"I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing.... We were working feverishly to preserve the impression that the Fed knew what it was doing... The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.... Having racked up hundreds of billions of dollars in opaque Fed subsidies, U.S. banks have seen their collective stock price triple since March 2009. The biggest ones have only become more of a cartel: 0.2% of them now control more than 70% of the U.S. bank assets. As for the rest of America, good luck..... The implication is that the Fed is dutifully compensating for the rest of Washington's dysfunction. But the Fed is at the center of that dysfunction. Case in point: It has allowed QE to become Wall Street's new "too big to fail" policy."
It would appear that the Horatio Alger myth - that hard work and pluck will lift a person from dire circumstances to enviable success - is not living up to expectations for Americans. As WSJ's Lauren Weber notes, 40% of Americans think it’s fairly common for someone to start off poor, work hard and eventually rise to the top of the economic heap but a new Pew study shows that in reality, only 4% of Americans travel the rags-to-riches path. Unfortunately, they discovered considerable “stickiness” at both ends of the income spectrum and that Americans attached to the rags-to-riches myth might be disappointed to know that other countries show greater mobility among have-nots - "this is what we call the 'parental penalty,' and it's really high in the U.S. - If you’re born in the bottom here, your likelihood of sticking in the bottom is much higher."
While most pragmatists knew well in advance that optimism over an Iran nuclear programme deal emerging out of Geneva was very much displaced, few anticipated what the actual reason for the failure would be. Indeed, most had expected that the staunchest opponent to the deal, Israel PM Netanyahu who moments ago appeared on Face the Nation and made his case (saying Iran would have given up "almost nothing") would have used his influence over the US as a key member of the 5+1 group of nations (US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Iran) to block any Iranian detente with the US, even though none other than John Kerry has been urging for the Iranian deal for weeks. So when news hit that it was France who had scuttled a deal with a last minute block, many were surprised.
To many institutional investors, buying the Russell 2000 is merely the highly levered bet with which the bulk of institutions (recall that almost all hedge funds, and a majority of mutual funds, are underperforming the S&P for a 5th consecutive year) seek to make up for losses in their portfolios by chasing high (and even higher with leverage) beta. Which is why as the next chart below shows, in a furious scramble to catch up by year end, the institutional Russell net futures (i.e. levered) positioning just hit a record high: the biggest investors are now all-in the smallest names. So is the massively overbought small cap sector due for a correction? With these manipulated, centrally-planned markets, nobody has any idea. However, for those who have once again bet all in, which just happens to be most plain vanilla dumb money, it may be time to reevaluate.
As suggested here last week, the dollar moved higher over the past five sessions. Although it finished the week on a firm note, I suspect we may have a pullback before seeing higher levels. Here is why.
When one steps back from all the frustration, all the confusion, all the failures both in the rollout and the mass behavioral experimentation, and the fact that the math just doesn't work, the primary stated purpose behind Obamacare was simple: to provide uniform, affordable (the A in ACA) healthcare for all Americans. But especially to those who are currently uninsured. At least such was the utopian, egalitarian vision behind its conception. Which is also why, stripping away the political posturing, the html coding errors, the funding issues, the biggest failing of Obamacare would be if it opened, and none of America's uninsured came. Sadly, this last nail in Obamacare's coffin, has just been confirmed with a just released Gallup poll which found that a tiny 18% of uninsured Americans - the primary target population for the exchanges - have so far attempted to even visit an exchange website.
Has a second civil war been “gamed” by our government? And are Americans being swindled into fighting and killing each other while the banksters who created the mess observe at their leisure, waiting until the dust settles to return to the scene and collect their prize? Here are some examples of how both sides of the false left/right paradigm are being goaded into turning on each other.
Goldman's (and NY Fed's) Bill Dudley: "I am not yet convinced that breaking up large, complex firms is the right approach. In particular, these firms presumably exist, in large part, because there are scale or network effects that allow these firms to offer certain types of services that have value to their global clients. These benefits might be lost or diminished if such firms were broken up. In addition, the costs incurred in breaking up such firms need to be considered. Finally, the breakup of such firms would not necessarily result in a significant reduction in overall systemic risk if the resulting component firms were still, collectively, systemic. "
With JPM having stolen the spotlight for every possible instance of fraud and market manipulation in the past year, it was easy to forget there are other prominent banks that engage in precisely the same deceptive practices as, well, everyone else. One such prominent bank is none other than everyone's old favorite bloodthirsty mollusc, Goldman Sachs, which in a filing reported that "currencies and commodities were added to a list of financial products and related activities that are subject to investigation. The filing also added options trading and technology systems and controls to the list." So, pretty much everything is being investigated.
