In our first installment of this series we explored the concept of stock to flow in the gold markets being the key driver of supply/demand dynamics, and ultimately its price. Today we are going to explore the paper markets and, importantly, to what degree they distort upwardly the “flow” of the physical gold market. We believe the very existence of paper gold creates the illusion of physical gold flow that does not and physically cannot exist. After all, if flow determines price – and if paper flow simulates physical metal movement to a degree much larger than is possible – doesn’t it then suggest that paper flow creates an artificially low price?
Leveraged systems are based on confidence – confidence in efficient exchanges, confidence in reputable counterparties, and confidence in the rule of law. As we have learned (or should have learned) with the failures of Long Term Capital Management, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie & Freddie, and MF Global – the unwind from a highly leveraged system can be sudden and chaotic. These systems function…until they don’t. CDOs were AAA... until they weren’t. Paper Gold is just like allocated, unambiguously owned physical bullion... until it’s not.
Earlier today, the Financial Stability Board (FSB), one of the few transnational financial "supervisors" which is about as relevant in the grand scheme of things as the BIS, whose Basel III capitalization requirements will never be adopted for the simple reason that banks can not afford, now or ever, to delever and dispose of assets to the degree required for them to regain "stability" (nearly $4 trillion in Europe alone as we explained months ago), issued a report on Shadow Banking. The report is about 3 years late (Zero Hedge has been following this topic since 2010), and is largely meaningless, coming to the same conclusion as all other historical regulatory observations into shadow banking have done in the recent past, namely that it is too big, too unwieldy, and too risky, but that little if anything can be done about it. Specifically, the FSB finds that the size of the US shadow banking system is estimated to amount to $23 trillion (higher than our internal estimate of about $15 trillion due to the inclusion of various equity-linked products such as ETFs, which hardly fit the narrow definition of a "bank" with its three compulsory transformation vectors), is the largest in the world, followed by the Euro area with a $22 trillion shadow bank system (or 111% of total Euro GDP in 2011, down from 128% at its peak in 2007), and the UK in third, with $9 trillion. Combined total shadow banking, not to be confused with derivatives, which at least from a theoretical level can be said to offset each other (good luck with that when there is even one counterparty failure), is now $67 trillion, $6 trillion higher than previously thought, and virtually the same as global GDP of $70 trillion at the end of 2011.
When you hear Republican politicians pointing figures at Jon Corzine for his “alleged” acts of fraud in the MF Global collapse, ask them why they changed the bankruptcy code in 2005 to allow such acts of fraud to go unpunished.
House Republicans Find Corzine Guilty Of MF Global Collapse, Missing Funds; Democrats Refuse To Endorse FindingsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/14/2012 19:14 -0400
It appears that these days not even the Corzining of client money can happen without it being split across furiously polarized party lines. As it turns out hours ago, the Committee on House Financial Services released an advance glimpse into a report to be released in its entirety tomorrow, which puts the blame for the collapse of not only MF Global, but also the disappearance of millions in client money, right where it belongs: the firm's then CEO Jon Corzine. Yet that Corzine corzined millions, leaving clients scrambling in bankruptcy court in an attempt to recover what should have been segregated money from the very beginning, and also just happened to blow up one of the 21 Fed-anointed Primary Dealers, is not surprising: this has been long known by everyone. Those who need a refresher are urged to recall the Honorable's testimony before the House... or maybe not: after all it is not as if Corzine himself could recall a whole lot. Where it gets interesting is that the former Democratic governor, and senator, not to mention primary bundler for president Obama, is, in the eyes of the members of the committee, innocent: All the democrats on the Investigations Subcommittee refused to sign off on the findings, meaning that to them, Corzine is completely innocent. That this is purely a political move is glaringly obvious. It is also abhorrent, because as long as political ideology gets in the way of pursuing and imposing justice, the Banana States of America will remain just that.
