Syria and Iran are, in a way, the first dominos in a long chain of terrible events. This chain, as chaotic as it seems, leads to only one end result: Third world status for almost every country on the planet, including the U.S., leaving the financial institutions, like monetary grim reapers, to swoop in and gather up the pieces that remain to be fashioned into a kind of Frankenstein economy. A fiscal golem. A global monstrosity that removes all sovereignty whether real or imagined and centralizes the decision making processes of humanity into the hands of a morally bankrupt few. The only people celebrating at the end of the calamitous hostilities will be the hyper-moneyed power addicted .01%, who will celebrate their global coup in private, laughing as the rest of the world burns itself out, and comes begging them for help.
Gold’s remonetisation in the international financial and monetary system continues. LCH.Clearnet, the world's leading independent clearing house, said yesterday that it will accept gold as collateral for margin cover purposes starting in just one week - next Tuesday August 28th. LCH.Clearnet is a clearing house for major international exchanges and platforms, as well as a range of OTC markets. As recently as 9 months ago, figures showed that they clear approximately 50% of the $348 trillion global interest rate swap market and are the second largest clearer of bonds and repos in the world. In addition, they clear a broad range of asset classes including commodities, securities, exchange traded derivatives, CDS, energy and freight. The development follows the same significant policy change from CME Clearing Europe, the London-based clearinghouse of CME Group Inc. (CME), announced last Friday that it planned to accept gold bullion as collateral for margin requirements on over-the-counter commodities derivatives. It is interesting that both CME and now LCH.Clearnet Group have both decided to allow use of gold as collateral next Tuesday - August 28th. It suggests that there were high level discussions between the world’s leading clearing houses and they both decided to enact the measures next Tuesday. It is likely that they are concerned about ‘event’ risk, systemic and monetary risk and about a Lehman Brothers style crisis enveloping the massive, opaque and unregulated shadow banking system.
- Merkel's Dilemma: Risk Euro Zone or Her Government (WSJ)... as first suggest by ZH 2 months ago, with only one resolution: referendum
- Russia warns West over Syria after Obama threats (Reuters)
- Consider keeping Bernanke, Romney adviser Glenn Hubbard says (Reuters)... Glenn Hubbard is the star of the movie Inside Job
- Spain Deficit Goals at Risk as Cuts Consensus Fades (Bloomberg)
- Czech Austerity Revolt Threatens Cabinet as Slump Bites (Bloomberg)
- Greek cuts to be deeper than trailed (FT)
- Akin rebuffs Romney, Republican calls to quit Senate race (Reuters)
- Obama Leads Romney in Poll Showing Disdain for Congress (Bloomberg)
- Greece needs more time to reform, PM Samaras tells paper (Reuters)
- UK banks face scandal over toxic insurance products (Reuters)
- Iceland Shelves Monetary Tightening as Krona Seen Appreciating (Bloomberg)
- India Considers $35 Billion Debt Revamp After Biggest Blackout (Bloomberg)
In the aftermath of its recent epic hacking, Reuters decided to take down its in house blogs. Few people noticed, and from what we hear they are still down. However, when Reuters' 3000 - the firm's FX trading platform: "one of the two key systems used by currency traders around the world, experienced an outage Tuesday, according to several market participants" goes down, and has yet to come up, we can only hope that someone has paid attention unless FX trading is also now thoroughly dominated by algos as well) to a market which transacts to the tune of several trillions in notional every day. But perhaps most interesting is that the "break" occurred at precisely 3:13 pm, at just the moment when the accelerating selloff in the EURUSD, and thus the broad market, could have caused quite a headache for those whose reelection chances are dependent on the S&P being as high as possible heading into November.
If you still require proof that in the short term, market action is driven by perceptions and sentiment rather than reality, here it is. It is worth quoting again what Mrs. Merkel said in Ottawa in toto:
“The European Central Bank, although it is of course independent, is completely in line with what we’ve said all along. And the results of the meeting of the central bank and their decisions, actually shows that the European Central Bank is counting on political action in the form of conditionality as the precondition for a positive development of the Euro.”
