If there was any confusion as to who calls the shots in the world, the following anecdote should provide some needed clarity. Hint: it is not the US. After last week India announced it would proceed with a Cotton export ban, two days ago China logged "a formal protest against India's ban on cotton exports amid signs that India is rethinking the ban that was implemented a few days ago." As a result hours ago India announced that less than a week after enacting said ban, it is now overturning it. Of course, there is the diplomatic snafu of just why it did, and for India it has to do with "protecting" the interests of its farmers, who "complained that, due to higher production this year, they were already suffering from lower prices than they had expected and needed to export to recover their domestic losses." Of course, the farmers' position was well-known before the ban overturn. What wasn't known is just how vocal China would be, as suddenly it would scramble to find alternative sources as it fills its strategic cotton reserve. Turns out it was quite vocal. And India, unwilling to risk a trade war with the world's biggest economic power, promptly relented. As a result, any and all commodity traders who bought up the widowmaker trade may find themselves staring into a limit down market post open.
Today at noon Eastern, the storied aircraft carrier Enterprise, aka CVN-65, left its home port of Naval Station Norfolk one final time for its final voyage with a heading: Arabian Sea, aka Iran. There in a week it will join CVN 72 Lincoln and CVN 70 Vinson, as well as LHD 8 Makin Island, all of which are supporting any potential escalation of "hostilities" in the Persian Gulf region. As a reminder, back in January we learned that the Enterprise's final voyage will be in proximity to Iran, and in the meantime, the aircraft carrier held extended drills off the Florida coast to attack a "faux theocracy" consisting of fundamentalist "Shahida" states. Why the Arabian Sea in about 7-10 days will be home to not two but three aircraft carriers and a big deck amphibious warfare ship is very much an open question, although we may have some thoughts.
Dear Mr. Dimon,
Why do you impugn your character and reputation by allowing your firm to engage in these immoral activities? Sure, the regulators have failed to assess you any meaningful punishments that would deter you from this conduct on a strict, short-term dollars and cents analysis. Every penny of earnings counts, I get it. But, sir, you do not strike me as someone who is trying to pump your company’s stock price for a quarter or two. You are the face of JPMorgan Chase and, I would assume, you plan on being there for a while. Why intentionally destroy any and all goodwill your firm has to make additional revenue that is mostly insignificant in the short-term and, quite possibly, deleterious in the long-term? The only reason I can think of is: because you can. And, that, sir is where hubris starts.
While AIG FP often made the contracts look like insurance products, the banks were very careful to make sure that the products were “credit derivatives” because they needed the regulatory capital relief provided by them. Didn’t the Fed at some point get concerned about the counterparty exposure to AIG FP? Isn’t counterparty risk something that the Fed is responsible for monitoring (or the ECB in the case of foreign banks)? When the Fed let MS and GS become bank holding companies and get the ability to use Fed lending programs, didn’t they ask about the AIG FP exposure? Goldman, which always claimed it was hedged, must have had a massive short position in AIG CDS to be hedged – again, no one at the Fed noticed this? CDS may be unregulated, but when virtually every big financial company in the world has large notionals on with AIG, huge mark to market gains on those positions, no collateral from AIG, and big shorts in AIG CDS, couldn’t someone do their job? This should have been noticeable in 2007!
We have heard of the Schrödinger Greek bailout, Schrödinger's CDS trigger, and even the Schrödinger US economy (whose depends on whether the BLS' BS collapses under its own weight, or not). Now, here is a stock photo of Schrödinger Schauble, who in addition to bashing the Greek bailout and praising it at the same time, has an Eigenwolfgang wave-particle duality even after his "uncertainty" has been fully observed and thus collapsed. Either that, or that is one damn fast wheelchair (loaded up with Greek gold no doubt).
The last time we plotted European youth unemployment in what was dubbed "Europe's scariest chart" we were surprised to discover that when it comes to "Arab Spring inspiring" youth unemployment, Spain was actually worse off than even (now officially broke) Greece, whose young adult unemployment at the time was only just better compared to that... of the United States. Luckily, following the latest economic (yes, we laughed too) update from Greece, it is safe to say that things are back to normal, as Greek youth unemployment is officially the second one in Europe after Spain to surpass 50%. In other words, Europe's scariest chart just got even scarier.