Move Over FX And Libor, As Manipulation And "Banging The Close" Comes To Commodities And Interest Rate SwapsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 11/06/2013 14:20 -0400
While the public's attention has been focused recently on revelations involving currency manipulation by all the same banks best known until recently for dispensing Bollinger when they got a Libor end of day print from their criminal cartel precisely where they wanted it (for an amusing take, read Matt Taibbi's latest), the truth is that manipulation of FX and Libor is old news. Time to move on to bigger and better markets, such as physical commodities, in this case crude, as well as Interest Rate swaps. And, best of all, the us of our favorite manipulation term of all: "banging the close."
Bit by bit, we’re learning more about President Obama’s broken promise that you can keep your health insurance if you like it, which was repeated at least two dozen times in recent years... Obama’s pledge was no different to, say, JPMorgan’s misrepresentations about the toxic mortgages it sold to unwitting investors. Fraudulent mortgage claims were surely discussed within JPM, just as Obama’s team debated the health insurance promise. Moreover, any internal concerns about the mortgage fraud were certainly squashed, just like the reservations expressed by Obama’s more truthful advisers. Simply put: Obama told a blatant lie, which he then continued to repeat. It’s not the first time he’s lied, but this was an absolute whopper.
It’s no secret by now that governments in Europe, Japan and America have spent and borrowed beyond their means. As IceCap's Keith Dicker notes, including both current debt and future unfunded liabilities, it is estimated America owes over $87 trillion dollars, while the Eurozone countries are on the hook for over $89 trillion. That’s a fistful of dollars. From a tax perspective, the incapacity of these super economic powers, becomes all the more clear. America’s annual tax revenue is only $2.5 trillion, while in Europe, they manage to squeak out roughly $5 trillion. From this view, America is leveraged 34.8x their tax revenues, while the Eurozone is leveraged at 17.8x their tax revenue. As Keith points out in his excellent letter, for the US, Japan, and Europe, Elvis has very much left the building on getting back to 'normal'.
Hi! I’m Amy Johnson-Martinez, the 14-year-old girl who’s saving the earth from environmental destruction. A lot of people don’t understand how the destruction of the earth is connected to our addiction to economic growth. Actually, a lot of people don’t even realize that we’re addicted! Personally speaking, I think it’s kind of weird that economists don’t tell us about this. So I guess it takes a 14-year-old girl to tell you about it! Economists always say, “The economy has to keep growing or else it will collapse.” But it can’t grow forever, because the earth is running out of resources. Actually, it’s already starting to happen. That’s a big reason why the economy is getting worse.
Well over a year ago, we first suggested that the conventional wisdom thesis for the bounce in home prices - namely a spurt in household formation - was dead wrong. Sure enough, as has been confirmed empirically, the only reason for the latest dead cat bounce in home prices has been the Fed, and banks complicit in engaging in "foreclosure stuffing." And while it was easy to deflect the topic of just what is driving the housing market (because none of the bulls would want to admit it is just another credit and liquidity-driven bubble) for over a year, with the traditional "things will be back to normal soon" fall back used every time, as time passed and none of the traditional ingredients for a housing recovery fell into place, some started scratching their heads. This came to a boiling point today, when real-estate firm Trulia, looking at the latest Census Bureau data on household formation, finally threw in the towel and rang the panic button as not only have young Americans set anchor in their parents' basement, but even refuse to get a job.
On the day when the CFTC begins considering 'speculative position limits', believed to be "the signal rule of [his] tenure at the Commission," Bart Chilton has had enough. Having "left traders in their own" during the shutdown, Chilton expressed "excitement" at his new endeavours after sending his resignation letter to President Obama this morning (more poetry? - or body doubles?) "I'm reminded of the old Etta James song, 'At Last,'" said Mr. Chilton, one of the agency's three Democratic members. "At last, we've got this rule here," and at last, he would be leaving the CFTC. This leaves us wondering whether Chilton, no longer burdened by the shackles of his meagre compensation, perhaps can finally do what he has been promising to do for years - become a whistleblower - after all he has insinuated so many times he knows where all the "dirt" is; unless, of course, it was all for show.