Does this sound like 'unlimited bond buying without preconditions' to anyone? No? Investors seemed to think that is what it meant. We see no painless way out for Spain, regardless of what ultimately happens. Even if the ECB were to act without conditionality or limits, it could not possibly alter the underlying solvency problems - and this isn't going to happen anyway. So what are markets currently pricing in? Everybody seems quite certain of a happy end at the moment. The bet is that massive central bank intervention is heading our way in the near future and will boost asset prices further. This is a mindset that has very likely set up the markets for disappointment.
Whether its 'Trade' Wars or 'Real' Wars, tensions appear to be escalating at an increasing clip around the world. The AP is reporting that Israeli officials say Egypt is violating their 1979 peace treaty by deploying tanks in the demilitarized Sinai desert, which borders Israel.
Russia continues to accumulate gold in its large foreign exchange reserves. The reserves include monetary gold, special drawing rights, reserve position at the IMF and foreign exchange. Russia’s central bank increased its gold holdings to 30.1 million troy ounces as of August 1st, from 29.5 million troy ounces a month earlier, according to a statement published on its website today. The gold reserves were valued at $48.7 billion at the end of last month, Bank of Russia said in a statement. Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves rose to $510.0 billion in the week to August 10 from $507.4 billion a week earlier, central bank data showed last Thursday. Russia's gold and foreign exchange reserves were $498.6 billion at the end of 2011. This means that Russia now nearly has some 10% of its foreign exchange reserves in gold bullion.
- German central bank warns country’s financial health not a given (WaPo)
- Secret Libor Committee Clings to Anonymity After Rigging Scandal (Bloomberg)
- Peru Declares State of Emergency to Quell Violent Mining Protests (Dow Jones)
- Euro-Area Economic Adjustment Only Half Complete, Moody’s Says (Bloomberg)
- Wall Street Leaderless in Rules Fight as Dimon Diminished (Bloomberg)
- China Swaps Drop From Three-Month High as PBOC Adds Record Cash (Bloomberg)
- China invest $1 billion in U.S. Cheniere's LNG plant, Blackstone to act as intermediary buffer (FT, Reuters)
- Romney Offers Lukewarm Support for Fed Audit - Hilsenrath (WSJ)
- U.K. Unexpectedly Posts Deficit as Corporation Taxes Plunge (Bloomberg)
- Obama issues military threat to Syria (FT)
- Merkel Allies Signal Concessions on Greece Before Samaras Visit (Bloomberg)
- Chinese banks warned of foreign exchange risks (China Daily)
While the geopolitical focus is once again all over Iran and Israel, it may be time to take a quick look Egypt, where the recently elected, and pro-US president Mohamed Mursi is "preparing to use aircraft and tanks in Sinai for the first time since the 1973 war with Israel in its offensive against militants in the border area." Reuters continues: "The plans to step up the operation were being finalised by Egypt's newly appointed Defence Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he made his first visit to Sinai on Monday following the killing of 16 border guards on August 5. Egypt blamed the attack on Islamist militants and the conflict is an early test for President Mohamed Mursi - elected in June following the overthrow last year of Hosni Mubarak - to prove he can rein in militants on the border with Israel. "Al-Sisi will supervise the putting together of final plans to strike terrorist elements using aircraft and mobile rocket launchers for the first time since the beginning of the operation," an Egyptian security source said. Another security source said the army was planning to attack and besiege al-Halal mountain in central Sinai, using weapons including tanks, where militants were suspected to be hiding." Of course, what can possibly go wrong in the middle east once a government decides to escalate military expansion against militant terrorists. Look for crude to rise ever higher, and for SPR release rumors to hit the tape daily as yet another market is ensnared in price controls ahead of the election.
Silver, wine, art and gold – or SWAG – may be the solution for investors looking to protect their wealth in the coming years according to perceptive Reuters Columnist, James Saft. In an interesting article and an interesting video for Reuters, Saft coins the term “Investing 201” which means having SWAG in your portfolio in order to protect investors from “a grim decade of money printing and financial repression.” SWAG, as in silver, wine, art and gold, are real assets that might just outperform if official policy causes the money supply to surge according to Saft. This is the idea of Joe Roseman, who says SWAG will do very well over what could be a very troubled next decade. "These assets effectively act as a money supply index tracker," said Roseman, who for 16 years was a money manager and economist at Moore Capital, run by the legendary Louis Bacon. "If the authorities are going to bail themselves out, money supply will expand. Every single time governments have been here, this is exactly what they have done."
