en Asian Markets Mixed: China Jump, Crude Dump, Japan Slump <p>The <strong><a href="">exuberance of illiterate Chinese citizens knows no bounds </a></strong>as Shanghai Composite surges once again to record-er highs (now up over 15% in March alone) with some modest give back off the highs of the day. Japanese stocks on the other hand have folded like a cheap lawn-chair, giving up all their US session gains and <strong>down over 200 points from the US cash close</strong>. A similar pattern is seen in <strong>crude oil which has retraced most of the idiotic NYMEX close ramp</strong>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>China Jump... (but giving some back intraday...)</p> <p><a href=""><img height="312" src="" width="600" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After a 15%-plus surge in March (that is exponential even on a log-scaled chart)</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 316px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Japan slumping and decoupled from USDJPY...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 315px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And Crude dumped the late-day ramp...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" src="" style="width: 600px; height: 460px;" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Charts: Bloomberg</em></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="955" height="502" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> China Crude Crude Oil Japan NYMEX Tue, 31 Mar 2015 03:17:40 +0000 Tyler Durden 504050 at Margin and Those Record Highs <p><em><a href="" target="_blank">From the Slope of Hope</a>........</em></p> <p>I've been fiddling with some numbers in Excel and thought you'd find it interesting.&nbsp;It concerns the correlation of NYSE margin debt with the S&amp;P 500.</p> <p>Margin gives investors and traders the opportunity to borrow money in order to enhance their returns. NYSE margin debt concerns the aggregate value borrowed by all participants utilizing that particular exchange.</p> <p>The figures shown will be in millions, so $400,000 is $400 billion; big moolah.</p> <p>I became interested in margin debt after I had seen the following chart plastered on a few trading websites. Many of you may have seen it as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="0330-margindebt" width="625" height="379" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-44235" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the correlation is strong most of the time, the 2000 and 2007 tops stood out to me. Margin debt seemed to reach a peak, sell off hard, and then go nowhere as the S&amp;Ps continued to make new closing highs.</p> <p>Not being satisfied with just a chart, I collected data as far back as 1996 and threw it into a spreadsheet.&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">NYSE margin debt data:</a> &nbsp;(buuuut it’s easier to Google search “NYSE margin debt”)&nbsp;SPX close data provided by Yahoo! Finance (other sources are available).</p> <p>First off, lets see how the correlation held during bull markets:</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" alt="0330-bullcorr" width="625" height="341" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-44236" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And ho<span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">w about those bear markets?</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"><br /></span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"><br /> </span><a href="" style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"><img src="" alt="0330-bearcorr" width="625" height="346" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-44237" /></a><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"></span></p> <p></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">So what if I cherry pick the topping periods?</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"></span></p> <p><a href="" style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"><img src="" alt="0330-topping" width="625" height="287" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-44238" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">And here is a chart of the 12 month rolling window plotted against monthly SPX closes. Notice in the 2000 topping area how the warning came a little early; or could this be fallout from the 1998 correction? Happily, a second warning came just after the final high close. As the margin debt data does lag (it takes a month to get published), it helps to see candles with long tails (shooting stars and hanging men) to confirm.</span></p> <p>In 2007 we see another dive in correlation as the last high close occurs and fades away.<br /> Now in 2014 – 2015 we are again seeing a violation of the sub-60 area.<br /> </p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"><br /> </span><a href="" style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"><img src="" alt="0330-correlation" width="625" height="411" class="alignnone size-large wp-image-44241" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">While this indicator does lag, that does not mean it loses its usefulness. For instance, some may argue that if the first warning in late 1998 to early 1999 were respected, a long portfolio would miss the potential for another 200 S&amp;P points. Is that really so much? How often does one buy bottoms or sell tops perfectly? It kept the portfolio out of harm’s way.</span></p> <p>Likewise, the 2007 top happened more quickly than 2000, so the signal was late. Even if 200 S&amp;P points had been lost there were still another 600 to go.