March 3, 2015

Stock Market Bubble: Wall Street Is Ecstatic As The NASDAQ Closes Above 5000

Are we at the tail end of the stock market bubble to end all stock market bubbles?  Wall Street was full of glee Monday when the Nasdaq closed above 5000 for the first time since the peak of the dotcom bubble in March 2000.  And almost everyone in the financial world seems convinced that things are somehow “different” this time around.  Even though by almost every objective measure stocks are wildly overpriced right now, and even though there are a whole host of signs that economic trouble is on the horizon, the overwhelming consensus is that this bull market is just going to keep charging ahead.  But of course that is what they thought just before the last two stock market crashes in 2001 and 2008 as well.  No matter how many times history repeats, we never seem to learn from it.

Back in October 2002, the Nasdaq hit a post-dotcom bubble low of 1108.  From there, it went on an impressive run.  In late 2007, it briefly moved above 2800 before losing more than half of its value during the stock market crash of 2008.

So the fact that the Nasdaq has now closed above 5000 is a really big deal.  The following is how USA Today described what happened on Monday…
The Nasdaq Composite capped its long march back to 5000 Monday, eclipsing, then closing above the long-hallowed mark for the first time since March 2000.
The arduous climb came on the heels of a 10-day winning streak that ended last week, Nasdaq’s longest since July 2009. That helped fuel the technology-heavy market index to a 7% gain in February, the sixth-largest monthly climb since its 1971 launch.
The chart below shows how the Nasdaq has performed over the past decade.  As you can see, we are coming dangerously close to doubling the peak that was hit just before the last stock market collapse…

NASDAQ since 2005

By looking at that chart, you would be tempted to think that the overall U.S. economy must be doing great.

But of course that is not the case at all.

For example, just take a look at what has happened to the employment-population ratio over the past decade.  The percentage of the working age U.S. population that is currently employed is actually far lower than it used to be…

Employment Population Ratio Since 2005


So why is the stock market doing so well if the overall economy is not?

Well, the truth is that stocks have become completely divorced from economic reality at this point.  Wall Street has been transformed into a giant casino, and trading stocks has been transformed into a high stakes poker game.

And one of the ways that we can tell that a stock market bubble has formed is when people start borrowing massive amounts of money to invest in stocks.  As you can see from the commentary and chart from Doug Short below, margin debt is peaking again just like it did just prior to the last two stock market crashes…
Unfortunately, the NYSE margin debt data is a month old when it is published. Real (inflation-adjusted) debt hit its all-time high in February 2014, after which it margin declined sharply for two months, but by June it had risen to a level about two percent below its high and then oscillated in a relatively narrow range. The latest data point for January is four percent off its real high eleven month ago.
Margin Debt - Doug Short
So why can’t more people see this?

We are in the midst of a monumental stock market bubble and most on Wall Street seem willingly blind to it.

Fortunately, there are a few sober voices in the crowd.  One of them is John Hussman.  He is warning that now is the time to get out of stocks
Unless we observe a rather swift improvement in market internals and a further, material easing in credit spreads – neither which would relieve the present overvaluation of the market, but both which would defer our immediate concerns about downside risk – the present moment likely represents the best opportunity to reduce exposure to stock market risk that investors are likely to encounter in the coming 8 years. 
Last week, the cyclically-adjusted P/E of the S&P 500 Index surpassed 27, versus a historical norm of just 15 prior to the late-1990’s market bubble. The S&P 500 price/revenue ratio surpassed 1.8, versus a pre-bubble norm of just 0.8. On a wide range of historically reliable measures (having a nearly 90% correlation with actual subsequent S&P 500 total returns), we estimate current valuations to be fully 118% above levels associated with historically normal subsequent returns in stocks. Advisory bullishness (Investors Intelligence) shot to 59.5%, compared with only 14.1% bears – one of the most lopsided sentiment extremes on record. The S&P 500 registered a record high after an advancing half-cycle since 2009 that is historically long-in-the-tooth and already exceeds the valuation peaks set at every cyclical extreme in history but 2000 on the S&P 500 (across all stocks, current median price/earnings, price/revenue and enterprise value/EBITDA multiples already exceed the 2000 extreme). Equally important, our measures of market internals and credit spreads, despite moderate improvement in recent weeks, continue to suggest a shift toward risk-aversion among investors. An environment of compressed risk premiums coupled with increasing risk-aversion is without question the most hostile set of features one can identify in the historical record.
Everyone knows that the stock market cannot stay detached from economic reality forever.

At some point the bubble is going to burst.

If you want to know what the real economy is like, just ask Alison Norris of Detroit, Michigan
When Alison Norris couldn’t find work in Detroit, she searched past city limits, ending up with a part-time restaurant job 20 miles away, which takes at least two hours to get to using public transportation. 
Norris has to take two buses to her job at a suburban mall in Troy, Michigan, using separate city and suburban bus systems. 
For many city residents with limited skills and education, Detroit is an employment desert, having lost tens of thousands of blue-collar jobs in manufacturing cutbacks and service jobs as the population dwindled.
Sadly, her story is not an anomaly.  I get emails from readers all the time that are out of work and just can’t seem to find a decent job no matter how hard they try.

It would be one thing if the stock market was soaring because the U.S. economy was thriving.

But we all know that is not true.

