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Posts tagged ‘The Dollar’

Euro Crisis or Death by A Thousand Day Trades

 

We in Europe are certainly living in interesting times.

   PDF Document  here   Euro Crisis Or Death By A Thousand Cuts[1]

Labour unrest, collapsing employment, bankrupt public coffers, riots and sovereign debt default.

This all might seem unexpected however in 1995 a former European Union economist Bernard Connolly foretold it all in his classic book “The Rotten Heart of Europe.” Connolly was hounded out of his elite job for telling the truth about the lies and obfuscation about the ERM (Exchange Rate Mechanism), the forerunner of the Euro. He knew that his instincts and training as a professional economist were telling him that the Euro would be a disaster for Nation States yet he was not allowed to articulate his genuine concerns.“As we shall see, in France the long arm of the authoritarian state has pressurized dissident economists and bankers, deployed financial information programmes on international TV channels, threatened securities houses with loss of business if they questioned the official economic line, and shamelessly used state-owned and even private-sector banks, in complete contradiction with their shareholder’s interests and Community law, to support official policy. ……….

The economic profession in Europe organized literally hundreds of conferences, seminars and colloquia to which only conformist speakers were invited; and the Commission’s “research” programmes financed large numbers of economic studies to provide the right results from known believers.”Connolly goes to state the essence of his book:

“My central thesis is that the ERM and the EMU (European Monetary Union, the mechanism with ultimately brought the Euro into technical existence) are not only inefficient but also undemocratic: a danger not only to our wealth but to our freedom and ultimately, our peace.”

As the current crisis unfolds we are just beginning to see the flaws in the Euro system that Connolly foresaw. Under the regime yes we have stable exchange rates between the Euro countries but there is no harmony between the disparate economies that make up Euroland. For example when it comes t0 borrowing “sovereign debt” each country is on its own. This last week Greece had to pay 18% on two year money whereas Germany had to pay only 3% approx. Where Greece has gone Spain, Portugal and Ireland are soon to follow. The technical makeup of the Euro is being brought into the glare of the light of day and business functionaries do not like the weaknesses they see. The idea that the Euro has a “central” bank has thus been exposed as a myth. If the Euro actually had a real central bank the sovereign nations of the European Super State would be able to borrow under its aegis, they cannot.

This means the Euro is not a “currency” as such but in actual fact is an exchange rate mechanism only.

Thus it is a political entity not an economic one. The fact that Germany “cannot assist” Greece in these crises while the Euro burns indicates again that politics and power rules the day not bread and butter and families and jobs. The behavior of Germany is actually frightening in light of the fact that it is the major beneficiary of this artificial exchange mechanism. The Euro is allowing cheap German goods flood.

Europe and explains why it has 200-300 billion Euros of trade surpluses with its economic partners.In a survey last week over 80% of Greeks want to exit the Euro but this voice is not being reported in much the same fashion that Connolly’s concerns were silenced by elite bankers and politicos. However, in 1995 the world was less connected when the Euro mechanism was being set up. Today we have hedge funds connected through Cray computers ready to “play” the markets. As soon as traders realize the Euro is a one way bet they will opt destroy the exchange mechanism because of its exposed failings.

The Emperor has been seen to have no cloths. As sure as night follows day they are going to reap their reward, the same way George Soros reaped his one billion paycheck on the 16th. September 1992 (“Black Friday”) when the bank of England lost 3.4 billion Sterling in one single day defending a flawed exchange link to Euroland. It is my suspicion that Germany sees this as a very real scenario and does not desire to waste its hard won foreign reserves on a “Norman Lamont” (The “Black Friday” chancellor of the British exchequer) type endgame.

All of this would be fascinating if it were purely an academic issue, unfortunately it is not. In Ireland, for example, the country is going through a horrendous economic downturn, one which is being exacerbated by this “currency” crisis. The problem is we now know the Euro is not a real currency and confidence is shot. The end result is lost jobs, non-existent credit, frozen business cash flows, unemployment and emigration. In other words the issues are very, very real. And I am sure it is the same in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy.

I do hope that the powers that be put their heads together to solve this developing disaster. Bernard Connolly wrote about it 35 years ago so they have had a lot of time to prepare. Let’s hope wisdom prevails and that the lessons Argentina learnt nearly a decade ago can be used. In that crisis, when she had to break the link to the Dollar (a la our Euro) she allowed devaluation but inspiringly its leaders also insisted the devaluation of all Dollar loans. In doing so the elite realized that they had only two options.

Social catastrophe or neutered bankers. They took on the bankers and substantially diminished the debt. Thus they saved their nation.

