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
Day after day 'positive' anecdotal data points are latched on to by a self-confirming media (and plethora of talking heads and asset-gatherers) unable to see anything but their 'it's all good in the long-term' thesis. The truth is, as Bloomberg's Rich Yamarone notes, there’s no way to assess last week’s economic data as anything other than poor. Chinese GDP continued to deteriorate, U.S. core retail sales and the index of leading economic indicators for June were flat, industrial production was at the same level as in March, and housing, the lone oasis of prosperity, slowed as new starts plunged nearly 10 percent from the previous month. Toss in the city of Detroit filing the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history and the tone of America’s economic outlook took a decisive turn for the worse. Of course, this is all good for stocks is our new (ab)normal reality of single-factor Fed-liquidity-driven mass hypnosis.
CEOs have a primary job: manipulating up the stock of their company. But why they now wallowing worldwide in 2009-like gloom about the economy’s future?
Call it what you will, a handshake or a parachute; the result is all the same. The rest of us just get elbow out of the way as we get pushed through the back door. The top executives leave by the front door and to boot they hop into a chauffeur-driven car (paid by the company, of course) as they drive off into the sunset. To parachute someone: send them elsewhere, relocate them, bundle them off, pack them off or dispatch.
They can be handcuffed, they can be given coffins, they can be parachuted, they can be bungee’d, they can be life-jackets, they can be a hello and they can have their hands shaken. What are we talking about? Well, all of these things seem to have one thing in common, they are golden!
- Bernanke Supports Continuing Stimulus Amid Debate Over QE (BBG)
- Portugal president wants 'salvation' deal, including opposition (Reuters)
- Egypt has less than two months imported wheat left - ex-minister (Reuters)
- A rise in long-term interest rates is creating challenges and opportunities for the largest U.S. banks. (WSJ)
- BoJ says Japanese economy is ‘recovering’ (FT)
- More Chinese cities likely to curb auto sales (Reuters)
- PC Shipments Fall for 5th Quarter (BBG)
- Property Crushes Hedge Funds in Alternative Markets (BBG)
- New aid gives Greece summer respite before showdown (Reuters)
- Rajoy Punishes Exporters Sustaining Spain’s Economy (BBG)
Gold is little changed near a one-week high, and is marginally higher in dollars as the dollar has retreated from a three-year high, and higher in most currencies. The gold market continues to digest the ramifications of gold borrowing costs surging to the highest since the post-Lehman Brothers scramble for gold bullion. Gold Forward Offered Rates (GOFO) or the cost to borrow gold remains negative and overnight the 1 month GOFO has gone from -0.106% to -0.11167%. Other durations eased marginally. The lack of liquidity in the the interbank London Good Delivery gold market (400 ounce gold bars) has pushed gold forward rates, known as “gofo”, into negative territory, meaning that gold for future delivery is trading at a discount to physical market prices – a rare situation that has occurred only after the Lehman Brothers collapse and near the bottom of the gold market in 1999. The last time forwards were negative was in November 2008, when a scramble for physical gold led a sharp price rally of 46% from $682/oz to over $1,000/oz between October 2008 and February 2009.
Following the 'coup' that led to JPMorgan's Matt Zames running the TBAC (and implicitly the US Treasury and Fed if one were inclined to believe that is where the real smarts are), it seems Goldman Sachs has once again been out-'vampire-squid'-ed as Jacob Frenkel - Chairman of JPMorgan Chase International - is set to take back the reins of the Bank of Israel.