5 days ago saw the 150th year anniversary of an event so historic that a very select few even noticed: the birth of US fiat. Bloomberg was one of the few who commemorated the birth of modern US currency: "On April 2, 1862, the first greenback left the U.S. Treasury, marking the start of a new era in the American monetary system.... The greenbacks were originally intended to be a temporary emergency-financing measure. Almost bankrupt, the Treasury needed money to pay suppliers and troops. The plan was to print a limited supply of United States notes to meet the crisis and then have people convert the currency into Treasury bonds. But United States notes grew in popularity and continued to circulate." The rest, as they say is history. In the intervening 150 years, the greenback saw major transformations: from being issued by the Treasury and backed by gold, it is now printed, mostly in electronic form, by an entity that in its own words, is "set up similarly to private corporations, but operated in the public interest." Of course, when said public interest is not the primary driver of operation, the entity, also known as the Federal Reserve is accountable to precisely nobody. Oh, and the fiat money, which is now just a balance sheet liability of a private corporation, and thus just a plug to the Fed's deficit monetization efforts, is no longer backed by anything besides the "full faith and credit" of a country that is forced to fund more than half of its spending through debt issuance than tax revenues.
Since we have grown tired of variations on the theme of "The Pain in ...." (having been guilty of encouraging it ourselves), we will spare readers this triteness, and instead summarize the attached must read slidedeck from Carmel Asset Management as the ultimate Spanish doomsday presentation. Naive and/or idealistic Spanish readers are advised to resume sticking their heads in the sand, and to stay as far away as possible from the attached 54 pages, which prove without any doubt why not only was Greece the appetizer (have your UK law:non-UK Law divergence trade on yet?) but why things in Europe are about to get far, far worse, as the Hurricane shifts to its next preferred location, somewhere above and just south of the Pyrenees.
Before even taking into account the aftermath of the “unexpected” NFP result, it has been amazing to see over these past few months the number of experts, especially those that reside solely within the “science” of economics, proclaiming a successful engineering of the long sought-after recovery. That this has been the third such claim in as many years is lost in the noise of confusing “headwinds” that are somehow beyond the control of those that now control most everything within the financial arena. Stock speculators are beneficial components to the healthy financial transmission mechanism into the real economy (even when all they are supposed to do is provide liquidity 20,000 times per second), but anybody that dares speculate in the far more vital energy sector (or any real commodity) is the pure incarnation of evil. That these two apparently disconnected speculative classes are really one and the same shows just how obtuse (not always intentionally) economists and the pandering classes really are.
Do you think the US will always and forever be able to pay for our over-bloated military-industrial complex and our wars of choice? Do you think the federal housing agencies will always and forever be able to subsidize the real estate industry with money losing, non-economic mortgage loans? Do you think the government will always and forever be able to pay on the promises they've made regarding Social Security, Medicare and Medicade? Do you think the government will always and forever be able to extend debt-enslaving, subsidized student loans to anyone with a pulse? Do you think the fiat ponzi central planners at the Fed will always and forever be able to manipulate the Treasury curve to whatever levels the Oracles of Delphi decide? If you answer yes to the above, ask yourself this: how would all of these things be affected if the average interest rate paid by the US was to rise to 5%? At today's debt level of $15.6 trillion, the interest expense would be approximately $780 billion or about 35% of total government revenues. Welcome to the United States of Greece. Next stop, bankruptcy.
Let us take another step down the Holmesian path. As the economies in Italy and Spain deteriorate who will be seriously affected: Germany. Two of their largest buyers of their goods and services will radically cut back on their purchases and the German economy, for the first time in this cycle, will suffer as buyers are no longer able to afford various services. The circle always completes and the consequences will not be pleasant; this circle, in fact, will resemble a noose that is pulled tighter and tighter with each passing quarter and the pay master for the European Union will shrink as their economy, currently at the $3.2 trillion mark, sinks back towards $2.5 trillion during the next year. There will be screams of anguish aplenty and you might begin now to make the necessary adjustments to this coming reality. Then as Italy and Spain soon line up at the till you will see the Real Hurt being on which is why Europe is begging the IMF, the G-20, China and Japan for funds because they now have the burning smell in their nostrils of damaged flesh that has been singed and is about to be cooked and served up fresh in the begging bowls of those urchins turned out into the street.
Martenson Interviews Khosla Ventures: The US Is Massively Underfunding The Innovations Critical To Its Energy FutureSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/07/2012 12:02 -0400
"The age of cheap oil is over," agrees Andrew Chung, partner at Khosla Ventures, arguably the most knowledgeable venture capital firm spearheading next-generation energy projects. While perhaps more optimistic than Chris on the odds that the world can transition off fossil energy sources without experiencing some duration of lower overall energy output, Andrew is clear to point out that large and near-term capital investments are essential for such a smooth transition. The size and scale of the investments necessary to evolve and replace our existing (and increasingly outdated) power infrastructure are enormous, and too big for private companies alone to address the issue on an acceptable timeline. And as of now, the U.S. is decidedly NOT treating the matter with the urgency it deserves. Of the total U.S. budget, the Department of Energy receives only 8%; and only 0.1% of the total budget is directed to the alternative technologies we hope will one day replace our fossil-based sources. By contrast, China alone is dedicating $800 billion over the next ten years to help support the development and commercialization of alternative technologies and cleantech. In the coming decades, the efficient and effective use of energy is going to be a real determinant between winners and loser across the global landscape. Affordable, sustainable energy will increasingly determine the prosperity of world powers -- and America is at a growing relative disadvantage until it starts talking honestly with itself about the un-sustainability of its current energy policies and prioritizing its resources (both monetary and human) accordingly.
