Posts tagged Wall Street

Inside The Fed – What Janet Yellen Won’t Tell You

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

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Inside The Fed – What Janet Yellen Won’t Tell You

 

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What is Janet Yellen, new Fed chairman, really worried about?

 

Is it that reported unemployment will stay high, that the economic recovery will never get off the ground, that we will fall back into recession, or that consumer prices will fall, thereby further endangering the huge debts that already zombify the economy? These are big concerns, no doubt, but not her largest worry. Her largest worry has to be that foreigners will stop buying U.S. bonds.

This is far from a needless worry. Recent events, events of just the past few months and weeks, including the Russian invasion of Crimea, make it even more of a threat to the U.S. government. But, first, some background.

Foreign individuals and businesses cut back on their purchases of U.S. bonds years ago. Their place was taken by foreign central banks. The central banks simply created money in their own currency and used it to buy our bonds.

Why did they do this? The Japanese may have done this because they rely on us for defense and want to help support our economy. But most of the central banks did it to keep their own currencies from appreciating against the dollar.

The more dollars they bought, the less their own currencies appreciated against the dollar. In this way, they kept their export prices down and protected their export related jobs.

This was not unlike the trade wars of the 1930’s, conducted with tariffs, but this time the trade wars were conducted with currency manipulations.

The Federal Reserve always knew that we couldn’t rely on foreign central banks to buy our bonds forever. That is probably the main reason it began the program called quantitative easing, in which the Fed created money out of thin air specifically to buy back U.S. debt.

Quantitative easing was a kind of insurance policy. If foreign central bank buying of U.S. bonds collapsed, the Fed would already have a program in place to buy them back itself.

The Fed always said that quantitative easing was meant to create U.S. jobs. But this never made much sense. Even a hard core proponent of QE, Fed official William Dudley ( formerly of Goldman Sachs), admitted that the Fed’s own economic models could not explain how creating money out of thin air and using it to buy U.S. bonds would increase employment. Some link to rising stock prices could be demonstrated, but then rising stock prices could not be shown to create jobs either.

One inference from this was that chairman Ben Bernanke, and now new chairman Janet Yellen, were just taking wild stabs in the dark. A more reasonable inference is that they had another reason for QE, one which they did not want to acknowledge.

Viewed in this way, it becomes clear that the 2008 bail-out was not so much a bail-out of Wall Street as a bail-out of Washington. The Federal Reserve feared that the market for government bonds was about to collapse, which would lead to soaring interest rates, and a complete collapse of our bubble financed government.

The Fed did not have the option of creating money and buying debt directly from the Treasury. That would be illegal. The Treasury must first sell its bonds to Wall Street, after which the Fed can then use its newly created money to buy them back. Hence, in order to rescue the Treasury, the Fed felt it had to rescue Wall Street.

This is a simplification of what happened, and only part of the story, but it is the untold part of the story, and in all likelihood the most important part. The Fed was in a panic in 2008, but not primarily about what might happen to Wall Street, and certainly not about what might happen to Main Street. It was in a panic over what might happen to government finance.

This interpretation is strengthened by new information contained in former Treasury secretary Hank Paulson’s recent book. He revealed that Russia tried in 2008 to persuade China to join in a collaborative effort to dump U.S. bonds in order to bring down the U.S. financial system. Although China refused to do so at the time, it is clear that China regards us as a geo-political foe, would like to end dollar dominance, and has itself been paring U.S. bond purchases.

The end result of the Fed’s panic during the Crash was over $3 trillion worth of Fed purchases of U.S. or what became U.S. backed bonds. In only a few years, the Fed became the largest single owner of U.S. bonds, even larger than Japan or China. The total U.S. debt held by the Fed today equals the entire U.S. debt at the end of the Clinton administration. It is of course completely nonsensical that the U.S. government is borrowing such large sums from itself.

At the moment, Janet Yellen’s worries about finding buyers of government bonds can only be getting worse. For much of last year, foreign central bank purchases of U.S. bonds fell. As of October of 2013, they had been negative for three and six months. Then they turned up a smidge, only to fall again, so that the last three months show a decrease of over 5%.

It is known that Russia has withdrawn its U.S. bonds from custody of the Fed after the Crimea invasion, and has either been selling or could sell at any time. It will no doubt try again to persuade other countries to join in undermining the U.S. bond market and replacing the dollar as the mainstay of world trade.

Under these circumstances, it should not be surprising that the Fed is today taking only baby steps to reduce its program of creating new money to buy U.S. bonds. This program is not just meant to revive the economy, which it has not done and cannot do. It is more likely designed as a desperate and in the long run counterproductive effort to finance the U.S. government and save today’s dollar dominated financial system.

