Next-Generation Crazy: The Fed Plans For The Coming Recession

Insanity, like criminality, usually starts small and expands with time. In the Fed’s case, the process began in the 1990s with a series of (in retrospect) relatively minor problems running from Mexico’s currency crisis thorough Russia’s bond default, the Asian Contagion financial crisis, the Long Term Capital Management collapse and finally the Y2K computer bug.
With the exception of Y2K – which turned out to be a total non-event – these mini-crises were threats primarily to the big banks that had unwisely lent money to entities that then flushed it away. But instead of recognizing that this kind of non-fatal failure is crucial to the proper functioning of a market economy, providing as it does a set of object lessons for everyone else on what not to do, the Fed chose to protect the big banks from the consequences of their mistakes. It cut interest rates dramatically and/or acquiesced in federal bailouts that converted well-deserved big-bank losses into major profits.
The banks concluded from this that any level of risk is okay because they’ll keep the proceeds without having to worry about the associated risks.
At this point – let’s say late 1999 – the Fed is corrupt rather than crazy. But the world created by its corruption was about to push it into full-on delusion.
The amount of credit flowing into the system in the late 1990s converted the tech stock bull market of 1996 into the dot-com bubble of 1999, which burst spectacularly in 2000, causing a deep, chaotic recession.

This post was published at DollarCollapse on NOVEMBER 17, 2017.

The Truth About Wall Street Analysis

Turn on financial television or pick up a financially related magazine or newspaper and you will hear, or read, about what an analyst from some major Wall Street brokerage has to say about the markets or a particular company. For the average person, and for most financial advisors, this information as taken as ‘fact’ and is used as a basis for portfolio investment decisions.
But why wouldn’t you?
After all, Carl Gugasian of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe just rated Bianchi Corp. a ‘Strong Buy.’ That rating is surely something that you can ‘take to the bank’, right?
Maybe not.
For many years, I have been counseling individuals to disregard mainstream analysts, Wall Street recommendations, and even MorningStar ratings, due to the inherent conflict of interest between the firms and their particular clientle. Here is the point:
YOU, are NOT Wall Street’s client. YOU are the CONSUMER of the products sold FOR Wall Street’s clients. Major brokerage firms are big business. I mean REALLY big business. As in $1.5 Trillion a year in revenue big. The table below shows the annual revenue of 32 of the largest financial firms in the S&P 500.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 13, 2017.

Pepe Escobar: The Inside Story Of The Saudi Night Of The Long Knives

Princes, ministers and a billionaire are ‘imprisoned‘ in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton while the Saudi Arabian Army is said to be in an uproar…
The House of Saud’s King Salman devises a high-powered ‘anti-corruption’ commission and appoints his son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as chairman.
Right on cue, the commission detains 11 House of Saud princes, four current ministers and dozens of former princes/cabinet secretaries – all charged with corruption. Hefty bank accounts are frozen, private jets are grounded. The high-profile accused lot is ‘jailed’ at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.
War breaks out within the House of Saud, as Asia Times had anticipated back in July. Rumors have been swirling for months about a coup against MBS in the making. Instead, what just happened is yet another MBS pre-emptive coup.
A top Middle East business/investment source who has been doing deals for decades with the opaque House of Saud offers much-needed perspective:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 7, 2017.

WTI Spikes Over $57 For The First Time Since July 2015

Having legged higher at the opens of Asia, Europe, and US markets, WTI is extending gains overnight on middle-east tensions…
Brent is trading above $62 amid anti-corruption drive led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which may consolidate his control in OPEC’s largest oil producer, and WTI has pushed above $57 as producers such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia signal they support a potential extension of OPEC output cuts.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 6, 2017.

