Friday, 29 March 2013

Happy Easter From Brussels

Baltic Dry Index. 910 -12  

LIR Gold Target by 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

The bankster in his mansion,
The depositor at his gate,
Draghi made them High or lowly,
He disordered their estate.

With apologies to All things bright and beautiful.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Whatever It Takes – Revisited.

Baltic Dry Index. 931 -04  

LIR Gold Target by 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

Then the s**t hit the fan.

J. K. Galbraith.

Note, the next update will be on Monday April 1, 2013.

Today, Europe’s need of a one-eyed man.  Who knew that when fallen “Super Mario” Draghi pledged last year to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, that included destroying the euro’s safety as a reserve currency, by virtue of trashing the eurozone’s deposit guarantee, before then coming up with the better idea of stealing most of the Cyprus bank deposits above the guarantee, on the curious logic that these deposits mostly belonged to the Russian mafia, or retired British pensioners living in Cyprus, or Cypriot businesses working capital! At a stroke the safety of all bank deposits across Euroland was put into question, since when Italy and France fail, and they will, all of Europe’s bank deposits will be needed under the “whatever it takes,” “we’ve got to destroy this town to save it” ECB doctrine.  

Stay long physical precious metals held outside of an EU bank, and if European, keep some cash in the mattress.  Our funny old world in the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money, just got a whole lot funnier this week, although for the serfs of the PIIGS plus the Cypriots, it just got a whole lot scarier, poorer and uglier. Some unelected elitist bigshots in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin, can now steal the bank deposit savings of a lifetime, at any time that they feel that saving the euro requires it. Only the brain dead will continue keeping much cash deposited into any of Club Med’s banks. UK pensioners retired into Spain will quickly move most of their bank deposits back to UK banks not subject to ECB expropriation. Wealthy French and Italians will quietly but quickly open accounts in Switzerland, London and New York.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

J. K. Galbraith.

Updated March 26, 2013, 4:12 p.m. ET

BlackRock Cuts Spain, Italy Sovereign-Bond Holdings

BlackRock Inc., BLK +2.62% the world's largest money manager, has cut holdings of Italy and Spain government bonds over the past three months. The firm may shed more if the euro-zone's growth outlook deteriorates.

"We have been less enthusiastic about euro-zone sovereign debt compared to three to six months ago," said Rick Rieder, chief investment officer of fundamental fixed income and co-head of Americas fixed income at BlackRock. "If growth continues to deteriorate in the euro zone, due in large measure to weak private-sector lending from a deleveraging banking sector, we would further reduce our positions in the euro zone, such as in Italy and Spain."

Speaking in a phone interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Mr. Rieder said for the moment, BlackRock still holds an overweight position on Italy and Spain, though the position is now more moderate after the recent reduction in the Spanish and Italian holdings.

The company, with more than $3.7 trillion in assets under management, was among global investors scooping up sovereign bonds, especially in Italy, after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi last summer pledged to do "whatever it takes" to preserve the euro

March 26, 2013, 8:09 p.m. ET

Euro's Bears Go Back on Prowl

Investors are turning against the euro—again.

Some say the common currency is due for a correction in light of the latest round of flare-ups in the euro zone, including Sunday's last-minute deal to save Cyprus' banking sector and Italy's political stalemate following elections last month.

These euro bears predict the currency will head to $1.20 or lower if a fresh crisis causes investors to dump European assets. The European Central Bank also could buy sovereign bonds to calm markets, which would weaken the euro because it would involve printing money. The euro traded Tuesday at $1.2860, roughly unchanged.


Next, coming soon to banks in Portugal, Spain, Italy and France. Probably Luxembourg and Belgium too.

“With banks closed since March 15 and looming capital controls many Cypriot companies are having problems paying salaries or suppliers as the economy is strangled by the lack of credit facilities.”

Cypriots braced for harsh banking curbs

Cypriots face draconian controls over how they spend their money, use debit cards or access their savings lasting beyond May as Cyprus tries to stop capital flight ahead of inflicting major losses on depositors at the island’s biggest bank.

