The saga of an American family centered around Kunta Kinte's roller-coaster life through freedom and slavery made Santiago Capital's Brent Johnson reflect on just how critical 'roots' are in many aspects of our lives. From anthropology and linguistics to the root of law in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, Johnson extends the analogy to precious metal derivatives exchanges rooted in trust and explains that money is not the root of all evil. While his political taunts and Keynesian antagonism is well worth the price of admission, it is the discussion of the 'manipulation and debasement of money' as the root of all evil that is key as the manager explains gold's centuries long avoidance of this Lenin- or Keynes-inspired comprehension of how governments can "confiscate wealth" and by a "process of inflation... can overturn the existing basis of society." Gold provides the roots or solid base on which economies have grown (or individuals stored value) for all of recorded history. His conclusion is key - a tree (currency) with no roots simply cannot stand for long and the market will eventually come to the same conclusion it has for the last 5000 years as the OTC derivative bubble implodes.
Aside from the occasional deranged FX algo which today has decided to take out all its pent up binary anger on the GBPUSD, everything else today is closed. Everything, except, of course, for InTrade which come holiday, rain or apocalypse, is a true OTC market and is open all the time 24/7, non stop. Of particular interest is InTrade's market on "The US debt limit to be raised before midnight ET 31 Dec 2012" which moments ago once again came closer to reflecting reality and not the clueless gibberish of "expert" political pundits, and plunged to a contract low 10.1% probability (and price) which considering the late stage in the game, and that at this point the Fiscal Cliff is beyond any 2012 resolution, let alone the debt ceiling, is 10.1% too high (as forecast here nearly two months ago). And like a true market, one can naked short on InTrade. So for all the habitual gamblers out there just itching for some global futures market to reopen somewhere: have at it (but mind the brief squeeze at the next appearance of the "we have a deal" rumor, only to be refuted by the sad political reality of this country moments later).
There is much debate whether when it comes to the total notional size of outstanding derivatives, it is the gross notional that matters (roughly $600 trillion), or the amount which takes out biletaral netting and other offsetting positions (much lower). We explained previously how gross is irrelevant... until it is, i.e. until there is a breach in the counterparty chain and suddenly all net becomes gross (as in the case of the Lehman bankruptcy), such as during a financial crisis, i.e., the only time when gross derivative exposure becomes material (er, by definition). But a bigger question is what is the actual collateral backing this gargantuan market which is about 10 times greater than the world's combined GDP, because as the "derivative" name implies all this exposure is backed on some dedicated, real assets, somewhere. Luckily, the IMF recently released a discussion note titled "Shadow Banking: Economics and Policy" where quietly hidden in one of the appendices it answers precisely this critical question. The bottom line: $600 trillion in gross notional derivatives backed by a tiny $600 billion in real assets: a whopping 0.1% margin requirement! Surely nothing can possibly go wrong with this amount of unprecedented 1000x systemic leverage.
Why does the Big Media other than WSJ refuse to report on the TAG subsidy grab by the largest banks?
In our first installment of this series we explored the concept of stock to flow in the gold markets being the key driver of supply/demand dynamics, and ultimately its price. Today we are going to explore the paper markets and, importantly, to what degree they distort upwardly the “flow” of the physical gold market. We believe the very existence of paper gold creates the illusion of physical gold flow that does not and physically cannot exist. After all, if flow determines price – and if paper flow simulates physical metal movement to a degree much larger than is possible – doesn’t it then suggest that paper flow creates an artificially low price?
Leveraged systems are based on confidence – confidence in efficient exchanges, confidence in reputable counterparties, and confidence in the rule of law. As we have learned (or should have learned) with the failures of Long Term Capital Management, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Fannie & Freddie, and MF Global – the unwind from a highly leveraged system can be sudden and chaotic. These systems function…until they don’t. CDOs were AAA... until they weren’t. Paper Gold is just like allocated, unambiguously owned physical bullion... until it’s not.
If you want further evidence that the financial elites are already preparing for a default from Spain and a collateral crunch, you should consider that the large clearing houses (ICE, CEM and LCH which oversee the trading of the $700+ trillion derivatives market) have ALL begun accepting Gold as collateral.
You've probably noticed the cookie-cutter format of most financial media "news": a few key "buzz words" (fiscal cliff, Bush tax cuts, etc.) are inserted into conventional contexts, and this is passed off as either "reporting" or "commentary" depending on the number of pundits sourced. Correspondent Frank M. kindly passed along a template that is "officially deny its existence" secret within the mainstream media. With this template, you could launch your own financial media channel, ready to compete with the big boys. Heck, you could hire some cheap overseas labor to make a few Skype calls to "the usual suspects," for-hire academics, hedge fund gurus, etc. and actually attribute the fluff to a real person.
Earlier today, the BIS, which has been doing everything in its power today to defend the 1.27 support in the EURUSD since the market open this morning, released its H1 OTC derivatives presentation update. There was little of material note: total OTC derivatives were virtually unchanged at $639 trillion gross, representing $25 trillion in net outstanding (market value), and $3.7 trillion in gross credit exposure. Here the PhD theorists will say gross is irrelevant because Finance 101 said so, while the market practitioners will point to Lehman, counterparty risk, and less than infinite collateral to fund sudden implosions of weakest links in counterparty chains, and say that it is gross (which until a recent revision of BIS data had been documented at over $1 quadrillion) that mattered, gross which matters, and gross which will always matter until finally everything inevitably collapses in a house of missing deliverable cards. Because not even the most generous sovereigns and central banks can halt the Tsunami once there is a failure of a major OTC Interest Rate swap counterparty. And whereas Basel III had some hopes it would be able to bring down the total notional in derivative notionals slowly over the next few years with a gradual deleveraging across all financial firms, the bankers fought, and the bankers won, because the last thing the current batch of TBTFs can afford it admit there is any hope they can ever slim down. The will... but never voluntarily.
