In its somewhat typical fashion, the Beige Book was dominated by the four 'M' words 'mixed', 'moderate', 'measured', and 'modest' as any weakness was blamed on fiscal cliff uncertainty (even though macro data and the market itself seems to have shrugged all of that silliness off rather dismissively). Employment conditions were little changed, Real Estate prices rose in 11 districts,and energy sector activity was mixed:
- *FED: TRENDS IN WAGES, PRICES, EMPLOYMENT 'RELATIVELY UNCHANGED'
- *FED REGIONAL BANKS REPORT 'MODEST OR MODERATE' ECONOMIC GROWTH
Unleash the anecdotal spin...
Peer-to-Peer Lending and Crowd-Funding Have the Power to Change Finance
Yesterday we presented Goldman's first 3 Top Trades for 2013 as they come out, while also noting Goldman's recent disfatuation (sic) with gold. Today, we present Goldman's 4th Top Trade for 2013, which is, drumroll, to go long Spanish Government Bonds, specifically, the 5 year, which should be bought at a current yield of 4.30%. with a target of 3.50% and a stop loss of 5.50%. This reco comes out after the SPGB complex has already enjoyed unprecedented gains - but not driven by economic improvement, far from it - but merely on the vaporware threat of ECB OMT intervention. Of course, once the "threat of intervention" moves to "fact of intervention", everything will promptly unwind as it always does (QE was far more potent as a stock boost when it was merely a daily threat: the market's peak not incidentally occurred the day after Bernanke dropped his entire load: one simply can't move beyond infinity). And with Spain's massive bond buying cliff in Q1 2013, the days its bailout could be postponed are coming to an end.
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is an exclusive and somewhat mysterious entity that issues banking guidelines for the world’s largest financial institutions. The Committee’s latest ‘framework’, is referred to as “Basel III”. The regulators have stubbornly held to the view that AAA-government securities constitute the bulk of those high quality assets, even as the rest of the financial world increasingly realizes they are anything but that. As banks move forward in their Basel III compliance efforts, they will be forced to buy ever-increasing amounts of AAA-rated government bonds to meet liquidity and capital ratios. Add to this the additional demand for bonds from governments themselves through various Quantitative Easing programs, and we may soon have a situation where government bond yields are so low that they simply make no sense to hold at all. This is where gold comes into play. If the Basel Committee decides to grant gold a favourable liquidity profile under its proposed Basel III framework, it will open the door for gold to compete with cash and government bonds on bank balance sheets – and provide banks with an asset that actually has the chance to appreciate. The world’s non-Western central banks have already embraced this concept with their foreign exchange reserves, which are vulnerable to erosion from ‘Central Planning’ printing programs. After all – if the banks are ultimately interested in restoring stability and confidence, they could do worse than holding an asset that has gone up by an average of 17% per year for the last 12 years and represented ‘sound money’ throughout history.
An article by David Weiner on the MarketWatch site reminded me of just how weak the economic arguments against the gold standard are. Its title: "A Fool's Gold Standard." We examine this article here. The issue that divides the anti-gold bugs from the gold bugs is simple to state. The gold-coin standard places monetary authority in the hands of millions of economic participants who own gold. The gold bugs favor this. The anti-gold bugs oppose it. The rival camps are divided by rival systems of economic sovereignty. The gold bugs favor the sovereignty of the free market. The anti-gold bugs favor the sovereignty of the banking cartel, which is the joint creation of the federal government (Federal Reserve) and the states (state bank licensing). This is a replay of the arguments of Adam Smith against the arguments of the mercantilists. It is the logic of widespread, decentralized private ownership and voluntary contract versus the logic of government licensing, barriers to entry, and the legal right to counterfeit money. The anti-gold bugs do not want to put it this way. This is why gold bugs should always put it this way. Ultimately, this debate is between the logic of the free market as a social organization versus the logic of central planning. The battlefield is monetary theory and monetary policy.
Reports that the housing sector is recovering has generated more than a little irrational exuberance among investors regarding financials.
In a system that depends on lies and the credulity of the citizenry, the greatest lie is that the Federal Reserve's "quantitative easing" bailouts of the banks somehow help our citizens and communities. To clarify this, ask yourself this question: what else could we have bought with the $29 trillion the Fed loaned or backstopped to the banks? If you enjoy quibbling about the total sum of Fed support, be my guest; the Levy Institute came up with $29 trillion after poring over all the data, while the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) tally topped $16 trillion. That's 100% of the nation's GDP and roughly 100% of the $16 trillion national debt. While we're asking about opportunity costs, let's ask what else we could have bought with the $10 trillion that the Federal government has borrowed and blown in the past 11.7 years. The national debt was $5.727 trillion when G.W. Bush was sworn into office on January 20, 2001. It had risen to $10.626 trillion when President Obama was sworn into office in January, 2009. It is now $16.016 trillion, an increase of $5 trillion in less than four years in "debt held by the public" (i.e. the Chinese central bank, the Japanese central bank, the Federal Reserve, etc.)
Here come the facts!!! Warning, if you get your feelings hurt over hearing the truth, simply move on. You may have a couple of quarters lefft.
Independent from Congress … or from the American People?
Too Big Leads To Destruction of the Rule of Law
Big Banks Are Rotten to the Core
While conflicts within and with the Middle East region are still among the top global risks, the paradigm has definitively shifted to China and Europe.
A confluence of factors is forming a perfect storm for the oil market to face some major headwinds for the next 5 years.
In banking, what goes agound comes around - again.
Darker days ahead from the long deleveraging process that just got started in Europe.