So that means the current stock market mania that we are witnessing is artificial.

How long will it last?

Source

March 2, 2015

Are Central Banks Creating Deflation?

Last week we noted that with the start of Q€ just around the corner, the ECB finds itself in a rather absurd situation. In what we called the ultimate easy money paradox (or, alternatively, the ultimate Keynesian boondoggle), Mario Draghi and crew are doomed to trip over their own policies as they (literally) attempt to monetize twice the net supply of eurozone fixed income this year. 

The problem is two-fold: 1) the central bank’s adventures in NIRP-dom mean anyone willing to sell their EGBs would face the truly silly prospect of sending the proceeds right back where they came from, except at a cost of 20 bps (negative deposit facility rate), and 2) because the central bank’s easy money policies have compressed credit spreads, sellers who wanted to reinvest the cash they would theoretically receive for their EGBs would have to do so at ridiculously low rates, a scenario that would compound QE’s already negative effect on NIM for banks and would be absolutely untenable for insurers. So what we have “is one deflation-fighting policy stymying another [and] the central bank’s previous efforts to drive down rates thwarting its current plans to … drive down rates.” 

Now, courtesy of Citi’s Matt King, it’s our distinct pleasure to present yet another wonderfully ridiculous paradox inadvertently created by central banks who apparently aren’t capable of understanding when they’re just pushing on a string: manufactured deflation or, more poignantly, just what the doctor did not order. Here’s Citi: 
It’s that linkage between investment (or the lack of it) and all the stimulus which we find so disturbing. If the first $5tn of global QE, which saw corporate bond yields in both $ and € fall to all-time lows, didn’t prompt a wave of investment, what do we think a sixth trillion is going to do?

Another client put it more strongly still. “By lowering the cost of borrowing, QE has lowered the risk of default. This has led to overcapacity (see highly leveraged shale companies). Overcapacity leads to deflation. With QE, are central banks manufacturing what they are trying to defeat?”
Ultimately, the question is whether the ceaseless printing of money is actually creating any demand, and for King, the answer is pretty clearly “no”: 
QE, and stimulus generally, is supposed to create new demand, improving capacity utilization, not reducing it. But ... it feels ever more as though central bank easing is just shifting demand from one place to another, not augmenting it. 
This point is nicely illustrated by Citi in the following two charts (from a previous note) showing the evolution of inflation expectations over the last several years: 


And so, stuck as we are in what looks like a chronic condition of oversupply and as it increasingly appears, in King’s words, that “the decoupling between EM GDP growth and global trade growth over the past decade [now looks] less like a benign shift away from exports to domestic consumption, and more like a world where GDP was temporarily boosted by a surge in credit, where suppliers ramped up capacity in anticipation of 10% nominal EM/Chinese demand growth continuing indefinitely, but where the limits of such credit-fuelled demand are suddenly being exposed,” more QE simply won’t move inflation expectations and certainly can’t do much to further stimulate aggregate demand (assuming it’s done anything in that regard thus far).

In other words, we’ve reached the limit of what can be accomplished and with NIRP creating new market perversions on an almost daily basis, the unintended consequences of continuing to delve deeper into the new paranormal are making the game ever more dangerous as we now have central banks accidentally creating deflation while simultaneously embedding enormous amounts of risk in fixed income markets by sapping every last vestige of liquidity.

Soon enough, expect the rest of the world’s central banks to one by one meet their own Waterloos just as the SNB did in January. In fact, the ECB is on its way there now as it appears everyone is coming to realize that Q€ simply cannot work as designed. On that note, we’ll give the last (rather depressing) word to King: 
By definition, races to the bottom are not very positive affairs. And as the sell-off in commodities shows, at some point they can lead to casualties. But the lower yields go, the longer even previously unsustainable debt burdens can be sustained – just look at Japan. Competitive easing may do little to improve long-term growth prospects, but it should make the hunt for yield more powerful still. Even if QE does prove deflationary, until we start running into actual defaults, it is hard to see what stops this.
Source

February 27, 2015

Greenspan: "The Stock Market Is Great", But The Economy Feels Like In "The Late Stages Of The Great Depression"

While conflicting economic data leaves hope for both buills and bears, Alan Greenspan warns that, unlike Yellen, "US economic growth is not strong." He then slays another pillar - suggesting the exuberant job growth is anything but (as he focuses on weak productivity as he pinpoints entitlements as "crowding out capital investment" in America. The maestro then breaks the golden rule of central bankers and explains how The Fed was, in fact, the main driver of the P/E multiple expansion in stocks; and when asked if this ends as badly as last time? He concludes "It depends...When real interest rates start to move up, that's when the crisis could hit." The interview is somewhat stunning in its honesty (for a central banker) as he warns global "effective demand is extraordinarily weak - tantamount to the late stages of the great depression."
Some other excerpts...
"Lower long-term rates is not a conundrum, its an indication of how weak global economic growth is."

"effective demand is extraordinarily weak - tantamount to the late stages of the great depression."

"Monetary policy is not responsible for economic weakness - it's a fiscal issue."

The Fed is responsible for the inflation of the stock market

"Almost all the problems are due to a lack of long-term capital investment" - reflecting perfectly on our detailed explanations of company's preference for shareholder enhancement through buybacks rather than investing in the corporate growth of the economy... "nobody wants to invest in the long-term because nobody knows what is going to happen."
Greenspan...



