Friday, May 22, 2009

Year to Date Country Returns; US Lags...

Year to Date Country Returns from Bestoke Investments on the 19th of May...

Patrick Byrne - Deep Capture, The Movie...

Whatever you do, don't take the red pill... that is if you wish to stay uninformed. This slideshow presentation will take a while to view, but I think you will find it an eye opening experience:

deepcapturethemovie.com

Morning Update/ Market Thread 5/22

Good Morning,

Futures are up as I suggested they would be near yesterday’s close. Right now the /ES is right around the 890 area which is a 23.6% retrace of the last two day decline:



A 38.2 would take it to 897, and the 50% is up at 902, a very likely destination.



McHugh seems convinced that the 666 low was the bottom of the large degree wave A down and that we just topped wave A up of an abc correction and are now heading down in wave b down with a wave C up that should take us through the summer before starting the very destructive large wave C down, most likely this fall. That scenario does seem to have merit and is reasonable by my account, although I do not rule out making new lows this summer and will let the tape tell me what’s happening, not the other way around. That said, the tape cannot change my mind on fundamentals as a rising stock market cannot erase our debts despite the folly of the knuckleheaded Keynesian economist who spew forth such drivel as “we should be targeting 6% inflation right now,” which is exactly what Kenneth Rogoff says we should do. What an idiot. That would completely DESTROY the middle class in America.

And then there’s Bill Gross who first advocates the government buying up all his toxic debt from him saying it was the right thing to do, and now he warns that the U.S.’s triple A credit rating is in jeopardy! WHAT AN ASSHAT! Bill Gross sponsors commercials on CNBC so he is constantly invited back to spew his manipulative opinions to the sheeple, while he simply rapes the taxpayers. He is a traitor to his country and should be treated as such, right along side Hank Paulson.

Oh, and speaking of Paulson, he was the bastard who appointed Liddy to front AIG for the money laundering operation to rob hundreds of billions more from the taxpayers. Liddy is now stepping out, that is my queue that that particular money laundering operation is winding down. It is now being replaced with the GMAC money laundering operation. $7.5 billion more of your money will now go into GMAC which WILL FLOW THROUGH TO THE GMAC CREDITORS WHO HAPPEN TO BE THE SAME BANKS. In this manner they now have a new FRONT through which to take more taxpayer money just before they then sacrifice all the GM workers and their retirements through the bankruptcy process. I am telling you that America needs a revolution to end this insanity and to return to our roots.

By the way, BankUnited was taken by the FDIC last night, the largest bank failure of the year. Its assets were sold to a group of private investors. That one will only set the FDIC back about $10.7 billion in money they do not possess and which you and I will pay for either by borrowing more to finance it, or by printing more and losing the purchasing power of our money.

The bastards are all stealing us blind. The money laundering operation is EXACTLY what they are doing. The central banks are using failed businesses as an excuse to suck the lifeblood out of our economy. Some day they will pay for their dirty laundry, I hope that day comes soon.

The Eagles-Dirty laundry:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

U.S. Dollar No Longer Russia Reserve Currency...

This is a big deal. Today’s action with falling equities, falling bond prices, and a falling dollar (with sharply rising gold prices in dollar terms) pretty much boxes Bernanke and little Timmy Geithner in.

The American way of life is about to change whether we like it or not.

Notice that no shots were fired, no one sent up a balloon saying “Russia no longer uses the dollar as a reserve currency!” No, it happened slowly and subtly. (ht Comrade)
Russia Dumps the U.S. Dollar for Euro as Reserve Currency

The US dollar is not Russia’s basic reserve currency anymore. The euro-based share of reserve assets of Russia’s Central Bank increased to the level of 47.5 percent as of January 1, 2009 and exceeded the investments in dollar assets, which made up 41.5 percent, The Vedomosti newspaper wrote.

The dollar has thus lost the status of the basic reserve currency for the Russian Central Bank, the annual report, which the bank provided to the State Duma, said.

In accordance with the report, about 47.5 percent of the currency assets of the Russian Central Bank were based on the euro, whereas the dollar-based assets made up 41.5 percent as of the beginning of the current year. The situation was totally different at the beginning of the previous year: 47 percent of investments were made in US dollars, while the euro investments were evaluated at 42 percent.

The dollar share had increased to 49 percent and remained so as of October 1. The euro share made up 40 percent. The rest of investments were based on the British pound, the Japanese yen and the Swiss frank.

The report also said that the reserve currency assets of the Russian Central Bank were cut by $56.6 billion. The losses mostly occurred at the end of the year, when the Central Bank was forced to conduct massive interventions to curb the run of traders who rushed to buy up foreign currencies. The currency assets of the Central Bank had grown to $537.6 billion by October 2008. Therefore, the index dropped by almost $133 billion within the recent three months.

The majority of Russian companies, banks and most of the Russian population started to purchase enormous amounts of foreign currencies at the end of 2008. The dollar gained 16 percent and the euro 13.5 percent over the fourth quarter. The demand on the US dollar was extremely high, and the Central Bank was forced to spend a big part of its dollar assets, experts say.

The change of the structure of the currency portfolio of the Bank of Russia has not affected the official peg of the dual currency basket, which includes $0.55 and 0.45 EUR.
The investments of the Bank of Russia in state securities of foreign issuers have been considerably increased, the report said. About a third of Russia’s international reserves are based on US Treasury bonds.

Russia became one of the largest creditors of the US administration last year, the US Department of the Treasury said. Russia increased its investments in the debt securities of the US Treasury from $32.7 billion as of December 2007 to $116.4 billion as of December 2008.

If that little development doesn’t bother you, then how about the possibility of the U.S. losing her AAA credit rating?:

Dollar Is Dirt, Treasuries Are Toast, AAA Is Gone

Commentary by Mark Gilbert

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- The odds on the dollar, Treasury bonds and the U.S. government’s AAA grade all heading for the dumpster are shortening.

While currency forecasting is a mug’s game and bond yields can’t quite decide whether to dive toward deflation or surge in anticipation of inflation, every time I think about that credit rating, I hear what Agent Smith in the “Matrix” movies called “the sound of inevitability.”

Several policy missteps suggest that investors should stop trusting -- and lending to -- the U.S. government. These include the state’s pressure on Bank of America Corp. to buy Merrill Lynch & Co.; the priority given to Chrysler LLC’s unions over the automaker’s secured creditors; and the freedom that some banks will regain to supersize executive bonuses by giving back part of the government money bolstering their balance sheets.

Currency markets have been in a weird state of what looks almost like equilibrium for the past couple of months. What’s really going on is something akin to an evenly matched tug of war that fails to move the ribbon tied around the center of the rope, giving the impression of harmony while powerful forces do silent battle until someone slips.

