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The Coming Derivatives Panic That Will Destroy Global Financial Markets

By: John_Rolls

John Rolls Submits, Michael Snyder writes: When financial markets in the United States crash, so does the U.S. economy.    Just remember what happened back in 2008.  The financial markets crashed, the   credit markets froze up, and suddenly the economy went into cardiac arrest.    Well, there are very few things that could cause the financial markets to crash   harder or farther than a derivatives panic.  Sadly, most Americans don’t even   understand what derivatives are.

Unlike stocks and bonds, a derivative is not   an investment in anything real.  Rather, a derivative is a legal bet on the   future value or performance of something else.  Just like you can go to Las   Vegas and bet on who will win the football games this weekend, bankers on Wall   Street make trillions of dollars of bets about how interest rates will perform   in the future and about what credit instruments are likely to default.  Wall   Street has been transformed into a gigantic casino where people are betting on   just about anything that you can imagine.

This works fine as long as there are   not any wild swings in the economy and risk is managed with strict discipline,   but as we have seen, there have been times when derivatives have caused massive   problems in recent years. For example, do you know why the largest insurance   company in the world, AIG, crashed back in 2008 and required a government   bailout?  It was because of derivatives.  Bad derivatives trades also caused the   failure of MF Global, and the 6 billion dollar loss that JPMorgan Chase recently suffered   because of derivatives made headlines all over the globe.  But all of those   incidents were just warm up acts for the coming derivatives panic that will   destroy global financial markets.  The largest casino in the history of the   world is going to go “bust” and the economic fallout from the financial crash   that will happen as a result will be absolutely horrific.

There is a reason why Warren Buffett once referred to derivatives as   “financial weapons of mass destruction”.  Nobody really knows the total value of   all the derivatives that are floating around out there, but estimates place the   notional value of the global derivatives market anywhere from 600 trillion   dollars all the way up to 1.5 quadrillion dollars.

fullarticle at source: http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article37882.html

 

what is a credit default swap ?and why we should be trembling right now!

Allow me to teach you what a credit default swap is and why it’s so important to what is happening to the economy today.

Virgle Kent borrows $50 from me. I want to get insurance on his debt in case he goes broke. I go to Roissy and say, “Hey, Virgle Kent owes me $50. Can you insure that debt?”

“I’ll insure it if you pay me $4 a year,” Roissy says.

“Done!”

Roissy is betting that VK will pay me back, especially since he did his homework by looking at VK’s credit rating and saw it was superb. Roissy wrote me a credit default swap, an unregulated derivative invented in 1995 by JP Morgan.

Unfortunately Roissy has some problems with his business, and he no longer even has $50 to pay me in case VK goes broke. The premiums I gave him are long gone. Credit agencies notice this and tell Roissy to find some cash or his credit rating goes down. Roissy is fucked because if his credit rating goes down then he won’t be able to raise cash at good rates to keep his business open (today’s large businesses need a constant flow of credit to maintain operations). Sure enough his rating gets killed and Roissy goes bankrupt.

Now I’m in trouble. The debt I had on my books that was insured is now uninsured. The agencies look at my books and see I have this exposed debt and they downgrade my ass. I have no choice but to enter bankruptcy as well. But I happened to be knee deep in the CDS game too. I wrote a ton of them for Arjewtino, insuring the debt owed to him by other parties. When I go down it puts pressure on him. Like dominoes we fall.

In the carnage it turned out that the ratings we used to judge each other’s debt worthiness was bogus from the start. Essentially we all gambled like we would at a blackjack table, but we did it while drunk. And blind.

The insurance company AIG wrote $78 billion worth of swaps.

Ivy League MBA’s turned the CDS into an even more insidious device. In ways that I will not begin to understand, swaps were used not just to insure against debt but to speculate if companies would fail or not. It turned out that while VK only owed me $50, there were swaps written worth $500 between parties that VK didn’t even know about! The swaps became a means to make money instead of a simple insurance policy. This was enabled by a government run by politicians whose treasure chests were stocked full of kind donations from the big bankers. They did not hesitate to look the other way.

A lot of swaps were written by banks and businesses that are now very sick from making bad bets and possibly outright fraud in the housing boom. (Who would have thought that giving no money down / no-doc loans was a bad idea?)

Here’s the bad news:

…there are $45 trillion of credit default swaps out there. A default on a mere 10% would cause an economic disaster. Unfortunately, it’s guaranteed to happen.

Actually that was the good news. Here’s the real bad news:

The Bank for International Settlements recently reported that total derivatives trades exceeded one quadrillion dollars – that’s 1,000 trillion dollars. How is that figure even possible? The gross domestic product of all the countries in the world is only about 60 trillion dollars. The answer is that gamblers can bet as much as they want.

The quote up top was said by Henry Paulson

 

Ireland is heading for bankruptcy!

OPINION: Ireland is heading for bankruptcy, which would be catastrophic for a country that trades on its reputation as a safe place to do business,

By MORGAN KELLY

WITH THE Irish Government on track to owe a quarter of a trillion euro by 2014, a prolonged and chaotic national bankruptcy is becoming inevitable. By the time the dust settles, Ireland’s last remaining asset, its reputation as a safe place from which to conduct business, will have been destroyed.

Ireland is facing economic ruin.

While most people would trace our ruin to to the bank guarantee of September 2008, the real error was in sticking with the guarantee long after it had become clear that the bank losses were insupportable. Brian Lenihan’s original decision to guarantee most of the bonds of Irish banks was a mistake, but a mistake so obvious and so ridiculous that it could easily have been reversed. The ideal time to have reversed the bank guarantee was a few months later when Patrick Honohan was appointed governor of the Central Bank and assumed de facto control of Irish economic policy.

As a respected academic expert on banking crises, Honohan commanded the international authority to have announced that the guarantee had been made in haste and with poor information, and would be replaced by a restructuring where bonds in the banks would be swapped for shares.

Instead, Honohan seemed unperturbed by the possible scale of bank losses, repeatedly insisting that they were “manageable”. Like most Irish economists of his generation, he appeared to believe that Ireland was still the export-driven powerhouse of the 1990s, rather than the credit-fuelled Ponzi scheme it had become since 2000; and the banking crisis no worse than the, largely manufactured, government budget crisis of the late 1980s.

Rising dismay at Honohan’s judgment crystallised into outright scepticism after an extraordinary interview with Bloomberg business news on May 28th last year. Having overseen the Central Bank’s “quite aggressive” stress tests of the Irish banks, he assured them that he would have “the two big banks, fixed by the end of the year. I think it’s quite good news The banks are floating away from dependence on the State and will be free standing”.

Honohan’s miscalculation of the bank losses has turned out to be the costliest mistake ever made by an Irish person. Armed with Honohan’s assurances that the bank losses were manageable, the Irish government confidently rode into the Little Bighorn and repaid the bank bondholders, even those who had not been guaranteed under the original scheme. This suicidal policy culminated in the repayment of most of the outstanding bonds last September.

Disaster followed within weeks. Nobody would lend to Irish banks, so that the maturing bonds were repaid largely by emergency borrowing from the European Central Bank: by November the Irish banks already owed more than €60 billion. Despite aggressive cuts in government spending, the certainty that bank losses would far exceed Honohan’s estimates led financial markets to stop lending to Ireland.

On November 16th, European finance ministers urged Lenihan to accept a bailout to stop the panic spreading to Spain and Portugal, but he refused, arguing that the Irish government was funded until the following summer. Although attacked by the Irish media for this seemingly delusional behaviour, Lenihan, for once, was doing precisely the right thing. Behind Lenihan’s refusal lay the thinly veiled threat that, unless given suitably generous terms, Ireland could hold happily its breath for long enough that Spain and Portugal, who needed to borrow every month, would drown.

At this stage, with Lenihan looking set to exploit his strong negotiating position to seek a bailout of the banks only, Honohan intervened. As well as being Ireland’s chief economic adviser, he also plays for the opposing team as a member of the council of the European Central Bank, whose decisions he is bound to carry out. In Frankfurt for the monthly meeting of the ECB on November 18th, Honohan announced on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland that Ireland would need a bailout of “tens of billions”.

Rarely has a finance minister been so deftly sliced off at the ankles by his central bank governor. And so the Honohan Doctrine that bank losses could and should be repaid by Irish taxpayers ran its predictable course with the financial collapse and international bailout of the Irish State.

Ireland’s Last Stand began less shambolically than you might expect. The IMF, which believes that lenders should pay for their stupidity before it has to reach into its pocket, presented the Irish with a plan to haircut €30 billion of unguaranteed bonds by two-thirds on average. Lenihan was overjoyed, according to a source who was there, telling the IMF team: “You are Ireland’s salvation.”