And finally:
"Stock market is great - the economy is not."
You are right Alan...

February 26, 2015

Is This The Most Important Chart For The Future Of The World's Reserve Currency?

When it comes to the future of the dollar status as the world's reserve currency, the most important chart may be the fact that the US is now so woefully buried in debt that another global military conflict appears inevitable...



... or that it now takes virtually unlimited monetization of the debt shown above to preserve the illusion that the US is not bankrupt, pushing the S&P to record highs in the process...



... or that the marginal impact of every additional dollar in new debt generates increasingly less economic growth?



Indeed, the "most important chart" may very well be any of the above, but in our view the one chart which, both literally and metaphorically, will determine how much longer the USD will reign as the world's reserve, is the following.



Source

February 25, 2015

Janet Yellen Is Freaking Out About ‘Audit The Fed’ – Here Are 100 Reasons Why She Should Be

Janet Yellen is very alarmed that some members of Congress want to conduct a comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve for the first time since it was created.  If the Fed is doing everything correctly, why should Yellen be alarmed?  What does she have to hide?  During testimony before Congress on Tuesday, she made “central bank independence” sound like it was the holy grail.  Even though every other government function is debated politically in this country, Yellen insists that what the Federal Reserve does is “too important” to be influenced by the American people.  Does any other government agency ever dare to make that claim?  But of course the Federal Reserve is not a government agency.  It is a private banking cartel that has far more power over our money and our economy than anyone else does.  And later on in this article I am going to share with you dozens of reasons why Congress should shut it down.

The immense power wielded by the Federal Reserve is clearly demonstrated whenever Janet Yellen speaks publicly.  On Tuesday, her comments about interest rates sent stocks to brand new record highs
Yellen, in her semi-annual testimony before the Senate banking committee, used a word familiar to investors when she reiterated that the central bank will be “patient” on raising interest rates for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis. Traders took that as a sign that interest rates would remain unchanged until autumn. 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 92.35 points (0.5%) to 18,209.19, while the Standard & Poors 500 gained 5.82 points (0.3%) to 2,115.48, both eclipsing Friday’s record closes.
But Yellen was also unusually defensive on Tuesday.  The “Audit the Fed” bill that is being sponsored by Rand Paul (among others) has her really freaked out.  The following comes from the Hill
Appearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Yellen was on the defensive, as Republicans questioned how the Fed conducts monetary policy and Democrats put forward ideas for getting tougher on Wall Street. 
In the midst of all of it, Yellen generally argued the Fed was designed as an independent entity for a reason — and it would be best not to change it. 
“Central bank independence in conducting monetary policy is considered a best practice for central banks around the world,” she said. “Academic studies, I think, establish beyond the shadow of a doubt that independent central banks perform better.”
In fact, she went so far as to mention the “Audit the Fed” bill by name
A GOP-controlled Congress has given the bill its best chances yet of passage, and that renewed interest led Yellen to deliver her most spirited opposition yet. 
“I want to be completely clear,” she said. “I strongly oppose Audit the Fed.”
Yellen argued the audit measure would allow politicians to second-guess the Fed’s decisions, which, in turn, would weaken the central bank. And the ultimate victim of that process, she said, would be the U.S. economy.
So what is she so concerned about?

We are all accountable to someone.

What is so wrong about the Federal Reserve being accountable to Congress?

Why can’t we find out what is really going on inside the Fed?

And of course it isn’t just Yellen that is freaking out.  Just consider these comments from Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas…
“It is always politically convenient to make something sound mysterious, if not malevolent, by claiming it is opaque,” Fisher said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York that is part of an effort by Fed officials to fight the legislation. 
“My suspicion is that many of those in Congress calling for ‘auditing’ the Fed are really sheep in wolves’ clothing,” he said. “Having proven themselves unable to cobble together with colleagues a working fiscal policy or to construct a regulatory regime that incentivizes rather than discourages investment and job creation — in other words, failed at their own job — they simply find it convenient to create a bogeyman out of an entity that does its job efficiently.”
Obviously this is a very, very touchy subject over at the Fed.

It is quite clear that they do not want the rest of us to be able to see what they are really up to.
And the truth is that if the American people really did know how the Federal Reserve works and what it has been doing behind closed doors, most Americans would want it shut down tomorrow.

At the end of the day, the reality of the matter is that we don’t even need a Federal Reserve.  I really like how David Stockman made this point the other day…
At the end of the day, American capitalism does not need recycled political hacks like Jerome H. Powell or clueless school marms like Janet Yellen to thrive. If we need a Fed at all, it is the one designed by Carter Glass 100 years ago. That is, a “bankers bank” that was intended to provide standby liquidity at a penalty spread above the free market interest rate in consideration for good collateral originating from inventory and receivables in the real economy. 
Under that arrangement, there would be no monetary central planning or pointless attempts to manage the level of GDP, the number of new jobs, the rate of housing starts, the fluctuations of the CPI or the amplitudes of the business cycle. There would also be no pegging of the money market rate, no helping hand for Wall Street gamblers, no cheap debt to enable profligate politicians to kick-the-can down the road indefinitely. 
In short, what the nation really needs is not an “independent” Fed, but one that is shackled to a narrow and market-driven liquidity function. The rest of its current remit is nothing more than the self-serving aggrandizement of the apparatchiks who run it; and who have now managed to turn the nation’s vital money and capital markets into dangerous, unstable casinos, and the nations savers into indentured servants of a bloated and wasteful banking system.
The Federal Reserve has been around for just over a hundred years, and it has done an absolutely abysmal job for the American people.

