Saturday, 11 June 2016

Weekend Update 11/06/2016 – A Supernova Implosion.

Brexit Countdown Clock.

Brexit Quote of the Day.
BBC "the propaganda arm of the EU."
Martin Durkin. Brexit Filmmaker.

We open with a dire warning from the “Bond King.” Record breaking negative bond yields will end in mass destruction of wealth. That’s an unprecedentedly blunt warning to a complacent market not in the least interested in listening.

Gross says negative yields will lead to ‘supernova’-like market implosion

Published: June 10, 2016 4:38 p.m. ET
Government bond yields hit record lows, spook investors
As yields on government bonds across the globe march toward fresh record lows, bond guru Bill Gross continues to sound the alarm.

Early Friday, he tweeted via Janus Capital that global yields are their lowest in “500 years of recorded history.” The fixed-income expert, who manages the firm’s unconstrained bond strategy, cautioned that record-breaking low yields and negative interest rates emerging in places like Japan and parts of Europe could have explosive implications. And not in a good way for global markets, as his tweet suggests:

Janus Capital
Gross: Global yields lowest in 500 years of recorded history. $10 trillion of neg. rate bonds. This is a supernova that will explode one day

Indeed, the amount of sovereign debt bearing negative yields surpassed $10 trillion for the first time in May, according to Fitch Ratings. That means lenders are willing to pay government borrowers to park their money, and the amount of negative debt is growing.

Up next, a red flag too from Jason Jencka in California. “As goes California so goes America. As goes America, so goes the world,” to use the old Wall Street adage. After last week’s big miss in the US employment figures, the question is, is the US economy already in the next recession?

Signs of Cooling Emerge in S.F. Bay Area Market as Summer Approaches

N. Jason Jencka June 10, 2016 2:40 am ET
The state of California has long been viewed as being at the leading edge of American innovation and market developments in addition to being at the forefront of cultural change. This unique status has led to a steady rise in population and prosperity that has seen California real estate appreciate at an average compound rate of 6.8% since 1975. This is in contrast to a rate of ~3.1% for U.S. real estate as a whole over the period from 1900-2011. These figures indicate that the state of the housing market in California is highly dependent on population increase and resultant appreciation by force of scarcity of desirable parcels. As annual population growth has slowed to less than one percent statewide since 2000, real estate price appreciation has increasingly depended on the continued emergence of the tech sector, centered on Silicon Valley. This process depends on a cycle of innovation and capitalization powered by a consistent, robust appetite for risk. In this sense, tech company valuations can become a form of the “tail wagging the dog” within the Bay Area economy.

Whether driven by the broad force of the eventually inevitable increase in interest rates or more immediate concern of dismal performance among those tech companies to most recently go public, the recently unthinkable has occurred. In a first since Q1 of 2009 there was not one Silicon Valley IPO. If this marks the beginning of a trend, it may be reflective of a decline in risk appetite that could serve to depress real estate prices. There is recent evidence of such a phenomenon as March real estate prices in San Francisco fell 1.8% year-over-year in San Francisco. This was the first such decline in four years. While this development in and of itself doesn’t necessarily indicate a trend of great significance, the path forward for Bay Area real estate will serve as a barometer for general  optimism in real estate as a whole and potential evidence of a fading euphoria even before any rate-driven material tightening of the lending market.

N. Jason Jencka is presently studying Finance and Economics at Sierra Nevada College, located near the shores of Lake Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada.His interests include the interplay between world markets and the global political sphere, with a focus on developments of both sides of the Atlantic in North America and Europe.In his leisure time he enjoys connecting with those people that have an interesting story to tell and a genuine desire to make an impact in the world.

Next, though I covered this in part earlier in the week, due to its importance I bring it to attention again, this time with some supporting articles. Big changes lie directly ahead, whether GB stay or exits the EUSSR, and whomever American voters opt to put in the White House. 