“All currencies are being debased dramatically by their central banks at extraordinary speeds and so in relative terms it appears there is no currency problem,” Lee Quaintance and Paul Brodsky of QB Asset Management said in a research note earlier this month. “In reality, however, paper money is highly vulnerable to a public catalyst that serves to acknowledge it is all merely vapor money.”

Flesh Wounds
Why pick on the dollar, though? Well, not necessarily because the U.S. economy is in worse shape than those of the euro area, the U.K. or Japan. The biggest problem is that external investors -- particularly China -- have more skin in the dollar game than in euros, yen or pounds, which makes the U.S. currency the most likely candidate to meet the cleaver in a crisis of confidence about post-crunch government finances.

China owns about $744 billion of U.S. Treasury bonds in its $2 trillion of foreign-exchange reserves.

Chinese exports, though, are dropping as the global economy weakens, with overseas shipments declining 23 percent in April from a year earlier, leaving a nation that has already expressed concern about its U.S. investments with less to spend in future.

‘Heavy Hand of Government’
Those kinds of concerns are starting to surface in a steepening of the U.S. yield curve, driven by an increase in 10- and 30-year U.S. Treasury yields. The 10-year note currently yields 3.23 percent, about 235 basis points more than the two- year security, which marks a near doubling of the spread since the end of last year.

“When the government parks its tanks on capitalism’s lawns, that spells trouble for those who invest, add value and create jobs,” says Tim Price, director of investments at PFP Wealth Management in London. “Trillion-dollar bailouts do not only leave massive public-sector deficits in their wake, they also leave the presence of the heavy hand of government all over industry and markets, so the outlook for government bonds is less promising than the economic textbooks on deflation would have us believe.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. reported the first budget deficit for April in 26 years, with spending exceeding revenue by $20.9 billion, even though that’s the month when taxpayers have to stump up to the Internal Revenue Service and the government’s coffers should be overflowing. So far this fiscal year, the U.S. shortfall is $802.3 billion, more than five times the $153.5 billion gap in the year-earlier period.

Deathly Deficit
For the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts a record deficit of $1.75 trillion, almost four times the previous year’s $454.8 billion shortfall and about 13 percent of gross domestic product. Bear in mind that the target demanded of European nations wanting to join the euro was a deficit no greater than 3 percent of GDP.

David Walker, a former U.S. comptroller general, wrote in the Financial Times on May 12 that the U.S.’s top credit rating looks incompatible with “an accumulated negative net worth” of more than $11 trillion and “additional off-balance-sheet obligations” of $45 trillion. “One could even argue that our government does not deserve a triple A credit rating based on our current financial condition, structural fiscal imbalances and political stalemate,” he wrote.

No Default
It is undeniable that the U.S. government’s ability to finance its borrowing commitments has deteriorated as its deficit has ballooned. Dropping the U.S. from the top rating grade, though, wouldn’t mean the nation is about to default on its debt obligations; there’s a subtle distinction between ability to pay and propensity to fail to pay. There’s also a compelling argument that no government should be enjoying the benefits of a top credit grade in the current financial climate.

Using the definitions outlined by Standard & Poor’s, a one- step cut into the AA rated category would nudge the U.S.’s creditworthiness into a “very strong” capacity to fulfill its commitments, just weaker than the “extremely strong” capabilities demanded of AAA rated borrowers. That seems an appropriately nuanced sanction -- albeit one that the rating companies might turn out to be too cowardly to impose.


Okay, first of all, we are ALREADY BANKRUPT as our collective debts exceed our collective assets. But let’s just ignore that, shall we? The credit rating agencies have NO CREDIBILITY left at all. They, and their pay for rating scheme, are a huge part of the problem to begin with. They will only downgrade AFTER people have stopped buying our debt which basically began in January of this year.

Secondly, when a country begins printing money to buy back their own debt, DEFAULT HAS ALREADY OCCURRED. Again, don’t look for the headline that reads, U.S. DEFAULTS ON HER DEBT!” It will never come. But we already have, that’s what quantitative easing (printing) is all about.

Rule of law? Third world country? Naw, only banana republics think people will be fooled by stunts like that.

Eh, it’s only money. Money for nothing, get your tricks for free!

Dire Straits – Money for Nothing:

Gerald Celente - The Last Bubble...

Pretty much saying the same thing as his last radio interview, but here he is on CNBS Europe:












Rick Santelli BEFORE Today's Selloff....

Santelli is one of the very few people who is still left in the media, gets it, and is willing to tell it like it is::












Africa, the U.S., and the Rule of Law…

I received a very interesting email the other day from a guy who works at a firm that was hired to help study why corporate investment in Africa is lagging and what could be done to improve the flow of capital into Africa. This person, Fabiane Dal-Ri, provided a link to a study that was just accomplished.

So, what am I thinking when I see this email from a site called usafricainvestment.com?

I’m thinking back to all the scams from Nigeria and how I just recently had someone in Nigeria contact me about something I was selling on Craigslist and that their latest scam was much more sophisticated that just your garden variety “Prince Alleweeb” asking for your information so he can “send you some money.”

And I’m also wondering if I click on the link he provided to his “report” if I am going to get a computer virus?! LOL, hey, I’m just being honest. Let’s face it, there’s an image problem there. Heck, the only people I know who are worse at scamming than those in Nigeria are the Central Bankers in New York and London!

From a business perspective, right away I thought about the rule of law and how it was lacking in Africa and how that works to fight capital formation. His email described the report as a case study of what officers within 30 of the top Fortune 100 companies thought about Investing in Africa. So, I thought if I open the report I would surely find a bunch of marketing fluff about why corporations should invest in Africa… SURPRISE!

When I opened the report up here was their number one reason why Africa lacked corporate investment:

This survey reveals that five factors influence the decision of U.S. corporations to invest in Africa:

Rule of law -- A strong consensus exists among the respondents that the rule of law does not prevail to the degree required to make Africa an attractive investment destination. This applies to corporate, societal, and criminal law.


The Rule of Law was listed FIRST. What a shock, an honest report and no computer virus!

Here’s a link to an HTML version of the report, no virus!
THE CONVERSATION BEHIND CLOSED DOORS - FULL EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Since I was so amazed to see such honesty, I read the full report and found it to be a good and accurate assessment of why Africa lacked new capital flows.

THERE’S A LESSON HERE FOR EVERYONE, especially those in the United States. When the rule of law is compromised, capital will not form, IT WILL FLEE.

Following some links in that report, I found that Fabiane’s organization is trying to develop “a new silk road” to Africa - Building the New Silk Road. This made me think of the tune “Road to Shambala which is an actual place located in the Democratic Republic of Congo‎:

Three Dog Night – The Road to Shambala:


While a silk road and economic development is certainly a worthy economic goal, how does a country achieve such things without the rule of law being in place?

I mentioned to Fabiane that the lack of rule of law leaves many of the countries in Africa with the chicken and egg scenario where they need investment but can't get it started. The rule of law NEVER comes from without, it ALWAYS comes from within. In other words, the Africans are reaching out for investment but will not, in my opinion, be successful until they FIRST reach within.

