One of the bigger asset bubbles in recent US history has nothing to do with stock, bonds or commodities, We are talking about farmland. And yet, like all other bubbles - be they the result of retail euphoria or central bank rigging - this one too must come to a close, and as the WSJ reports, the first crack in the farmland bubble are appearing, after farmland values declined in parts of the Midwest for the first time in decades last year "reflecting a cooling in the market driven by two years of bumper crops and sharply lower grain prices, according to Federal Reserve reports on Thursday." the average price of farmland in the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s district, which includes Illinois, Iowa and other big farm states, fell 3% in 2014, marking the first annual decline since 1986, which makes farmlands the only asset class that had not seen a down year in nearly three decades!
The world has begun to devolve into two distinct factions. The imperialist actions of the American Empire in the Middle East and Ukraine have pushed Russia, China, India, Brazil, and Iran closer together regarding trade deals; transacting commerce without using the USD; oil and gas pipelines; and military cooperation. Totalitarian regimes are known for using foreign threats to distract the populace from domestic suffering. As a matter of fact, all regimes use this tactic. When the global economy rips apart at the seams due to the debt saturation, world leaders will attempt to blame other countries for their dire circumstances. Foreign enemies are good for business. Ask our Nobel Peace Prize winning President. War is inevitable.
China's January credit data hints that in some ways China is becoming like the US, and as ever more newly created credit money ends up in the stock market, is China about to follow the US and Europe and suffer a collapse in monetary velocity. Because whereas previously the biggest asset bubble in China was that of housing, now it is the stock market, which means that suddenly its monetary system is for all intents and purposes haunted by the same issues that affect western markets. So how long until China, too, which is battling both deflation and economic contraction, proceeds with outright monetary devaluation?
Central bank gold buying surged another 17% last year as countries outside of the Western hemisphere continue to stockpile the only currency with no counterparty risk.
- Greece will do 'whatever it can' to reach deal with EU (Reuters)
- ECB Urges Greek Political Deal as Emergency Cash Is Tight (BBG)
- Fighting rages in run-up to Ukraine ceasefire (Reuters)
- Eurozone GDP Picks Up, Thanks to Germany (WSJ)
- Two J. P. Morgan Executives Connected to Asia Hiring Probe Pushed Out (WSJ)
- Putin's High Tolerance for Pain and Europe's Reluctance to Inflict It (BBG)
- Indigestion Hits Top U.S. Food Firms (WSJ)
- Alibaba's Jack Ma seeks to reassure employees over U.S. lawsuits (Reuters)
The “perfect-storm” of geopolitical instability, diplomatic isolation, severe currency depreciation, and economic decline now confronting Russia has profoundly damaged Moscow's international standing, and possibly for the long-term. Yet, it is precisely such conditions that may push the country’s leadership into taking the radical step that will secure its world-player status once and for all: the adoption of a gold-exchange standard.
After significant buying in recent years, some may have questioned if this would continue in 2014. The answer was loud and clear: central bank net purchases amounted to 477t over the year, 17% above 2013’s impressive 409t. This represents the second highest year of central bank net purchases for 50 years, after the 544t addition to global gold reserves reported in 2012. Russia had by far the greatest appetite amongst those who raised gold reserves. The country accumulated an additional 173t (36% of total central bank demand in 2014) over a turbulent 12 months. 2014 was bookended by tension and uncertainty for the country: geopolitical antagonism with the Ukraine, and the resulting international sanctions, at the beginning of the year was followed by severe economic distress towards the end.
The usual bag of tricks no longer works. And the subject Varoufakis brings to the table, that the EU and ECB economical policies have been an abject failure is no longer an extreme notion. The contagion from Syriza success can be considerable, and though it pretends otherwise, the EU has no idea what it would mean down the line. Every single option they look at that is NOT Varoufakis surrendering, must scare them out of their socks. Anything they give up will be seen as a sign of weakness, and it will encourage parties for which Syriza ‘carries the torch’, and likely raise their support and votes.
What's an equity investor to do these days?
With talk that Greek banks have hit their emergency lending limit with the ECB (which has prompted a teleconference this morning among ECB polcy-makers), it seems the newly-found position of negotiating strength for Greece (perhaps encouraged by China or Russia behind the scenes) has prompted more demands:
- GREECE'S SYRIZA CHIEF ECONOMIST JOHN MILIOS PROPOSES OVERALL EURO ZONE DEBT OVERHANG REDUCTION BY ECB
- ECB COULD BUY ALL EURO ZONE DEBT MATURING IN 2016-2020 AND ALL INTEREST PAYMENTS-SYRIZA'S MILIOS
- ECB WOULD FOOT THE BILL NOW, BUT BY 2040 IT WOULD BE ABLE TO ERASE ALL LOSSES THROUGH PROFIT RETENTION-MILIOS
Roughly translated - "Get back to work, Mr.Draghi" and monetize all of Europe's debt. With negative net issuance (i.e. central banks already monetizing over 100% of 2015's expected issuance) already here, this demand merely pushes the 'independent' monetary policymakers to enable more fiscal profligacy.
- 'Glimmer of hope' for Ukraine after deal at Minsk peace summit (Reuters)
- Ruble Rebounds, Russian Stocks Surge on Ukraine Cease-Fire Deal (BBG)
- Greek PM Tsipras in Brussels as clock ticks on EU bailout (Reuters)
- Emerging-Market Currencies Rout Not Over for Traders (BBG)
- Little noticed, new Saudi king shapes contours of power (Reuters)
- In Wake of Financial Crisis, Goldman Goes It Alone (WSJ)
- AmEx Is Losing Its Millionaires (BBG)
- Thousands to Lose Health Insurance Over Residency Questions (WSJ)
The dominoes are beginning to fall. The initial spark in 2008 has triggered a series of unyielding responses by those in power, but further emergencies and unintended consequences juxtapose, connect and accelerate a chain reaction that will become uncontainable once a tipping point is reached. The fabric of society is tearing at points of extreme vulnerability, with depression, violence and war on the foreseeable horizon. Mr. President, the shadow of crisis has not passed. The looming shadow of crisis grows ever larger and darker by the day as this Crisis enters the most dangerous phase, where the existing social order will be swept away in a torrent of carnage and ferocious struggle. We are not a chosen people. We are not immune from dire outcomes.
Putin's Top Security Advisor: "Current US Approach Leads To Inevitable Confrontation With Russia And China"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 02/11/2015 21:00 -0500
The current US approach will lead to inevitable confrontation with Russia and China.... Beginning with the global financial crisis in 2008, the U.S. decided to recover at the expense of others, including with the help of military adventurism and the destruction of full governments, employing the theory of ‘managed chaos.'
"I’m optimistic about the future of Russia. I was optimistic before this war started in Ukraine, which was instigated by the US, of course. But in any case, I bought more Russia during the Crimea incident, and I’m looking to buy still more. Unfortunately, what’s happening is certainly not good for the United States. It’s driving Russia and Asia together, which means we’re going to suffer in the long run - the US and Europe. Another of the big four Chinese banks opened a branch in Moscow recently. The Iranians are getting closer to the Russians. People are starting to reexamine the propaganda that comes out of Washington. Even the Germans are starting to reassess the situation."
All you need to know about the latest melting ice-cube "business model" in just three charts.