Things look good, they say: I say Depression ahead

By , July 15, 2009 5:54 pm

Things look good, they say: I say Depression ahead//15 Jun 2009   I wrote yesterday that I would continue this line of thinking next week; it cannot wait until next week. Here is what I heard from various sources throughout the week: Labor department, the FED, Wall Street analyses, various economic experts throughout the TV news and talk shows and of course the political pundits that will say anything to make this White House look good.1.                   Yield on 10-year note up 20 percentage points: that’s good2.                  Gold went up for the first time in six weeks: that’s good3.                  Mortgage applications up for 2 or 3 weeks going: that’s good4.                  Stock Market  recovering some losses and actually up 2 % as of Monday: that’s good5.                  Report that the CPI is up .07% in Jun, higher than expected: that’s good?My question mark there is because inflation also rose in Jun by 1.8%, double what expected. Some out there are beginning to softly speak of the possibility that this “Bust” is close to the bottom and another “Bubble” is just around the corner; and some of these economic analysts I have followed for years and like their line of thinking; however I believe they are all wrong this time. I am sticking to what I wrote back January, in May, in June and yesterday, and that is, we are bracing for a Depression unlike anything in 200 years. This “Real Estate/Credit Markets” bust is not over until commercial real estate takes a plunge and some 90-160 banks fail(conservative figure). This commercial real estate and bank failures will add to the unemployment woes. Our Nation is going deeper in debt and just tripled the budget; and we haven’t even added the cost of Universal Health Care and the Energy Bill. All of these combined with the hundreds of billions in bailout for companies which will fail regardless will certainly create inflation. I fully accept that there various models for identifying “inflation” and certainly this White House will use a formula or model advantageous to their agenda; however, the bottom line on identifying inflation is the “decreased buying power” of the dollar.All of this is not even the worst case scenario, there is something coming that will have us wishing for the days of inflation. I’m talking about deflation and I will express my thoughts on this next week and share with you some historical data that has me convinced of the coming depression.

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Real Unemployment / Depression ahead

By , July 14, 2009 6:51 pm

Real Unemployment / Depression ahead I wrote back in January and then again in May and on 25 Jun that this administration would lie and deceive the American People on the actual health of the economy. I stated in January that we would see real unemployment rates of 19 t0 25% by the fall of 2010.Today, summer of 2009, the national unemployment rate is at 9.5 % according to the “official” numbers from the labor department, the labor department works for the Obama administration.Administrations (Democratic and Republican) have economists that will always support the philosophy of their president and are more  than able to make the numbers appear to be what their president wants them to be. I submit to you that the real and actual unemployment rate right now as I write is at no less than 16.5% and I further believe that there are economists out there that would be able to present data to support this. But since these economists are non-partisan; this liberal Congress and President have no use for their opinion or research analysis.It would easy to question my belief that unemployment will be at 19-25% by next fall if today’s rate is only 9.5%; but if it is actually 16.5%, then it is not so farfetched. The unemployment rate in 1929 was 3.2%; in 2007 it was 3.4%. In 1930 it was 8.7, a yearly increase of 5.5 %; in 2008 it was 6.1 (September), a yearly increase of 2.7 %. In 1931 it was 15.9 a two year increase of 12.70 %; in 2009 (July) it is 9.5 (or 16.5), a two year increase of 6.10 (or 13.10) %.Let’s look at it like this: 1929 to 1931 a 12.70% increase in the unemployment rate with the rate at 15.9. 2007 to 2009 a 6.10% (or my real numbers) 13.10% increase in the unemployment rate with the rate at 9.5 (or my numbers of 16.5).It will be interesting to see the numbers next summer to fall time frame to see if I’m right. If I’m right the unemployment rate this time next year will be at no less than 20.8%. In 1932 the unemployment rate was 23.6, a 77% or 20.4 percentage points’ increase in four years from the low in 1929 of 3.2.I wrote back in January that we were facing a depression so severe that it would make the Great Depression of 1929-1934 look like a Boy Scout weekend outing. I still believe that, in spite of the folks in Washington, Wall Street and all the Financial Analysts telling us that we have too many modern day mechanisms in place which never allow another depression like that of 1929. Let’s take a close look at some of those “safe guard” mechanisms: big and powerful financial institutions controlling hundreds of billions of our wealth, they failed; big, powerful, and global insurance companies which would take care of us during hard times and losses, they failed; FDIC, close to insolvency, Government controlled mortgage giants (Fanny MAE/Freddie MAC), they failed; giant auto industry, they failed; the FED, it failed the day it got in bed with the Treasury and our U.S. Constitution is failing when a Congress allows a President  to own auto companies, financial institutions, energy and our health care and that president allows the labor unions to dictate who works, who don’t and that labor union unconstitutionally takes part ownership of companies ahead of contractually secured bond holders.All of the above would not of itself create that severe of a depression, the fact that our government pumped hundreds of billions on these “to big to fail” companies will though  and in fact set up our own government to be “to big to fail”, but who will bail out America. Governments only get bailed out by “future economic progress” but I don’t see that “future economic progress” any time soon and here is why: right now as I write, our national deficit just hit the one trillion dollar mark, the budget is three trillion and the white house just admitted that unemployment will rise to 11% (that would make my number 18%), taxes will be raised not only on the rich, but on average households making $40,000, when more of your money goes to taxes, you buy less and more business will fail, when a business with debt fails, banks fail, when banks fail folks lose their jobs, when more people lose jobs, less money is collected for the treasury so the government has less money to support its people; all this at a time when this President has driven our country into more debt than the last three presidents together; that’s right, Barack Obama has created more government debt in seven months than in the last 20 years.I will continue this line of thought next week, and we haven’t even talked about inflation.