Their efforts are best spent trying to reform politics and to get the rule of law established, THEN capital formation will find them. This will be a very difficult journey, a road that needs to be traveled.

It’s a journey that we in the United States are traveling backwards! We are abandoning the rule of law. We are ignoring our own Constitution and we are making up new rules every day. We are also breaking legitimate contracts and not following the laws we have, like bankruptcy laws, that are already on the books. Money and its influence are dominating our rule of law, and that is nothing but lawlessness. Thus capital will wind up leaving the United States and that’s an appropriate response when the rule of law is ignored.

Here too we must find the strength to change from within. Dire consequences await if we do not.

I also find it interesting that our financial engineering has permeated the globe with toxic derivatives and riddled the masses with debt. Yet, one observer noted that the places in the world LEAST affected by the economic malaise were the very countries that have the fewest number of Starbucks!

Starbucks? What does Starbucks have to do with the current economic storm? Well, those countries where capital has not formed have the least amount of Starbuck stores and thus they also are not riddled with derivatives and debt! That makes them relatively better off as far as their economies growth does not have those weights holding them back! BUT BEWARE OF IMF LOANS! Accepting loans from the IMF is the very worst thing a developing country can do for the long term health of their country!

There are several other good insights in that study of Africa and some good comments from the executives who were interviewed for the report. Here are a few:

Business case.

“The most important thing for us is to grow our business profitably.

The question we ask is: ‘Do we believe there is a positive probability of securing a profit in the next couple of years?’

“We are a stock listed company so the first thing is return on investment. Can we make money? And can we get the money out? For instance you can make money in Zimbabwe but you cannot get the money out. So it doesn’t make sense for us.”

Corruption and uncertainty.

“Dangerous in terms of political and economic stability and dangerous also from a personal security point of view, whether it is related to criminality or diseases.”

“Law and ethics - a major constraint to do business in Africa? Yes, its the one market where the US Government will say – we will not help you in that market”

“The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is a strong law that bars US companies from paying bribes. This is a barrier that some other vendors don’t face.”

“Biggest concern is trade in counterfeit goods and its impact especially in West Africa.”


Opportunity cost.

“When there is debate in the company over where to invest, there are 10 arguments pro BRIC’s and 10 arguments against Africa”

“There are other opportunities around the world that are more attractive. Africa loses; simple as that”

“We see China coming after this market so we’re becoming more aggressive.

“What China is doing is flowing $60 billion into Africa which can create prosperity if it’s done properly. But if they export workers from China to build the railways and the locals have no benefit from it, it smells a little bit like neo colonialism”

Africa stasis.

“Africa is a dichotomy. It is difficult to generalize about such a vast and complicated continent. Everyone who knows Africa can see the hope and opportunity, even if their experiences are negative. But everyone who knows Africa also knows that the challenges are many and complex.”

“Africa requires too much hard work and I am not hungry enough as yet”


These are telling comments and mostly true.

I have written lately about capital formation and how demographics or natural resources are not as meaningful for capital formation as the rule of law. For economic prosperity to occur, a country must have all the ingredients, an educated and productive workforce, their own natural resources or the ability to procure them, and above all else, they must adhere to the rule of law.

What is the rule of law and how is it applied? The rule of law means that rules are not arbitrary. They are consistent and applied equally. Wikipedia has a good entry on the rule law explaining its history and it’s progression through time and around the world: Wikipedia – The Rule of Law…

Below is a map of the world from Wiki that attempts to categorize the extent to which countries apply the rule of law. Note the red and orange areas that represent where the rule of law is lacking. Those are all areas with poorly functioning economies:



Map Key: 2005 map of Worldwide Governance Indicators, which attempts to measure the extent to which agents have confidence in and abide by the rules of society. Colors range from green (top quartile), to yellow (middle high), orange (middle low) and red (bottom quartile).

As I recently mentioned in my article on demographics, the presence of labor or natural resources is not enough for capital formation. I repost a pertinent section of that article below:
What is controversial, however, is the impact demographics have on the economy. Unlike Dr. Foot, I would put the impact at something far less than two-thirds. This is because we can look at a country like India or China, both countries with far larger populations, and see that their economic output is not as great as ours with a much smaller population. Thus there is much more to the economic puzzle than demographics. Economic prosperity is not just about natural resources either. If it were, Japan would NOT be the number two economy of the world. Thus there are other things that comprise the economic brew that add up to prosperity or a lack thereof. Take the rule of law, for example – countries without the rule of law (contracts with integrity) are far more likely to be poor because their rule-shifting drives capital away. Most of Africa has great natural resources and a ton of labor (mostly uneducated), but it is the lack of the rule of law that keeps capital formation at bay.

Here’s a chart showing the distribution of the world’s population:



Yet, here is a chart showing the distribution of world GDP:



Follow this link to an interactive version of this GDP chart: Pie Chart of GDP…

So, clearly, the size of the population does not tell us the size of the economy all by itself.

The rule of law is an important concept to understand. Politicians the world over would be wise to be schooled in the rule of law. If they desire a healthy and vibrant economy the implementing and upholding of the rule of law is the way to achieve it.

A recent negative example of this can be found in Russia. They had a tremendous opportunity to move forward and progress but have failed to implement and uphold the rule of law. If anything, the criminals are running the show there.

Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is another negative example of a leader who does not understand the rule of law. Nationalizing private industry, breaking contracts, etc., is a great way to have capital leave and never return. That will be very, very damaging to the businesses and people within Venezuela in the long run.

What do they need to do to restore the rule of law? No doubt a change of leadership is required, but revolution does not have a good track record of placing law abiding officials in office. It’s a difficult proposition, no doubt.

The cautionary tale for America is that we had a model for the rule of law in our own Constitution but are compromising it. The truth is that our own Wall Street has become far worse than the Nigeria peddlers of fraud and deceit. I hope that our politicians gaze into their looking glass to read this article and work to restore the rule of law for the very existance of our country and our way of life depend on it!

Styx – Suite Madame Blue (America Patriotic):

Morning Update/ Market Thread 5/21

Good Morning,

Futures are down substantially this morning following yesterday’s Key Reversal:



A Key reversal occurs when the price action of the day exceeds the previous day’s high, and then goes on to close below the previous day’s low. That occurred Wednesday. These bearish key reversals usually occur at the top of uptrends, the opposite can occur at the bottom of down trends.

Here’s a chart of yesterday’s SPX:



And here’s a chart of yesterday’s DOW. Note the much higher volume as well:



IYR also produce a Key Reversal while the XLF produced what looks more like a “dark shadow” as the day’s high did not exceed the previous high and it closed substantially below the previous low.

Beware today as all the short term stochastics are oversold, almost exactly the opposite of yesterday, so there could easily be some type of rebound higher later in the day. That said, if the rebound rally we just experienced was wave 2, then yesterday was likely the start of wave 3 down and therefore the down move may be more powerful than most people expect.

