With the world and his mum applauding day-after-day as the nominal price of the major equity indices push to either i) all-time highs, or ii) post-crisis highs; and any and every measure of 'fear' (e.g. volatility and credit spreads) is repressed to limit-zero; there is an annoying glitch in the new market-based reality that has become our barometer of how we feel. Since the 2009 lows, every new market high has been confirmed by the Nasdaq - until now that is - as the divergence between the tech-dominated 'new normal' index and the rampacious Dow Transports or Industrials (dominated by one or two names each and every day) has grown significantly. The worrying chart below, perhaps suggests that the broad Nasdaq index is about to begin the down leg of a major head-and-shoulders pattern - helped by none other than 'most-held' Apple. Are non-Nasdaq indices being driven by the hedge unwinds against this mega-holding?
Earlier today, we reported that "Assistant Attorney General Admits On TV That In The US Justice Does Not Apply To The Banks" when we commented on last night's PBS special "The Untouchables." Explicitly, we said that it was "Lenny Breuer who made it very clear that when it comes to the concept of justice the banks are and always have been "more equal" than others. He does so in such shocking clarity and enthusiasm that it is a miracle that this person is still employed by the US Department of Justice." As of minutes ago that is no longer the case as his employment contract has been torn up. The WaPo reports, that Lanny A. Breuer is leaving the Justice Department "after leading the agency’s efforts to clamp down on public corruption and financial fraud at the nation’s largest banks, according to several people familiar with the matter....It is not clear when Breuer intends to leave, nor what he plans to do once he departs, but it is certain that the prosecutor’s days in office are winding down, according to people who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter."
As we reported previously, the stock of the oldest bank in the world, Italy's venerable Banca Monte Dei Paschi of Siena, was halted in early trade after plunging on news that the bank had engaged in not only the previously reported secret derivative transaction with Deustche Bank to hide losses before a prior government bailout, but yet another derivative transaction, this time with Nomura, signed three years ago and whose intention, ironically, was to reduce 2012 earnings by some €220 million.What the ultimate purpose of these deals was is still unclear and will likely become apparent eventually, however it will likely require the former Chairman of the bank, Giuseppe Mussari, who served as Chair from 2006 until April 2012, and who officially quit his post as Italy's top banking lobbyist after today's revelations, to testify. One person whom he may testify against is none other than current ECB head Mario Draghi, who just happened to be the head of the Bank of Italy from 2006 to 2011, or the entire period when Monte Paschi was engaging in what increasingly appears to have been fraudulent activity.But don't worry: just like in the US, nobody of signfiicance is about to go down for this "glitch" which is about to be blamed on some poor mid-level shmuck, and which nobody in the senior level management had any idea about, and certainly not the person who ultimately would have had to give the green light: the current head of the ECB.
Define irony? Here is one, or rather two, tries. Back in the 1970s, it was none other than the US that armed the Taliban "freedom fighters" fighting against the USSR in the Soviet-Afghanistan war, only to see these same freedom fighters eventually and furiously turn against the same US that provided them with arms and money, with what ended up being very catastrophic consequences, culminating with September 11. Fast forward some 30 years and it is again the US which, under the guise of dreams and hopes of democracy and the end of a "dictatorial reign of terror", armed local insurgents in the Libyan war of "liberation" to overthrow the existing regime (and in the process liberate just a bit of Libya's oil) - the same Libya where shortly thereafter these same insurgents rose against their former sponsor, and killed the US ambassador in what has now become an epic foreign policy Snafu. But it doesn't end there as according to Russia, it is the same US weapons that were provided to these Libyan "freedom fighters" that are now being used in what is rapidly becoming a war in Mali, involving not only assorted French regiments, but extensive US flip flops and boots on the ground. "This will be a time bomb for decades ahead."
