Most of our readers probably know what we think of minimum wages, but let us briefly recapitulate: there is neither a sensible economic, nor a sensible ethical argument supporting the idea. So when we saw that the Swiss will vote in a national referendum May 18 on whether to create a minimum wage of 22 francs ($25) per hour, or 4,000 francs a month, we were stunned... If Swiss voters agree to introducing a new minimum wage law, they would end up doing incalculable damage to Switzerland's entrepreneurial culture. At the moment, Switzerland is still one of the freest economies in the world. It has been extremely successful so far and its achievements would clearly be put at risk. Hopefully Switzerland's voters won't be swayed by union's arguments.
Over the weekend the world was gripped by the drama surrounding the mysterious murder-homicide of the former CEO of Dutch bank ABN Amro and members of his family, and whether there is more foul play than meets the eye. However, that is nothing compared to what just happened in the tiny, and all too quiet Principality of Lichtenstein, where moments ago the CEO of local financial institution Bank Frick & Co. AG, Juergen Frick, was shot dead in the underground garage of the bank located in the city of Balzers.
Having changed her Facebook profile picture to a "V...for Vendetta" face mask, the widow of former Zurich Insurance CFO Pierre Wauthier said she and her family cannot accept Zurich’s claim that his death wasn’t brought on by undue stress. As Bloomberg reports, Switzerland’s biggest insurer said in November that no “undue pressure” was put on Wauthier, who said in a suicide note that then-Chairman Josef Ackermann had created an unbearable working environment. But, his wife is demanding to know why her husband's former boss resigned if he had not accepted blame for the death, and why details of tensions at work were not made public. Her anger is clear, as she blasted "I am not worth talking to... or is it that I would raise unbecoming questions????"
Almost a month ago, we wrote "This Is The One Financial Product Now Targeted By The HFT Swarm", in which after briefly perusing the Virtu S-1 filing, we concluded that "one product stood out. It is highlighted on the chart below: FX."
We are happy to report that this time the mainstream media is following our reports much more closely then five years ago, because overnight none other than Bloomberg came out with "High-Frequency Traders Chase Currencies as Stock Volume Recedes" in which we read, guess what, "Forget the equity market. For high-frequency traders, the place to be is foreign exchange." But our readers already knew this of course...
In 2009, two Japanese individuals were arrested trying to smuggle $134 billion in US bonds into Switzerland from Italy. In 2012, Italian authorities seized $6 trillion in allegedly fake US bonds from safe-deposit boxes in Zurich (which were purportedly to be used to buy plutonium from Nigerian sources). And now, in 2014, The BBC reports, Italian police have arrested two men who were allegedly trying to deposit trillions of euros in fake bonds in the Vatican bank.
One of the primary drivers of the real estate bubble in the past several years, particularly in the ultra-luxury segment, were megawealthy Chinese buyers, seeking to park their cash into the safety of offshore real estate where it was deemed inaccessible to mainland regulators and overseers, tracking just where the Chinese record credit bubble would end up. Some, such as us, called it "hot money laundering", and together with foreclosure stuffing and institutional flipping (of rental units and otherwise), we said this was the third leg of the recent US housing bubble. However, while the impact of Chinese buying in the US has been tangible, it has paled in comparison with the epic Chinese buying frenzy in other offshore metropolitan centers like London and Hong Kong. This is understandable: after all as Chuck Prince famously said in 2007, just before the first US mega-bubble burst, "as long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance." In China, the music just ended.
Will London's current property bubble play out to be one of the most costly ever and end up costing UK and foreign investors billions?
- California couple finds $10 million in buried treasure while walking dog (Reuters) ... not bitcoin?
- Dimon Says Threats to JPMorgan Span Google to China Banks (BBG)
- Stocks So Many Love to Hate Buoyed by Fed’s Jobs Priority (BBG)
- White House Weighs Four Options for Revamping NSA Phone Surveillance (WSJ) ... to pick the fifth one
- Credit Suisse Executives Weren’t Aware of U.S. Tax Dodges (BBG)
- Militias Hunt Kiev Looters From Central Bank to Bling Palace (BBG)
- Crisis Gauge Rises to Record High as Swaps Avoided (BBG)
- Obama to Propose Highway-Repair Program (WSJ)
- Ukraine Pledges to Protect Deposits as Kiev Rally Called (BBG)
Just when the latest wave of litigation against banks seemed to be calming down with one after another fraudclosure-related settlement (which have cost JPM alone some $30 billion in the past four years), here comes the Senate Permanent Subcommittee chaired by Carl "Shitty Deal" Levin, and blows up the peace of Zurich's nighttime air with a bombshell of a 175-page report which put Switzerland's second largest bank, Credit Suisse, front and center in a brand news tax evasion scandal... not that there is anything inherently wrong with that: the last thing the US government needs is to be enabled to be even bigger, plus any money the Treasury needs, the Fed will simply print on its behalf. However, it is considered illegal, at least in polite company. And so among the accusations listed in the report, seen by FT, is that "Credit Suisse made false claims in US visa applications, conducted business with clients in secret elevators and shredded documents to help more than 22,000 American customers avoid US taxes, according to a scathing report by a US congressional committee.
