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Guest Post: Eric Janszen: We Are Witnessing The Death Of The Dollar

What do you get when the producer of the world's reserve currency takes on too much debt? Nothing less than the end of the US Treasury-based monetary system. So says Eric Jansen, economic and financial market analyst and proprietor of iTulip.com. In chronicling the decline of the global economy over the past decade, Eric has formulated a framework called the "Ka-POOM" theory, which endeavors to understand how the immense run-up in global debt will be resolved. In short, it looks at the at the credit bubble that began in the early 1980's, started accelerating in 1995, and has now reached epic proportions. The amounts are so staggering at this stage that Eric believes it is too politically undesirable to let natural market adjustments clear them away - the magnitude of the deflationary pain this would create is simply unacceptable for politicians looking to get re-elected. The only other available option left is to service these debts via a dramatically devalued currency. Hence the key role the Fed is playing today. The Fed is at the epicenter of this process, intervening heavily to keep the natural corrective market forces at bay. In this, it has a dual strategy. The first is to keep asset prices high (i.e., fight asset deflation), which it is doing by keeping interest rates historically low. The second is to keep wage and commodity costs under control, which it primarily does via devaluing the currency (maintaining a "weak dollar"). And, of course, through its intervention, the Fed is doing all it can to keep the current financial system in place to perpetuate the process for as long as possible. The end result is a fundamental shift in risk from Wall Street to the taxpayer.

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Sorry Yahoo, Hopefully Third Time Will Be The Charm

Next time Microsoft offers to buy you, you say yes.


 That's right - another "take under." Sorry to anyone who bought this stock on a take out/13F clone play.


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Quote Of The Week

Presented without commentary:

"The central irony of financial crisis is that while it is caused by too much confidence, too much borrowing and lending and too much spending, it can only be resolved with more confidence, more borrowing and lending, and more spending." -

Larry Summers, source

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Weekly Bull/Bear Recap: October 24-28

Your one stop, comprehensive summary of the main bullish and bearish events in the past week.

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Modest Late Day Excitement Tops Quiet Day

FX markets have pretty much trodden water for the last 24 hours with admittedly a small USD bullish bias providing little ammo for any correlation-driven risk-asset moves today. Credit markets did wonder gently up and down but ES was like a Parkinson's patient off his meds as it noisily whipped up and down in a small range generally tracking credit. Into the close HY and ES surged (on nothing except perhaps the EUR futures CoT data) as MF Global's stock price dived but HY managed to hold and close at its highs while ES pulled back modestly. IG didn't play into the late day exuberance and we suspect the HY shift is more index arb as intrinsics actually widened on the day and the index remains cheap. HY is still 'cheap' as a risk asset relative to equities which might explain some of the grab here into the close but with a weekend of uncertainty ahead, why not wait til Monday to add risk? Copper managed to rally from pre-open today as did oil marginally but Silver and Gold were unimpressive as they held gains (much as DXY was holding its losses on the week).

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It's Not Over: EUR Shorts Barely Budge, Leading To Concerns For Another Levered Squeeze

Last week we warned of the possibility for a massive short squeeze melt up purely due to the fact that the most leveragable driver of the stock market, the EURUSD, had barely seen a change in net short positions despite recurring noises that Europe would somehow pull a magic money tree out of the hat and all should be well. Well, they pulled it, and the EURUSD soared over 300 pips. There is one problem, however: as the latest CFTC Commitment of Traders update indicates, there was barely any change in net non-spec EUR bearish bets which remained stubbornly fixed near the 2011 highs, at -76,512 contracts, just off the prior week's -77,720. Granted the USD net long dropped yet again, from 41,751 to 32,110 contracts. But the one all important driver for yet another potential squeeze has hardly budged. The one saving grace: this data is as of October 25, just before the massive rip started. As such it is possible that a substantial portion of these shorts has covered. Alas, we won't know until next Friday. By then, weak hand bears, spooked by merely the possibility of another ramp, will likely continue to cover into any even modest dip. It won't be until this total short position moves materially higher that the chance of any material downtick in the market will reappear.