Accordingly, the so called “PIIGS” countries; Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain, should form a league based on national economic restructure. This league should form a common secretariat with the purpose of negotiating an exit from the Euro and allowing their currencies to “float” once more. This will immediately allow their economies to become competitive again without widespread deflation. Most importantly all Euro loans must be devalued to a new negotiated exchange conversion, as per the Argentinean model. This action will be greatly resisted by Euro bankers. This is why no one European nation could go this route alone. But together in league they have a chance.

I hope Irish leaders realize the difficulty we are in and have the intelligence and wisdom to formulate the type of solution mentioned. If such leadership was shown by Ireland perhaps the other heads in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain would have the courage to join with their fellow European brothers and sisters and save their nations from certain financial destruction. Yes we truly are living in interesting times.

source  thanks to chris at  www.wealthbuilder.ie

Reference: “The Rotten Heart of Europe”

Bernard Connolly

Faber & Faber, London, 1995.

Quarterly Market Brief & Stock Pick

source www.wealthbuilder.ie

Quarterly Market Brief & Stock Pick

The American stock market is still working through a consolidation phase following the magnificent run up since March of last year. The Dow transports have presented us with a new Dow buy signal but so far the Industrials have unconfirmed. The Dow 30 needs to break the 10,700 range convincingly before I will advise student clients to re-enter the market through their virtual portfolios.



The reason for this is clear. There are a number of major issues playing on the market and accordingly risk is high. In particular persistent unemployment, rising inflation, anticipated year end interest rate hikes and the planned end of quantitative easing are all still being priced into the competitive mix. I want evidence that this risk has been adequately discounted. Once we start moving to higher highs on both Dow 20 and Dow 30 we know that this process is over. Until that occurs the markets will probably be range bound as they have been since October – December 2009. If the confirmation signal is mixed it may prove problematic for valuations.

In general the QQQQ’s, the ETF for the NASDAQ, have been doing particularly well with AAPL breaking to new all time highs. This movement augurs well for technology moving forward, provided of course that the overall market returns to its former bull trend.

The dollar continues to grow in strength but this has more to do with a weakening Euro than any powerful fundamental growth in the American economy. In other words the issue is not who is the strongest but who is the least weak. As long as this is the case it will play havoc with Gold and Silver valuations and I continue to advise clients to avoid these metals in their virtual trading.

April is earnings season and I am looking forward with great relish to see how valuations in the market hold up. A lot will soon be told and how Wall Street reacts will give great insight on how to successfully play the rest of 2010. So keep your seat belts fastened and your minds focused.

Stock Pick

McDonald’s Corporation: MCD

Stock Fundamentals:

Dividend Yield:        3.5%

Financial Strength:    A++

Return on Capital:    21%

Return on Shr. Equity:    30.5%

Earnings Growth:    10%


McDonald’s Corporation finished 2009 in superb fashion and is one of my favourite choices for students learning the pension strategy.

Robust comparable store sales, margin expansion, and favourable currency movements were behind much of the earnings per share advance.

The momentum will probably continue into much of 2010. Although the economic recovery is taking shape, consumers are still looking to save money, especially in the face of high unemployment. Consequently, McDonald’s value and convenience have enabled it increase market share.

The company’s short and long term prospects look solid, Its dividend is secure and financial strength impeccable.

(Pension Strategy)

Note:    Since last March our pension portfolio mix is up a whopping 55%, including dividends, year on year. When one considers that this is our most conservative portfolio in terms of risk you soon realise the power of the recent stock market bull run. While we do not expect a similar performance this year from the pension portfolio over the last decade this strategy has proven itself to be ideal for those seeking an average 10-15% annual return with minimal risk and minor time allocation.

It may be the right direction

 

Markets nosedived on Thursday when Barack Obama set out broad new measures on financial regulation. The most significant of them is banning deposit-taking banks from proprietary trading that is “unrelated to serving customers”. This activity has generated politically incendiary profits for banks and bonuses for bankers.

The timing was political: the president spoke on the day that Goldman Sachs announced fourth-quarter earnings of $4.95bn. Those of a more populist nature than Mr Obama – both on the left and on the right – will say that he comes late to the game.

The Recession is not over.  

Economists may see the recession as being over, but the man on the street does not. Roughly 60% of the public believes the recession still has a way to go, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll reported last October. Even those who have not suffered know someone—a friend, a neighbor, a family member—who is being hurt. Two in three say the rally in the stock market has not changed their views.

The uptrend is broken.
— The uptrend in the S&P 500 Index was broken this week.  There is a lot of backpedaling in Washington, which was all too ready to claim success as the market was rising, but asked us to ignore the last two day decline.

The uptrend, which was technically “on the edge” since early December, has finally lost what is called trend support.  Look for much lower prices ahead.


