2013 was an absolutely seismic year for gold, but, as Grant Williams details in his latest letter, the way in which the tectonic plates shifted has yet to be fully understood. Simply put, the gold in every central bank’s possession around the world is the property of the citizens of that country – not of the incumbent politicians or central bankers. Consequently, if the people want it audited, there shouldn’t be any reason to say no … unless… Williams firmly believes that in the years to come, when we look back at the great game being played in gold, we will pinpoint January 16, 2013, as the day when it all began to unravel – the day the Bundesbank blinked and demanded its gold… Continue reading »
On December 24, we posted an update on Germany’s gold repatriation process: a year after the Bundesbank announced its stunning decision, driven by Zero Hedge revelations, to repatriate 674 tons of gold from the New York Fed and the French Central Bank, it had managed to transfer a paltry 37 tons. This amount represents just 5% of the stated target, and was well below the 84 tons that the Bundesbank would need to transport each year to collect the 674 tons ratably over the 8 year interval between 2013 and 2020. The release of these numbers promptly angered Germans, and led to the rise of numerous allegations that the reason why the transfer is taking so long is that the gold simply is not in the possession of the offshore custodians, having been leased, or worse, sold without any formal or informal announcement. However, what will certainly not help mute “conspiracy theorists” is today’s update from today’s edition of Die Welt, in which we learn that only a tiny 5 tons of gold were sent from the NY Fed. The rest came from Paris.
As Welt states, “Konnten die Amerikaner nicht mehr liefern, weil sie die bei der Federal Reserve of New York eingelagerten gut 1500 Tonnen längst verscherbelt haben?” Or, in English, did the US sell Germany’s gold? Maybe. The official explanation was as follows: “The Bundesbank explained [the low amount of US gold] by saying that the transports from Paris are simpler and therefore were able to start quickly.” Additionally, the Bundesbank had the “support” of the BIS “which has organized more gold shifts already for other central banks and has appropriate experience – only after months of preparation and safety could transports start with truck and plane.” That would be the same BIS that in 2011 lent out a record 632 tons of gold…
As you know, Germany has reported that 37.5 tons were delivered last year, which is about 50 tons shy of what was the announced plan last January and was expected to be delivered over the course of 2013. Peter Boehringer (Germany’s equivalent of GATA’s Chris Powell here in the States) asked many questions of the Bundesbank, the most central being: Why was this gold “recast” before being returned?
As there has not been an audit of Fort Knox since the 1950′s, nor a bar list made public since this German gold was claimed to have been deposited with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York back in the 1950s, this is a can of worms that has already been opened and any “answer” will only lead to more questions.
So why exactly would the gold need to be recast before sending it back?
Never mind the obvious question that we’ve already asked. Why will it take up to eight years to send the Germans their gold?
Yesterday, when the Treasury released its TIC data early by mistake, the update that China’s holdings rose to a record $1.317 trillion caused a stir. This was confusing, since while China, which as we reported yesterday, now has a record $3.8 trillion in reserves having grown by $500 billion in 2013, has barely invested in US paper, and in fact going back to 2010, its holdings were a solid $1.2 trillion. In other words, its Treasury holdings have increased by a modest $100 billion in three years. Hardly anything to write home about. And certainly nothing to write home about when one considers the soaring Treasury held by the largest holder of US paper… everyone knows who that is. For those few who don’t, and for everyone else too, here is the most recent breakdown of the top holders of US paper. Continue reading »
While excess risk-taking and broken markets likely dominate their thinking, the ‘real economic recovery’ meme the Fed is using to enable them to ‘taper’ their excesses. However, investors remain assured that if things get worse once again then the Fed will crank the presses and save the assets. It seems they have found their new excuse – no matter what…
*LACKER EXPECTS ‘A LOT OF TURMOIL’ IN HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY
*LACKER SAYS FED WILL BE WATCHING HEALTHCARE CLOSELY IN NEXT FEW YEARS
So, despite admitting asset-bubbles, fears over stock-multiples and excessively easy lending; the Fed will launch QE5 when Obamacare drags the US economy into trouble…
LACKER SAYS HEALTHCARE ACT COULD HAVE SUBSTANTIAL ECONOMIC IMPACT, SMALL BUSINESS LOOKING FOR HOW BEST TO HANDLE
Many of us in the Long Emergency crowd and like-minded brother-and-sisterhoods remain perplexed by the amazing stasis in our national life, despite the gathering tsunami of forces arrayed to rock our economy, our culture, and our politics. Nothing has yielded to these forces already in motion, so far. Nothing changes, nothing gives, yet. It’s like being buried alive in Jell-O. It’s embarrassing to appear so out-of-tune with the consensus, but we persevere like good soldiers in a just war.