Most recent book by Hunter Lewis:

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is co-founder and former CEO of global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC and author of 8 books on moral philosophy, psychology, and economics, including the widely acclaimed Are the Rich Necessary? (“Highly provocative and highly pleasurable.”—New York Times) He has contributed to the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washing­ton Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as numerous websites such as Breitbart.com, Forbes.com, Fox.com, and RealClearMarkets.com. His most recent books are Crony Capitalism in America: 2008–2012, Free Prices Now! Fixing the Economy by Abolishing the Fed, and Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen leading not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural and global development organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

Jim Rickards: The Demise Of The U.S. Dollar (And Mutualy Assured Financial Destruction) Video

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Jim Rickards: The Demise Of The U.S. Dollar

(And Mutualy Assured Financial Destruction) Video

 

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It won’t happen tomorrow but slowly but surely the world is moving from dollars. The petrodollar system which has been key to the world economy over the last 40 years is eroding. More and more country to country deals are being done in currencies other than the dollar. The economic world as we have known it, after Bretton Woods in the Cold War Era, the post Cold War era, and the post 9-11 era is fundamentally shifting.  The dollar is not what it once was. It is no longer “almighty” and one should be prepared.

People have been predicting the death of the dollar for quite a while now, but many falsely believe that because hyperinflation hasn’t taken hold (there’s plenty of inflation though despite what we are told) we must be out of the woods. This would be a foolish assumption.

Since 2008 particularly I have watched the power of the dollar erode steadily. Countries are figuring out how to unwind their dollar positions without causing panic and killing the value of their dollar denominated assets. In order to unload dollar denominated assets and debt there has to be a willing buyer. Moving too quickly is suicide, but many “international actors” think not moving at all is also.

No one wants to get stuck holding the bag of dollars when things go south. But if things go bad (for the dollar) slowly the theory is an orderly less disruptive liquidation can occur. This will take, and has taken years. But it’s happening.

 

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Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

Ben Bernanke Gets His Reward

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Source: https://mises.org

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Ben Bernanke Gets His Reward

 

6700“Bernanke Enjoys the ‘Fruits of the Free Market,’” or so we’re told in a Reuters headline from March 4 about the former Fed chairman’s 40-minute speech in Abu Dhabi for which he received, ahem, $250,000. In the Reuters author’s defense, he was only quoting a DC lobbyist who was defending the amount, and added, Bernanke “will personally experience supply and demand.”

Well, yes, it’s just supply and demand and all that. No big deal and if you don’t like it, you must have something against markets. Still, it would be nice (and a bigger deal) if these reporters would quote someone outside of the accepted intellectual class of the Boswash corridor so compromised by being among the primary beneficiaries of all the new money Chairman Ben and his comrades created, ex nihilo, when he wasn’t shooting baskets in the Marriner Eccles building. If they did, they might hear some healthy skepticism about these events in which top officials cash in on their “public service” via contacts with the very industries they benefited while in office.

George Stigler explained such paybacks in his capture theory of regulation for which he received (rightly) the Nobel Prize in Economics, although I’d say they are better explained by the phrase, “quid pro and here-you-go!”

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Figure 1: Speech honoraria immediately upon leaving term of office. From CNBC.

Less-beholden observers might pause during Bernanke’s victory lap and note that the dollar has lost almost 30 percent of its value since he joined the Fed in 2002, and that’s only if you accept the lowball metrics used in official CPI statistics. It is likely twice that amount if price inflation is measured in more traditional ways, including forgotten factors such as the full inflation for out-of-pocket expenses or the cost to maintain a constant cost of living. Americans of 1977 may have had to suffer through bad hair and disco music, but at least they didn’t suffer discrepancies between (a) what they experienced the value of the dollars in their pockets to be and (b) what the government said it was. We do.

Yet, today, the Establishment celebrates Bernanke for keeping the funds flowing to those parties it needs to remain in power. But while Paul Krugman wonders where the inflation is, I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations of Bernanke’s speech honorarium. Again using the CPI’s numbers, $250,000 today buys roughly what $193,000 bought in 2002, which would have purchased 603 ounces of gold at the time. Today, those 603 ounces of gold would be worth over $805,000.

The point isn’t that all Fed chairs should contract their post-retirement speeches in gold at the beginning of their term of service, although maybe they should. It’s that payoffs such as this reflect about what you’d expect when a currency receives monopoly protection and legal tender status, neither of which has anything to do with the free market. And notwithstanding the opinions of DC lobbyists, neither does Bernanke’s speech.