The deal was torpedoed from an unexpected direction. At a conference call with the G7 finance ministers, the haircut was vetoed by US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner who, as his payment of $13 billion from government-owned AIG to Goldman Sachs showed, believes that bankers take priority over taxpayers. The only one to speak up for the Irish was UK chancellor George Osborne, but Geithner, as always, got his way. An instructive, if painful, lesson in the extent of US soft power, and in who our friends really are.

The negotiations went downhill from there. On one side was the European Central Bank, unabashedly representing Ireland’s creditors and insisting on full repayment of bank bonds. On the other was the IMF, arguing that Irish taxpayers would be doing well to balance their government’s books, let alone repay the losses of private banks. And the Irish? On the side of the ECB, naturally.

In the circumstances, the ECB walked away with everything it wanted. The IMF were scathing of the Irish performance, with one staffer describing the eagerness of some Irish negotiators to side with the ECB as displaying strong elements of Stockholm Syndrome.

The bailout represents almost as much of a scandal for the IMF as it does for Ireland. The IMF found itself outmanoeuvred by ECB negotiators, their low opinion of whom they are not at pains to conceal. More importantly, the IMF was forced by the obduracy of Geithner and the spinelessness, or worse, of the Irish to lend their imprimatur, and €30 billion of their capital, to a deal that its negotiators privately admit will end in Irish bankruptcy. Lending to an insolvent state, which has no hope of reducing its debt enough to borrow in markets again, breaches the most fundamental rule of the IMF, and a heated debate continues there over the legality of the Irish deal.

Six months on, and with Irish government debt rated one notch above junk and the run on Irish banks starting to spread to household deposits, it might appear that the Irish bailout of last November has already ended in abject failure. On the contrary, as far as its ECB architects are concerned, the bailout has turned out to be an unqualified success.

The one thing you need to understand about the Irish bailout is that it had nothing to do with repairing Ireland’s finances enough to allow the Irish Government to start borrowing again in the bond markets at reasonable rates: what people ordinarily think of a bailout as doing.

The finances of the Irish Government are like a bucket with a large hole in the form of the banking system. While any half-serious rescue would have focused on plugging this hole, the agreed bailout ostentatiously ignored the banks, except for reiterating the ECB-Honohan view that their losses would be borne by Irish taxpayers. Try to imagine the Bank of England’s insisting that Northern Rock be rescued by Newcastle City Council and you have some idea of how seriously the ECB expects the Irish bailout to work.

Instead, the sole purpose of the Irish bailout was to frighten the Spanish into line with a vivid demonstration that EU rescues are not for the faint-hearted. And the ECB plan, so far anyway, has worked. Given a choice between being strung up like Ireland – an object of international ridicule, paying exorbitant rates on bailout funds, its government ministers answerable to a Hungarian university lecturer – or mending their ways, the Spanish have understandably chosen the latter.

But why was it necessary, or at least expedient, for the EU to force an economic collapse on Ireland to frighten Spain? The answer goes back to a fundamental, and potentially fatal, flaw in the design of the euro zone: the lack of any means of dealing with large, insolvent banks.

Back when the euro was being planned in the mid-1990s, it never occurred to anyone that cautious, stodgy banks like AIB and Bank of Ireland, run by faintly dim former rugby players, could ever borrow tens of billions overseas, and lose it all on dodgy property loans. Had the collapse been limited to Irish banks, some sort of rescue deal might have been cobbled together; but a suspicion lingers that many Spanish banks – which inflated a property bubble almost as exuberant as Ireland’s, but in the world’s ninth largest economy – are hiding losses as large as those that sank their Irish counterparts.

Uniquely in the world, the European Central Bank has no central government standing behind it that can levy taxes. To rescue a banking system as large as Spain’s would require a massive commitment of resources by European countries to a European Monetary Fund: something so politically complex and financially costly that it will only be considered in extremis, to avert the collapse of the euro zone. It is easiest for now for the ECB to keep its fingers crossed that Spain pulls through by itself, encouraged by the example made of the Irish.

Irish insolvency is now less a matter of economics than of arithmetic. If everything goes according to plan, as it always does, Ireland’s government debt will top €190 billion by 2014, with another €45 billion in Nama and €35 billion in bank recapitalisation, for a total of €270 billion, plus whatever losses the Irish Central Bank has made on its emergency lending. Subtracting off the likely value of the banks and Nama assets, Namawinelake (by far the best source on the Irish economy) reckons our final debt will be about €220 billion, and I think it will be closer to €250 billion, but these differences are immaterial: either way we are talking of a Government debt that is more than €120,000 per worker, or 60 per cent larger than GNP.

Economists have a rule of thumb that once its national debt exceeds its national income, a small economy is in danger of default (large economies, like Japan, can go considerably higher). Ireland is so far into the red zone that marginal changes in the bailout terms can make no difference: we are going to be in the Hudson.

The ECB applauded and lent Ireland the money to ensure that the banks that lent to Anglo and Nationwide be repaid, and now finds itself in the situation where, as a consequence, the banks that lent to the Irish Government are at risk of losing most of what they lent. In other words, the Irish banking crisis has become part of the larger European sovereign debt crisis.

Given the political paralysis in the EU, and a European Central Bank that sees its main task as placating the editors of German tabloids, the most likely outcome of the European debt crisis is that, after two years or so to allow French and German banks to build up loss reserves, the insolvent economies will be forced into some sort of bankruptcy.

Make no mistake: while government defaults are almost the normal state of affairs in places like Greece and Argentina, for a country like Ireland that trades on its reputation as a safe place to do business, a bankruptcy would be catastrophic. Sovereign bankruptcies drag on for years as creditors hold out for better terms, or sell to so-called vulture funds that engage in endless litigation overseas to have national assets such as aircraft impounded in the hope that they can make a sufficient nuisance of themselves to be bought off.

Worse still, a bankruptcy can do nothing to repair Ireland’s finances. Given the other commitments of the Irish State (to the banks, Nama, EU, ECB and IMF), for a bankruptcy to return government debt to a sustainable level, the holders of regular government bonds will have to be more or less wiped out. Unfortunately, most Irish government bonds are held by Irish banks and insurance companies.

In other words, we have embarked on a futile game of passing the parcel of insolvency: first from the banks to the Irish State, and next from the State back to the banks and insurance companies. The eventual outcome will likely see Ireland as some sort of EU protectorate, Europe’s answer to Puerto Rico.

Suppose that we did not want to follow our current path towards an ECB-directed bankruptcy and spiralling national ruin, is there anything we could do? While Prof Honohan sportingly threw away our best cards last September, there still is a way out that, while not painless, is considerably less painful than what Europe has in mind for us.

National survival requires that Ireland walk away from the bailout. This in turn requires the Government to do two things: disengage from the banks, and bring its budget into balance immediately.

First the banks. While the ECB does not want to rescue the Irish banks, it cannot let them collapse either and start a wave of panic that sweeps across Europe. So, every time one of you expresses your approval of the Irish banks by moving your savings to a foreign-owned bank, the Irish bank goes and replaces your money with emergency borrowing from the ECB or the Irish Central Bank. Their current borrowings are €160 billion.

The original bailout plan was that the loan portfolios of Irish banks would be sold off to repay these borrowings. However, foreign banks know that many of these loans, mortgages especially, will eventually default, and were not interested. As a result, the ECB finds itself with the Irish banks wedged uncomfortably far up its fundament, and no way of dislodging them.

This allows Ireland to walk away from the banking system by returning the Nama assets to the banks, and withdrawing its promissory notes in the banks. The ECB can then learn the basic economic truth that if you lend €160 billion to insolvent banks backed by an insolvent state, you are no longer a creditor: you are the owner. At some stage the ECB can take out an eraser and, where “Emergency Loan” is written in the accounts of Irish banks, write “Capital” instead. When it chooses to do so is its problem, not ours.

At a stroke, the Irish Government can halve its debt to a survivable €110 billion. The ECB can do nothing to the Irish banks in retaliation without triggering a catastrophic panic in Spain and across the rest of Europe. The only way Europe can respond is by cutting off funding to the Irish Government.

So the second strand of national survival is to bring the Government budget immediately into balance. The reason for governments to run deficits in recessions is to smooth out temporary dips in economic activity. However, our current slump is not temporary: Ireland bet everything that house prices would rise forever, and lost. To borrow so that senior civil servants like me can continue to enjoy salaries twice as much as our European counterparts makes no sense, macroeconomic or otherwise.

Cutting Government borrowing to zero immediately is not painless but it is the only way of disentangling ourselves from the loan sharks who are intent on making an example of us. In contrast, the new Government’s current policy of lying on the ground with a begging bowl and hoping that someone takes pity on us does not make for a particularly strong negotiating position. By bringing our budget immediately into balance, we focus attention on the fact that Ireland’s problems stem almost entirely from the activities of six privately owned banks, while freeing ourselves to walk away from these poisonous institutions. Just as importantly, it sends a signal to the rest of the world that Ireland – which 20 years ago showed how a small country could drag itself out of poverty through the energy and hard work of its inhabitants, but has since fallen among thieves and their political fixers – is back and means business.

