Weekday NEWS to Comfort the Disturbed and Disturb the Comfortable.
Now is not the time to be scared of Gold!
By Mike Swanson - CommodityOnline.com
I titled last month's issue of this newsletter "Mining Stocks May Become the Big Play for the Second Half of 2012." I wasn't saying that it was time to buy them, but that I thought that when the correction they are in, which has been going on now since way back in September, came to an end they would likely put on a big performance through the rest of this year.
Now the correction hasn't ended yet and they have fallen a bit more this past month. That fact has caused many people to throw in the towel on them and I've even seen articles and blog posts on the Internet declaring that gold is now in a bear market. For instance just a few weeks ago frequent CNBC talking head Dennis Gartman announced that he was out of gold after pounding the table on it in January.
Five Years After Crisis, No Normal Recovery
By Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff - Bloomberg.com
With the U.S. economy yielding firmer data, some researchers are beginning to argue that recoveries from financial crises might not be as different from the aftermath of conventional recessions as our analysis suggests. Their case is unconvincing.
The point that all recoveries are the same -- whether preceded by a financial crisis or not -- is argued in a recent Federal Reserve working paper by Greg Howard, Robert Martin and Beth Anne Wilson. It was also discussed in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.
Market pendulum swings back to fear Will rally fall to the fear factor? At the end of a good first quarter, economically sensitive stocks started to fade. It could be a scary time to invest, but there's a sector that's a big exception.
By Jim Jubak - Money.MSN.com
A funny thing happened on the way to the end of the first quarter.
After leading the stock market for most of the quarter, cyclical stocks started to lag the Standard & Poor's 500 Stock Index ($INX -0.40%).
Is this a sign of what we can expect in the second quarter, as worries about economic growth take the steam out of profits for stocks that follow the economic cycle? I'd say so. I think we're seeing the first signs that the pendulum, which swung to optimism and drove this rally, is swinging in the other direction.
1) The Crisis coming from Europe will be far, far larger in scope than anything the Fed has dealt with before.
2) The Fed is now politically toxic and cannot engage in aggressive monetary policy without experiencing severe political backlash (this isan election year).
3) The Fed's resources are spent to the point that the only thing the Fedcould do would be to announce an ENORMOUS monetary program which would cause a Crisis in of itself.
'Massive Wealth Destruction' Is About to Hit Investors: Faber
By: Jeff Cox - CNBC.com
Runaway government debts have triggered uncontrolled money printing that in turn will lead to inflation that will decimate portfolios, according to the latest forecast from "Dr. Doom" Marc Faber.
Investors, particularly those in the "well-to-do" category, could lose about half their total wealth in the next few years as the consequences pile up from global government debt problems, Faber, the author of the Gloom Boom & Doom Report, said on CNBC.
Keiser Report: Debtflation (E270)
In this episode, Max Keiser and co-host, Stacy Herbert, discuss allegations of Rupert Murdoch sabotaging competitors, America buying 61 percent of its own debt and Germany lauching a strategy to counter its own largesse. In the second half of the show Max talks to Reggie Middleton about JP Morgan's muni bond bucket shop and the US Federal Reserve buying up Treasury debt.
Wolfson gurus see euro break-up as dangerous but liberating A disorderly break-up of the euro would set off a cataclysmic chain-reaction and a collapse of Europe's banking system, pushing the world into full-blown depression.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard - Telegraph.co.uk
That is the shared nightmare of those shortlisted for the £250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize - the richest economic award after the Nobel Prize - on how to "manage" a full or partial disintegration of monetary union. They agree on little else.
"The consequences of a completely unplanned 'Exit' are likely to be catastrophic," said Neil Record from Record Currency Management, one of the five qualifiers.
Spain Heading for Highest Debt Level in 22 Years Spain Debt-to-GDP to Hit 79.8% in 2012: Government
By: Reuters - CNBC.com
Spain's public debt will jump to its highest level since at least 1990 this year as the economy sinks into recession, the government said in its budget on Tuesday, worrying investors who sold Spanish bonds.
