Friday, 15 November 2013

Punch Bowls

Baltic Dry Index. 1517 -14

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

…. the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

She came, she saw, she conquered. Dr. Yellen, President Obama’s nominee to take over running the Fed next year, even suggested that a Fed run by her might return to William McChesney Martin’s 1950s-1960s Federal Reserve policy of “taking away the punch bowl just as the party gets going.” But Ms Yellen is no William McChesney Martin. No believer in an independent Fed accountable to Congress and not to the sitting President. Those independent days of the 50s and 60s are long gone. Back then the USA was the world’s largest creditor. Back then the dollar was as good as gold for it was linked to gold. None of that is true today.

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

With apologies to Lewis Carroll and Humpty Dumpty.

US Fed could use monetary policy to prevent asset bubbles

President Obama's nominee for the next head of the US Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, said it is central bank’s duty to watch out for unsustainable increases in asset prices and intervene if needed

The US Federal Reserve could use monetary policy to prevent “asset bubbles”, Janet Yellen, the woman lined up to be its chairman, has warned.

Ms Yellen said it was the central bank’s duty to watch out for unsustainable increases in the prices of assets such as houses, farmland or equities, and that it would intervene if needed.

"It is important for the Fed, as hard as it is, to try to detect asset bubbles when they are forming," she told the Senate Banking Committee. “As a first line of defence we would have a variety of supervisory tools, of micro and macro potential, that we can try to use to attempt to limit the behaviour that is giving rise to those price misalignments.”

She added that she would not rule out using the “blunt instrument” of monetary policy.

However, Ms Yellen said she did not see any need to intervene just yet, even in a week that the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 index have risen to record levels.

"By and large, I would say I don’t see evidence at this point of asset price misalignments at a level that would threaten financial stability,” she said, especially when several valuation measures were taken into account. 
“You would not see stock prices in territory that suggest…bubble-like conditions.”

----Although she dealt deftly with questions from both Republicans and Democrats, not everyone on the committee shared her view that asset bubbles have not already formed.

"What am I missing here? I see asset bubbles,” said Mike Johanns, Republican Senator for Nebraska. He added that the Fed needs to reduce America’s debt to reveal how big those asset bubbles are.

"Here's what I'm saying... I think the economy has gotten used to the sugar you've put out there. And I just worry you're on a sugar high," he said.

The USA defaulted on August 15th, 1971 when in the Great Nixonian Error of fiat money, President Nixon “temporarily” suspended the dollar-gold link, and introduced wage and price controls. In that reformation of capitalism, the Calvinists adopted communism and central planning and the beginning of a command economy. Today the USA is the world’s largest debtor by far, deeply in hock to communist run China, the world’s leading creditor.  Under fallen former guru Greenspan, the Fed long ago ceded independence to become a team player for the party in power in the White House. Each serial bubble got a bail out when Greenspan’s bubbles “inexplicably” blew up. The Fedster’s are deep into the final bubble of QE Forever and ZIRP. Taking away the punchbowl now leads to the final great bust. It will never happen willingly. Ms Yellen was being “economical with the truth.”

But the reserve currency role of the fiat dollar has been called into question, if only because China is now the world’s largest importer of crude oil from around the world. Why use a potential enemy’s currency to facilitate that trade?  One way or another, tomorrow will not be like today, which was like yesterday. Stay long fully paid up physical precious metals for the transition.

“The U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost…We conclude that under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.”

Dr. Ben Bernanke

In European news, Europe’s paymaster is getting antsy. Bad things happen, usually to Poland and France when Germany gets antsy.

You can always reason with a German. You can always reason with a barnyard animal, too, for all the good it does... The larger the German body, the smaller the German bathing suit and the louder the German voice issuing German demands and German orders to everybody who doesn't speak German. For this, and several other reasons, Germany is known as 'the land where Israelis learned their manners'.