Of course, we all know that this will never happen. Irish politicians are too used to being rewarded by Brussels to start fighting against it, even if it is a matter of national survival. It is easier to be led along blindfold until the noose is slipped around our necks and we are kicked through the trapdoor into bankruptcy.

The destruction wrought by the bankruptcy will not just be economic but political. Just as the Lenihan bailout destroyed Fianna Fáil, so the Noonan bankruptcy will destroy Fine Gael and Labour, leaving them as reviled and mistrusted as their predecessors. And that will leave Ireland in the interesting situation where the economic crisis has chewed up and spat out all of the State’s constitutional parties. The last election was reassuringly dull and predictable but the next, after the trauma and chaos of the bankruptcy, will be anything but.

source: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/0507/1224296372123.html?via=rel

Comment:

I thought I would resurrect this article .It still holds true to-day

This is the real Ireland and the codgers in the Government are stupid enough to ignore this excellent piece of work. Morgan Kelly is the voice of sanity crying in the wilderness ,those of you who want to hear the truth listen to him !

License to Debase U.S. Dollar Further

About the Author

Jim Willie
Editor at Hat Trick Letter jw @ goldenjackass.com
http://www.goldenjackass.com

The US Federal Reserve has no monetary options whatsoever. They have been backed into the corner since 2007. It was coerced to reduce interest rates as the subprime mortgage crisis morphed into an absolute bond crisis, as the Jackass loudly stated during that fateful summer. The US bank leaders claimed it was contained. It was not. The USFed was backed into the corner in 2009, unable to raise interest rates from near 0% (the Zero Interest Rate Policy disease) and put into effect its propaganda theme of an Exit Strategy. The US bank leaders knew the longest period of time for the Fed Funds rate to stick at 0% was nine months, ensuring a future disaster. They saw it. They claimed a move toward normalcy. It did not come. The Jackass called them liars with a message of deception to manage the USTreasury Bond and stock market. They did not hike rates, as their bluff was called. The USFed looked weak as a result. They began to shed thick layers of prestige. The USFed was backed into the corner in 2010, unwilling to use printed money to monetize USTBonds, giving birth to the second dreaded Quantitative Easing disease. They did anyway. So the ZIRP & QE twin scourges became part of the landscape of ruin. The USFed denied they would embark on QE. The Jackass called them liars with a message of deception. They did embark on QE, then QE Lite, then QE2, all replete with denials. The USFed has lost all its prestige, all its credibility, and all its respect for economic analysis. They are actually a central office for the Syndicate. They are the focal point of the failure of the central bank franchise model.

The unfolding drama on Capitol Hill with the USGovt changed the entire picture, thus putting a toxic icing atop a hemlock pie with arsenic candles giving off deadly gas. In private discussions, my full expectation was for no debt default, not even close, with the debt limit extended, the unfolding American Tragedy saga taking place on a global stage. My call was for a path of least resistance to be taken in consensus, but it would involve decision avoidance and political expedience, if not constitutional cowardice. The players in the USCongress, along with the leader himself, were exposed as pusillanimous, deceptive, polarized, destructive, wayfaring fools. They are as much fully equipped squires for both the banking industry and the military establishment. They avoided a debt disaster in default, but they did not avoid a debt rating downgrade. They have given the system license to debase the USDollar further, as Gold has responded in a breakout. The President is so clueless as to believe patent reform can make a difference. The bigger obstacles are poor education, minimal math & science requirements, tendency to play video games & text messages than studying (even inside school classrooms). Of course the debilitation is compounded by the US lacking a strong industrial base. So better patent protection would mean the US corporations could more effectively protect their offshore jobs, where the majority of jobs are located.

Worse, the players on the global debt debate stage exposed the USGovt as Greece times one hundred. The veil of ruin and arrogance has been lifted for all to see, the deep blemishes and skin cancer visible for all to see. The USGovt borrowing costs are near 0% for the same reason that the Greek borrowing costs are at 30%. BOTH NATION’S FINANCES ARE BROKEN. To cap it off, the tombstone on the US Republic will feature a Super Committee to recommend the most difficult of budget decisions. Such fanfare without proper label. The committee is a formalization of the Politburo process, a perverse interwoven political stranglehold fabric that takes the worst of the Weimar Republic and melds with the worst of the Fascist Business Model. Slowly forming is the Fascist Dictatorship that follows logically from nationalization of Fannie Mae and AIG, the home mortgage cesspool and the derivative black hole. The growth of czars will grow dangerously. Look in the near future for a wave of office shutdowns. The USGovt is required to pay its creditors. But it will act with negligence and shut down offices. See the Federal Aviation Agency, which must contend with 70,000 job cuts. It has lost its funding, while the USCongress went on its August vacation. An improvement would have come if the cut in budget came to the Transportation Security Admin (TSA) to alleviate the public from airport assaults that draws tears from old ladies, anger from defiant citizens, and consternation from most everybody. By the way, the planned date for the Super Committee to convene and make its recommendations is in the middle of the Presidential Primary season next summer. Expect a circus.

EFFECT & PREPARATION

Speaking of spineless and pusillanimous, Moodys and Fitch call the debt deal with the USGovt a good first step. They maintain the AAA rating. The brave Lancelot might be Standard & Poor which has delivered a louder firmer threat of debt downgrade if not significant progress to reduce the budget deficit. They all three seem more like boys cracking whips without threat of anything substantial. Their offices might be Oslo’ed if they actually downgraded. The USGovt debt deal accomplished nothing but to raise the debt limit, which means THE USGOVT IS PERMITTED TO DEBASE THE USDOLLAR CURRENCY FOR ANOTHER YEAR OR MORE. It is actually quite funny to watch and listen to hacks on the tube, as they share their shaman wisdom. They told the public that when the debt limit was extended and the crisis was averted, Gold would probably subside and relax downward. What nonsense! Gold demand would continue from free rein to create more money to cover more permitted debt. They know nothing about gold. They seem to find no relevance or importance that the US money supply is rising exponentially, without benefit of even economic flatline stability. The inefficient usage of new money is a story for the ages, a symptom of the ruin in progress. This point is made in the Hat Trick Letter in detail.

The Gold market correctly interpreted the vacant gutless debt pact, a deal to make a future deal, a decision to make future decisions. The Gold price rose on Tuesday by $40 and the Silver price rose the same day by $1.50 per ounce. The damage is more hidden than what is seen in nominal price. The short covering process has begun. The defended $1600 barrier has been breached, smashed, and overrun. Those who recklessly placed their short positions at that level did not anticipate the power of this bull market, or recognize the strong attack from all four flanks. The $40 barrier is also being overrun. Gold will continue to fight the political battles, to bust the cartel phalanx, and to enable the harsh light of truth to shine on the wrecked USDollar and ponzi ridden USTreasury Bond. Silver will continue to run impressive breath-taking strides through the opened pathways. Expect a run past the $50 mark within the next two months, likely sooner. Things always seem to happen more quickly these days. The clock is running faster with all the fever and ruin.

Prepare for continuation in the long drawn out economic deterioration, business squeeze, financial depletion, and systemic failure. The USGovt debt default process is one for the history books, part of a bold Jackass forecast made in the wake of the Lehman, Fannie Mae, and AIG visible disaster in September 2008. At work was the more important but less visible destruction of the US banking industry. It has not recovered since the Lehman engineered bust kill job, fully exploited by Wall Street. Expect in the next couple years economic martial law, deep rationing, and economic implosion. Protect from lost life savings, forfeited wealth to the USTreasury Bond monster, and the fast pace of toxic paper spoilage. The answer is Gold & Silver, if not commodity stockpiles and energy deposits. For the small investor, the safest is precious metals with no paper securities and thus no counter-party risk. The GLD & SLV funds are both fraudulent, to be revealed in time, if not already for those with discerning eyes. They should be avoided, unless the investor wishes to miss the climax runup in price. The precious metals Gold & Silver have received zero positive press by the corrupted financial media, as well as very little respect despite being the best performing asset in the last decade. Ignore their deceptive messages, and climb aboard the Gold ship with Silver cabins, and watch the unfolding disaster from the heat tempered windows. The Fiat Paper locomotive has already gone over the cliff. The debt deal only defined a lower crash point in the abyss far below.

