Thursday, 5 September 2013

The G-20 Meets.

Baltic Dry Index. 1215 +47

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

“If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings.”

Dave Barry.

Another day, another useless summit. This time it’s not the usual great multitude of European “leaders” and their hangers on and flunkies, meeting in endless summits to discuss everything from how many Greeks it take to change the light bulbs in Munich, to how many Iberians should be forced to emigrate to Angola and Argentina, under Germany’s Club Med austerity and resettlement plan, today it’s an even more useless set of world leaders that gets to meet in St Petersburg, Russia, the G-20 Lords of the Universe from all around the planet.

Famous for agreeing not to start a beggar thy neighbour currency war sometime ago, most attending are now in a currency war with each other, as all and sundry attempt to steal each other’s export dollar. In this latest round of unhappy families, President Milhous Obama is barely speaking to President Vladimir Stalin-lite, but is tag teaming up with his new best buddy old socialist French President Francois Mitterrand. Former Obama best buddy “U-turn” homosexual marriage promoting Dave from the UK,  has in turn accidentally and embarrassingly tag teamed up with homosexual hating President Stalin-lite, thanks to his recent inability to convince the UK’s normally docile and warlike MP’s on a vital British need to start bombing Syria. And let’s not get started on China’s looming war to get even with Japan.

Below, if push comes to shove in the men’s room, my monies on black belt, ex KGB, President Stalin-lite to deck Messrs Milhous and Francois, without any assistance from Her Majesty’s pudgy, Wimpy Dave.

An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.

Thomas Jefferson.

Obama-Putin Rift Over Syria Strike Widens on Eve of G-20 Summit

By Mike Dorning - Sep 5, 2013 1:08 AM GMT
The diplomatic dialogue between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin has featured the U.S. president comparing Putin to a bored schoolboy and the Russian leader forcing an irritated Obama to wait a half-hour for a meeting.

----With Obama in St. Petersburg today for a summit of global leaders, Putin yesterday denounced a potential U.S. attack on Syria as a violation of international law, while Obama told reporters the two countries’ relations have “hit a wall.”

“This is basically as bad as it gets,” said James Goldgeier, dean of the School of International Service at American University and the Russia director for the National Security Council under former President Bill Clinton. “You typically don’t have leaders who so openly criticize each other, who openly disdain each other.”

The chill could complicate U.S. efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and other international crises in addition to Syria, said Fiona Hill, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington and the former U.S. national intelligence officer on Russia, responsible for coordinating high-level assessments.

----Among Putin’s first acts after his election to a third term as Russian president last year to replace his ally Medvedev was to skip a Group of Eight summit that Obama hosted at Camp David, Maryland. When the two met on the sidelines of the Group of 20 meeting in Mexico a month later, Putin annoyed Obama by keeping him waiting for 30-40 minutes, a U.S. official said.

G20 St. Petersburg (2013)

Syrian gloom darkens St. Petersburg summit sky

September 4, 2013 Fred Kuntz
Here in St. Petersburg, presidents and prime ministers are arriving for the annual G20 leaders summit, under perfect sunny skies that belie the political grey clouds now darkening over international relations.

While the G20 leaders summits began in 2008 to address the then-erupting global economic crisis, and has since become known as “the world’s premiere economic forum,” the news that is top of mind at this meeting is the civil war in Syria and the looming prospect of US military intervention — an action opposed, to date, by summit host Russia.

CIGI, whose research programs helped lay the intellectual foundation or rationale for the formation of the G20, has attended all of its summits since 2008, with a team of experts whose foremost competencies lie in economic governance and cooperation. Our researchers get accreditation into the International Media Centre, where — together with 1,500 or more media people — they commentate, analyze and parse the leaders’ movements, statements and final communique.

To this year’s G20, CIGI has sent Domenico Lombardi, director of the Global Economy research program, and CIGI Senior Fellow Susan Schadler — both with considerable expertise and practical hands-on experience in international financial matters, including service by both at the International Monetary Fund.

Also along on the expedition are two Public Affairs staff to assist in media relations and content production: Multimedia Editor Cambria Olding, and me.