Here’s a 10 day chart of the SPX showing the wave 1 down channel, the red wave 2 up channel and we are well beneath that now:



Jobless claims for the week prior fell slightly to 631,000, still a very deep and troubling number. Continuing claims soared to, get this Seth, 6.662 million people!

We still have the Index of Leading Indicators and the Philly Fed data coming out at 10 Eastern.

Have a good day,

Nate

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ron Paul - "Prepare for Revolutionary Changes..."

Ron Paul reading what appears to be clips from mail he has received. More and more people are catching on...

Ron Paul "Prepare For Revolutionary Changes" (05/19):

Morning Update/ Market Thread 5/20

Good Morning,

Futures are up a little this morning after being down following yesterday’s close:



H.P. is cutting 6,400 jobs and lowered their outlook. Bank of America “raised” $13.5 billion but needs another $17 billion more. The way they went about it, once again, raises suspicions about how our markets are functioning. I’ll leave it at that, and just say that our markets are so gamed by these institutions that I don’t know why any individual would invest a nickel in them. For the record, I don’t own any, as in not one share of stock in any company and don’t intent to until and unless I see the rule of law restored. Oh, I’ll temporarily use levered devises against them, but I will not finance their operations any more than I would send my money to Nigeria.

MBA Purchase Applications fell from 265.7 to 254. More data tomorrow includes the Philly Fed, Leading indicators, and weekly unemployment. Oh, and a ton of bond auctions to finance our impossible debts. There’s something else that is objectionable to own in my opinion. It’s like buying an alcoholic a bottle booze – same thing.

And here’s a headline for you: Kazakhstan Needs IMF to Avert Emerging-Market Crisis, ING Says… It seems their banks are defaulting, so once again the IMF (same central bankers who have screwed up the world) will print more phony money and lend to enslave yet another country. Great system.

I guess I’m just not in the mood to talk fundamentals today, lol, let’s talk about some technicals…

Last night McHugh pointed out what he calls “a classic five wave structure” in the VIX. I was looking at that just the other day myself and had noticed that wave 5 appears to be creating a bullish descending wedge. If so, it could break down first but then rocket back upwards with a target at least at the base which is around the 50 area. McHugh thinks the target would likely be back up into the 80’s! Obviously that would mean stocks will be taking a journey to the bottom of the C at some point:



The bell just rang and stock are heading higher, but I have to tell you that the 30 and 60 minute stochastics are overbought and the likelihood of it running away to the upside today are not that good. I would look for a turndown sometime today, at least by those indications. That said, the market is very much just like our banks at this time, what I would describe as “unnaturally alive.” LOL

Watch the VIX which is swinging beneath that wedge already, and have a good day.

Nate

Zombie Banks:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Damning Demographics…

As if the collapse of the biggest credit bubble in the history of mankind wasn’t enough, there are very negative demographics adding to the malaise that go unrecognized by most, and I will demonstrate that demographics are one of the root causes of the current bubble dynamic, and its subsequent collapse. Hang with me for this lengthy article, this is fascinating stuff which you MUST UNDERSTAND to have any chance of understanding what the future may have in store.

Styx – Crystal Ball:


The size and composition of the population, what I’m referring to as “demographics,” definitely falls into the category of REAL and KNOWABLE FACTS. Demography is the study of trends in population. Dr. David Foot, who wrote Boom Bust & Echo, said that demographics may not explain all economic happenings, but, to quote Dr. Foot, “Demographics explain about two-thirds of everything: which products will be in demand, where job opportunities will occur, what school enrolments will be, when house values will rise or drop, what kinds of food people will buy and what kinds of cars they will drive.”

This paper is not ENTIRELY some wild theory or guess of which so many economists spew. There are censuses conducted every 10 years in the United States and we KNOW how many people there are; how many people are born, when they are born, and thus how old they are. We also know how many people immigrate into this country legally and approximately how many enter illegally.

What is controversial, however, is the impact demographics have on the economy. Unlike Dr. Foot, I would put the impact at something far less than two-thirds. This is because we can look at a country like India or China, both countries with far larger populations, and see that their economic output is not as great as ours with a much smaller population. Thus there is much more to the economic puzzle than demographics. Economic prosperity is not just about natural resources either. If it were, Japan would NOT be the number two economy of the world. Thus there are other things that comprise the economic brew that add up to prosperity or a lack thereof. Take the rule of law, for example – countries without the rule of law (contracts with integrity) are far more likely to be poor because their rule-shifting drives capital away. Most of Africa has great natural resources and a ton of labor (mostly uneducated), but it is the lack of the rule of law that keeps capital formation at bay.

Here’s a chart showing the distribution of the world’s population:



Yet, here is a chart showing the distribution of world GDP:



Follow this link to an interactive version of this GDP chart: Pie Chart of GDP…

So, clearly, the size of the population does not tell us the size of the economy all by itself.

To help us visualize the importance of demographics, let’s do a little mental exercise… I like to take things to their extremes to illustrate what would happen and how things would be different at those extremes. So let’s imagine that we have the United States with all her current natural resources and technologies… nothing’s different EXCEPT we bring the size of the population down from its current 306 million to only 10 people! See, I told you we were going to take it to the extreme! So, you have only 10 people… how large is the economy? How much goods and services do they produce? How large is GDP? Not very large at all, right?! Of course not, 10 people can’t possibly produce hundreds of airplanes and thousands of houses, millions of automobiles, and trillions worth of financial derivatives, lol!! So you cannot deny that demographics profoundly affect the economy (unless, perhaps, you subscribe to the Alice in Wonderland economic theory that so many presently do).

I encourage you to take this example to the other extreme and to “experiment” with money supply, credit, commodities and so on. Those mental experiments at the extreme will help to put things into perspective. Keep the extremes in mind as we begin to take a look at the BIG picture… The very BIG picture, as in that of the entire history of mankind! Just look at where we are today:



Simply put, the world’s population is exploding!

It is roughly estimated that 2000 years ago the world’s population was about 300 million, about what the U.S. population is now. Over the next ONE THOUSAND YEARS, the population only grew about another 10 million. The real acceleration began only 500 years ago. This growth can be seen dramatically if you look at the time it took for each milestone of a billion people to be reached. It took over 200,000 years before we finally passed the one billion mark in about the year 1804. The second billion arrived in 1927 taking only 123 years, and we reached the three billion mark in the year 1960, a mere 33 years later. Since then, rapid acceleration is an understatement… we have been adding a billion people to our planet every 13 or 14 years since. We passed the six billion mark in 1999 and now stand at about 6.8 billion people.

Put another way, just prior to 1940 the world’s population was doubling about every 125 years. It is now doubling every 40 years! While birth rates in America and a lot of the western world have slowed, in many other countries they have not. This trend is hugely and rapidly changing the investment landscape (click here for a good Wikipedia entry on world population).

