Being forced to endure and survive a catastrophic macro event like a monetary or social collapse is perhaps one of the worst experiences I could imagine. Such a crisis leads to just about every crime and inhuman action in existence, and, the time required for a culture to right itself and rebuild is severely protracted. A hurricane or earthquake or tidal wave; these calamities are short lived and easy in comparison. The point is, as survivalists who are preparing to make an economic end-game scenario as “comfortable” to live through as we can, it is incumbent upon us to consider the kind of company we keep during the gambit. Some allies will make that mad world bearable; others will bring the madness to your doorstep.
Following the passage of ObamaCare, several of the smartest people I know claimed that the bill was actually written by and for the drug and insurance companies rather than “the people” as Obama had claimed. In recent days it has emerged that Liz Fowler, who is said to have been one of the key architects of ObamaCare, is doing what any good revolving door crony capitalist would do. She is moving to the private sector to receive her payoff. Revolving door on Wall Street. Check. Revolving door at the Pentagon. Check. Revolving door in Healthcare. Check mate. Welcome to America. Check your freedom at the door.
We face one of the deepest crises in history. A prognosis for the economic future requires a deepening of the concepts of inflation and deflation. Inflation is a political phenomenon because monetary aggregates are not determined by market forces but are planned by central banks in agreement with governments. Inflation is a tax affecting all real incomes. Inflation is a precondition of extreme deflation: depression. Should in fact the overall debt collapse, there would be an extreme deflation or depression because the money aggregate would contract dramatically. In fact the money equivalent to the defaulted debt would literally vanish. It is for this reason that central banks monetize new debt at a lower interest rates, raising its value. All the financial bubbles and the mass of derivatives are just the consequence of debt monetization. How will this all end? In history, debt monetization has always produced hyperinflation. In Western countries, despite the exponential debt a runaway inflation has not yet occurred. Monetary policy has only inflated the financial sector, starving the private one, which is showing a bias towards a deflationary depression. Unfortunately governments and banks will go for more inflation. As history teaches, besides money the freedom of citizens can also be the victim.
According to Reuters: "Canadian authorities have approved the acquisition of Nexen Inc by China's CNOOC Ltd, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday." It appears Canada decided against infuriating Chinese M&A overtures after all, imminent protecetionist political kneejerk reaction notwithstanding.
Of course, it makes perfect sense - the largest market cap company in the world drops further and experiences a death cross and sure enough - the evergreen Dow Jones Industrial Average ended near the highs of the day - well north of the critical 'retirement-on' 13,000. In general risk-assets were quietly correlated with stocks today (amid relatively quiet volume on the major averages) but we note that the capital structure ETFs in general were less exuberant - though they did get a little bounce after the consumer credit data. All-in-all, the Dow stood alone in its non-AAPL exuberance as the rest of the market was mired in the sentment shift that is occurring (note the Dow saw ts 50DMA cross below its 100DMA and its closed perfectly intersecting with those averages). Must be the 'great' jobs number, right? Treasury yields end near their lows of the week, USD near its highs, Gold down on the week though at 3-day highs (supporting stocks), and high-yield credit weak today. Paging Skynet...
In just over one hour the Canadian government will hold a press conference on the troubled Nexen/CNOOC deal: a deal that will make or break many M&A merger arbs or 2012. And judging by the algo reaction in the past few minutes, i.e., the complete collapse in NXY stock, the deal is off. So who is about to get crushed? Below is a sort of all hedge and mutual funds who added the most NXY stock in Q3, i.e., those who decided to pick pennies in front of a steam roller in hopes the Canadian government lets the deal through, with far more downside than upside if said assumption fails. All we can say is: Oops Paulson.... Again.