More of this sickening rubbish here.

Now back to normal service and the real world. With the summer tourism bounce over and interest rates set to rise, and America and France about to set the Middle East afire, dying Europe looks all too likely to get to put its other foot into the grave. Stay long fully paid up physical precious metals. The exciting part of 2013 is about to commence.


“We all agree that pessimism is a mark of superior intellect.”

J. K. Galbraith.

Triple shocks threaten Europe's sickly and deformed recovery

Europe has not recovered. It has begun to stabilise, but only just, amid mass unemployment, with debt trajectories still spiralling out of control in Italy, Portugal, Spain and once again in Greece.

The complacency of those dictating Euroland's policies - though not its victims - is breathtaking.

"Europe, it seems, has become anaesthetised to bad news," says Simon Tilford from the Centre for European Reform. Tentative signs of life after six quarters of contraction are deemed a vindication of shock therapy, even as the underlying crisis gets worse in almost every key respect.

"The reality is that the Spanish and Italian economies will shrink by a further 2pc in 2013. Greece is on course to contract by an additional 5pc to 7pc and Portugal by 3pc to 4pc. Far from being on the mend, the economic crisis across the south is deepening. Real interest rates are increasing from already high levels," he said.

An end to the slump - hardly assured - is not enough to reverse a compound interest trap across Club Med as debt loads rise faster than nominal GDP, or enough to render Italy and Spain viable within EMU. Such is the "denominator effect".

Mr Tilford says the elephant in the room is the rise in the debts of Portugal and Spain by 15 percentage points (pp) of GDP over the past year, by 18pp in Ireland and by 24pp in Greece. Italy's ratio rose 7pp to 130pc of GDP, already at or near the point of no return.

----Much was made of a slight fall in Spain's registered unemployed in August. The more relevant detail is that a net 99,000 people left the workforce in a single month. Some are coming to Britain. We now know that 45,530 Spaniards signed up for UK National Insurance numbers last year.

The EMU refugees are still arriving daily at Victoria Station, where the Telegraph is based. They make a bee-line for a currency shop nearby known for low fees. Three Andalucians in their 20s were in the queue ahead of me the other day, chatting about their prospects. Each changed a thick wad of euros into pounds, starting new lives in London.

Bienvenidos. They are Britain's gain; and Spain's loss. They no longer pay Spanish taxes or contribute to Spain's Social Security system, sliding towards bankruptcy as the reserve fund is depleted at an exponential pace. The ratio of workers to those receiving benefits has already fallen to 1:7 in Aragon.

Not that the exodus from Southern Europe has made a dent in youth unemployment rates: 62.9pc in Greece, 56.1pc in Spain, 39.5pc in Italy, 37.9pc in Cyprus and 37.4pc in Portugal. It is surely the greatest policy failure of modern times.

Treasuries Worst Performer as Pimco Forecasts September Taper

By Wes Goodman & Kristine Aquino - Sep 5, 2013 7:10 AM GMT
Treasuries are the world’s worst performing bonds and a volatility gauge climbed to the highest level in almost two months as investors prepared for the Federal Reserve to cut its debt purchases at its meeting Sept. 17-18.

U.S. government securities maturing in a decade and longer tumbled 9.5 percent in the past six months, the biggest decline of 144 debt indexes tracked by Bloomberg and the European Federation of Financial Analysts Societies. Pacific Investment Management Co., which runs the world’s biggest bond fund, said the Fed will trim its purchases of Treasuries instead of mortgage securities

“There is some risk that yields move a little bit higher,” said Martin Whetton, a Sydney-based interest-rate strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan’s biggest brokerage. “The U.S. economy is slowly but surely recovering. There’s a lot going on, hence the lift in volatility. That will remain in place over the course of this month while we see the Fed’s announcement for tapering.”