THE BIG HIDDEN BOND LEVER

The USGovt has the wonderful benefit of Interest Rate Swap contracts. They produce leveraged magnificent artificial demand for the 10-year USTreasury. Despite huge uncontrollable bond supply for USGovt debt, contrary to standard myopic finance theory promoted in universities (see USFed-funded chairs), the bond yield continues to decline. In no way does migration from stocks to bonds justify the move under 2.60% on the TNX yield. Every time some negative USEconomic news is released, and plenty of such lousy data has come in the last several weeks, a big bond rally comes. It is aided with a vast under-current of Interest Rate Swaps. Between  80% and 86% of the total derivative market is IRSwap contracts. That market was measured at $243 trillion by the Office of Comptroller to the Currency in its 1Q2011 report of the Top25 commercial banks and trust companies. Shockingly, Morgan Stanley added $51 trillion to their derivative book in the first quarter alone, with zero coverage by the sleepy intrepid lapdog financial press. Let the reader decided if $51 trillion in notional value spread over three months would have much effect on USTreasury Bonds.

The hacks who operate at the bond desks have pathetically little knowledge of their own sector. Most bond traders actually believe the IRSwap application has no practical effect on the USTreasury market, with no end product. They are at best stupid and at worst corrupt. As friend and colleague Rob Kirby points out, the IRSwap contract has a real actual end demand in a USTreasury Bill or Note or Bond. Typically, they sell a short-term USTBill in order to buy a long-term USTreasury, like a 10-year note. This is all within the structure of the IRSwap contract. Thus the fast move below 2.60% from 3.00% on the TNX yield.

THE BIG LIE

The USEconomy is stuck in a recession that worsens each quarter. The current recession is measured between minus 5% and minus 6%, is in progress, and is intensifying. The USGovt runs a devious stat lab shop. It uses every scummy trick known to the stat rats. The Jackass is a refined furry stat rodent, not a rat. Consider an honest method with integrity, which is actively avoided. A simple method is to take the nominal data (raw untreated numbers) for a full year and compare them to the nominal data for the previous full year, then adjust by a legitimate reasonable price inflation index. The Shadow Govt Statistics folks do a fantastic job in honest economic estimation, the best on the planet in my opinion. The SGS Consumer Price Inflation was about 9% in 2010 and currently runs about 10%. Anyone with half a brain can attest to the validity of their CPI estimate. The honest assessment of the USEconomy performance is minus 7.5% recession in 2010, much worse for 2009, seen in the red circle. Let’s be conservative and call the valid CPI at 7% last year and 8% this year. Then the recession of 2010 would have been recorded at minus 5.5% last year and worsening in the current year.

 

The above graph is utterly shocking and calls the entire USGovt stat team liars. Notice how in 2009 (green circle) the nominal GDP growth was minus 2%. Apply any CPI index to register something worse. That bears repeating. The unadjusted economic growth data for full year 2009 was negative, without inflation adjustment. Anything positive for price inflation would mean a worse recession in 2009 than minus 2%. The quarterly method used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis is corrupt and deceptive, intentionally so. They measure quarters in sequence and apply a raft of absurd adjustments led by the hedonic quality lifts, then multiply their gross error by four to annualize. Even Goldman Sachs realizes the economy is sliding into reverse. Even Martin Feldstein must see the poor taste of federal pork on the plate, as he has given a 50-50 chance for a recession reversal. He must not know much about economics, since the recession is in its fourth year.

USFED WITHOUT OPTIONS

The USFed realizes to their dismay that debt monetization does not stimulate the USEconomy. They will be pushed into purchase of USTreasurys for a simple reason. Another big lie of past Quantitative Easing motivated to stimulate the USEconomy has come to light from direct exposure. The QE process will become an integral part of the monetary policy. The purpose for its continuation has been and will continue to be to prevent USTreasury auction failures which would paint a global billboard sign of USGovt insolvency, ruin, and default. The events from this week have profound meaning. The deliberations over the lifted debt ceiling were interwoven in toxic fashion with the budget debate. USGovt expenditures and taxation issues were hotly debated, enough to produce a stalemate that clearly continues. The main message behind the imminent new budget & debt limit deal is that the USGOVT IS GIVEN FREE REIN TO DEBASE THE USDOLLAR CURRENCY, while nothing has been done to reduce the $1.5 trillion deficit. The USGovt debt should lose its AAA rating due to chronic $1.5 trillion deficits, whose lethal continuation was forecasted by the Jackass in 2009. At that time, most people were suffering from deep shock. They were told by captains on the Titanic Helm that the next annual national budget deficit would be under $1 trillion. The Jackass warned of consecutive calamitous $1.5 trillion forecasts. That was a correct call. One third of the $14.3 trillion cumulative USGovt debt is from war adventure. War spending for Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 has totaled $1.3 trillion. An almost hilarious partial solution was offered by the bold Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge, so on point and so sensible as to be funny. Shut down 15% of the USGovt offices and save $150 billion per year, save $1.5 trillion in ten years. My suggestion is to disband the USCongress by referendum, and to replace it with a group of city mayors and county leaders who would block lobbyists to their offices. Let the House of Representatives represent the people from where they live and work, and not represent the banks and corporations whose lobby budgets are huge.

INSOLVENCY PLAGUE

The last two years have proved convincingly that treating insolvency with liquidity solves nothing. The ineffective blunt tool wielded by the USFed has resulted in a rise in the cost structure globally, not just in the United States. The deceptive message promulgated has been to engineer a lower USDollar for the stated purpose of stimulating the US export trade. This is a great lie! They wish to support the big US banks in unending fashion, until the end marred by systemic failure. The USEconomy has inadequate critical mass in the industrial base (see Chinese Foreign Direct Investment since 2002). The excess capacity in factories and workers does not prevent cost inflation (great irony, since lost base), as the clueless cast of US economists has insisted erroneously. The US bank sector is insolvent, heavily reliant upon naked USTBond sales and narco money laundering. The story broke in 2009 that the Wall Street firms had over $1 trillion in undelivered USTBonds sold to clients and funds. They are chronically not delivered after 30 days, because they were sold naked illicitly by Wall Street. They are formally called Failures to Deliver. But the good news (at least to Wall Street) was that it was a fertile source of liquidity and revenue generation when investment banking hit the wall. Imagine selling lemonade at a stand but not providing a cup of the tasty product. The money laundering of dirty ‘Agency’ funds through Wall Street is uniformly applied across its pillars to the Syndicate. The process and criminality is out in the open. The laughable part is that no felony charges are ever filed, since deals are cut. Last year Wachovia completed a plea bargain, paid a fine, and walked away. The details escaped the sleep US financial press. Wachovia paid a mere 1/30-th of one cent per dollar of illegally laundered funds. The funds entered from Mexico. Chalk up a small business cost, a very small cost indeed. This is not a new story.

Back to the mainstream. The housing market is a guaranteed two-ton millstone to depress both households and banks by the neck. My annual forecast is for two more years of housing bear market decline. That always sounds better and more credible than a permanent bear market, which was the private Jackass forecast made privately in 2007. Read: permanent. Each year strong factors such as heavy new home supply and continued job loss make obvious another two years of powerful home price declines. The ugly joke in the bank industry is 3 million homes lie on bank balance sheets, 3 million homes stand in foreclosure, and 3 million line up in default. The overhang is staggering, enormous, magnificent, disastrous, and crippling. To claim the US housing market is in recovery is the most egregious of lies. The additional hidden supply of homes makes impossible the clearing within the market. The bank balance sheets are still growing, despite their recent decisions to send the REO bank owned homes for sale in the open market. That has resulted in the resumption of the visible price decline, noticed by the dumb slow and half blind analysts who fail to apologize for a skein of wrong forecasts.

NO MONETARY POLICY OPTIONS

The USFed has no monetary options whatsoever. The USFed realizes debt monetization does not stimulate economy. But it does prevent USTreasury auction failures. The painful direct impact of USFed response to crisis and taken action is a uniformly rising cost structure. Price is determined by Supply & Demand, but also the USDollar. The current budget patch deal will result in further dampers. The termination of extended jobless benefits, part of the latest debt deal, has a direct obvious effect. The Austerity Pills have begun to come to the US throats. The low USTreasury yields mean the Interest Rate Swap machinery is working overtime. The low bond yields force low saving yields for certificates of deposit at banks. The result is a damper effect on the USEconomy, not a stimulus. The only stimulus is to the stock market, which has become heavily reliant upon the Working Group for Financial Markets, which does its work at 10am and 3pm in the form of miraculous market index recoveries. The propaganda continues in mindless fashion. The public is told that the policy is in place, it needs time to work, and the second half recovery is to be expected. We are not morons!! The second half of 2011 will feature a massive powerful headline Gold & Silver breakout rally that reflects the broken USDollar, the broken USGovt finances, the broken USEconomy, and the broken USFed leadership. The rally will capture global attention and encourage additional investment demand. Even the USMint badly aggravates the Silver shortage domestically.

GOLD FACTORS

The gold price is driven by certain immutable principal themes, each powerful in its own right. Combined, they form the basis for a global Paradigm Shift in wealth transfer. Gold has run roughshod over the $1600 supposed barrier. When it reaches $1700, it will make quick strides and long strides in a sudden move to $2000. The overriding themes are:
ultra-low interest rates, the 0% scourge that urges      asset protection
lost faith in sovereign bonds, ruined on periphery,      moving to core
exploding government deficits, made worse each year.