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Financial Armageddon

By , July 6, 2009 2:23 pm

 I wrote six months ago and then two months ago of the lies that this administration and wall street would telling us about the health of the economy. I’m not an economist, lawyer or Washington know it all; but I”ve lived through the mild recessions since the 50’s, I remember the gas lines of 73-74 and the price america paid for voting Carter into office. Now hear it from an economist that knows what he is talking about. I’m posting his complete email below.

MONEYANDMARKETS»


Monday, July 6, 2009

 

[«] Money and Markets 2009 Archive View This Issue On Our Website [»]

The Great Lie of 2009
by Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D. Dear Subscriber,

Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D.

If you missed our grand finale video, Solving The Timing Mystery Part Two, you’re running out of time to watch it — for two reasons:

It’s dated material that we must take offline this week. And more importantly, a new whirlwind of dramatic market moves is about to begin, opening up a series of unprecedented profit opportunities.

Indeed, just as the authorities were touting the “end of the financial crisis,” all heck has broken loose again …

We have a new surge in unemployment, and even without counting those who are excluded from the official numbers, 14.7 million are now jobless, the most since records dating back to 1948. Worse, for the first time since the Great Depression, every single job created after the prior recession has been wiped out.

We have industrial production falling at the same pace as it did in the early 1930s …. and global trade falling at twice the pace of the early 1930s.

We have California — the nation’s most populous state, with the largest GDP and the greatest impact on the entire U.S. economy — collapsing.

We have consumers slashing their spending, small businesses laying off their workers, cities and states forced to gut their budgets.

We see the most radical government countermeasures in a 100 years, the biggest federal deficits in 200 years, plus the swiftest swings — from greed to fear and fear to greed — ever.

Yet, for the past four months, virtually every policymaker in Washington and every pundit on Wall Street has been telling you …

The Great Lie of 2009:
“A Recovery Is Around The Corner”

On March 15, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that he detected “green shoots” in the economy. And every day since, economic soothsayers have been surveying the landscape, sifting through crops of weeds, trying to find those green shoots.

But from the very outset, editors Claus Vogt, Mike Larson and I have told you this is not a garden-variety recession. It’s merely the first phase of a far longer, deeper depression.

And now, just within the past few days, the myth of “green shoots” has been shattered, the reality of the still-sinking economy revealed.

By late April, famous Wall Street gurus were lining up to declare “the end of the bear market,” and every day since, brokers have been cajoling you to buy the very same stocks they want to sell.

But from the very beginning, we’ve told you this rally was merely the calm before the next big storm, a big selling opportunity.

And now, with the Dow already down 500 points from its June high, it looks like the smarter investors in the world are finally beginning to act on that advice.

In early June, Obama labor officials declared “a big turnaround in nation’s job market,” proudly announcing that “only” 345,000 jobs were eliminated in May.

