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Guest Post: When Priced In Gold, The US Economy Is At Depression-Era Levels





It’s obvious that, for many reasons, the size of the global economy is far greater than it was decades ago. We learn in any basic economics course that, over the long run, enhanced productivity and increased technology drive long-term production gains. Certainly, an economy can produce more widgets if you’re a lean, mean, automated machine... as opposed to a blacksmith with a hammer and forge. But there are other factors as well. Population growth. Accounting standards. And of course, the continued inflation of the currency. $1 today buys a whole lot less today than it did a century ago, so when comparing, it’s important to find a better standard of measurement. There are a number of pricing yardsticks we could use... like the cost of a New York City cinema ticket (25 cents in 1935, $20 today). But it would be awkard to calculate GDP in terms of billions of cinema tickets. Gold is a much more appropriate (though still imperfect) long-term standard of pricing, with its history as a store of value dating back to the ancients. Right now, the largest economy in the world is producing as much as it did in 1931, almost at the peak of the Great Depression. And no matter what the talking heads and politicians say, the data show that the trend is getting worse.

 

 
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Obama 'Balanced'; Market 'Unbalanced'





He came; he spoke; he said 'balanced' a lot. The market decided it's not so 'balanced' and is responding thus...

 
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Obama Speaks Again





No, it isn't the first time Obama has spoken on the Fiscal Cliff, and more importantly, the debt ceiling, which no matter what happens today appears set to remain unresolved as part of today's 60 day stopgap deal, if indeed one materializes. It won't be the last. There will be, however, much hope, optimism, and scapegoating, as always.

 
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You Must be 48" To Ride This Ride





The crowds are slowly starting to fill up Times Square, and despite the imminent countdown to New Year’s, Washington still has not conjured up a resolution to avoid the fiscal cliff.  Over the prior two months we have leveraged game theory, Venn diagrams, option “greeks,” and basic investor psychology as tools to decipher the ultimate path of the crisis and subsequent market reaction.  Alas, regardless of all the analysis we and countless others have supplied; the short, intermediate, and long term prospects for stocks rest exclusively on headlines.  More poignantly, the fate of the U.S. economy, global equities, and net incomes for hundreds of millions now depend upon the decision making of a group so small, its numbers can be counted with one hand.

 
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Ron Paul To Congress: "Stop Legislating Your Ideas Of Fairness. Protect Property Rights. Protect The Individual"





As I prepare to retire from Congress I’d like to suggest a few New Year’s resolutions for my colleagues to consider. For the sake of liberty, peace and prosperity I certainly hope more members of Congress consider the strict libertarian-constitutional approach to government in 2013. In just a few days, Congress will solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic....  Congress should resolve to respect personal liberty and free markets. Learn more about the free market and how it regulates commerce and produces greater prosperity ever than any legislation or regulation. Understand that economic freedom is freedom. Resolve not to get in the way of voluntary contracts between consenting adults. Stop bailing out failed yet politically connected companies and industries. Stop forcing people to engage in commerce when they don’t want to, and stop prohibiting them from buying and selling when they want to. Stop trying to legislate your ideas of fairness. Protect property rights. Protect the individual. That is enough.

 
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Obama To Make Statement At 1:30 PM, Stocks Pop Then Fade





With just 3 hours left in the trading day, why not up the stakes a little in the soap opera and take it straight to the star character:

  • OBAMA MAKING STATEMENT ON BUDGET TALKS AT 1:30 P.M.

What will he disclose? Perhaps this, from the AP...

 
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Presenting Birinyi's Parabola





You have all heard of "Birinyi's Ruler" before (and if you haven't, today for some inexplicable reason Bloomberg decided to once again give exposure to the man who made all technical analysis into an absolute farce). Well, step aside Birinyi Ruler, and make way for Birinyi's Parabola. Why? Because back in January 2011, the pitchy Hungarian fearlessly declared his closing price target for the S&P 500 on September 4th, (not 3th, not 5th) 2013 at 2,854. This is just over 100% from where the S&P will close today. The resulting ramp is no longer a ruler, not even a hockeystick, but quite simply a parabola. As shown below...

 
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What's Next: The Good, Bad, And Ugly Of The 'Cliff'





Time is running out. The cliff negotiations have devolved into two unpalatable options: (1) extend just the middle income tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits and allow about two-thirds of the cliff to happen, or (2) go over the cliff in the entirety. In BofAML's view, given the short time frame and legislative hurdles, the latter appears much more likely. Stock market vigilantes have replaced bond vigilantes as the potential good, bad, and ugly scenarios are devoured flashing red headline by flashing red headline. They, like us, believe that going over the cliff is not a benign “slope” as some suggest. Rather, it accelerates the already-building damage to the economy and markets. The latest evidence is the plunge in consumer confidence. Indeed, this could mark the beginning of the rotation in the uncertainty shock from businesses to consumers. Going over the cliff has many secondary, largely ignored, negative impacts, including tax changes that could damage the housing recovery, as well as negatively impact education and alternative energy, among many others.