By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels and Nick Squires in Nicosia 5:30PM GMT 26 Mar 2013
The country faced new fears of a financial meltdown on Tuesday after the chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, the country’s biggest lender, resigned and banks which been shut for 11 days stayed closed until Thursday.
George Osborne, the Chancellor, pledged on Tuesday, that the government would help the 13,000 British-based customers of the Cypriot Popular Bank, known as Laiki in Greek, who could lose all their savings above the €100,000 (£85,000) after it was closed down this week.

“The Treasury is working with the Cypriot authorities on a British solution to the branch of the Cyprus Popular Bank,” he told MPs. "Discussions are taking place at the moment. We are engaged in negotiations to try to avoid the branches in the UK becoming sucked into the Cypriot resolution process.”

The Chancellor also said that the government had flown cash to Cyprus to help military personnel on the island's two British bases.

"We have flown €13m to Cyprus this weekend to help with our military presence there...and to provide if we need it a hardship fund," he said.

----Andrew Tyrie,the chairman of House of Commons Treasury Committee, asked the Chancellor to make diplomatic representations about the "terrible farrago" in Cyprus.

"By general agreement this is a god-awful mess, really atrocious. About as appalling mismanagement as it's possible to imagine," he said.

Cypriot capital controls that are unprecedented in modern banking will include a tight weekly personal allowance for cash withdrawals, restrictions on moving euros outside Cyprus, new lower limits on credit or debit cards and a ban on cheques.

Additionally fixed-term deposits will have to be held until maturity and the Cypriot central bank will have the power to take any measure it sees fit to stop a run on financial institutions in the first attempt to stop all unauthorised capital movements in the era of 21st century electronic banking.

Michael Sarris, the Cypriot finance ministers, admitted that capital controls were “not a good idea” that threatened to strangle the economy but insisted they were necessary after the eurozone demanded that banks in Cyprus are restructured as a condition for a €10 billion bailout.

----The capital restrictions pose a threat of economic strangulation in Cyprus and are expected to stay in force until the entry into force of a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU), still to be agreed between the eurozone, International Monetary Fund and the island.

EU sources have told The Daily Telegraph that the MOU will not be ready until the third week of April, at earliest, for national approval meaning that the period of uncertainty and capital controls will drag on into May.

Restrictions could continue well beyond then for savers at the Bank of Cyprus and for other Cypriot financial institutions if the authorities are worried that the implementation of 40pc or higher losses could trigger capital flight.

Euro Risks Drop Toward Parity on No Growth, Morgan Stanley Says

By Candice Zachariahs - Mar 27, 2013 3:28 AM GMT
The euro risks dropping toward parity with the U.S. dollar over the next 2 1/2 years as the region enacts policies aimed at weakening the currency to bolster growth, Morgan Stanley said.

The 17-nation euro, which has slid 2.6 percent this year, will continue to decline as the bailout package for Cyprus fans concern about the safety of bank deposits in the region, Hans- Guenter Redeker, the head of global currency strategy at Morgan Stanley, said in an interview yesterday in Sydney. Italy’s struggle to form a government after last month’s divided vote will also weaken the euro, he said.

“This policy concerning Cyprus, people will be getting more concerned in funding the peripheral, providing deposits there,” Redeker said. “The long-term implication is that monetary transition in Europe is not working, there’s no credit, no growth, and fiscal policy is still fragmented. So, therefore, you need to be fairly pessimistic for the outlook.”

Who is king in the world of the blind when there isn't even a one eyed man?

J. K. Galbraith.

At the Comex silver depositories Tuesday final figures were: Registered 43.12 Moz, Eligible 121.64 Moz, Total 164.76 Moz.  

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner
The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over. 

Tomorrow, the great experiment begins. My guess is that it all ends in failure, with Cyprus leaving the euro zone later in the year.

The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is the one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it.

J. K. Galbraith.

Cyprus Capital Controls First in EU Could Last Years

By Yalman Onaran - Mar 27, 2013 1:00 AM GMT
Cyprus is on the verge of an unprecedented financial experiment: imposing controls on money transfers in an economy that doesn’t have its own currency.