I want to share with you some facts and figures that I have shared before, but they bear repeating.  Please share this list of 100 reasons why the Federal Reserve should be shut down with everyone that you know…

#1 We like to think that we have a government “of the people, by the people, for the people”, but the truth is that an unelected, unaccountable group of central planners has far more power over our economy than anyone else in our society does.
#2 The Federal Reserve is actually “independent” of the government.  In fact, the Federal Reserve has argued vehemently in federal court that it is “not an agency” of the federal government and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
#3 The Federal Reserve openly admits that the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks are organized “much like private corporations“.
#4 The regional Federal Reserve banks issue shares of stock to the “member banks” that own them.
#5 100% of the shareholders of the Federal Reserve are private banks.  The U.S. government owns zero shares.
#6 The Federal Reserve is not an agency of the federal government, but it has been given power to regulate our banks and financial institutions.  This should not be happening.
#7 According to Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Congress is the one that is supposed to have the authority to “coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures”.  So why is the Federal Reserve doing it?
#8 If you look at a “U.S. dollar”, it actually says “Federal Reserve note” at the top.  In the financial world, a “note” is an instrument of debt.
#9 In 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11110 which authorized the U.S. Treasury to issue “United States notes” which were created by the U.S. government directly and not by the Federal Reserve.  He was assassinated shortly thereafter.
#10 Many of the debt-free United States notes issued under President Kennedy are still in circulation today.
#11 The Federal Reserve determines what levels some of the most important interest rates in our system are going to be set at.  In a free market system, the free market would determine those interest rates.
#12 The Federal Reserve has become so powerful that it is now known as “the fourth branch of government“.
#13 The greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was when there was no central bank.
#14 The Federal Reserve was designed to be a perpetual debt machine.  The bankers that designed it intended to trap the U.S. government in a perpetual debt spiral from which it could never possibly escape.  Since the Federal Reserve was established 100 years ago, the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.
#15 A permanent federal income tax was established the exact same year that the Federal Reserve was created.  This was not a coincidence.  In order to pay for all of the government debt that the Federal Reserve would create, a federal income tax was necessary.  The whole idea was to transfer wealth from our pockets to the federal government and from the federal government to the bankers.
#16 The period prior to 1913 (when there was no income tax) was the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history.
#17 Today, the U.S. tax code is about 13 miles long.
#18 From the time that the Federal Reserve was created until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 98 percent of its value.
#19 From the time that President Nixon took us off the gold standard until now, the U.S. dollar has lost 83 percent of its value.
#20 During the 100 years before the Federal Reserve was created, the U.S. economy rarely had any problems with inflation.  But since the Federal Reserve was established, the U.S. economy has experienced constant and never ending inflation.
#21 In the century before the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation was about half a percent.  In the century since the Federal Reserve was created, the average annual rate of inflation has been about 3.5 percent.
#22 The Federal Reserve has stripped the middle class of trillions of dollars of wealth through the hidden tax of inflation.
#23 The size of M1 has nearly doubled since 2008 thanks to the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.
#24 The Federal Reserve has been starting to behave like the Weimar Republic, and we all remember how that ended.
#25 The Federal Reserve has been consistently lying to us about the level of inflation in our economy.  If the inflation rate was still calculated the same way that it was back when Jimmy Carter was president, the official rate of inflation would be somewhere between 8 and 10 percent today.
#26 Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 distinct recessions or depressions: 1918, 1920, 1923, 1926, 1929, 1937, 1945, 1949, 1953, 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008.
#27 Within 20 years of the creation of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. economy was plunged into the Great Depression.
#28 The Federal Reserve created the conditions that caused the stock market crash of 1929, and even Ben Bernanke admits that the response by the Fed to that crisis made the Great Depression even worse than it should have been.
#29 The “easy money” policies of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan set the stage for the great financial crisis of 2008.
#30 Without the Federal Reserve, the “subprime mortgage meltdown” would probably never have happened.
#31 If you can believe it, there have been 10 different economic recessions since 1950.  The Federal Reserve created the “dotcom bubble”, the Federal Reserve created the “housing bubble” and now it has created the largest bond bubble in the history of the planet.
#32 According to an official government report, the Federal Reserve made 16.1 trillion dollars in secret loans to the big banks during the last financial crisis.  The following is a list of loan recipients that was taken directly from page 131 of the report…

Citigroup – $2.513 trillion
Morgan Stanley – $2.041 trillion
Merrill Lynch – $1.949 trillion
Bank of America – $1.344 trillion
Barclays PLC – $868 billion
Bear Sterns – $853 billion
Goldman Sachs – $814 billion
Royal Bank of Scotland – $541 billion
JP Morgan Chase – $391 billion
Deutsche Bank – $354 billion
UBS – $287 billion
Credit Suisse – $262 billion
Lehman Brothers – $183 billion
Bank of Scotland – $181 billion
BNP Paribas – $175 billion
Wells Fargo – $159 billion
Dexia – $159 billion
Wachovia – $142 billion
Dresdner Bank – $135 billion
Societe Generale – $124 billion
“All Other Borrowers” – $2.639 trillion

