Purchasing Power

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Guest Post: The Global Economy - It's All About Increasing Leverage





If we look at the global economy with unclouded eyes, we reach this conclusion: "This whole thing is about leverage." If leverage doesn't increase, the system implodes. But since collateral is disappearing from the global economy like sand castles in a rising tide, and disposable income has stagnated, there is no foundation for more leverage. As a result, the State/finance cartel has only one choice: increase leverage by whatever means are left. There are only two:

  1. Allow banks to claim phantom assets as capital/reserves
  2. Lower interest rates so stagnant income can leverage ever greater quantities of debt

The State/finance Empire and its army of academic toadies (economists) must cloak this reliance on leverage from the citizenry, lest they grasp the precariousness of the entire financial system. As the economic Establishment is discredited by reality (that their sputtering reflation policies have come at an unbearable cost is now undeniable), their attempts to discredit their critics become increasingly comic: only PhD economists in the employ of the Empire are qualified to comment on the Empire's policies, etc.

 
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Things That Make You Go Hmmm - Such As The Transition From Conspiracy Theory To Conspiracy Fact





Attempts to manipulate free markets invariably end badly - after all, they are, supposedly, by their very nature, free. Over the past few weeks, the exposure of the Libor-rigging scandal has monopolized the headlines of the financial press. The rather obvious implication being that given almost half the reported inputs that help establish the Libor rate are discarded immediately, Barclays simply CANNOT have manipulated the Libor rate alone. Period. At best this is a cartel, at worst it’s outright fraud on a scale that is completely unprecedented. In Grant Williams' humble opinion, the Libor scandal will mark a fundamental change in the treatment of financial conspiracy theories in the media. The sheer amount of coverage it will undoubtedly receive will signal a shift in attitude towards the exposing of such scandals rather than the blind-eyes that have been regularly turned in recent years. Prime amongst conspiracy theories that may soon be finally proven to be either valid or the figments of overactive imaginations, are those alleged in the gold and silver markets. If the long-stated claims about government-sanctioned, bank-led manipulation of precious metals markets are eventually proven to have any validity whatsoever, the fallout from the Libor scandal will prove to be (to use the words of Jamie Dimon) just another “tempest in a tea pot” as the precious metals are the very underpinnings of the entire global financial system.

 
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Thunder Road Report On The Death March: Approaching A New Financial System





If you are reading this, you are probably a member of what the sociologists would term middle class (albeit at the upper end). This is precisely the segment of society which is poised to come off worst from what is coming. Here is a very disturbing idea. As this crisis develops, if you are an equity portfolio manager and you want to outperform the market, you are going to have to position your portfolio so that it benefits most from your own wealth destruction and that  of your family, friends and colleagues. Almost everybody is going to lose and there aren’t many places to hide. This is deeply unpleasant but you can blame the central planners. I’ve written about my own investing, e.g. gold and silver, equities in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, etc. In this Thunder Road Report (below) and going forward, I will discuss this middle class theme and highlight positions I have in individual stocks, etc. The only good thing that can  come out of this is a rise in awareness. It’s just awful.

 
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To Hollande, With Love





The plan to fleece the entire country in order to sustain the survival of an obsolete social welfare system is doomed, yet it may be implemented for a few months. But endeavouring to also fleece our German friends is a dangerous and reckless ambition. Why should they accept to contribute to the financing of a 60 year retirement age in France when they have just raised it domestically to 67? Certainly, Germany would have a lot to lose with the implosion of the euro. But it is politically untenable to demand support for social benefits that the Germans have denied for themselves and unrealistic to imagine they can single-handedly carry the burden of a spendthrift Europe.

 
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Guest Post: Go Figure, The Poorest Place In Europe Is Run By Communists





Ah Moldova… the poorest country in Europe, which just so happens to have had a Communist party majority in its parliament since 1998. These two points are not unrelated. Despite having achieved its independence from the Soviet Union over 20 years ago, the state is still a major part of the Moldovan economy…from setting prices and wages to media, healthcare, agricultural production, air transport, and electricity. Under such management, it’s no wonder, for example, that Moldova has to import 75% of its electricity. It is the exact opposite of self-sustaining. The government does a reasonable job of chasing away foreigners as well. Agriculture is the mainstay of Moldova’s economy… and while on one hand they say “we welcome foreign investment in agriculture,” on the other they say “foreign investors cannot own agricultural property.” It’s genius.