A week ago we explained how, after completely destroying the equity and commodity space, and make serious inroads into bond trading (and soon very likely into OTC interest rate derivatives, where a flash crash will literally be the end), HFT algos had taken over FX trading to the point where they have now been caught manipulating the market using Reuters' FX trading platform. Now we get prima facie evidence of just how this destruction is manifesting itself. According to Reuters, which has compiled the data on its own FX dealing platforms, "daily spot foreign exchange trading volumes... fell by 23 percent in October from a year earlier. The average daily volume traded in October was $120 billion, down from $155 billion in October 2011 and a decrease from the $133 billion recorded in September." As to the reasons: they should be quite obvious. On one hand, we have the old tried and true vacuum tubes, and Reuters reports that the decline was to a major extent driven by "frustration with high-speed computer algorithms operating on the major dealing platforms." In other words, as more and more FX trading is merely robots competing with other robots to outarb each other on press releases, in the process completely crushing retail traders, and generating outsized kneejerk reactions to the tiniest of signals, any humans left are quietly shutting down their terminals and turning off the lights.
Dear Valued Client,
As per Knight’s request below, please route away from Knight. If a client routes an order to Knight, the order will be rejected by our system. Information on existing orders will still flow back from Knight.
While the recent revelations of multi-year LIBOR manipulation (but, but how was that possible: it involved thousands of people, operating for years, manipulating numbers - all the traditional reasons presented against conspiracy theory crackpots alleging that manipulation may be going on here, or there, or at the BLS, or somewhere), which we had said had been happening for the past 3 years, confirmed that the entire rate-based derivative market was a giant scam, at least one market spared from cartel whistleblower, i.e., insider, humiliation, was the commodities market. No longer. As the FT first reported, a Swiss trading office of Total Oil Trading sent a response letter to IOSCO (the International Organization of Securities Commissions), alleging that the same kinds of market "pricing" shennanigans that have been now exposed to have taken place over bottles of Bollinger, may have been pervasive in the crude market as well.
We all know shorting volatility is dangerous. We learned our lessons from the financial crisis. We all meticulously read “The Black Swan” and then watched the scary movie adaption of the book starring Natalie Portman. We all know that this method produces a steady stream of smooth returns making people think you are a genius until the inevitable disaster forces you to pawn off your Nobel Prize. We all know that shorting volatility will cause you to go insane with a twisted psycho-sexual obsession to master the art of ballet. It’s picking up pennies in front of a convexity steamroller. Knowing these facts we would like to pose a question...Which is riskier right now? Shorting a collateralized far out-of-the-money S&P 500 index put or buying a “risk-free” US treasury bond? Hint: Now the market for safety has an efficient frontier on par with the penny in front of the steamroller trade? If you don’t find that scary then you’re not paying attention.
When first the speculation and subsequently the confirmation that in addition to suffering massive losses on its IG-9 position, JPM had engaged in massive, reckless and criminal CDS mismarking with the intent to defraud and to boost the appearance of profit for selfish reasons, we promptly concluded that "Jamie Dimon's "tempest in a teapot" just became a fully-formed, perfect storm which suddenly threatens his very position, and could potentially lead to billions more in losses for his firm." So far, the regulators which are currently on page two of "CDS for Absolutely Corrupt Criminal Morons", are only slowly catching up. And while the stench will eventually lead to Jamie, as what happened in the over the counter, unregulated CDS market has most certainly happened at the tens of trillions in other OTC products traded by JPM, most of which are IR swaps, tying it all back nicely to the Libor scandal of which JPM is also a part, the first person who will certainly experience some major pain as the JPM scapegoating plays out, is none other than the London Whale himself Bruno Iksil, who was loved by all at JPM when he was making money, and is now being hung out to dry, once the bank is in the prosecution's cross hairs.
Gold’s remonetisation in the international financial and monetary system continues. LCH.Clearnet, the world's leading independent clearing house, said yesterday that it will accept gold as collateral for margin cover purposes starting in just one week - next Tuesday August 28th. LCH.Clearnet is a clearing house for major international exchanges and platforms, as well as a range of OTC markets. As recently as 9 months ago, figures showed that they clear approximately 50% of the $348 trillion global interest rate swap market and are the second largest clearer of bonds and repos in the world. In addition, they clear a broad range of asset classes including commodities, securities, exchange traded derivatives, CDS, energy and freight. The development follows the same significant policy change from CME Clearing Europe, the London-based clearinghouse of CME Group Inc. (CME), announced last Friday that it planned to accept gold bullion as collateral for margin requirements on over-the-counter commodities derivatives. It is interesting that both CME and now LCH.Clearnet Group have both decided to allow use of gold as collateral next Tuesday - August 28th. It suggests that there were high level discussions between the world’s leading clearing houses and they both decided to enact the measures next Tuesday. It is likely that they are concerned about ‘event’ risk, systemic and monetary risk and about a Lehman Brothers style crisis enveloping the massive, opaque and unregulated shadow banking system.
Whether it is because the CME just did it; or it's all their clients have left; or Gold volatility is lower than EURUSD volatility (9.0% vs 9.6% in last 3 weeks); or they see the painting on the wall of Draghi's grand-plans, the LCH-Clearnet just announced that as of August 28th, unallocated gold will be accepted as collateral for margin cover purposes. This now means all the major exchanges accept worthless barbarous relics as collateral - as well as worthless fiat paper 'money'.