Paper and digital markets levitate, central banks pull out all the stops of their magical reality-tweaking machine to manipulate everything, accounting fraud pervades public and private enterprise, everything is mis-priced, all official statistics are lies of one kind or another, the regulating authorities sit on their hands, lost in raptures of online pornography (or dreams of future employment at Goldman Sachs), the news media sprinkles wishful-thinking propaganda about a mythical “recovery” and the “shale gas miracle” on a credulous public desperate to believe, the routine swindles of medicine get more cruel and blatant each month, a tiny cohort of financial vampire squids suck in all the nominal wealth of society, and everybody else is left whirling down the drain of posterity in a vortex of diminishing returns and scuttled expectations.
Update: the final vote came out to 56 Yes and 26 No, after supposedly someone moved from the No to the Yes pile. It also seems that quite a few senators missed the final vote due to the weather, which means Bernanke’s record of 30 No votes stands untouched for now.
With the critical 50th Yes vote just being cast, Janet Yellen has officially become the first woman to head the central bank in its 100 years of existence. The vote continues, and the only question now is whether the current tally of 27 No votes will surpass the Bernanke record of 30 objections to the central bank head. Continue reading »
With Bernanke’s term due to expire in January, Jim Rogers warns Mineweb that the Fed-head will be remembered as “the guy who set the stage for the demise of the Central Bank in America. We’ve had three central banks in America. The first two disappeared. This one’s going to disappear too in the next decade.” With precious metals, bonds, and stock markets obsessing over Fed actions, Rogers says, in the next 10 years or so, “People will realise that these guys have led us down a terrible path,” and collapse is “not a possibility,” he adds, “it’s a probability.”
“100 years ago you could not have named the head of most central banks in the world,” Rogers told Mineweb. “Now they’re all rockstars.” Gold and equity markets have increasingly been locked in Fed-watch mode in 2013, obsessing over when or whether chairman Ben Bernanke would taper the bank’s vast bond buying scheme.
1) Politicians believe there are no consequences for destroying our liberty…
Stimulus and response. That’s the easiest way of summing this up. When politicians steal, and there are no consequences, they’re going to keep stealing.
Cyprus proved this point handily. The government froze bank accounts for everyone in the country (of course, the big bosses got their money out in time). And yet, there was no violent revolution in the streets. People just accepted it.
Poland nationalized pensions. Argentina imposed severe capital controls. The French are taxing everything under the sun. The US government was caught red-handed spying on… everyone.
What if there are tail risks present in the Fed’s Frankenstein Economy of the same sort that Greenspan et al. failed to identify in 2008? A longtime correspondent emailed me last week about the apparent contradiction between a Federal Reserve that has had the power for five years to counteract any decline and my call for a market decline in 2014: why would the Fed allow a market it has pushed higher for five years to ever fall?
It’s an excellent question, as it summarizes the key question: is there any limit on “don’t fight the Fed?” Can the Fed push assets higher essentially forever? And if so, why did it fail to do so in 2008?
Since the magical moment of its inception on Dec. 23, 1913, the Federal Reserve System has been a source of controversy and even contempt for a growing number of Americans, many of whom are still feeling the sting of the latest financial crisis.
A large part of the discomfort with the Federal Reserve System can be traced back to a dusty document known as the US Constitution, a historic manuscript that predates “The Fed” by 125 years, in which it clearly states (Section 8, Article 5): “Congress shall have power to coin money, regulate the value thereof.”
Yet, despite its officious-sounding title, the Federal Reserve System is not an actual branch of the US government, nor does the US government have any control over its monetary monkeying, which involves the printing of money as well as setting interest rates.
