Following Part 1 (History), and Part 2 (Interventionism), Part 3 provides a more technical look at the key features of the unadulterated gold standard. It could be briefly stated as a free market in money, credit, interest, discount, and banking. Another way of saying it is that there would be no confusion of money (i.e. gold) and credit (i.e. paper). Both play their role, and neither is banished from the monetary system. There would be no central bank with its “experts” to dictate the rate of interest and no “lender of last resort”. There would be no Securities Act, no deposit insurance, no armies of banking regulators, and definitely no bailouts or “too big to fail banks”. The government would have little role in the monetary system, save to catch criminals and enforce contracts.
In what is sure to be a complete non-starter with the Obama administration, WSJ reports that Paul Ryan said that "Republicans are discussing whether to support a short-term increase in the nation's borrowing authority, possibly linking the debt ceiling to future talks aimed at reaching a major deficit deal....Mr. Ryan said no decisions have been made about how to approach the debt and spending negotiations, but that leaders hope House Republicans will reach consensus on a strategy by the end of the week. The former vice-presidential candidate said "we're discussing the possible virtue of a short-term debt limit" increase that would lead to broader deficit talks with Senate Democrats and the White House. "We hope to achieve consensus on a plan to proceed so we can make progress on controlling spending and deficits and debt," Mr. Ryan said." The logical question immediately arose, and promptly received a non-answer "Mr. Ryan wouldn't say what he meant by a temporary debt-ceiling increase, declining to give a specific increase figure or timeframe for an extension."
Keynesian policy requires an expansionist Central State and Bank bent on imposing central planning on every level of the economy. Keynesians are natural partners with the neofeudal financial Aristocracy which benefits so enormously from Keynesian print-borrow-blow policies. The standard Keynesian cargo-cult analysis of our economic woes: 1. The problem is a lack of aggregate demand, i.e. people buying stuff and services; 2. As a result, the economy is running below capacity, i.e. economic output is below potential; 3. The solution is fiscal and monetary stimulus, i.e. the Central State borrowing and spending trillions on politically directed programs and the Federal Reserve printing and injecting trillions of "free money" dollars into the financial sector to boost borrowing and lending. The cargo-cult program has failed for a number of fundamental reasons. Let's illuminate these reasons with a few thought experiments.
One of the questions emerging from the latest batterygate affair, this time not involving A123 or any other government subsidized lithium batter maker, is whether customers who have already preordered Dreamliners, some as far back as 2004, may end up just saying no over concerns how long it will take Boeing to resolve its problems, and opting for other airplanes from the company, or even choosing some of Airbus' offerings. Because it may come as a surprise to some that while a whopping 848 airplanes have been ordered, only some 49 have been delivered, virtually all of which are now grounded. What else may be surprising? The charts below summarize where Boeing is on the delivery vs preorders picture.
Well, that, and guns too.
Queens: 5-31 Briar Place NYPD on scene with a a 7 year old Boy that brought a loaded gun to school Investigation in progress.
— NY Scanner (@NYScanner) January 17, 2013
While Brent closed 2012 at around its average closing price for the year, suggesting some stability, rolling a front-month contract garnered returns over 10% underscoring Jeff Currie's (Goldman's chief commodity strategist) note that money can still be made in a low volatility environment. However, he does note the incredible divergence between near-record-high geopolitical risks and near record-low Brent crude volatility relative to stocks. The key is that while Currie expects the global oil to remain cyclically tight (inventories low in 2013-14), with a $105.50 average for WTI; in an interview earlier today in Frankfurt, he said he wouldn't be surprised "if we woke up in summer and [Brent] oil cost $150" per barrel.
Over a year ago we noted that when it comes to Bank of America "earnings", items which traditionally are classified as non-recurring, one-time: primarily litigation and mortgage related charges, have now become recurring, and all the time, courtesy of the worst M&A transaction of all time - the purchase of Countrywide and its horrifying mortgage book. Today, this is finally being appreciated by the market where even the pompom carriers have said that it is time to start ignoring the endless addbacks and focus on actual earnings. The same cheerleaders have also, finally, understood that the primary source of "profitability" at this lawsuit magnet of a company, is nothing other than the accounting trick known as loan loss reserve releases - not actual profits but merely bottom line adjustments whose purpose is to mitigate the impact of quarterly charge offs on loans gone horrible bad. Remember that Bank of America has some $908 billion in total consumer loans and leases, and every day hundreds of millions of these go 'bad' and ultimately have to be discharged, offset by "hopes" that the future will improve. This hits both the balance sheet and the P&L. So, if one steps back and ignores the non-recurring, one-time noise, what emerges? A truly frightening picture.
