When it comes to the topic of China's epic credit bubble, we have beaten that particular dead horse again and again and again and, most notably, again. However, since in China the concept of independent bank is non-existent, and as all major financial institutions are implicitly government backed, by the time the "big" bubble bursts, it will be time to hunker down in bunkers and pray (why? Because while the Fed creates $1 trillion in reserves each year, and dropping post taper, China is responsible for $3.6 trillion in loan creation annually - yank that and it's game over for a world in which "growth" is not more than debt creation). But just because the big banks can continue to ignore reality with the backing of the fastest marginally growing economy in the world (inasmuch as building empty cities can be considered growth), the same luxury is not afforded to China's smaller lender, such as its peer-to-peer industry. That particular bubble seems to have just popped: "The main reasons are the intense competition in the P2P industry, the liquidity squeeze at the end of the year and a loss of faith by investors," said Xu Hongwei, chief executive of Online Lending House. He estimated that 80 or 90 per cent of the country’s P2P companies might go bust. Oops.
... We have created an apparently wonderful economic model that seems to provide us with so many benefits. When you consider the incredible feats of technology and the global consumerist lifestyle we enjoy it is easy to marvel at what has been achieved. Of course what may be less obvious is the dark side of the growth economic model which is deeply inequitable, restricting its benefits to the relative elite in the western world and trapping the rest of the world in poverty. Most dangerous of all is the unsustainability of the model and where it is taking us in the future. There is now a perfect storm gathering that includes economic indebtedness, resource shortages, population pressures, and climate change that is guaranteed to derail civilisation. Despite this the political and economic mainstream are largely in denial about what is happening– like the hapless engineer and politician in the story everyone agrees that we must restart the ‘growth economy’ and continue to progress down the business as usual pathway. Very few people are taking the long term view and watching the direction towards doom that this pathway leads us. Too invested in the benefits of our current lifestyle, no one wants to hear the counsel of the philosopher who sees the disaster that looms ahead.
These names can fall farther than investors ever think once the downside momentum kicks in......
Have you seen the economic recovery? We haven’t either. But it is bound to be around here somewhere, because the National Bureau of Economic Research spotted it in June 2009, four and one-half years ago. It is a shy and reclusive recovery, like the “New Economy” and all those promised new economy jobs. I haven’t seen them either, but we know they are here, somewhere, because the economists said so. At a time when most Americans are running out of coping mechanisms, the US faces a possible financial collapse and a high rate of inflation from dollar depreciation as the Fed pours out newly created money in an effort to support the rigged financial markets. It remains to be seen whether the chickens can be kept from coming home to roost for another year.
From hashish to drinking cheap whiskey in Chiang Mai clubs, the following clip rounds up the 'best of' Marc Faber over the last few years...
- On the elites - "I am not sure the thinkers are in Davos"
- On the media - "you are an optimist, keep on dreaming... us foreigners just laugh"
- On solutions - "cut government expenditures by 50%; fire half the government... including the President"
- On Americans - "people in the western world have abandoned personal responsibility"
- On government - "who would have faith in the US administration, certainly not someone who thinks"
- On Gold - "not to own gold is to trust central banks, and that you don't want to do in your life"
This morning, probably in order to assuage fears that it has lost control more than usual, TEPCO released the following statement "Regarding Certain Overseas Reports on Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station." TEPCO's soothing words - "We found no abnormalities in the measured values (indicating the temperature and condition of the Reactor Building), or in the value of the monitoring post (monitoring the amount of radiation), even when the steam-like gas was being generated, therefore we are certain that there has been no influence on the outside. In addition, we measured the amount of radiation at the point from which steam-like gas was generated, and found that its amount was almost the same as for the other neighboring points."
In what can be described a truly ironic event and a major failure for America's stated mission (because one can't help but wonder at all the support various Al Qaeda cells have received from the US and/or CIA) of eradicating the Al Qaeda scourge from the face of the earth, we learn today that al Qaeda appears to control more territory in the Arab world than it has done at any time in its history. According to a CNN report "from around Aleppo in western Syria to small areas of Falluja in central Iraq, al Qaeda now controls territory that stretches more than 400 miles across the heart of the Middle East, according to English and Arab language news accounts as well as accounts on jihadist websites."