- Venezuela's Lopez says ready for arrest at Tuesday march (Reuters)
- Record Chinese liquidity sends Shanghai Composite back to green for the year (WSJ)
- Deflation Threat Worries G-20 Roiled by Emerging Markets (BBG)
- Neither U.S. nor EU has strategy for Ukraine (Reuters)
- AngloGold Ashanti Chairman Steps Down (WSJ)
- Italy Yields Seen Climbing as Renzi Gets Mandate (BBG)
- Group Led by Starr Near Deal to Buy MultiPlan (WSJ)
- Thai PM under siege, lengthy protests take toll on economy (Reuters)
- The Value of Annoying Co-Workers (WSJ)
Gold is up 3.3% this week and headed for the biggest weekly advance since October as U.S. economic data was again worse than expected. This increased safe haven demand and the biggest exchange-traded product saw holdings rise to a two-month high. Call options on gold, giving the buyer the right to buy June 2015 futures at $2,200 an ounce, surged 24% to a five-week high as prices climbed to a three-month high. Gold has traded above the 100 day moving average since February 10, and is heading for a close above the 200 day moving average for the first time since February 2013. A weekly close above the 200 day moving average and the psychological level of $1,300/oz will be very positive for gold and could lead to gold challenging the next level of resistance at $1,357/oz and $1,434/oz. Gold is up 5.3% so far in February and 9.3% so far this year as concerns about emerging market markets, currencies, and the U.S. economy boosted safe haven demand. Recent employment and sales data was poor. U.S. jobless claims reached 339,000 in the week ended February 8 and retail sales in the U.S. declined in January by the most in 10 months.
This wasn't supposed to happen. At a time when the European Union, reeling from the ongoing near collapse of the Eurozone, has been preaching its key benefits - the removal of borders and the free transit of labor - moments ago Switzerland, with a tiny majority of 50.4%, voted in favor of new immigration curbs which requires the government to set an upper limit for foreigners, risking a backlash from the (utterly toothless) European Union.
- Emerging sell-off hits European shares, lifts yen (Reuters) - but not really if you hit refresh since the latest central bank bailout announcement
- Apple’s Holiday Results to Show Whether Growth Is Back (BBG)
- Israel attacked Syrian base in Latakia, Lebanese media reports (Haaretz)
- Abenomics FTW: Japan Posts Record Annual Trade Deficit as Import Bill Soars (BBG)
- When all else fails, Spain's hope lie in a 16th century saint: Saint “might help Spain out of crisis,” says interior minister (El Pais)
- Global Woes Fail to Send Cash Into U.S. Stocks (WSJ)
- IMF's Lagarde sees eurozone inflation "way below target" (Reuters)
- Minimum wage bills pushed in at least 30 states (AP)
- AT&T Gives Up Right to Offer to Buy Vodafone Within 6 Months (BBG)
Throughout history, gold has flowed to where it is most favourably treated ... Singapore is now one of the safest places in the world to store gold. See the Essential Guide To Storing Gold In Singapore
As we previously noted, the 85 richest people in the world have about as much wealth as the poorest 50% of the entire global population does. In other words, 85 extremely wealthy individuals have about as much wealth as the poorest 3,500,000,000 do. There is certainly nothing wrong with making money. In fact, the founders of the United States intended for this nation to be a place where free markets thrived and where everyone could pursue their dreams. Unfortunately, this country (along with the rest of the world) has moved very much in the opposite direction. Today, we have a debt-based global financial system which is dominated by gigantic predator corporations and big banks. Working together with national governments, these corporations and banks have constructed a system in which the percentage of all global wealth that is being funneled to the very top of the pyramid steadily grows over time. The Founding Fathers were very correct to be very suspicious of large concentrations of power. In the early days of the United States, the federal government was very small and the size and scope of corporations was greatly limited. Our nation thrived and a huge middle class blossomed. Sadly, over the past several decades the pendulum has completely swung in the other direction.