Spain is under intense pressure from the European Union and investors to drastically cut its deficit and prove it will be able to repay its debt without asking for outside help.
Analysts say it will struggle to meet this year's deficit target despite new budget cuts.
The Buck Stops Here: A BRIC Wall
BY JOHN BUTLER - FinancialSense.com
Already on the defensive due to a persistent failure to achieve its stated policy aims, the US Fed was subject to much fresh criticism over the past week, including from the BRIC nations, collectively the largest foreign holders of US dollar reserves. While the dollar remains the world's pre-eminent reserve currency, there is growing recognition everywhere, except inside the Fed itself, that a choice will soon have to be made: Either the Fed must move to implement a credible, rules-based monetary policy, focused primarily on preserving the purchasing power of the dollar, or the dollar will lose reserve currency status, initiating a vicious spiral of dollar and US Treasury market weakness, which would quickly spill over into the financial system generally. Were that to happen, the current debate about how to reduce the US budget deficit would be promptly settled, as it would become impossible for the US to finance public sector deficits in the first place. Does the Fed, or the government, see the danger? Regardless, investors need not only to see it, but to understand it and to act accordingly. Time may be shorter than I previously thought.
EU 'surprised' by Portugal's unemployment rate
BY VALENTINA POP - EUObserver.com
BRUSSELS - The EU commission on Tuesday (3 April) praised Portugal for its austerity measures and said unemployment benefits had to be further cut even though the percentage of jobless people was "surprisingly" higher than expected.
"The budgetary adjustment is currently on track and it is likely for the Eurogroup to say yes to the fourth disbursement (of bail-out money)," said Peter Weiss, an EU commission official part of the 'troika' of international lenders overseeing the reform process in Lisbon.
Eurozone unemployment hits new record
BY VALENTINA POP - EUObserver.com
BRUSSELS - Eurozone unemployment reached 10.8 percent in February, the highest level since the currency was introduced in 1999, according to the latest Eurostat data.
The statistics office estimated that more than 17.1 million men and women were out of work in February in the 17 states of the eurozone, 162,000 more than a month earlier and 1.48 million more than in 2011. The highest increases were registered in Greece (14.3% to 21.0% between December 2010 and December 2011), Spain (20.6% to 23.6%) and Cyprus (6.7% to 9.7%).
IMF chief wants 'more firepower' to fight crises
By Tom Raum - AP - WashingtonTimes.com
WASHINGTON (AP) — The managing director of the International Monetary Fund called on the world's developed nations on Tuesday to "increase our firepower" to better confront global financial strains such as those now in play inGreece and several other eurozone nations.
"We certainly need more resources," IMF chiefChristine Legarde told the annual meeting of the Associated Press, but she did not specify how much more was needed. Ms. Lagarde said theIMF would address that question at its spring meeting in two weeks.
An 11-year-old's solution to the euro crisis
by Suzy Khimm - WashingtonPost.com
The Wolfson Economics Prize will be awarded to the best contingency plan for the breakup of the euro zone. All five finalists, which were announced Tuesday, are expert economists and financial analysts. But the judges also awarded a special mention to the youngest entrant, an 11-year-old boy from the Netherlands (he was 10 when he submitted the entry). Here's Jurre Hermans's plan for Greece to make an orderly exit from the euro zone, which he illustrated as well:
My name is Jurre Hermans. I am 10 years old and live in the Netherlands. I am quite worried about the eurocrisis and look at the TV news daily. The eurocrisis is a big problem. I think about solutions....Greece should leave the Euro. How do you do that? All Greek people should bring their Euro to the bank. They put it in an exchange machine (see left on my picture). You see, the Greek guy does not look happy!! The Greek man gets back Greek Drachme from the bank, their old currency. The Bank gives all these euro's to the Greek Government (see topleft on my picture). All these euros together form a pancake or a pizza (see on top in the picture). Now the Greek government can start to pay back all their debts, everyone who has a debt gets a slice of the pizza. You see that all these euro's in the pizza's go the companies and banks who have given loans in greece (see right in my picture).