And look at this chart that shows the current curve and how the population would grow if the current exponential math continues to build upon itself – world population would double by the year 2040!



Of course those who have Spent some Time with the Good Dr. Bartlett… instantly recognize that global population curve as one which has entered a parabolic (exponential) growth phase. ALL parabolic curves eventually collapse upon themselves – no exceptions, this is simply a function of math within a physical reality. Numbers grow until they become so heavy and consuming that they collapse upon themselves as they must.

For example, let’s visit the curve of corporate profits since about 1940. Here we find a typical chart that went through its three primary growth phases (just like the population chart above). Growth started out slow and controlled, it then accelerated into a more rapid growth phase and then went parabolic as the exponential math built upon itself:



And how are corporate profits today, following that parabolic phase?



THAT is what happens to all parabolic growth curves. They do not simply top out and come down like a pretty bell shaped curve that you may have read about in school:



No, in the real world, the backside of a parabolic curve looks NOTHING like the front side. The decline is much more rapid and steep, and usually returns to the point at which the parabolic growth phase began – at a minimum.

Here’s another mental experiment… Picture a small island only one acre in size with only a bunch of dirt and grass on top. You place a pair of mating bunny rabbits on the island and come back each year for 30 years. You plot the population growth and you will find a parabolic curve, much like our population curve! But, if you watch over time you’ll find that as the food supply runs out the population will crash. This example comes from the San Juan Islands where such things happen in reality all the time, not just to bunny rabbits either.

The purpose of this exercise is not to say that the population is imminently going to crash, it is to say simply that we are in a parabolic growth phase and that the implications are that at some point natural resources will not be able to sustain the exponential population growth. Thus I would not expect the population to double by 1940, we will likely begin to plateau within our lifetimes, but until then there is much greater demand, an EXPLOSION IN DEMAND for things that come from the earth – commodities. Thus it is very likely that in the long run you will see continued escalation in demand for the THINGS YOU NEED. Things like oil, food, and water.



At this point I would like to introduce you to the work of Harry S. Dent. If you are not familiar, he has done A LOT of demographic study and has written many books and articles on the subject. While his earlier models overestimated how high the markets would run, his underlying work is terrific. Forecasting the future is very, very difficult, miss one or two items and you will be wrong. In Dent’s case, what he missed is an understanding of the backside of parabolic growth, and also the fact that DEBT had PULLED FUTURE EARNINGS FORWARD IN TIME. I will get into this more, but I want to point out a terrific article he wrote, A Brief History of Human Evolution and Economic Progress.pdf , that covers most of the history that Bernanke should have studying instead of wasting his time studying an incorrect thesis about the Great Depression!

Whew! That was just the intro, LOL, now we get to taste the meat! Some of the following excerpts are extracted from my book Flight to Financial Freedom. Let’s start by examining the…

DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE UNITED STATES

The next chart shows the U.S. birth index, corrected for immigration, for the entire Twentieth Century through about 1998. The peak in births that occurred during 1961 is the height of the baby boom generation. Notice how much larger it is than the generations that preceded it. From 1961 until the mid 1970s, birth rates fell dramatically. This too produced consequences.

The rise that is seen from the mid 1970s on represents the baby boomer’s kids, thus they are known as the echo-boomers. The year 2008 was the first year to top the 1961 number of births in the United States!


Harry S. Dent Foundation

Demographics are very powerful for forecasting the future. For example, I’m a baby boomer. Baby boomers are generally considered to be those born between the years of 1946 and 1964. All factors considered, the baby boom generation is over four times the size of the generation that preceded it, the Bob Hope generation! This size differential is enormous, and it has far reaching affects.

PEAK EARNINGS EQUALS PEAK SPENDING

Obviously, a person born in 2008 isn’t going to contribute as much to our economy as one who was born in 1970! Demographers have learned that the average person peaks in their earning power when they are statistically 48.5 years old. They also know that a peak in earnings also equates to a peak in spending. Mr. Dent discovered that when you take the birth index and lag it by 48 years, the result looks very similar to the growth in the stock market! It also resembles the size of the economy as a whole. The following chart shows this phenomenon,


Harry S. Dent Foundation

So you can BEGIN to predict the overall trend for the economy, whether it will grow or shrink and approximately to what degree, as well as approximately when. This is the type of thing that Martin Armstrong is discussing when he says it’s possible to model our economy – which it is, but our government (central bankers) won’t back it.

FOOT STOMPING POINT…

Peter Lynch, of Fidelity Investments, once accurately said that, “…it is [corporate] earnings that drive the market.” He is 100% correct on that point.

Now we can start to infer that the aggregate number of people in their peak EARNINGS years equals the amount in their peak SPENDING years.

People who spend buy things from corporations.

Thus, corporate profits are going to peak when the size of the peak earners peak!

Guess what just happened?



DEBT PULLS EARNINGS FORWARD IN TIME

According to Dent’s Spending Wave, the peak should have occurred in late 2009 or early 2010. But it didn’t. Both the markets and corporate profits peaked in late 2007 – proving Peter Lynch right in that earnings drive the markets. Why was Dent late in his estimate?

The reason is DEBT! As derivatives and the securitization of debt process grew, the pigmen, err, I mean central bankers were able to force more and more debt into the system. This pulled the baby boomer’s FUTURE incomes into the NOW. The effect of which was to over accentuate the growth phase and now to over accentuate the decline as well as to make the decline lengthier in time as future incomes will be servicing the interest on all that debt.

ON THE WHOLE, PEOPLE ARE TYPICAL AND PREDICTABLE

After you graduate from college, where is the first place you live after obtaining your first job? That’s right; it’s very likely an apartment. Generally, once you earn a little more, you eventually meet your spouse and move into your first home. This house is relatively small and modest. Usually, as you move into your peak earning/spending years, you have children who are getting older and you move into a larger, more luxurious home. After your kids are grown, you no longer need your large luxury home and you look for a low maintenance, high quality living quarters that suits your lifestyle. This is all very predictable. If you are a baby boomer, and now own a luxury home, you need to examine the graph carefully and ask yourself, “What’s in store for luxury home demand, and thus prices?”

So it is all predictable. The baby boomer’s kids (echo boomers) are now moving through or past college and people who represent the leading edge of this wave are already moving into their first homes. What impact will this have? If you are going to invest in real estate, you should know. Thus, it is fair to say that for the near-term, luxury home prices will languish and starter home prices will hold up better. This is an application of what I mean by building your foundation of investment knowledge.

Corporations would love to have this type of knowledge. Let’s look at Levitz Furniture as an example of a company who ignored shifting demographics.

