US Bancorp

Crude Slides After Kuwait Strikes Ends; China Markets Tumble

The biggest catalyst for overnight markets, first reported on this site, was the announcement by Kuwait that its oil workers had ended their strike which disrupted oil production in the 4th largest OPEC producer for 3 days cutting it by as much as 1.7 mmb/d, and had served to offset the negative news from the Doha debacle. Kuwait Petroleum also added that it would boost output to 3m b/d within 3 days, which in turn has pressured the price of oil overnight, and the May WTI contract was back to just over $40 at last check, sliding 2%. Not helping things was a very dejected Venezuela oil minister Eulogio Del Pino who said at a conference in Moscow that he sees oil prices returning to lows in 3-4 weeks if oil producers can't make a deal. For now the algos - and central banks - disagree.

Chinese Stock Plunge Resumes With 1200 Stocks Halted Limit Down; Yellen, Greek Elections On Deck

Just when the Chinese plunge protection team (and "arrest shortie" task force) seemed to be finally getting "malicious selling" under control, first we saw a crack yesterday when the composite broke the surge of the past three days as a result of yet another spike in margin debt funded purchases, but it was last night's reminder that "good news is bad news" that really confused the stock trading farmers and grandmas, which goalseeked Chinese economic "data" beat across the board, with Q2 GDP coming solidly above expectations at 7.0%, and retail sales and industrial production both beating, but in the process raising doubts that the PBOC will continue supporting stocks.

The Crony Capitalist Pretense Behind Warren Buffett's Banking Buys

When Warren Buffet put $5 billion in Berkshire Hathaway funds into Goldman Sachs the week after Lehman failed, amidst total turmoil and panic, it appeared from the outside a high risk bet. Buffet had long tried to portray himself as a folksy engine of traditional stability, investing only in things he could understand, so jumping into a wholesale run of chained liabilities may have seemed more than slightly out of character. We have no particular issue with Buffet making those investments, only the pretense of intentional mysticism that surrounds them. The reason the criticism of crony-capitalism sticks is because this was not Buffet's first intervention to "save" a famed institution on Wall Street. If Buffet's convention is to stick with "things you know" then he has been right there through the whole of the full-scale wholesale/eurodollar revolution.

2012 Year In Review - Free Markets, Rule of Law, And Other Urban Legends

Presenting Dave Collum's now ubiquitous and all-encompassing annual review of markets and much, much more. From Baptists, Bankers, and Bootleggers to Capitalism, Corporate Debt, Government Corruption, and the Constitution, Dave provides a one-stop-shop summary of everything relevant this year (and how it will affect next year and beyond).

Soros Gold Action Speaks Louder Than 'Bubble' Words

George Soros more than doubled his shares in the SPDR gold trust ETF. He increased his position in SPDR Gold to $137.3 million in the second quarter from $52 million previously. SEC filing for the second quarter showed Soros Fund Management more than doubled its investment in the SPDR Gold Trust from 319,550 shares to 884,400 shares at the end of June. In September 2010 (see chart), Soros called gold "the ultimate bubble" and largely dumped his stake in the ETF before gold recorded annual gains in 2010 and 2011 and rose to a nominal high of $1,920.30 per ounce in September.  There was speculation at the time that he may have sold the SPDR trust in order to own far safer allocated gold bars. Another billionaire investor respected for his financial acumen is John Paulson and Paulson & Co increased its holdings by 26% by purchasing an additional 4.53 million shares of the SPDR Gold Trust to bring entire holding to 21.8 million shares.  It was the first time Paulson & Co had increased its position in the SPDR Gold Trust since the first quarter of 2009, when the investment firm initially acquired 31.5 million shares. It means that Paulson's $21 billion hedge fund now has more than 44% of the company's assets allocated to gold.

Guest Post: Ibanez – Denying The Antecedent, Suppressing The Evidence And One Big Fat Red Herring

You might think the banks have all the leverage in the world, the big secret is it's actually the opposite. Who do you think has more leverage, those who make payment on 7 trillion in securitized mortgage debt, or those who collect the payments? Who do you think is more worried? You probably make your income from a wage, they make their income from an investment, you wouldn't believe how quickly investors can become insecure, that's why your servicer doesn't want you talking to them directly, their brokers, and make a handsome living at it. Our thinking is the guy who writes the check has the leverage. After all, if you owe the bank $100,000 dollars you've got a creditor, If you owe them 7,000,000,000,000.00 we're pretty sure you've got a partner. Stop making rental payments on the home your supposed to own, then just sit back and feel the love.