These awesome powers were admitted by no less a respectable figure than Alan Greenspan, who served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006.
December 23rd, 1913 is a date which will live in infamy. That was the day when the Federal Reserve Act was pushed through Congress. Many members of Congress were absent that day, and the general public was distracted with holiday preparations. Now we have reached the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, and most Americans still don’t know what it actually is or how it functions. But understanding the Federal Reserve is absolutely critical, because the Fed is at the very heart of our economic problems.
Since the Federal Reserve was created, there have been 18 recessions or depressions, the value of the U.S. dollar has declined by 98 percent, and the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger. This insidious debt-based financial system has literally made debt slaves out of all of us, and it is systematically destroying the bright future that our children and our grandchildren were supposed to have.
If nothing is done, we are inevitably heading for a massive amount of economic pain as a nation. So please share this article with as many people as you can.
The following are 100 reasons why the Federal Reserve should be shut down forever: Continue reading »
“The powers of financial capitalism had (a) far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland; a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank… sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.” – Carroll Quigley, member of the Council on Foreign Relations
If one wishes to truly understand the actions behind private Federal Reserve policy, one must come to terms with a fundamental reality – everything the Fed does it does for a reason, and the most apparent reasons are not always the primary reasons. If you think that the Fed simply acts on impulsive stupidity or hubris, then you haven’t a clue what is going on. If you think the Fed only does what it does in order to hide the numerous negative aspects of our current economy, then you only know half the story. If you think the Fed does not have a plan, then you are sorely mistaken…
If policymakers were gunfighters, they’d be out of bullets: They have run out of effective policy tools to improve the economy.
So the question is simple: If there is a recession in 2014, and policymakers are out of bullets, how will it play out across the American economy?
Recently, Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid very astutely pointed out that the current “expansion” of the U.S. economy is on its fifth year—the seventh longest in history.
When QE1 ended there was a substantial stock market correction, and when QE2 ended there was a substantial stock market correction. And if you will remember, the financial markets threw a massive hissy fit a few months ago when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke suggested that the Fed may soon start tapering QE3. Clearly Wall Street does not like it when their supply of monetary heroin is interrupted. The Federal Reserve has tricked the American people into supporting quantitative easing by insisting that it is about “stimulating the economy”, but that has turned out to be a massive hoax. In fact, I just wrote an article that contained 37 statistics that prove that things just keep getting even worse for ordinary Americans. But quantitative easing has been exceptionally good for Wall Street. During QE1, the S&P 500 rose by about 300 points. During QE2, the S&P 500 rose by about 200 points. And during QE3, the S&P 500 has risen by about 400 points. The S&P 500 is now in unprecedented territory, and stock prices have become completely and totally divorced from reality. In essence, we are in the midst of the largest financial bubble this nation has ever seen. So what is going to happen when the Fed starts pulling back the monetary crack and the bubble bursts?
I know and admire the wisdom of Stanley Fischer, apparently to be appointed Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank. Fischer will add a serious complement of experience to maintain stability of the nation’s monetary policy as he understands only too well the absolute requirement of avoiding another meltdown. This appointment will strengthen the positive attitude of financial markets as Fischer is a strong asset for Yellen, and influential with other local Fed presidents as well as Finance Ministers and Central Bankers around the globe. Just recently, Larry Summers and a passel of other influential economists saluted Fischer with keenly read papers at the IMF to honor his influence in economic circles. And I know that Fischer has a very high regard for the former Treasury Secretary.
I believe his record as MIT Professor supervising Ben Bernanke’s thesis on the depression in 1979, his time at the IMF as chief economist, a few years at Citigroup and then a spectacular success steering the Israeli economy to superior economic growth at the Bank of Israel will be seen as a valuable counterpart to Janet Yellen’s huge challenge of easing us out of quantitative easing.
WASHINGTON — Stanley Fischer, the former governor of the Bank of Israel and a mentor to the Federal Reserve’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, is the leading candidate to become vice chairman of the Fed, according to former and current administration officials.