P. J. O’Rourke

Germany Digs In Against Risk Sharing in EU Bank-Failure Debate

By Rebecca Christie & Rainer Buergin - Nov 15, 2013 12:00 AM GMT
Germany argued against a joint backstop for struggling euro-area banks as European finance ministers renewed their debate on how to handle the costs of managing failed lenders.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called on his colleagues to rein in their ambitions for the Single Resolution Mechanism proposed by the European Commission, which includes a common fund filled by levies on the financial industry. He said an agreement among European Union member states is possible by year-end as long as they don’t insist on a European fund now.

“It’s not disputed in principle that we need a European fund,” Schaeuble told reporters yesterday at the start of two days of talks in Brussels. “A fund needs a levy” on banks, “but the levy needs a clear legal basis.
There are different opinions on that, but if you want a safe legal basis, you’d better take the safe route.”

Finance ministers are racing to meet a year-end deadline to reach a common position on the bank-failure plan so that a final agreement on the legislation with the European Parliament is possible before the assembly stops work before elections in May. The European Central Bank, which takes over euro-area financial supervision next year, wants a European resolution mechanism in place as soon as possible after it begins oversight.

Putin Beats EU as Finland Rediscovers Soviet-Era Trade: Economy

By Kati Pohjanpalo - Nov 15, 2013 6:15 AM GMT
Finland, which lost its biggest trading partner when the Soviet Union collapsed, is now pegging its export recovery on Russia.

Sprawled over nine time zones, Russia has once again emerged as a destination for the Nordic nation’s exports and a source of imports. Trade has more than doubled and investment flows from Finland to Russia have jumped eightfold over the past decade.

With Finland’s erstwhile powerhouse Nokia Oyj on the ropes after losing the smartphone battle and the euro area experiencing its longest recession, companies peddling everything from cheese to forestry equipment to real estate ventures are finding growing markets right on their border in the world’s largest energy exporter. The development underscores a post-crisis shift away from Europe and toward economies buoyed by more growth potential.

“It’s become more pronounced in the past few years that Russia has provided stability amid volatility in many of the other main markets,” said Jaakko Laurila, who heads the Russian unit of Ponsse Oyj, a maker of harvesters and cranes used to handle timber. “Russia has become even more important.”

Increasing trade and investments eased the impact of the euro area’s debt crisis on Finland, which has endured two recessions in four years. The development has also helped improve ties between Finland and Russia, neighbors who share a 1,340 kilometer (833 mile) border and, at times, a troubled history

Telecom Italia Cut to Junk by S&P Month After Moody’s Downgrade

By Manuel Baigorri - Nov 14, 2013 11:01 PM GMT
Telecom Italia SpA (TIT) had its rating cut to junk by Standard & Poor’s, which said Italy’s biggest phone company is unlikely to reduce debt fast enough to offset declining earnings.

The ranking was lowered by one step to BB+ from BBB-, with a negative outlook, S&P said yesterday. Moody’s Investors Service last month stripped Telecom Italia of its investment grade after the resignation of Executive Chairman Franco Bernabe. The carrier, struggling for years to pare its debt pile, reported adjusted net debt of $38 billion as of Sept. 30

---- After the downgrades, Telecom Italia, whose biggest shareholder is Spain’s Telefonica SA (TEF), is in the same league as Portugal Telecom SGPS SA and carmaker Fiat SpA. (F)

Other Italian companies that are rated junk include Fiat, which lost its investment grade in 2009 and whose most recent Ba3 rating by Moody’s is three levels into junk. Aerospace and defense company Finmeccanica SpA was stripped of its investment grade this year.

“The boom can last only as long as the credit expansion progresses at an ever-accelerated pace. The boom comes to an end as soon as additional quantities of fiduciary media are no longer thrown upon the loan market.”

“But it [the boom] could not last forever even if inflation and credit expansion were to go on endlessly. It would then encounter the barriers which prevent the boundless expansion of circulation credit. It would lead to the crack-up boom and the breakdown of the whole monetary system.”

There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.

Ludwig von Mises.

At the Comex silver depositories Thursday final figures were: Registered 44.20 Moz, Eligible 124.37 Moz, Total 168.57 Moz.  

