There was a time about a year ago, before the second Greek bailout was formalized and the haircut on its domestic-law private sector bonds (first 50%, ultimately 80%, soon to be 100%) was yet to be documented, when it was in Greece's interest to misrepresent its economy as being worse than it was in reality. Things got so bad that the former head of the Greek Statistics Bureau Elstat, also a former IMF employee, faced life in prison if convicted of doing precisely this. A year later, the tables have turned, now that Germany is virtually convinced that Europe can pull a Lehman and let Greece leave the Eurozone, and is merely looking for a pretext to sever all ties with the country, whose only benefit for Europe is to be a seller of islands at Blue Aegean water Special prices to assorted Goldman bankers (at least until it renationalizes them back in a few short years). So a year later we are back to a more normal data fudging dynamic, one in which Greece, whose July unemployment soared by one whole percentage point, will do everything in its power to underrepresent its soaring budget deficit. Case in point, on Friday the Finance Ministry proudly announced its budget deficit for the first eight months was "just" €12.5 billion, versus a target of €15.2 billion, leading some to wonder how it was possible that a country that has suffered terminal economic collapse, and in which the tax collectors have now joined everyone in striking and thus not collecting any tax revenue, could have a better than expected budget deficit. Turns out the answer was quite simple. According to Spiegel, Greece was lying about everything all along, and instead of a €12.5 billion deficit, the real revenue shortfall is nearly double this, or €20 billion, a number which will hardly incentivize anyone in Germany to give Greece the benefit of another delay, let along a third bailout as is now speculated.
If yesterday it was the Middle East's turn to escalate, today it is the Far East, aka Pacific Rim, where China and Japan both remind the world nothing has been fixed in the diplomatic snafu between the two countries over a barren rock in the East China Sea. First, it was China, which on the front page of the biggest daily Xinhua, over the weekend, demanded that Japan immediately stop infringing upon its "territorial sovereignty. To wit: "China asked Japan to immediately stop all acts that harm China's territorial sovereignty, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said late Saturday, after some Japanese landed on the Diaoyu Islands. Hong said the Japanese landed on the Diaoyu Islands Friday evening with the excuse of preventing Taiwanese activists from landing on the islets. "It is a severe infringement upon China's territorial sovereignty, and the Chinese government has lodged solemn representations and strong protests to the Japanese side," Hong said in a statement." Other headlines make it quite clear that it is in China's interest to stir populist anger at Japan instead of seeking an amicable resolution. What, however, was the most important article in today's Pacific Rim press is this one which has nothing to do with Japan, and everything to do with China's expanding zone of influence: "China's top security official on Saturday made a surprise visit to Afghanistan, the first time in 46 years that a Chinese leader set his foot on the soil of this landlocked Asian country."
Large, centrally-directed systems are inherently fragile. Think of the human body; a spontaneous, unexpected blow to the head can kill an otherwise healthy creature; all the healthy cells and tissue in the legs, arms, torso and so forth killed through dependency on the brain’s functionality. Interdependent systems are only ever as strong as their weakest critical link, and very often a critical link can fail through nothing more than bad luck. Yet the human body does not exist in isolation. Humans as a species are a decentralised network. Each individual may be in himself or herself a fragile, interdependent system, but the wider network of humanity is a robust independent system. One group of humans may die in an avalanche or drown at sea, but their death does not affect the survival of the wider population. The human genome has survived plagues, volcanoes, hurricanes, asteroid impacts and so on through its decentralisation.
Former ECB Chief Economist Says ECB Is In Panic, As Czech President Warns The End Of Democracy Is ImminentSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 09/22/2012 21:16 -0400
If anyone thought the bad blood between Germany and the rest of the insolvent proletariat, aka the part of the Eurozone which is out of money (most of it), and which has been now confirmed will be supporting Obama (one wonders what the quid for that particular quo is, although we are certain we will find out as soon as December), complete collapse of the Greek neo-vassal state of the globalist agenda notwithstanding, had gone away, here comes former ECB chief economist Juergen Stark to dispel such illusions. In an interview with Austrian Die Presse, the former banker said what everyone without a PhD understands quite well: "The break came in 2010. Until then everything went well..."Then the ECB began to take on a new role, to fall into panic.... Together with other central banks, the ECB is flooding the market, posing the question not only about how the ECB will get its money back, but also how the excess liquidity created can be absorbed globally. "It can't be solved by pressing a button. If the global economy stabilises, the potential for inflation has grown enormously... It gave in to outside pressure ... pressure from outside Europe" Why, whichever bank headquartered at 200 West, NY, NY might he be referring to?
Let’s review the tricks the central banks & governments have available to beat back any financial challenges presented by the debt reaper.
- Money tool # 1 = deficit spending. For years, the G7 countries have believed that spending more than you make, will create jobs and prosperity. To measure the success of this strategy, we invite you to hang out in Spain, Greece or Italy.