For those who may not be familiar with this chain, you should know that Levitz was a pioneer in the 1960s when they developed the concept of placing furniture galleries directly inside of a warehouse. Levitz grew like crazy in the late 1970s into the 1980s because baby boomers were moving into their starter homes and buying furniture. What kind of furniture? The inexpensive kind… Levitz opened new stores almost everywhere. Then the baby boomers aged and no longer wanted inexpensive furniture. Now they wanted, and could afford, the good stuff. Levitz was forced to contract in size and sell stores… Multiple bankruptcies eventually followed. Did they understand what was happening? Could it have been forecast? Today it could be, no doubt. It can be forecast because it is real and it is knowable. Could Levitz have a future going forward? Well, here’s a link to their old website; Levitz.com. That’s what happens when you ignore demographics! Now who’s going to sell all the inexpensive furniture that the echo boomers are going to need?

MONEY SUPPLY AND DEMOGRAPHICS

For those who understand how CREDIT money is created, imagine a population bubble of peak earners all showing up to the commercial banks at the same time. As loans are taken out to house and car those peak spenders, surely credit creation is going to expand, or at least try to expand. This is why I think that the size of the population of peak earners (not just the size of the total population) needs to be considered against any system that attempts to control the size of the money supply.

KNOW YOUR PLACE… DEMOGRAPHICALLY

Where you fit into the demographic scheme of things is very important to understand. Trailing edge baby boomers will experience economic happenings differently than leading edge baby boomers. Certain areas of price inflation, for example, may benefit the leading edge while harming those on the trailing edge.

Let’s look at trailing edge boomers for a moment: As they enter their peak earning years, like their predecessors, they generally look to upgrade to a larger, more luxurious home… but the leading edge boomers have already driven luxury home prices through the roof. Many of the leading edger’s bought low and sold high (taking their equity with them into retirement), while the trailing edger’s are forced to buy high and will not enjoy decades of ever increasing prices. See the difference? Inflation benefited the leading edge, but hurt the trailing edge. Same thing happens for investing in the stock market, same for luxury cars, boats, etc. Bringing up the rear sucks… demographically speaking!

The leading edge ECHO boomers are also likely to do better with their investments than trailing edge echo boomers. This is a function of math! You are far better off experiencing LOSSES EARLY in your investment career than late! This is true for all compounding assets.

If you know your place, demographically, you can adjust your strategy to take advantage of what you know will happen… What segments should you be investing in now? Remember, real and knowable!

So, if you understand demographics, you can start to see the future. But your crystal ball may still be a little hazy, so let’s broaden our horizon and look at Japan as a case study.

CASE STUDY: JAPAN

Following WWII, most allied countries, like the U.S. and Great Britain, were left relatively unscathed compared to Japan. Our soldiers came home and produced the baby boom generation. Japan’s soldiers came home and had to rebuild their country. They eventually had a baby boom generation, but theirs started twenty years after ours. Japan also had a relatively sizable generation prior to entering the war. After they rebuilt the country, they developed their industries and were quite accomplished at doing so. Their automobiles and electronics went from being synonymous with low quality to being synonymous with high quality.

Do you remember, during the Sixties, everything seemed to be stamped “made in Japan?” (much like China today). Back then, “made in Japan” was synonymous with “JUNK,” you know, cheap and shoddy. Today, Japanese products are synonymous with “quality,” and are prized possessions.

Anyway, the Nikkei index and land valuations soared. The Nikkei hit a high of 40,000 in 1989; and then the bottom fell out. Real estate prices plunged and the Nikkei fell over 80%. The Nikkei bottomed at 7,603 in 2003 – a 13 year fall. For the Nikkei to get back to 40,000 from that low, it would have to gain 425%! It then rebounded with our markets and has since fallen to even lower lows. If your money was invested in Japanese stocks in 1990, would you have seen this coming? Would you have known when to sell or when to buy back in?

Their entire economy, not just the Nikkei, has now languished for over 20 years. The Japanese Government tried everything to stimulate their economy. They lowered interest rates literally to zero percent and left them there. They flooded the country with yen hoping to stimulate spending. Their efforts had little effect, despite a booming global market. One of the reasons was because Japan had a contracting population that was in their peak earning and spending years! The Japanese simply did not have an economic engine that could keep up with the previous larger generation.

The same demographic conditions that hit Japan are here in the United States and in much of the western world. And, just as the U.S. economy is headed down demographically, Japan will be headed back up, but now they will face plummeting global demand!

Is this useful knowledge? Is it based on knowable facts? Is your 401k safe, and will it be there in all its booming glory to take care of you in retirement?

The same effects can be examined in every country on the entire planet. Look at China. Huge growth now and in the near future, but they have a one child only law. What does that mean for their long term future? As two parents produce one child across an entire generation, that means that the next generation will be cut in half, and so on. Will the economic growth and power transfer that’s occurring now last forever in China?

Certainly not and this too is predictable.

POPULATION WAVES RIPPLE THROUGH TIME

So, we have a wave of peak earners/spenders that we call the baby boom generation. There is a lull, a valley, on the backside that means the number of peak earners are just not there to power corporate earnings.

Because there was a lull in that wave, there is bound to be a subsequent wave in the future where a similar lull takes place, just as there IS A KNOWN PEAK with the rise of the boomer's kids, the echo boomers. Isn’t that a cycle? Why yes it is.

Harry Dent produced this chart he calls the New Economy Cycle:



He correlates inflationary periods with periods of rising numbers of peak earners, and deflationary times with dropping numbers of peak earners. Accordingly, if you disregard debt, the bottom of this current deflation cycle will be about the year 2022.

Now, that’s just the cycle caused by the fluctuation in population. Are there other cycles that come into play? Of course there are, and those cycles overlap the demographic cycle. This is where modeling via computers comes into play; it is exactly what Martin Armstrong has been addressing in his recent papers. And I agree fully with him that there is a concerted effort to NOT make models that work. Keeping people blind and ignorant is exactly how you steal from and control them.

For government officials, or anyone for that matter, to stand up and say that “no one could have seen this coming” is just completely ingenuous to be polite, full of it to be less polite! Housing cost to rent ratios at never before seen extremes? Commercial property CAP rates at historic lows? Give me a break – no one saw it coming? Bull. They were all just too greedy to adjust downwards before they were forced to.

People who didn’t see this downturn coming; Levitz, GM, GE, Ford, Chrysler, the homebuilders, all the banks, all levels of government and most of the western world… they all need to have their heads examined. Sailing the ship at full speed into a demographic void is like the Titanic accelerating to ramming speed just prior to hitting the iceberg! Surely we are sailing with a ship of fools…

World Party - Ship of Fools (ht Frank):




Post Script: PONZI IMPLICATIONS

Social Security and Medicare are both schemes that depend on never ending growth because they require the money of current contributors to pay back past contributors. These schemes work well UNTIL the day the amount of money coming in no longer satisfies the obligations. A shrinking population of peak earners means that the day will soon arrive when the Ponzi scheme breaks down. This is the fatal flaw in developing such systems.

