal has retraced nearly $700 from its $1,895 high. The only limits to fiat money creation are the imagination of central bankers and the willingness of commercial bankers to lend. That being the case, the main culprit for gold's lackluster performance over the past two years is something else... It won't be inflation that drives up the gold price but the unwinding of massive amounts of leverage.
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.