 
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2012 Greatest Hits: Presenting The Most Popular Posts Of The Past Year





For the fourth year in a row we continue our tradition of summarizing what you, our readers, found to be the most relevant, exciting, and actionable news of the year, determined simply by the number of page views. Those first eager for a brief stroll down memory lane of prior years can do so at their leisure, by going back in time to where the top articles of 2009, 2010 and 2011 are recapped. With that out of the way, here is what readers found to be the most popular posts of the past 365 days..

 
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Senate Back In Session: Live Webcast From Senate Floor





Because you know you just can't get enough of the Fiscal Cliff melodrama, whose final episode for the 2012 season has just started, here is a live webcast via C-Span from the Senate floor, where Wall Street muppets have reverted to opening and closing their mouths.

 
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Guest Post: The Real 2013 Cliff





There’s a much bigger cliff than the so-called fiscal cliff. The absolute worst result of the fiscal cliff would be a moderate uniform tax increase at a bad time, resulting in a moderate contraction. It is an obvious - but ultimately rather cosmetic - stumbling block on the so-called “road to recovery”. The much bigger cliff stems from the fact that the so-called recovery itself is build on nothing but sand. This is a result of underlying systemic fragilities that have never been allowed to break.

 
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Simon Potter's Hate-Hate Relationship With The VIX





While we first presented this chart over the weekend, we believe it is worth repeating the rather amusing correlation between the collapse in net VIX futures non-commercial spec interest (yes, the traded VIX, which courtesy of the New Normal's relentless synthetic reflexivity has a huge impact on the trillions in underlying assets: think massive leverage) as per the CFTC's weekly commitment of traders report, and the arrival of Brian Sack's replacement as head of the NY Fed's trading desk, Simon Potter, the same former UCLA Econ PhD who recently delivered a very ornate speech explaining central bank interactions with financial markets "through the prism of an economist." Now at least we know how said "interactions" look outside of "Market Manipulation for Econ PhD Dummies" and in practice.

 
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Will Gold Make It 9 Out Of 9?





For the past eight years-in-a-row, that worthless yellow barbarous relic that some call 'Gold' has outperformed the 'precious' Dow Jones Industrial Average (even with the constant DJIA re-indexing where the losers are quietly taken out back and shot). As we enter the last day of trading in 2012, Gold still holds a slight edge +6.3% on the year vs the Dow's +5.9%. Will 2012 break the record-breaking run? Or will Warren Buffett's nemesis once again outperform equities and with lower volatility - just a few more hours to find out...

 
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Market Slams Higher As Corker Repeats Yesterday's Talking Points





S&P 500 futures (ES) jumped higher this morning, retracing a perfect 61.8% of the Friday afternoon plunge on the reiteration by Senator Corker (and perhaps some remarkably obsequious comments by Van Hollen - who has been so trustworthy in the past). "I would bet my life that over the next very short period of time (that) 98 to 99% of people in the country are going to be rescued," Corker told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley. The algos trading the futures, naturally, buy it hook, line and sinker. Only problem is this is from yesterday just as everyone was "cautiously optimistic" a deal would come from the Senate later that night, which... never happened. But hey: algos don't care about details. The bad news for Corker's numerous Wall Street sponsors is that his life may now well be forfeit should there be no deal in 15 hours, and all this "cautious optimism" was for nothing.

 
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Chinese Think Tank: "Conflict With Japan Inevitable"





Shinzo Abe's re-election on the basis of his monetary policy aggression plans have sent the JPY reeling (as he hoped for) and the NKY soaring - but it is his more aggressive perspective on patriotism that could lead to far greater problems. As the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences recently noted,all eyes are fixed on Abe as "Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands destroyed the framework for keeping a balance, which means ‘shelving a conflict'," a Chinese diplomatic source said, adding that "China has no political methods to return the situation to the (pre-nationalization) state. Therefore, there are no other ways except for looking for a new framework." As a precondition for establishing the framework, an executive of the think tank said, "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should not take actions that heighten the tensions further. It is the same as a game of go. If Japan escalates the conflict, China will be prepared to respond to the move." As a result, Japan-China relations will enter into a highly volatile period, ruining any hope of a resurgence in Japan's real economy, and more worryingly, the think-tank concludes, China's conflict with Japan is inevitable.

 
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