It followed the most reckless term of service of any central banker in U.S. history. He printed trillions of dollars to rescue a portion of Wall Street that could have internalized its post-crash losses and financed budget deficits that served to transfer capital to the fringes of military empire and out of reach of domestic workers. He “depression-mongered” the U.S. economy in September 2008 even though that market meltdown paled in comparison to those of 1987 and 2000-2001, thus setting the stage for Depression 2.0, and many billions in stimulus spending, bailouts, and other malinvestments.

Was all this simply an effort to test his faulty academic research of the 1930s? Perhaps partly. But remember that cartelizing factions on Wall Street created the Federal Reserve itself in 1913 for the cartelizing factions on Wall Street. Since those who receive the new money first benefit the most, it stands to reason that those interested parties would shower accolades and a share of the loot on Bernanke in the form of $6,250 per speech minute — and assume Mrs. Yellen is paying attention.

An amusing backdrop to the speech news is the continuing crises affecting Bitcoin and Mt. Gox, the fraudulent and now bankrupt Bitcoin exchange that appears to have lost deposits while itself engaged in fractional reserve banking, something only the protected class of modern banks are allowed to do. Understanding the uncertain future of both the dollar and the country’s power elite in the post 9/11 United States is key to understanding the rise of competing digital currencies (of which Bitcoin is just one). Their demand would never have been as strong had the dollar been inflated relatively less, and had market corrections been allowed relatively more, during the years of the so-called Great Moderation. It is safe to assume that establishment bankers are trying hard to use the Mt.Gox fiasco to demonize any movement toward peer-to-peer banking, which could easily have the effect of making banking as we know it go the way of the buggy whip industry in the nineteenth century.

If it does, one casualty just might be Bernanke’s future honoraria.

In a rational world, being paid $250,000 for this speech would cause many to wonder what is really going on. But such a world has not existed in banking since, perhaps, the 1830s. Until another one comes about, appreciate the irony that Bernanke is being paid in a fiat currency he himself helped devalue, and since his own successor at the Fed promises to continue operating in a Bernankean tradition, he will pay someone to diversify it, quickly, into real assets to protect its purchasing power.

Bernanke’s speech has little to do with supply and demand. It has more to do with being rewarded for extending the road down which we have been kicking the economy can. It’s a road that will eventually dead end.

 


 

About the Author

Christopher_WestleyChristopher Westley

Christopher Westley is an associated scholar at the Mises Institute. He teaches in the College of Commerce and Business Administration at Jacksonville State University. Send him mail. Twitter @DrChrisWestley 

 

 

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The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

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The Crisis is Not Over! A Conversation with Legendary Investor Jim Rogers

 

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Published by Stefan Molyneux

Stefan Molyneux speaks with legendary investor Jim Rogers about the future of the world economy, the coming economic shift and how to prepare for the future.

Jim Rogers is an American businessman, investor and author. He is currently based in Singapore. Rogers is the Chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.

You can get “Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets” and other books by Jim Rogers at http://www.fdrurl.com/jimrogers

Get more from Stefan Molyneux and Freedomain Radio including books, podcasts and other info at: http://www.freedomainradio.com

 

More High Stakes Appointments to the Federal Reserve

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More High Stakes Appointments to the Federal Reserve

 

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It will still be the Obama Fed long after this president has gone.

 

The Obama administration has repeatedly complained about Republican blocking tactics in the Senate. In this context, it is worth remembering that the Democrats blocked President’s Bush’s last three nominees to the Federal Reserve Board. The Democrats calculated that a member of their party might win the White House in 2008 and why not wait in the hopes that a Democrat could shape the Federal Reserve for a generation to come.

This bet paid off, in that the seven member board is now comprised entirely of Obama appointees. Moreover Fed member terms are for 14 years, so a president’s choices may influence monetary policy long after he has left office.

Does any of this matter? Yes, the Federal Reserve has more power over the economy than the president himself. But isn’t monetary policy a non-partisan affair? Surely Fed members don’t operate with R’s or D’s on their backs.

Actually the idea of appointing non-partisan Fed members is even more of a fairy tale than the similar idea of appointing non-partisan judges. No one doubts anymore that the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is about politics. The illusion has persisted a little longer that we just need “good people” at the Fed, regardless of political and economic orientation, but illusion it is. As in the rest of politics, the Fed represents a battle between ideas and special interests.

The pretense of non-partisanship lasted longer at the Fed because until recently both Republicans and Democrats largely agreed about what they wanted from it. With the exception of Ronald Reagan, they were Keynesians who wanted more dollars printed and lower interest rates, because that was seen as the route to getting elected or re-elected, and why worry about the long run consequences, since as Keynes pointed out “in the long run we are all dead.”