</p> <p></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">For the short-side, say a trader was bearish in mid 2013. If he/she had been patient and waited for the breakdown in correlation, they would have a much better price to short at and have endured much less pain to boot!</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"></span></p> <p><em style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;"><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Disclaimer:</span><br /> </em><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">This indicator is not the holy grail. If it confirms with divergences and oddities in other areas of the market, then maybe something really is happening here. By all means don’t mortgage the house (or reverse mortgage it).</span></p> <p>But if the massive amount of borrowing to leverage returns is bothering you here, and you’re of the age where you can’t afford another bear market hit to your portfolio, maybe you’ll want to keep an eye on this.</p> <p>I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.</p> Bear Market Google Slope of Hope Tue, 31 Mar 2015 02:40:26 +0000 Tim Knight from Slope of Hope 504049 at Did Reuters Falsify The Testimony Of A MH-17 Crash Witness? <p>Even as the world's attention is gripped by the latest airline crash tragedy, in which the motivation of a Germanwings co-pilot to crash his plane with nearly 150 people on board will forever remain in the area of speculation, the most dramatic airplane incident of 2014, that of Malaysian flight MH-17 over east Ukraine, remains - and likely will remain forever 0 unsolved. That, however, does not prevent the media outlets on both sides of the ideological divide to insert their own narrative when the fancy strikes them. </p> <p>Case in point is the "Exclusive" Reuters report by Anton Zverev from March 12, titled "<a href="">From 'Red October' village, new evidence on downing of Malaysian plane over Ukraine</a>" which featured what Reuters suggested was new evidence on the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane. In it Zverev quoted Pyotr Fedotov, a 58-year-old resident from the village of Chervonyi Zhovten "which was then, and is now, controlled by the rebels." </p> <p>My mother and I were in the yard when it happened," said Pyotr Fedotov, a 58-year-old resident. "There was such a bang that we involuntarily sat down, in the yard, our legs gave way underneath us. Then we got curious and immediately went to the other side of the house to take a look." This is what Reuters said two weeks ago: </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>"The rocket was here, it wiggled around, then some kind of rocket stage separated, and then, somewhere toward Lutuhyne, Torez, I saw the plane fall apart in the air. It was only later that we found out it was a Boeing,” Fedotov said. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Missiles from a BUK battery can often zig-zag through the air for a few seconds after launch before their onboard radar locks on and steers the missile towards the target, <strong>according to video footage of test launches posted on the Internet. </strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Taken together, the accounts do not conclusively prove the missile launched from near Chervonyi Zhovten was the one that brought down the airliner, because none of the villagers saw it actually being launched. </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nor could they shed light on a contention of officials in Kiev and in Western states, that the BUK missile battery was brought in from Russia and was operated by a Russian crew. Moscow has denied its military is active in eastern Ukraine.</p> </blockquote> <p>So far no smoking gun, or rocket, merely a retelling of what is largely known. And here Reuters reveals the punchline:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>When interviewed by Reuters, Fedotov, the witness who described the 'wiggling' rocket, at first said on camera that it was fired from territory held by the Ukrainian army. <strong>Later, off camera, he said it was launched from a nearby rebel area. Asked why he had originally said the opposite, he said it was because he was afraid of the rebels.&nbsp; </strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Why he said the contradictory "missing link" in the narrative, and the one piece of the story that gives Reuters its "new evidence", <strong>off camera </strong>is not explained. </p> <p>Today we may have an answer: in a follow up report by Russian RT, the same villager, Pytor Fedotov <strong>on camera</strong>&nbsp; said that the Reuters news agency falsified his testimony on the missile launch which brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.</p> <p>As the <a href="">following interview with Fedotov reveals</a>, the Reuters report may have been "less than accurate" with his testimony.</p> <p><iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>From RT:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p>“When we talked about the Boeing on camera, I explained everything as I saw it. <strong>The things that I allegedly said off-camera, all this nonsense, was made up by the journalist himself. It's all lies, because off-camera, we never discussed the Boeing, and just spoke about life, about the current situation, so to speak.”</strong> Fedotov told RT.