We immediately issued a report demonstrating these numbers were extremely deceptive. Even if you accepted them at face value, we said, “less bad news” and “slower disasters” are not exactly signs of a turnaround.

And now, with the new government data released Thursday, their thesis is already being proven dead wrong.

One week ago, California officials publicly declared that they would never default on their obligations, directly refuting the forecast of default I made in this column on June 22: According to the BussinessJournal, Tom Dresslar, a spokesman for state Treasurer Bill Lockyer told the press “Mr. Weiss’ analysis and recommendation, to put it kindly, is misinformed.”

Just two days later, California defaulted on its short-term debt obligations to countless vendors and taxpayers, unilaterally issuing millions of dollars in i.o.u.’s that no one wanted and few financial institutions accepted.

These examples barely scratch the surface of the misconceptions, distortions and outright deceptions that are being perpetrated by high authorities, flooded through the media and used to permeate the American psyche — all the while ignoring the elephant in the room …

The Giant Accumulation of High-Risk
Debts and Bets Called “Derivatives”

The nation’s mountain of derivatives is not a mirage on the future horizon. Nor is it merely a phenomenon of our distant past.

It’s real. It’s here. And it’s huge.

Just ten months ago, it reared its ugly head and shoved the U.S. and Europe to the brink of a global meltdown.

And just last week, the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued its latest report showing that, despite all the talk of reducing risk and reforming the financial system, U.S. commercial banks still hold record amounts. The latest tally: $202 TRILLION in notional value derivatives. And even that pales in comparison to the global tally by the Bank of International Settlements, now at $592 trillion.

Yes, there have been some liquidations. But the totals are still massive.

And yes, notional values may overstate the magnitude of the problem. But the OCC’s measure of credit risk does not: Despite some shedding of risk here and there, every single one of the five largest derivatives players is still grossly overexposed to defaults by trading partners:

Major U.S. Banks Overexposed to Default Risk

Bank of America has total credit risk in this sector to the tune 169 percent of its capital; Citibank, 216 percent; JPMorgan Chase, 323 percent; HSBC Bank USA, 475 percent; Goldman Sachs, a whopping 1,048 percent, or over TEN times its capital.

If we were back in early 2007 … before the collapse of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch … before the implosion of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac … or before the near-collapse of AIG and Citigroup … then, maybe, folks could get away with ignoring this sword of Damocles hanging over the financial markets.

If we were back in a bygone pre-Bernanke, pre-Geithner era … before TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program), before PPIP (Public-Private Investment Program), before TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility), before TLGP (Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program), before CAP (Capital Assistance Program), before TIP (Targeted Investment Program), before HASP (Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan), before CPFF (Commercial Paper Funding Facility), before AMLF (Asset-Backed Commercial Paper Money Market Fund Liquidity Facility), before MMIFF (Money Market Investor Funding Facility), or before the alphabet soup of all the other hastily-conceived government efforts to contain the giant elephant in the room … then … m! aybe we could make believe it’s not there.

Or if all of our nation’s top officials were mute about this monster still in our midst, perhaps that, too, would justify the current aura of bliss that has temporarily shrouded Washington and Wall Street.

But even that is no longer the case. Some officials are finally finding the courage to speak out, issuing some of the same warnings today that we issued years ago.

Global Vesuvius

Nearly three years ago, in our Safe Money Report of November 7, 2006, entitled “Global Vesuvius,” Associate Editor Mike Larson and I wrote:

“Even as the Dow makes new highs, Wall Street and the world’s financial markets sit atop a gigantic mountain of derivatives — high-risk bets and debts that total a mind-boggling $285 trillion. That’s over six times the 2005 output of the entire world economy ($44.4 trillion) … 22 times the total value of the entire Standard & Poor’s 500 Index ($12.7 trillion) … and 25 times the entire U.S. federal and agency debt ($11.3 trillion).

“It’s a global Vesuvius that could erupt at almost any time, instantly throwing the world’s financial markets into turmoil … bankrupting major banks … sinking big-name insurance companies … scrambling the investments of hedge funds … overturning the portfolios of millions of average investors.” (Page 1)

Now, in the thirty months that have ensued, each of these events has come to pass:

The world’s financial markets were thrown into turmoil.

The largest banks in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and even Switzerland were bankrupted.

The world’s largest insurance company collapsed.

The investments of hedge funds were trashed; the portfolios of average investors, slashed in half.