This is now changing. Republicans succeeded in blocking Obama’s nomination of radical economist Peter Diamond to the Fed in 2011. After Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” of restricting the filibuster, Republicans could no longer repeat this performance. But 28 of them voted against Obama’s nomination of Janet Yellen to be the new Fed chairman. Only 11 of them voted to confirm: Flake (Ariz.); Kirk (Ill.); Corker (Tenn.); Coburn (Okla.); Collins (Maine); Coats (In.); Chambliss (Ga.); Burr (N.C.); Alexander (Tenn.); Ayotte (N.H.); and Murkowski (Alaska).

Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) exemplifies the confused Republican of today. He grasps that current monetary policy favors endless expansion of government control over the economy, with huge pay-offs to Wall Street and other special interests along the way, but falls for the circular argument that Fed members are “well qualified” precisely because they come from Keynesian university economics departments, government, or Wall Street.

In retrospect, there was something notable about George W. Bush’s last three appointees to the Fed board—the ones that were blocked by the Democrats. None of them had advanced degrees in economics. This was a throw-back to the old days when Fed appointees were rarely academic economists, but a sharp departure from current practice, when most are.

Respected financial writer Jim Grant jokes that today’s Fed has replaced the gold standard with the “Phd standard.” The problem, of course, is not Phds, but the economics departments they are coming from, and the lack of common sense in those departments. The Phd standard has given us the likes of the last Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, who bet the future of the US and indeed the world on a completely unproven and untested economic theory while literally smirking at those few unintimidated souls who, like Congressman Ron Paul, dared question him.

President Obama has now given us three more nominees to the Fed and the Senate has had a chance to interview them. The first and most important is Stanley Fischer, aged 70, nominee for vice chairman as well as a regular member.

The most curious thing about Fischer’s resume is that, having been born in Zambia, and naturalized as an American in 1976, he accepted Israeli citizenship in 2005 in order to become head of Israel’s central bank. Today he holds dual citizenship. Prior to living in Israel, he worked as a vice chairman of Citigroup from 2002-5, the years leading to the bank’s bail-out, and prior to that was deputy director of the International Monetary Fund, chief economist of the World Bank, and professor at MIT, where he taught Ben Bernanke among others. Somewhere along the way, he acquired a personal fortune of between $14 and $56mm.

We are thus to understand that President Obama, having searched the entire length and breadth of our land, could find nobody better than a 70 year old with Wall St. and International Monetary Fund baggage who had most recently worked for a foreign government.

The second nominee after Fischer is Lael Brainard, who has recently worked at the Treasury as an undersecretary. Ms. Brainard told senators that the Fed should protect “the savings of retirees.” She did not bother to explain how refusing to allow interest to be paid on savings, or seeking to foster inflation higher than interest would do so.

The final nominee, Jerome Powell, would be a reappointment. Although not a Phd economist and nominally a Republican from the George H. W. Bush administration, he fits the Obama mold in other ways, notably by being from Wall Street, and by being willing to keep quiet and go along. His most daring moment came when he called the Fed’s money creation machine under Bernanke and now under Janet Yellen “innovative and unconventional” and added that “likely benefits may be accompanied by costs and risks.” He has been a reliable vote for Bernanke and likely will be for the Yellen/Fischer regime as well.

Senator Corker waxed enthusiastic about this group of three, saying “I’m impressed,” and leading bond manager Mohamed El-Erian describes them as a “dream team” together with Yellen.

This does indeed seem to be a “dream team” for Wall Street, for corporations boosting profits to record levels with the help of government deficits, for other special interests feeding off the stimulus trough, and for government employees. For everyone else, it just promises more and eventually even worse economic misery.

 

Most recent book by Hunter Lewis:

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

 


Hunter Lewis
About Hunter Lewis

Hunter Lewis is co-founder of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. He is co-founder and former CEO of global investment firm Cambridge Associates, LLC and author of 8 books on moral philosophy, psychology, and economics, including the widely acclaimed Are the Rich Necessary? (“Highly provocative and highly pleasurable.”—New York Times) He has contributed to the New York Times, the Times of London, the Washing­ton Post, and the Atlantic Monthly, as well as numerous websites such as Breitbart.com, Forbes.com, Fox.com, and RealClearMarkets.com. His most recent books are Crony Capitalism in America: 2008–2012, Free Prices Now! Fixing the Economy by Abolishing the Fed, and Where Keynes Went Wrong: And Why Governments Keep Creating Inflation, Bubbles, and Busts. He has served on boards and committees of fifteen leading not-for-profit organizations, including environmental, teaching, research, and cultural and global development organizations, as well as the World Bank.