Just as some do not believe in Santa, Christine Lagarde appeared to comment that she does not believe in currency wars (or competitive devaluation) this morning but sure enough, just a few hours later, Reuters rumors that the BoJ is about to join the Fed and ECB on the open-ended infinite print train. Sure enough, JPY is dumping (breaking recent highs on a stop-run), stocks are responding in their correlated carry way, and precious metals are surging (Silver +4.6% on the week) as fiat floods the world. It appears 2013 is the years of last last resort as the G-20 meme seems to be "if we can't reflate now, then it's all over." What is perhaps remarkable about the equity response is that everyone has known for two months that Japan plans on implementing a 2% inflation target. The only question has been "how" - and that it is only logical that the BOJ would use 'whatever means everyone else has used' - today merely confirmed this - knee-jerk algo response or sell-the-news?
It seems four years of centrally-planning the US economy wears on a man. As WaPo notes, now his face has deeper creases and crow’s feet, while his hair has turned white. "You look at the picture when they’re inaugurated and four years later, they're visibly older," said Connie Mariano, White House physician from 1992 to 2001. "It's like they went in a time machine and fast-forwarded eight years in the span of four years."
The situation in MalgeriaTM continues to remain uncertain but the following updates should provide some color as to where they stand currently (and a primer on the initial French intervention). Critically, Stratfor warns that the escalation in Algeria will possibly lead to further militants crossing the Mali border, further endangering Westerners and energy infrastructure (which is important as Algeria is one of the largest exports of light, sweet crude oil in the world and a significant natural gas exporter to Europe).
Technically the addition of 572 tons, or a massive 18,378,092 ounces of physical silver, to the SLV ETF, in one day is not a record, as it excludes one amount which however was a year end rebalance at the end of 2007 offset promptly on the next day, but it certainly is the biggest one day addition of physical silver to SLV in ordinary course operations. It is also more silver added to the ETF in all of 2012, when just 544 tons were added in the entire year. This was driven by the creation of some 19,000,000 shares of SLV overnight which brought the total to 356.8 million shares. And since there has been no move in the price of silver, which certainly would have soared had this amount been purchased in the open market we can only assume this has to do with in kind basket creation taking place. Whether this was due to arbitrage, or simply the need to create inventory we don't know: we are confident however, that SLV custodian, money laundering expert extraordinaire HSBC, will have no comment. Just as there is no comment why in the days following the epic May 1, 2011 take down of silver, a nearly just as large 522 tons of silver poured out the ETF on May 4, 2011. What is certain is that a move of this size is certainly notable.
By order of their various 'independent' masters, the world's central banks have "got to work" over the past few years. Running the printing presses under the guise of various multi-syllabic programs designed to optically lower interest rates and feed fungible resources to its banks - that will inevitably (surely) flow to the real economy and make everything right with the world. Well, perhaps the following chart will explain just good a "job" they are doing with that real-world real-economy recovery...
It is neither pessimism nor optimism but a squaring up with the facts and, when done, it is the inescapable conclusion that we have backed ourselves into a corner of our own making and that to escape this dark and dangerous place will be a painful experience. The scheme rests upon various feet; Central Banks acting in collusion to lower yields and provide capital as an off-set to the government in America and the governments on the Continent who cannot bear, for political reasons, to do what should be done and that is to cut expenditures. The entire world’s financial system encased in a bubble and nowhere to go, nowhere to hide and nowhere to be safe. The worry then is how does it all end, what do you do in the meantime and how and what do you do when the bubble is pricked.
A month ago we mocked the Philly Fed number which printed at an outlier level of 8.1, slamming expectations of a negative print, and sending algos into overbuydrive. A week ago we were validated when the annual revision brought that number down from 8.1 to 4.6. Today we get confirmation that the December print was a total farce, with a January Philly Fed print which is once again solidly in negative territory, or -5.8, which just happens to be the biggest miss to expectations of 5.6 in seven months. Yet while a month ago the huge beat was a reason for the robots to ramp stocks, today's miss is a reason to... ramp stocks even more. Why? Because moments before the disappointing announcement the Fed decided to inject even more liquidity in addition to the now daily unsterilized POMO, following the resumption of repos, which injected some $210 million in reserves into dealers. This is in addition to the $3 or so billion that today's POMO will add as stock purchasing dry powder for banks.
Whether the repatriation of only some 20% of Germany's gold reserves from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Banque of Paris back to Frankfurt manages to allay German concerns remains in question. Especially given that the transfer from the Federal Reserve is set to take place slowly over a seven year period and will only be completed in 2020. The German Precious Metals Association and Germany's ‘Repatriate Our Gold’ campaign said that the move by the Bundesbank did not negate the need for a full audit of Germany's gold. They want this to take place in order to protect against impairment of the gold reserves through leases and swaps. Indeed, they have called for independent, full, neutral and physical audits of the gold reserves of the world's central banks and the repatriation of all central bank gold - the physical transport of gold reserves back into the respective sovereign ownership countries. It seems likely that we may only have seen another important milestone in the debate about German and global gold reserves.