If you want to track how close we are to the next financial collapse, there is one number that you need to be watching above all others. The number that we are talking about is the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries, because it affects thousands of other interest rates in our financial system. When the yield on 10 year U.S. Treasuries goes up, that is bad for the U.S. economy because it pushes long-term interest rates up. When interest rates rise, it constricts the flow of credit, and a healthy flow of credit is absolutely essential to the debt-based system that we live in.
Since the end of last April, registered gold held at the COMEX depositories has collapsed from a total of 2,147,398 ounces to just 852,930 ounces. That is a collapse of 60% of the registered gold inventory in less than 4 months.
It is well-known that as part of the S&P500's ascent to new records, investor margin debt has also surged to all time highs, surpassing for the past three months previous records set during both prior, the dot com and the housing, stock market bubbles. And as more attention has shifted to the topic of speculator leverage once more, inquiries into the correlation between bets upon bets and stock performance are popping up once more, in this case in a study by Deutsche Bank titled "Red Flag! - The curious case of NYSE margin debt." Of particular note here is a historical comparison of margin-debt warnings that have recurred throughout history but especially just before major stock bubble crashes, such as in the period 1999/2000, 2007/2008 and of course today, which have time and again been ignored. Here is what was said then, what is being said now, and what is ignored always.
As David Stockman, Reagan's infamous Budget Director, writes in his bestseller, The Great Deformation: The Corruption Of Capitalism In America – "the last thing hedge funds do is hedge." The hedge fund complex is "not so much a conventional industry as it is a giant moveable trade": Wall Street trading desks frequently morph into independent hedge fund partnerships, and senior hedge funds often sire “cubs” and then sons of cubs. The protean ability of this arrangement to spawn, fund, and replicate successful momentum trades cannot be overstated, and has "generated trillions of permanent momentum-chasing capital." Ultimately, he warns, "apologists for the Fed’s evisceration of the capital markets could not see... they had unleashed the financial furies in the violent momentum trading modus operandi of the hedge fund casino."
- Washington Post Company Chairman and CEO Donald Graham talks about the sale, what it means for the future of The Post (WaPo)
- Private-equity firms are adding debt to companies they own to fund payouts to themselves at a record pace (WSJ)
- U.S., U.K. Urge Citizens to Leave Yemen (WSJ)
- India Names Rajan Central Bank Governor as Rupee Plunges (BBG)
- Family Offices Chasing Wealthy’s $46 Trillion in Assets (BBG)
- UK 'bad bank' repays $2.9 billion to taxpayers in first half (Reuters)
- Sony rebuffs Daniel Loeb’s push for entertainment spin-off (FT)
- Public Pensions Up 12% Get Most in 2 Years as Stocks Soar (BBG)
- Hidden Billionaire Found With Food Fortune in California (BBG)
- Fonterra under fire over milk scare; more product recalls (Reuters)
- Crédit Agricole Profit Rises After Greek (WSJ)
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.
We do not inhabit a “normal” economy. We live in a financialised world in which our banks cannot be trusted, our politicians cannot be trusted, our money cannot be trusted, and – not least thanks to ongoing spasms of QE and expectations of much more of the same – our markets cannot be trusted. At some point (though the timing is impossible to predict), asset markets that cannot be pumped artificially any higher will start moving, under the forces of inevitable gravitation, lower.
Over two years after Zero Hedge first accused Goldman and JPMorgan of becoming monopolists in the commodity warehousing business (see "Goldman, JP Morgan Have Now Become A Commodity Cartel"), and two weeks after the NYT's reminder the world of just this leading to the latest Kangaroo Court congressional hearing on the matter, which may or may not have resulted in JPMorgan announcing it would exit the physical commodities business, the long overdue legal fight began this Friday when lead plaintiff Superior Extrusion sued Goldman and London Metal Exchange owner HKEx for engaging in "anticompetitive and monopolistic behaviour in the warehousing market in connection with aluminium prices" and accusing the firms of violating the Sherman anti-trust act. Precisely what Zero Hedge said, some 26 months ago.
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?
- Low Wages Work Against Jobs Optimism (WSJ)
- Tourre’s Junior Staff Defense Seen Leading to Trial Loss (BBG)
- Russia gives Snowden asylum, Obama-Putin summit in doubt (Reuters)
- Fortress to Blackstone Say Now Is Time to Sell on Surge (BBG)
- Brazil backs IMF aid for Greece and recalls representative (FT), previously Brazil refused to back new IMF aid for Greece, says billions at risk (Reuters)
- Google unveils latest challenger to iPhone (FT)
- Swaps Probe Finds Banks Manipulated Rate at Expense of Retirees (BBG)
- Academics square up in fight for Fed (FT)
- Potash Turmoil Threatens England’s First Mine in Forty Years (BBG)
- Dell Deal Close but Not Final (WSJ)
Lurking deep in the just filed Bank of America 10-Q (alongside data on its quarterly trading acumen which as usual made a mockery of random statistical probability distribution with just 7 days of losses and profits on 57) is this nugget which shows BAC's litigation expenses may be set to surge once more.
- Headlines only idiots, Schrodinger and Goebbels could love:
- For nuns and analysts alike, bank commodity earnings are a mystery (Reuters)
- US spying comes under fresh attack (FT)
- Summers Backed Yellen for Fed Before Rivals Now Prove More Alike (BBG)
- Good Luck Leaving Your Wireless Phone Plan (WSJ)
- Spain's Rajoy says he was wrong to trust treasurer in party funding scandal (Reuters)
- Shell's Profit Falls on Shale Write-Down (WSJ)
- Why Rand Paul and Chris Christie went to war (Politico)
- Sony Returns to Profit Aided by TV Business (WSJ)
If our leaders could have recognized the signs ahead of time, do you think that they could have prevented the financial crisis of 2008? That is a very timely question, because so many of the warning signs that we saw just before and during the last financial crisis are popping up again. Many of the things that are happening right now in the stock market, the bond market, the real estate market and in the overall economic data are eerily similar to what we witnessed back in 2008 and 2009. It is almost as if we are being forced to watch some kind of a perverse replay of previous events, only this time our economy and our financial system are much weaker than they were the last time around. We have been living so far above our means for so long that most of us actually think that our current economic situation is "normal."
In every era, there are certain people and institutions that are held in the highest public regard as they embody the prevailing values of society. Not that long ago, Albert Einstein was a major public figure and was widely revered. Can you name a scientist that commands a similar presence today? Today, some of the most celebrated individuals and institutions are ensconced within the financial industry; in banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. Which is odd because none of these firms or individuals actually make anything, which society might point to as additive to our living standards. Instead, these financial magicians harvest value from the rest of society that has to work hard to produce real things of real value. Money is power. And history has shown that power is never ceded spontaneously or willingly. But the stability of this parasitical system begins to weaken quickly when the lifeblood it depends on begins to dry up. And that's when things can begin to go south in a hurry