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Lugansk resident added that Zverev later contacted him to ask if the he had gotten in trouble for speaking with the journalist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>"The first thing that he asked was whether I had gotten in trouble. I was really surprised. Why would I be in trouble if I told him about things as I saw them? <strong>And only when my friends called me up and told me that some channel was airing footage which noted that I said one thing on camera and the opposite without the camera did I understand why he was asking me this question."</strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Stating that the so-called off-camera testimony was merely conjecture, Fedotov stated that he doesn't understand why the journalist would fiddle with his testimony. "<strong>Maybe he was doing it for his own benefit…I really don't know what his aim was, but it looks to me like a provocation</strong>."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>RT noted that its requests for comment from Reuters on the controversy have not been responded to.</p> </blockquote> <p>Who is lying, and who is telling the truth? We probably won't know, just as there will never be conclusive proof of just who took down Malaysia flight MH-17 leading to the tragic death of over 200 innocent civilians. And while perhaps Reuters will address the charge that it purposefully fabricated a critical missing part of the story and reveal its own documented side of the story, we doubt it. After all, the narrative of the Ukraine civil war and its participants has long ago devolved beyond the facts and is now nothing more than propaganda.</p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="502" height="434" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Boeing None Reuters Testimony Ukraine Tue, 31 Mar 2015 02:01:15 +0000 Tyler Durden 504048 at "Repeal, Don't Reform The IMF" Ron Paul Rages <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Ron Paul via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace &amp; Prosperity</em></a>,</p> <p><strong>A responsible financial institution would not extend a new loan of between 17 and 40 billion dollars to a borrower already struggling to pay back an existing multi-billion dollar loan.</strong> Yet that is just what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did last month when it extended a new loan to the government of Ukraine. This new loan may not make much economic sense, but propping up the existing Ukrainian government serves the foreign policy agenda of the US government.</p> <p><em>Would you lend these guys your money? (a 2600bps spread to Treasuries) Well you just did!</em></p> <p><em><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="317" /></a><br /></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Since the IMF receives most of its funding from the United States, it is hardly surprising that it would tailor its actions to advance the US government’s foreign policy goals.</strong> The IMF also has a history of using the funds provided to it by the American taxpayer to prop up dictatorial regimes and support unsound economic policies.</p> <p><strong>Some may claim the IMF does promote free markets by requiring that countries receiving IMF loans implement some positive economic reforms, such as reducing government spending. </strong>However, other conditions imposed by the IMF, such as that the country receiving the loan deflate its currency and implement an industrial policy promoting exports, do not seem designed to promote a true free market, much less improve the people’s living standards by giving them greater economic opportunities. </p> <p><strong>The problem with the IMF cannot be fixed by changing the conditions attached to IMF loans. The fundamental problem with the IMF is that it is funded by resources taken forcibly from the private sector.</strong> By taking resources out of private hands and giving them to IMF bureaucrats, government distorts the marketplace, harming both American taxpayers and the citizens of the countries receiving the IMF loans. The idea that the IMF is somehow better able to allocate capital than are private investors is just as flawed as every other form of central planning. The IMF must be repealed, not reformed.</p> <p><strong>The IMF is not the only US institution that manipulates the global economy. </strong>Over the past several years, a mysterious buyer, identified only as “Belgium,” so named because the buyer acts through a Belgian-domiciled account, has become the third-largest holder of Treasury securities. Belgium's large purchases always occur at opportune times for the US government, such as when a foreign country sells a large amount of Treasuries. “Belgium” also made large purchases in the months just after the Fed launched the quantitative easing program. While there is no evidence this buyer is working directly with the US government, the timing of these purchases does raise suspicions. </p> <p><strong>It is not out of the realm of possibility that the Federal Reserve is involved in these purchases.</strong> The limited audit of the Federal Reserve’s actions during the financial crisis that was authorized by the Dodd-Frank Act revealed that the Fed actively intervenes in global markets.</p> <p><em>What other deals with foreign governments is the Fed making? Is the Fed, like the IMF, working to bail out Greece and other EU countries? Is the Fed working secretly to aid US foreign policy as it did in the early 1980s, when it financed loans to then-US ally Saddam Hussein?</em> <span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>The lack of transparency about the Fed’s dealings with overseas central banks and foreign governments is one more reason why Congress needs to pass the audit the fed bill.