 
Tyler Durden's picture

Guest Post: The Supreme Court And Natural Law





I won a bet today.

A few weeks ago I wagered with a coworker that the United States Supreme Court would uphold the Affordable Care Act otherwise known as Obamacare.  He reasoned that the federal government has no authority under the Constitution to force an individual to purchase a product from a private company.  My reasoning was much simpler.  Because the Supreme Court is a functioning arm of the state, it will do nothing to stunt Leviathan’s growth.  The fact that the Court declared no federal law unconstitutional from 1937 to 1995—from the tail end of the New Deal through Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society—should have been proof enough.  He naively believed in the impartialness of politically-appointed judges.  For the first time he saw that those nine individuals are nothing more than politicians with an allegiance to state supremacy.

It was a tough but valuable lesson to learn.

 
Tyler Durden's picture

As The US CapEx Boom Ends, Is The Fed Now Truly Out Of Ammo?





For the past six months we have extensively discussed the topics of asset depletion, aging and encumbrance in Europe - a theme that has become quite poignant in recent days, culminating with the ECB once again been "forced" to expand the universe of eligible collateral confirming that credible, money-good European assets have all but run out. We have also argued that a key culprit for this asset quality deterioration has been none other than central banks, whose ruinous ZIRP policies have forced companies to hoard cash, but not to reinvest in their businesses and renew their asset bases, in the form of CapEx spending, but merely to have dry powder to hand out as dividends in order to retain shareholders who now demand substantial dividend sweeteners in a time when stocks are the new "fixed income." Yet while historically we have focused on Europe whose plight is more than anything a result of dwindling cash inflows from declining assets even as cash outflow producing liabilities stay the same or increase, the "asset" problem is starting to shift to the US. And as everyone who has taken finance knows, when CapEx goes, revenues promptly follow. Needless to say, at a time when still near record corporate revenues and profit margins are all that is supporting the US stock market from joining its global brethren in tumbling, this will soon be a very popular point of discussion in the mainstream media... in about 3-6 months.

 
Tyler Durden's picture

Europe 1-2-3





There are two significant events that will be decided in the forthcoming days. Each will change the face of the European Union. The first is Greece; a little country with a total debt of $1.3 trillion and likely to default. The calculations in Athens are how to get more money out of Germany and the calculations in Berlin is whether a default is less costly, both politically and economically, than giving Greece more money. Debt forgiveness has never even been mentioned so I think we can rule out this possibility as it would have been floated by the German public for review and reaction. The Troika shows up Monday in Athens, they will find all targets missed, all promises unkempt and all hopes for salvation dashed upon the Greek floor along with the plates. The Greeks will beg and plead and threaten and the Germans will decide. In the end I think Greece will be allowed to stay in the EU to preserve the dream, that they will default, that they will return to the Drachma and that they will receive some kind of debtor in possession financing so that the country does not collapse. That is my best guess. Cheaper tourism and cheaper ships will help with their competiveness but it will be years before Greece is allowed back into the Eurozone as a voting member. The second item on the docket is Spain. They need a total of around $350-400 billion dollars to straighten out their banking system and their regional debt. Money lent to the banks in some fashion, not currently allowable under the various policies but you never know, or money lent to the sovereign to be lent to the banks will be just the first tranche of funding. It will be followed by more money lent to the regions of Spain which may take another novel approach but no matter. Spain is about to be run out of Germany no matter how all of the trivialities play out and so the impositions of the Men in Black are about to be put in place. So long to the importance of Madrid and thanks for all of the entertainment. You have been caught and are about to be hung out to dry and enjoy the ice wine that Germany will provide for your congratulatory dinner. Rajoy was right, a “Great Victory for Europe;” serving ice wine in Madrid.

