The financial and other markets do not seem to reflect the reality of subdued growth is how Hoisington Investment's Lacy Hunt describes the current environment. Stock prices are high, or at least back to levels reached more than a decade ago, and bond yields contain a significant inflationary expectations premium. Stock and commodity prices have risen in concert with the announcement of QE1, QE2 and QE3. Theoretically, as well as from a long-term historical perspective, a mechanical link between an expansion of the Fed's balance sheet and these markets is lacking. It is possible to conclude, therefore, that psychology typical of irrational market behavior is at play. As Lance Roberts notes, Hunt suggests that when expectations shift from inflation to deflation, irrational behavior might adjust risk asset prices significantly. Such signs that a shift is beginning can be viewed in the commodity markets. "Debt is future consumption denied," and regardless of the current debate - Reinhart and Rogoff were right. Simply put, "the problems have not been solved, they have merely been contained."
The world's central banks have printed unimaginable amounts of money in recent years - "these guys are really more powerful than the government." Neil Macdonald explores what this means for the global economy and for your financial well-being - "can you imagine if the American public knew there was this 'club' that met secretly in Switzerland and made decisions that dramatically affected their lives, but we're not going to tell you about it because it's too complicated." This brief documentary should open a few eyes to the reality behind the world's most powerful (and real) cabal.
Over the years, Jim O'Neill, former Chairman of GSAM, rose to fame for pegging the BRIC acronym (no such luck for the guy who came up with the far more applicable and accurate PIIGS, or STUPIDS, monikers, but that's neither here nor there). O'Neill was correct in suggesting, about a decade ago, that the rise of the middle class in these countries and their purchasing power would prove to be a major driving force in the world economy. O'Neill was wrong in his conclusion as to what the ultimate driver of said purchasing power would be: as it has become all too clear with the entire world drowning in debt (and recently China), it was pure and simply debt. O'Neill was horribly wrong after the Great Financial Crisis when he suggested that it would be the BRIC nation that would push the world out of depression. To the contrary, not only is the world not out of depression as the fourth consecutive year of deteriorating economic data confirms (long since disconnected with the actual capital markets), but it is the wanton money (and bad debt) creation by the central banks of the developed world (as every instance of easing by China has led to an immediate surge of inflation in the domestic market) that has so far allowed the day of reckoning, and waterfall debt liquidations, to take place (and certainly don't look at the stock index performance of China, Brazil, India or Russia). Despite his errors, he has been a good chap having taken much of the abuse piled upon him here at Zero Hedge somewhat stoically, as well as a fervent ManU supporter, certainly at least somewhat of a redeeming quality. Attached please find his final, farewell letter as Chairman of the Goldman Asset Management division, as he moves on to less tentacular pastures.
After reading the Spiegel article below, which reveals so much about German thinking, it becomes very clear that not only is Cyprus the "benchmark", but that the second some other PIIG country runs into trouble again, and its soaring non-performing loans inevitably demand a liability "resolution" a la Cyprus, it will be Germany once again at the helm, demanding more of the same equity, unsecured debt and ultimately depositor impairment. As the following punchline from Spiegel summarizes, "It would be more sensible -- and fairer -- for the crisis-ridden countries to exercise their own power to reduce their debts, namely by reaching for the assets of their citizens more than they have so far. As the most recent ECB study shows, there is certainly enough money available to do this." And that is the crux of the wealth-disparity demand of the European Disunion.
The recent slide in the gold price has generated substantial demand for bullion that will likely bring forward a financial and systemic disaster for both central and bullion banks that has been brewing for a long time. To understand why, we must examine their role and motivations in precious metals markets and assess current ownership of physical gold, while putting investor emotion into its proper context. The time when central banks will be unable to continue to manage bullion markets by intervention has probably been brought closer. They will face having to rescue the bullion banks from the crisis of rising gold and silver prices by other means, if only to maintain confidence in paper currencies. This will likely develop into another financial crisis at the worst possible moment, when central banks are already being forced to flood markets with paper currency to keep interest rates down, banks solvent, and to finance governments’ day-to-day spending. History might judge April 2013 as the month when through precipitate action in bullion markets Western central banks and the banking community finally began to lose control over all financial markets.
- Reinhart and Rogoff: Responding to Our Critics (NYT)
- Differences with centre-right delay Italy's Letta (Reuters)
- Italy's Letta moves forward to shape government (Reuters)
- China’s leaders warn on financial risks (FT)
- Norway oil fund makes big move from bonds to stocks (FT) - worked wonders for the Bank of Israel
- Smuggling milk is the new smuggling heroin in HK: Milk Smugglers Top Heroin Courier Arrests in Hong Kong (BBG)
- RenTec's mean reversion models fail on BOJ lunacy: Yen Bets Don't Add Up for a Fund Giant (WSJ)
- From 'Fabulous Fab' to Grad Student (WSJ)
- BOJ in credibility test as divisions emerge over inflation target (Reuters)
- Boston Bombing Suspect Moved from hospital to prison (WSJ)
- Provopoulos Says ECB May Never Need to Use Bond-Buying Program (BBG) which is good because, legally, it doesn't exist
It is one thing for the market to no longer pay attention to economic fundamentals or newsflow (with the exception of newsflow generated by fake tweets of course), but when the mainstream media turns full retard and comes up with headlines such as this: "German Ifo Confidence Declines After Winter Chilled Recovery" to spin the key overnight event, the German IFO Business climate (which dropped from 106.2 to 104.4, missing expectations of 106.2 of course) one just has to laugh. In the artcile we read that "German business confidence fell for a second month in April after winter weather hindered the recovery in Europe’s largest economy... “We still expect there to have been a good rebound in the first quarter, although there is a big question mark about the weather,” said Anatoli Annenkov, senior economist at Societe Generale SA in London." We wonder how long Bloomberg looked for some junior idiot who agreed to be memorialized for posterity with the preceding moronic soundbite because this really is beyond ridiculous (and no, it's not snow in the winter that is causing yet another "swoon" in indicators like the IFO, the ZEW and all other metrics as we patiently explained yesterday so even a 5 year old caveman financial reported would get it).