#33 The Federal Reserve also paid those big banks $659.4 million in “fees” to help “administer” those secret loans.
#34 During the last financial crisis, big European banks were allowed to borrow an “unlimited” amount of money from the Federal Reserve at ultra-low interest rates.
#35 The “easy money” policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have created the largest financial bubble this nation has ever seen, and this has set the stage for the great financial crisis that we are rapidly approaching.
#36 Since late 2008, the size of the Federal Reserve balance sheet has grown from less than a trillion dollars to more than 4 trillion dollars.  This is complete and utter insanity.
#37 During the quantitative easing era, the value of the financial securities that the Fed has accumulated is greater than the total amount of publicly held debt that the U.S. government accumulated from the presidency of George Washington through the end of the presidency of Bill Clinton.
#38 Overall, the Federal Reserve now holds more than 32 percent of all 10 year equivalents.
#39 Quantitative easing creates financial bubbles, and when quantitative easing ends those bubbles tend to deflate rapidly.
#40 Most of the new money created by quantitative easing has ended up in the hands of the very wealthy.
#41 According to a prominent Federal Reserve insider, quantitative easing has been one giant “subsidy” for Wall Street banks.
#42 As one CNBC article stated, we are seeing absolutely rampant inflation in “stocks and bonds and art and Ferraris“.
#43 Donald Trump once made the following statement about quantitative easing: “People like me will benefit from this.
#44 Most people have never heard about this, but a very interesting study conducted for the Bank of England shows that quantitative easing actually increases the gap between the wealthy and the poor.
#45 The gap between the top one percent and the rest of the country is now the greatest that it has been since the 1920s.
#46 The mainstream media has sold quantitative easing to the American public as an “economic stimulus program”, but the truth is that the percentage of Americans that have a job has actually gone down since quantitative easing first began.
#47 The Federal Reserve is supposed to be able to guide the nation toward “full employment”, but the reality of the matter is that an all-time record 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now.  That number has risen by about 27 million since the year 2000.
#48 For years, the projections of economic growth by the Federal Reserve have consistently overstated the strength of the U.S. economy.  But every single time, the mainstream media continues to report that these numbers are “reliable” even though all they actually represent is wishful thinking.
#49 The Federal Reserve system fuels the growth of government, and the growth of government fuels the growth of the Federal Reserve system.  Since 1970, federal spending has grown nearly 12 times as rapidly as median household income has.
#50 The Federal Reserve is supposed to look out for the health of all U.S. banks, but the truth is that they only seem to be concerned about the big ones.  In 1985, there were more than 18,000 banks in the United States.  Today, there are only 6,891 left.
#51 The six largest banks in the United States (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) have collectively gotten 37 percent larger over the past five years.
#52 The U.S. banking system has 14.4 trillion dollars in total assets.  The six largest banks now account for 67 percent of those assets and all of the other banks account for only 33 percent of those assets.
#53 The five largest banks now account for 42 percent of all loans in the United States.
#54 We were told that the purpose of quantitative easing is to help “stimulate the economy”, but today the Federal Reserve is actually paying the big banks not to lend out 1.8 trillion dollars in “excess reserves” that they have parked at the Fed.
#55 The Federal Reserve has allowed an absolutely gigantic derivatives bubble to inflate which could destroy our financial system at any moment.  Right now, four of the “too big to fail” banks each have total exposure to derivatives that is well in excess of 40 trillion dollars.
#56 The total exposure that Goldman Sachs has to derivatives contracts is more than 381 times greater than their total assets.
#57 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has a track record of failure that would make the Chicago Cubs look good.
#58 The secret November 1910 gathering at Jekyll Island, Georgia during which the plan for the Federal Reserve was hatched was attended by U.S. Senator Nelson W. Aldrich, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Department A.P. Andrews and a whole host of representatives from the upper crust of the Wall Street banking establishment.
#59 The Federal Reserve was created by the big Wall Street banks and for the benefit of the big Wall Street banks.
#60 In 1913, Congress was promised that if the Federal Reserve Act was passed that it would eliminate the business cycle.
#61 There has never been a true comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve since it was created back in 1913.
#62 The Federal Reserve system has been described as “the biggest Ponzi scheme in the history of the world“.
#63 The following comes directly from the Fed’s official mission statement: “To provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.”  Without a doubt, the Federal Reserve has failed in those tasks dramatically.
#64 The Fed decides what the target rate of inflation should be, what the target rate of unemployment should be and what the size of the money supply is going to be.  This is quite similar to the “central planning” that goes on in communist nations, but very few people in our government seem upset by this.
#65 A couple of years ago, Federal Reserve officials walked into one bank in Oklahoma and demanded that they take down all the Bible verses and all the Christmas buttons that the bank had been displaying.
#66 The Federal Reserve has taken some other very frightening steps in recent years.  For example, back in 2011 the Federal Reserve announced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs.  Someone at the Fed will almost certainly end up reading this article.
#67 Thanks to this endless debt spiral that we are trapped in, a massive amount of money is transferred out of our pockets and into the pockets of the ultra-wealthy each year.  Incredibly, the U.S. government spent more than 415 billion dollars just on interest on the national debt in 2013.
#68 In January 2000, the average rate of interest on the government’s marketable debt was 6.620 percent.  If we got back to that level today, we would be paying more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt and it would collapse our entire financial system.
#69 The American people are being killed by compound interest but most of them don’t even understand what it is.  Albert Einstein once made the following statement about compound interest…
Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.”
#70 Most Americans have absolutely no idea where money comes from.  The truth is that the Federal Reserve just creates it out of thin air.  The following is how I have previously described how money is normally created by the Fed in our system…
When the U.S. government decides that it wants to spend another billion dollars that it does not have, it does not print up a billion dollars. 
Rather, the U.S. government creates a bunch of U.S. Treasury bonds (debt) and takes them over to the Federal Reserve. 
The Federal Reserve creates a billion dollars out of thin air and exchanges them for the U.S. Treasury bonds.
#71 What does the Federal Reserve do with those U.S. Treasury bonds?  They end up getting auctioned off to the highest bidder.  But this entire process actually creates more debt than it does money…
The U.S. Treasury bonds that the Federal Reserve receives in exchange for the money it has created out of nothing are auctioned off through the Federal Reserve system.
But wait. 
There is a problem. 
