While top-down macro headlines, anchoring-biased surveys, and election-oriented government-aided statistics suggest a world of unicorns and teddy bears where everyone and their pet rabbit 'Dave' should be buying stocks with both hand and feet for the 'upside' when the fiscal cliff is 'solved' and 'Bernanke has got your back'; why-oh-why is every rally faded? In Size? Perhaps this is the answer? Goldman Sachs Analysts Index (GSAI) - a quantified bottom-up look at firm-by-firm views of the current and expected economic reality aggregated across all of the company's analysts - is bad and getting worse in a hurry. The main index slumped to 32.9 in October from 44.1 in September, with all sub-components falling 'suggesting depressed business activity from the bottom-up'. Perhaps worse, the employment index remains weak and price indices suggest a deflationary future. This index of real economic activity is its lowest since the 2008-9 recession and sends a considerably more pessimistic message than many of the business 'surveys' from the Philly Fed or Chicago PMI. Perhaps it is this reality on the ground that is stalling the wealth-building stock-levitation that is so economically required by our central planners - as it seems the broad improvement in September was transient.
Mitt Romney has a credibility problem. He changes his beliefs like laundry (abortion, medical insurance, whether Bin Laden was worth killing, attacking Iran), refuses to disclose his tax returns, and won't explain how he could possibly pay for the tax cuts he proposes. But there is another scandal in Romney's campaign -- namely Glenn Hubbard, Romney's chief economic advisor, who was chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under George W. Bush, and is now Dean of Columbia Business School. I interviewed Hubbard for my documentary film Inside Job, and analyzed his record again for my book Predator Nation. The film interview became famous because Hubbard blew his cool after I interrogated him about his conflicts of interest: "This isn't a deposition, sir. I was polite enough to give you time, foolishly I now see, but you have three more minutes. Give it your best shot." But the really important thing about Hubbard isn't his personality; it's that as an economist and an advisor, he is a total, unmitigated disaster.
As the one year anniversary of the MF Global Bankruptcy is upon us, the WSJ has now joined the NY Times in writing a ‘woe is me’ piece on behalf of Jon Corzine. The WSJ continues bemoaning the pitiable situation of “restlessness and frustration” of the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, former Governor of New Jersey, and former Senator from New Jersey who apparently isn’t content with being “confident about the likelihood that he will avoid any criminal charges related to MF Global.” Corzine is still estimated to be worth several hundred million dollars despite presiding over the failure of the largest non-bank commodity broker where $1.6 billion in customer money was stolen. I cry for him, I really do... Trying to portray Corzine as being focused on mundane things like finding a job rather than worried about doing jail time for his obvious crimes appears to be another prong of Corzine’s attorneys’ use of the Chewbacca Defense, along with saying that the fraud charges “Make No Sense,” because the money “Vaporized” and he had no motive since he had a de minimis portion of his net worth invested in MF Global stock. However, proving Corzine committed fraud and perjury would be relatively simple for any motivated prosecutor. Since the Department of Justice clearly is not motivated to prosecute Corzine after he bundled $500,000+ in campaign contributions to their boss, I provide this quick and easy guide for any ambitious state prosecutor to bring charges themselves:
For millions of common people in New York and New Jersey, Sandy has been a historic disaster, with leaving ruined, homeless or forced to live in the dark and cold indefinitely. Sandy was a historic event for the Wall Streeters (a term used loosely as many of them reside in midtown or in Connecticut) among us too. And now, courtesy of Bloomberg's Max Abelson, we see how some of them managed to (just barely) scrape through...