A few weeks ago, we wrote of the Swiss People's Party's efforts to gain enough signatures to force the Swiss National Bank (SNB), who 'supposedly' guarantees the price stability in Switzerland, to stop selling its gold reserves. This last week, as the FT reports, they reached the required 100,000 signature mark and on Thursday the federal chancellery confirmed Switzerland is to hold a referendum that would ban the central bank from selling its gold reserves, force it to keep at least 20% of its assets in the metal, and repatriate gold reserves held abroad and keep them at home. Following Cyprus' forced sales and discussions of the net wealth in other European peripheral nations, proponents of the Swiss measure flatly reject the idea of sales, arguing that disposals of gold reserves at low prices between 2001 and 2006, as well as more recently, have cost Switzerland billions of Swiss francs. The "Save Our Swiss Franc" initiative proclaims, "today gold is almost the only really valuable asset left on the SNB’s balance sheet." The SNB, however, is concerned at, "the monetary policy implications of the demands in the initiative." A date for the referendum has not yet been set - but the FT notes that previous 'referenda' have taken up to several years from acceptance to actual vote.
There have been several recent developments that have flown in the face of both neo-liberalism and ordo-liberalism and thrown investors off balance. Discuss.
Instead of frightening people away from gold and silver, the takedown of paper gold seems to have had just the opposite effect. People just can't seem to get enough. The crash of the price of paper gold on Monday has unleashed an unprecedented global frenzy to buy physical gold and silver. All over the planet, people are recognizing that this is a unique opportunity to be able to acquire large amounts of gold and silver at a bargain price. Will this massive run on physical gold and silver soon lead to widespread shortages of those metals? Premiums over spot prices are rising everywhere already. And once reports of physical shortages of gold and silver become widespread, it is going to absolutely rock the financial world. But this is what happens when you manipulate free markets - it often has unintended consequences far beyond anything that you ever imagined. The following are 10 signs that the takedown of paper gold has unleashed an unprecedented global run on physical gold and silver...
Hong Kong’s Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society has been in operations for over a century, and it’s President Haywood Cheung was interviewed by Bloomberg news earlier today. Whoever orchestrated the attack on gold and silver in the last week or so has gravely miscalculated, since the response to the drop has been surging demand for physical gold and silver. While I tend to be skeptical when I hear about silver shortages since these reports have been so exaggerated in the past, the lack of silver coin availability and premiums are the most extreme I have seen since the financial and economic meltdown of 2008. Now we discover that the Chinese Gold & Silver Exchange Society has essentially sold out of gold bullion, and must wait until Wednesday for shipments to arrive from Switzerland and London.
Government mints, bullion refineries and dealers around the world report a dramatic increase in demand for coins and bars.
Bullion refiner, MKS said that “physical demand is extraordinary.”
In terms of transactions, gold buyers outnumbered sellers by a ratio of nearly five to one yesterday. In terms of volume, gold buyers outnumbered sellers by a ratio of nearly nine to one yesterday. Meaning that there were more buyers than sellers and buyers were placing larger orders than those selling and this trend has continued today.
U.S. gold coins sales have been at record levels this week. Lower prices and the tragic events in Boston may have contributed to increased buying due to concerns about the risk of terrorist attacks.
Premiums are rising in Europe and the U.S. and there are delays of a few weeks on some smaller coins and bars showing the growing tightness in the market.
Thanks to the scapegoating of the Cahuzac affair, Europe can now move from its war against finance (Hollande declaring that finance was his enemy, the financial transaction tax, capping of bonuses, etc) to an outright war against tax havens (letting Cyprus sink, arm-twisting Luxembourg into abandoning its banking-secret policy, etc). Leaving aside the EU’s increasing penchant for forcing members to adopt policies that blatantly go against national interests (like the Tobin tax in the UK), yesterday’s announcement by Luxembourg of an “open-book” policy raises the question of whether the EU is cutting off its nose to spite its face. If tax havens have existed and thrived for so long, they must have some sort of economic justification. The reality for most tax havens is that their economies are far too small to absorb the excess savings that pour into their countries. Their banks thus end up being large buyers of assets outside of the country. In this position of weakness, going out all guns blazing after rich people and their wealth strikes us as sheer madness...
Switzerland is the place that has traditionally stood above all the rest in its reputation for financial stability. Why? Because the currency was well-managed, the banking system was sound, and the country had a long tradition of treating capital well. Over the last few years, however, these advantages have collapsed. Just a small handful of countries inspire confidence in the marketplace. And the most popular seems to be Australia. Now, there’s really no such thing as a “good” fiat currency. But given such fundamentals, it’s easy to see why Australia is replacing Switzerland as a global safe haven.
Did you know that the greatest period of economic growth in American history was during a time when there was absolutely no federal income tax? Between the end of the Civil War and 1913, there was an explosion of economic activity in the United States unlike anything ever seen before or since. Unfortunately, a federal income tax was instituted in 1913, and this year it turned 100 years old. But there was no fanfare, was there? There was no celebration because the federal income tax is universally hated. This year, the American people will shell out approximately $4.22 trillion in state and federal income taxes. That amount is equivalent to approximately 29.4 percent of all income that Americans will bring in this year, and that does not even take into account the dozens of other taxes that Americans pay each year. At this point, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long, and those that are honest and pay their taxes every year are being absolutely shredded by this system.