In a very thin market, the S&P futures came very close to hitting their 50 DMA on Friday. The S&P futures went from a high of 1,418 on Monday, to trade as low as 1,372 on Friday. A 46 point swing is healthy correction at the very least, if not an ominous warning sign of more problems to come. There were 3 key drivers to the negative price action in stocks this week. All 3 of them will continue to dominant issues next week.
Recovery? What Recovery? 4 years after central banks have progressively injected over $7 trillion in liquidity into the global markets (and thus, by Fed logic, the economy), and who knows how many trillion in fiscal aid has been misallocated, to halt the Second Great Depression which officially started in December 2007, the US "recovery" is the weakest in modern US history! How many more trillions will have to be printed (and monetized) before the central planners realize that fighting mean reversion by using debt to defeat recore debt, just doesnt't work? Our guess - lots.
In Its Latest Nonfarm Payroll Mea Culpa, Goldman Stumbles On THE Answer... And Changes The Rules Of The GameSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/06/2012 18:12 -0400
The one sentence that may change everything: "...we have found some evidence that at the very long end of the yield curve, where Operation Twist is concentrated, it may be not just the stock of securities held by the Fed but also the ongoing flow of purchases that matters for yields..."
With expectations of a $12.0bn rise in Consumer Credit, yet another market 'economic' indicator flashes orange as the Seasonally Adjusted number comes in at $8.735bn - the largest miss from expectations in 6 months. Furthermore, using the Non-Seasonally Adjusted data, this is the largest sequential drop in 12 months (since the Feb 2011 plunge). While non-revolving debt managed to increase (though at a considerably lower pace) for the second month in a row the deleveraging that ended in Q4 has resumed following the end of the retail shopping season (as revolving credit contracted). Perhaps the same 'glitch' that destroyed Groupon, namely accounting for product returns, is about to sweep the entire retail industry?
On a day when the sad reality of our (AAPL-free) centrally-planned economy came a little unhinged, it is perhaps useful to reflect on just how different our 'capitalism' in the US now is from other 'capitalist' societies and the one we had in the 1900s. Robert Murphy (of The Politically Incorrect Guide To Capitalism book fame) explains how everyone has an agenda - yet everyone agrees that they despise capitalism. Capitalism is the system in which people are 'free to choose' and this is compared to socialist economies (where prices are set by the Fed state and assets can be confiscated for the benefit of the people). The fear of capitalism's citizenry running riot with unregulated actions leaves critics focused on a belief that regulators and bureaucrats know better than private citizens how to make their own decisions. This brief discussion ends with a sprinkling of Ayn Rand, Obama, Geithner, Barney Frank, and Harry Reid and their efforts to evade Capitalism's features, misrepresent its nature, and destroy its last remnants.
An Oregon University professor has controversially compared skepticism of global warming to racism. Sociology and environmental studies professor Kari Norgaard wrote a paper criticising non-believers, suggesting that doubters have a ‘sickness’. The professor, who holds a B.S. in biology and a master’s and PhD in sociology, argued that ‘cultural resistance’ to accepting humans as being responsible for climate change ‘must be recognised and treated’ as an aberrant sociological behaviour.
The Hunt For Red Pyongyang: South Korea On Alert For Naval Attack After "Losing" 4 North Korean SubsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 04/06/2012 12:06 -0400
Just because the imminent launch of a North Korean rocket along a trajectory which will likely force Japan to strike it down, something which Pyongyang said would be equivalent to an act of war, was not enough, it now appears that South Korea has commenced the hunt for Red Pyongyang or four, as it is now "searching for four North Korean submarines that disappeared after leaving their bases on the tense peninsula." ABC News reports that "A military source quoted in a South Korean newspaper says up to four North Korean submarines slipped out of port in recent days and have so far avoided detection. The source was also quoted as saying that Pyongyang has stepped up submarine infiltration drills as the weather has warmed." As a result, "Seoul is now on alert for a possible strike against a South Korean naval ship." This won't be the first time a North Korean sub is implicated in potential wrongdoing: "The South accuses the North of using a midget submarine to sink the corvette the Cheonan two years ago, which left 46 South Korean sailors dead."
With the world focusing on the latest disinformation from the BLS, one would be forgiven to miss the Bank of Italy's monthly balance sheet aggregates data. A quick perusal thereof reveals that in March, Italian banks saw their ECB support surge from €195 billion to €270 billion, the highest ever, 39% more than in February, and 776% more than greater than a year earlier, and now merely the latest parabolic curve to love and hold dear. Indicatively, on the chart below we have also added Spanish bank borrowings from the ECB (still pending a March update), which in February were also at an all time high of €152 billion. So aside from this last recourse lifeline from the ECB which is now openly keeping Europe's banks afloat, "the crisis is nearly over" to quote Mario Monti.
While the idea of a futuristic tale of the resurgence of Greece and how Germany shot itself in the foot could well be the work of the horror-writer, HSBC's Chief Economist Stephen King opines on what could well be with a moral for those who want Athens out of the Euro. "The idea that Greece can leave and that the rest of the eurozone will then live happily ever after – a view that is quickly becoming the conventional wisdom – is surely wrong. Departure might eventually be an answer to Greece's difficulties but it only asks questions of everybody else." And the fantastic journey King lays out is rooted in a sad reality that he sums up thusly: "Germany's gamble had failed. In the attempt to punish Greece, it had ended up with an impossible choice: creating a fiscal union or huge currency upheaval. Berlin had taken aim at Greece but shot itself in the foot."