The White House is close to nominating Stanley Fischer, the former governor of the Bank of Israel, as vice chair of the Federal Reserve, various media outlets reported on Wednesday.
Fischer, 70, headed the Israeli central bank until earlier this year. He is a former head of the economics department at MIT, former number two official at the IMF and former chief economist at the World Bank.
Among his students during his 20-plus years teaching at MIT were outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and former presidential advisor Greg Mankiw.
From Bernanke’s infamous 2008 “not forecasting a recession” call to Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines 2004 “subprime assets are riskless” commentary, the following 10 “predictions” – as opposed to Wien “surprises” – will go down in infamy for their degree of errant-ness…10) Ben Bernanke, 10th January 2008 – “The Federal Reserve is currently not forecasting a recession.”
A few months later, United States entered one of the wort recessions ever.
9) Herbert Hoover 1928: “The United States are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land.”
The Great Depression started a year after. Stocks lost almost 80% under his presidency. Continue reading »
The most important chart that nobody at the Fed seems to pay any attention to, and certainly none of the economists who urge the Fed to accelerate its monetization of Treasury paper, is shown below: it shows the Fed’s total holdings of the entire bond market expressed in 10 Year equivalents (because as a reminder to the Krugmans and Bullards of the world a 3 Year is not the same as a 30 Year). As we, and the TBAC, have been pounding the table over the past year (here, here and here as a sample), the amount of securities that the Fed can absorb without crushing the liquidity in the “deepest” bond market in the world is rapidly declining, and specifically now that the Fed has refused to taper, it is absorbing over 0.3% of all Ten Year Equivalents, also known as “High Quality Collateral”, from the private sector every week. The total number as per the most recent weekly update is now a whopping 33.18%, up from 32.85% the week before. Or, said otherwise, the Fed now owns a third of the entire US bond market.
“We have to be careful of these kind of exponentially rising markets,” chides Marc Faber, adding that he “sees no value in stocks.” Fearful of shorting, however, because “the bubble in all asset prices” can keep going due to the printing of money by world central banks, Faber explains to a blind Steve Liesman the difference between over-valuation and bubbles (as we noted here), warning that “future return expectations from stocks are now very low.”
Nope no bubble here…
Along with this pattern…
which has emerged with striking fidelity since 2010, we observe a variety of other features typically associated with dangerous extremes: Continue reading »
Much has been said about the Fed’s attempt to stimulate inflation (instead of just the stock market) by injecting a record $2.5 trillion in reserves into the US banking system since the collapse of Lehman (the same goes for the ECB, BOE, BOJ, etc). Even more has been said about why this money has not been able to make its way into the broader economy, and instead of forcing inflation – at least as calculated by the BLS’ CPI calculation – to rise above 2% has, by monetizing a record amount of US debt issuance, merely succeeded in pushing capital markets to unseen risk levels as every single dollar of reserves has instead ended up as assets (and excess deposits as a matched liability) on bank balance sheets.
Much less has been said that of the roughly $2 trillion increase in US bank assets, $2.5 trillion of this has come from the Fed’s reserve injections as absent the Fed, US banks have delevered by just under half a trillion dollars in the past 5 years. Because after all, all QE really is, is an attempt to inject money into a deleveraging system and to offset the resulting deflationary effects. Naturally, the Fed would be delighted if instead of banks being addicted to its zero-cost liquidity, they would instead obtain the capital in the old-fashioned way: through private loans. However, since there is essentially no risk when chasing yield and return and allocating reserves to various markets (see JPM CIO and our prior explanation on this topic), whereas there is substantial risk of loss in issuing loans to consumers in an economy that is in a depressionary state when one peels away the propaganda and the curtain of the stock market, banks will always pick the former option when deciding how to allocated the Fed’s reserves, even if merely as initial margin on marginable securities.
However, what virtually nothing has been said about, is how China stacks up to the US banking system when one looks at the growth of total Chinese bank assets (on Bloomberg: CNAABTV Index) since the collapse of Lehman.
The answer, shown on the chart below, is nothing short of stunning.
Most people – certainly most governments and economists – define inflation as a general rise in prices. But this is wrong. Inflation is an increase in the money supply, of which a rising general price level is just one possible result – and not the most common one.