 
Tyler Durden's picture

Gold As A Store Of Value





For those with doubts after a nine-month correction in gold (and especially over the last few days), Brent Johnson of Santiago Capital reminds us that 'nothing has changed'. Starting from the three propositions that: 1) Money is extremely misunderstood; 2) 'Fiat' money is a poor store of value; and 3) Gold is an excellent store of value, Johnson provides, in a little under 10 minutes, a succinct summary of all the reasons to remain long the shiny yellow stuff. As it reverts to being 'the most marketable commodity' once again, with the 'good-as-gold' USD continuing to lose its purchasing power over time, Johnson provides some thoughts on the periods of deflation and how gold plays into that end-game: "If gold were not a good store of value, why do all the central banks of the world store it and hold on to it - even when crises abound?"

 
Tyler Durden's picture

Guest Post: The Housing Recovery - Based On What?





The real estate industry announces the housing recovery is finally underway every year. 2012 is no different from previous years: various positive data points are duly cherry-picked (multiple offers are back in West Hollywood, sales are up year-over-year in Las Vegas, inventory is down, etc.) to back up the claim the "bottom is in" and the recovery in sales and prices is rock-solid. We understand the industry's extreme self-interest in attempting to re-inflate housing, but let's begin with the obvious question: what's the housing recovery based on? The standard answer is of course "super-low mortgage rates, courtesy of the Federal Reserve."  But people need a sufficient income to qualify to own a house, regardless of rates, so let's look at income by age, and focus on the key homebuying ages of 25 to 44. The only age group whose incomes continued rising during the past five years is the over 65 cohort--the very group who is "downsizing" or selling their homes to live in assisted living. The key homebuying cohorts have seen their incomes plummet since the housing bubble popped.

 
Tyler Durden's picture

Brodsky On "Gold Monetization And The Big Reset"





"The global banking system is functionally insolvent and will fail without exogenous policy action" is how QBAMCO's Paul Brodsky begins his latest treatise noting that asset monetization (and in, particular, gold monetization) would solve many more problems than it would create. The negatives would merely recognize the balance sheet damage already done and beginning to be manifest (first, in the private sector and now, increasingly in the public sector). The global economy is threatened because, in real terms, it continues to misallocate capital and rolling unfunded debts and debating in the political sphere over the merits and risks of unfunded growth or policy-administered national austerity programs is a futile endeavor. The math suggests strongly neither can work. Brodsky is convinced policy-administered asset monetization would stop the global financial system from seizing, restore sorely needed economic balance, and reset commercial incentives so that real growth can once again gain traction.

 
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Initial Claims Beat Expectations, With Prior Revised Higher, As Whopping 105 Thousand Lose Extended Benefits





While it is a number which nobody will care about today, especially if it is better than expected, initial claims printed at 377K on expectations of 378K, the first beat of expectations in 5 weeks. Of course, the claims number next week will be revised to over 380K. Why? Because, as now happens every single week, last week's initial claims number was revised higher from 383K to 389K. As a reminder, last week this number was expected to print at 370K. So only a 19K miss when all is said and done. But at least the mainstream media has its bullish for general consumption headline: "Initial Claims drop by 12,000" even as market participants realize this is still QE-promoting. Continuing claims printed at 3,293K, missing expectations of 3,250K, and down from an upward, of course, revised 3,259K. But the most disturbing observation is that in one week alone, a whopping 104,600 people hit the 99-week cliff, and stopped collecting extended unemployment benefits, the most since December 2011, as those on EUCs dropped by -45,808 while those on Extended benefits dropped by a astounding -58,829. As a reminder, Zero Hedge first noted that shortly 700,000 people will no longer be collecting any unemployment benefits. Here is to hoping those off the dole, are at least collecting disability in the USSA as otherwise these are tens of billions in lost purchasing power.

 
smartknowledgeu's picture

The Criminal Banking Cartel's End Game: A 100% Digital Monetary System





The end game of this global monetary crisis is the imposition of a 100% digital monetary system that would permanently end what little economic freedoms we still retain today. Educate. Resist. Fight Back. Win.

 
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