Last year Madrid’s city and regional governments sold almost 5,000 rent-controlled flats to private equity investors including Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. At the time, the tenants were told their rental conditions would remain the same.
But as old contracts expire, dozens of people have received demands for higher rent, been told their rents will increase dramatically, been threatened with eviction or moved out to escape the insecurity. Thousands of Spain’s poor now depend for their homes on the generosity of private equity.
Now that the financial oligarchs have had their way with the U.S. property market, to the point that average citizens can’t even afford to own a home (Zillow recently showed that 1 in 3 homes are unaffordable), it appears they have turned their sights overseas. What better market for bailed-out bankers to feast on than Spain, with its 50%+ youth unemployment rate and a continued depressed real estate market.
It didn’t take long for the results to be felt. Reuters published an article on the topic today. Here are some excerpts: Continue reading »
With the results of Europe’s annual AQR, aka Stress Test, due out on Sunday, most had been expecting that despite some rhetoric that various brand name banks may fail, that it would be largely more of the usual: puff. That, however, may not be the case, and as Bloomberg just reported, a whopping 25 banks are set to fail the stress test, compared to 105 which are set to pass. As Bloomberg notes:
105 banks passed the test, draft document shows
Number of banks that would have shortfall even after capital-raising to Sept. 30, 2014, is the subject of ongoing talks, a person with knowledge of the matter says
Negotations continue with about 10 banks shown to have net shortfall after 2014 capital measures, the person says
An ECB spokesman says the central bank can’t comment on speculation about the outcome of the comprehensive assessment. Any inferences drawn as to the final outcome of the exercise would be highly speculative until the results are final on Oct. 26, spokesman says Continue reading »
While JPM’s eligible gold holdings are nowhere near the record lows hit in the summer of 2013, when they dropped to a tiny 46K ounces, sparking concerns of a potential deliverable default, yesterday according to the daily CME gold depository report, JPM saw a whopping 321,500 ounces, or about 10 tons of gold, withdrawn. This was the biggest outflow since the August 5 rebalance when nearly 1.5 million ounces were withdrawn and added, and was the biggest, and is tied with two identical 321,500 oz outflows recorded in early January. As of yesterday, JPM’s eligible gold tumbled by 40% in one day, declining to 485.K ounces from over 800K the day before: the lowest eligible gold inventory since almost exactly a year ago.
What is perhaps more notable, is that the recent outflows of eligible golds are taking place at the same time as there has been a significant reduction in the NAV/gold holdings of the GLD ETF. A question thus arises once again: where is the gold being withdrawn to and who is doing these not insubstantial withdrawals. Continue reading »
It has been over six months since the Chinese housing bubble has popped. What’s worse, as overnight housing numbers out of China confirmed, the government has so far failed to contain the fallout, and according to the National Bureau of Statistics, which is anything but, after a fifth straight monthly decline, Chinese home prices have now wiped out all price gains in the past year. This was immediately spun as bullish by media outlets and sellside experts as “raising expectations the government will have to implement more economic support measures to cushion the blow.” I.e., buy stocks because central banks will push risk prices artificially higher yet again. In other words, bad is still good and failure continues to be success.
It is now beyond stupid: the euphoric, consensus-beating data for every single month since May has been revised lower, by on average 6% and as much as 9%. Perhaps finally people will realize that there is only one number that matters in the Census bureau’s monthly new home sales report: the ±15.7 90% confidence interval. Well, people maybe, but not algos, who only care about one thing: whether the data beat or missed.
Chief of Russia’s presidential administration Sergey Ivanov has slammed the West for “attempts to destabilize the country,” and says its economy remains strong, in the face of sanctions.
“Isolating Russia is impossible – and the world has no intention of doing so,” the former defense minister told reporters at the Sochi meeting of the Valdai Club, an annual media summit that offers leading foreign journalists access to top Russian politicians. Continue reading »
Domestic workers across the UAE have been subjected to horrendous physical, verbal and sexual abuse or passport confiscation in the abuse of the kafala, or sponsorship, system according to a new report by Humans Right Watch.
HRW estimates that some 146,000 domestic female workers have arrived to the UAE from countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India or Bangladesh. They come on promises of good working conditions, higher wages, and a chance to escape the poverty of their home countries.
However, the NGO heard complaints that workers are forced to labor excessive hours, or are even being subjected to physical violence or sexual abuse – while they cannot leave as employers confiscate their passports. Continue reading »
With the US Shale Oil industry up in arms, Venezuela screaming, and Russia awkwardly quiet (as the Ruble slides with the falling oil price stabilizing domestic inflows), the ‘secret’ Saudi-US oil deal that pressured prices for crude down to $80 (18-month lows today) has ‘hurt’ a lot of the world’s producer nations. However, as Bloomberg reports, there is one nation that is very grateful. The number of supertankers sailing toward China’s ports surged to a nine-month high as over 80 very large crude carriers (VLCCs) – the industry’s biggest ships – sail toward the Asian country’s ports. At an average of 2 million barrels each, the 160 million barrels will help refill China’s 727 million barrel SPR which it started in 2012.