The Fed's Manipulation Of The Market Is Driving TrimTabs' Charles Biderman "Even More Nuts Than He Already Is"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/10/2012 - 21:37
Back in 2009 and 2010, TrimTabs Charles Biderman made waves for being the first person on prime time financial TV to tell it how it is, namely that the Fed is indirectly and directly affecting asset prices. Then he was ostracized. Now, it is not only a given that the Fed does everything in its power to hike stock prices, but is in fact welcome. Indeed, none other than Bob Pisani made point of highlighting that between central bank intervention and kicking the can down the road, the status quo has managed to restore credibility in the system. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, as we have demonstrated with the now terminal evacuation of faith by the retail investor in the gross manipulated stock "market" which is nothing but a nominal policy vehicle for politicians and bankers. Unfortunately, the endless lies and propaganda are starting to push rational people who refuse to take the blue pill, and who are fully aware there is no wizard, over the edge. In his latest videoblog, Biderman is back, taking his Lewis Black impersonation to the next level, with the following rant: "Individuals are net sellers of US equities and have been for years, probably because they need to pay bills and stuff. So how are they able to do that and get decent prices without the stock market cracking. Well simple the Federal Reserve has been printing huge amounts of money and that ultimately has been boosting the value of US equities, and therefore the sellers can sell. All of this is driving me even more nuts than I already am."
Here is $107 billion of OTHER debt; guaranteed debt that does not appear to be included anywhere in the official Greek sovereign debt figures. Contingent liabilities that are not counted any longer perhaps as the accepted manner of doing business now in Europe. Most of these issuances are governed under British law with “Default” clauses and “Negative Covenant” clauses. Greece defaults on €105 billion Euros and adds new debt, the IMF/EU loans, of 130 billion Euros and we are told that Greece is better off today than yesterday. What drivel! With the addition of the new IMF/EU loans of $172 billion and the revelation of the guaranteed debt at $107 billion Greece now has $279 billion of new and hidden debts. All of the meandering, all of the charades, all of the red nail polish applied will, in the end I forecast, not be able to hide the reality that the barking dog is a greasy Pig.
China Posts Biggest Trade Deficit Since 1989 As Crude Imports Surge: Is China Recycling Export Dollars Solely Into Oil?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/10/2012 - 14:51
In addition to all the US election year propaganda and delayed after effects of central banks injecting nearly $3 trillion in liquidity to juice up the US stock market, something far more notable yet underreported has happened in 2012: the world stopped exporting. Observe the following sequence of very recent headlines: "Japan trade deficit hits record", "Australia Records First Trade Deficit in 11 Months on 8% Plunge in Exports", "Brazil Posts First Monthly Trade Deficit in 12 Months " then of course this: "[US] Trade deficit hits 3-year record imbalance", and finally, as of late last night, we get the following stunning headline: "China Has Biggest Trade Shortfall Since 1989 on Europe Turmoil." Here we must apologize, but blaming the highest trade deficit in 23 years for a country that needs a trade surplus to exist, on the Chinese Lunar new year, which accidentally happens every year, is more than a little naive. Because as the charts below indicate, while exports did in fact tumble in a seasonal pattern as they do every February although more than expected, February imports of $146 billion not only did not drop, but posted a 19% increase compared to January, and soared 40% compared to a year prior. Why? Perhaps the second consecutive record high in monthly crude imports has something to do with it. Which in turn when considering the huge selloff of US Treasury paper by China in the last few months, indicates that the world's fastest growing economy no longer has an interest in taking its export dollars and using them to fund purchases of US paper, but is in fact converting US fiat into real, hard goods. Such as crude (for all those curious where the marginal demand is coming from that is). And most likely gold. But we will only learn about the gold hoarding well after the fact, when China is prepared to see the price of the metal soar as it did in 2009.
...most investors fall into one of two categories: those that hold an abundance of gold and silver (which tends to be physical forms only), and those with little or none. While both groups need to diversify, I'm a little more concerned about the second group. Here's why. Regardless of what you think will happen over the remainder of this decade, one thing seems virtually certain: the value of paper money will be affected, perhaps dramatically. Even if the economy slips into deflation, the deflation wouldn't last long. A panicked Fed would print to the max and set off a wild rise in prices. This is why we're convinced currency dilution will not only continue but accelerate. Let's take a look at what's happened so far with the value of our currency vs. gold, after accounting for the loss in purchasing power.