Most every Gold bull market has been triggered by ultra-low interest rates. The term is Negative Real Rates, which means the prevailing interest rate is way below the prevailing price inflation rate (in the real world). Since 2009, the USFed has held the Fed Funds rate near 0%. It is a signal of ruin, not stimulus, verified by its chronic continuation. All major currencies will fall together versus Gold, as in the USDollar, the Euro, and the British Pound. The Hat Trick Letter in the last two months has shown vivid detail of the broad Gold bull market breakout. A contrary wind is also detected. The Swiss Franc, the Japanese Yen, the Aussie Dollar, and the Canadian Dollar have risen versus the more broken major currencies. What they have in common is grand mineral and resource wealth. Their still fiat paper currencies are indirectly supported by the commodity riches, making them much more favorable to FOREX traders. The best that central banks can achieve is stability among the major currency exchange rates. This theme is their next propaganda plank of deception. They can claim stability while ignoring the resumed rising cost structure. The mantra must be recognized. Inflate or die means more rising costs, without benefit of increased wages.


Nothing changed since the COMEX ambush of naked shorting in early May, the avalanche that prompted the parade of deceptive analysts to proclaim the end of the Gold trade, the end of the Anti-US$ trade. They were wrong, loud wrong, and we called them wrong. Mark Twain defined ‘dogmatic’ as wrong at the top of the voice. How true! How appropriate! Nothing changed on the endless spew of debt, the endless spew of bank welfare, the endless spew of budget deficits, the endless spew of wrecked toxic sovereign bonds, the relentless rise of costs, the relentless lost job security, the relentless assault on households. The debt crisis has moved into new ground, with the USGovt debt moving onto the same stage as Greece, Portugal, and Ireland. The next broken legs to walk on stage will be Italy and Spain. The biggest surprise will be the entry on stage by France, which looks much more like a PIGS nation than the others. A simple cluster analysis (nifty multi-variate statistical technique) would reveal  France as part of the PIGS pen easily. See the debt ratio charts of the past for a basic pattern. They might lead the PIGS in a Mediterranean Central Bank with a common devalued Latin Euro currency. It would be devalued at least 30%, maybe 50%. A split is coming to the Euro Monetary Union, since the PIGS nations cannot carry such Euro currency in their tortured insolvent tattered wallets any longer. The July Hat Trick Letter covered the split in detail. My belief is firm that France will remain with Germany, since the German financial firms own 95% of French Govt debt, a dirty secret that never is mentioned. The Germans will need squires to carry their bags to meetings.

After the EMU split occurs, look for 20 Lehmans to go bust in Europe, as their large banks are badly exposed and heavily damaged. The key is Italy, and tethered Spain. The cross-border debt exposure is magnificent. Bear in mind that Italy is the #8 biggest economy in the world. Italy is responsible for 17% of all European sovereign debt. The practical implications are immediate, as the Italian Treasury must roll over 69 billion Euros in August and September. The Italian Govt debt due between July and end 2011 totals 175 billion Euros, whose financing simply will not happen. Italy must find buyers for a staggering 500 billion Euros in new securities by the end of 2013. Italy will break the Euro, period! A massive Gold Rush will come when money flees supposedly safe haven sovereign funds. The big European banks will drop like wrecked pillars.

WOW ON JAPANESE YEN

Check out the Japanese Yen currency breakout. This was forecasted by the Jackass in April as a paradox concept. The Japanese financial institutions, insurance firms, and central bank are selling USTreasury Bonds in order to pay for grand Reconstruction costs. The J-Yen blew through the 130 level this week. It translates to under 76 on the Dollar/Yen index. That prompted Bank of Japan action, but it will prove futile. They called 78 a line in the sand to defend. It was overrun. The Japanese financial firms are selling USTreasurys on a massive scale. As reported in the Hat Trick Letter two months ago, sale of USTBonds is a better alternative than more fiscal deficits or more debt monetization. Instead of prompting more domestic price inflation, they will take their risk with a rising Yen exchange rate, and watch the export damage. Never overlook the rampage of Yen short covering, as the Yen Carry Trade continues to shut down after 20 years of abuse. The USEconomy will import price inflation from Asia, a diverse effect. See Wal-Mart already on this factor. My view is that the next pact (just like in April with the hasty G-7 Meeting) to halt the J-Yen rise will be the guts of GLOBAL QE. The central banks in the next several months will drop their transparency initiative. Hyper monetary inflation is not a message they wish to provide gory details for.

FIRST STRONG DOLLAR & NOW WEAK DOLLAR

The Strong Dollar Policy of the 1990 decade resulted in a gutting of US industry. Many jobs were sent off-shore. The primary emphasis became the clean industry behind the financial sector, whose size grew markedly, leading up to the 2000 tech telecom bust. Then came the housing bubble then bust, and the deadly aftermath of insolvency that plagues the nation. The Weak Dollar policy engineered in the last two years as part of the Quantitative Easing programs has resulted in more gutting of US industry. The great majority of households and businesses are suffering from a uniformly rising cost structure, but not rising wages. The support of the banker largesse bailouts and USTreasury Bond debt monetization has lifted the entire cost structure. What is missing clearly is a Sound Fair Dollar Policy. But the Gold Standard is considered a third rail with heavy electric current to kill anyone who touches it. The standard will emerge from the ruins that befall the United States in its economy, its financial structure, and its political morass.

QUICK CONCLUSION

Gold rises from threat of chaos amidst debt default. Gold rises from continued debasement of the USDollar and other major currencies. Gold rises from the powerful current of price inflation. Gold rises from strong investment demand, side by side with Silver investment demand amidst chronic annual deficits. Gold rises from the increasingly recognized ruin of sovereign bonds. Where are the stooges who shot their mouths off in May? Do they merely preach as spokesmen for the Syndicate on the financial news channels?? Bring them back to explain where they went wrong. Start with two hacks named Dennis Gartman and Nouriel Roubini.

Comment :

The Dow has dropped 742 points in the last 5 trading days and I fear we may see a
lot more downside if this article is right!

16 TRILLION Reasons Why Everyone In Washington,Should Be Heading To Prison

By Gary P Jackson

When I first learned of this, late Thursday, I was so angered I couldn’t even put it into words. Even now I’m really doing all I can to measure and moderate my tone. One thing about it, now we know why so many were adamantly opposed to auditing the Fed!

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
[Socialist-VT] reports the first ever top-to-bottom audit of The Fed shows $16
TRILLION in secret “emergency” loans to American and foreign banks and
other businesses. All sympathetic to the democrat party.

Last year, the gross domestic
product of the entire U.S. economy was only $14.5 trillion!

These secret loans started during
President George W Bush’s last year in office, December 2007, but it was all
orchestrated by the Fed. In fact, many of the people who work for the Fed also
have ties to the banks and corporations who got this money. Still, this doesn’t
excuse the democrat controlled Congress, or the Bush administration.

Here’s what Senator Sanders posted
on his website:

The first top-to-bottom audit of the
Federal Reserve uncovered eye-popping new details about how the U.S. provided a
whopping $16 trillion in secret loans to bail out American and foreign banks
and businesses during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. An
amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders to the Wall Street reform law passed one year
ago this week directed the Government Accountability Office to conduct the study. “As a
result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16
trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial
institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world
,”
said Sanders. “This is a clear case of socialism for the rich and rugged,
you’re-on-your-own individualism for everyone else.

Among the investigation’s key
findings is that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in
financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to
Scotland, according to the GAO report. “No agency of the United States
government should be allowed to bailout a foreign bank or corporation without
the direct approval of Congress and the president
,” Sanders said.

The non-partisan, investigative arm
of Congress also determined that the Fed lacks a comprehensive system to deal
with conflicts of interest, despite the serious potential for abuse. In fact,
according to the report, the Fed provided conflict of interest waivers to
employees and private contractors so they could keep investments in the same
financial institutions and corporations that were given emergency loans.

For example, the CEO of JP Morgan
Chase served on the New York Fed’s board of directors at the same time that his
bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Moreover,
JP Morgan Chase served as one of the clearing banks for the Fed’s emergency
lending programs.

In another disturbing finding, the
GAO said that on Sept. 19, 2008, William Dudley, who is now the New York Fed
president, was granted a waiver to let him keep investments in AIG and General
Electric at the same time AIG and GE were given bailout funds. One reason the
Fed did not make Dudley sell his holdings, according to the audit, was that it
might have created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

To Sanders, the conclusion is
simple. “No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance
from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed’s board of directors or be
employed by the Fed
,” he said.

The investigation also revealed that
the Fed outsourced most of its emergency lending programs to private
contractors, many of which also were recipients of extremely low-interest and
then-secret loans.