As the one year anniversary of the MF Global Bankruptcy is upon us, the WSJ has now joined the NY Times in writing a ‘woe is me’ piece on behalf of Jon Corzine. The WSJ continues bemoaning the pitiable situation of “restlessness and frustration” of the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, former Governor of New Jersey, and former Senator from New Jersey who apparently isn’t content with being “confident about the likelihood that he will avoid any criminal charges related to MF Global.” Corzine is still estimated to be worth several hundred million dollars despite presiding over the failure of the largest non-bank commodity broker where $1.6 billion in customer money was stolen. I cry for him, I really do... Trying to portray Corzine as being focused on mundane things like finding a job rather than worried about doing jail time for his obvious crimes appears to be another prong of Corzine’s attorneys’ use of the Chewbacca Defense, along with saying that the fraud charges “Make No Sense,” because the money “Vaporized” and he had no motive since he had a de minimis portion of his net worth invested in MF Global stock. However, proving Corzine committed fraud and perjury would be relatively simple for any motivated prosecutor. Since the Department of Justice clearly is not motivated to prosecute Corzine after he bundled $500,000+ in campaign contributions to their boss, I provide this quick and easy guide for any ambitious state prosecutor to bring charges themselves:
- Markets Go Dark Ahead of Storm (WSJ, RTRS, BBG, FT)
- MF Global Problems Started Years Ago (WSJ)
- Major Greek daily reprints Swiss accounts list, editor who published list to go on trial for violating data privacy laws (RTRS)
- Coming soon to a USA near you: Hong Kong government imposes a property tax on overseas buyers (Bloomberg)
- The pain in Spain is endless: Spain’s Pain Seen Intensifying as Slump Deepens Plight (BBG)
- Las Vegas Sands Discusses Possible Settlement With Justice Department (WSJ)
- Why Does the SEC Protect Banks’ Dirty Secrets? (BBG)
- Honda slashes forecast on China territorial spat (AFP)
- UBS shares jump on expected radical overhaul (Reuters) ...so if UBS cuts 150% of workforce, shares will hit +?
- CEOs Seeking Global Range Tilts Market to 8,000-Mile Jets (Bloomberg)
Two days ago we reported that the German Court of Auditors demanded that the German Central Bank, the Bundesbank, verify and audit its official gold holdings consisting of 3,396 tons, held mostly offshore, namely New York, London and Paris, at least according to official documents. It also called for repatriation of 150 tons in the next three years to perform a quality inspection of the tungsten gold. Today, in a surprising development, via the Telegraph we learn that none other than the same Bundesbank which is causing endless nightmares for all the other broke European nations due to its insistence for sound money, decided to voluntarily pull two thirds of its gold holdings held by the Bank of England. According to a confidential report referenced by the Telegraph, Buba reclaimed 940 tons, reducing its BOE holdings from 1,440 in 2000 to 500 in 2001 allegedly "because storage costs were too high." This is about as idiotic an excuse as the Fed cancelling its reporting of M3 in 2006 because "the costs of collecting the underlying data outweigh the benefits." So why did Buba repatriate its gold? Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has an idea...
This will learn him:
- RAJAT GUPTA GETS 24-MONTH PRISON SENTENCE FOR INSIDER TRADING
- RAJAT GUPTA FINED $5 MILLION
Moral of the story: steal $100 million (illustratively: nobody knows what the bottom line impact of the criminal activity was: could be more, could be less) -> spend two years in a minimum security country club, electric golf carts included. Look for a surge in insider trading cases with this ruling which makes risks to getting caught trading on inside information not only acceptable, but in fact welcome. The good news, for Jon Corzine at least, is that if the MF Global case ever gets to the sentencing stage (it won't), his sentence would be to fly coach class for 24-48 hours.