</strong></span></p> <p><strong>By taking money from American taxpayers to support economically weak and oftentimes corrupt governments, the IMF distorts the market, enriches corrupt governments, and harms both the American taxpayer and the residents of the counties receiving IMF "aid." </strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em>It is past time to end the IMF along with all instruments of American interventionist foreign policy.</em></span></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="956" height="505" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Central Banks Federal Reserve fixed Global Economy Greece International Monetary Fund Quantitative Easing Ron Paul Transparency Ukraine Tue, 31 Mar 2015 01:30:09 +0000 Tyler Durden 504043 at Japan "Wakes Up," Joins China-led Development Bank (And Then Backs Out) <p>It’s official: the US is on its own when it comes to opposing the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (see <a href="">here</a> for full summary of AIIB developments). We suppose it was only a matter of time, but news that Japan will seek membership in a matter of months will likely still come as somewhat of a surprise to Washington, given the otherwise tenuous relationship between the two countries and considering Japan’s leadership role in the ADB. Nevertheless, the Japanese have apparently come to the same conclusion as Australia and South Korea: not joining simply isn’t an option no matter how loudly the US protests. Here’s more from <a href="">FT</a>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><strong><em>Japan is likely to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank within a few months, according to the country’s ambassador to Beijing, a move that would see Tokyo break ranks with Washington and leave the US as the only big holdout.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Masato Kitera told the Financial Times he agreed with Japanese business leaders’ belief that the country would sign up to the China-led development bank by June.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>“The business community woke up late, but now they have mounted a big campaign for the AIIB which appears to be very effective,” Mr Kitera said…</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>A Japanese move to join the bank would be a reversal of rhetoric and, for China, the biggest coup yet given the fractious relationship between the two Asian powers. </em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Japan also has strong links to the rival Asian Development Bank, the head of which it traditionally appoints, and has in the past questioned the need for a new bank...</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>No country was seen to be as supportive of the US position as Japan — in part because many officials in both countries saw the AIIB as a direct challenge to the Japanese-controlled Asian Development Bank.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">But Japanese executives look on China’s ambitious plans to help build infrastructure in the region as a huge business opportunity, as well as a chance to help repair frayed relations.</span></em></strong></p> </blockquote> <p>So in the end, money does indeed talk, and the possibility that the $50 billion venture may serve to shore up relations between Beijing and Tokyo has apparently proven sufficient to outweigh “concerns” about the fund’s lending standards. Of course, as we’ve noted on any number of occasions, the only real concerns about the bank revolve around the degree to which China uses the institution as an instrument of foreign policy, something Beijing has sought to play down even as it pushes for loans to be denominated in yuan. <strong>The ball is now in Washington’s court in terms of adopting a stance towards the bank that strikes a face-saving balance between caution and acceptance.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>* &nbsp;* &nbsp;*</p> <p>Meanwhile, someone in Washington called someone in Tokyo as indicated by the following which came across on Bloomberg Monday evening:</p> <ul> <li><span style="font-size: 1em; line-height: 1.3em;">JAPAN WON’T JOIN AIIB FOR TIME BEING, NHK SAYS</span></li> </ul> Australia China Japan Yuan Tue, 31 Mar 2015 01:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 504042 at According To The TSA, You May Be A Terrorist If... <p>We were eager to assist the FBI with their recent <a href="">push</a> to ensure that New Yorkers remain “vigilant” when it comes to identifying and reporting ISIS “recruits and people who may carry out attacks,” but as we noted when the directive was first issued, “it was unclear what a person, pardon, recruit who ‘may carry out attacks in NYC’ looks like.’” Lacking guidance, we speculated that Twitter usage in conjunction with Nutella eating could well be a tell-tale sign, only to learn that the real giveaway is <a href="">traveling</a> to Turkey from Egypt with an iPod.&nbsp;</p> <p>Fortunately, <strong>the TSA has issued a set of guidelines that, if interpreted correctly, will assist in the identification of terrorists who may seek to use planes as instruments of jihad. </strong>The full list is below, but we would note that you don’t have to be a certified “Behavior Detection Officer” to determine that if an individual “appears to be in disguise,” shenanigans may be afoot. <strong>Other signs of intent to commit a terrorist act include: showing up late, yawning, having recently shaved, blinking, “bulging” neck arteries, demonstrating an inability to match carry-on with body type, inability to assimilate to latest fashion trends, chest beating, crying, laughing, talking, and, worst of all, smelling bad.