A cyber attack does not have to be limited to a single country and its networks. It could be used to strike multiple countries and fuel a global firestorm of systems failures. Globalists need a macro-crisis, a world-wide catastrophe, in order to present their “global solution” to the desperate masses. This solution will invariably include more dominance for them, and less freedom for us. A global crisis can also be used to manipulate various cultures to forget concerns of sovereignty and think in terms of one-world action. Surely, a worldwide breakdown can only be solved if we “all work together and all think alike”, right...? Without a doubt, a cyber attack serves the interests of elitist entities and banking monstrosities like nothing else in existence. Set off a nuke, start WWIII, turn the U.S. dollar into stagflationary dust; a cyber attack tops them all, because a cyber attack can lead to them all while maintaining deniability for the establishment. The fact that whispers of cyber threats have turned into bullhorn blasted propaganda should concern us all. Are we being conditioned for a cyber event in the near future? That remains to be seen. However, none of us should be surprised if one does occur, especially in light of the many gains involved for globalists, and all of us should be ready to dismantle and expose any lies surrounding the event before the American public is whipped into a 9/11 style frenzy yet again
While it is too early to estimate the ultimate losses wreaked by Hurricane Sandy in the last 24 hours, we thought it useful to start gauging relative exposures and which companies are the most exposed. As it stands, Hurricane Katrina remains #1 of all US Catastrophes as the most-costly at $46.6bn (2011-equivalents) with 9/11 second at $38.5bn; with the worst MTA disaster in its history and the relative wealth in the areas affected, one can't help but feel like Sandy could be up there. The P&C insurance industry will bear the brunt of personal and corporate losses (as well as federal relief we pre-suppose) and is better capitalized than in the past but as JPM notes, initial estimates of losses tend to be revised upwards. The most exposed insurer is State Farm with an 11.4% share of all potential liability lines in the states impacted, followed by Allstate and Travelers. We finally note that when the P&C industry experiences losses of this magnitude, it typically leads to increased pricing for an extended period of time (as they rebuild capital bases).
It is cloudy out there as Sandy enters the mid-Atlantic region, although for all the pre-apocalypse preparations in New York, the Frankenstorm may just be yet another dud now that its landfall is expected to come sufficiently south of NYC to make the latest round of Zone 1 evacuations about overblown as last year's Irene hysteria (of course it will be a gift from god for each and every S&P company as it will provide a perfect excuse for everyone to miss revenues and earnings in Q4). That said, Wall Street is effectively closed today for carbon-based lifeforms if not for electron ones, and a quick look at the futures bottom line, which will be open until 9:15 am Eastern, shows a lot of red, with ES down nearly 10 ticks (Shanghai down again as the same old realization seeps day after day - no major easing from the PBOC means Bernanke and company is on their own) as the Friday overnight summary is back on again: Johnny 5 must defend 1400 in ES and 1.2900 in EURUSD at all costs for just two more hours.
While those in the power and money echelons of the "developed" world scramble day after day to hold the pieces of the collapsing tower of cards in place (and manipulating public perception that all is well), knowing full well what the final outcome eventually will be, those who still have the capacity to look, and invest, in the future, are looking neither toward the US, nor Asia, and certainly not Europe, for one simple reason: there is no more incremental debt capacity at any level: sovereign, household, financial or corporate. Because without the ability to create debt out of thin air, be it on a secured or unsecured basis, the ability to "create" growth, at least in the current Keynesian paradigm, goes away with it. Yet there is one place where there is untapped credit creation potential, if not on an unsecured (i.e., future cash flow discounting), then certainly on a secured (hard asset collateral) basis. The place is Africa, and according to some estimates the continent, Africa can create between $5 and $10 trillion in secured debt, using its extensive untapped resources as first-lien collateral.
If you often wonder why ‘free market capitalism’ feels like it is failing despite universal assurances from economists and political pundits that it is working as intended, your intuition is correct. Free market capitalism has become a thing of the past. In truth free market capitalism has been replaced by something that is truly anti-free market and anti-capitalistic. The diversion operates in plain sight. Beginning sometime around 1970 the U.S. and most of the ‘free world’ have diverged from traditional “free market capitalism” to something different. Today the U.S. and much of the world’s economies are operating under what I call Monetary Fascism: a system where financial interests control the State for the advancement of the financial class. This is markedly different from traditional Fascism: a system where State and industry work together for the advancement of the State. Monetary Fascism was created and propagated through the Chicago School of Economics. Milton Friedman’s collective works constitute the foundation of Monetary Fascism. Today the financial and banking class enforces this ideology through the media and government with the same ruthlessness of the Church during the Dark Ages: to question is to be a heretic. When asked in an interview what humanities’ future looked like, Eric Blair, better known as George Orwell, said “Imagine a boot smashing a human face forever.”