There are 89 tankers sailing for Chinese ports, 80 of which are VLCCs – the highest since January 3rd.
Dear NSA Employees, You Now Have a Green Light to Loot and Pillage. It’s Time to Get Paid:
Are you just another one of those frustrated NSA employees who feels that unconstitutionally spying on your fellow citizenry under false pretenses isn’t giving you same thrill it once did? If so, have no fear.
Are you are sick and tired of having to spilt your precious working hours defending the destruction of our nation’s founding document to those pesky terroristic media dinosaurs who still think investigative journalism belongs in Amerika? If so, have I got a solution for you.
While it may sound too good to be true, trust me it’s not. You see, in recent years almost all crony-capitalist criminal activities have been deemed legal in the land of the free (to pillage). This incredible opportunity allows you to directly leverage your intelligence skill-set to earn the big bucks you know you’ve always deserved. You can now do just that by working in the private sector without having to give up that cushy government day job! I mean if we’re going to have this banana republic thing going we may as well GET PAID. Am I right?
Keep at it patriots, Michael Krieger
If the above sounds like a joke, unfortunately it is not. Last week, two very important stories came out; one from Reuters and the other from Buzzfeed. They both zero in on how current NSA employees are using their expertise and connections to make big money in the private sector while still working at the NSA. Let’s start with the Reuters story, which covers former NSA-head Keith Alexander’s business relationship with the NSA’s current Chief Technical Officer, Patrick Dowd. Continue reading »
There’s something we ‘regular’ citizens wrestle with that the elites never seem to: a sense of moral duty.
For example, following the collapse of the housing bubble, many people struggled with mortgages they could no longer afford to pay, fearing the shame of default. Many believed defaulting was wrong somehow; that it was their moral obligation to pay their mortgages, no matter how dire their personal situation. And of course, the mortgages lenders did their utmost to reinforce this perception. Continue reading »
Six years after QE started, and just about the time when we for the first time said that the primary consequence of QE would be unprecedented wealth and class inequality (in addition to fiat collapse, even if that particular bridge has not yet been crossed), even the central banks themselves – the very institutions that unleashed QE – are now admitting that the record wealth disparity in the world – surpassing that of the Great Depression and even pre-French revolution France - is caused by “monetary policy”, i.e., QE.
Saudi Arabia, it appears, had enough of shooting itself in the foot for its American ‘partners’, and has admitted for the first time that it slashed supply in September. As Bloomberg reports, OPEC’s biggest producer cut supply to mkt by 328k b/d in September to 9.36m b/d, from 9.688m b/d in August, according to a person with knowledge of Saudi Arabia’s oil policy. Prices in September were flat admit this supply cut which suggests along with the build in EIA inventories seen yesterday that Saudi Arabia may have also been forced by global demand weakness to cut supply through October also.
One can debate whether, by virtue of fractional reserve banking, every bank in the world is just a ponzi scheme, and where the stability of the system depends entirely on the level of counterparty faith and general confidence in the system, in other words, a grand con game in which the central bank is tasked with making sure the con works as planned when confidnce gets “a little low.”
Saxo Bank’s Chief Economist Steen Jakobsen is predicting another ‘shock drop’ in the markets within a few weeks. With debt and low inflation continuing to create a nervous atmosphere behind most markets, Steen argues that we will hit fresh lows in mid-November. Steen takes the view that central bank policy is creating a ‘fantasy land’ for investors and he points out that the recent ‘day dive’ in markets was a closer reflection of reality. Steen outlines his suggestions for trading ahead of another dip in mid November with targets for the S&P 500 around 1810 and the Dax at 8000 – 7800. Be long fixed income as it is “a free put on the equity market.. and the economic cycle is not yet ready to adapt to a rising interest rate.”
A day after a Reuters headline blast proclaimed that, in a stunning turn of events, the ECB which has barely started buying covered bond (of countries like Germany today for example, because the record low yielding Bunds clearly need help from the ECB) will also buy corporate bonds, sending the stock market soaring the most in 2014, it has now backtracked for the second time, and following a report from the FT yesterday which denied the report, the second denial came straight from Reuters itself which hours ago said that the ECB “has no concrete plans to buy corporate bonds, but this could be a way to prevent the bank from paying too much for just covered bonds and asset backed securities, ECB governing council member Luc Coene told Belgian media.” Continue reading »
In other words, the “mega-leak” from the ECB will hardly scratch the surface in terms of the required liquidity injections, and certainly will be insufficient if at some point in the coming year, the BOJ finds it too has run out of collateral and is forced to wind down its own QE.