Corzine Tells Judge That Due To Purchase Of 50,000 MF Global Shares Before Bankruptcy, He Must AcquitSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/23/2012 15:35 -0400
That former Goldman, New Jersey and MF Global head Jon Corzine is absolutely convinced he is innocent of any client money vaporization or wrongdoing, and that the definition of the phrase "to Corzine (verb- to trust your money to a prominent individual and to find it has mysteriously disappeared)" is absolutely arbitrary, is not news to anyone. And if not convinced then at least at a complete loss to what actually happened. One just had to recall all the "I don't recalls" the Honorable Corzine told congress during the makeshift kangaroo court hearing on MF Global's collapse (even if the final outcome was less than desired). So it's only logical that the Honorable Corzine asked a federal judge to "toss a civil fraud lawsuit accusing him of misleading investors about the risky bets the futures firm was taking before its collapse a year ago." The WSJ reports that "Corzine's lawyers blasted the investors' suit as a "jumble of assertions and accusations" that makes "no sense" that should be dismissed in a filing Friday in U.S. District Court in New York." But here is the kicker: MF Global may have mismanaged trades, Corzine's lawyers admit, but he sure didn't hide the risks or mislead investors about the firm's risk appetite or liquidity. Why? Because he was so convinced in the profitability of MFG he bought a whopping 50,000 MF Global shares in the open market two months before the firm collapsed. So let's get this straight: Corzine invested a whopping $225,000 (as a reminder, Corzine was CEO of Goldman Sachs for years) because he believed in the firm and not to give the impression that the firm was "safe" in order to avoid a full blown panic once the realization its was insolvent could no longer be hidden, and be wiped out on all of his stock, option and other MFG holdings? And this is what sophisticated lawyers use as evidence of his innocence? Seriously?
Bank Of America Gimmicks Continue - Chargeoffs Soar To Highest In A Year, As Loan Loss Release SurgesSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 10/17/2012 08:24 -0400
When one combs through the usual hodge podge of purposefully distracting headline bullets in Bank of America's quarterly release one as usual ends up with a sorry picture. Here are the key numbers: Noninterest income for the firm, traditionally about half of total revenues in addition to Net Interest Income, has continued to decline, and slid fo $10.5 billion, down from $12.4 billion in Q2 and down from $18.0 billion in Q3 2011. The other side: Total Interest Income (before expenses) also has continued to decline, and dropped to $13.976 billion from $13.992 billion a quarter ago, and down from $15.853 billion a year earlier. These numbers are hard to fudge. The number that is very easy to fudge is the Net Income (and per share) line, which was reported at $340 MM or $0.00 in diluted earnings per share after dividends. What helped substantially here is the following: while the firm booked a provision for credit losses of just $1.774 bilion, in line with Q2 and half of the $3.4 billion in Q3, 2011, what more than offset this was the surge in reserve reduction which soared to the highest in years at $2.348 billion, up from $1.853 billion in Q2 and way up from the $1.679 billion in Q3 2011. What is even more paradoxical is that despite what Moynihan is saying about an improvement in the housing market, the bank's total chargeoffs rose to the highest in a year, at $4.122 billion, up from $3.626 billion in Q2, and the highest since Q4 2011. The result is that the Net charge off ratio also spiked to the highest in a year, at 1.86%.
Goldman "Hannibal Lecter" Sachs used to be the visible ringleader of The Gold Cartel. They have since disappeared from the gold price suppression scheme totally, at least as far as this eye can see.
The last time a Primary Dealer decided to go all in on the Italian "recovery", MF Global went bankrupt. This time around the bank that apparently can't get enough of Italy (and to a smaller extent Spain) and its glorious taxpayer funded, bailed out future is none other than JPM, which according to its earnings presentation has seen its net exposure to Europe double from $6,3 billion to $11.7 billion, following a surge in Italian trading exposure. Surely this will end very well for the bank that only 5 months ago had to reshuffle every executive in its internal $300 billion hedge fund for massive IG9 CDX losses.
A month ago, when we first presented the dwindling Spanish treasury cash position, we wrote: "once the next Spanish State Liability update is posted, we wouldn't be surprised to see this number plunge to a new post-Lehman low. Yet what is scariest is that all else equal (and it never is), at the current run rate Spain may well run out of cash by the end of the year even assuming it manages to conclude all its remaining auctions through year's end without a glitch." The August cash balance update was just released by the Banco de Espana, and there's good news, unsurprising news and bad news.
GLD & TLT: Exploring the Dark Side of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) With Lauren Lyster at Capital AccountSubmitted by EB on 09/20/2012 12:14 -0400
What might happen to your favorite ETF in a crisis? As the the half life for the next Fed-induced bubble happily converges with the six month mark on Mr. Bernanke's QE3, these things never matter...until they do
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