The Fed outsourced virtually all of
the operations of their emergency lending programs to private contractors like
JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo. The same firms also received
trillions of dollars in Fed loans at near-zero interest rates. Altogether some
two-thirds of the contracts that the Fed awarded to manage its emergency
lending programs were no-bid contracts. Morgan Stanley was given the largest
no-bid contract worth $108.4 million to help manage the Fed bailout of AIG.

A more detailed GAO investigation
into potential conflicts of interest at the Fed is due on Oct. 18, but Sanders said
one thing already is abundantly clear. “The Federal Reserve must be reformed
to serve the needs of working families, not just CEOs on Wall Street
.”

To read the GAO report, click here.

This is simply incredible. It’s
crony capitalism at it’s worst, and the numbers are so large they are almost
incomprehensible. We’re talking about more money than our yearly GDP, trillions
more. It’s frightening enough to know our debt is equal to 100% of our GDP, and
totally unsustainable, this puts us in a whole other world.

What’s more incredible is there have
been numerous reports of bailout money going to foreign banks,  a separate
situation, and yet, Congress has done nothing.

Astute readers have heard of the Cloward-Piven
Strategy
. It was developed by a couple of radical, socialist Columbia
University professors, Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. both
Cloward and Piven have been big players in the democrat party for decades, and
have even been photographed at the White House with President Bill Clinton at
official ceremonies.

Cloward-Piven is a strategy to overwhelm the
system with debt, demand, and confusion, in order to cause the collapse the
entire system of capitalism, and bring about a Marxist state. This is why you
see the democrats wanting to add MORE debt, and spend MORE money, at a time we
are beyond broke. It’s a deliberate, calculated strategy to destroy America as
we know it, and bring about a command-and-control form of government ….
Not that we aren’t almost there now!

In September of 2008 James Simpson
wrote an great article: Barack Obama and the Strategy of Manufactured
Crisis

for the American Thinker. Simpson laid out the strategy Obama would use,
as well as giving readers a nice history lesson of Cloward-Piven and the
art of “manufactured crisis.” It’s a must read if you want to understand
where we are at right now, and what is actually going on.

It’s a damned shame our “betters
in the GOP didn’t take time to learn about all of this BEFORE Obama was
elected. Had the feckless Republican establishment learned what many of us
already knew about Obama, maybe we wouldn’t be in this mess!

Besides the banks, you’ll notice
General Electric is involved in all of this. GE’s CEO Jeffery Immelt is
attached to Barack Obama at the hip. GE has received all sorts of special
treatment, because Immelt has supported Obama so strongly, and is even on many
regime advisory committees. He even turned the TV networks the company owns,
most notably NBC and MSNBC, into propaganda channels for Obama and the DNC.

It’s crony capitalism. It reminds me
of how socialist and communist states operate. The fat cats, as long as they
support the regime, are allowed to not only make money, but actually raid the
public coffers.

While these $16 TRILLION in secret
loans are so over the top it’s almost hard top comprehend, they are no
different to the Obama regime’s handouts to the labor unions, and other special
interests who have the regime’s back. History tells us that it’s a good bet
most of these loans will never be repaid.

It’s quite telling that at a time
Obama is threatening to stop sending seniors and the disabled the monthly
checks they have EARNED, as well as gutting the military, [while we are in
three wars and terrorism is high] that he has plenty of party favors for his
buddies.

The Fed is a bad situation all unto
itself. That said, there is congressional oversight of the agency. That the
agency has been allowed to run wild, while Congress did nothing, is criminal.
Every single member of Congress charged with overseeing the agency must be
fired. They also must be investigated. We should be filling our prisons with
the corrupt bastards who allowed all of this to happen.

It’s quite obvious the Obama regime
has purposely enriched it’s friends through all of this corruption.

We’ve never put a United States
President in prison. Obama wants to be “historic” I say we need to make
a little history. Obama, Fed chair Ben Bernanke, and an entire cast of
characters have created a situation that will most certainly cause the Republic
to collapse, if something radical isn’t done.

If the United States collapses, the
entire world will collapse. Liberty and Freedom will be things we’ll read about
in books. [if books aren’t outlawed] We’ll all be living in a very dark time.

I have no faith in Congress. Even
though Senator Sanders has exposed this massive corruption, you can bet this
will be swept under the rug.

We, the people, must rise up and
DEMAND satisfaction.

We must DEMAND that any member of
Congress charged with keeping an eye on the Fed resign immediately, pending
criminal investigation.

We must DEMAND Ben Bernanke resign
immediately, pending criminal investigation.

We must DEMAND members of the Fed
involved in this scheme resign immediately, pending criminal investigation.

We must DEMAND any bank officer,
corporation management, absolutely anyone involved with any company that
received these secret loans, and was involved in the process, should be
investigated for criminal activity.

We must DEMAND the resignation of
Barack Obama, and anyone else connected to this in his regime, pending criminal
investigation.

We also MUST DEMAND a our next
elected President have a record of successfully going after corruption, even in
her own party. [I just happen to have someone in mind]

Never in the history of our nation
has corruption been so rampant in government. We need a top to bottom overhaul.
We MUST cut spending and get government out of our lives so we can grow jobs
and create opportunities.

The only way we’ll even come close
to surviving as a nation is to make the U.S. the most business friendly place
on earth.

It’s going to take something
radical. It’s going to take our government going back to First Principles, back
to the Constitutional Republic our founders created. It’s going to take the
federal government realizing what they can and cannot, and should not,
interfere with. They need to realize most things, constitutionally, are left to
the states to sort out and control.

We need new leadership. We need
people who understand reality. We need people who understand they work for us,
the people. That WE are their employers, their bosses.

We need people who are mindful of
how hard it is to earn a living, and how precious those tax dollars that flow
into D.C. are. We need people who will treat those dollars with respect, and
spend them wisely.

We also need to send a message to
the corrupt bastards in Washington now, by sending the guilty to prison [and
throwing away the key] and the inept packing!

With all of the insanity we are
seeing from Washington, we can no longer sit by and tolerate it. We must take
action and we must be successful. The very existence of our Republic depends on
us all standing up and being heard.

EU/IMF Bailout =”Kicking the can down the road” e

How often did we as young kids go down the street kicking a can? “Kicking the can down the road” is a universally understood metaphor that has come to mean not dealing with the problem but putting a band-aid on it, knowing we will have to deal with something maybe even worse in the future.

While the US Congress is certainly an adept player at that game, I think the world champions at the present time have to be the political and economic leaders of Europe. Today we look at the extent of the problem and how it could affect every corner of the world, if not played to perfection. Everything must go mostly right or the recent credit crisis will look like a walk in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris in April compared to what could ensue.

From the point of view of not wanting to so soon endure another banking and credit crisis, we must applaud the leaders of Europe. The PIIGS collectively owe over $2 trillion to European and US banks. German, French, British, Dutch, and Spanish banks are owed some $1.5 trillion of that by Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Greece by the end of June, 2010. That figure is down some $400 billion so far this year, which means that the ECB is taking on that debt, helping banks push it off their balance sheets. For what it’s worth, the US holds, according to the Bank for International Settlements, about $353 billion, or 17%, of that debt, which is not an inconsequential number.

Robert Lenzner notes something very interesting about the latest BIS report, out this week:

“What’s curious, though, is that for the first time the BIS has broken out a new debt category termed ‘other exposures, which it defines as ‘other exposures consist of the positive market value of derivative contracts, guarantees extended and credit commitments.’ These ‘other exposures’ – quite clearly meant to be abstruse – amount to $668 billion of the $2 trillion in loans to the PIIGS.

“So, bank analysts everywhere; you now have to cope with evaluating derivative contracts that could expose lenders to losses on sovereign debt. Be on notice!”

What did I write just last week? That it is derivative exposure to European banks that is a very major concern for the world and the US in particular. It is not just a European problem. I predicted in 2006 that the subprime problem would show up in Europe and Asia. This time around, European banks present a similar if not greater risk to the US.

A collapse of a major European bank could trigger all sorts of counterparty mayhem in the US banking system, at least among our major investment banks. And then people would want to know which bank was next. This is yet another reason why the recent financial-system reform was not real reform. We still have investment banks committing bank capital to derivatives trading overseen by regulators who don’t really understand the risk. Who knew that AIG was a counterparty risk until it was? Lehman was solid only a month before until it evaporated. On paper, I am sure that every one of our banks is solid – good as gold – because they have their risks balanced with counterparties all over the globe and they have their models to show why you should go back to sleep.

Kicking the Can Down the Road

And that is why I applaud the ECB for stepping in and taking some risk off the table. We do not know how close we came to another debacle. Does anyone really think Jean-Claude Trichet willingly said, “Give me your tired, your poor, your soon-to-default sovereign debt?” Right up until he relented he was saying “Non! Non!” He did it because he walked to the edge of the abyss and looked over. It was a long way down. Bailing out European banks at the bottom would have cost more than what he has spent so far. It was, I am sure, a very difficult calculation.

