When Arthur Levitt's SEC adopted Rule 2a-7 in 1998, it handed the TBTF banks and GSEs a mortgage monopoly on a silver platter.
The entire banking sector is based on two illusions: 1) Thanks to modern portfolio management, bank debt is now riskless; and 2) Technology only enhances banks' tools to skim profits; it does not undermine the fundamental role of banks. The global financial meltdown of 2008-09 definitively proved riskless bank debt is an illusion. It's not just that banks are no longer needed - they pose a needless and potentially catastrophic risk to the nation. To understand why, we need to understand the key characteristics of risk.
Have you noticed that people are becoming angrier? You can see it everywhere – in our homes, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our television shows, in our movies, and certainly in Washington. In fact, many have said that there is an “epidemic” of anger in America today. And it is undeniably true. As you will see below, a whole host of surveys and opinion polls show that America has become a seething cauldron of anger and frustration unlike anything that we have ever seen before. The very fabric of our society is coming apart at the seams and the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is beginning to disappear. What is America going to look like if we continue to go even farther down this road?
Days before Tokyo won its bid to host the 2020 Olympics last September, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe stated that Fukushima contaminated water was "under control." Now, as Reuters reports, the nation's nuclear watchdog has uncovered that, following "uncertainty about the reliability and accuracy of the September strontium reading," which prompted a re-examination of samples, levels of Strontium-90 were five times the levels previously recorded. The Japanese NRA blasted TEPCO, “We did not hear about this figure when they detected it last September. We have been repeatedly pushing TEPCO to release strontium data since November. It should not take them this long to release this information." One can only wonder why - when the promise of $500 million of government support is on the line... and new cracks are appearing.
Dennis Gartman, already humiliated beyond any hope of reputation salvage in the media, appears to be refocusing his keen talents and acute sense of extrapolating instantaneous market momentum 1 millisecond into the future, to a renewed direct exposure in the capital markets. And while hoping that market junkies have forgotten the epic disaster that was his last foray into ETF-land with ONN and OFF, Gartman today announced that he is now launching his signature shtick as a brand new ETF: gold... in non-dollar terms.
The ideal system for middlemen is the exact opposite of an open competitive market: low-risk fat profits flow to monopolies or cartels that obscure costs, and turn sellers and buyers into involuntary participants who have no other choice but to give money to the middlemen. The Internet is enabling sellers and buyers to bypass the predatory State and the parasitic middlemen the State enforces. Banks--no longer needed. Sickcare cartels--no longer needed. Higher education cartel--no longer needed.
As if we didn’t know it already! The Western world is the ultimate destination for corruption, pulling a swift one and swiping the valuables from the inside pocket of the guy’s pants standing in front of you as he keeps his beady eye on the economy.
With the Greeks facing up to their third (or 4th or 5th, who's counting anymoe anyway) bailout, proclaiming growth is just around the corner, that the crisis is behind them, and that slavery will solve European youth unemployment; we thought it both ironic and sad that, as Bloomberg's Niraj Shah notes, the European Commission today publishes its first anti-corruption report and finds Greece has the most corrupt public sector, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.
Just five years after President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace prize (to much global amazement), Norwegian politicians have nominated none other than Edward Snowden for this year's award for contributing to transparency and global stability by exposing a U.S. surveillance program. As Reuters reports, Snowden’s "actions have in effect led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency as a leading principle in global security policies." Is this the Nobel's last best effort to regain some credibility?
The Fed tightens by a little (sorry, tapering - flow - is and always will be tightening): markets soar; Turkey tightens by a lot: markets soar. If only it was that easy everyone would tighten. Only it never is. Which is why as we just reported, the initial euphoria in Turkey is long gone and the Turkish Lira is basically at pre-announcement levels, only now the government has a furious, and loan-challenged population to deal with, not to mention an economy which has just ground to a halt. Anyway, good luck - other EMs already faded, including the ZAR which many are speculating could be the next Turkey, and certainly the USDJPY which sent futures soaring last night, only to fade all gains as well and bring equities down with it.
When facing a corrupt system, provide for yourself and your community those necessities that the system cannot or will not. Become independent from establishment-controlled paradigms. If you and your community do this, the system will have one of two choices: 1) Admit that you do not need them anymore and fade into the fog of history, Or... 2) Reveal its tyrannical nature in full and attempt to force you back into dependence. In either case, the citizenry gains the upper hand. We are hard-pressed to think of a better recent example of the non-participation principle in action than the rise of Mexican citizen militias in the Western state of Michoacan.
While Edward Snowden's legacy has already been felt in official, government circle most recently with Obama's amusing, if completely meaningless, theatrical reformation of the NSA (so wait, the Utah's superstasi spy center is now closed, right?), it is now the private sector's turn. Moments ago, Verizon - in what is hopefully the first such action of many - provided an extensive "Transparency Report" in which it disclosed the "number of subpoenas, orders, and warrants we received from law enforcement in the United States last year. We also received emergency requests and National Security Letters. The vast majority of these various types of demands relate to our consumer customers; we receive relatively few demands regarding our enterprise customers." So regular retail customers are being actively spied on, but corporations are safe. Good to know.
China's Epic Offshore Wealth Revealed: How Chinese Oligarchs Quietly Parked Up To $4 Trillion In The CaribbeanSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/21/2014 21:02 -0400
"Close relatives of China’s top leaders have held secretive offshore companies in tax havens that helped shroud the Communist elite’s wealth, a leaked cache of documents reveals" the ICIJ's latest offshore weawlth expose begins. In addition to the usual list of who, what, where, why and when, we learn that once again the two largest Swiss banks are about to be embroiled in yet another money laundering scandal, this time involving the parking of wealth belonging to China's aristocracy - including its princelings - in various Caribbean, mostly British Virgin Island, tax havens. What is notable, if not unexpected, is just how pervasive the parking of offshore capital has been, and confirms that it is not inflow of money that the PBOC has to be afraid of when its internationalizes the Yuan, it is the outflow that will be far more worrysome. But the biggest stunner is the sheer size of the wealth transfer: according to ICIJ estimate, up to $4 trillion in "untraced assets" may have left China since 2000. These are truly epic numbers.
Five years after the 2008 crisis hit, economies are more financialised than ever. If the politicians and regulators ever had any balls they have been amputated by the casino managers, under the anaesthesis of perceived self-interest. They have become the casino eunuchs. An apparent early consensus on the systemic problems of over financialisation has melted away into a misconceived search for ‘business as usual’.
In his 712-page tour de force, The Great Deformation, David Stockman dissects America’s descent into the present era of “bubble finance.” it’s hard to refute Stockman’s perspective on the Fed’s role in the housing bubble. But that won’t stop some from trying, and especially the many academic economists beholden to the Fed. Research papers have stealthily danced around the Fed’s culpability for our crappy economy, as we discussed here. More importantly, if Stockman is right about bubble finance, there’s more mayhem to come. Consider that denying failure and persisting with the same strategy are two sides of the same coin. Just as investors avoid the pain of admitting mistakes by holding onto losing positions, Fed officials who claim to have done little wrong are also more committed than ever to propping up asset markets with cheap money. For those concerned about another policy failure, a key question is: “As of today, where do we stand with respect to bubbles and bubble finance?”