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White House Orders Review Of Energy Department Loans To Avoid Solyndra Subpoena And Exercising "Executive Privilege"

The Solyndra-gate scandal, which the GOP realizes has the potential to shake the Obama administration to the very top, refuses to go away. Earlier today AP reported that to a republican Subpoena demanding all documents instead of just those selectively produced, "could trigger a claim of executive privilege by the Obama administration and elevate the political stakes. The loan is being investigated by two House committees, which have released Solyndra-related documents from federal agencies including the Energy and Treasury departments and the Office of Management and Budget." The White House has refused a request by the House Energy and Commerce Committee for all internal White House communications about Solyndra. White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said the committee leaders' request has implications for "long-standing and significant institutional executive branch confidentiality interests." Naturally: it would be a big hit to the presidency's interests if it was uncovered that crony capitalist vigilante #1 himself is more than willing to distributed taxpayer capital to the highest bidder. So instead the The White House is ordering a review of loan guarantees made by the Energy Department after a California solar company that got a half-billion-dollar federal loan went bankrupt. There are more than two dozen of these to a variety of clean energy companies." And here is where the latest joke from this president jumps the shark: "[White House chief of staff] Daley said he's tapping a former Treasury official to conduct the review." A former Treasury official... of the Obama administration?

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Guest Post: Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety can, whether you're honest about it or not, cloud your decisions in this market. Do you cave to the relative performance derby in order to retain investors? Its a real issue if you've been on the wrong side of this market or any side for that matter. The volatility has made investors punch drunk. I'm talking about customers that say flat out: "If you don't get more invested, I'm pulling my account". How quickly they forget that 2 weeks ago they were of the opposite mindset. Let me share my story - as I'm sure there are a million like it. I've been receiving daily calls from an investor for the last 3 months (yes, I should have already fired him). We've been in 70% cash, which two months ago - in his words - enabled him to sleep at night. Now he can't sleep and is constantly hyperventilating at all the money he is "losing" by being under-invested. Cramer put him over the edge last night.

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"Adolf Merkel": Presenting The Greek Gratitude For The 50% Debt Haircut

One would think that considering that their debt, or rather about 60% of it, was haircut over the past 2 days, the Greeks would be grateful to Germany who not only orchestrated this transaction over the vocal protests of her French vertically challenged counterpart, but effectively has pledged a substantial portion of German GDP to preserve not only the Greek welfare state but soon that of all the other European countries. One would be wrong.

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The Global Moral Hazard Dawns: Merkel Says "It Must Be Prevented That Others Come Seeking A Haircut" As Ireland Cuts GDP Forecast

Just about 48 hours after it was duly noted as the greatest threat to the Eurozone in the post bailout world, Germany finally grasps the enormity of what global moral hazard truly means. As we said before, the biggest risk facing Europe, and by that we mean undercapitlized French banks (all of them) obviously, is not Greece or what haircut is applied to the meaningless €100 billion in Greek debt when all the exclusions are accounted for. It is what happens when everyone else understands they now have a carte blanche to pull a Greece at will. And while until now we had some glimmer of hope there was a behind the scenes agreement for this glaringly obvious deterioration to not manifest itself, Merkel just opened her mouth and proved our worst fears wrong. As Reuters reports, "Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday it was important to prevent others from seeking debt reductions after European Union leaders struck a deal with private banks to accept a nominal 50 percent cut on their Greek government debt holdings. "In Europe it must be prevented that others come seeking a haircut," she said." Too late, Angie, far, far too late. Because, just as expected, here comes Ireland and literally a few hours ago, launched the first warning shot that will imminently lead to what will be demands to pari passu treatment with Greece. Next up: Portugal, Spain, and, of course, Italy, which however won't be faking its own economic slow down.

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Did Primary Dealer MF Global Dump Its TSY Inventory And Exaggerate Thursday's Equity Rally?

We have often discussed the use of the Treasury 2s10s30s butterfly as a carry tool and it makes sense that primary dealers would proxy this in their inventories to earn a much more risk-managed carry than a simple curve trade from a net interest margin perspective. With MF Global drawing down its credit lines and facing immediate stress, it also makes sense that they would look to sell down any and every holding they had in order to show liquidity. In the 24 hours from mid-day Wednesday to mid-day Thursday the 2s10s30s butterfly experienced one of its largest ever shifts higher (unwinding the carry trade) at over 4 standard deviations and only matched by moves in Q4 2008 (LEH?). Equity markets tracked this massive and unending rise in 2s10s30s almost tick-for-tick which we think explains how such a no-news summit in EU can create such a massive move in US equities. Moreover, the attractiveness of the 2s10s30s butterfly is reappearing up here and it is compressing suggesting stocks have room to fall here.