Why People Hate the Banks
By JOE NOCERA - NYTimes.com
A few months ago, I was standing in a crowded elevator when Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, stepped in. When he saw me, he said in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear: "Why does The New York Times hate the banks?"
It's not The New York Times, Mr. Dimon. It really isn't. It's the country that hates the banks these days. If you want to understand why, I would direct your attention to the bible of your industry, The American Banker. On Monday, it published the third part in its depressing — and infuriating — series on credit card debt collection practices.
The $1.3 billion bond deal haunting Goldman What went into the 2006 Fremont Home Loan Trust from Goldman Sachs that has the SEC so bothered?
By Stephen Gandel - Fortune.CNN.com
FORTUNE -- The Securities and Exchange Commission is likely to bring charges soon against Goldman Sachs (GS) for a 2006 mortgage investment deal. The agency hasn't said which one yet, but Fortune has learned there's a good chance the SEC's case will focus on Fremont Home Loan Trust 2006-E, a bundle of more than 5,000 mortgages that has cost investors, including mortgage guarantor Freddie Mac and by extension U.S. taxpayers, an estimated $545 million.
Break Up the Big Banks? Why It Could Actually Happen
By: Jeff Cox - CNBC.com
Big banks have helped lead this year's stock market rally, but the institutions themselves are about to undergo an onslaught from politicians and regulators who want the companies broken up.
One prominent analyst has gone as far as telling investors they should brace for the notion that three of Wall Street's biggest names — Bank of America Merrill Lynch — may cease to exist in their present forms.
The Irrelevance of Bank Reserves
By John Carney - CNBC.com
If you're feeling a bit lost when it comes to all this talk about bank lending not being "reserve constrained," you aren't alone.
Fortunately, the Economist published a good piece explaining it back in 2009.
For the Federal Reserve, as with most central banks, reserves ordinarily serve only one purpose: to help it establish a target interest rate. In ordinary times, some banks have more reserves than they need and lend them to those that have too little. The rate on those interbank loans is called the fed funds rate. If the Fed wants a higher fed funds rate, it drains reserves. If it wants a lower one, it adds reserves. The quantity of reserves, per se, is irrelevant to the Fed. It's the interest rate that affects spending and it's spending that drives both the demand for credit and, ultimately, inflation.
Fed Signals No Need for More Easing Unless Growth Falters
By Joshua Zumbrun and Jeff Kearns - Bloomberg.com
The Federal Reserve is holding off on increasing monetary accommodation unless the U.S. economic expansion falters or prices rise at a rate slower than its 2 percent target.
"A couple of members indicated that the initiation of additional stimulus could become necessary if the economy lost momentum or if inflation seemed likely to remain below" 2 percent, according to minutes of their March 13 meeting released today in Washington. That contrasts with the assessment at the FOMC's January meeting in which some Fed officials saw current conditions warranting additional action "before long."
Fed's Williams Says 'Strong' Stimulus Needed for Recovery
By Aki Ito and Caroline Salas Gage - Bloomberg.com
Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President John Williams said the central bank must continue to act "vigorously" to boost the economy and sustain labor market gains.
"We are far below maximum employment and are likely to remain there for some time," Williams said today in San Diego. "Under these circumstances, it's essential that we keep strong monetary stimulus in place. The recovery has been sluggish."
The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee on March 13 maintained its pledge to keep interest rates low through at least late 2014, noting improvements in employment while also saying "significant downside risks" remain. Still, policy makers saw no need to roll out new easing measures unless growth faltered, minutes of last month's meeting showed today.
Fed again adopts wait-and-see approach
By Zachary A. Goldfarb - WashingtonPost.com
The Federal Reserve appears unlikely to launch another round of economic stimulus to try to generate additional growth and quicken the decline in unemployment, according to minutes of the Fed's March meeting released Tuesday.
At the meeting, Fed officials observed numerous signs of a strengthening economic recovery but also expressed the view that unemployment, now at 8.3 percent, was likely to come down only gradually over the next few years.