But it’s not over. And the reasons are quite straightforward: The volcano is now far larger; its tectonic forces, more powerful.

In our 2006 “Global Vesuvius” issue (download the pdf), we identified five major threats:

Major threat #1. The sheer size of the derivatives market. At that time, the global market for derivatives was $285 trillion.

Now it’s $592 trillion. Its six-year compound rate of growth: A shocking 34.5 percent per year!

Major threat #2. The Lack of Transparency. We railed against over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, representing 96 percent of all derivatives held by U.S. commercial banks. We warned about the lack of disclosure to investors, the lack of standard pricing and the fact that “two financial institutions can trade whatever the heck they want … and no one but the parties involved knows precisely what the contracts are, or what their value really is.” (Page 3)

Now, in Senate Banking Testimony, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has admitted that

“OTC derivatives are largely excluded from the securities regulatory framework by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. In a recent study on a type of securities-related OTC derivative known as a credit default swap, or CDS, the Government Accountability Office found that ‘comprehensive and consistent data on the overall market have not been readily available,’ that ‘authoritative information about the actual size of the CDS market is generally not available,’ and that regulators currently are unable ‘to monitor activities across the market.'”

Also before the Senate Banking Committee, Henry T.C. Hu, Chair in the Law of Banking and Finance at the University of Texas, has testified that

“Regulator-dealer informational [gaps] can be extraordinary — e.g., regulators may not even be aware of the existence of certain derivatives, much less how they are modeled or used.”

Major threat #3. Too much in the hands of too few. In our 2006 “Global Vesuvius” report, we wrote:

“There are close to 9,000 commercial and savings banks in the U.S. But at midyear … 97% of the bank-held derivatives in the U.S. are concentrated in the hands of just five banks.” (Page 3)

Today, virtually nothing has changed. The five largest commercial banks still hold 95 percent of the total! And if you include the recent shotgun mergers and restructurings, such as Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch, the concentration of risk today is even greater.

In her recent testimony, the SEC Chairman puts it this way:

“The markets are concentrated and … one of a small number of major dealers is a party to almost all transactions, whether as a buyer or a seller. The customers of the dealers appear to be almost exclusively institutions. Many of these may be highly sophisticated, such as large hedge funds and other pooled short-term trading vehicles. As you know, many hedge funds have not been subject to direct regulation by the SEC and, accordingly, we have very little ability to obtain information concerning their trading activity … “

Also testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Christopher Whalen, co-founder of Institutional Risk Analytics, points out that

“Perhaps the most important issue for the Committee to understand is that the structure of the OTC derivatives market today is a function of the flaws in the business models of the largest dealer banks, including JPMorgan Chase [JPM], Bank of America and Goldman Sachs [GS]. These flaws are structural, have been many decades in the making, and have been concealed from the Congress by the Fed and other financial regulators.

“Many cash and other capital markets operations in these banks are marginal in terms of return on invested capital, suggesting that banks beyond a certain size are not only too risky to manage — but are net destroyers of value for shareholders and society even while pretending to be profitable …

“No matter how good an operator of commercial banks JPM CEO Jamie Dimon may be, his bank is doomed without its near-monopoly in OTC derivatives — yet that same OTC business must eventually destroy JPM and the other large dealers. Seen from that perspective, the rescues of Bear Stearns and AIG were meant to protect not investors nor the global markets, but rather to protect JPM, GS and the small group of dealers who benefit from the continuance of their monopoly over the OTC derivatives market.”

Major threat #4. Shenanigans in Credit Default Swaps (CDS). In our 2006 “Global Vesuvius” report, Mike Larson and I also wrote …

“The global market for these credit derivatives is absolutely exploding. It was just $180 billion in 1996. That grew to $893 billion in 2000 … $1.95 trillion in 2002 … and a stunning $20 trillion this year. It’s hard to believe. But that’s a 111-fold expansion in just a decade!

“The problem: Now, hedge funds and other investors are using these derivatives to spin the roulette wheel. In fact, the $1.2 trillion hedge fund industry now holds 32% of the credit default swaps, up from 15% two years ago. Think about that for a minute: Thinly capitalized, gun-slinging hedge funds are now essentially taking on the responsibility for insuring billions of dollars in bonds.” (Page 5)

Now, in his Senate testimony, Institutional Risk Analytics’ Whalen explains it this way:

“In my view, CDS contracts and complex structured assets are deceptive by design and beg the question as to whether a certain level of complexity is so speculative and reckless as to violate US securities and anti-fraud laws. …

“Pretending to price CDS contracts or complex structured securities using ‘models’ is a ridiculous deception that should be rejected by the Congress and by regulators. And members of Congress should remember that federal regulators and the academic economists who populate agencies like the Fed are almost entirely captured by the largest dealer banks. Even today, the Fed and other regulatory agencies raise little or no questions as to the efficacy of OTC derivatives and the absurd quantitative models that Wall Street pretends to use to value these gaming instruments.”

Major threat #5. Outstanding derivatives dwarf the trading in the underlying securities. In our “Global Vesuvius” report, Mike and I wrote:

“The sheer volume of derivatives outstanding … is dwarfing the amount of underlying debt securities. That’s causing major market distortions.

“Take last October. Auto supplier Delphia filed for bankruptcy. At the time, it had just $2 billion in outstanding bonds. But there were a mind-boggling $20 billion of default swaps on its debt!

“To settle those contracts, derivatives players had to scramble to buy underlying bonds. That drove their prices up substantially even as the company was going broke!

“Similar distortions occurred when Delta, Northwest, and Calpine defaulted on their debt.

“End result: The impact of bankruptcies, instead of being minimized by derivatives, can often be multiplied far beyond what you’d normally expect.”

In his testimony, Whalen adds:

“What makes credit default swaps like betting on the temperature is that, in the case of many if not most of these contracts, the volume of swaps outstanding far exceeds the amount of debt the specified company owes.”

And he sums up all the threats nicely with this concluding comment:

“Jefferson said that ‘commerce between master and slave is barbarism.’ All of the Founders were Greek scholars. They knew what made nations great and what pulled them down into ruins. And they knew that, above all else, how we treat ourselves, as individuals, customers, neighbors, traders and fellow citizens, matters more than just making a living. If we as a nation tolerate unfairness in our financial markets in the form of the current market for CDS and other complex derivatives, then how can we expect our financial institutions and markets to be safe and sound?”

Plus, I ask, how can any investor — whether a sophisticated money manager entrusted with billions of the public’s money or an average American seeking a respectable retirement — afford to believe the Great Lie of 2009?

Watch our video. Then, take some simple steps to protect your money and convert surging volatility into profit opportunities.

Good luck and God bless!

Martin

 


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Money and Markets (MaM) is published by Weiss Research, Inc. and written by Martin D. Weiss along with Nilus Mattive, Claus Vogt, Ron Rowland, Michael Larson and Bryan Rich. To avoid conflicts of interest, Weiss Research and its staff do not hold positions in companies recommended in MaM, nor do we accept any compensation for such recommendations. The comments, graphs, forecasts, and indices published in MaM are based upon data whose accuracy is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Performance returns cited are derived from our best estimates but must be considered hypothetical in as much as we do not track the actual prices investors pay or receive. Regular contributors and staff include Kristen Adams, Andrea Baumwald, John Burke, Amber Dakar, Dinesh Kalera, Red Morgan, Maryellen Murphy, Jennifer Newman-Amos, Adam Shafer, Julie Trudeau, Jill Umiker, Leslie Underwood and Michelle Zausnig.

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545 People

By , July 6, 2009 2:16 pm

 


545 PEOPLE
By Charlie Reese

 Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.
Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?
Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget.  The President does.
You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.
You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.
You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.
You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred Senators, 435 Congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices , 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress.   In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason They have no legal authority.   They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing..  I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault.   They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.
What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.   No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits.   The president can only propose a budget.   He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.    
Who is the speaker of the House?   Nancy Pelosi.  She is the leader of the majority party.   She and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility.   I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people.  When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.
If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red …
If the Army & Marines are in   IRAQ , it’s because they want them in IRAQ .
If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.
Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.   Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.
They, and they alone, have the power.
They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees..
We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

What you do with this article now that you have read it is up to you, though you have several choices:

1.  You can send this to everyone in your address book and hope “they” do something about it.
2.  You can agree to “vote against” everyone that is currently in office, knowing that the process will take several  years.
3.  You can decide to “run for office” yourself and agree to do the job properly.
4. Lastly, you can sit back and do nothing or re-elect the current bunch.

 

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