Every year, David Collum writes a detailed "Year in Review" synopsis full of keen perspective and plenty of wit. This year's is no exception. "I have not seen a year in which so many risks - some truly existential - piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. It feels like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows..."
The fall of the rouble this year has been severe, with a 50 percent fall against the dollar and of course gold this year. The slide has been precipitous as in the past two days alone, it fell about 20 percent against the dollar and gold.
On Monday, the ruble fell 10% against the dollar and gold followed by another crash of 11% on Tuesday, despite a massive rate hike.
Not long ago, we wrote Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If high oil prices can be a problem, how can low oil prices also be a problem? In particular, how can the steep drop in oil prices we have recently been experiencing also be a problem? In our view, a rapid drop in oil prices is likely a symptom that we are approaching a debt-related collapse. Underlying this debt-related collapse is the fact that we seem to be reaching the limits of a finite world. There is a growing mismatch between what workers in oil importing countries can afford, and the rising real costs of extraction, including associated governmental costs. This has been covered up to date by rising debt, but at some point, it will not be possible to keep increasing the debt sufficiently. At some point the debt situation will eventually reach a breaking point.
The “unintended consequences” of the negative interest rate policy will vastly outweigh the perceived advantages of any short term boost to economic activity they may provoke. Given that the failure of these interventions is already absolutely certain, we must be prepared for even more interventions to “fix” the failures produced by the previous ones. Many modern-day intellectuals appear quite keen on abolishing the market economy and replacing it with some form of command economy (just as long as their personal plans are implemented of course). They should be careful what they wish for.
Who Said It? "Deficit Spending Is A Scheme To Confiscate Wealth. Gold Stands In The Way Of This Insidious Process"Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/09/2014 19:14 -0500
"This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists’ tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists’ antagonism toward the gold standard." - Who Said It?
As was leaked on Friday, when the market surged on news that some 25 banks would fail the ECB's third stress test (because in the New Normal more bank failures means more bailouts, means the richer get richest, means more wealth inequality), so moments ago the ECB reported that, indeed, some 25 banks failed the European Central Bank's third attempt at collective confidence building and redrawing of a reality in which there is about €1 trillion in European NPLs, also known as the stress test.
Several days ago we were confused why, out of the blue, a €1 billion loan BWIC appeared that was dumping German non-performing loans. After all, the whole point of the European "recovery" fable to date has been to deflect all the attention from the "pristine" German banks, up to an including world-record derivatives juggernaut Deutsche Bank, and to focus on Greece and other insolvent peripheral European nation. Earlier today, German Handelsblatt provided an answer, when it reported that "four German banks are on the brink", i.e., four banks of which three are known, HSH Nordbank, IKB and MunchenerHyp, will likely fail the ECB's stress test whose results are due to be announced next Friday.
At this point, one has to wonder, just what is the point of all the Central Banks’ activities? The QE efforts in the US and Japan (two of the biggest in history) haven’t really generated jobs or GDP growth… so just what ARE they doing?
Well, at least someone gets it. While just about every other central bank on the planet is giving everyone two thumbs up on the economy, the deputy chair of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (Lim Hng Kiang) said last night at a dinner that “an uneasy calm seems to have settled in markets” and that “we remain in uncharted waters.” It was quite surprising to see such pointed language from a central banking official. Mr. Lim jabbed at the “obvious” risks and said there would be “bumps on the road” ahead.
The EU agreement on a common rulebook for handling bank failures, including bail-ins, is in danger of unravelling over the fine print restricting when a state can intervene to rescue a struggling bank. It is important to realise that not just the EU, but also the UK, the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most G20 nations have plans for depositor bail-ins ...
Curious what the real, and not pre-spun for public consumption, sentiment on the ground is in a China (where the housing bubble has already popped and the severe contraction in credit is forcing the ultra wealthy to luxury real estate in places like Hong Kong) from the perspective of the common man? The photo below, which shows hundreds of people rushing today to withdraw money from branches of two small Chinese banks after rumors spread about solvency at one of them, are sufficiently informative about just how jittery ordinary Chinese have become in recent days, and reflect the growing anxiety among investors as regulators signal greater tolerance for credit defaults.
Why Mainstream Economists Like Krugman Are So WRONG and So DANGEROUS
It would indeed be supremely ironic if the "strong" foreign law bond indenture would be tested, and breached, not by Greek bonds, as so many expected in late 2011 and early 2012, but by one of the last contries in Europe which is still AAA-rated. We would find it less ironic if the next leg of the global financial crisis was once again unleashed by an Austrian bank: after all history does rhyme...
Sad affairs have been heating up in the tiny Alpine republic in the center of the European Union. While Austria experiences record unemployment at record growth rates and tax revenues have fallen behind optimistic projections, the looming bankruptcy of a mid-sized regional bank, Hypo Group Alpe Adria (HGAA), may propel the country to the disdained position of being the catalyst for a new round of bank failures due to interwoven banks risks on both the domestic and the international level. On Monday Austrian financial market authority FMA publicly said what the official Austria never wanted to hear as it is now confronted with a widening public discussion on a problem it had surrealstically hoped to brush under the carpet. Austria's banking woes look eerily similar to the failure of Creditanstalt in 1931 that was the fuse for the last European Kondratieff winter.
Plain vanilla bank runs are as old as fractional reserve banking itself, and usually happen just before or during an economic and financial collapse, when all trust (i.e. credit) in counterparties disappears and it is every man, woman and child, and what meager savings they may have, for themselves. However, when it comes to shadow bank runs, which take place when institutions are so mismatched in interest, credit and/or maturity exposure that something just snaps as it did in the hours after the Lehman collapse, that due to the sheer size of their funding exposure that they promptly grind the system to a halt even before conventional banks can open their doors to the general public, the conventional wisdom is that this is a novel development (and one which is largely misunderstood). It isn't.