Obama’s proposals strengthened Treasuries.

Treasuries headed for a third weekly gain as speculation that President Barack Obama’s bank- regulation plans will crimp economic growth weakened equities and added to demand for fixed-income securities.  The yield on the 10-year note reached its lowest in a month after the Obama administration yesterday proposed to limit the size and trading activities of financial institutions as a way to prevent another systemic meltdown. The Treasury is scheduled to sell $118 billion in notes next week.

Gold’s decline ready to resume?

Gold may decline as a rebounding dollar curbs demand for the metal as an alternative investment, a survey showed.

Twelve of 17 traders, investors and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, or 71 percent, said bullion would fall next week. Four forecast higher prices and one was neutral. Gold for delivery in February was down 2.9 percent for this week at $1,097.70 an ounce at noon in New York yesterday.

The Nikkei turns south.

— Japanese stocks slumped the most since November after the U.S. proposed to reduce risk-taking at banks and concern mounted that China will raise interest rates to curb inflation. The Nikkei 225 fell 2.6 percent to close at 10,590.55 in Tokyo, almost erasing this year’s gain. The broader Topix index slid 1.6 percent to 940.94, with six times as many stocks declining as advancing. Both gauges lost the most since Nov. 27.

Shanghai isn’t immune to troubles, either.

Investors pulled $348 million from China equity funds last week, the biggest outflow in 18 weeks, on concern China’s moves to cool its economy will slow growth, according to EPFR Global.     Chinese stocks fell since the government this month started tightening monetary policy to curb record loan growth and prevent bubbles in the nation’s property and stock markets.  Technically, the Shanghai Index violated a potential Head and Shoulders formation, which calls for a large decline.  The bubble may be popped.

The dollar is showing bullish tendencies.

The dollar is poised for an upside breakout.  The “line in the sand” in red is a technical pattern called a neckline of an inverted Head and Shoulders pattern.  Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts is considered a change in the outlook of Washington to “dollar friendly.”    In the past, Washington talked a good talk, but their actions were quite destructive to the dollar.  The outlook may have reversed.

A safety net hides the risk of bank failure.

 — There is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs in the banking system when capital is running short.  At least, this was the case before the government decided to be the ultimate financial backup for the entire banking structure of our country.  Places like Washington Mutual or Countrywide were offering stellar rates on various savings vehicles only days before their demise.  How can this be?  Well for one, banks are allowed to chase public capital and realize that the public will put money into a bank so long as the FDIC backs up the bank.  Unfortunately, if the bank fails the FDIC only covers your principal, not interest.

The chart shows Gasoline prices dropping faster than at the pump.

 The Energy Information Agency weekly report suggests, “The U.S. average price for regular gasoline dropped a penny to $2.74 per gallon, $0.89 higher than the average a year ago. On a regional basis, price changes were mixed. The East Coast price of $2.75 per gallon moved up less than a penny, while the price in the Rocky Mountains jumped up four cents to $2.62 per gallon. The price on the Gulf Coast was essentially unchanged at $2.62 per gallon. Prices in the Midwest and on the West Coast dropped, moving down over a penny on the West Coast to $2.95 per gallon and dropping nearly five cents to $2.68 per gallon in the Midwest.”

Frigid weather keeps NatGas prices high.

The Energy Information Agency’s Natural Gas Weekly Update reports, “As the extreme cold left much of the lower 48 States this week, natural gas demand for space heating and as a fuel for electric power plants fell precipitously. Compared with the prior report week, U.S. natural gas average daily demand decreased about 25 percent from 106 Bcf to 79 Bcf, according to Bentek Energy LLC. Lower demand led to widespread declines in prices that were generally less than 5 percent.”

Joseph Stiglitz: ‘We’re More Strict With Our Poor Than With Our Banks’

During the economic turmoil of the last few years, Nobel Prize-winning economist and Columbia University professor “ersatz capitalism” in America. He has also repeatedly called for a second round of fiscal stimulus to support struggling Americans.  Read full article here.
Joseph Stiglitz has been one of the most strident and incisive critics of the historic bailout of the banking sector.

Never one to mince words, Stiglitz, who served as the Chief Economist at the World Bank and on President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisers, has said the meltdown has resulted in a kind of

Is The U.S. Economy Being Tanked By Mistake or By Intent?

Should American bankers be let off the hook because they self-declare, before an investigational panel, that the failure of their newly invented risk swaps and other highly leveraged investment schemes was simply due to “mistakes”? Not malfeasance – just every-day mistakes? Bankers just fell asleep at the helm at a critical juncture in American history. Is that what we are being led to believe?