It is a truism that food is expensive in America. What if we ask, "is 'real' food expensive in America?" Apologists often cite four reasons why people (and more particularly, low-income people) tend to eat so poorly in America. None of these excuses hold water. What it boils down to is convenience, marketing and engineering: processed food and fast-food are engineered to "taste good" (i.e. salty, fatty and sweet), marketing hypes them 24/7 and Americans have been brainwashed to worship convenience above all else. So please don't claim real food is "too expensive" to eat. What's "too expensive" is unhealthy processed and fast foods.
When it comes to commodities priced "per ounce", the two most quoted products are silver, and of course gold. But in a broader context are these prices a lot or little? How do some other less known commodities stack up to the world's two most precious metals. Here are the prices for a wide universe of other compounds which are also priced on a "per ounce" basis...
A month after consumer credit rose by $12 billion (revised) driven by car and student loans, even as revolving credit declined, total consumer credit in October once again rose in both revolving and non-revolving categories, up by $14.2 billion, consisting of $3.4 billion in revolving and $10.8 billion in non-revolving. This number will probably get revised lower next week. The number which will not be revised lower is the composition of sources of consumer credit, where the Government sourced 70% of all new loans (on a NSA) basis: $7 bilion of a total of $10.3 billion. For some perspective, the US government has funded $114 billion of the total $156 billion in total consumer debt in the past year. Between the Fed and Uncle Sam, who needs banks?
We have seen numerous articles as of late discussing how the average American family has finally delevered their household balance sheet at last. The problem is that apart from mortgage debt, whose decline has been facilitated by massive central bank and governmental intervention, other debt is still being piled on. These other debts are at substantially higher rates than mortgages and negatively impacts the consumer's ability to save. This is why savings rates continue to fall. As full-time employment remains elusive, the average American continues to resort to debt, and governmental support, to fill the gap between waning real incomes and their expected standard of living. This is a game that has a finite end. The diversion of income from savings to support debt service requirements will continue to impede economic growth until such time as either debt returns to levels that are conducive for higher levels of personal savings or incomes rise. This leaves consumers trapped between the need to payoff of debts in order to free up cash flow but needing increased levels of debt to sustain their standard of living. In the end the consumer will delever, either by choice or by force, the only difference between the two outcomes is the length of time that the current economic malaise lasts.
The next time someone has the temerity to tell you you can't spend your way to uber-wealth, first spit in their non-Keynesian face, and then make yourself a little richer by buying the following broken record (or CD): "Deck the halls with Macro follies" featuring the following mega hits "Oh GDP" by Paul Samuelson and "Income Equals Expenditure" By J.M Keynes (as well as their far less known B-siders such as Hayek). So don't delay, and get rich today the moar, moar, moar, moar spending way.
By now there can be no doubt that due to Bernanke et al's endless intervention in any and all capital markets, the "market" is no longer a mechanism that discounts the future in any way. In fact, instead of predicting the future, all the market has become is a backward looking race in which collocated algos respond to historical data - flashing red headlines - and attempt to out run each other in who can buy or sell more free for all, knowing full well at least one other greater fool will be behind them to pick up the pieces. Sadly, fundamentals as a driver to valuaton no longer exist. But such is life under central planning. Yet there is one thing that the market responds to - it is politicians and the uncertainty that political risk brings with it. This certainly includes that most political of organizations, the Federal Reserve, whose stimulative intervention into capital markets two months before the presidential elections was without precedent. Yet even here, the market has managed to decouple from reality, and is trading at level far greater than what political uncertainty risk implies. As the chart below from Citi's Matt King shows, a correlation between BBB spreads and a broader proprietary uncertainty index, there is currently a roughly 50% political risk premium that is not being priced into stocks.
Increasingly it is appearing that all those things formerly considered "fixed", are not. Latest case in point, Egypt where despite the general population's very finite attention span having been fully exhausted on all things Cairo-related back in the spring of 2011, the locals counterrevolutionary natives are once more getting restless and absent some miracle, the days of the US puppet appointed "democrat"-cum-self appointed dictator Mursi are numbered.