Mark To Market
The benefits of cheap oil are no match for the destruction that touches on a thousand different parts of our economies. It doesn’t help that much of both Canadian and American oil, especially the unconventional kinds, were drowning in debt even before oil turned south with a vengeance. But that’s not even the most crucial part. Our entire economies revolve around oil, it’s not just something that you put in your car, oil is everywhere, it’s built our world and it maintains it. And therefore the effects of a sudden 40% price drop – and counting – will be felt everywhere. What we’ve seen so far can still be labeled ‘orderly’, but that’s not going to last. Still, look at the bright side: at least you can say that for once in your life you’ve witnessed a functioning market.
The single most important issue for understanding why the finacnial system is not healthy and why we’re set to have an even bigger crash than in 2008 has to do with one word…
Rickards does not expressly say one should put 33% of one’s wealth in gold but suggests that an allocation of between 10% and 33% would be prudent. In this regard, he echos Dr Marc Faber who suggested a 25% allocation to precious metals last week.
Once again the smell of NAPALM is in the air
The following is Part 2 (Part 1 here) a firsthand story of how and why a former US citizen - who kindly shared this information on condition of anonymity - decided to renounce his US citizenship
The following is a firsthand story of how and why a former US citizen - who kindly shared this information on condition of anonymity - decided to renounce his US citizenship
Volcker Rule - Who cares? I know we are supposed to care more about this convoluted rule, but we just can’t. The concept that somehow “prop” trading brought down the banks seems silly. The idea that market making desks were a dangerous part of the equation is ludicrous. They could have fixed this with a few simple changes, but that would have meant some blame would have had to be shifted onto the regulators...
As we head towards NFP and discussion about tapering picks up again it is crucial to understand the Fed balance sheet report, where, at least in terms of the treasuries they own, they continue their Hunt Brothers impersonation. What this means is we would be very nervous about being too short treasuries here because in addition to steep curves and low inflation, you have the potential for a short squeeze as the free float of longer bonds is just small.
If one was a foreigner visiting for the first time, one would think Space Available was the hot new retailer in the country. Thousands of Space Available signs dot the bleak landscape, as office buildings, strip malls, and industrial complexes wither and die. At least the Chinese "Space Available" sign manufacturers are doing well. The only buildings doing brisk business are the food banks and homeless shelters. However, reports like the recent one from SNL Financial – Branch Networks Continue to Shrink - are emblematic of the mal-investment spurred by the Federal Reserve easy money policies, zero interest rates, and QEternity... In a truly free, non-manipulated market the weak would be culled, new dynamic competitors would fill the void, and consumers would benefit. However, extending debt payment schedules of the largest zombie entities and pretending you will get paid has been the mantra of the insolvent zombie Wall Street banks since 2009.
Once the economy's capital structure is distorted beyond a certain threshold, it won't matter anymore how much more monetary pumping the central bank engages in – instead of creating a temporary illusion of prosperity, the negative effects of the policy will begin to predominate almost immediately. Given that we have evidence that the distortion is already at quite a 'ripe' stage, it should be expected that the economy will perform far worse in the near to medium term than was hitherto widely believed. This also means that monetary pumping will likely continue at full blast, as central bankers continue to erroneously assume that the policy is 'helping' the economy to recover.
"Over the last 12-24 hours the small cracks that have appeared in financial markets over the last week have started to edge open a little bit wider. On the plus side this may start to help concentrate the minds of the politicians a bit more after another day of stalemate and lack of urgency. Our thoughts are that this will get resolved when either the market forces the issue with a big sell-off or when we get closer to an as yet unspecified hard-date as to when the US runs out of money." - DB's Jim Reid
In a world in which all the matters is "scale", the ability to Martingale down on losing bets as close to infinity as possible (something which JPMorgan learned with the London Whale may not be the best strategy especially when one can't print money out of thin air), and being as close to the Fed's Heidelberg rotary printer as possible, it was expected that that "expert" of government backstops and bailouts, the Octogenarian of Omaha, Warren Buffett, would have only kind words for Ben Bernanke. But not even we predicted that Buffett would explicitly admit what we have only tongue-in-cheek joked about in the past, namely that the Fed is the world's greatest (and most profitable) hedge fund. Which is precisely what he did: "Billionaire investor Warren Buffett compared the U.S. Federal Reserve to a hedge fund because of the central bank’s ability to profit from bond purchases while accumulating a balance sheet of more than $3 trillion. "The Fed is the greatest hedge fund in history,” Buffett told students yesterday at Georgetown University in Washington. It’s generating “$80 billion or $90 billion a year probably” in revenue for the U.S. government, he said.
The chart below tells a story. Do you think the fiscal and monetary policies implemented by Bernanke and Obama since 2008 were designed to benefit you? If you believe in regression to the mean and a world based on reality, then you should be prepared for corporate profits to decline by 14% to 20% over the next four years. What do you think that will do to a stock market where the PE ratio is already at valuation levels of 1929, 2000, and 2007?
This insane world was created through decades of bad decisions, believing in false prophets, choosing current consumption over sustainable long-term savings based growth, electing corruptible men who promised voters entitlements that were mathematically impossible to deliver, the disintegration of a sense of civic and community obligation and a gradual degradation of the national intelligence and character. There is a common denominator in all the bubbles created over the last century – Wall Street bankers and their puppets at the Federal Reserve. Fractional reserve banking, control of a fiat currency by a privately owned central bank, and an economy dependent upon ever increasing levels of debt are nothing more than ingredients of a Ponzi scheme that will ultimately implode and destroy the worldwide financial system. Since 1913 we have been enduring the largest fraud and embezzlement scheme in world history, but the law of diminishing returns is revealing the plot and illuminating the culprits. Bernanke and his cronies have proven themselves to be highly educated one trick pony protectors of the status quo. Bernanke will eventually roll craps. When he does, the collapse will be epic and 2008 will seem like a walk in the park.
Greed; corporate arrogance; lobbying influence; excessive leverage; accounting tricks to hide debt; lack of transparency; off balance sheet obligations; mark to market accounting; short-term focus on profit to drive compensation; failure of corporate governance; as well as auditors, analysts, rating agencies and regulators who were either lax, ignorant or complicit. This laundry list of causes has often been used to describe what went wrong in the credit crunch crisis of 2008-2010. Actually these terms were equally used to describe what went wrong with Enron more than twenty years ago. Both crises resulted in what at the time was the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history — Enron in December 2001 and Lehman Brothers in September 2008. Naturally, this leads to the question that despite all the righteous indignation in the wake of Enron's failure did we really learn or change anything?