Benchmark 10-year yields rose one basis point to 2.91 percent as of 7:01 a.m. in London, based on Bloomberg Bond Trader data. They earlier peaked at 2.92 percent, approaching the two-year high of 2.93 percent reached on Aug. 22

Iceland Banks Face $3.3 Billion Loss in Debt Relief Lawsuits

By Omar R. Valdimarsson - Sep 5, 2013 6:09 AM GMT
Iceland’s banks are facing $3.3 billion in additional writedowns as the nation’s biggest homeowner protection group throws its weight behind borrowers suing their lenders for indexing mortgages to inflation.

Banks, which lost a similar case in 2010 for linking loans to foreign exchange rates, have already forgiven $2.1 billion in debt since Iceland’s 2008 crisis wiped out its financial industry. In two separate lawsuits, banks are now being sued for selling inflation-linked loans that allegedly clash with European Economic Area laws banning unfair terms in consumer contracts.

Vilhjalmur Bjarnason, chairman of the Homes Association in Reykjavik, which represents 10 percent of Iceland’s homeowners, is urging the courts to “correct the injustice” to borrowers he says followed a 2008 krona slump that sent inflation soaring as high as 19 percent. Gains in the consumer price index have added as much as 400 billion kronur ($3.3 billion) to private debt burdens, Bjarnason said in an interview.

The scale of writedowns to date makes Iceland a world-leader in debt relief, according to Danske Bank A/S. (DANSKE)

Finally a little light relief. On talk, India finally gets a short covering relief rally. But will it last in the face Fedster tapering and a new bombing war about to start in Syria? Is Syria, the new Spain of the 1930s? World War two followed that one!

Indian Stocks Soar as Banks Jump Most Since 2009 on Rajan

By Rajhkumar K Shaaw - Sep 5, 2013 6:25 AM GMT
Indian (SENSEX) stocks surged the most in Asia, led by the biggest rally in lenders since May 2009, after central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan outlined plans to bolster the financial industry and stabilize the rupee.

HDFC Bank Ltd., (HDFCB) India’s largest lender by market value, surged 6.7 percent and paced the biggest rally in the S&P BSE India Bankex in four years. Engineering company Larsen & Toubro Ltd. (LT) climbed the most in more than two months. Tata Motors Ltd. (TTMT), owner of Jaguar Land Rover, rose to seven-month high.

The S&P BSE Sensex jumped 2 percent to 18,930.45 at 10:35 a.m. in Mumbai. Reserve Bank of India Governor Rajan announced plans yesterday to make it easier for banks to open branches and lend to non-state sectors of the economy, steps that JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts say will have a “major long-term impact” on bank profits. The RBI will also provide swaps for banks’ foreign-currency deposits that Bank of America Merrill Lynch estimates will boost India’s reserves by $10 billion.

“The moves by the new governor are very bold,” Manish Sonthalia, a Mumbai-based money manager at Motilal Oswal Asset Management Co., said in a phone interview today. “He has signaled that he will take quick actions.”

We end for the day with a growing scandal in China. I suspect that we are only at the onset of a Beijing directed anti-corruption campaign. A campaign, that though it will bring in some domestic companies like PetroChina, is really focused on the giant western companies reaping fortunes in China. Ominously, China’s wobble is back. Banging up some crooked western companies might be a good diversion just in time.

We must uphold the fighting of tigers and flies at the same time, resolutely investigating law-breaking cases of leading officials and also earnestly resolving the unhealthy tendencies and corruption problems which happen all around people.

Xi Jinping

Graft Probe Threatens PetroChina as Executives Targeted: Energy

By Aibing Guo, Rakteem Katakey & Benjamin Haas - Sep 5, 2013 5:27 AM GMT
PetroChina Co. (857), the oil producer that became the first $1 trillion company, is the target of a widening anti-corruption probe that threatens the biggest shakeup of China’s oil industry in 15 years.

Former Chairman Jiang Jiemin, who left PetroChina in March, was removed from his post as head of the state assets regulator and is under investigation, the official Xinhua News Agency said Sept. 2. Five days earlier, PetroChina said it removed four senior managers after authorities started a probe.

The investigations add to the woes of a company that’s lost more than $767 billion in value -- almost as much as the Dutch economy -- since 2007. The stock fell the most in two years on Aug. 28 in Hong Kong as the scrutiny adds risks to a business already weighed down by a slowing economy and government controls on fuel prices.

