In Germany, citizens are increasingly worried, with 57% of non-Muslims seeing Islam as a threat; and these fears prompted, as Bloomberg reports, about 25,000 people to turn out for an anti-Islam rally last night in the eastern city of Dresden. Protesters demanded tighter immigration laws, measures to fight 'religious preachers of hatred' and a zero-tolerance policy for immigrants who commit crimes. Angela Merkel has urged tolerance after the rally, warning that some of the organizers have "hatred in their hearts," but it appears the slippery clope has begun, summed up by one 73-year-old German, "I want lots of money for a program to pay Muslims to go home."
There is compelling evidence that 2015 will see a global slump in economic activity. This being the case, financial and systemic risks will increase as evidence of the slump accumulates. It can be expected to undermine global equities, property and finally bond markets, which are currently all priced for economic stability. Even though these markets are increasingly controlled by central bank intervention, it is dangerous to assume this will continue to be the case as financial and systemic risks accumulate. Precious metals are ultimately free from price management by the state. Furthermore, they are the only asset class notably under-priced today, given the enormous increase in the quantity of fiat money since the Lehman crisis. In short, 2015 is shaping up to be very bad for fiat currencies and very good for gold and silver.
...over time, grand coalition governments may only serve to ossify the re-orientation of political allegiances along the mainstream vs. populist dimension. If economic malaise persists to the next election, support for populist parties is likely to build, as scepticism about the adjustments required to sustain Euro area membership rises. The Greek experience points in this direction. Were this experience to extend to larger and more systemically relevant countries (such as Italy or Germany), the implications for markets would be profound.
"Shutting down sledding hills is inspired by the same sort of simpering caution that keeps Americans shoeless in airport security lines and, closer to home, keeps parents from letting their kids walk a few blocks to school alone, despite the fact that America today is as safe as the longed-for “Leave It to Beaver” golden age."
Same slide, different day, as the crude crash continues, with both WTI and Brent tumbling to multi-year highs, below $49 and $52 respectively. This happened despite the news overnight that China is accelerating 300 infrastructure projects valued at 7 trillion yuan ($1.1 trillion) this year, suggesting that China will focus more on fiscal policy than monetary easing, which in turn led to much confusion in the SHCOMP, which fluctuated up and down for the day several times before finally closing unchanged. There was no confusion about the stops slamming USDJPY, and its Nikkei225 derivative which tumbled 3%, sending Japanese Treasury yields to fresh record lows. Record low yields were also seen in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, France (and many other places), which in turn forced the US 10 Year to finally dip back under 2.00%. In fact, taken together, the average 10Y bond yield of the U.S., Japan and Germany has dropped below 1% for the first time ever, according to Citi.
The surreal nature of this world as we enter 2015 feels like being trapped in a Fellini movie. The .1% party like it’s 1999, central bankers not only don’t take away the punch bowl – they spike it with 200% grain alcohol, the purveyors of propaganda in the mainstream media encourage the party to reach Caligula orgy levels, the captured political class and their government apparatchiks propagate manipulated and massaged economic data to convince the masses their standard of living isn’t really deteriorating, and the entire façade is supposedly validated by all-time highs in the stock market. It’s nothing but mass delusion perpetuated by the issuance of prodigious amounts of debt by central bankers around the globe. But now, the year of consequences may have finally arrived.
“Don’t look back - something might be gaining on you,” Satchel Paige famously warned. For connoisseurs of civilizational collapse, 2014 was merely annoying, a continued pile-up of over-investments in complexity with mounting diminishing returns, metastasizing fragility, and no satisfying resolution. So we enter 2015 with greater tensions than ever before and therefore the likelihood that the inevitable breakdown will release more destructive energy and be that much harder to recover from.
2014 may go down as the year when gold and silver conspiracy “theories” became conspiracy “facts” as banks globally were found to have conspired to rig the prices of gold, silver, currency and many other markets.
Gold Held In NY Fed Vault Drops To Lowest In 21st Century After Biggest Monthly Withdrawal Since 2001Submitted by Tyler Durden on 12/29/2014 23:41 -0500
In November some 47.1 tons of gold were withdrawn from the NY Fed, bringing the Fed's total earmarked gold to just 6,029 tonnes: the biggest single monthly outflow going back to the turn of the century. This is also the lowest amount of gold held at the NY Fed in the 21st century.
A form of society could undoubtedly exist powered by nuclear, wind and shale gas. But it would be a society supported by the state with far larger numbers working in the energy industries than now, producing lower surpluses, the energy production part perhaps running at a perennial loss. Those losses have to be covered by either higher price or via the taxation system. Either way, the brave new world that awaits us will be characterized as the time of less that will be in stark contrast to the time of plenty many of us enjoyed during the 20th Century.
The story of Ukraine's corzined gold just got far better, and far, far more bizarre and surreal. As Bloomberg reports, Ukraine opened a criminal probe after several gold bars at the central bank’s storage in the southern city of Odessa turned to be painted lead. The latest gold fraud involved a central bank employee passing lead bars covered with golden paint to the storage unit, registering them as gold, the Vesti newspaper reported today, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the matter in Odessa’s police department. In other words, the central bank was actually conned into buying the gold-plated lead.
Say what you want about the gold price languishing below $1200 (or not, as the case may be, after this week), and say what you want about the technical picture or the “6,000-year bubble,” as Citi’s Willem Buiter recently termed it; but know this: gold is an insurance policy — not a trading vehicle — and the time to assess gold is when people have a sudden need for insurance. When that day comes - and believe me, it’s coming - the price will be the very last thing that matters. It will be purely and simply a matter of securing possession - bubble or not - and at any price. That price will NOT be $1200. A “run” on the gold “bank” would undoubtedly lead to one of those Warren Buffett moments when a bunch of people are left standing naked on the shore. It is also a phenomenon which will begin quietly before suddenly exploding into life. If you listen very carefully, you can hear something happening...
Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
And just like that, the list of countries who want to repatriate their gold just increased by one more, because after Venezuela, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and rumors of Belgium, we now can add Austria to those nations for whom the "6000 year old barbarous relic bubble" is more than just "tradition."
- Oil slide hits European stocks, safe-haven assets sought (Reuters)
- IEA Cuts Global Oil Demand Forecast for 4th Time in Five Months (BBG)
- Cue constant pro-Abe propaganda out of Japan: Japan’s Secrecy Law Takes Effect as Abe Seeks Fair Vote Coverage (BBG)
- As if it has a choice: Japan’s GPIF Bets on Abenomics-Driven Recovery (WSJ)
- Heather Capital: How a $600 Million Hedge Fund Disappeared (WSJ)
- Senate Panel Votes to Authorize U.S. War on Islamic State (BBG)
- Japan’s 28 IPOs in 11 Days Give Abe a Lift as Startups Boom (BBG)
- U.S. authorities face new fallout from insider trading ruling (Reuters)
- Greek Stock Rout Means ASE Is 2014 Worst After Russia (BBG)