"The global financial landscape was evolving. Ever since World War II, US bankers hadn’t worried too much about their supremacy being challenged by other international banks, which were still playing catch-up in terms of deposits, loans, and global customers. But by now the international banks had moved beyond postwar reconstructive pain and gained significant ground by trading with Cold War enemies of the United States. They were, in short, cutting into the global market that the US bankers had dominated by extending themselves into areas in which the US bankers were absent for US policy reasons. There was no such thing as “enough” of a market share in this game. As a result, US bankers had to take a longer, harder look at the “shackles” hampering their growth. To remain globally competitive, among other things, bankers sought to shatter post-Depression legislative barriers like Glass-Steagall. They wielded fear coated in shades of nationalism as a weapon: if US bankers became less competitive, then by extension the United States would become less powerful. The competition argument would remain dominant on Wall Street and in Washington for nearly three decades, until the separation of speculative and commercial banking that had been invoked by the Glass-Steagall Act would be no more."
America is being run by an unelected gang of essentially self-perpetuating PhDs. The notion of an economics coup d’ etat is not so far-fetched. So the last 35 years have brought the greatest exercise in mission creep ever undertaken by an agency of the state. That explains why the monetary politburo persists in its absurd quest to force more debt into an economy which is already saturated with $59 trillion of the same. To pretend, as does Yellen and most of the monetary politburo that they must plow ahead printing money at lunatic rates because Congress so mandated it, is the height of mendacity. The Fed has seized power and is not about to let go - common sense be damned, and the constitution, too.
A dispassionate look at the main considerations for investors in the week ahead.
While every other asset class in the world has now been found to be subject to some form of manipulation (from LIBOR rates to FX fixes and from commodity warehousing to HFT equity front-running), the stakes in a COMEX silver/gold/copper manipulation lawsuit are staggering. Not only is market manipulation the most serious market crime possible, the markets that have been manipulated and the number of those injured are enormous. It is likely not an exaggeration to say that any finding that JPMorgan and the COMEX did manipulate prices as we contend could very well result in the highest damage awards in history. That’s no small thing considering the tens of billions of dollars that JPMorgan has coughed up recently for infractions in just about every line of their business. Our point is that no legal case could be potentially more lucrative or attention getting than this one. It is clear the CFTC will never act and so class-action lawsuits may just be the only way the data is du into deep enough to uncover the truth.
Moments ago the "absorption" of Crimea into the Russian Federation was completed after Putin signed the final previously passed by parliament. And with that, in less than a month, the Crimean "question" has been answered. The only question is whether Putin will stop here or will the ease with which he just expanded the Russian political map leave him hungry for more. In other news, as part of the Western escalations against Russia, Bank of Rossia, the one bank exclusively identified in the sanctions list, announced that Visa and MasterCard have stopped, without notification, providing services for payment transactions for clients. These moves in turn promptly led to Putin announcing that he wants to open an account with the Bank Rossia.
The people sanctioned via the Russian foreign ministry:
- Caroline Atkinson
- Daniel Pfeiffer
- Benjamin Rhodes
- Harry Reed
- John Boehner
- Robert Menendez
- Mary Landrieu
- John McCain
- Daniel Coats
President Obama released his 2015 budget proposal this week...and as expected, it contained even more language about his MyRA initiative. As we’ve discussed so many times in the past, IRAs are an irresistible kitty for such a bankrupt government. The US government itself estimates that over $5 trillion is tucked away in American retirement accounts. They need that money. Your money. The US government is struggling to come up with new funding sources… and retirement accounts are by far the easiest target. Why? Because the majority of retirement accounts at trapped at big Wall Street banks, which are all de facto agents of the government. All the Treasury Department has to do is make a phone call. Yesterday’s budget announcement constitutes the next phase: automatic enrollment.
The Fed’s serial bubble machine has not only bestowed massive speculative windfalls on the 1%, but it has also fostered a noxious culture of plunder and entitlement in the gambling casinos of Wall Street. After each thundering sell-off during the bust phase, crony capitalist gamblers have been gifted with ill-gotten windfalls during the Fed’s subsequent maniacal money printing spree. In this context comes Bruce Berkowitz “scolding” and firing “salvos” at Washington from the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
The magical thinking highlighted in two charts, as WaPo reports; in his budget request, Obama projects public debt as a percentage of gross domestic project falling to 69% by 2024, while the CBO has it rising to 79% - a difference of 10 percentage points, or roughly $2.7 trillion. As WaPo notes, the likelihood of this scenario unfolding... zero.
Pop quiz: When really nasty criminals and dictators want to hide their illicit gains, which country do they go to? We’ll make this easy for you - multiple choice:
b) British Virgin Islands
c) Hong Kong
To summarize: in an act of complete disregard for the official diplomatic song and dance, both Israel and the US are now providing military support to Iran, which in turn is providing military support to Syria, which is also getting military support from Russia. And now, just to make things more interesting, the same labyrinth of "military support" is about to be unleashed in the Ukraine, whose western half is just as likely getting arms and military equipment (not to mention funding)from the West under the table, while Russia, whose main Black Sea port is in the Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, is arming the Eastern part of the Ukraine.
What can possibly go wrong?
China Sold Second-Largest Amount Ever Of US Treasurys In December: And Guess Who Comes To The RescueSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/18/2014 20:15 -0500
While we will have more to say about the disastrous December TIC data shortly, which was released early today, and which showed a dramatic plunge in foreign purchases of US securities in December - the month when the S&P soared to all time highs and when everyone was panicking about the 3% barrier in the 10 Year being breached and resulting in a selloff in Tsy paper - one thing stands out. The chart below shows holdings of Chinese Treasurys (pending revision of course, as the Treasury department is quite fond of ajdusting this data series with annual regularity): in a nutshell, Chinese Treasury holdings plunged by the most in years, after China offloaded some $48 billion in paper, bringing its total to only $1268.9 billion, down from $1316.7 billion, and back to a level last seen in March 2013! This was the second largest dump by China in history with the sole exception of December 2011.
- Frustrated by Karzai, U.S. Shifts Afghanistan Exit Plans (WSJ)
- Yellen Testimony Guide From Payrolls Report to Emerging Markets (BBG)
- Gold hits three-month high, shares up ahead of Yellen (Reuters)
- Tightfisted New Owners Put Heinz on Diet (WSJ)
- Senator describes "gruesome" bin Laden photos (Reuters)
- More reasons for the ongoing economic contraction: U.S. Winter Storm Seen Spreading Snow, Sleet Across South (BBG)
- Barclays Cuts Up to 12,000 Jobs as Quarterly Profit Falls (BBG)
- Boeing Considering 787-Size Medium-Range Jetliners (WSJ)
- AOL Chief Apologizes for ‘Distressed Babies’ Comment (BBG)
Just as we predicted it would happen, here it comes:
- OBAMACARE EMPLOYER MANDATE TO BE DELAYED FOR SOME COMPANIES
Specificaly, according Bloomberg, businesses with 50-99 workers have until 2016 before being penalized for not providing health-care coverage to full-time workers, according to final regulations released by Treasury.
Three times more Americans gave up on America in 2013 than in 2012. As The WSJ reports, last year saw a record number of US taxpayer expatriations. While "exceptionalism" and living the American Dream remain cornerstones of maintaining the US citizenry's view of the world, it seems everything from tax-code changes to spying drove 2,999 people to hand in their passports last year, "above all, fear seems to be driving this increase."