I hold up my hand, “One moment please” as I introduce you to the 800 pound Greek Gorilla that is about to enter the room. Allow me to now present to you the “OTHER” Greek debt that is outstanding and will have to be accounted for as the country defaults. Detailed below are some of the “OTHER” sovereign obligations of the Greek government which have now been submitted to the ISDA and I list some of them below. You will note that there are bank bonds, Hellenic Railway bonds, Urban Transportation bonds et al that are guaranteed by Greece. You will also note that there are bonds tied to Inflation, Floating Rate Notes, Asset-Backed securities and a whole mélange of other structured products with a Greek sovereign guarantee. What we all thought was fact is now clearly fiction and default will now bring “Acceleration” one could reasonably bet in all kinds of these securitizations and in all kinds of currencies. This could come from the ratings agencies placing Greece in “Default” or it could come from the CDS contracts being triggered depending upon each indenture and you will also note that a great many of these off balance sheet securitizations are governed by English Law and not Greek Law. You may also wish to consider the fallout to the banking system as the lead managers of all of these deals could find themselves behind the eight ball as various clauses trigger and as the holders of these securitizations line up at the judicial bench [ZH note: there is a reason why Allen & Overy is getting paid $1500 an hour to indemnify ISDA with a plethora of exculpation clauses - they know what is coming] The ISDN numbers are on all of these securities and the lead managers may be found on Bloomberg or other sources as well as the holders of the debt. The curtain just lifted and the show is about to get way too interesting!
There was a time when Bank of America's archoptimist David Bianco would take any economic data point, no matter how fecal mattery, and convert it into 24-carat gold. Then, in late 2011 Bianco was fired because the bank realized that its only chance to persevere was if the Fed proceeded with another round of QE, (and another, and another, ad inf) and as such economic reporting would have to lose its upward bias and be reporting in its natural ugly habitat. And while many other banks have in recent days become content with every other central bank in the world easing but not the Fed in an election year due to the risks of record gas prices, BAC's push for QE has not abated and in fact has gotten louder and louder. So exposes us to some oddities. Such as the firm's 29 year old senior economist Michelle Meyer literally demolishing any myth that yesterday's job number was "good." Needless to say, this will not come as a surprise to Zero Hedge readers. Nor to TrimTabs, whose opinion on the BLS BS we have attached as exhibit B as to the sheer economic data propaganda happening in an election year. Yet it is quite shocking that such former stalwarts of the bullish doctrine are now finally exposing the truth for what it is. Presenting Bank of America as we have never seen it before - throwing up all over the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
After reading this, everyone should have a fairly good grasp of what happened not only today, but ever since the great (and quite endless) European financial crisis took center stage, and what to look forward to next...
Robert Mish has been a precious metals dealer for nearly 50 years and knows what a gold bubble mania looks like. We are nowhere near that stage, in his opinion. Instead, he sees a US populace largely unappreciative of holding precious metal as a store of wealth, and engaged in a slow process of dis-hording their gold and silver to eager foreign buyers who are more than happy to take the bullion back to their shores. In terms of where we are on the gold mania spectrum, he sees us at a "2" out of 10. But he foresees a very rude awakening ahead as the populace eventually wakes up to the increasing damage our over-debted global economy is doing to the purchasing power of world currencies. Because when the general investor finally realizes the protection the precious metals offer against currency debasement, much of the retail supply will already be out of the system in very tight hands, and largely overseas. Moreover, when supply gets tight, there will be more challenges to obtaining physical bullion during a buying mania than there were during the last one in 1980. There are many fewer local sources to exchange bullion these days as much of that business is now transacted by online vendors dependent mail delivery to ship product, which are more vulnerable to supply chain disruptions. And be sure you're aware of how the form you hold your bullion in will affect the price you get during a buying frenzy, when refining capacity is overwhelmed. You may find you gold or silver sells at a hefty discount because it's not in a preferred format for trade.
No More QE? Bill Gross Isn't Buying It, As Total Return Fund MBS Holdings Surge To New All Time HighSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 03/09/2012 - 18:22
The Fed may be using the WSJ to spread rumors of sterilized QE, but Bill Gross ain't buying. According ot the latest update from the world's largest bond fund, the firm lowered its holdings of cash and synthetic Treasury exposure to 38% of total from 41% (even as AUM increased from $250.5 billion to $251.8 billion), while hiking MBS to 52% of AUM: not the highest relative exposure ever, but at $131 billion in Mortgage Backed Debt, certainly the highest in absolute terms. Margin cash declined slightly from $87.7 to $78.1 billion, but one thing that appears to have increased even more is Gross' conviction that QE 3, or to borrow a recent euphemism, THE NEW QE, is coming and it will be all about mortgage backed debt. Of secondary note is that after extending the effective duration of its holdings to an all time high 7.58 years in October 2011, the fund has rapidly cut duration and was at 5.68 at last check as holding in the 1-3 year bucket saw a substantial jump: indicating the ramp up in short duration MBS paper.