Because the U.S. government must pay interest on the Treasury bonds, the amount of debt that has been created by this transaction is greater than the amount of money that has been created. 
So where will the U.S. government get the money to pay that debt? 
Well, the theory is that we can get money to circulate through the economy really, really fast and tax it at a high enough rate that the government will be able to collect enough taxes to pay the debt. 
But that never actually happens, does it? 
And the creators of the Federal Reserve understood this as well.  They understood that the U.S. government would not have enough money to both run the government and service the national debt.  They knew that the U.S. government would have to keep borrowing even more money in an attempt to keep up with the game.
#72 Of course the U.S. government could actually create money and spend it directly into the economy without the Federal Reserve being involved at all.  But then we wouldn’t be 17 trillion dollars in debt and that wouldn’t serve the interests of the bankers at all.
#73 The following is what Thomas Edison once had to say about our absolutely insane debt-based financial system…
That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt. 
Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost. 
But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good.
#74 The United States now has the largest national debt in the history of the world, and we are stealing roughly 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day in a desperate attempt to keep the debt spiral going.
#75 Thomas Jefferson once stated that if he could add just one more amendment to the U.S. Constitution it would be a ban on all government borrowing
I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.
#76 At this moment, the U.S. national debt is sitting at $18,141,409,083,212.36.  If we had followed the advice of Thomas Jefferson, it would be sitting at zero.
#77 When the Federal Reserve was first established, the U.S. national debt was sitting at about 2.9 billion dollars.  On average, we have been adding more than that to the national debt every single day since Obama has been in the White House.
#78 We are on pace to accumulate more new debt under the 8 years of the Obama administration than we did under all of the other presidents in all of U.S. history combined.
#79 If all of the new debt that has been accumulated since John Boehner became Speaker of the House had been given directly to the American people instead, every household in America would have been able to buy a new truck.
#80 Between 2008 and 2012, U.S. government debt grew by 60.7 percent, but U.S. GDP only grew by a total of about 8.5 percent during that entire time period.
#81 Since 2007, the U.S. debt to GDP ratio has increased from 66.6 percent to 101.6 percent.
#82 According to the U.S. Treasury, foreigners hold approximately 5.6 trillion dollars of our debt.
#83 The amount of U.S. government debt held by foreigners is about 5 times larger than it was just a decade ago.
#84 As I have written about previously, if the U.S. national debt was reduced to a stack of one dollar bills it would circle the earth at the equator 45 times.
#85 If Bill Gates gave every single penny of his entire fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days.
#86 Sometimes we forget just how much money a trillion dollars is.  If you were alive when Jesus Christ was born and you spent one million dollars every single day since that point, you still would not have spent one trillion dollars by now.
#87 If right this moment you went out and started spending one dollar every single second, it would take you more than 31,000 years to spend one trillion dollars.
#88 In addition to all of our debt, the U.S. government has also accumulated more than 200 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities.  So where in the world will all of that money come from?
#89 The greatest damage that quantitative easing has been causing to our economy is the fact that it is destroying worldwide faith in the U.S. dollar and in U.S. debt.  If the rest of the world stops using our dollars and stops buying our debt, we are going to be in a massive amount of trouble.
#90 Over the past several years, the Federal Reserve has been monetizing a staggering amount of U.S. government debt even though Ben Bernanke once promised that he would never do this.
#91 China recently announced that they are going to quit stockpiling more U.S. dollars.  If the Federal Reserve was not recklessly printing money, this would probably not have happened.
#92 Most Americans have no idea that one of our most famous presidents was absolutely obsessed with getting rid of central banking in the United States.  The following is a February 1834 quote by President Andrew Jackson about the evils of central banking…
I too have been a close observer of the doings of the Bank of the United States. I have had men watching you for a long time, and am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the Bank and annul its charter I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I have determined to rout you out and, by the Eternal, (bringing his fist down on the table) I will rout you out.
#93 There are plenty of possible alternative financial systems, but at this point all 187 nations that belong to the IMF have a central bank.  Are we supposed to believe that this is just some sort of a bizarre coincidence?
#94 The capstone of the global central banking system is an organization known as the Bank for International Settlements.  The following is how I described this organization in a previous article
An immensely powerful international organization that most people have never even heard of secretly controls the money supply of the entire globe.  It is called the Bank for International Settlements, and it is the central bank of central banks.  It is located in Basel, Switzerland, but it also has branches in Hong Kong and Mexico City.  It is essentially an unelected, unaccountable central bank of the world that has complete immunity from taxation and from national laws.  Even Wikipedia admits that “it is not accountable to any single national government.”  The Bank for International Settlements was used to launder money for the Nazis during World War II, but these days the main purpose of the BIS is to guide and direct the centrally-planned global financial system.  Today, 58 global central banks belong to the BIS, and it has far more power over how the U.S. economy (or any other economy for that matter) will perform over the course of the next year than any politician does.  Every two months, the central bankers of the world gather in Basel for another “Global Economy Meeting”.  During those meetings, decisions are made which affect every man, woman and child on the planet, and yet none of us have any say in what goes on.  The Bank for International Settlements is an organization that was founded by the global elite and it operates for the benefit of the global elite, and it is intended to be one of the key cornerstones of the emerging one world economic system.
#95 The borrower is the servant of the lender, and the Federal Reserve has turned all of us into debt slaves.
#96 Debt is a form of social control, and the global elite use all of this debt to dominate all the rest of us.  40 years ago, the total amount of debt in our system (all government debt, all business debt, all consumer debt, etc.) was sitting at about 2 trillion dollars.  Today, the grand total exceeds 56 trillion dollars.
#97 Unless something dramatic is done, our children and our grandchildren will be debt slaves for their entire lives as they service our debts and pay for our mistakes.
#98 Now that you know this information, you are responsible for doing something about it.
#99 Congress has the power to shut down the Federal Reserve any time that it would like.  But right now most of our politicians fully endorse the current system, and nothing is ever going to happen until the American people start demanding change.
#100 The design of the Federal Reserve system was flawed from the very beginning.  If something is not done very rapidly, it is inevitable that our entire financial system is going to suffer an absolutely nightmarish collapse.