So after actually doing the math we wonder: how long before the market realizes Draghi’s latest bazooka was another water pistol, and how long until Reuters is forced to go with the nuclear leak – that the ECB is now considering monetizing ETFs and, gasp, stocks.
Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is the endgame here.
The Japanese Yen’s real effective exchange rate (REER) has collapsed to the weakest since 1982, according to Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. Simply put, REER is a trade-weighted measure of Yen strength (or weakness) against, in this case, 59 trading partners; and as the nation posts an unprecedented 27th straight month of trade deficits [43rd straight month of Seasonally-adjusted trade deficits], Bloomberg reports MUFJ indicates “a structural shift” has taken place.
“So – in conclusion – The Fed admits it knew about the risks of JPMorgan’s London Whale in 2010 (2 years before the blow-up) and did nothing about it, and now, two years later, The Fed tells banks it will get serious…”
On the heels of Sweden’s military deployment (following the discovery of a damaged Russian sub), it appears Russia is taking no chances with its access to Arctic resources.As Reuters reports, the Russian defense minister announced today that Russian military units will be deployed along the entire Arctic border from Murmansk to Chukotka in 2014. Interfax adds that combat robots are also being deployed to protect Russian oil and gas infrastructure in the harsh environment of the Arctic. This should be no surprise as The Guardian notes, the Arctic’s hydrocarbon resources nevertheless exert a powerful pull. It has been compared to “a second Middle East”, with oil and gas reserves thought to represent 17% and 30%, respectively, of the global total.
“For over a year now, central banks have quietly being reducing their support. As Figure 7 shows, much of this is down to the Fed, but the contraction in the ECB’s balance sheet has also been significant. Seen from this perspective, a negative reaction in markets was long overdue: very roughly, the charts suggest that zero stimulus would be consistent with 50bp widening in investment grade, or a little over a ten percent quarterly drop in equities. Put differently, it takes around $200bn per quarter just to keep markets from selling off.”
Having confirmed that RBS, UBS, JPMorgan,,and Credit Suisse operated a cartell to manipulate bid-ask spreads of Swiss Franc libor, the European Commission has unleashed unmerciless vengeance on these law-breaking institutions:
Just in case you need another reason to dislike the thieving Federal Reserve. From Reuters:
(Reuters) – The top 113 earners among staff at the Federal Reserve’s Washington headquarters make an average of $246,506 per year, excluding bonuses and other benefits – more than Fed Chair Janet Yellen and nearly double the normal top government rate.
What I see as extremes that must necessarily end badly, others see as mere extensions of recently successful policies and trends.
A long-time reader recently chastised me for using too many maybe’s in my forecasts. The criticism is valid, as “on the other hand” slips all too easily from qualifying a position to rinsing it of meaning.
That said, given that we’re in uncharted waters, maybe’s become prudent and certainty becomes extremely dangerous. I have long held that the financial policy extremes that are now considered normal are unprecedented in the modern era: extremes in debt, leverage, risk, complexity and willful obfuscation of these extremes. Continue reading »
Barack Obama and the Federal Reserve are lying to you. The “economic recovery” that we all keep hearing about is mostly just a mirage. The percentage of Americans that are employed has barely budged since the depths of the last recession, the labor force participation rate is at a 36 year low, the overall rate of homeownership is the lowest that it has been in nearly 20 years and approximately 49 percent of all Americans are financially dependent on the government at this point. In a recent article, I shared 12 charts that clearly demonstrate the permanent damage that has been done to our economy over the last decade. The response to that article was very strong. Many people were quite upset to learn that they were not being told the truth by our politicians and by the mainstream media. Sadly, the vast majority of Americans still have absolutely no idea what is being done to our economy.
For those out there that still believe that we are doing “just fine”, here are 19 more facts about the messed up state of the U.S. economy… Continue reading »
Moments ago, McDonalds not only released earnings and revenues, both of which missed – something which was largely expected since the backward looking data had been telegraphed by MCD’s recent global selling collapse - blanketed by atrocious commentary, but it disclosed its September global retail sales which were for lack of a better word, a disaster, after reporting global sales which dropped 3.8%, below the 3.2% expected, and the worst global month since at least 2003. The pain was everywhere, with Europe plunging 4.2% (est -0.9%), Asia down 7.5%, and the US down a whopping 4.1%, far below the 2.8% expected, and also the worst month in over a decade.