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

Today, old socialist France, where capital flight to London grows with each passing month. The one size fits all, wealth destroying Germanic euro is crushing Club Med from the Aegean to the Atlantic. In a tale of two cities, London booms while Paris chokes. It wasn’t meant to be this way. According to the Bilderbergers, London was supposed to die outside of the European Monetary Union, not Paris, Madrid, Lisbon and Rome. France needs its own currency once again to prosper, and needs it now. Under Hollande all they will get is more of the same. Stay long physical precious metals. It is all about to get much worse. Next year under the Yellen Fed, the USA is about to turn up the heat in the currency wars. France and Italy are likely to lose out even more. A 1968 spring looms for Paris.

France is like a great compass, whichever way they point to, go the complete opposite direction and you'll be fine.

P. J. O’Rourke.

French officials warn of social tinderbox as economy contracts again

Francois Hollande called on France to judge him on his success in “bending the curve in unemployment”, but this has come back to haunt him

France’s economy has buckled once again amid official warnings of an explosive political mood across the nation that threatens to spin out of control.

French output fell by 0.1pc in the third quarter and Italy remained trapped in recession, dashing hopes of a sustained recovery in Europe. “It is no longer a question of whether the eurozone can achieve ‘escape velocity’, but whether it can grow at all,” said sovereign bond strategist Nicholas Spiro.

The latest data show a continued erosion of France’s industrial base and export share. It risks shattering the credibility of President François Hollande, who has been talking up recovery for months. A YouGov poll showed his approval ratings have dropped to 15pc, the lowest recorded for a French leader in modern times.

While the risk of a eurozone bond crisis has greatly receded since the European Central Bank agreed to act as a lender of last resort in July 2012, this has been replaced by slow economic attrition. It resembles the mid-1930s slump under the Gold Standard and is fuelling political crises in a string of countries.

Le Figaro said loss of confidence in the French government is turning dangerous, citing a confidential report based on surveys by "prefects" in each of the 101 departments. “All across the country, the prefects described the same picture of a society that is angry, exasperated and on edge. A mix of latent discontent and resignation is being expressed through sudden eruptions of fury, almost spontaneously,” said the document. The report warned that people were no longer venting their feelings within normal social structures. Increasing numbers are questioning the “legitimacy” of taxes.

Thierry Lepaon, head of France’s Confederation of Labour (CGT), said the situation had become “explosive everywhere” and accused Mr Hollande of betraying French workers. The business lobby Medef has also begun to talk of a “crisis of authority” bordering on revolt as the economy languishes in stagnation.

----In a further twist, French inflation fell to 0.6pc in October. Prices have dropped slightly over the past three months once taxes are stripped out. The Observatoire Economique in Paris says the economy is at risk of a liquidity trap and could slide into outright deflation next year, blaming lack of action by the ECB and austerity overkill to meet EU deficit targets.

The Observatoire said fiscal policy has been tightened by 1.8pc of GDP this year, “suffocating the economy”. It calls for a slower pace of 0.5pc, accompanied by a blitz of ECB bond purchases.

This may soon be on the cards. Peter Praet, the ECB board member in charge of economics, hinted this week that the bank is mulling Anglo-Saxon style quantitative easing for the first time, ready to take “all measures” necessary to meet its mandate.

----Arnaud Montebourg, France’s industry minister, said the strong euro is to blame for the latest relapse, claiming that each 10pc rise in the exchange rate costs France 150,000 jobs. The euro’s trade-weighted index has risen by 9pc over the past 15 months. This is inflicting severe damage on the textile industry and other low-margin sectors in southern Europe, where there is still no relief from the credit crunch asphxiating small business.

Another weekend, and the Fed’s final bubble grows and grows on the Greater Fool theory that this tie it’s different and there will always be a greater fool around to buy at the top. While they don’t ring a bell at the top, getting out early beats getting out late. I think it’s bunker time again. I’ll leave it to Sanat Clause to buy in at the top.

How many Germans does it take to change a light bulb?
One. He holds the bulb and all of Europe revolves around him.

The monthly Coppock Indicators finished October:
DJIA: +178 Up. NASDAQ: +238 Up. SP500: +217 Up. The Fed’s final bubble continues to grow, until QE Forever isn’t forever.

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