Countries from Argentina to Iceland have used similar measures in the past to defend against devaluation. Being part of the euro zone may make it harder for the Mediterranean island to enforce restrictions, as any money that leaves the banking system can be taken out of Cyprus without losing value.

That also may make it more difficult to meet the goal set yesterday by Finance Minister Michael Sarris to lift any controls in “a matter of weeks.” When economies in Asia and Latin America tried to stem the outflow of money in the 1980s and 1990s, they ended up keeping the measures in effect for six months to two years. Iceland, another island nation with an outsize banking system, still has capital controls five years after its banks collapsed in 2008.

“Thanks to political mismanagement, we now have a first: capital controls in the euro zone,” said Nicolas Veron, a senior fellow at Bruegel in Brussels and a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “How long is temporary? It could turn out like Iceland, extending to many years.”

----Parliament last week gave wide-ranging powers to the central bank governor, Panicos Demetriades, and Finance Minister Sarris, including the ability to limit daily withdrawals and force the renewal of time deposits upon maturity. The two officials also can restrict the opening of new accounts, credit- or debit-card use, wire transfers among the branches of the same bank and non-cash transactions.

“They’re going to need some serious controls to make sure the money doesn’t leave the country,” said Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, a London-based strategist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “Otherwise, I can’t see how any of this money with a high propensity to leave will stay voluntarily.”

A rush of money out of Cyprus would shift more financing responsibility to the European Central Bank, which provides about 10 billion euros of emergency loans to the country’s lenders. After 30 billion euros, the ECB would have to lower its standards for the collateral it demands from Cypriot banks, Panigirtzoglou said. With deposit flight and rising loan losses in Cyprus and Greece, the ECB could lose money on the funds it lends.

----When Iceland imposed capital controls after a property bubble burst and its banks collapsed, political leaders said they would be temporary, too.

Happy Easter everyone. Normal service resumes on April Fool’s Day.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished February:
DJIA: +111 Up. NASDAQ: +129 Up. SP500: +148 Up.  All three indexes are giving the same signal since January, up, but surprisingly February’s  move in all three was weak, suggesting that the indicators are topping out. Will sequestration turn March into a down month? So far so good.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Open Season for Theft.

Baltic Dry Index. 933 Friday  

LIR Gold Target by 2019: $30,000.  Revised due to QE programs.

“I’m not saying that [the euro] will crumble tomorrow, but with the brains that they have in Brussels, it is certain that it will not last in the long term, and the best is to think about how to escape it.”

Cypriot Archbishop Chrysostomos II,  Greek Orthodox Church.

Yesterday we found out the truth. Far from Cyprus being a “one off,” unique special case, it’s going to become a “template” for other bailouts in the insane asylum known as the European Monetary Union. It is open season on European bank deposits. Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Euro finance ministers committee, let the cat out of the bag yesterday, bragging of his success in the Cypriot slaughter. “The Cyprus solution will serve as a template for future EU bailouts,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch Finance Minister. Later he went on to deny that he said it. Stay long physical precious metals. We have entered an era where bank theft is official policy, too big to fail banksters are too big to jail and above the law. Everyone is now a serf to the state and crony banksterism.

This all ends in the breakup of the European Monetary Union, of course, but not before much hard earned European wealth gets destroyed in an ever more futile Canute attempt to order back the sea. Unlike wise old King Canute who knew he couldn’t order back the sea, Europe’s vainglorious Eurocrats and politicians actually think that they can order back the sea that’s engulfing them. This never ending crisis, never ends.

Before a man speaks it is always safe to assume that he is a fool. After he speaks, it is seldom necessary to assume it.

H. L. Mencken.

Saving Cyprus Means Nobody Safe as Europe Breaks More Taboos

By Simon Kennedy - Mar 26, 2013 12:01 AM GMT
----The island nation’s rescue sets precedents for the euro zone that may stick in the memory of depositors and bondholders alike as investors debate who will next fall victim to the debt crisis. Under the terms of the agreement struck yesterday in Brussels, senior Cypriot bank bond holders will take losses and uninsured depositors will be largely wiped out.