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Egan-Jones On The MF Global Endgame: "The Majors Will Pick Off MF Key Employees And Clients Will Flee"

A short, sweet and spot on summary of what is most likely going to happen to MF Global courtesy of the only rating agency worth listening to, Egan-Jones. "A race - the Company is in a race to re-establish its business while clients, employees, and its business position slides. The major issues are the real losses from poor investments in the EU, whether MF can attract interest in salable assets, and if interested buyers are willing to step up currently or wait until a transaction is potentially blessed by a trustee in a reorganization (in the case of the Lehman Brothers reorg, Barclays was confronted with a fraudulent conveyance issue). The most likely outcome is that the majors will pick off MF key employees and clients will flee. No news is bad news."

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Guest Post: What’s A Young Person Supposed To Do?


I can’t begin to describe how excited I am to be visiting Tokyo while the Japanese yen is at its all-time, historic high. My timing couldn’t possibly be worse. For reasons that are completely incomprehensible, the yen is still viewed as a stable ‘safe haven’ currency despite four completely hopeless black marks:

1) Japan’s public debt puts other bankrupt nations to shame. As a percentage of GDP (225%), Japan’s debt is more than twice as bad as the United States.

2) The political situation in Japan is anything BUT stable. Japan has blown through 6 prime ministers and 9 finance ministers since 2006. And every one of them was a failure.

3) Social demographics are a ticking time bomb. Both life expectancy AND average age in Japan are higher than just about anywhere else on the planet… and the country has neither the work force nor the financial resources to support the massive waves of retirees that are coming.

4) Oh yeah, Japan’s economy hasn’t actually grown in two decades. No biggie.

Despite these obvious headwinds, though, the market is telling us that Japan is the safe place to be right now. And as a result, prices here are just plain stupid.

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S&P Issues Statement On EFSF, Says "Almost Certain" European Governments Would Support CDO

The first kicker in the just released S&P statement on the revised and AAA-rated EFSF is the following: "In our opinion, there is an "almost certain" likelihood that the EFSF's 'AAA' rated member governments would provide timely and sufficient extraordinary support to the EFSF if needed." So, uh, S&P is determining the fate of trillions worth of securities on the basis of a hunch, a whim, if you will. A strong one, but a hunch nonetheless. Swell. And the second kicker:  "If we lowered the ratings on one or more of the 'AAA' rated member guarantors, we would also likely lower the ratings on funding instruments that the EFSF had issued before the date of the downgrade, if the lower ratings on the member guarantor were to lead to less than 100% 'AAA' rated coverage for the relevant EFSF funding instrument." This, in the parlance of our times, is known as a springing downgrade, which sets off the kind of cataclysm that only AIG could achieve once the investing community realized it had a rating-based collateral schedule. So once again the fate of the free world depends on FrAAAnce. Swell2.

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Guest Post: Greek CDS Shennanigans

We now know that private holders of Greek bonds will be “invited” (seriously–this was the word used in the EU summit statement) to take a write-down of 50%–halving the face value of the estimated $224 billion in bonds that they hold. This will help bring the Greek debt-to-GDP ratio down from 186% in 2013 to 120% by 2020. The big question–apart from how many investors they will get to go along with this, given that they couldn’t reach their target of 90% investor participation when the write-down was only going to be 21%–is whether this will trigger a CDS pay-out. That this is even up for discussion is mind-boggling. These credit default swaps are meant to be an insurance policy in case Greece doesn’t pay the agreed upon interest and return the full principal within the agreed timeframe. If they don’t pay out when bondholders are taking a 50% hit then what’s the point? I call shenanigans. ISDA, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association that wrote the agreement governing most derivatives trades, states clearly that a Credit Event would be triggered under the type of haircut proposed…but only if this haircut is forced on all bondholders. And here’s where it gets interesting.

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