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p><iframe src=";view_mode=scroll&amp;access_key=key-Stsr6jMqxhfvNTbI6PD7&amp;show_recommendations=false" width="100%" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe></p> <p>* &nbsp;* &nbsp;*</p> <p>When asked about the effectiveness of the screening guidelines, one former TSA Behavior Detection Officer told <a href="">The Intercept</a> the following: </p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>"[It's] complete bullshit."</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="481" height="266" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> FBI Turkey Twitter Twitter Tue, 31 Mar 2015 01:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 504030 at Broke? You May Now Be Entitled To a Free Home <p>It’s been seven years since the epic collapse of the US housing market, and there’s never been a better time to buy your first home. <strong>In Denmark for instance, the bank <a href="">will tax</a> depositors in order to pay you to take out a home loan. But before you move to a European country operating in NIRP-dom, consider Florida and New Jersey first because as Susan Rudolfi recently discovered, you can actually get a house for free by simply not making your mortgage payments. </strong>Here’s more via <em><a href=";smid=tw-nytimesbusiness&amp;_r=0">NY Times</a></em>:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>She is like a ghost of the housing market’s painful past, one of thousands of Americans who have skipped years of mortgage payments and are still living in their homes.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Now a legal quirk could bring a surreal ending to her foreclosure case and many others around the country: They may get to keep their homes without ever having to pay another dime.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The reason, lawyers for homeowners argue, is that the cases have dragged on too long.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>There are tens of thousands of homeowners who have missed more than five years of mortgage payments, many of them clustered in states like Florida, New Jersey and New York, where lenders must get judges to sign off on foreclosures.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em><strong>However, in a growing number of foreclosure cases filed when home prices collapsed during the financial crisis, lenders may never be able to seize the homes because the state statutes of limitations have been exceeded,</strong> according to interviews with housing lawyers and a review of state and federal court decisions.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>It should come as no surprise that the free house legal loophole comes courtesy of the always dangerous and extraordinarily unpredictable combination of government ineptitude and TBTF inefficiency, and thanks to the fact that the Fed-sponsored, investment bank securitization-fee-fueled real estate bubble was allowed to inflate to the point where it swallowed the entire US economy, tens of thousands of borrowers may ultimately become owners by virtue of remaining resolute when it comes to not making payments:</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>It is difficult to know for sure how many foreclosure cases are still grinding through the court systems since the financial crisis. It is even harder to say how many of those borrowers are still living in their homes.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Bank of America, for example, has initiated the foreclosure process on roughly 20,000 mortgages that have not been paid in at least five years. The bank estimates that 90 percent of those homes are still occupied.</em></strong></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The courts are not the only source of delay. Over the years, the federal government has made 69 changes to its mortgage modification programs, forcing lenders repeatedly to scrap previous offers to homeowners and extend new terms.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Of course, the banks have also dragged out this reckoning through shoddy paperwork, botched modifications and general dysfunction as they struggled to cope with a flood of soured mortgages. Many cases were passed among lawyers like hot potatoes and lay dormant on court dockets.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>This arrangement works out particularly well if the property you now own (because it’s cheaper to pay a lawyer than it is to pay the mortgage) can be used to generate rental income:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>[Rudolfi’s] working-class neighborhood is a short drive from Coconut Grove, a wealthy waterfront enclave of Miami. Her bedroom opens up onto a pool, shaded by palm trees. <strong>Outside her house, she parks a small motorboat she named Mermaid. The property includes an adjoining house that she rents out…</strong></em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>In November 2009, her mortgage servicer at the time, Aurora Loan Services, a unit of the now-defunct Lehman Brothers, filed to foreclose on her house.</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Instead of making her roughly $1,300 monthly mortgage payment, she pays her lawyer $500 a month to represent her in court.