Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created. During testimony this week, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail. Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Janet Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people. Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim? If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed? What does she have to hide?
Back in March 2014 we forecast that it in the aftermath of the US State Department-sponsored military coup in Kiev, it was only a matter of time before Ukraine (all of its sovereign gold having since "vaporized") succumbed to full blown hyperinflation and economic implosion. Less than a year later, precisely this outcome has finally played out, and as a result, the entire nation has finally entered its economic endgame, one which has two conclusion: either it joins Greece in becoming a ward of Europe (of which it is not an official member) and the IMF (thank you Joe Q Public taxpayer), or it quietly fades away into insolvent "failed state" status.
As a frequent contributor to Bloomberg, I would welcome the opportunity to debate this with Barry.
What say you @ritholtz ? : )
According to the WSJ, "prosecutors in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are scrutinizing the price-setting process for gold, silver, platinum and palladium in London, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has opened a civil investigation, these people said. The agencies have made initial requests for information, including a subpoena from the CFTC to HSBC Holdings PLC related to precious-metals trading, the bank said in its annual report Monday. Who is involved in this latest gold-rigging scandal? Why everyone! ... which makes it immediately obvious why the European regulator had to promptly cover up the whole affair. Under scrutiny are Bank of Nova Scotia , Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Société Générale SA, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and UBS AG , according to one of the people close to the investigation.
Fed Chair Yellen will be presenting her semi-annual monetary policy testimony - sometimes called the "Humphrey-Hawkins" testimony - on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Goldman expects Yellen not to stray far from the message of the January FOMC statement and meeting minutes, seeing it unlikely she will preempt the Committee by sending a strong signal on whether "patience" will be removed from the statement at the March meeting. The testimony will probably not be a major market mover. Nonetheless, to the extent there are risks to our "don't rock the boat" expectation, Goldman thinks they are skewed toward a slightly more dovish tilt.
With the S&P 500 now in positive territory for the year and the mainstream media back in normal cheerleading mode, it is worth noting that 1) "Most shorted" stocks have outperformed the broad market this year, 2) the last 3 weeks have seen the biggest short squeeze in almost 4 years, and 3) Hedge funds are now at a record high 57% net long. We suspect, given the looming Humphrey-Hawkins and March FOMC and the short-term 'gap' between the market and fun-durr-mentals, volatility will be on the rise again.
"...those companies were among the many that gave to the Clinton family’s global foundation set up by her husband, former President Bill Clinton. At least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during her tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation, ...Mrs. Clinton’s connections to the companies don’t end there. As secretary of state, she created 15 public-private partnerships coordinated by the State Department, and at least 25 companies contributed to those partnerships."
The trouble with the money printing madness in the Eccles Building is that it generates huge deformations, misallocations and speculative excesses in the financial markets. Eventually these bubbles splatter, as they have twice this century. The resulting carnage, needless to say, is not small. Combined financial and real estate asset markdowns totaled about $7 trillion after the dotcom bust and $15 trillion during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The Wall Street casino is now festooned with giant deadweight losses waiting to happen. But perhaps none is more egregious than Tesla - a crony capitalist con job that has long been insolvent, and has survived only by dint of prodigious taxpayer subsidies and billions of free money from the Fed’s Wall Street casino.
Jon Corzine had an illustrious career in investment banking, rising to the very top of Goldman Sachs, until he got pushed out in 1999. He subsequently decided to try his luck in politics, and was eventually elected as a Senator from New Jersey in 2001, then Governor in 2006. After losing to Chris Christie in 2010, Corzine was promptly hired as the CEO of MF Global. He was back in the game of finance - and with something to prove. While the majority of voters in New Jersey breathed a sigh of relief, the clients of MF Global could not imagine the disaster that would unfold.
This past week has been a virtual tennis match watching the evolution of the Greek bailout negotiations. No Deal, Deal, No Deal, Deal. However, despite the fallout that would likely come from a Greek "exit," the markets have largely managed to ignore the risk and hit an all-time high this week. Market valuations, bullish sentiment and complacency are all pushing higher as the focus remains on the ignition of the ECB's QE program as a stimulus for the markets. In fact, this is so much the case that the net percentage of managers overweight Eurozone equities is at the highest level on record.
The retail sales data proved it... The Fed admitted it... and now Goldman Sachs has proved it... there is no 'economic stimulus' benefit from low gas prices for the US consumer (it is, simply put, merely a transfer of consumption from one good to another - or worse, it is saved or used to pay for healthcare or debt). As Goldman explains so clearly in its analysis of WalMart's results, the correlation between gas prices and WalMart same-store-sales "is nearly zero."
"We think that negative snowstorm effects could potentially subtract as much as half a percentage point from Q1 growth compared with a neutral baseline, although there is still plenty of time for activity to bounce back within the quarter. In light of our analysis, we reduced our Q1 GDP tracking estimate by two-tenths to +2.8%."
- Goldman Sachs
This won't end well...
Remember: any time Goldman tells you to do something, do what it does, not what it tells you (thank you Tom Stolper for teaching us that lesson) and as the case may be, Goldman's prop, pardon, flow (because those are illegal under Volcker wink wink) traders have some AAPL shares to sell to you, to wit: "We increase our 12-month target price to $145 from $130 previously which is based on a 16X (up from 15X reflecting our increased confidence in Apple’s outlook) multiple applied to our CY2015 EPS estimate of $9.03 ($8.64 previously)."
With reports of near mutiny in Syriza's ranks amid the back-bending they have done to try to meet Germany's demands - only to be abjectly denied by a non-ultimatum-setting Schaeuble - it is perhaps time to prepare (ahead of tomorrow's apparent "G" day) for the possibility that Greece creates a systemic event. As Goldman recently warned, there are aspects that leave us more worried than we have been since the start of the Euro area crisis with a tight schedule to avert a disorderly outcome. Risk markets so far have traded in a resilient (well managed) manner but risks of an accident remain and here is how Goldman suggests you hedge that exposure.