Oh well, it’s just 18 million American homes that now lay empty in the wake of unprecedented foreclosures, and the bankers have collected obscene bonuses for reckless lending of their depositors'(and taxpayers’) money. It’s like the captain and crew of a ship saying, not to worry, twenty-percent of the passengers were lost overboard, but this was due to unavoidable mistakes, and then being rewarded with bonuses when they reach port.

for more information follow link http://www.financialsense.com/fsu/editorials/cherniawski/2010/0122.html
source :by Anthony Cherniawski, The Practical Investor, LLC | Janury 22, 2010

Silver, the Dollar And the Two American Citizenships

Silver, the Dollar And the Two American Citizenships

Christopher M. Quigley B.Sc., M.M.I.I., M.A ,

 The most ominous flaw in our constitutional set-up is the fact that the federal government does not have control over money and credit and does not have control of corporations. It is therefore not really sovereign. And it is not really responsible, because it is now controlled by these two groups, corporations, and those who control the flows of money. ……. Now I come to my last statement. I regret ending on what is, I suppose, such a pessimistic note– I’m not personally pessimistic. The final result will be that the American people will ultimately prefer communities. They will cop out or opt out of the system.

Today everything is a bureaucratic structure, and brainwashed people who are not personalities are trained to fit into this bureaucratic structure and say it is a great life–although I would assume that many on their death beds must feel otherwise. The process of coping out will take a long time, but notice: we are already coping out of military service on a wholesale basis; we are already copping out of voting on a large scale basis.

I heard an estimate tonight that the President will probably be chosen by forty percent of the people eligible to vote for the forth time in sixteen years. People are also copping out by refusing to pay any attention to newspapers or to what’s going on in the world, and by increasing emphasis on the growth of localism, what is happening in their own neighbourhoods………. Now I want to say good night. Do not be pessimistic. Life goes on; life is fun. And if a civilization crashes, it deserves to.

When Rome fell, the Christian answer was, “Create our own communities.” Oscar Iden Lecture Number 3 of 3 “The State of Individuals” Prof. Carroll Quigley Georgetown University Georgetown 1978 As a European looking at the American economic and political scene I find it fascinating to see Prof. Carroll Quigley’s prophecy from the Oscar Iden Lectures in 1978 come to pass. It is generally accepted today that astute and aware citizens obtain their information from the internet and private news groups. Any review of these mediums will alert one to the fact that nearly half of the States of the Union have powerful committees actively working on opting out of the Federal system. It is my humble opinion that as the monetary crisis deepens this movement will grow in momentum. This trend for renewed local sovereignty seems to be taking off exponentially and as in the movie “Network” it would seem: “people are as mad as hell and will not take it anymore.” Upon researching this phenomenon deeper it would appear that more and more Americans are beginning to have a legal epiphany and realize that most of them actually have two citizenships. They are citizens of their respective republics, were they were born, in addition to being citizens of the “Federal” Union. Amazingly increasing numbers of Americans are applying for US passports asserting their citizenship of their home republics and rejecting their option of recognizing the Federal State, which in American jurisprudence relates solely to the District of Columbia and territories. This issue has become a powder-keg because it increasingly appears that the I.R.S. has no constitutional power outside the Federal Area and if you are not a Federal citizen, but simply an American citizen of one of the 50 American states, the I.R.S. has no actual jurisdiction over you under common law.

Once this “secret” becomes mainstream the Federal dollar is as good a dead. No collectable taxes equals no Federal Reserve dollar. As people around the World begin to comprehend the magnitude of this legal conundrum it can only have serious implications for the future value of the dollar and the price of silver and gold. Should the I.R.S. lose its mandate to collect taxes from American” Continental” citizens the system will demand an immediate solution. It is hard to see how this situation will work out favourably to the greenback. This is why, I reckon, smart state legislators are preparing options now. If the Federal Dollar is in a death spiral it is better to have a home State replacement ready to go.

 They know that the mainstream media will not report this growing movement and thus intelligent lawmakers are quietly developing their own networks of informative action. As Quigley predicted in 1978 these networks are becoming the framework for future political power. According to his theory, power comes from the ability to get things done, period, and as the Federal system morphs into debt paralysis any parallel “State” system that is effective will become the basis of all new political power-broking. America is undergoing a revolution as we speak be under no illusion folks. Anybody who thinks this “recessionary” crisis is normal is not informed. It will be fascinating to see how the genius of American creativity will fashion a solution. Even Canute could not hold back the sea, for the tide was too awesome in power.

America is in pain and citizens demand action. The tide of a resolution is forming on the ground in State capitals where increasingly Federal offices and officers are being ignored and shunned, but don’t expect to read about this in the newspapers. Silver dollars anyone?

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