South Korea Removes President Park Geun-hye

A South Korean court removed the president on Friday, a first in the nation’s history, rattling the delicate balance of relationships across Asia at a particularly tense time.
Her removal capped months of turmoil, as hundreds of thousands of South Koreans took to the streets, week after week, to protest a sprawling corruption scandal that shook the top echelons of business and government.
Park Geun-hye, the nation’s first female president and the daughter of the Cold War military dictator Park Chung-hee, had been an icon of the conservative establishment that joined Washington in pressing for a hard line against North Korea’s nuclear provocations.
Now, her downfall is expected to shift South Korean politics to the opposition, whose leaders want more engagement with North Korea and are wary of a major confrontation in the region. They say they will re-examine the country’s joint strategy on North Korea with the United States and defuse tensions with China, which has sounded alarms about the growing American military footprint in Asia.

This post was published at NY Times

Trump Nominee For Navy Secretary Withdraws

Another Trump nominee for a critical government role has decided to withdraw. After two prior Trump nominees, Army Secretary choice Vincent Viola and Labor nominee Andy Puzder, both removed themselves from consideration for their appointed role in recent weeks citing insurmountable opposition or conflicts, moments ago financier Philip Bilden, a senior advisor at HarbourVest Asia and President Trump’s pick to lead the Navy, was said to become the third Trump appointee to withdraw his nomination.
“Philip Bilden has informed me that he has come to the difficult decision to withdraw from consideration to be secretary of the Navy,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a statement Sunday evening. He added that “this was a personal decision driven by privacy concerns and significant challenges he faced in separating himself from his business interests.”
Bilden’s vast financial holdings, many of which he earned in Hong Kong, would have made it difficult for him to survive the scrutiny of the Office of Government Ethics, USNI News reported.
Bilden, who built his career in Hong Kong with the investment firm HarbourVest, was a surprise pick for the Navy post but had been Mattis’ preferred candidate. Yet like billionaire investment banker Vincent Viola, who withdrew his nomination to be secretary of the Army earlier this month, Bilden ran into too many challenges during a review by the Office of Government Ethics to avoid potential conflicts of interest, the sources said.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

Trader Warns – Treat The Trump Presser Like A Trending Market

In a few short hours we’ll be treated to the President-Elect’s much-anticipated first press conference. We’re not sure there’s been a more eagerly awaited event of its kind in memory. As Bloomberg’s Richard Breslow notes, global markets (ex-Mexico and Turkey) have ground to a halt. You can cut the anticipation with a knife.
Will the powerful trends we’ve seen for the last two months continue? Or reverse with a vengeance? All will be revealed. And investors will know exactly which the best trades to set up their year are.
Don’t get your hopes up. But who knows? It’s a must-listen in any case.
Investors will do their best to focus on comments and policy prescriptions specifically aimed at various sectors of the S&P 500. There will be a natural tendency to try to ignore as unpricable potential policies that affect massively important geopolitical and international economic issues. That might work in trading the S&P financials index this afternoon. But perhaps not so well for the Asia dollar index, where the countries comprising that measure are already being forced to speculate on what the acronym might be for a China-led economic and security pact.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 11, 2017.

China Slams US Hacking Accusation As “Groundless Smear Campaign”, Demands Washington Explain Its Own Spying

While Russia continues to mostly mock and ridicule, and generally take in good humor, the constant allegations by the Obama administration that it “hacked the election”, without actually hacking the election – as in actually rigging or changing the votes – but merely exposing the corruption of the DNC and the cronyism of the Clinton Family Foundation, even if so far the highly confident US “intelligence agencies” have yet to demonstrate a shred of proof substantiating such allegations, China’s reaction to a similar accusation has demonstrated far less sense of humor.
That may explain why Beijing quickly slammed Washington’s claims it engaged in mass spying, and demanded an explanation from the US about its own global spying activities, after a US report accused China of using two Chinese hotels as spy centres, an allegation Beijing dubbed a ‘groundless’ smear attempt.
Last Wednesday, the Washington Times accused the 4PLA, a unit attached to the Chinese Defence Ministry, of using the Jintang and Seasons hotels in the capital Beijing to conduct espionage. As evidence publication cited an open-source intelligence dossier produced by the Army’s Asian Studies Detachment, as the source of its report. The document does not explain why and how the hotels were allegedly used by the Chinese for hacking.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 8, 2017.