I am sorry to tell you that whatever door that had been opened is now closed. America has turned the corner from the self-sufficiency of an individual to a new ideology for this country which is that incomes and life-styles should be equalized by taxes in the name of patriotism and for the greater good. The Socialism of much of Europe has arrived at our shores and spread from sea to shining sea and the safety net of decades past for our less fortunate citizens has been raised to a harmonization of social/governmental benefits regardless of hours worked or income earned. Stock markets rise, Treasury yields decrease, other bonds compress because there is no place off-world to invest money and it must be put somewhere. We are living in a fantasy world of the voters’ making and, I predict with some certainty, that we will all suffer the consequences of our decisions. The problem is extremely serious, answers are frustrating and aggravating and great care must now be exercised because this cliff is exceedingly steep.
Oldest Bank In The World Plunges, Halted As Chairman Resigns In Aftermath Of Latest Derivatives FiascoSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 01/23/2013 08:41 -0500
Last week, following documentation from Deutsche Bank (and Nomura), it became clear that Italy's Monte Paschi (BMPS) bank (the oldest in the world) has engaged in derivatives with the German and Japanese banks in order to save itself during the financial crisis. The derivatives, according to Bloomberg, were done off-market and allowed the booking of large upfront gains which covered losses optically that the bank faced as European liquidity dried up completely - the offsetting 'losses' are now coming due. Today, amid growing outcry over the 'deal', the former head of BMPS has resigned. Bloomberg reports that Giuseppe Mussari, now Italy's top banking lobbyist, was the Chairman of BMPS during the derivative deal period. BMPS shares were halted after plunging dramatically as investors are still unclear of the extent of losses it faces on derivatives. If that was not enough chicanery, there is a twist in that none other than Mario Draghi, as Director of the Bank of Italy, would have had to vet Mussari (and his banks' regulated books) during this period - as BMPS accumulated what is obviously undocumented derivatives positions to intentionally obscure losses. Once again, years later, it seems the truth comes out - and of course we would expect no-one to go to jail - and the lying in Europe (then and now) continues unabated - as the reality of financial system health remains hidden from view.
The budget debate is bullshit, what matters is the Debt to the Public.
Many of us spent much of 2012 confused about how the U.S. real estate market was improving within the context of a broke and unemployed citizenry. Well as time has passed the answers to our questions have been revealed. The criminals are piling in. I first explained a couple of weeks ago how the financial oligarchs in the United States are currently in a bidding war to become America’s slumlords in my post: America Meet Your New Slumlord: Wall Street. Now we also discover that part of the bid to U.S. real estate has come from another criminal class. In this case, we are talking about corrupt Chinese officials who are pulling their ill gotten gains from their homeland and desperately placing it in real estate all over the globe.
“Addressing this threat should be seen as priority.”
That even former French president Nicolas Sarakozy plans to start a £1 billion private equity fund in London is not news: courtesy of ZIRP and the ongoing global reliquifiication of markets by every central bank as currency warfare goes ballistic, one would have to be seriously unlucky to chase the central planner inflated beta rally and not succeed (one would also have to be very unaware of the difference between nominal and real returns, but since that is most people these days, let's ignore that). What is news, is that as part of said transfer to the "asset management business" it is none other than the former French president who is next in line to evade Hollande's millionaire tax by crossing the Channel, and "redomiciling" himself in London.
Nebraska Governor Appoves Alternative Route Of Keystone XL Pipeline: Will Buffett/Obama Give The Green Light?Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/22/2013 13:01 -0500
One of the more contentious issues in the past year for America's environmentalists was the (successful) blocking of the Keystone XL pipeline over fears that it would contaminate the Ohallala aquifier in the Sandhill region of Nebraska, a major source of groundwater, and an issue over which none other than the president was quite vocal just about a year ago when he killed the idea. At least that was the pre-spun, socially accepted reason (for the real one read below). It is now time to revisit the fate of this critical pipeline following today's news that the Nebraska governor has approved a new route for the pipeline, one which avoids the most sensitive area in the Sandhills. The response from the opponents has not been late in coming: "Governor Heineman just performed one of the biggest flip-flops that we've in Nebraska political history," said Jane Kleeb, executive director of the group Bold Nebraska. And now it will be up to Obama, whose second inauguration speech had a dedicated segment to clean energy, to kill or let it go through. Since the decision will once again be about politics, the outcome is all but certain, but at least it will provide yet another theatrical sideshow to add to all the others emanating from DC these days. After all it is all about distraction.