 

The average Wall Street bonus is…

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The average Wall Street bonus is…

 

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$164,000

Remember, this is the average bonus. Some are astronomically higher. (Some of course are also lower.)

We at ACC have absolutely no problem with people making large piles of money, even in banking. Frankly we are all for it. However when these piles of money are underwritten in many ways by the people of the United States, and the world, the piles are less legit.

The Federal Reserve system and the experiment called “quantitative easing” has made these bonuses possible.

While the easy money translates into good times for Wall Street, the vast majority of the population which lacks assets for the most part must contend with higher prices generally and lower interest rates (which are bad for savers, particularly of the middle class kind). Though no one on the Street will admit it, much of the record bonuses of last year came indirectly from the broader public. (Don’t forget the bailout. Your kids get to pay for that one.)

It’s hard to see sometimes. People lose track of where the money goes. They forget that the Fed is still dumping $65 billion in new money into the financial system each month. People don’t see that through inflation and other forms of wealth erosion created by the Federal Reserve their lives are diminished. The Fed counts on this. It counts on the average person being bewildered by central banking.

And the investment banks count on people remaining bewildered by “bond buying” and the Fed Funds rate, and all the rest of the the bluish smoke which wafts out of the Eccles Building too. In this “fog of finance” there is money to be extracted.

(From The New York Post)

Wall Street still remains a very lucrative place to work. According to the Comptroller’s report, for fiscal year 2012 — the most recent data — the average Wall Street salary, including bonuses, was $360,700, more than five times greater than the rest of the private sector.*

Click here for the article.

* In New York City.

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Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

Is “Dr. Copper” Foreshadowing A Stock Market Crash Just Like It Did In 2008?

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

Is “Dr. Copper” Foreshadowing A Stock Market Crash Just Like It Did In 2008?

 

Stock-Market-Decline-Photo-by-Nodulation-300x180Is the price of copper trying to tell us something?  Traditionally, “Dr. Copper” has been a very accurate indicator of where the global economy is heading next.  For example, back in 2008 the price of copper dropped from nearly $4.00 to under $1.50 in just a matter of months.  And now it appears that another big decline in the price of copper is starting to happen.  So far this year, the price of copper has dropped from a high of $3.40 back in January to a price of $2.95 as I write this article, and many analysts are warning that this is just the beginning.  By itself, this should be quite alarming to investors, but as you will see below there are a whole host of other signs that a stock market crash may be rapidly approaching.

But before we get to those other signs, let us discuss copper a bit more first.  I cannot remember a time since 2008 when there has been such an overwhelming negative consensus about where the price of copper is heading.  The following is from a CNBC article that was posted this week…

Cascading copper prices have multiple root causes that lead to one conclusion: The anticipated global economic recovery may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
 
Consequently, analysts are in virtual unison that the extended-term trajectory is lower for the metal often used as a growth barometer. Copper futures are off more than 12 percent in 2014 and 7 percent over just the past three days, though they rose less than 1 percent in Wednesday trading.
 
A slowdown in the global economy, forced selling by Chinese banks and technical factors have converged in multiple calls for more weakness in a commodity known by traders and economists as “Dr. Copper” for its ability to accurately make economic prognoses.

Of course there are some out there that are trying to claim that “this time is different” and that the price of copper is no longer a useful indicator for the global economy as a whole.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, there are lots of other signs that the financial markets are repeating patterns that we have seen in the past.  For instance, the level of margin debt on Wall Street just soared to another brand new record high

The amount of money investors borrowed from Wall Street brokers to buy stocks rose for a seventh straight month in January to a record $451.3 billion, a potential warning sign that in the past has coincided with irrational exuberance and stock market tops.

We saw margin debt spike dramatically like this just prior to the crash of the dotcom bubble in 2000 and just before the great financial crisis of 2008.  Just check out the chart in this article.

Shouldn’t we be alarmed that it is happening again?

If you listen carefully, there are many prominent voices in the financial world that are trying to warn us about this.  Here is one example

“One characteristic of getting closer to a market top is a major expansion in margin debt,” says Gary Kaltbaum, president of Kaltbaum Capital Management. “Expanding market debt fuels the bull market and is an investors’ best friend when stocks are rising. The problem is when the market turns (lower), it is the market’s worst enemy.