Paul Krugman Loses It Over Coming “Era Of Epic Corruption” In ‘Trumpistan’

In a time of great change; upheaval of norms and establishment status quo dissolution, there is one steadfast member of the elite that the world can rely on to never change – no matter how the facts around him do. Nobel-prize-winner Paul Krugman has begun the year as he ended the last, with a New York Times’ op-ed exclaiming that “America has become a ‘Stan’.”
In 2015 the city of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, was graced with a new public monument: a giant gold-plated sculpture portraying the country’s president on horseback. This may strike you as a bit excessive. But cults of personality are actually the norm in the ‘stans,’ the Central Asian countries that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union, all of which are ruled by strongmen who surround themselves with tiny cliques of wealthy crony capitalists.
Americans used to find the antics of these regimes, with their tinpot dictators, funny. But who’s laughing now?
We are, after all, about to hand over power to a man who has spent his whole adult life trying to build a cult of personality around himself; remember, his ‘charitable’ foundation spent a lot of money buying a six-foot portrait of its founder. Meanwhile, one look at his Twitter account is enough to show that victory has done nothing to slake his thirst for ego gratification. So we can expect lots of self-aggrandizement once he’s in office. I don’t think it will go as far as gold-plated statues, but really, who knows?

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jan 2, 2017.

South Korea President Park Impeached In Corruption Scandal

Overnight, political turmoil migrated to Asia after South Korean lawmakers voted 234-56 to impeach President Park Geun-hye over accusations of bribery, abuse of power and violating her constitutional duties, setting the stage for her to become the country’s first elected leader to be expelled from office in disgrace.
***
The impeachment motion was carried by a wider-than-expected margin in a secret ballot in parliament, meaning more than 60 of Park’s own conservative Saenuri Party members backed removing her. The votes of least 200 members of the 300-seat chamber were needed for the motion to pass. The Constitutional Court must now decide whether to uphold the motion, a process that could take up to 180 days.
“I solemnly accept the voice of the parliament and the people and sincerely hope this confusion is soundly resolved,” Park said at a meeting with her cabinet, adding that she would comply with the court’s proceedings as well as an investigation by a special prosecutor.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 9, 2016.

Modi’s Demonetization Is a Cure Worse Than the Disease

Next Tuesday will mark four weeks since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his surprise demonetization announcement that has sent shockwaves throughout the South Asian country’s economy. In an effort to combat corruption, tax evasion and counterfeiting, all 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes are no longer recognized as legal tender.
I’ve previously written about the possible ramifications of the ‘war on cash,’ which is strengthening all over the globe, even here in the U. S. Many policymakers, including former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, are in favor of axing the $100 bill. In May, the European Central Bank (ECB) said it would stop printing the 500 euro note, though it will still be recognized as legal currency. The decision to scrap the ‘Bin Laden’ banknote, as it’s sometimes called, hinged on its association with money laundering and terror financing.
Electronic payment systems are convenient, fast and easy, but when a government imposes this decision on you, your economic liberty is debased. In a purely electronic system, every financial transaction is not only charged a fee but can also be tracked and monitored. Taxes can’t be levied on emergency cash that’s buried in the backyard. Central banks could drop rates below zero, essentially forcing you to spend your money or else watch it rapidly lose value.
Inevitably, low-income and rural households have been hardest hit by Modi’s currency reform. Barter economies have reportedly sprung up in many towns and villages. Banks have limited the amount that can be withdrawn. Scores of weddings have been called off. Indian stocks plunged below their 200-day moving average.
Demonetization has also weighed heavily on the country’s manufacturing sector. The Nikkei India Manufacturing PMI fell to 52.3 in November from October’s 54.4. Although still in expansion mode, manufacturing production growth slowed, possibly signaling further erosion in the coming months.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 2 December 2016.

India Launches War on Corruption, Hits Cash, Chaos Ensues

‘Economic Shock & Awe’ turns into ‘Nightmare Without End’
On Tuesday November 8, Narenda Modi, the prime minister of India, the world’s second most populous nation and Asia’s third largest economy, announced in a public address to the nation that India’s two biggest denomination notes, the 1,000 rupee and 500 rupee bills, were now worthless and would have to be replaced with newly designed bills.
That was six days ago. Since then all hell has broken loose.
Official Motives
There are plenty of reasons for the government’s action. Partly it was intended to flush out the cash hoardings of black market operators and stop the rampant corruption permeating all levels of business and government in India. It is also part of the government’s plan to thwart counterfeiters and bring more stashed currency into the banking system.
One of the biggest beneficiaries will be the nation’s nascent digital economy. Paytm, India’s largest digital wallet startup, hailed the move. ‘This is the golden age to be a tech entrepreneur in India. Especially a fintech one,’ tweeted Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the company’s founder, whose investors include Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ‘Keep the money digital.’
The coffers of both the nation’s government and banks are also expected to benefit handsomely. According to some reports, banks’ non-performing loan ratios have already shrunk in recent days as small and mid-sized businesses that had been defaulting on repayments suddenly started rushing to banks to repay the money they owed. As for the government, it hopes to boost its tax revenues from the current anemic level of 17% of GDP to somewhere closer to the OECD average of 34%.

This post was published at Wolf Street on November 15, 2016.

Truck Drivers Walk Off the Job, ATMs Run Dry After India Pulls Bills From Circulation

The crisis sparked by the shortage of cash in India following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anti-graft measure to ban high-value currency bills has hit the movement of goods in Asia’s third-largest economy.
More than half of an estimated 9.3 million trucks under the All-India Motor Transport Congress have been affected as drivers abandon vehicles midway into their trip after running out of cash, according to Naveen Gupta, secretary general of the group. India’s roads carry about 65 percent of the country’s freight.
That adds to the worries of a government battling to keep cash-dispensing machines running after efforts to ease withdrawals failed to keep pace for the fifth straight day.
After a teary-eyed emotional appeal to citizens to bear some pain and back the fight against corruption, Modi today defended his move to withdraw 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, which accounted for 86 percent of money in circulation.

This post was published at bloomberg

Seven Suggestions for President-Elect Trump

President-Elect Trump, more policy tweaks, more promises of more government free money and more symbolic gestures won’t fix anything. Though I am just another powerless peon, I’d like to offer seven suggestions to President-Elect Trump and his transition team: 1. Make sure your administration is as diverse as America. No single act will give your enemies more ammo than populating your cabinet and administration with the Usual Suspects: Caucasian elites from Ivy League universities. These privileged “experts” have bankrupted the nation financially, morally and spiritually while enriching themselves and their privileged cronies. Populate your cabinet and administration with entrepreneurially minded, honest, hard working, forward-looking people who just happen to be African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American, female, gay, mixed-race, etc. Having a cabinet that reflects the diversity of America (or just the diversity of New York City or Los Angeles County, for goodness sakes) will send a powerful message not just to the nation but to the world: America’s diversity is America’s strength. If you want an example of how to do this, follow in the footsteps of the U. S. military. Yes, it’s imperfect, but for a large-scale voluntary institution, it’s done a lot better than most to promote a diverse spectrum of Americans.

This post was published at Charles Hugh Smith on THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2016.

Is it Friday? It must be time for another major political scandal

There’s a long-standing joke in international finance that goes ‘Brazil is the country with the most potential… and always will be.’
The idea is that a Brazil, with all of its immense resources and capacity, will never come close to realizing its potential because of how screwed up everything is.
The same joke easily applies here in South Africa, and across most of this continent.
I’m sitting here in the airport lounge about to fly off to Asia and have been reading the local news about the latest political scandal.
Political scandal in South Africa is about as commonplace as US media outrage against some Donald Trump buffoonery, or a leak showing yet another series of deceit and misconduct from the Clinton political dynasty.
Africa is just rampant with corruption. Is it Friday? It must be time for another major political scandal.
The latest one happens to involve South Africa’s President (Jake the Snake Zuma) who has been caught red-handed letting his buddies dip into taxpayer funds.
I’ll spare you the sordid details. The interesting thing I wanted to point out is what else I saw.

This post was published at Sovereign Man on November 4, 2016.

Globalization Faces Challenges

For much of the second half of the 20th Century, and even into the new millennium, ‘Globalization’ was the dominant theme used to describe the drift of the world economy. It was widely considered both natural and inevitable that the world economy would continue to integrate and that national boundaries would become less constraining to commerce and culture. And with the exception of the eternal ‘anti-globalization’ protesters, who robotically appeared at large gatherings of world leaders, the benefits of globalization were widely lauded by politicians, corporate leaders and rank and file citizens alike. But a casual glance at the world headlines of 2016 suggests that the belief in globalization has crested, and is now in retreat. What are the consequences of this change?
International trade has existed for millennia. But few modern historians would characterize the trade caravans that crossed the Himalayas and the Sahara as sources of international conflict. Rather, they are widely seen as a useful means to bring goods that were plentiful from one region to other regions where they were scarce. Along the way, routes like the Silk Road in Asia created a great number of positive secondary benefits in culture and politics. But relatively modern developments such as ocean-going sailing ships, modern navigation, and steam and diesel power, have greatly increased the size and scope of trade. Globalism was also boosted rapidly by technological advances in communications, including intercontinental jet travel, fax machines, satellite telephones, the Internet, real time money transfers and massive investment flows to international and emerging markets.
Since the end of WWII, the establishment of international reserve currencies and the rise of supranational organizations, such as the United Nations, The World Bank, and International Monetary Fund, has saddled trade with more political baggage. The rise of bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade negotiations, which are often shadowy and bureaucratic affairs conducted behind closed doors, have further eroded support for trade. Oftentimes these efforts have resulted in deals that clearly favor politically connected players and have given rise to justified accusations of cronyism. By opening larger markets and reducing costs, certain corporations have amassed shocking wealth. The benefits to workers are far more diffuse and difficult to quantify.
The Harvard Business Review of May 13, 2016 published an article by Branko Milanovic about the unequal distribution of wealth generated by globalism. Milanovic comments that, since the mid-1980s, globalism has resulted in the ‘greatest reshuffle of personal incomes since the Industrial Revolution. It’s also the first time that global inequality has declined in the past two hundred years.’ Milanovic points to two main conclusions. First, he highlights the massive percentage gain in wages in Asia, particularly among the middle classes. In some cases, percentage wage gains in the Asian middle class have eclipsed the percentage gains experienced by the top one percent in the richer Western economies.
In stark contrast, the U. S. and Western lower and middle classes have enjoyed almost no percentage wage increases, while their top one percent was the only group to experience significant income gains, based on available household surveys from 1988 to 2008. A recent unpublished paper by John E. Roemer, a political scientist at Yale, suggests that the diminishing of global inequality made possible by trade is far less potent politically than the relative increases in national inequality. In other words, the benefits of globalism are obscured while the costs are highly visible.

This post was published at Euro Pac on October 26, 2016.

Goldman Sachs Said to Plan 25% Cut to Asia Investment Bank Jobs

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. plans to cut about a quarter of its investment-banking jobs in Asia, excluding Japan, because of a slump in deal-making in the region, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
The New York-based bank plans to make the cutback of about 75 jobs in the region later this year, the person said, asking not to be identified because the matter is confidential. The job reduction comes as the bank faces its worst Asia ranking in equity issuance since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg data. A Goldman Sachs spokesman said he was unable to comment.
Asia ex-Japan equity offerings have declined 29 percent this year, and Goldman’s ranking plummeted to 11th from second in 2015, its worst showing in about eight years, the data show. The company also has come under scrutiny by authorities for its role in underwriting $6 billion of bond sales for 1MDB, the Malaysian government fund at the center of several international investigations into suspected corruption and money laundering.
Chinese securities firms are mounting a challenge to western banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in Asia, with mainland companies occupying seven of the top 10 positions in advising on Hong Kong initial public offerings this year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Postal Savings Bank of China Co. raised $7.4 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering this week, the world’s biggest first-time share sale this year.

This post was published at bloomberg

Meet Mike Morrell – -Hillary’s Favorite Demented, Creepy CIA Warmonger

From DaisyLuther.com,
It’s really quite embarrassing on a global scale when members of our own government seem to be deliberately trying to pick fights with people who aren’t interested in fighting with us. If you’ve traveled outside of the United States much, you probably know that we Americans have a rather negative reputation off of our own shores. Now, generally speaking, that isn’t our fault as individuals. You and I don’t create headlines that make waves throughout Europe and Asia.
While average Americans aren’t directly responsible for this, our federal officials are. I’ve written recently about President Obama doing things in Syria that are worsening the conflict there. I’ve also written about the fact that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin are starting to butt heads. And finally, I’ve warned time and time again that war is upon us – and everyone knows but the US.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on September 24, 2016.

China’s Housing Bubble Goes Hyperbolic – Shanghai Up 31% Y/Y

China’s attempts to slow runaway home-price growth in major cities are showing little sign of success, stoking the threat of a housing bubble that could destabilize the economy.
New home prices rose the most in six years in August, jumping 1.2 percent from July, according to Bloomberg calculations based on government data. Home prices rose in 64 of 70 cities tracked by the government, up from 51 the previous month. Shanghai prices surged a record 4.4 percent for a year-on-year gain of 31 percent, while Beijing’s climbed 24 percent from a year earlier.
The gains suggest moves by city governments to cool surging home prices over the past six months are doing little to damp demand from investors looking for alternatives to stocks and overseas property. That may prove to be a challenge for central government policy makers on how to respond without choking off growth in the world’s second-largest economy by squeezing credit.
‘The more immediate risk of a sudden and steep downturn in the economy comes from the threatened bursting of the property market bubble,’ Pauline Loong, managing director at research firm Asia-analytica in Hong Kong, wrote in a Sept. 14 report. ‘And bubble it is. The real question for investors is when and what will pop the bubble?’

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on September 20, 2016.

Mind The Incomings – – Port of LA/Long Beach Import Containers Down 4.3% Y/Y, Implying Weak Holiday Outlook Among Retailers

Imports slumped at the nation’s largest port complex in August, a sign that retailers remain cautious in their outlook for holiday sales amid changing patterns in consumer spending.
The nation’s two largest container ports, in neighboring Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., imported a combined 732,992 20-foot equivalent units, a standard measure for container cargo, in the month of August. That was down 4.3% from the same month last year. Long Beach’s import volume declined 10.2% while inbound loads in Los Angeles rose less than 1%.
Retailers usually step up imports from Asia in late summer and early fall to prepare for the annual surge in holiday consumer spending. This year’s peak shipping season was expected to be weak as retailers focused on slimming store inventories as more of their customers shop online. U. S. retail sales declined in August, raising concerns about how much consumers would spend for the remainder of the year.
But the volumes coming through Southern California were worse than anticipated. The National Retail Federation and research firm Hackett Associates predicted nationwide imports through major ports would slip 0.4% in August.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner By ERICA E. PHILLIPS, Wall Street Journal ‘ September 19, 2016.