I remember writing a letter not so long ago, quoting Trichet on that very topic. He was vehemently opposed to any ECB involvement in something that looked like a bailout. And then he wasn’t. I do hope he writes a very candid memoir. It will be interesting reading. The reality is that there was nowhere else to turn. There were no mechanisms in the Maastricht Treaty for dealing with this situation. What I wrote the following week (or thereabouts) still stands. This was and is a bailout for European banks in order to avoid a banking crisis. Many European banks, large and small, have bought massive sums on huge leverage of sovereign debt, on the theory that sovereign debt does not default. Some banks are leveraged 40 to 1!

The ECB is now earnestly continuing to kick the can down the road, buying ever more debt off the books of banks, buying time for the banks to acquire enough capital, either through raising new money or making profits or reducing their private loan portfolios, to be able to deal with what will be inevitable write-downs. It they can kick the can long enough and far enough they might be able to pull it off.

There is historical precedent. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, US banks figured out that if you bought bonds from South American countries at high rates of interest and applied a little leverage, you could practically mint money. And everyone knew that sovereign countries would not default. That is, until they did.

Technically, every major bank in the US was insolvent then. I mean really toes-up, no-heartbeat bankrupt. So what happened? Mean old Paul Volker – he who willingly plunged the US into recession to vanquish the specter of inflation – allowed the banks to carry those South American bonds on their books at full face value. He kicked the can down the road. And the banks raised capital and made profits, shoring up their balance sheets.

In 1986 Citibank was the first bank to begin to write down those Latin American bonds. Then came Brady bonds in 1989. Remember those? Brady bonds were as complicated as they were innovative. The key innovation behind their introduction was to allow the commercial banks to convert their claims on developing countries into tradable instruments, allowing them to get the debt off their balance sheets. This reduced the concentration risk to the banks. (To learn more about Brady bonds, and a very interesting period, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brady_Bonds and also google “Brady bonds.”)

So it worked. Kicking the can down the road bought time until the banks were capable of dealing with the crisis.

Different Cans for Different Folks

The ECB has chosen a different way to kick that old can (and a large and noisy one it is!), but it is not without consequences. Trichet has let it be known that dealing with sovereign-debt default issues should not be the central bank’s problem, it should be a problem for the European Union as a whole. And I think he is right, for what that’s worth.

If the ECB were to keep this up, even in a deflationary, deleveraging world it would eventually bring about inflation and the lowering of the value of the euro against other currencies. That is not the stuff that German Bundesbankers are made of. So they have been pushing for a European Union solution.

At first, the political types came up with the stabilization pact in conjunction with the IMF. But this was never a real solution, other than for the immediate case of Greece … and then Ireland. It has some real problems associated with it. It could deal with Portugal but is clearly not large enough for Spain. It is worth nothing that the political leaders of both the latter countries have loudly denied they need any help. Hmm. I seem to remember the same vows just the week before Ireland decided to take the money.

One of my favorite writers, Michael Pettis penned this note:

“Its official – Spain and Portugal will need to be bailed out soon. How do I know? In one of my favorite TV shows, Yes Minister, the all-knowing civil servant Sir Humphrey explains to cabinet minister Jim Hacker that you can never be certain that something will happen until the government denies it.”

Ultimately, the EU has three options. But before they get there – or maybe better said, before there is a crisis that forces them to get there – they will continue to kick the can down the road. They are really very good at it. We will consider those options in a little bit; but first, let’s look at just one aspect of the problem that will lend some context to the various paths among which they must choose. And that will take us on a detour back to our old friend Greece, where this all started.

More Debt is NOT the Solution to Too Much Debt

Greece is being forced into an austerity program in order to be able to continue to borrow money. But it has come with a cost. Unemployment is now at 12.6%, up from less than 7% just two years ago. And Greek GDP continues to slide. Let’s look at some charts and data from my favorite slicer and dicer of data, Greg Weldon ( http://www.weldononline.com for a free 30-day trial).

Notice that Greek GDP is down over 7% for the last 9 quarters, and there is no reason to believe there will be a reversal any time soon.

Greece GDP

A declining GDP is just not good for the country, but it also makes it more difficult for Greece to get back into compliance with its EU fiscal deficit-to-GDP requirements. The problem is that GDP is declining faster than the fiscal deficit. Normally, a country would devalue its currency (and thus its debt), maybe restructure its external debt (or default), and then try to grow its way out of the crisis.

Let’s go back and look at what Iceland did, as compared to Ireland, which is trying to take on more debt to bail out its banks, that is, to bail out German and French and British banks.

This is what I wrote a few weeks ago, and it bears repeating:

Look at how upset the UK got when Iceland decided not to back their banks. Never mind that the bank debt was 12 times Iceland’s national GDP. Never mind that there was no way in hell that the 300,000 people of Iceland could ever pay that much money back in multiples lifetimes. The Icelanders did the sensible thing: they just said no.

Yet Ireland has decided to try and save its banks by taking on massive public debt. The current government is willing to go down to a very resounding defeat in the near future because it thinks this is so important. And it is not clear that, with a slim majority of one vote, it will be able to hold its coalition together to do so. This is what the Bank Credit Analyst sent out this morning:

“The different adjustment paths of Ireland and Iceland are classic examples of devaluation versus deflation.

“Iceland and Ireland experienced similar economic illnesses prior to their respective crises: Both economies had too much private-sector debt and the banking system was massively overleveraged. Iceland’s total external debt reached close to 1000% of its GDP in 2008. By the end of the year, Iceland’s entire banking system was crushed and the stock market dropped by more than 95% from its 2007 highs. Since then, Iceland has followed the classic adjustment path of a debt crisis-stricken economy: The krona was devalued by more than 60% against the euro and the government was forced to implement draconian austerity programs.

“In Ireland, the boom in real estate prices triggered a massive borrowing binge, driving total private non-financial sector debt to almost 200% of GDP, among the highest in the euro area economy. In stark contrast to the Icelandic situation, however, the Irish economy has become stuck in a debt-deflation spiral. The government has lost all other options but to accept the E85 billion bailout package from the EU and the IMF. The big problem for Ireland is that fiscal austerity without a large currency devaluation is like committing economic suicide – without a cheapened currency to re-create nominal growth, fiscal austerity can only serve to crush aggregate demand and precipitate an economic downward spiral. The sad reality is that unlike Iceland, Ireland does not have the option of devaluing its own currency, implying that further harsh economic adjustment is likely.”

This is what it looks like in the charts. Notice that Iceland is seeing its nominal GDP rise while Ireland is still in freefall, even after doing the “right thing” by taking on their bank debt.

Ireland versus Iceland

Greek five-year bonds are now paying 12.8%. It is hard to grow your way out of a problem when you are paying interest rates higher than your growth rate and you keep adding debt and increasing your debt burden.

Greece 5-Year Soverign Bond Yield

Each move to deepen government cuts in Greece will result in further short-term deterioration of GDP, which makes it even harder to dig out of the hole. And Greece is a particularly thorny problem. The taxi drivers are outraged that they might have to use meters. Why? Because that means someone could actually track the amount of money they take in. Government workers are striking over 10% pay cuts. And on and on.

It is the same song but with a different verse for the rest of the countries in Europe that have problems. While Ireland is very different from Greece, assuming massive debt in a deflating economy will only turn Ireland into an ever-larger burden unless they can get on the path to growth again. Ditto for Portgual, Spain, and….

Et Tu, Belgium?

One country after another in Europe is coming under pressure. This week the debt of Belgium was downgraded, and the accompanying note from Standard and Poor’s observed that:

“Belgian’s current caretaker government may be ill-equipped to respond to shocks to public finances. The federal government’s projected 2011 gross borrowing requirements of around 11 percent of GDP leaves it exposed to rising real interest rates.”

At some point, if a country does not get its fiscal deficit below nominal GDP (and this is true for the US as well!) it will run into the wall. Credit markets will no longer lend to it. In Europe, the lender has become the ECB, but that may – and I emphasize may – change with the establishment of a new authority for the European Union to sell bonds and use the proceeds to fund nations in crisis. Under the proposal, each nation would assume a portion of the total debt risk. That may be a tough sale, as it appears there will need to be a treaty change and then country-by-country votes for such a change.

It will also mean that countries that accept such largesse will endure a very stern hand in their fiscal affairs. This is potentially a very real surrender of sovereignty. Some countries may decide it’s worth the price. Others, on the funding side of the equation, may decide they have to “take one” for the good of the European team.

This fund is to be launched in 2013, which gives EU leaders some time to flesh out the idea and sell it.