The Fed's Con Appears To Be Working
But The Curtain Is Rising On The Third Act
By Lee Adler - WallStreetExaminer.com
In today's economic news, the mainstream media focused on the disappointment surrounding the FOMC Minutes, the massaged and sanitized fairy tale about what the participants said at last month's FOMC confab. The market was shocked! SHOCKED! that most of the members saw no need for additional QE, unless things got worse. I had concluded that a couple of months ago based on the fact that every time QE speculation arose, not only did stocks rally, but so did energy and other commodity prices. The commodity vigilantes, I thought, would tie the Fed's hands. That and the fact that the conomic data was coming in relatively perky, at least in terms of the headline data, made it highly unlikely that the Fed would do any more money printing.
None so Blind
By Scott Silva - GoldSeek.com
It seems the administration can never see the realities that stifle economic growth-- the hard realities right before their eyes that most of us see and must deal with every day. The terrible trio at the controls of the US economic engine is driving us not into a ditch, but over a cliff. The Fed Chairman is flooding the economy with too much liquidity. The Treasury Secretary believes the best way to recovery is through more government spending, taxing the rich and forcing broader redistribution of the nation's wealth. The president's vision for prosperity is government control of production and economic equality. Our elected leaders pander and deceive in full-time re-election campaign mode, with Newspeak and misdirection to mask the realities of high unemployment, high consumer prices, falling wages and slow economic growth.
Regulators Move Closer to Oversight of Nonbanks
By ANNIE LOWREY - NYTimes.com
WASHINGTON — The Financial Stability Oversight Council, the country's top financial regulatory body, moved closer on Tuesday to increasing its oversight of nonbank financial institutions, like hedge funds, private equity firms and insurers.
The 10-member council, headed by the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, voted unanimously to adopt a rule that will designate some of those firms as "systemically important financial institutions," and put them under stronger regulatory supervision.
Why Are the Fed and SEC Keeping Wall Street's Secrets?
By William D. Cohan - Bloomberg.com
Getting what should be public information about major Wall Street firms can be maddeningly difficult.
Bloomberg News discovered this in its ultimately successful effort to get information on the $1.2 trillion in "secret loans" the Fed doled out during the financial crisis. And I've had no small experience of it myself.
As I started each of my three books -- about Lazard Freres, Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) -- I submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to the appropriate government agencies (the Securities Exchange Commission, the State Department and the Federal Reserve) to obtain whatever documents, memos and e-mails they had about these companies and their senior executives.
YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHING YET – PART TWO
By James Quinn - TheBurningPlatform.com
....Anyone who hasn't sensed a mood change in this country since the 2008 financial meltdown is either ignorant or in denial. Millions of Americans fall into one of these categories, but many people realize something has changed – and not for the better. The sense of pure financial panic that existed during September and October of 2008 had not been seen since the dark days of 1929. Our leaders used the initial terror and fear to ram through TARP and stimulus packages that rewarded the perpetrators of the financial collapse rather than helping the middle class who lost 8 million jobs, destroyed by Wall Street criminality. The stock market plunged by 57% from its 2007 high by March 2009. What has happened since September 2008 has set the stage for the next downward leg in this Crisis. The rich and powerful have pulled out all the stops and saved themselves at the expense of the many. Despite overwhelming proof of unabashed mortgage fraud, rating agency bribery, document forgery on a grand scale and insider trading based on non-public information, the brazen audacity of Wall Street oligarchs is reminiscent of the late stages of the Roman Empire.
Is The Wimpy Recovery Morphing Into Recession?
By Rana Foroohar, TIME
We've just begun coming to grips with the wimpy recovery. Are we actually in for another recession? That was the implication of a couple of economic reports I read this week, including one by ITG Investment Research, which tracked how the pace of this recovery (which was never great to begin with) has by some measures been slowing, particularly among middle-income consumers and industries producing for overseas markets. (Europe is definitely in a double dip, and many emerging markets are slowing too, as I've written about many times.)