And of course margin debt is far from the only sign that indicates that we are in a massive stock market bubble that is about to crash.  The following is a list of 10 signs that comes from a recent article by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management

I was recently discussing the market, current sentiment and other investing related issues with a money manager friend of mine in California. (Normally, I would include a credit for the following work but since he works for a major firm he asked me not to identify him directly.)  However, in one of our many email exchanges he sent me the following note detailing the 10 typical warning signs of stock market exuberance.
 
(1) Expected strong OR acceleration of GDP and EPS  (40% of 2013′s EPS increase occurred in the 4th quarter)
 
(2) Large number of IPOs of unprofitable AND speculative companies
 
(3) Parabolic move up in stock prices of hot industries (not just individual stocks)
 
(4) High valuations (many metrics are at near-record highs, a few at record highs)
 
(5) Fantastic high valuation of some large mergers (e.g., Facebook & WhatsApp)
 
(6) High NYSE margin debt
 
Margin debt/gdp (March 2000: 2.7%, July 2007: 2.6%, Jan 2014: 2.6%)
 
Margin debt/market cap (March 2000: 1.8%, July 2007: 2.3%, Jan 2014: 2.0%)
 
(7) Household direct holdings of equities as % of total financial assets at 24%, second-highest level (data back to 1953, highest was 1998-2000)
 
(8) Highly bullish sentiment (down slightly from year-end peaks; still high or near record high, depending on the source)
 
(9) Unusually high ratio of selling to buying by corporate senior managers (the buy/sell ratio of senior corporate officers is now at the record post-1990 lows seen in Summer 2007 and Spring 2011)
 
(10) Stock prices rise following speculative press releases (e.g., Tesla will dominate battery business after they get partner who knows how to build batteries and they build a big factory.  This also assumes that NO ONE else will enter into that business such as GM, Ford or GE.)
 
All are true today, and it is the third time in the last 15 years these factors have occurred simultaneously which is the most remarkable aspect of the situation.

And for even more technical indicators such as these, please see Charles Hugh Smith’s excellent article entitled “Why 2014 Is Beginning to Look A Lot Like 2008“.

So do all of these numbers and charts actually prove that something is about to happen?

Not necessarily.

But if we do not learn from the past then we are doomed to repeat it.

At this point, even representatives from the big Wall Street banks are warning about the “euphoria” on Wall Street…

The stock market entered “euphoria mode” late last year and has remained there, except for a week in February, as “speculative froth” bubbles around the market’s hottest sectors, Citi’s chief equity strategist told CNBC on Tuesday.

And even market cheerleader Jim Cramer is warning that the stock market is now exhibiting “top behavior“…

The parabolic moves of stocks such as Plug Power and FuelCell Energy have the stock market exhibiting “top behavior,” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Wednesday.
 
Cramer said he has tracked the fuel cells stocks since his days as a hedge fund manager. Runups in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae also had him worried.

None of what you just read above guarantees that the stock market will crash this week, this month or even this year.

And nobody knows the exact date when the next stock market crash will happen.

But one thing is for certain – this massive stock market bubble will burst at some point, and when it does our economy is far less equipped to handle it than it was the last time.

Based on my research, I am entirely convinced that the coming economic crisis is going to be substantially worse than the last one, and that is very bad news for the United States.

This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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The Top 12 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading Toward Another Recession

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Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

By Michael Snyder

The Top 12 Signs That The U.S. Economy Is Heading Toward Another Recession

 

12-Reasons-To-Be-Extremely-Pessimistic-About-The-Direction-That-The-Economy-Is-Headed-300x300Is the U.S. economy steamrolling toward another recession?  Will 2014 turn out to be a major “turning point” when we look back on it?  Before we get to the evidence, it is important to note that there are many economists that believe that the United States never actually got out of the last recession.  For example, data compiled by John Williams of shadowstats.com show that the U.S. economy has continually been in recession since 2005.  So if anyone out there would like to argue that America is experiencing a recession right now, I certainly would not have a problem with that.  In fact, that would fit with the daily reality of tens of millions of Americans that are deeply suffering in this harsh economic environment.  But no matter whether we are in a “recession” at the moment or not, there are an increasing number of indications that we are rapidly plunging into another major economic slowdown.  The following are the top 12 signs that the U.S. economy is heading toward another recession…

#1 We recently learned that the number of new mortgage applications in the United States had fallen to the lowest level that we have seen in nearly 20 years.

#2 Radio Shack has announced that it is going to close more than 1,000 stores.  This is just another sign that we are in the midst of a “retail apocalypse“.

#3 The ISM Services index just fell to its lowest level in 4 years, and ISM Services Employment just experienced its largest decline since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

#4 Obamacare is really starting to hammer the U.S. health care industry

“The Affordable Care Act is creating significant financial uncertainty to health care organizations,” said a survey respondent from the health care and social assistance industry.
 