The message that stakeholders of all stripes can be coerced into helping a cash-strapped nation may make investors more skittish they’ll be targeted if Slovenia, Italy, Spain or even Greece again is next in line to need help. The risk is that bank runs and bond market selloffs become more likely the moment a country applies for a new rescue, said economists and academics from Nicosia to New York.

“We now have a new type of rule and everyone within the euro zone has to sit down and see what that implies for their own finances,” Nobel laureate Christopher Pissarides, an adviser to the Cypriot government, told “The Pulse” on Bloomberg Television.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) erased an earlier gain of as much as 1 percent after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chaired last night’s meeting of euro region finance ministers, indicated the model used for recapitalizing Cypriot banks could be replicated elsewhere. The euro slipped 0.8 percent to $1.2890.

Until now, euro region officials had left bank depositors and senior bondholders untouched as they tried to rescue the bloc’s struggling economies in a series of all-night summits over the past three years

Cyprus banks remain closed to avert run on deposits

NICOSIA | Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:42pm GMT
(Reuters) - The president of Cyprus assured his people a bailout deal he struck with the European Union was in their best interests, but banks will remain closed until Thursday - and even then subject to capital controls to prevent a run on deposits.

Returned from fraught negotiations in Brussels, President Nicos Anastasiades said late on Monday the 10-billion euro (8.5 billion pounds) rescue plan agreed there in the early hours of the morning was "painful" but essential to avoid economic meltdown.

----European leaders said a chaotic national bankruptcy that might have forced Cyprus from the euro and upset Europe's economy was averted - though investors in other European banks are alarmed by the precedent of losses for depositors in Cyprus.

----Many Cypriots say they felt anything but reassured by the bailout deal, however, and are expected to besiege banks as soon as they reopen after a shutdown that began over a week ago.

Reversing a previous decision to start reopening at least some banks on Tuesday, the central bank said late on Monday that they would all now stay shut until Thursday to ensure the "smooth functioning of the whole banking system".

Little is known about the restrictions on transactions that Anastasiades said the central bank would impose, but he told Cypriots: "I want to assure you that this will be a very temporary measure that will gradually be relaxed."

Capital controls, preventing people moving funds out of the country, are at odds with the European Union's ideals of a common market but the government may fear an ebb tide of panic that would cause even more disruption to the local economy.

Cyprus: It’s not over yet

By Felix Salmon March 25, 2013
This was not a good weekend for Russian billionaires. First, Boris Berezovsky was found dead at his English country estate. Now, all the uninsured depositors (read: Russian plutocrats) at Cyprus’s two largest banks are going to be hit much, much harder than they feared they might be when the Cyprus crisis first erupted last week.

Back then — a long, long week ago — Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades stood firm: there was no way he would allow uninsured depositors to lose more than 10% of their money. What a difference a week makes: now, if your uninsured deposits are at the Bank of Cyprus, you’re probably going to lose about 40% And if they’re at Laiki, you’re going to lose everything.

The agreement between the Cypriot government and the Troika of the EU, IMF, and ECB is a bold and brutal geopolitical power-play. There might be language in the official communiqué about how “The Eurogroup looks forward to an agreement between Cyprus and the Russian Federation on a financial contribution”, but given the billions of euros that Russians are being forced to contribute unwillingly, the chances that they’ll happily throw a bit more money into the pot have to be tiny.

In the Europe vs Russia poker game, the Europeans have played the most aggressive move they can, essentially forcing Russian depositors to contribute maximally to the bailout against their will. If this is how the game ends, it’s an unambiguous loss for Russia, and a win for the EU.

---- Of course, the game does not end here. It’s unlikely that Russia will appear bearing a better deal at some point in the next 24 hours, but the hit to Cyprus’s GDP is going to be so enormous that staying in the euro over the long term, absent another round or two of massive debt relief, is going to be extremely difficult. The deal as constructed is, in Pawelmorski’s wonderful phrase, “Iceland without the fish”: Cyprus, as Iceland did before it, is letting its banks fail, since they’re too big for the government to bail out. But Iceland has other industries besides banking — and, more importantly, has a floating currency as well, which by weakening can make those industries more competitive.

In order to truly become Iceland, then, Cyprus is going to need to devalue and default. If it doesn’t, then it will live unhappily under the yoke of Europe-imposed austerity until such a time as the parliament revolts, the austerity measures are revoked, and the island drops out of the euro, and probably out of the EU as well.

Move over, Cyprus. Slovenia is the new tiny country you should worry about.

The Cyprus crisis, it appears, is soooo last week. The new country that’s provoking concern is Slovenia. The small former Yugoslav—wedged between Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia and best known for its exceptional skiers and Slavoj Žižek—had a pretty bad week, with long-term bond yields spiking to 5.4 percent Friday morning amid fears that the country would need a bailout. That’s not crisis-level — Cyprus’ yields are around 7 percent, for comparison — but it’s certainly in the “Danger Zone.”

How did Slovenia get here, and why?

At the Comex silver depositories Monday final figures were: Registered 43.12 Moz, Eligible 121.52 Moz, Total 164.64 Moz.  

Crooks and Scoundrels Corner
The bent, the seriously bent, and the totally doubled over. 

Today, Japan’s new currency war is kicking off. The race to the bottom in competitive devaluation starts in earnest right after Easter. In keeping with tongue in cheek G-20 pious proclamations, it’s not a competitive devaluation of course, that’s merely an unintended consequence of an otherwise sound policy.

'When I use a word,' Haruhiko Kuroda said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Bernocchio, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

With apologies to Lewis Carroll.

BOJ's Kuroda signals targeting longer-dated bonds

TOKYO | Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:05am GMT
(Reuters) - Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said the central bank will seek to push down market interest rates by purchasing longer-dated government bonds, underscoring its resolve to expand its balance sheet more aggressively to beat deflation.

Kuroda said among future policy options for the BOJ would be to extend the maturity of the government bonds it buys under its asset-buying programme, its key monetary easing tool, to five years from the current three years.

He also said there may be room to boost purchases of riskier assets, although the BOJ's nine-member board will make the final decision at next week's policy-setting meeting.

"We will scrutinise what would be the most effective step, aiming to make full use of the BOJ's capacities," Kuroda told parliament on Tuesday in semi-annual testimony on the BOJ's monetary policy and assessment of the economy.

His remarks pushed the 10-year government bond yield to a near-decade low of 0.525 percent on expectations the BOJ will buy bonds more aggressively.

Sources familiar with central bank thinking say the BOJ is expected to ease its already ultra-loose policy and debate an overhaul of its policy framework at its next scheduled meeting on April 3-4.

Ford CEO Mulally Says He’s Concerned About Japanese Yen

By Siddharth Philip - Mar 26, 2013 3:03 AM GMT
Ford Motor Co. (F) Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said he’s concerned about the depreciation of the yen that’s bolstering the competitiveness of Japanese carmakers.

“The most important thing that most countries around the world believe in is letting the markets determine the currency,” Mulally said today from Bangkok in reference to the Japanese currency, during an interview on Bloomberg TV’s First Up with Susan Li. “That’s just so important to all of us in the international trading system.”

On Europe, Mulally said the company is scaling back production to meet “real demand” amid economic contraction in the region.

There can be few fields of human endeavour in which history counts for so little as in the world of finance. Past experience, to the extent that it is part of memory at all, is dismissed as the primitive refuge of those who do not have the insight to appreciate the incredible wonders of the present.

J. K. Galbraith

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished February:
DJIA: +111 Up. NASDAQ: +129 Up. SP500: +148 Up.  All three indexes are giving the same signal since January, up, but surprisingly February’s  move in all three was weak, suggesting that the indicators are topping out. Will sequestration turn March into a down month? So far so good.