- Money tool # 2 = cut interest rates to 0%. All the really smart people in the World know that lower interest rates encourage people and companies to borrow more money and spend this money. To measure the success of this strategy, we invite you to hang out at the US Federal Reserve and help them count the $1.5 trillion in excess money held by the big banks.
- Money tool # 3 = when all else fails print money. Everyone knows by now the reason the Great Depression was great was because no one had the idea to print money to kick start the economy. To measure the success of this strategy, we definitely do not invite you to visit Japan. The Japanese have been printing money for over 10 years and that hasn’t shaken their economy from its funk one bit.
As we enter the always dangerous months of September and October, central bankers and governments just can’t get their heads around the fact that their cherished money tools are not shaking the World. Never one to quit, someone somewhere muttered “we must do something” – and something they did.
Weekend Political Roundup
After the financial debacle caused by a thieving and uncontrolled Thug-elite (banksters, Wall Street, moneyed interests), helped in part by a society ready to be courted by its very own ugly greed, this time in real estate, one would think the electorate would have economics as the prime, if not the sole focus when casting a ballot in this next presidential election. And that would entail castigating politicians, or parties, who could be justly blamed for such debacle and for embracing globalization without a viable plan for those Americans who would be left behind without living-wage jobs; while rewarding politicians, or parties, who offer a reasonable way out, not just of the present mess we are in, but of the impending uglier mess which looms in the horizon. But that would be taxing reality in a nation which has failed to charge Wall Street criminals, for the most part Republicans; in a nation where Bill Clinton, the godfather of American globalization, continues to be held in high esteem by a clueless Democrat party.
Peak career risk. That's how one can summarize what the hedge fund community, long used to "nimbly" outperforming the market populated by slow, dumb money managers and getting paid 7+ digit bonuses, is feeling right now. The last time we looked at relative hedge fund performance, because let's face it: indexing is a polite word for underperforming and anyone who says otherwise is rather clueless about the asset management industry in which the only thing that matters is always outperforming everyone else, only 89% of hedge funds were underperforming the S&P500 through mid-August. A month later, this number is now up to 92% as of September 14. A month later, this number is now up to 92% as of September 14.
Inversely this means that only 8% of hedge funds are outperforming the market with just 3 months left in the year.
What kind of plan is that?
Today's Zero Hedge articles in audio summary! "Print me a couple Trillion Ben. I promise I won't tell." Everyday 8-9pm New York Time!
In simple terms this tells us that inflation is hitting “lift off” in the US at the very same time that we are entering a recession that could be on par with that of 2008. And with corn and soybean prices at or near record highs, we could be on the verge of a stagflationary disaster combined with a food crisis at the very same time.
Mark Twain once wrote that "History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme." While this is a statement that is often thrown around by the media, economists and analysts - few of them actually heed the warning. It has been even worse for investors. Over the past 800 years of history we have watched one bubble after the next develop, and bust, devastating lives, savings and, in some cases, entire countries. Whether it has been a bubble created in emerging market debt, rail roads or tulip bulbs - the end result has always been the inevitable collapse as excesses are drained from the system.
Saving the banks by dumping trillions into housing is classic marginal return. Since the mechanism is broken--housing as the "wealth effect" generator and the source of billions in profits for banks--every $1 trillion in subsidies, give-aways, guarantees and mortgage purchases by the Fed yield fewer benefits to the real economy. Once again the question arises: rather than loan $16 trillion to banks at 0%, why doesn't the Fed just buy all residential mortgages for $10 trillion and charge 0.25% interest on the lot? That would cut out the banks, and that is the point here: the Fed's policies are not aimed at "helping housing," they're aimed at protecting the banks' income streams, assets and political power. Since the banks own $10 trillion in mortgages, housing is a key concern of the Fed's "save and enrich the banks" campaign.
Here's the Fed's policy in plain English: Debt-serfdom is good because it enriches the banks. All hail debt-serfdom, our goal and our god!
Between CNBC's Rick Santelli and PIMCO's Mohammed El-Erian, this brief clip succinctly sums up the 'less than ideal' reality of Bernanke's all-in bet and how the world is trying to 'trade' it. Santelli analogizes: "Visualize the biggest fire hose in the world, 20 miles away from a little Geranium plant? Now this hose is going and going and going, and ultimately, that Geranium plant gets a little bit of water but everything around it and leading up to it for miles around is just underwater. That's QE, in my opinion." To which El-Erian retorts: "at what point do you tell investors stop focusing on the benefits and make the collateral damage the investment theme?" It seems, given gold's outperformance, that this is exactly what is occurring as the hose-pipe's flood spills out everywhere.
So after 2 hell of positive weeks with fairy dust sprinkled by the CBU (Central Banks United), things seem a little out of breath here.
Post-Central Bank intervention depression, so to speak, as the question on everyone’s mind is “What’s next?
Add to that soured geopolitics that stirred spirits in Asia, MENA and to some extend in regional Spain.