New York Times
With the "inmates in charge of the asylum" during this holiday shortened trading week it seemed to be an apropriate opportunity to share a virtual cornucopia of topics to consider while enjoying the delicious delicacies, and subsequent tryptophan induced comas, of a traditional Thanksgiving.
A zombie government armed with accounting tricks has bailed out a zombie banking industry using even more financial phoniness. A few numbers pushed here and there, and the industry is earning record profits. But out in the real world where people live and work, things aren't so rosy. Zombies make negligent landlords and dangerous neighbors.
In Feb 2007, Oaktree Capital's Howard Marks wrote 'The Race to the Bottom', providing a timely warning about the capital market behavior that ultimately led to the mortgage meltdown of 2007 and the crisis of 2008 as he worried about "carelessness-induced behavior." In the pre-crisis years, as described in his 2007 memo, the race to the bottom manifested itself in a number of ways, and as Marks notes, "now we’re seeing another upswing in risky behavior." Simply put, Marks warns, "when people start to posit that fundamentals don’t matter and momentum will carry the day, it’s an omen we must heed," adding that "the riskiest thing in the investment world is the belief that there’s no risk."
The correlation between stock prices and margin debt continues to rise (to new records of exuberant "Fed's got our backs" hope) as NYSE member margin balances surge to new record highs. Relative to the NYSE Composite, this is the most "leveraged' investors have been since the absolute peak in Feb 2000. What is more worrisome, or perhaps not, is the ongoing collapse in investor net worth - defined as total free credit in margin accounts less total margin debt - which has hit what appears to be all-time lows (i.e. there's less left than ever before) which as we noted previously raised a "red flag" with Deutsche Bank. Relative to the 'economy' margin debt has only been higher at the very peak in 2000 and 2007 and was never sustained at this level for more than 2 months. Sounds like a perfect time to BTFATH...
Governments ADMIT They Carry Out False Flag Terror
With all eyes glued to the anniversary of the assassination of JFK 50 years ago, we thought it worth noting that the death of another important American figure - the USDollar - began exactly 100 years ago. Today in 1910 Sen. Aldrich, 1 yr after introducing an amendment to establish an income tax, convened the first secret meeting at Jekyll Island.
- When it fails, do more of it - Bank of Japan hints at extending ultra-loose monetary policy (FT)
- PBOC Says No Longer in China’s Interest to Increase Reserves (BBG)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (Hilsenrath)
- Big trucks still rule Detroit in energy-conscious era (Reuters)
- Debt Limit Rise May Not Be Needed Until June, CBO Says (BBG)
- Some Insurance Regulators Turn Down White House Invitation (WSJ)
- Say Goodbye to the Car Salesman (WSJ)
- U.S. drone kills senior militant in Pakistani seminary (Reuters)
- French business sector contracts sharply (FT)
- How Germany's taxman used stolen data to squeeze Switzerland (Reuters)
- Fed casts about for endgame on easy-money policy (WSJ)
- France, Italy call for full-time Eurogroup chief (Reuters)
You may find what is happening at one Wal-Mart in Ohio very hard to believe. At the Wal-mart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton, Ohio employees are being asked to donate food items so that other employees that cannot afford to buy Thanksgiving dinner will be able to enjoy one too. On the one hand, it is commendable that someone at that Wal-Mart is deeply concerned about the employees that are so poor that they cannot afford to buy the food that they need for Thanksgiving. On the other hand, this is a perfect example that shows how the quality of the jobs in this country has gone down the toilet.
Moments ago, the following news broke across various news feeds:
BREAKING: Princeton U. to distribute meningitis vaccine not approved in the US to halt campus outbreak.
— NBCWashington (@nbcwashington) November 18, 2013
This is great news. But we wonder: considering the list of such prominent Econ department graduates as Ben Bernanke and Paul Krugman, couldn't the vaccine have been distributed some years earlier?
Allegations of JP Morgan’s use of clever tactics to bribe Chinese officials recently received mainstream attention when Salon journalist Alex Pareene mentioned it in a comical and classic interview on CNBC (you need to watch the video before reading this) with presstitute Maria Bartiromo. When Mr. Pareene mentioned these claims against the TBTF bank, CNBC mocked him. Howeverer, this article from the New York Times details how JP Morgan paid $75,000 a month to an obscure consulting firm called Fullmark Consultants, which had only two employees. The firm was run by a woman named Lily Chang, which in reality was the alias used by Wen Jiabao’s only daughter Wen Ruchun. Wen Jiabao was the Prime Minister of China at the time.
Between last night's dismal reality of enrollees in Obamacare, the collapse to record lows of Obama's approval rating, and the growing disillusionment among the President's own party have forced the administration to "fix" Obamacare. As Politico reports, the president’s proposal would allow insurers to offer plans in 2014 that were previously slated to sunset this year, but require the companies to let consumers know how — if at all — their policies don’t comply with the minimum benefits of the Affordable Care Act, according to a source briefed on the proposal. Insurance companies are not amused as risk pools will need to be adjusted. We leave to our policy-changer-in-chief to explain the nuances of this fiasco and why this is not a "fold", not an admission that the law is FUBAR, and not in any way similar to the Tea-Party's suggestion that Obamacare be delayed by one year...
Easy, Inexpensive Ways to Help Protect Your Family from Radiation
A dispassionate overview of the investment climate and what to expect this week.
Recent activity in asset markets suggests dangerous bubbles are building everywhere. It's time to bunker down and we look at ways to best protect your capital.
This past week saw the initial public offering of the single most anticipated IPO of 2013 - Twitter. If you tweeted about it then you are not alone as the news dominated the media headlines and the market. With Twitter already sporting a 11x price-to-sales ratio, and no earnings, what could possibly go wrong? However, it is that growing complacency among investors that should be the most concerning as the general sentiment has become that nothing can stop the markets as long as the Fed is in the game. This week's issue of things to ponder over the weekend provides some thoughts in this regard...