</em></p> </blockquote> <p>&nbsp;* &nbsp;* &nbsp;*</p> <p>So a bit of poetic justice we suppose for an investment banking community and a complicit Federal Reserve who facilitated the creation of a modern day tulip mania which lined Wall Street’s pockets even as it put Main Street (which was itself all too eager to finance a McMansion and a Hummer) on a path to ruin. But in the end, the Susan Rudolfis of the world ask: <em>"What are you gonna do?"</em>...</p> <blockquote><div class="quote_start"> <div></div> </div> <div class="quote_end"> <div></div> </div> <p><em>“I screwed up and they screwed up, so now what?” she said.</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="496" height="253" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank of America Bank of America Federal Reserve Florida Foreclosures Housing Market Lehman Lehman Brothers Main Street Real estate Tue, 31 Mar 2015 01:00:00 +0000 Tyler Durden 504016 at Federal Agents Investigating Bitcoin Money Laundering Extorted, Stole Over $1 Million In Bitcoin <p>This is one of those sad times when <em>The Onion </em>realizes it has badly, and permanently, missed its IPO window. </p> <p><em>Just released from the <a href="">Department of Justice</a></em><a href=""></a></p> <p><strong>Former Federal Agents Charged With Bitcoin Money Laundering and Wire Fraud</strong></p> <p><em>Agents Were Part of Baltimore’s Silk Road Task Force</em></p> <p>Two former federal agents have been charged with wire fraud, money laundering and related offenses for stealing digital currency during their investigation of the Silk Road, an underground black market that allowed users to conduct illegal transactions over the Internet.&nbsp; The charges are contained in a federal criminal complaint issued on March 25, 2015, in the Northern District of California and unsealed today.</p> <p>Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California, Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson of the FBI’s San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation’s (IRS-CI) San Francisco Division, Special Agent in Charge Michael P. Tompkins of the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General Washington Field Office and Special Agent in Charge Lori Hazenstab of the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General in Washington D.C. made the announcement. </p> <p><strong>Carl M. Force, 46, of Baltimore, was a Special Agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun W. Bridges, 32, of Laurel, Maryland, was a Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service (USSS).&nbsp; </strong>Both were assigned to the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force, which investigated illegal activity in the Silk Road marketplace.&nbsp; Force served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka “Dread Pirate Roberts.”&nbsp; <strong>Force is charged with wire fraud, theft of government property, money laundering and conflict of interest.&nbsp; Bridges is charged with wire fraud and money laundering. </strong></p> <p>According to the complaint, Force was a DEA agent assigned to investigate the Silk Road marketplace.&nbsp; <strong>During the investigation, Force engaged in certain authorized undercover&nbsp; operations by, among other things, communicating online with “Dread Pirate Roberts” (Ulbricht), the target of his investigation.&nbsp; </strong>The complaint alleges, however, that Force then, without authority, developed additional online personas and engaged in a broad range of illegal activities calculated to bring him personal financial gain.&nbsp; In doing so, the complaint alleges, Force used fake online personas, and engaged in complex Bitcoin transactions to steal from the government and the targets of the investigation.&nbsp; Specifically, Force allegedly solicited and received digital currency as part of the investigation, but failed to report his receipt of the funds, and instead transferred the currency to his personal account.&nbsp; In one such transaction, Force allegedly sold information about the government’s investigation to the target of the investigation.&nbsp; <strong>The complaint also alleges that Force invested in and worked for a digital currency exchange company while still working for the DEA, and that he directed the company to freeze a customer’s account with no legal basis to do so, then transferred the customer’s funds to his personal account</strong>.&nbsp; Further, Force allegedly sent an unauthorized Justice Department subpoena to an online payment service directing that it unfreeze his personal account. </p> <p><strong>Bridges allegedly diverted to his personal account over $800,000 in digital currency that he gained control of during the Silk Road investigation.&nbsp;</strong> The complaint alleges that Bridges placed the assets into an account at Mt. Gox, the now-defunct digital currency exchange in Japan.&nbsp; He then allegedly wired funds into one of his personal investment accounts in the United States mere days before he sought a $2.1 million seizure warrant for Mt. Gox’s accounts.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>Bridges self-surrendered today and will appear before Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James of the Northern District of California at 9:30 a.m. PST this morning.&nbsp; Force was arrested on Friday, March 27, 2015, in Baltimore and will appear before Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Sullivan of the District of Maryland at 2:30 p.m. EST today. </p> <p>The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.</p> <p>The case was investigated by the FBI’s San Francisco Division, the IRS-CI’s San Francisco Division, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General in Washington D.C.