Have we reached the end of the petrodollar?  The answer is not quite, but it could be close, very close, and it has big implications for the price of gold. For the most part gold is priced internationally in dollars. An end to petrodollar pricing, in place since 1974, suggests a very much weaker and less safe U.S. dollar, as countries all around the planet scramble to acquire, Euros, yen, yuan, British Pounds, possibly even gold, if that is part of how the Saudis might want payment for their oil in  the future.

So how have we come to be contemplating the end of the petrodollar? Last month the US Senate voted to approve the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act by unanimous consent. More than enough for the Senate to override the threatened veto of the Act by President Obama. The House is expected to approve the Act later in the year.

The act allows survivors and victims families of the 9/11/2001 atrocities to sue Saudi Arabia for damages in U.S. courts, for the Saudis alleged part in funding the 9/11 terrorists. The Saudis warned very publicly in back in April that if such a bill went into U.S. law, that they would have to sell off some 750 billion of US treasury holdings in advance, to prevent them from being frozen by U.S. courts. But it quickly gets much more serious than that.

The stage is set for a monumental clash of wills later in the year. The Act pits a lame duck U.S. president fighting for the Saudis against a bipartisan Congress fighting for Americans, and does so in a highly charged U.S presidential election year.

While the Saudis would be very reluctant to sell out of US treasuries and/or stop pricing crude oil in dollars, which then get recycled back into U.S. treasuries to help finance the U.S. government, this Act put into law leaves them with little choice.  Continuing to price Saudi oil sales in dollars but not able to recycle the dollars into new U.S. assets, makes no sense at all. But ending the petrodollar, is a financial earthquake far bigger than the Lehman Bros. crash of 2008.

Most other countries, led by China and Japan, hold many billions of U.S. treasuries too. While they just might be persuaded not to aggravate things by selling out too, they would be very reluctant to add more purchases in the event of the end of the petrodollar merry-go-round. And it is by no means certain that some countries might not out of necessity, have to front run any Saudi selling. We know that some countries are already quietly adjusting their U.S. treasury mix, due to local needs. But that gentle canter can all too easily turn into a stampede, if the Saudis get forced into selling.

So what might all this mean for gold? Higher prices and sharply higher prices at that.  This new distrust between the Saudis and America, places a big negative uncertainty over the future of the petrodollar, and that in itself makes for a far more volatile and weaker U.S. dollar, one that at some point ahead will lose its main under pinning since 1974. That all this is about to come to a head in a matter of weeks or months, in a G-20 world completely unprepared for such dramatic change, has a major bullish monetary implication for gold, both short term and long term.

A weaker, less safe, U.S. dollar will have to be partially hedged via the monetary metals, but mostly with gold. For now markets, but especially the monetary metals markets, aren’t pricing any of this in.  Somehow, this will all blow over, complacent Mr. Market thinks. The president will probably use the summer recess to try for a “pocket” veto.

But I think that will only bring it all back again, in the year end lame duck session of the 
present Congress. Forcing President Obama into an official veto, one that will get overridden, and the bill become law shortly thereafter. When will gold pricing start to reflect this slow motion train wreck? To this old dinosaur commodities trader, the market ought to be reflecting it now, but I suspect the trigger will likely be when the House of Representatives votes. Or possibly when the redacted 28 pages of the 9/11 report become a political issue nearer the U.S. election.

Below, some interesting weekend reading.

Senate passes bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia

The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would allow victims of the 9/11 terror attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, defying vocal opposition from the White House. 

The upper chamber approved the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act by unanimous consent.

"This bill is very near and dear to my heart as a New Yorker because it would allow the victims of 9/11 to pursue some small measure of justice," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said. "[This is] another example of the [John] Cornyn-Schumer collaboration, which works pretty well around here." 

President Obama has threatened to veto the bill. Schumer said he wouldn’t uphold a veto, and expects that most senators wouldn't, either.

"I think we easily get the two-thirds override if the president should veto," Schumer said.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he and Schumer are talking with leadership in both parties to get an "expedited" vote on the bill in the House.

Saudi Arabia Warns of Economic Fallout if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia has told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it will sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passes a bill that would allow the Saudi government to be held responsible in American courts for any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

----Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, delivered the kingdom’s message personally last month during a trip to Washington, telling lawmakers that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States before they could be in danger of being frozen by American courts.

Foreign governments dump U.S. debt at record rate

March 17, 2016: 10:56 AM ET
In a bid to raise cash, foreign central banks and government institutions sold $57.2 billion of U.S. Treasury debt and other notes in January, according to figures released on Tuesday. That is up from $48 billion in December and the highest monthly tally on record going back to 1978.

It's part of a broader trend that gathered steam last year when central banks sold a record $225 billion of U.S. debt.

---- So what are foreign central bankers doing with these piles of cash? They're mostly using the funds to stimulate their own economies as the global growth slowdown and crash in oil prices continue to take their toll.

For instance, China has been liquidating its holdings of foreign debt to pump money into its slowing economy, plummeting currency and extremely volatile stock market. China, the largest owner of U.S. debt, trimmed its Treasury holdings by $8.2 billion in January, the Treasury Department said. The actual decline was likely larger considering China reported selling $100 billion of foreign-exchange reserves in January.

Classified 28 pages of 9/11 report are the 'smoking gun' which link al-Qaeda attack with top levels of the Saudi Government, says former chairman of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

  • Graham was the co-chair of the congressional joint inquiry on intelligence
  • Has called for declassification of 28 redacted pages for more than a decade
  • Bush and Obama administrations have refused to unseal the documents
  • 15 of the 19 hijackers - and Osama bin Laden - were all from Saudi Arabia 
  • By Hannah Parry For
Former US Sen Bob Graham says redacted pages in a congressional report on 9/11 are the 'smoking gun' needed to link the terrorist attacks with top levels of the Saudi Government.

Graham, who co-chaired the congressional joint inquiry on intelligence before and after the attacks, has called for the release of the 28 censored pages for more than a decade.

'Could those 19 people [September 11 terrorists] have carried out a plot as complex as 9/11 while maintaining anonymity in some cases for more than a year and a half while they were in the United States without having some support?' he said in an interview with Yahoo.  

'I think [the papers are] a smoking gun... I think the linkages are so multiple and strong and reinforcing that it's hard to come away from reading all this material and not feel that there was a support network and that support network came from Saudi Arabia.'

Graham spoke after Senate approved legislation that would allow September 11 victims and their relatives to sue Saudi Arabia over its possible role in the 2001 attacks.

Why big investors think it's time to hoard gold

10 June 2016.
Fear is on the rise and so is the price of gold.

Gold futures for August hit a three-week high Thursday, rising to $1,272.70 per ounce, just under a key resistance level of $1,275. The yellow metal is up about 20 percent year to date, and some high-profile investors — like George Soros and Stanley Druckenmiller — have made no secret that they see bad times ahead in the markets and gold is a safer bet.

"As far as the geopolitical element, it's certainly not a chicken little atmosphere," said Jim Steel, chief commodities analyst at HSBC. "I think there's enough uncertainty facing the global economy and even some geopolitical tensions to keep buying the gold market."

Investors believing they need to have gold in their portfolio as a hedge against the outcome of easy central bank policies and for other safety reasons are fueling a run in the metal. Some analysts say gold could easily climb above $1,300 an ounce.

In fact, DoubleLine Capital CEO Jeff Gundlach likes it, and he says gold could go to $1,400. Soros has reportedly been buying both gold and gold mining shares, while Drunkenmiller told investors last month to get out of stocks altogether and buy the yellow metal due to concerns about China's economy and the Fed's easy money policies.

Analysts say there are a host of reasons investors are loading up on gold, and at some point later this year, the U.S. presidential election could be seen as one of them.

Brexit Thought of the Week.

We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness outside of the EUSSR.”

With grateful thanks to the writers of the US Declaration of Independence.

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