I have to hand it to the Central Planners. They are good. Really, really good. Of course, they are battling a crippled opponent considering so much of America consists of lobotomized sheeple, but nevertheless to be able to steal so much from many people with such blatant and simplistic methods and not be widely discovered is an act of devious brilliance. The reason I say this now is because ever since last fall TPTB have changed tactics and totally taken over the markets and with it shoved many people into what is best described as a trance. The people know something is very wrong. They know they are getting poorer; that life is getting harder, yet the television and the markets have cloaked a blanket of sedation upon their minds.
I’m in favour of consenting adults being able to do whatever they like with each other, but the fact that the current push for gay marriage is supported by Lloyd Blankfein and Goldman Sachs makes me very suspicious (does he want to sell securitised gay marriage debt?). It just seems like an easy issue for Obama to posture on, while trampling the Constitution into the dirt. When it comes to civil liberties, Obama has always talked a good game, and then acted more authoritarian than Bush. He talked about an end to the abuses of the Bush years and an open and transparent government, yet extended the Fourth-Amendment-shredding Patriot Act, empowered the TSA to produce naked body scans and engage in humiliatingly sexual pat-downs, signed indefinite detention of American citizens into law, claimed and exercised the power to assassinate American citizens without trial, and aggressively prosecuted whistleblowers. Under his watch the U.S. army even produced a document planning for the reeducation of political activists in internment camps. Reeducation camps? In America? And some on the left are still crowing that talking about being in favour of gay marriage makes him “pro civil liberties”? Is this a joke?
That China has finally given up on Europe is no news (granted, however, it will make it more complicated for various European newspaper to make up articles alleging China will bail out Europe now that this is no longer the case): after all even the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund has finally learned its lesson, and having been burned enough times, has made it quite clear it will have nothing to do with Europe's insolvent periphery. China, which has already lost enough money on Europe, has now decided to do the same. From Bloomberg: "China Investment Corp. has stopped buying European government debt because of an economic crisis on the continent, though it continues to look for new investments there, said CIC President Gao Xiqing. “What is happening in Europe right now is of course of concern,” Gao said yesterday in an interview in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, during the World Economic Forum on Africa. “We still have our people looking at opportunities in Europe, even though we don’t want to buy any government bonds.” Sorry Europe: you had your chance. As for where China will invest its capital in the future? Why the one continent so far untouched by globalization, and which has the most debt capacity of all...
Goldman maintains “constructive” 6-month forecast, says case for higher prices remains in place. Goldman stands by its forecast for a rally in gold this year, saying that the precious metal will advance to $1,840/oz over six months as the U.S. central bank embarks on a third round of stimulus in June. The precious metal remains the “currency of last resort,” according to analysts led by Jeffrey Currie in a report released yesterday. Goldman’s gold forecast implies a 15% return in 6 months. “In early 2009, we suggested that gold had become the currency of last resort, overtaking the U.S. dollar’s status due the rising risk of sovereign default and debasement concerns,” Currie wrote in the report. Even as the U.S. currency advanced and gold fell on the European crisis in recent months, “it is too early for the dollar to reclaim this status,” they wrote. “The case for higher gold prices remains in place,” the analysts wrote. “U.S. economic and employment data has now disappointed for several weeks, European election results point to further stress in the euro area, while anecdotal data suggests that physical gold demand remains resilient.”
THIS is the fate that awaits the European banking system. Every single EU bank has leveraged itself based on financial models that consider sovereign bonds to be “risk free.” Moreover, EVERY EU bank is leverage to the hilt based on its OWN in-?house assessment of the riskiness of its loan portfolio.
- Borrowers Face Big Delays in Refinancing Mortgages (WSJ)
- Greek left attacks ‘barbarous’ austerity (FT)
- Would-be suicide bomber was U.S. informant (Reuters)
- Cameron says Euro needs single government: report (Reuters)
- Demonstrators targeting BofA annual meeting (Reuters)
- Moody’s Bank Downgrades Risk Choking European Recovery (Bloomberg)
- Lehman E-Mails Show Wall Street Arrogance Led to the Fall (Bloomberg)
- What Hollande must tell Germany (Martin Wolf) (FT)
- Why France Has So Many 49-Employee Companies (BusinessWeek)
All you need to read and some more.
Spain's banking system bailout is quickly becoming farcical. According to the WSJ this evening, Spain is to require its banks to set aside more provisions (between EUR20 billion and EUR40 billion) in an effort to overhaul the country's financial sector. This additional need for reserves (or provisioning) puts yet more pressure on the banks' balance sheets as it comes on top of the already EUR54 billion that has been set aside from February. Interestingly the EUR20-40 billion still falls dramatically short of Goldman Sachs' estimate of an additional EUR58 billion that is needed to cover reasonable loss assumptions. We can only assume that the game is to create as large a hole as is possible without tipping the world over the brink and then fill it with the state funds a la TARP (as Rajoy has indicated will be the case).