“With little warning, the negative impact on revenue has been unprecedented.”

#5 Trading revenue at the “too big to fail” banks on Wall Street is way down

Citigroup Inc. (C) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) are bracing investors for a fourth straight drop in first-quarter trading, a period of the year when the largest investment banks typically earn the most from that business.
 
Citigroup finance chief John Gerspach said yesterday his firm expects trading revenue to drop by a “high mid-teens” percentage, less than a week after JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said revenue from equities and fixed income was down about 15 percent. If trading at the nine largest firms slumps that much, it would extend the slide from 2010’s first quarter to 36 percent.

#6 One of the “too big to fail” banks, JPMorgan, is planning to fire “thousands” more workers.

#7 Moody’s has downgraded the credit rating of the city of Chicago again.  Now it is just three notches above junk status.

#8 The U.S. economy actually lost 2.87 million jobs during the month of January according to the unadjusted numbers.  Over the past decade, the only time the U.S. economy has lost more jobs during the month of January was in 2009 at the peak of the last recession.

#9 In January, real disposable income in the U.S. experienced the largest year over year decline that we have seen since 1974.

#10 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#11 Global retail sales for machinery giant Caterpillar have fallen for 14 months in a row.

#12 The economic data show that virtually all of the largest economies on the planet are slowing down right now.  The following is from a recent Zero Hedge article

The last 3 weeks have seen the macro fundamentals of the G-10 major economies collapse at the fastest pace in almost 4 years and almost the biggest slump since Lehman. Despite a plethora of data showing that ‘weather’ is not to blame, US strategists, ‘economists’, and asset-gatherers are sticking to the meme that this is all because of the cold on the east coast of the US (and that means wondrous pent-up demand to come). However, as the New York Times reports, for the earth, it was the 4th warmest January on record.

For much more on how the rest of the global economy is also slowing down, please see my recent article entitled “20 Signs That The Global Economic Crisis Is Starting To Catch Fire“.

Meanwhile, things in Ukraine continue to become even more tense, and the Russian government continues to debate how it will respond if the U.S. does end up deciding to hit Russia with economic sanctions.

According to one Russian news source, the Russian parliament is actually considering the confiscation of the property and assets of U.S. businesses in Russia if the U.S. decides to go ahead with economic sanctions against Russia…

The upper house of Russia’s parliament is mulling measures allowing property and assets of European and US companies to be confiscated in the event of sanctions being adopted against Russia over its threatened military intervention in Ukraine.

We are talking about banks, retail chains, mining operations, etc.

U.S. companies have billions invested in Russia, and all of that could be gone in an instant.

So let us certainly hope that economic war between the United States and Russia is averted.  Our economy is hurting enough as it is.

But no matter how things with this crisis in Ukraine play out, it looks like hard times are ahead for the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, most Americans never learned the lessons that they should have learned back in 2008.

They just assume that the federal government and the Federal Reserve have fixed our problems and have everything under control, so they are not preparing for the next great crisis.

In the end, tens of millions of Americans will be absolutely devastated when they get absolutely blindsided by what is coming.

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This article first appeared here at the Economic Collapse Blog.  Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.

 

 

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Image credit: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

 

Your new landlord lives on Wall Street

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Source: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org

By

Your new landlord lives on Wall Street

 

Probably not Wall Street renting this one.

Probably not Wall Street renting this one.

 

In the wake of the housing crash, wide swathes of the desert Southwest, Florida, Atlanta, parts of California, and other places were littered with relatively new homes which were empty. The pre-seeded lawn turf often hadn’t even taken root before the foreclosures began.

Each vacant home represented a personal economic disaster for someone. Families moved in with grandparents. Pets were left in shelters which were filled far beyond capacity. It was only a couple of years ago. For many the memory is still very fresh.

But at about the same time parts of Tuscon started to be reclaimed by tumbleweeds a few hedge funds (and banks) figured that there was yield to be made from renting the homes which were now unused back to the people who could no longer afford to own them. If the homes could be pooled along with the rents, perhaps the investments could even be sold as derivatives.

Market solution right?

Wrong.

Why did the Crash of 2008 happen?

The version we hear now is that Wall Street created all these bizarre instruments for investing, got greedy, and then it all toppled on itself. That’s the version one will hear from outlets like The Washington Post or Time.

Then there’s another version which is liked by the more conservative folks which holds that the Community Reinvestment Act  signed by Clinton encouraged home ownership in places where people really had no business taking on a mortgage. Then the poor risks imploded the market.