The 2012-2013 election season is exceptional, with more than 100 elections in economies accounting for approximately 60% of global GDP. So far, Goldman notes that markets have navigated through elections in Russia, Egypt, Greece, France, Mexico and Venezuela, among others. The closely watched Presidential election in the US will take place shortly, followed by the culmination of the political transition in China. Later on, markets will see countries like Italy, Iran, and Japan go to the ballots too. This extraordinary election season brings several questions to the forefront: Why are elections important market events? What are the main factors affecting that market-driving impact and its seasonality? And which states are key? Critically, Goldman finds that a divided government has on average produced considerably tighter fiscal policy - not a good sign for the Keynesians.
The 2012 US presidential election is perhaps one of the most unique and important elections in recent history from an economic perspective (with the time-line rapidly approaching). In choosing its leader for the next four years (for which we provide a handy 'where-do-they-stand' cheatsheet), we agree with Goldman that the country will likely be determining the path for near-term economic growth, medium-to-longer term fiscal stability and monetary policy at a time when the stakes are exceptionally high - whether or not the US economy returns to recessionary conditions in 2013, the US sovereign debt rating and the broader credibility of the US government to Americans and foreigners alike all hang in the balance. Goldman sees three factors that set the 2012 election apart.
Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy. For, after three debates (well, four), when it comes to banking, finance, and the ongoing subsidization of Wall Street, both presidential candidates and their parties’ attitudes toward the banking sector is similar – i.e. it must be preserved – as is – at all costs, rhetoric to the contrary, aside. Obama hasn’t brought ‘sweeping reform’ upon the Establishment Banks, nor does Romney need to exude deregulatory babble, because nothing structurally substantive has been done to harness the biggest banks of the financial sector, enabled, as they are, by entities from the SEC to the Fed to the Treasury Department to the White House.
The fast-approaching US presidential election is perhaps one of the most important in recent history, with Goldman noting that the fate of near-term US economic growth, medium-term US fiscal stability (and, with it, the US sovereign debt rating) and monetary policy hinging on the outcome. In an effort to provide as succinct a view of these potential events, we present a four-part series previewing the big day. Below, we lay out the key dates and likely paths to resolution of the "fiscal cliff"; the most important and most imminent challenge that the elected candidate will be forced to face just after the election.
- Japan grapples with own fiscal cliff (Bloomberg)
- Japan Protests After Four Chinese Vessels Enter Disputed Waters (Bloomberg)
- Asian Stocks Rise as Exporters Gain on China, U.S. Data (Bloomberg)
- An obsolete Hilsenrath speaks: Fed Keeps Rates Low, Says Growth Is Moderate (WSJ)
- ECB Said to Push Spain’s Bankia to Swap Junior Debt for Shares (Bloomberg)
- Spain’s Bad Bank Seen as Too Big to Work (Bloomberg)
- China postpones Japan anniversary events (China Daily)
- Carney Says Rate Increase ‘Less Imminent’ on Economy Risk (Bloomberg)
- Credit Suisse to Cut More Costs as Quarterly Profit Falls (Bloomberg)
- Obama offers a glimpse of his second-term priorities (Reuters)
- Draghi defends bond-buying programme (FT)
While regional independence is superior to both the failing European Union and the façade of special interest controlled democracy, one further action should taken by any jurisdictions that choose secession: Newly restored sovereign nations should repudiate their share of the illegitimate sovereign debt when they exit existing unions and nation-states. Created by distant banking elites buying national politicians and parliaments to load up on sovereign debts that can never be paid off, this massive national debt load is illegitimate and destructive to existing and new national economies. Governments have three ways to deal with debt loads of this magnitude: The first is hyperinflation designed to destroy the payoff value of the debt, second is the official repudiation of the debt or third, a combination of both options. Attempting to hold the bankers accountable is not an option. The first nations to repudiate sovereign debt will have the advantage; and as nations undertake this endeavor, they should keep this in mind: All government bureaucracies grow until contained, taxes rise until curtailed and politicians borrow and seek power until thrown out of office.