We are in the last innings of a very bad ball game. We are coping with the crash of a 30-year–long debt super-cycle and the aftermath of an unsustainable bubble. Quantitative easing is making it worse by facilitating more public-sector borrowing and preventing debt liquidation in the private sector—both erroneous steps in my view. The federal government is not getting its financial house in order. We are on the edge of a crisis in the bond markets. It has already happened in Europe and will be coming to our neighborhood soon. The Fed is destroying the capital market by pegging and manipulating the price of money and debt capital. Interest rates signal nothing anymore because they are zero. Capital markets are at the heart of capitalism and they are not working.
Taking current trends across all employment indicators, using 12 Month trailing averages in the changes of those employed, unemployed and dropping out the labor force, we can predict, with IMF-level precision, that at the current surge of those leaving the labor force, the US unemployment rate will hit 0.0% in December of 2021 and finally go negative, or -0.1% in January 2022. So there you have it: maybe the BLS can just fast forward us to the end of this thought experiment when everyone will be so fat they couldn't look for a job if they wanted to (recall by 2020 75% of Americans will be obese), but at least the Propaganda Times will be blasting in 24/7 red flashing headlines that, for the first time ever, America's unemployed are now somehow negative, and we can all rejoice while collecting all those welfare stamps bought on negative interest credit funded directly from the uber politburo of the USSA located in the Marriner Eccles building.
The only relevant section from a just released note by Jan Hatzius titled "Still Dreary" (guess what he is referring to), is the following: "we have stuck with our forecast of some additional monetary easing at the June 19-20 FOMC meeting for now, despite the less-than-encouraging noises from Fed officials in recent weeks. However, it is a close call, and we worry about a re-run of the 2010 and 2011 experience—the last two times Fed officials decided to let a purchase program lapse without having put a successor program in place. In both cases, the economy slowed and financial conditions tightened to a degree that pulled them back into the market before long. It is easy to see how this could happen again, given the renewed turmoil in Europe and the possibility that US markets will ratchet up their concerns about the impending fiscal cliff in the run up to the election. In such an uncertain environment, taking out a bit more insurance still looks like the sensible choice for US monetary policymakers." Replace "US monetary policymakers" with "banker bonuses" and you get the picture. And here is our free tip to Goldman: the Fed has finally understood that in order to surprise the market with more easing it has to, gasp, surprise the market with more easing (and banks obviously have to play along and all act like they don't expect more easing, wink wink). Don't worry Jan - Bernanke knows the game plan and will not leave you hanging. However, as has been constantly repeated, there first has to be a deflationary scare before any announcement: such as oil crumbling, gold plunging, and stocks tumbling. Kinda like today. Who whouda think that Greece would serve the role of Lehman... over and over and over. In the meantime keep an eye on Bill Gross holdings of MBS securities when the April update is announced shortly- we fully expect a new all time record high, not to mention an imminent Hilsenrath Op-Ed suddenly hinting that, forget Twist, the Fed is now outright contemplating full blown MBS and UST LSAPs all over again. Because this time it will be different.
While Turkey has assured the U.S. government it will cut purchases of oil from Iran by 20% this year, its total trade with the Islamic Republic increased 47% to $4.8 billion in the first quarter from a year earlier. Sanctions aimed at isolating Iran because of its nuclear program, combined with revolutions in the Middle East, have spurred a tripling in the region’s purchases of Turkish precious metals and jewels to $942 million in the first three months, from $282 million in the same period last year. This 30% increase in demand is contributing to gold remaining above $1,600/oz in what has all the hallmarks of another period of consolidation prior to higher prices. “Turkey is exporting massive quantities of gold to Iran and Arab Spring countries as citizens in those countries switch to portable wealth,” Mert Yildiz, chief economist for Turkey at Renaissance Capital, told Bloomberg on April 30. The increase in trade with Iran comes as sanctions make it harder for trading partners such as Turkey, India and China to pay in dollars and euros. Iran said in February it would accept payment in any local currency or gold. Reuters report today that Iran is accepting payments in yuan for some of the crude oil it supplies to China, the Iranian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates said on Tuesday. "Yes, that is correct," Mohammed Reza Fayyaz told Reuters when asked to comment on an earlier report in The Financial Times.
Fraud ... What Fraud?
- Japan has 54 nuclear reactors, but as of Saturday, not one of them will be in operation (Guardian)
- US Readies Proposal to Clamp Down on Fracking (Reuters)
- California pension fund (CALSTRS) sues Wal-Mart, alleges bribery (Reuters)
- New Ripples for Gupta Case: Goldman Share Price, Volume Began Climbing Even Before Rajaratnam Trades (WSJ)
- China says blind dissident can apply to study abroad (Reuters)
- China paper calls Chen a U.S. pawn; envoy is a "troublemaker" (Reuters)
- Samsung’s New Galaxy S Phone Raises Heat on Apple Iphone (Bloomberg)
- Draghi predicts 2012 eurozone recovery (FT)
- Tumbling Home Ownership Marks a Return to Normal (Bloomberg)
- Zuckerberg Facebook IPO to Make Him Richer Than Ballmer (Bloomberg)
- SEC probes Chesapeake and its chief (FT)