&nbsp; The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network also provided assistance with the investigation of this case.&nbsp; The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kathryn Haun and William Frentzen of the Northern District of California and Trial Attorney Richard B. Evans of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.</p> <p>* * * * *</p> <p><strong>Some additional, and simply epic in their stupidity details from the criminal complaint:</strong></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="285" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="794" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="765" /></a></p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="141" /></a></p> <p><em>The full criminal complaint <a href="">can be found here</a>.</em></p> <p><img src="" width="480" height="270" /></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="480" height="270" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> B+ Bitcoin Department of Justice Japan The Onion Washington D.C. Tue, 31 Mar 2015 00:56:45 +0000 Tyler Durden 504020 at QE For The People - What Could Go Wrong? <p><a href=""><em>Submitted by Pieter Cleppe</em></a>,</p> <p><strong>A number of economists <a href="">propose</a>&nbsp;in the FT to implement what has been <a href="">dubbed</a> &quot;QE for the people&quot;.</strong></p> <p>They start <a href="">off</a> <a href="">quite</a> <a href="">well</a>,&nbsp;noting:</p> <blockquote class="tr_bq"><p><i>&quot;The evidence suggests that conventional QE is an unreliable tool for boosting GDP or employment.&nbsp;Bank of England research shows that it benefits the well-off, who gain from increasing asset prices, much more than the poorest.&quot;</i></p></blockquote> <p>As is often the case with these things, they go on to propose something even worse than what&#39;s already being implemented:</p> <blockquote class="tr_bq"><p><i>&quot;Rather than being injected into the financial markets, the new money created by eurozone central banks could be used to finance government spending&quot;</i></p></blockquote> <p><strong>Government spending already benefits from QE at the moment.</strong> Since Draghi&#39;s announcement, <a href="">Italian</a> and <a href="">German</a> borrowing costs have dropped. And then we haven&#39;t even discussed all the other ways the ECB has found to prop up sovereigns, such as the cheap LTRO loans to banks, who <a href="">channeled</a> the money through to governments, especially in Spain and Italy. This is so well-known that it was called the &quot;Sarkozy trade&quot; - a term adopted by markets after the French president suggested that governments urge banks flush with ECB cash to buy their bonds. So why try more of the same?</p> <p>Those calling for a &quot;political Europe&quot; should take notice that large-scale transfers have already been implemented within the Eurozone since 2010, through the EFSF, ESM and primarily (German economist Hans-Werner Sinn estimates to the tune of 75%) through the ECB. <strong>When one receives a loan with an interest rate which is lower than the market level, one receives a gift, in economic terms.</strong></p> <p>The economists argue that <i>&quot;mixing monetary and fiscal policy&quot;</i> isn&#39;t a problem because <i>&quot;traditional monetary policy no longer works&quot;</i>.</p> <p><u><strong>They must have missed the alternative of <a href="">Austrian economics</a>. </strong></u>Post-World War II Germany and its relatively strict hard money policies can perhaps be <a href="">instructive</a> for a model that has been tested. Japan has been trying excessively loose Keynesian monetary policies after its bust around 1990, with <a href="">negative results</a>. But the authors seem to prefer to apply the principle &quot;When in trouble, double&quot;.</p> <p><strong>A particular problem with financing governments through the printing press is that Parliaments are being bypassed</strong>, exactly the reason why politicians &nbsp;prefer to let Mario Draghi do the brunt of the dirty work in the euro crisis.</p> <p><strong>I hope it doesn&#39;t come as a shock to anyone, but my suggestion is the following: governments should be funded by taxes alone, democratically controlled through Parliaments.</strong> Ideally these taxes should consist in one invoice per citizen, detailing the services received. Perhaps socialists may want to add a &ldquo;solidarity&rdquo; invoice to rich people, raising funds which can be transferred on in a transparent way to those perceived to be in need. Clearly this system is way too transparent for the sake of any political purpose and would mean the end of a whole industry of tax advisors, but perhaps it may one day serve as a model for any future new country.</p> <p>An alternative put forward by the authors which goes to the heart of their &quot;QE for the people&quot; - proposal is the following:</p> <p> <blockquote class="tr_bq"><i>&quot;Each eurozone citizen could be given &euro;175 per month, for 19 months, which they could use to pay down existing debts or spend as they please. By directly boosting spending and employment, either approach would be far more effective than the ECB&rsquo;s plans for conventional QE&quot;</i></blockquote></p> <p><u><strong>Why be so modest and only give &euro;175 per month, someone may suggest? However, money shouldn&rsquo;t be manipulated to support economic growth. On the contrary, manipulating its value will create uncertainty and hurt economic growth.</strong></u></p> <p><strong>One could compare money to a voucher in a cloak room.