Chris Martenson developed an excellent course called the “Crash Course” in which he also touches on the implications of demographics. They start about 10 minutes into this 13 minute video…

Crash Course: Chapter 14 - Assets & Demographics by Chris Martenson


I HIGHLY recommend Chris’s Crash Course. Here’s a link for those who have yet to view it: Chris Martenson’s Crash Course…

Morning Update/ Market Thread 5/19

Good Morning,

Futures climbed into the 912 pivot overnight but then sold off this morning and are now down slightly:



Yesterday was a very bullish day price wise, but it was on lower volume which begs the question, was it wave 2, or was it the beginning of leg three up? You’ll know by seeing whether we exceed the previous high…

The short term stochastics indicate that at least some downside is possible today.

The trade during this rally has been one where the dollar declines while energy and some other commodities climb. This is people getting in front of the inflation trade. Will they be right? I believe that they will, but only in the LONG run. I do not believe that deflation has run its course fully as of yet.

Of course we know that the government is trying as hard as they can to devalue the purchasing power of your money, so what we see in the markets at this time reflects that understanding and again is front running because the only data that shows growth in anything is the money supply (which does not capture what is happening to velocity or to the shadow banking system).
Reflecting the current trend, here’s a Point & Figure chart of the U.S. Dollar. Last week it went from a bullish stance to a bearish one with a target of 77. That’s quite a ways down from current levels and would suggest that this current trend could go on for a while longer (no, these charts are not always correct, but betting against them isn’t wise):



Looking at a P&F chart of oil, you can see that we tagged $60 a barrel but it tripped a target of $87 a barrel, consistent with the dollar chart:



But is the inflation trade for real here and now? Let’s take a look at a chart of S&P 500 earnings (chartoftheday.com):



Can you say “waterfall collapse?” I thought you could!

So, you have the collapse of transportation, the collapse of corporate earnings, oil inventories are at record highs as consumption falls, and yet people are buying the inflation trade? Boy, they really are looking out into the future!

NO, real and lasting inflation requires a few things that are missing. First is that wages need to rise for inflation to take hold. That may happen, but it’s hasn’t begun to happen yet, and I believe it won’t as competition from overseas will keep wages in check. Also, the money we print does two things that are NOT inflationary here in the U.S., namely that is that our capital (“printed money”) is free to leave this country, it is NOT a closed system. And secondly, our entire economy is saturated with debt – people who get their hands on new money will use that money to pay down or to simply service DEBT and so the VELOCITY of money will stay low.

That’s why you won’t be seeing the freshly minted money going to the bottom line of corporations.

And here’s a piece of evidence of what is happening in the derivative world – note that the BIS does NOT track all derivatives, only a portion of them:

Derivatives Market Declines for First Time on Record

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- The derivatives market shrank for the first time in the second half of 2008 as the global financial crisis curbed trading, the Bank for International Settlements said in a report.

The amount of outstanding contracts linked to bonds, currencies, commodities, stocks and interest rates fell 13.4 percent to $592 trillion, the Basel, Switzerland-based bank said yesterday. That’s the first decline in 10 years of compiling the data. The amount of credit-default swaps protecting investors against losses on bonds and loans fell 27 percent to cover a notional $41.9 trillion of debt.

This is important to see that the derivatives that are tracked are contracting – first time in history. Look at the size of those figures. So, if the derivatives they track fell by 13%, that means that more than $80 TRILLION worth of derivatives have gone bye bye. And THAT means that leverage in the system is decreasing which is most definitely NOT inflationary. This is the part of the system that most do not see nor understand so they ignore it or acknowledge it but then look away. NO, derivatives DO NOT all “net each other out.” That is partially true, but most definitely not true overall. You will have uneven distribution and not all players are protected to neutrality. That is impossible. Decreasing derivates means deleveraging.

And just this morning we learn that housing starts defied the greenshoot crowd and fell to another record low:
U.S. Housing Starts Drop to Record-Low 458,000 Pace

By Bob Willis

May 19 (Bloomberg) -- Builders broke ground on the fewest homes on record in April as a plunge in work on condominiums and apartment buildings overwhelmed the second straight gain in starts on single-family properties.

The 13 percent decrease to an annual rate of 458,000 was led by a 46 percent decline in multifamily starts and followed a 525,000 pace the prior month, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Building permits, a sign of future construction, fell 3.3 percent to a record low pace of 494,000.

Despite this, yesterday Lowe’s beat estimates primarily by lowering charge offs and by keeping expenses down, and today Home Depot did basically the same thing beating estimates, but that was largely due to them taking fewer write offs than last year.

People thinking that it’s possible to re-inflate a burst bubble are just mistaken. Housing will not lead us into another bubble, THAT is IMPOSSIBLE. People are animals and they have the heard mentality embedded in our DNA. Once the heard runs from a bubble, the heard will not come back. It will take at least until the next generation who did not experience the pain experienced with that bubble bursting. NEW HOUSING BUBBLE IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Yes, eventually prices will find a bottom, but they will NOT immediately turn around and skyrocket.

And today we also learn that the ICSC store sales decreased substantially last week by falling 1.3% week over week, and by falling .3% year over year. The Redbook chain store sales also fell by losing .3% week over week. Again, not seeing inflationary pressures EXCEPT in people’s imaginations and in the Fed’s money supply charts which fuels that imagination, incorrectly for now.

So, the markets are doing their bear market rally thing as the sheeple are herded into believing that the fed is actually going to make it all better – all the math will magically change and the credit card fairy will slip into your room at night and pay off all your debts too!

Sorry, but the housing bubble is never coming back again – at least for you. But, there is another bubble occurring right now, that is a bubble of fools who believes and has confidence in all the guarantees, stimulus, and bailouts of our government. When that last bubble of unjust confidence breaks, and it will, hopefully we’ll be smart enough to never come back to Marxism and Keynesianism again!

Fleetwood Mac - Never Going Back Again:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Morning Update/ Market Thread 5/18

Good Morning,

We are surely living in a Bizzaro world. Let’s see, Goldman comes out with a “conviction buy” on Bank of America (suggested new stock symbol LMAO), and it rockets more than 8%! Hey, let me ask you this… why should it be legal for a large institution to publicly issue “ratings” on any company in which they own stock or could affect the market in any way shape or form? Insane.

Lowe’s is up 12% despite lower year over year profits and lower sales. Still, they did beat expectations.

Not a lot of meaningful economic reports this week, bond auctions of course. But what is really killing me is this article from Fortune where we learn some of the ways OUR TALF money is working – like, HELLO, going to back Harley Davidson! Now there’s a company America can’t live without! Ah, gee, funny but didn’t someone by the name of Buffett just invest a ton of money in Harley? Ah, gee, amazing how government, YOUR MONEY, is following BEHIND his investments.

Geithner's gift to Wall Street

As the first TALF-backed deals for Ford, Honda and Harley's debt hit the market, professional investors see an opportunity to make a killing.