One of the most interesting snippets from the report: While there are fewer goods on sale in American malls and retail shops than there were last year around this time, what is on sale is being discounted at much steeper rates — and not just at dollar stores but at outlets catering to middle- as well as lower-income people.
Income Inequality Is Killing the Economy,
Obama Says—Is He Wrong? The president wants to turn inequality into both a campaign banner and a grand unifying theory of the recovery. But not all economists agree with him.
By Derek Thompson - TheAtlantic.com
"What drags down our entire economy is when there is an ultra-wide chasm between the ultra-wealthy and everyone else," President Obama said in a speech today, citing evidence that income inequality hurts economic growth.
So, is he right?
Mortgage Rates Significantly Higher After Fed Meeting Minutes
BY MATTHEW GRAHAM - MortgageNewsDaily.com
Mortgages Rates got crushed today, relatively speaking. It's ironic that we noted yesterday's rates as getting close to 3/13's levels because today's rates are turning out to be closer to 3/14's significantly worse levels. While the recently prevailing Conventional 30yr Fixed Best Execution Rate of 4.0% remains intact, costs to obtain that rate will be immensely higher today vs yesterday. More than a few lenders will have issues hitting that 4.0% mark with a "no closing cost" loan.
Home Prices Seen Dropping 10% in U.S.
on Foreclosures: Mortgages
By Kathleen M. Howley - Bloomberg.com
As many as 1.25 million of America's least cared for homes are headed for auction after a year-long probe into foreclosure practices kept them off the market.
Sales of repossessed properties probably will rise 25 percent this year from 1 million in 2011, according to Moody's Analytics Inc. Prices for the homes could drop as much as 10 percent because they deteriorated as they were held in reserve during investigations by state officials resolved in February, according to RealtyTrac Inc. That month, 43 percent of foreclosures were delinquent for two or more years, from a 21 percent share in 2010, according to Lender Processing Services Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida.
US Standard of Living Has Fallen More Than 50%
By Jeff Nielson, TheStreet
NEW YORK (Bullion Bulls Canada) -- In writing about the relentless collapse of Western economies, I frequently point to "40 years of plummeting wages" for Western workers, in real dollars. However, where I have been remiss is in quantifying the magnitude of this collapse in Western wages.
On several occasions, I have glibly referred to how it now takes two spouses working to equal the wages of a one-income family of 40 years ago. Unfortunately, that is now an understatement. In fact, Western wages have plummeted so low that a two-income family is now (on average) 15% poorer than a one-income family of 40 years ago.
Democrats Resort to Magical Thinking on Obamacare
By Ramesh Ponnuru - Bloomberg.com
In the span of one week, Democrats went from dismissing the possibility that the Supreme Court would strike down the 2010 law mandating individuals to buy health insurance to consoling themselves that any such action would have a silver lining.
James Carville says it would help the Democrats in the election. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson writes that it would make single payer -- a government health system as in the U.K. and Canada -- "inevitable." Other liberals, and even the occasional right-of-center analyst, have echoed that point: The conservative legal challenge to President Barack Obama's health-care overhaul could prove self-defeating.
Obama Says Court Overturning Health Law Would Be 'Activism'
By Roger Runningen and Hans Nichols - Bloomberg.com
President Barack Obama, saying he's confident the U.S. Supreme Court (1000L) will uphold the 2010 health- care law, said the "burden is on those who would overturn" a law that requires Americans to have insurance.
"The Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it," Obama said at an Associated Press luncheon in Washington. "It's precisely because of that extraordinary power that the court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly elected legislature, our Congress."
Obama flunks constitutional law President attacks Supreme Court
in advance of Obamacare ruling
Editorial - The Washington Times
For someone who once taught classes at a law school, President Obama doesn't seem to know much about the powers of the Supreme Court.
At a press conference Monday, Mr. Obama said he did not think the high court would rule that forcing Americans to buy health insurance was unconstitutional. "Ultimately, I am confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress," he said.