</strong> If Sophie has received a voucher in exchange for storing her jacket, she wouldn&#39;t exactly like it if Mario Draghi, the manager of the cloak room, gives a voucher to his girlfriend, Angela, without asking her to put up some collateral. Whereas people would know that Sophie&#39;s voucher is backed by value (her jacket), her voucher would lose value in case the voucher-supply would be increased &nbsp;artificially, to the benefit of the cloak room&#39;s manager&#39;s friends.</p> <p><strong>Shall we then see hyperinflation? </strong>Warnings of hyperinflation have been wrong in the past, and some Austrian-leaning economists like Mish have been <a href="">countering</a> warnings from their Austrian friends.</p> <p><strong>Our monetary system is still not completely controlled by governments. </strong>After a <a href="">central-bank induced bubble</a> has bust, like in 2008, when one would expect prices to go down again after they have been rising in an unsustainable way, monetary pumping still may not be sufficient to counter deflationary forces. On the other hand,<strong> even modest printing may result in hyperinflation in case citizens lose trust in currency managed by the government, </strong>or if for example a remarkably solid alternative currency emerges and becomes popular, despite the fact that one needs to use government currency for contracts and taxes (let me disclose I have my doubts whether bitcoin will ever fulfill this role, but it certainly has proven to be able to circumvent capital controls).</p> <p><strong>In other words, the proposal to give each eurozone citizen &euro;175 per month may not unleash hyperinflation, but it may counter certain natural deflationary forces, such as those in Spain, where the euro and its easy money fueled a toxic <a href="">real estate bubble</a>&nbsp;which left the banking system full of bad debt after it busted.</strong> If this proposed flow of &quot;helicopter money&quot; would effectively be injected and prop up prices, Spanish entrepeneur Conchita may decide not to open her sandwich place after all, given how rent prices would remain too elevated.</p> <p>That&#39;s not to say that in all circumstances it would be wrong for Central Banks to increase the money supply. In a system where money would be entirely private, the market may still opt for a system whereby the monetary mass increases in case value is created (after innovation, for example) and decreases in case value is destroyed (after natural disasters, investment bubbles or wars, for example). Going back to the example of the cloak room, it&#39;s obvious that more vouchers are needed when new people arrive with jackets. If the government takes over the money supply from the private sector, as it has done everywhere, it should attempt to mimic what would happen in a scenario of private money.</p> <p><strong>In the case of Spain, that apparently means allowing deflation. </strong>I have understanding for those who claim that it&#39;s just madness to allow deflation in such a highly (privately) indebted country, but if that is true, it probably means we need to look at how to best organise defaults, rather than distorting decisions regarding saving and investing through manipulation of the value of money, as the authors propose. In the case of Spain, that means restructuring the banking system, something which has been done to a certain extent, with the help of a 40 billion euro bailout, but <a href="">clearly</a> <a href="">not sufficiently</a>, given the high amount of remaining bad debt.&nbsp;In the case of the whole eurozone, it means looking at <a href="">alternatives</a> to the current, dysfunctional currency union.</p> <p><strong><u><em>Given the massive mistakes which were made by central banks from Weimar to Bernanke and the relentless attempts to use the printing press to finance governments (after all, the Bank of England was set up to finance the King&#39;s wars), it probably shouldn&#39;t take much to convince people of alternatives, and not more of the same, right?</em></u></strong></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="818" height="683" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Bank of England Bitcoin Borrowing Costs Central Banks Eurozone Germany Hyperinflation Italy Japan LTRO Monetary Policy Money Supply Real estate Sovereigns Tue, 31 Mar 2015 00:30:08 +0000 Tyler Durden 504041 at Is This The Real Reason Putin & Xi Dislike The West? <p><strong>When it comes to salary levels among world leaders, there is tremendous variation across the globe. </strong>Nobody earns as much as Singapore's prime minister, though. <strong>U.S. President Barack Obama earns $400,000</strong> every year, quite a distance short of Lee Hsien Loong but still very high by international standards, while Angela Merkel follows with $234,400. Russian President Vladmir Putin's annual salary amounts to $136,000. That's still substantially more than <strong>Xi Jinping, China's leader, who earns just $22,000</strong> every year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So is this why Xi and Putin are pissed?</p> <p><a href=""><img src="" width="600" height="346" /></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>And of course, no one likes The Singaporean...</p> <p><a href=""><em>Source: Statista</em></a></p> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-image-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <img class="imagefield imagefield-field_image_teaser" width="1010" height="582" alt="" src="" /> </div> </div> </div> Barack Obama Tue, 31 Mar 2015 00:00:31 +0000 Tyler Durden 504038 at