- Caterpillar warns on global uncertainty (FT)
- Only 3 years behind the curve as usual: Moody’s warns on California city defaults (FT)
- Monti Says ‘Tragedy’ If Euro Became a Factor of Disruption (Bloomberg) - the same Monti whose disruptive comments recently enraged Germany?
- China Home Prices Climb in More Cities Prompting Policy Concerns (Bloomberg)
- China's Big Four boost new bank loans in Aug first half (Reuters)
- EU Leaders Plan Shuttle Talks to Bolster Greece (Bloomberg)
- US rule set to slash cars’ fuel use (FT)
- Spain Seeks Commitment From Central Bank on Bond Buys (WSJ)... and preferably completely unconditional
- Finnish Euro Doubts Hide Business Plea to Commit to Currency (Bloomberg)
First Tunisia, then Greece, now Italy (the same Italy where the economy is "picking up" where yields are "stable", and where much "progress" is being made). From Reuters: "A 54-year-old man died on Sunday after setting himself on fire outside the Italian parliament last week to highlight his struggle with unemployment, police said. Angelo di Carlo suffered 85 percent burns after the incident in front of the lower house of parliament - the Chamber of Deputies - in central Rome during the early hours of August 11, Italian media reported. Police on duty nearby put out the flames with fire extinguishers and took him to hospital. The widower was facing economic difficulties after losing his job and had struggled for years before that with temporary work contracts that offered little protection or benefits, according to media reports...Di Carlo's death is the latest in a wave of highly publicized suicides linked to financial woes in recent months which have highlighted the human cost of the country's economic crisis."
In Europe, the "no news" vacation for the past month was great news. The news is back... As is Merkel.
- "The Euro Crisis May Last 20 Years" - Welt
- German finmin: no new aid programme for Greece - Reuters
- Westerwelle Opposes Relaxing Greek Aid Terms: Tagesspiegel
- Euro Countries Plan Strategies to Prevent Break-Up: Sueddeutsche (via Bloomberg)
- Deutsche Bank Among Four Said to Be in U.S. Laundering Probe - Bloomberg
- Bundesbank Vice-Head Opposes Schaeuble’s Banking Proposal: WiWo (via Bloomberg)
- Westerwelle Opposes Relaxing Greek Aid Terms: Tagesspiegel
- German Industry Group Head says No Place In Greece For Eurozone: WiWo (via Bloomberg)
- German Taxpayer Association Head Criticises ESM: Euro am Sonntag (via Bloomberg)
- Spain says there must be no limit set on ECB bond buying - RTRS
- France Favors Greece Rescue Package, Opposing Germany: Welt (via Bloomberg)
Gold continued gains on Friday receiving a boost from Angela Merkel’s comments saying she supported ‘Super’ Mario Draghi’s pledge “to do whatever it takes” to save the euro. While this sentiment lifted markets and some investors hope ECB action is sooner rather than later - it is also creates the risk of currency debasement and could lead to further falls in the euro. At the beginning of August, the European Central Bank said that it might buy Spanish bonds if the government first applied for the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) support. The ECB has said that specific committees within the bank would design the appropriate mechanisms for the bond purchases in the coming weeks, suggesting a possible green light within a few weeks.
- 'Pussy Riot' band members found guilty (Al Jazeera)
- Merkel Says Germany Backs Draghi’s ECB Aid Conditionality (Bloomberg)
- Now, the reverse psychology: Hilsenrath: Fed 'Hawks' Weigh In Against More Action (WSJ)
- London Firings Seen Surging As Finance Firms Add NY Jobs (Bloomberg)
- Facebook Second-Worst IPO Performer After Share Lock-Up (Bloomberg)
- Kocherlakota Says FOMC Goes Too Far With 2014 Rate Pledge (Bloomberg)
- China Said to Order Action by Banks as Developer Loans Sour (Bloomberg)
- Australian Treasury Dismisses AUD Intervention Calls (Dow Jones)
- Brevan Howard Loses Third Founder As Rokos Said To Leave (Bloomberg)
- Japan eyes end to decades long deflation (Reuters)... for 30 years now
- Ex-Morgan Stanley Executive Gets Nine Months in China Case (Bloomberg)