“The probes and their possible escalation could potentially cause a huge reshuffle in PetroChina and its parent,” said Laban Yu, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Jefferies Group LLC. He said the government’s actions were reminiscent of the investigation of former Railway Minister Liu Zhjiun, which led to the breakup of the railroad ministry and an industry reorganization.

China Record Drop in Credit Growth Puts Momentum at Risk

By Bloomberg News - Sep 5, 2013 4:54 AM GMT
China’s leaders are extending a clampdown on credit, prompting analysts from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to Societe Generale SA to caution that the economy is vulnerable to weakening after the pickup so far this quarter.

New yuan loans were probably little changed in August, after aggregate financing, the broadest measure of credit, posted a fourth straight drop in July, the longest streak in 11 years of data. Analysts’ median estimates point to the fastest industrial-output gain since December and the slowest producer-price decline in six months

The moderation in credit after a record first-quarter financing boom stands to cap an economic rebound being driven by a recovery in confidence and Premier Li Keqiang’ssupport measures, such as faster spending on railways. Overcapacity and pressure to clean up debt loom as challenges, according to JPMorgan, which sees growth slowing to 7.2 percent in 2014 from 7.6 percent this year.

“There is less risk in the near term,” said Zhu Haibin, JPMorgan chief China economist in Hong Kong, who has worked at the Bank for International Settlements. “But this round of recovery will not be a strong one and won’t last long.”

Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News last month see growth slowing to 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter, the weakest in more than four years, after 7.5 percent in the July-September period, based on median estimates.

'If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.'

Dorothy Parker.

At the Comex silver depositories Wednesday final figures were: Registered 42.84 Moz, Eligible 121.33 Moz, Total 164.17 Moz.  

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

Below, Wall Street talks its book. What more is there to say.

“Call it the Goldman Sachs test. If this is something Goldman would do to its clients, don't do it."

Felix Salmon.

Sept. 4, 2013, 8:30 a.m. EDT

You’re a sucker to believe Wall Street

Commentary: What were advisers saying five years ago?

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (MarketWatch) — You’re a sucker to believe Wall Street’s current mantra that another Lehman Brothers-like collapse is not in the cards.

I say that not because I think such a collapse is imminent, though I am less sanguine than many right now. The reason I say we shouldn’t believe Wall Street is that they were also telling us not to worry five years ago, right before Lehman declared bankruptcy.

Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008. That, in turn, triggered the near collapse of the entire financial system: The stock market quickly entered into one of its worst two-month stretches in U.S. history.

If ever there were a time for Wall Street’s gurus to warn us of the impending doom, that would have been the time.

But that’s not what I found upon reviewing what the several hundred advisers I track were saying in those crucial weeks prior to that financial tsunami. On the contrary, with very few exceptions, they were remarkably complacent at that time — if not downright upbeat.

Consider the following sampling of comments from late August and early September of 2008:
  • “I am ready to be a bull again! ... [T]he exact time is still difficult to tell, and we will in all likelihood be early to the game, but three crucial elements necessary for a new bull market are getting our attention. The housing market is beginning to show serious signs of a bottom… Quietly, the financial sector has been slowly healing.”
  • “The stock market and the economy continue to battle the same demons. They are not going away easily, though one would have to think the sub-prime mess is largely behind us… I think a 75% invested posture is about right at this juncture.”
  • “For the next few weeks at least, the sun seems destined to shine on the stock market.”
  • “With oil and gas and ag commodity prices coming down, consumers are eventually going to get some much needed breathing room. This will also allow the economy to regain its footing and begin a recovery, especially once the 6-year cycle bottoms in September. The bear market in crude oil will help to improve consumer spending and should also bolster the stock market from here.”
I could go on and on, but you get the point.

Where are the Customers' Yachts?

Fred Schwed. 1955.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished August:
DJIA: +162 Down. NASDAQ: +189 Up. SP500: +194 Down. Two red flags. Only the “stock market for the next hundred years,” remains optimistic.

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