These men are masters of the capital markets. They are voting with their feet and pulling their capital out of them. Given that their personal compensation is closely linked to assets under management and profit sharing, this decision is akin to the choice to forego additional wealth that could be made quite easily (none of these individuals would have trouble raising several billion more in capital) rather than trying to find opportunities in a challenging market.
Just a few short weeks away, the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic may go off with a bang, literally, judging by the amount of "terrorist" chatter surrounding the games. Today however, it is more than just chatter: earlier the Russian media reported that Russian security forces had come across multiple unexplained deaths and explosive devices in a region near Sochi, resulting in an aggressive "anti-terrorism sweep."
It's been one of the worst years for gold in a generation. A flood of outflows from gold ETFs, endless tax increases on gold imports in India, and the mirage (albeit a convincing one in the eyes of many) of a supposedly improving economy in the US have all contributed to the constant hammering gold took in 2013. Perhaps worse has been the onslaught of negative press our favorite metal has suffered. It's felt overwhelming at times and has pushed even some die-hard goldbugs to question their beliefs... not a bad thing, by the way. To us, a lot of it felt like piling on, especially as the negative rhetoric ratcheted up. This is why it's important to balance the one-sided message typically heard in the mainstream media with other views. Here are some of those contrarian voices, all of which have put their money where their mouth is...
"Participants also reviewed indicators of financial vulnerabilities that could pose risks to financial stability and the broader economy. These indicators generally suggested that such risks were moderate, in part because of the reduction in leverage and maturity transformation that has occurred in the financial sector since the onset of the financial crisis. In their discussion of potential risks, several participants commented on the rise in forward price-to-earnings ratios for some smallcap stocks, the increased level of equity repurchases, or the rise in margin credit. One pointed to the increase in issuance of leveraged loans this year and the apparent decline in the average quality of such loans." - FOMC
Yesterday we described how so-called "Progressives" are pimping for the Empire. The same is true of so-called "Conservatives." Conservatives are masters at projecting a preachy devotion to a limited state, democracy, liberty and free enterprise while their support of the Central State undermines every one of these values. Conservatives are like the preacher who issues stern sermons on righteousness every Sunday while skimming big money from pimping sordid, destructive policies Monday through Saturday. "Conservatives" and "Progressives" alike are pimping for the Empire when they support the Central State's essentially unlimited powers.
If Americans in particular want to pursue any solution to the threat of globalism or dollar collapse, they are going to have to start with themselves, and the community around them. Online trade is the last thing they should be worried about. Only when neighborhoods, towns, and counties become producers and self suppliers will they be safe from financial instability. Only when those same communities band together for mutual aid and self defense will they be safe from tyrannical political entities. Bitcoin accomplishes nothing in either of these categories, making it possibly the most popular non-solution for liberty to date. Bitcoin is consistently touted as a superior option to precious metals as a way to decouple from central bank fiat. Under examination, though, it appears to me that bitcoin is instead a deliberate distraction away from gold and silver, and other tangible solutions; in other words, we believe it to be a form of controlled opposition.
The economist Herbert Stein once said that if something can't go on forever, it will stop. The pattern of the last few decades, in which higher education costs grew much faster than incomes, with the difference made up by borrowing, can't go on forever... There is no point in trying to preserve the old regime as "working your way through college" is now impossible. For an 18-year-old, investing such a six-figure sum in an education without a payoff makes no more sense than buying a Ferrari on credit.
With Trader Monthly magazine having, ironically, gone out business long ago, all those traders whose egos demanded that their insider trading connections put them at least in one of the iconic "Top X under X" league tables, pardon, rankings, had to bide their time in expectation of one day when their prowess to frontrun others or move markets with repeated calls to 555-7617 (with or without references to Anacott Steel) would be appreciated by such sterling Wall Street "experts" as Anthony Scaramucci. Well, for this year's crop of some 30 traders under 30, the day has arrived. And while Forbes may not be Trader Monthly, the amusement, the hubris and the behind the scenes dealing to appear in such a list, sure are still the same...