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Imagine if you were not really in the market for a house but the government came along and said that it would finance 94% of a home's purchase price with a mortgage rate of less than 3%. Still not interested? Wait, Uncle Sam has some additional sweeteners: if you do the deal and buy the house for only 6% down, you also get the equivalent of rental income every month to the tune of at least an annualized yield of 10% of the purchase price.

But wait there's still more: if, say, after two years, you decide you don't want the house any longer, you can just walk away from it. No need to pay the balance of the mortgage (it won't effect your credit rating), and you can keep the rental income received to date.

That's essentially the deal that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has offered qualified professional investors who participate in the so-called TALF (Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility). Two months into the program as the first TALF- backed deals hit the market, you can see why the likes of hedge fund Fortress Investment Group are drooling over it. "I'm a big believer in the impact that TALF can and should have," Fortress CEO Wes Edens said on a May 6 investor call, adding that he expects that Fortress will be "a big participant" in the TALF program "three to six months from now."

The first few TALF deals -- one for Ford Credit (the financing arm of the automaker), another for American Honda Receivables Corp., a third for the student loan company Sallie Mae and a fourth for motorcycle icon Harley Davidson -- shed some light on our tax dollars at work.

"I've had accounts that dropped everything they were doing to take a look at this TALF financing," one Wall Street trader explained. "It was like nothing they had ever seen. It beats any financing that the private sector could ever come up with. I almost want to say it is irresponsible." For instance, Prudential Financial, Inc. (PRU, Fortune 500), the large insurer and investment manager, borrowed $786 million from the TALF as of March 31 and put up only $50 million to do so, some 6.4% of the deals.

In case you're not totally conversant with the alphabet soup of financial remedies emanating from the Obama Administration, here's a brief refresher: Geithner and the Federal Reserve announced the launch of the TALF in March. The TALF is a $200 billion (on its way to $1 trillion) non-recourse lending program to private investors as a way to encourage them to buy newly underwritten securities backed by auto loans, credit-card receivables and student loans, among other asset classes. (The TALF program is set to extend, in June, to the issue of new commercial real-estate mortgage-backed securities.)

These securitizations were once upon a time a key component of the so-called "shadow" financing system that helped raise trillions of dollars of capital worldwide. Of course, the securitization and sale of mortgage-backed securities was one of the leading causes of the current financial crisis as the people who took out the underlying mortgages started to default upon them in unexpected numbers. Still, Geithner has determined, correctly, that getting these securities circulating again is crucial to restoring the health of the credit markets. The Treasury designed the program, but it is the Federal Reserve that provides the government's share of the capital. "The increase in the TALF is expected to help stimulate both new issuances and the removal of assets from bank balance sheets," Credit Suisse wrote to its shareholders on May 8.

Investors interested in borrowing from the TALF program have to be approved by the Treasury and then, once approved, have to set up an account with a broker-dealer that is subject to a variety of the usual terms and conditions. The investor then must indicate a desire to buy, say, at least $10 million of one of the dozen or so deals, worth an aggregate of around $25 billion, which have come to market since the TALF program was set up in March. An early test for TALF was a May 5, $1.5 billion car-receivables securitization for American Honda Receivables Corp. and underwritten by JPMorgan Securities (JPM, Fortune 500) and BNP Paribas Securities. Investor demand for the deals so far is said by one trader to be "strong" and the deals are selling well. The real market test, though, of TALF will come when the first deals involving CMBS (Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities) start coming to market in the next few months.

The way the TALF works in practice is this: The amount of equity an investor has to put up, or the "haircut" as the TALF documents call it, depends upon the assets involved, the term of the loan or lease of the underlying asset (say, a car) and the credit quality of the underlying borrower. A loan to buy a three-year security backed by a group of credit-card receivables from high-quality borrowers would require an investor to put up 6% of the capital -- a 6% "haircut" -- and then can borrow the rest from the TALF through his brokerage account. To buy a two-year high-quality credit-card receivable security, a borrower would put up 5% of the face amount of the securities purchased. Auto receivables require as 12% equity investment for a three-year security. Small business loans require 5% down. Student loans require 10% down for a three-year deal.

An investor interested in a $10 million slice of three-year credit card receivable would put up 6% of the money -- $600,000 -- and borrow the balance of $9.4 million from the TALF at a rate of three-year LIBOR plus 100 basis points (Attention K-Mart shoppers, that's 2.85% at this moment.) Depending on all sorts of assumptions, the yields on these investments are said to be in the 11% to 15% range, especially attractive since the TALF loans are non-recourse to the borrowers -- you can just walk away and lose only your underlying equity investment and the collateral but you are not held responsible for the unpaid portion of the TALF loan itself.

In addition, the TALF loan is not marked-to-market so if the underlying collateral deteriorates in value, the investor is not required to put up more equity. What's more as the car payments or credit-card payments on the underlying security are made, the payments are distributed to the government and the investor on equal footing -- that means the investor starts getting paid back at the same time as the government even though the government is the senior secured creditor and even though an investor has put up only a small fraction of the original money. One private equity investor, who would not normally have looked at investing in such a deal but did, called this particular aspect of the TALF "shockingly good."

But who will the TALF deals be shockingly good for -- the players on the field or those of us in the bleachers? If what Geithner calls "our lending facility with the Fed" does its job and jumpstarts the credit markets then the extraordinary concessions the government has made to attract private capital may have been worth it.


Got TALF “approval?” That’s what I thought. You have more expensive Harleys than you should, that’s what you have! Boy, talk about your moral hazard… But keep in mind that little Timmy’s TALF won’t actually be anywhere near large enough to actually get the shadow banking system back to where it was. Quite the opposite. IN THE LONG RUN, the moral hazard and rule changing will chase away capital.

Okay, so what are the markets doing? Going up of course! Here’s a picture of the overnight action in the DOW and S&P futures:



The short term stochastics were all oversold on Friday’s close and thus a higher day is expected today. We are likely to break out of the downchannel on the upside, and no, I am not hanging short through that.

Resistance will come in the 900 area. If 903 is taken out on a closing basis, that would be bullish in the short run. The first pivot point higher is at 912 and then 935.

Have a great Monday,

Nate

Sunday, May 17, 2009

60 Minutes - AIG, We Own It...

This is their intro: "Ed Liddy, the man who took over the reins of AIG ?- the failed insurance giant to which the government has made $180 billion available in aid ?- speaks to Steve Kroft about the gargantuan task ahead."

Keep in mind that Ed Liddy served as Director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (board member)from June 24, 2003 to April 23, 2008, and that he Owns $3 Million In Goldman Sachs Stock!

Please follow this link as I removed the embedded video because I could not stop it from autoplaying:

60 Minutes - AIG, We Own It...

Uncle Jay Explains the News...

It's time once again, boys & girls, for Uncle Jay to Explain the News... funny!