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February 24, 2015

Ten Banks, Including JPM, Goldman, Deutsche, Barclays, SocGen And UBS, Probed For Gold Rigging

No matter how many times the big banks are caught red-handed manipulating precious metals, some failed former Deutsche Bank prop-trader (you know who you are) will take a vociferous stand based on ad hominem attacks and zero facts that no, what you see in front of you is not precious metal rigging at all but a one-off event that has nothing to do with a criminal banking syndicate hell bent on taking advantage of anyone who is naive and dumb enough to still believe in fair and efficient markets.

The last time this happened was in November when we learned that "UBS Settles Over Gold Rigging, Many More Banks To Follow", and sure enough many more banks did follow, because in Europe, where the stench of gold market manipulation stretches far beyond merely commercial banks, and rises through the central banks, namely the BOE and ECB, culminating with the Head of Foreign Exchange & Gold at the BIS itself, all such allegations have to be promptly settled or else the discovery that the manipulation cartel in Europe involves absolutely everybody will shock and stun the world, which heretofore was led to believe that such things as gold market (not to be confused with Libor or FX) manipulation only exist in the paranoid delusions of a few tinfoil fringe-blogging lunatics.

However, as usually happens, someone always fails to read the memo that when it comes to gold-market manipulation one must i) find nothing at all incriminating if one is a paid spokesman for the entities doing the manipulation such as former CFTC-sellout Bart Chilton or ii) if one can't cover it, then one must settle immediately or else the chain of revelations will implication everyone.

This time, that someone is the US Department of Justice, which as the WSJ just reported, is investigating at least 10 major banks for possible rigging of precious-metals markets. The DOJ is shockingly doing so "even though European regulators dropped a similar probe after finding no evidence of wrongdoing, according to people close to the inquiries." Of course, the reason why said probe was dropped in Europe is because it would have implicated virtually the entire trading desk at the biggest and most important European bank: Deustche Bank, as well as the biggest bank in Switzerland, UBS and UK's own Barclays, reveal a manipulation cartel rivaling even that of Libor. And once traders at the commercial banks turned sides and squealed for the prosection, well then it would be the central banks' turn next. Which is why it was imperative to bring this investigation to a quiet end.

But not in the US.

According to the WSJ, "prosecutors in the Justice Department’s antitrust division are scrutinizing the price-setting process for gold, silver, platinum and palladium in London, while the Commodity Futures Trading Commission has opened a civil investigation, these people said. The agencies have made initial requests for information, including a subpoena from the CFTC to HSBC Holdings PLC related to precious-metals trading, the bank said in its annual report Monday.

HSBC also said the Justice Department sought documents related to the antitrust investigation in November. The two probes “are at an early stage,” the bank added, saying it is cooperating with U.S. regulators.

Who is involved in this latest gold-rigging scandal? Why everyone! ... which makes it immediately obvious why the European regulator had to promptly cover up the whole affair. Under scrutiny are Bank of Nova Scotia , Barclays PLC, Credit Suisse Group AG , Deutsche Bank AG , Goldman Sachs Group Inc., J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Société Générale SA, Standard Bank Group Ltd. and UBS AG , according to one of the people close to the investigation.
Robert Hockett, a law professor at Cornell University, said it is “not particularly surprising” that the Justice Department is plowing ahead despite the decision by European regulators. Recent scrutiny of big banks’ operations in the physical commodities markets and criticism of the Justice Department’s financial-crisis track record make it “quite understandable” that the agency would investigate allegations of precious metals price-rigging.