Both narratives have a lot of truth to them. Yes Wall Street got greedy. Yes it did create overly complex instruments which went haywire. And yes the Community Reinvestment Act, an insane act of social engineering if there ever was one helped to collapse the market.

But these things are only a part, and not the main part of the story.

The Crash of 2008 occurred because Allan Greenspan panicked in the wake of the 2000 recession and the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. He cut interest rates to low and kept them there for too long.

After folks had gotten hammered in the tech bubble collapse of the late 1990s they looked around for a new way to grow money. Baby boomers were staring right at retirement. Suddenly they discovered residential property which could be financed at next to nothing thanks to the Fed keeping rates lower than they should have. Plus many people rationalized, real estate was tangible, unlike tech stocks. Baby boomers, and then their children, piled in because of all the cheap money from the Fed. Before Greenspan knew it he had ignighted a worldwide fire fueled by easy money. The crash was only a matter of time.

But when the carnage came most of the banks (especially the megabanks) emerged. Some, like Goldman Sachs, stronger than ever.  First they were bailed out by the US taxpayer directly to the tune of probably more than a $trillion (we don’t really know.) Then after the acute phase – you know the time when families across the country were waiting in in humiliation for the banks to kick them out of their homes (remember that?)- the Fed began the quantitative easing infusion of monetary junk into the arm of the financial sector.

With time the banks were recapitalized (even if they were now easy money junkies) and fat bonuses were had by many courtesy of the taxpayer.

The former homeowners were not recapitalized however, and found that they had just rejoined the rental market – if they were lucky enough to have a stream of income. 2010- 2011 were especially hard years for many Americans. They were record years for a few of the megabanks.

Now a few years on the recapitalized banks, the insiders, the friends of the Fed, have picked up the homes which were in distress to rent them back to great unwashed. How nice of them. Especially having been bailed out by the great unwashed.

But that is life in a crony capitalist economy. If one has friends in the government one gets hooked up. If one doesn’t one gets to rent one’s house from a faceless PO Box in downtown Manhattan.

And make sure the rent is on time. You wouldn’t want to have us kick you out of your home again would you?

Click here for the article.

Image credit: http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org


Nick Sorrentino
About Nick Sorrentino

Nick Sorrentino is the co-founder and editor of AgainstCronyCapitalism.org. A political and communications consultant with clients across the political spectrum, he lives just outside of Washington DC where he can keep an eye on Leviathan.

 

Gerald Celente: Banker Suicides the Prequel to Global Collapse

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Gerald Celente: Banker Suicides the Prequel to Global Collapse

 

3-4-2014 6-06-18 AM

 

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Published by NextNewsNetwork

Published on Mar 3, 2014

Gerald Celente: Banker Suicides Prequel to Global Collapse – The onset of the great depression of the 1930′s brought a spike in banker suicides, Will Rogers noted of the time, “When Wall Street took that tail spin, you had to stand in line to get a window to jump out of, and speculators were selling space for bodies in the East River.”

Winston Churchill – the day after Black Friday – observed, “Under my very window a gentleman cast himself down fifteen stories and was dashed to pieces, causing a wild commotion and the arrival of the fire brigade,”

Nearly Eighty-five years later the phenomenon of banker suicides appears to have returned.

The week of January 20th would be the last for Swiss Re AG communications director Tim Dickenson but wouldn’t be the last in a string of deaths and suicides for International bankers.

Just days after Dickenson’s death on January 26, police found former Deutsche Bank executive Bill Broeksmit in his South Kensington London home after he’d hung himself.

The next day on January 27, JP Morgan senior manager Gabriel Magee, jumped 500 feet to his death from JP Morgan’s central London Headquarters he was a 39-year-old

A few days later on January 29, Cheif Economist for Seattle based Russel investments, Mike Dueker, was reported missing by friends, he was found later at the base of a 50 foot embankment. Police called it a suicide.

On February 4th, in a bizarre manner of death, the coroner ruled Suicide for Richard Talley, 57 who founded American Title Services in Centennial, Colorado. He had a total of eight wounds to his body and head – the method of death – a Nail Gun.

Last week on, February 17th, Dennis Li Junjie jumped to his death, shortly after lunch, from a the roof of the Asian headquarters for JP Morgan – he was only 33.

In the last eight months there have been at least 12 reported deaths of bankers perishing under questionable circumstances.

High stress banking careers are being blamed for the recent suicides. However, the answer may not be that simple.

Returning to the program, via Skype from his New York office, to give us insight into these deaths is Gerald Celente publisher of the Trends Journal.

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