A second choice is for some countries to leave the euro but stay in the EU. Not all members of the EU participate in the eurozone. Leaving would be hugely messy. It is hard to figure out how it could be done without serious collateral damage. Even if Germany were to decide to be the one to leave, which they actually could, as the new German currency would rise over time, it would also mean their exports would be less competitive within Europe.

A third choice (which could be combined with the first choice) is radical debt restructuring. Convert Greek bonds into 100-year low-interest bonds, giving the Greeks (or Irish or Portuguese …) the time and ability to service the debt, along with real controls on their spending. Of course, that is default by another name, but it allows the fiction. Something like Brady bonds. You hit the reset button and kick the can a long way down the road.

That choice too has political and economic consequences. Someone has to cover the losses on the mark-to-market for those bonds. Who takes the hit?

Let me close with this bit of insight from one of my favorite analysts, Martin Wolfe of the Financial Times (www.ft.com):

“This leads to my final question: could the eurozone survive a wave of debt restructurings? Here the immediate point is that the crisis could be huge, since one restructuring seems sure to trigger others. In addition, the banking system would be deeply affected: at the end of 2009, for example, consolidated claims of French and German banks on the four most vulnerable members were 16 per cent and 15 per cent of their GDP, respectively. For European banks, as a group, the claims were 14 per cent of GDP. Thus, any serious likelihood of sovereign restructuring would risk creating runs by creditors and, at worst, another leg of the global financial crisis. Further injections of official capital into banks would also be needed. This is why the Irish have been “persuaded” to rescue the senior creditors of their banks, at the expense of the national taxpayer.

“Yet even such a crisis would not entail dissolution of the monetary union. On the contrary, it is perfectly possible for monetary unions to survive financial crises and public sector defaults. The question is one of political will. What lies ahead is a mixture of fiscal transfers from the creditworthy with austerity among the uncreditworthy. The bigger are the former, the smaller will be the latter. This tension might be manageable if a swift return to normality were plausible. It is not. There is a good chance that this situation will become long-lasting.

“Still worse, once a country has been forced to restructure its public debt and seen a substantial part of its financial system disappear as well, the additional costs of re-establishing its currency must seem rather smaller. This, too, must be clear to investors. Again, such fears increase the chances of runs from liabilities of weaker countries.

“For sceptics the question has always been how robust a currency union among diverse economies with less than unlimited mutual solidarity can be. Only a crisis could answer that question. Unfortunately, the crisis we have is the biggest for 80 years. Will what the eurozone is able to agree to do be enough to keep it together? I do not know. We all will, however, in the fairly near future.”

My only small disagreement is on whether it will be in the “near future.” World champion can kickers can put off the day of reckoning longer than you might think. On the other hand, when that day does come, it will seem to have come so quickly and with so little warning. There is no way to know what the markets will do about this, so it pays to stay especially vigilant and flexible.

Africa, Old Friends, and Pensacola

In a former life that seems ages ago (in the late ’80s), I banged around Africa for a few years, chasing the dream of starting a cellular telephone company somewhere. I had actually won some lotteries here in the US and wanted to see if I could get lightning to strike twice. I went to Africa because no one else at the time was paying attention. I was actually in 15 countries, researching the possibilities and working on licenses. I even got one (which was not good luck, but that is another story).

In the process, I found and hired a US ex-pat attorney based in Kinshasha, Zaire, named Pat Mitchell. He introduced me to lots of people all over, but in particular I became good friends with Kevin O’Rourke, a raconteur with the Irish gift (shared with Pat) of spinning yarns. Both of these guys were larger than life and just fun as hell. It was one of my favorite times in life. A learning experience to be sure, but as I look back on it now, I have fond memories. If I had gone a few years later, I might have had more luck. Those African franchises now are worth multiple tens of billions. Oh well.

Yesterday, Pat called me from his home in Pensacola, Florida, where he is now based, and told me that Phil had just flown in and that I should come on down. I have been threatening to visit Pat for a few years, but time and stuff just happens. It goes so fast.

I sat and thought for a few minutes and realized there was nothing on my schedule that could not wait 24 hours. American has a straight shot in less than two hours. So Saturday night I will be in some bar in Pensacola with my amigos, telling stories and maybe a few lies, talking about the old days, and remembering that it is friendships over the years that make the journey worthwhile.

It is time to hit the send button. I intend to get a good night’s sleep, as I suspect I will need it. Have a great week.

Your somewhat nostalgic for Africa analyst,

John F. Mauldin

johnmauldin@investorsinsight.com

Comment:

This article is an excellent piece of work and one that every Minster in our government should be forced to read

Fresh on the back of one of the most severe austerity budgets in the history of our state it is astonishing that so called intelligent people in government would continue with this madness

Their control of the media here has ensured that the people are like sheep and just follow the mad pipers

Cowen and lenihan   

Market Notes (March2010)

 

March 9th, marked the one-year anniversary of the elusive bottom of the most brutal bear market since the 1930’s. At the time, job losses were running in excess of 700,000 /month, and fear was rife that the US-banking system was on the verge of being nationalized. American factories and miners were using 68% of industrial capacity, the lowest level since records began in 1948. Corporate profits fell sharply for the seventh consecutive quarter, the longest losing streak since the 1930’s. The second coming of the “Great Depression” looked imminent.

In a final act of desperation to stop the carnage, the infamous “Plunge Protection Team,” (PPT) unleashed the most powerful weapons in its arsenal, resorting to accounting gimmickry, and nuclear-QE, – injecting $1.75-trillion into the coffers of the Wall Street Oligarchs, in order to turn the bearish tide. Bankers were set free of mark-to-market accounting, and instead, were allowed to value their toxic assets at “mark-to-make-believe” prices, leading to a strong recovery in the financial sector.

Over the course of the next four-weeks, the Dow Jones Industrials climbed 1,500-points to close at 8,083 on April 9th, 2009. Still, there was great skepticism about the sustainability of the so-called “green-shoots” rally, – the third such rally since the horrific crash of Sept-October 2008 that followed the default of Lehman Brothers and the bailout of American International Group (AIG).

Before hitting the ultimate bottom at 6,500, previous Dow rallies ended-up as “bear traps,” that fizzled out, before the market turned sharply lower again. There was a 1,500-point run-up during the week that culminated in the election of Barack Obama as US president, after which the Dow lost 2,000-points over the next-three weeks. The Dow Industrials staged another 1,500-point gain in December, triggered by Obama’s selection of Wall Street favorite Timothy Geithner as Treasury chief, before plunging 2,500-points during the first two-months of 2009.


However, since the Dow Industrials hit rock-bottom, US-stocks have staged a $5.3-trillion recovery, amid the biggest percentage gain since the Great Depression. Yet when viewed through the prism of Gold, measured in “hard money” terms, one can see that the performance of the Dow Jones Industrials was less than stellar. The blue-chip indicator has been locked within a narrow trading band for the past 11-months, fluctuating on both sides of 9.5-ounces of gold since April 2009.  

The “green shoots” rally is therefore, an Optical Illusion, simply reflecting the side-effects of the Fed’s hallucinogenic “quantitative easing” QE-drug. Utilizing the chart above, one could argue that the value of the Dow Industrials is artificially inflated by about 2,500-points, engineered by the Fed’s monetization scheme, and ultra-low interest rates. An ocean of liquidity is buoying the Dow Industrials above the 10,000-level, designed by the PPT to bolster household confidence, since the valuations of 401-k’s and investor portfolios can influence the propensity to spend.

Still, there are huge worries about unrelenting job losses, multi-trillion dollar budget deficits for years to come, and the “Volcker rule,” which could put the shackles on the Wall Street’s Oligarchs, and force the liquidation of widely held stocks and commodities. But for now, the market’s climb above the 10,000-level, means the possibility of a “double-dip” recession is more remote, and instead, trying to short-sell stock indexes, is like trying to push a helium balloon under water.


The S&P-500 Index has rocketed +62% higher over the past year, a gain that would normally take five-years to realize. The speed and strength of the stock market’s recovery caught many bond traders off-guard, and knocked US-Treasuries for their worst annual losses since 1978. Most notably, the yield curve, – the spread between short-term interest rates and government bond yields, rose to its widest level ever. The yield on the Treasury’s 30-year bond compared to the one-year T-bill rate hit +440-basis points in December, the widest in history.

Traders reckon that the size of the US-national debt, now exceeding $12.3-trillion, is weighing on bond prices, and a huge avalanche of debt still lies ahead. The Treasury is expected to issue $1.6-trillion in new debt in 2010, and $1.3-trillion the following year. Chinese central banker Zhu Min has warned it would become more difficult for foreigners to buy Treasuries, when the US-government has to fund its deficit by printing more dollars. China slashed its holdings of Treasury securities by $34.2-billion in December, after months of complaining about the Fed’s QE scheme.

full article link http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/dorsch/2010/0311.html

By Gary Dorsch

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