In the years 2006 and 2007, the underlying stability of the global economy and the U.S. credit base in particular was experiencing intense scrutiny by alternative economic analysts. A crash was coming, it was coming soon, and most of our society was either too stupid to recognize the problem or too frightened to accept the reality they knew was just over the horizon. Why did 2008 creep up on so many people? Weren’t there plenty of economists out there “preaching to the choir” at that time? Weren’t there plenty of signals? Weren’t there plenty of practical conclusions being made about the future? And yet, the world was left stunned. The truth is, human beings have a nasty habit of ignoring the cold hard facts of the present in the hopes of using apathy as a magical elixir for future prosperity. They want to believe that disaster is a mindset, that it is a boogeyman under their bed that can be defeated through blind optimism. Collapse, from a historical perspective, seems to occur when the searchlights of the individual mind are dimmest, when the threat is the greatest, and when we are most comfortable in our ignorance.
On the even of Bastille Weekend and the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France, you know it must be bad when the French-company-owned ratings agency Fitch is forced to remove its AAA rating from France. Key drivers include Debt-to-GDP projections rising and substantially weaker economic output and forecasts. Full statement below...
"The China Radio International sponsored newspaper World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao)(04/28): "According to China's National Foreign Exchanges Administration China's gold reserves have recently increased. Currently, the majority of its gold reserves have been located in the U.S. and European countries. The U.S. and Europe have always suppressed the rising price of gold. They intend to weaken gold's function as an international reserve currency. They don't want to see other countries turning to gold reserves instead of the U.S. dollar or Euro. Therefore, suppressing the price of gold is very beneficial for the U.S. in maintaining the U.S. dollar's role as the international reserve currency. China's increased gold reserves will thus act as a model and lead other countries towards reserving more gold. Large gold reserves are also beneficial in promoting the internationalization of the RMB."
Following the most recent shift 'away' from a USD-centric world (with the China-Australia direct currency convertibility), it seems the possibility of China's Yuan as the next global reserve currency is getting closer. The Brits, Germans, and now the Swiss (who just signed a free-trade-agreement with China) are all actively vying to become Europe's Yuan trading hub as it seems the long line of developments to internationalize the currency over the past two years. As Bundesbank board member Joachim Nagel noted in a speech entitled "Reniminbi as a potential reserve currency" this week, "the Chinese currency is well on its way to becoming one of the future global reserve currencies." He noted that, although the USD is still the most commonly-used currency for settling trade with China; from virtually zero in 2010, the Yuan is used to settle over 12% of trading transactions now - and is likley to increase further.
"Throughout all of history, there has never been a single instance where a fiat currency did not end in hyperinflation and complete collapse. There is not one example of a successful fiat currency. Because the simple thing is that if you give a printing press, in simplified terms, to a politician, a king, an emperor, a president, a prime minister, you name it, they will overuse it every single time. That is just human nature. And that is what happens..."
Despite best effort to immunize banks from rate swings and debt MTM risk, a substantial amount of duration exposure has remained with the glorified hedge funds known as FDIC-insured bank holdings companies under the designation of “Available For Sale” (AFS) or those which due to their explicit short-term trading fate, would have to be subject to mark to market moves. It is the bottom line impact of these securities that threatens to crush bank earnings in the just concluded second quarter by an amount that could be as large as $25 (or more) billion.
Smyth: There seems to be an expectation that the end of QE will be bullish for the Dollar and therefore bearish for gold. My view is the end of QE will be bearish for all those asset classes which require QE for life support
With the Comex futures prices becoming increasingly irrelevant, a Physical Gold price datasource for buyers of physical Gold
This piece is timely as markets spit up the punch from Bernanke's bowl
Things have been a little erratic lately here in US, but not really headline-worthy. The economy continues to grow, sort of, houses continue to sell and stock and bond prices fluctuate but can’t seem to follow through in either direction. We are not, in short, engulfed in any kind of crisis. But out in the world, especially in once-hot emerging markets like Brazil and China, the story is very different. So can the US stay placid when the rest of the world turns chaotic? Highly doubtful. There’s a market phenomenon in which one investment play blows up and forces those on the wrong side of the trade to dump their liquid assets to raise cash. Which causes the high-quality assets to fall as much or more than the junk. As Noland notes, the world’s premier liquid asset is the Treasury bond. If the developing world’s need to raise cash is a factor in the recent spike in US interest rates, this implies a feedback loop in which rising US rates further destabilize emerging markets, forcing the sale of more Treasuries, and so on.
"By propping up asset markets, the Fed has created an illusion that wealth is being created. The next step, according to Bernanke’s plan, should be for growth to follow. In fact, there is no reason why the rise in prices of financial assets should lead to actual investments or a rise in the median income. So far, it has not. There has been no real increase in the private sector propensity to borrow, and the danger may be that any further public sector borrowing will hasten the decline because of our “permanent asset hypothesis”. This means that, should the Fed lose control of asset prices (is this what is now happening in Japan?), then the game will be up and the downside move in markets may well be terrifying."
In a confirmation that the S&P is starting to get worried about the drones surrounding the McGraw Hill building resulting from the ongoing litigation with Eric Holder's Department of Injustice, not to mention a reminder that US downgrades always happen after hours, while upgrades must hit before the market opens, Standard & Poors just upgraded the Standard & Poors 500 the US outlook from Negative to Stable. On what "receding fiscal risks" did the S&P raise its assessment of the US - the fact that the US is now at its debt limit, that there is no imminent resolution to the credit issue, or the 105% and rising debt/GDP - read on to find out. And of course, the countdown until the S&P wristslap settlement with the DOJ is announced begins now, as does the upgrade watch by Buffett's controlled Moody's of the US to AAAA++++.
"I think we are going to go through the ringer... It is bad enough already, but there is no way that we can step back."
"I think monetizing debt and spending and deficit is going to get much, much worse until the world rejects the dollar."
"when people become frightened, they look for things of real value, and I don't think they can repeal the laws of economics that says that for 6,000 years metals have been beneficial. They will go to monetary metals, gold and silver"
"...if we have an authoritarian government, that is our greatest threat. So, I would like to think that there is no perfect protection, other than shrinking the size and scope and power of government, so that we can be left alone and take care of ourselves."
On this day in 1943 the “Current Tax Payment Act”, was passed by Congress. It provides for income taxes on wages and salaries to be withheld by employers from paychecks. The purpose stated was that is was an emergency provision for the War. Sure — but it is still with us today. Milton Friedman, who was a key player in implementing the “tax withholding” system realized what he had done and sought redemption: "... It never occurred to me at the time that I was helping to develop machinery that would make possible a government that I would come to criticize severely as too large, too intrusive, too destructive of freedom. Yet, that is precisely what I was doing."