Germany and Japan have a long tradition of cooperating, at least when it comes to various iterations of world war, generically in the conventional sense (and where they tend to end up on the less than winning side). Which is why it may come as a surprise to some that earlier today German politician Michael Meister launched what is now the third shot across Japan's bow in what is rapidly escalating as the most dramatic case of global currency warfare between the world's net exporters (at least legacy net exporters: thanks to Japan's recent political snafus, it has now become a net importer as it is rapidly losing the Chinese market which accounts for some 20% of its exports) which started as long ago as 2010 when it was quite clear that currency warfare is what the insolvent world can expect, before it devolves into outright protectionism, and finally regular war as Kyle Bass explained recently. To wit: “What can Japan’s competitors do?” Meister said today in a telephone interview. “Either we’re all smart and do nothing, or we follow suit and create a spiral that hurts us all.”
As we have been warning for over half a year, and as conventional wisdom has finally caught on, the economy most impacted in Europe by the recent surge in the EUR exchange rate (not because of an improvement in the economy but due to wholesale engineering of asset prices by central banks) is the one that has so far been able to keep it all together - Germany, the same country where Angela Merkel last night suffered an embarrassing last minute loss which may be a harbinger of things to come should Germany slide deeper into recession. This, as also noted repeatedly before, is part of the grand paradox in Europe: unlike every other central bank in the world, the ECB's interventions achieve only one thing: to push the EUR higher, in the process stabilizing secondary market indicators (bond prices, the DAX, swap spreads) but destabilizing EUR-denominated exports. And while the adverse impact on core exporting countries from ECB intervention is by know understood by everyone (and this is ignoring the impact of potential inflation as a result of fund flows to the few safe regions in Europe), few appreciate just how big the EUR impact on the periphery is as well. The chart below from the Spanish economy ministry showing the recent stunning divergence of Spanish exports, should explain why a low EUR is good for not only Germany, but certainly the PIIGS, in this case Spain. And vice versa.
We have long argued that when it comes to the deplorable and insolvent state of modern "developed" societies, the fault lies as much at the bottom, as at the top: the bottom, in this case, being the economic establishment in both academia and 'practice' that peddles a voodoo pseudoscience as a legitimate explanation for the unpredictable happenings in irrational world, meant to give people an illusory sense of control, and which works until it doesn't and fails spectacularly, at which point "the top", or the central banks conceived to smooth reality when it does not conform to economist models (and to facilitate wealth transfer from the poor to the rich of course), have to step in and fill gaping holes some $20+ trillion wide - see: 2008/2009 (all the while, the transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy, by way of that invisible tax known as inflation continues). And while it has proven easy for the shamans of this voodoo class to fool the general population time and again (use big words, speak loudly and with confidence, mock any opposing voices as not having a Ph.D. or a Nobel prize in economics... "act as if") in their infallibility and superiority or that they have even the faintest clue what it is they are talking about, the reverse has also turned out to be true. And as the case of one Mr. Baptista da Silva from Portugal has shown, there is nothing easier than for an economist to con other economists. Or, rather, one fraud to con a whole lot of other frauds.
We thought it useful to succinctly summarize the words that have been spewed forth from The Capitol today (and in the past). There is plenty to consider; from Reagan's "freedom" and "government" to Schumer's unfortunate random use of the words: "America", "Today", "Finished", "People" and finally Obama's somewhat ironic punchline that "we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character." Maybe the invisible hand of wordclouds was right when it suggested from today's 2,078 word address that "America Must Believe."