Last year, the FCA fined Barclays £26 million ($40.2 million) for lax controls after one of its traders allegedly manipulated the gold fix at the expense of a client.

Swiss regulator Finma settled last year allegations of foreign-currency manipulation with UBS. The regulator said it found “serious misconduct” among precious-metals traders at UBS, including “front running,” or trading ahead of, the silver-fix orders of one client. A spokeswoman for UBS, which said at the time that it “instituted significant cultural and compliance changes,” declined further comment.
You mean to say that the banks that were for decades rigging Libor... and FX... and bonds... and stocks... oh, and gold, were let go with a slap on the wrist and a promise to "change their ways" and not to do it again?  Yup, that's exactly right.

So what happens next? Well, we finally will find just how much of a banker-controlled muppet the so-called US attorney general truly is. Recall that a week ago he gave his subordinates 90 days to being cases against individuals for their role in the financial crisis.

Well here is the perfect opportunity.  Should Holder let this latest mass criminal ring go without any incarecration, one can officially stick a fork in the US justice system, which is meant for everyone, but the rule-flouting bankers who can clearly get away with absolutely anything.

As for the rigging in the gold market, rigging which begins with the lowliest prop-traders at Deutsche Bank and involves every single central bank and High Frequency trading outfit and is now a proven fact, we have explained over the years and thousands of times just how to end it all, so instead of wasting readers' time on this topic yet again, here are just two very simple solutions how to fix this one particular market:

all trading in "paper" gold should cease immediately and all contracts be settled in physical for true price discovery

February 23, 2015

Alan Greenspan Warns: There Will Be a “Significant Market Event... Something Big Is Going To Happen”

With the Federal Reserve printing trillions upon trillions of dollars to keep the economic system afloat, many investors and financial pundits have surmised that the fundamental economic problems facing the United States during the crash of 2008 have been resolved. Stocks are, after all, at historic highs.

But the insiders know different. And if there’s any single person out there who understands U.S. monetary policy and its long-term effects on domestic and global affairs it’s former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan. As the head of the world’s most powerful central bank for nearly two decades he’s privy to the insider conversations and government machinations that have brought us to where we are today.

Greenspan recently joined veteran resource analyst Brien Lundin at the New Orleans Investment Conference to share some of his thoughts. According to Lundin, the former Fed chairman made it clear that the central bank is facing a serious problem and one that will have significant ramifications in the future.
We asked him where he thought the gold price will be in five years and he said “measurably higher.”

In private conversation I asked him about the outstanding debts… and that the debt load in the U.S. had gotten so great that there has to be some monetary depreciation. Specially he said that the era of quantitative easing and zero-interest rate policies by the Fed… we really cannot exit this without some significant market event… By that I interpret it being either a stock market crash or a prolonged recession, which would then engender another round of monetary reflation by the Fed.

He thinks something big is going to happen that we can’t get out of this era of money printing without some repercussions – and pretty severe ones – that gold will benefit from.
Watch the full interview:


If we are in fact staring a major market event in the face as Alan Greenspan proposes then wealth preservation should be a key tenet of any preparedness strategy going forward. Greenspan himself, somewhat ironically, was a gold bug and proponent of sound money prior to his appointment as the chairman of the Fed. And though he didn’t discuss it much during his tenure, he is now actively saying that we can expect to see gold markedly higher within the next five years.

His assessment is likely based on concerns over the U.S. dollar which will, as Lundin notes, more than likely suffer a currency devaluation at some point in the future.
The end has to come at some point...  If you look at a chart of the U.S. dollar index it has gone nearly parabolic in the last few months… In any market that is so one sided, that is accelerating so rapidly, that trend will end… it will most likely end in a fairly violent fashion.
And if gold rises as a result, so too will other resource assets in the energy and mining sectors. What it boils down to is that the assets that are necessary to keep our system operating will always have value, and that is especially true in a situation where the U.S. dollar happens to be crashing. Uranium , for example, powers one in five American homes, which means that it will always be a necessary resource, regardless of what the dollar does or doesn’t do. Lundin’s assessment is echoed by Uranium Energy Corp CEO Amir Adnani, who recently said we may well see a “resurgence” in the price of this and natural resources like gold.

The same can be said for oil and agriculture resources.

They will always have value, regardless of whether the dollar is strong or violently collapses under its own weight.

Thus, when we consider ways to preserve wealth and insulate ourselves from the coming destruction of our currency one must consider holding physical assets. For some that means stockpiling food and other supplies in anticipation of Greenspan’s market event that could adversely affect credit flows and delivery of essential goods. For others who may currently hold stocks, U.S. Treasurys, or cash, diversifying your portfolio with well managed resource-based companies will not only preserve wealth during currency volatility, but build it as the value of real, physical assets rises.

The man who is essentially the architect responsible for domestic monetary policy under four U.S. Presidents has now said that a significant market event will take place when the Fed is eventually forced to exit their monetary easing and zero-interest rate policies.

Are you prepared for that day?

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