More often, excessive money creation shows up as asset bubbles, where the new money, instead of flowing equally to all the products that are for sale at a given time, flow disproportionately into the ‘hottest’ asset classes. Readers who were paying attention in the 1990s might recall that the consumer price index was well-behaved while huge amounts of money flowed into financial assets, producing the dot-com bubble.
The same thing happened in the 2000s, when excess currency flowed into housing and equities. In each case, mainstream economists and government officials pointed to modest consumer price inflation as a sign that things were fine. And in each case they were simply looking in the wrong place and completely missing the destabilizing effects of an inflating money supply. Continue reading »
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
The Dying Dollar Federal Reserve and Wall Street Assassinate US Dollar
Since 2006, the US dollar has experienced a one-quarter to one-third drop in value to the Chinese yuan, depending on the choice of base.
Now China is going to let the dollar decline further in value. China also says it is considering undermining the petrodollar by pricing oil futures on the Shanghai Futures Exchange in yuan. This on top of the growing avoidance of the dollar to settle trade imbalances means that the dollar’s role as reserve currency is coming to an end, which means the termination of the US as financial bully and financial imperialist. This blow to the dollar in addition to the blows delivered by jobs offshoring and the uncovered bets in the gambling casino created by financial deregulation means that the US economy as we knew it is coming to an end.
According to a whistleblower that has recently come forward, Census employees have been faking and manipulating U.S. employment numbers for years. In fact, it is being alleged that this manipulation was a significant reason for why the official unemployment rate dipped sharply just before the last presidential election. What you are about to read is incredibly disturbing. The numbers that the American people depend upon to make important decisions are being faked. But should we be surprised by this? After all, Barack Obama has been caught telling dozens of major lies over the past five years. At this point it is incredible that there are any Americans that still trust anything that comes out of his mouth. And of course it is not just Obama that has been lying to us. Corruption and deception are rampant throughout the entire federal government, and this has been the case for years. Now that some light is being shed on this, hopefully the American people will respond with overwhelming outrage and disgust.
Jim Rogers hope-driven wish is that the politicians were smart enough at some point to say (to the central bankers), “we’ve got to stop this, this is going to be bad.” He adds, on the incoming QEeen, “she’s not going to stop it, first of all she doesn’t believe in stopping it, she thinks printing money is good.” However, Rogers warns in this excellent interview with Birch Gold, “eventually the markets will just say, “We’re not going to play this game anymore”, and we’ll have a serious collapse.” The world is blinded by central bank liquidity, and as Rogers somewhat mockingly notes “if everybody says the sky is blue, I urge you to look out the window and see if it’s blue because I have found that most people won’t even bother to look out the window…” Rogers concludes, “everybody should own some precious metals as an insurance policy,” because as he ominously warns, when ‘it’ collapses, “there will be big change.
Rachel Mills, Birch Gold Group (BGG): This is Rachel Mills for Birch Gold, and I am very pleased to be joined today by Jim Rogers, legendary investor. Thank you so much Jim for joining me.
Jim Rogers: I am delighted to be here Rachel.
BGG: So today I wanted to talk a little about stock market highs and Quantitative Easing and inflation and a little bit of Federal Reserve and when is the taper is going to happen and currency wars. But there is one question that I don’t have to ask you, which you get asked a lot, I know, and that is what your secret to being so prescient in the marketplace?
“…if everybody says the sky is blue, I at least urge you to go and look out the window and see if it’s blue because I have found that most people won’t even bother to look out the window…”
JR: As far as I know, I’m not quite sure. I do know that I have learned over the years, always, when nearly everybody is thinking the same way that means somebody’s not thinking that means we got to start thinking about it and see if there’s not another way, another approach. Because if everybody says the sky is blue, I at least urge you to go and look out the window and see if it’s blue because I have found that most people won’t even bother to look out the window. If they see on the television or in the newspaper or something that everybody says the sky is blue, I at least urge them to look out the window. I find that most people don’t want to do their homework, that’s the first problem that many people have, is just doing simple homework.
“…no matter what we all know today, it’s not going to be true in 10 or 15 years…”