How to fix health care
By The Washington Times
The individual mandate in Obamacare would not be necessary if the act did not require coverage of pre-existing conditions without any additional premium costs.
Insurance coverage of any kind is based on the statistical probability of a covered event happening within a certain time A person pays a lower premium for life insurance if they are less likely to die in the near future (i.e., life insurance for a child costs less than life insurance for a senior). Auto insurance costs less for people who have a good driving record and who live in areas that are less likely to have traffic accidents (i.e. rural areas). Most auto insurance companies also have a premium surcharge if a person has an "at fault" accident.
Arizona sheriff rejects court monitor;
Justice Department threatens to sue
By Sari Horwitz - WashingtonPost.com
The standoff between the federal government and a high-profile Arizona sheriff accused of discriminating against Hispanics escalated Tuesday when settlement negotiations fell through and the Justice Department threatened to sue the sheriff.
Justice officials have accused Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's department of illegally detaining Hispanic residents and denying them critical services in jail. A day before settlement negotiations were to begin, Arpaio refused to agree to a court-appointed monitor to oversee changes in his department, one of the Justice Department's requirements.
SHERIFF JOE EXPANDS OBAMA PROBE TO HILLARY SUPPORTERS Obama campaign, DNC accused of voter fraud in 2008
By Jerome R. Corsi - WND.com
PHOENIX – Based on interviews WND conducted with insiders in Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has decided to expand the scope of his law enforcement investigation into President Obama's eligibility to include evidence and affidavits documenting alleged criminal activity by the Obama campaign in the 2008 Democratic Party primary race.
Hollywood film producer Bettina Viviano and Hollywood-based digital photographer Michele Thomas have given Arpaio's investigators the names of dozens of Hillary Clinton supporters willing to come forward with evidence and affidavits. Among their claims is that the Clintons were the first to charge Obama is not a natural born citizen as required by Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution and that his birth certificate is a forgery.
More papers now charging readers for online stories
By Ryan Nakashima - AP - WashingtonTimes.com
LOS ANGELES — Newspapers are returning to a business strategy that served them well in the heyday of street-corner newsboys shouting the front-page news - enticing people with a little free online content before asking them to pay up.
After years of offering news for free, a growing number of newspapers have launched so-called metered paywalls, which give readers a few free stories online before requiring them to sign up for a digital subscription. About 300 newspapers have adopted such plans, which usually give subscribers some mix of Web, smartphone and tablet computer access.
The Rise of the Artifical-Intelligence Economy
By Adam Ozimek - TheAtlantic.com
As a child I used to read my grandfather's Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines. The constant promise and inevitable disappointment of amazing technologies that mostly never materialized (a problem likely exacerbated by my focus on the amazing and outlandish ones) made me skeptical of futurist predictions. It is somewhat strange then, that I now commonly find myself a proponent of futurist visions equally as grand as those that once made me a cynic. But I'm not alone in seeing the near future as a quickly changing technological landscape. In their recent book Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson and Eric McAfee offer a similarly sweeping view of how technology is, and will be, shaping our future.
Asia's Oil Majors Look to North America for Oil and Gas
By James Burgess - OilPrice.com
The price difference between North American natural gas and that in Asia has attracted many Asian firms, such as PetroChina Co., Mitsubishi Corp., and Cnooc Ltd., to invest in the Canadian oil and gas industry. So far this year, over $8.7 billion worth of deals have been announced in Canada, the most since 2009 when the total reached $47 billion.
The price differential was partly what attracted Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), the Malaysian state-owned oil company, to Canada, where it is now in the process of negotiating an acquisition exceeding $5 billion; its largest ever deal.
U.S. warns North Korea not to launch missile
By Kristina Wong-The Washington Times
The Pentagon on Tuesday warned North Koreanot to go through with its planned satellite launch, which several nations suspect is a cover for an illegal ballistic missile test.
"North Korea should not violate their international obligations," Pentagon press secretary George Little told reporters.
North Korea has said the launch would take place on or around April 15 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung.