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ANALYSIS: WHY THE REAL EU FUHRER IS NOW MARIO DRAGHI

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During the week the Telegraph broke the story of how the ESM will be used to bailout broke banks. The article from the Slog explores how all the power now resides with Draghi.

ANALYSIS: WHY THE REAL EU FUHRER IS NOW MARIO DRAGHI.

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China’s Credit Bubble Unprecedented

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Whereas China may have helped to save the world in 2008, its ability to help global GDP has slowly been strangled by its own massive debt levels. Corporate and private sector debt has grown out of all proportions severely limiting China’s ability to grow its way out of its debt problems.  It’s not just Western banks we need worry about.

China’s shadow banking system is out of control and under mounting stress as borrowers struggle to roll over short-term debts, Fitch Ratings has warned. Fitch warned that wealth products worth $2 trillion of lending are in reality a “hidden second balance sheet” for banks, allowing them to circumvent loan curbs and dodge efforts by regulators to halt the excesses.

The agency said the scale of credit was so extreme that the country would find it very hard to grow its way out of the excesses as in past episodes, implying tougher times ahead.

“The credit-driven growth model is clearly falling apart. This could feed into a massive over-capacity problem, and potentially into a Japanese-style deflation,” said Charlene Chu, the agency’s senior director in Beijing.

“There is no transparency in the shadow banking system, and systemic risk is rising. We have no idea who the borrowers are, who the lenders are, and what the quality of assets is, and this undermines signalling,” she told The Daily Telegraph.

While the non-performing loan rate of the banks may look benign at just 1pc, this has become irrelevant as trusts, wealth-management funds, offshore vehicles and other forms of irregular lending make up over half of all new credit. “It means nothing if you can off-load any bad asset you want. A lot of the banking exposure to property is not booked as property,” she said.

Concerns are rising after a string of upsets in Quingdao, Ordos, Jilin and elsewhere, in so-called trust products, a $1.4 trillion segment of the shadow banking system.

Bank Everbright defaulted on an interbank loan 10 days ago amid wild spikes in short-term “Shibor” borrowing rates, a sign that liquidity has suddenly dried up. “Typically stress starts in the periphery and moves to the core, and that is what we are already seeing with defaults in trust products,” she said.

Fitch warned that wealth products worth $2 trillion of lending are in reality a “hidden second balance sheet” for banks, allowing them to circumvent loan curbs and dodge efforts by regulators to halt the excesses.

This niche is the epicentre of risk. Half the loans must be rolled over every three months, and another 25pc in less than six months. This has echoes of Northern Rock, Lehman Brothers and others that came to grief in the West on short-term liabilities when the wholesale capital markets froze.

Mrs Chu said the banks had been forced to park over $3 trillion in reserves at the central bank, giving them a “massive savings account that can be drawn down” in a crisis, but this may not be enough to avert trouble given the sheer scale of the lending boom.

Overall credit has jumped from $9 trillion to $23 trillion since the Lehman crisis.

“They have replicated the entire US commercial banking system in five years,” she said.

The ratio of credit to GDP has jumped by 75 percentage points to 200pc of GDP, compared to roughly 40 points in the US over five years leading up to the subprime bubble, or in Japan before the Nikkei bubble burst in 1990. “This is beyond anything we have ever seen before in a large economy. We don’t know how this will play out. The next six months will be crucial,” she said.

The agency downgraded China‘s long-term currency rating to AA- debt in April but still thinks the government can handle any banking crisis, however bad. “The Chinese state has a lot of firepower. It is very able and very willing to support the banking sector. The real question is what this means for growth, and therefore for social and political risk,” said Mrs Chu.

“There is no way they can grow out of their asset problems as they did in the past. We think this will be very different from the banking crisis in the late 1990s. With credit at 200pc of GDP, the numerator is growing twice as fast as the denominator. You can’t grow out of that.”

The authorities have been trying to manage a soft-landing, deploying loan curbs and a high reserve ratio requirement (RRR) for banks to halt property speculation. The home price to income ratio has reached 16 to 18 in many cities, shutting workers out of the market. Shadow banking has plugged the gap for much of the last two years.

However, a new problem has emerged as the economic efficiency of credit collapses. The extra GDP growth generated by each extra yuan of loans has dropped from 0.85 to 0.15 over the last four years, a sign of exhaustion.

Wei Yao from Societe Generale says the debt service ratio of Chinese companies has reached 30pc of GDP – the typical threshold for financial crises — and many will not be able to pay interest or repay principal. She warned that the country could be on the verge of a “Minsky Moment”, when the debt pyramid collapses under its own weight. “The debt snowball is getting bigger and bigger, without contributing to real activity,” she said.

The latest twist is sudden stress in the overnight lending markets. “We believe the series of policy tightening measures in the past three months have reached critical mass, such that deleveraging in the banking sector is happening. Liquidity tightening can be very damaging to a highly leveraged economy,” said Zhiwei Zhang from Nomura.

“There is room to cut interest rates and the reserve ratio in the second half,” wrote a front-page editorial today in China Securities Journal on Friday. The article is the first sign that the authorities are preparing to change tack, shifting to a looser stance after a drizzle of bad data over recent weeks.

The journal said total credit in China’s financial system may be as high as 221pc of GDP, jumping almost eightfold over the last decade, and warned that companies will have to fork out $1 trillion in interest payments alone this year. “Chinese corporate debt burdens are much higher than those of other economies. Much of the liquidity is being used to repay debt and not to finance output,” it said.

It also flagged worries over an exodus of hot money once the US Federal Reserve starts tightening. “China will face large-scale capital outflows if there is an exit from quantitative easing and the dollar strengthens,” it wrote.

The journal said foreign withdrawals from Chinese equity funds were the highest since early 2008 in the week up to June 5, and withdrawals from Hong Kong funds were the most in a decade.

Source: Irish Independent

Margin Debt over 2.25% of GDP Signals Stock Market Crash

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Another signal that the stock market is over inflated and heading for a major correction is margin debt greater than 2.25% of GDP. Levels in April already show that this level has been hit. Previous stock market crashes have in common high margin debt greater than 2.25%. Will we be lucky this time around, unlikely.

What do 1929, 2000 and 2007 all have in common?  Those were all years in which we saw a dramatic spike in margin debt.  In all three instances, investors became highly leveraged in order to “take advantage” of a soaring stock market.  But of course we all know what happened each time.  The spike in margin debt was rapidly followed by a horrifying stock market crash.  Well guess what?  It is happening again.  In April (the last month we have a number for), margin debt rose to an all-time high of more than 384 billion dollars.  The previous high was 381 billion dollars which occurred back in July 2007.  Margin debt is about 29 percent higher than it was a year ago, and the S&P 500 has risen by more than 20 percent since last fall.  The stock market just continues to rise even though the underlying economic fundamentals continue to get worse.  So should we be alarmed?  Is the stock market bubble going to burst at some point?  Well, if history is any indication we are in big trouble.  In the past, whenever margin debt has gone over 2.25% of GDP the stock market has crashed.  That certainly does not mean that the market is going to crash this week, but it is a major red flag. The funny thing is that the fact that investors are so highly leveraged is being seen as a positive thing by many in the financial world.  Some believe that a high level of margin debt is a sign that “investor confidence” is high and that the rally will continue. 

“The rising level of debt is seen as a measure of investor confidence, as investors are more willing to take out debt against investments when shares are rising and they have more value in their portfolios to borrow against. The latest rise has been fueled by low interest rates and a 15% year-to-date stock-market rally.”

Others, however, consider the spike in margin debt to be a very ominous sign.  Margin debt has now risen to about 2.4 percent of GDP, and as the New York Times recently pointed out, whenever we have gotten this high before a market crash has always followed…

“The first time in recent decades that total margin debt exceeded 2.25 percent of G.D.P. came at the end of 1999, amid the technology stock bubble. Margin debt fell after that bubble burst, but began to rise again during the housing boom — when anecdotal evidence said some investors were using their investments to secure loans that went for down payments on homes. That boom in margin loans also ended badly.”

Posted below is a chart of the performance of the S&P 500 over the last several decades.  After looking at this chart, compare it to the margin debt charts that the New York Times recently published that you can find right here.  There is a very strong correlation between these charts.  You can find some more charts that directly compare the level of margin debt and the performance of the S&P 500 right here.  Every time margin debt has soared to a dramatic new high in the past, a stock market crash and a recession have always followed.  Will we escape a similar fate this time?

S&P 500

What makes all of this even more alarming is the fact that a number of things that we have not seen happen in the U.S. economy since 2009 are starting to happen again.  For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “12 Clear Signals That The U.S. Economy Is About To Really Slow Down“.

At some point the stock market will catch up with the economy.  When that happens, it will probably happen very rapidly and a lot of people will lose a lot of money.

And there are certainly a lot of prominent voices out there that are warning about what is coming.  For example, the following is what renowned investor Alan M. Newman had to say about the current state of the market earlier this year

If anything has changed yet in 2013, we certainly do not see it. Despite the early post-fiscal cliff rally, this is the same beast we rode to the 2007 highs for the Dow Industrials. The U.S. stock market is over leveraged, overpriced and has been commandeered by mechanical forces to such an extent that all holding periods are now affected by more risk than at any time in history.”

Source: theeconomiccollapseblog.com

No Bank Collapses Before September?

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bail inThe Cyprus model of theft “bail-in” bank collapses is slowly being adopted globally as the solution to enable bankrupt sovereign nation states deal with bankrupt banks. Japan is the latest country to consider such a move, even the EU is about to adopt the policy, but all eyes will be on the G20 in September. It’s strongly suspected that the G20 will announce theft “bail-ins” as the solution to deal with bank collapses. That countries (New Zealand, EU, Canada, UK) have openly being discussing such a drastic solution shows there is expected to be a raft of banks collapsing in the near future.

I have been reporting for some time now that a number of central banks have already published policy documents detailing how bail-ins would work. The Bank of Canada, Bank of New Zealand, and the FDIC and Bank of England jointly, have all published something on the issue.

At its heart is the idea that savers are, in fact, “unsecured creditors” of the banks, and therefore come second only to shareholders should their assets need to be confiscated in order to keep a failed bank going for a little while longer.

Yesterday, Nikkei highlighted that Japan’s Financial Services Agency will enact new rules to force failed bank losses onto “investors”. 

The Japanese Parliament ratified the proposals yesterday.

Also yesterday, Sergei Storchak, a Russian Deputy Finance Minister stated that there would be a declaration by heads of state attending Septembers G20 meeting in St Petersberg which would bring an end to the policy of taxpayer bailouts. The implications of what he said was that the G20 would also be jumping on the bail-in policy instead.

The preparations for widespread confiscation of assets are nearly complete.

Source: UK Column, ZeroHedge

87% Chance of Stock Market Crash By End Of Year

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George Soros dumping 80% of his stock holdings might give a clue towards a stock market crash this year. The article below from Market Watch estimates a 87% probability with 10 predictions, but never underestimate Bernanke and the Fed to keep the show going. One thing is for sure its just a matter of time and will far worse than anything experience in 2008. You were warned.

In “Stocks for the Long Run,” economist Jeremy Siegel researched all the “big market moves” between 1801 and 2001. Bottom line: 75% of the time, there is no rationale for “big moves.” No one can predict them. Maybe technicians and traders can pick short-term moves the next second. Maybe tomorrow. But the long-term “big market moves?” No way.

So why predict an “87%” chance of another meltdown in 2013? Because in the real world of statistical probabilities, historical facts and expert opinions danger signals are flashing wild. In mid-2008 we summarized the predictions of 20 experts over several years. Predicted a meltdown in a few years — markets crashed two months later. Fast.

In retrospect, it was inevitable, thanks in part to the hype, arrogance and incompetence of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson who failed to prepare America.

The warnings are again accelerating. And so is the happy talk from Wall Street casino insiders, about rallies, housing recoveries, perpetual cheap money. Don’t listen. The next crash will happen by year-end.

Yes, there’s a 13% chance the next Fed chairman will keep printing cheap money into 2014. But on New Years Eve our aging bull will be 4½ years old, well past Bill O’Neill’s “average” 3.75 years for putting this bull out to pasture.

So unless you’re shorting, all bets on Wall Street casinos for 2014 are megarisk, like 2008. Like a Stephen King horror film, you feel it coming. Could happen anytime, even tomorrow, says Siegel’s research, or the unpredictable logic in Nassim Taleb’s “Black Swan.”

Here are 10 other predictions adding credibility to a crash by the end of 2013:

1. Warren Buffett ‘guaranteed’ new bubble, new recession four years ago

Actually he saw it coming early. Shortly after the 2008 crash Warren Buffett was asked: “Do you think there will be another bubble leading to a huge recession?” Yes, “I can guarantee it.” Cycles happen.

Next question: “Why can’t we learn the lessons of the last recession? Look where greed has gotten us.” Then with the impish grin of a Zen master, Uncle Warren replied, “Greed is fun for a while. People can’t resist it.” But “however far human beings have come, we haven’t grown up emotionally at all. We remain the same.”

Yes, one of world’s richest men was personally guaranteeing another bubble, another “huge recession.” Now, four years later, that time bomb is ticking louder, closer.

2. Federal Reserve’s Council: ‘Unsustainable bubble in stocks, bonds’

The International Business Times just reported on the minutes of the Federal Reserve Board Advisory Council’s mid-May meeting. Members expressed “strong concerns over the Fed’s low-interest-rate policies and its bond-purchase program, which they say could trigger unmanageable inflation and an ‘unsustainable bubble’ in the stock and bond markets.” Some “pointed out that near-zero interest rates could not be sustained in the long run.”

Why? “A spike in inflation could force the Fed to hike interest rates, hurting business confidence and consumer spending, and prove disastrous to the U.S. economy, which is still clawing its way back from the debilitating effects of the 2008 financial crisis.”

Get it? The Fed and Wall Street insiders hear something’s dead ahead.

3. Peter Schiff is ‘doubling down’ on his ‘doomsday’ prediction

Euro Pacific Capital CEO Peter Schiff, author of “The Real Crash: America’s Coming Bankruptcy,” is “not backing away from doomsday predictions about the U.S. economy,” wrote MarketWatch’s Greg Robb last week. He sees the no-win scenario: “Either the Fed stops QE and starts selling the Treasurys and mortgage-related assets on its balance sheet, thus triggering a recession, or else faces an inevitable, even-worse, currency crisis.”

The “idea that the U.S. economy is in recovery is based entirely on rising asset prices … Asset prices are only rising because rates are low. As soon as rates go back up, asset prices will” fall.

Last year on Fox Business Schiff warned: “We’ve got a much bigger collapse coming.” Then last week: “I am 100% confident the crisis that we’re going to have will be much worse than the one we had in 2008.” His 100% beats our 87%.

4. Bill Gross: ‘Credit supernova’ turning 2013 bull into big bad bear

Yes, Gross sees a ‘credit supernova’ dead ahead. His firm has $2 trillion at risk when the Federal Reserve cheap money finally explodes in America’s face, brings down the economy, again. Gross warns: “Investment banking, which only a decade ago promoted small-business development and transition to public markets, now is dominated by leveraged speculation and the Ponzi finance.”

Bernanke’s Ponzi finance is self-destructive, lethal and massive. Endless cheap money upsets the balance between credit expansion and real economic growth, resulting in diminishing returns. Very bad news.

5. Gary Shilling predicts the ‘grand disconnect’ will trigger ‘shocker’

Yes, economist Gary Shilling predicts a “shocker” before the end of the year. Worse because investors are “paying little attention to weak and declining economies around the world, and concentrating on the flood of money being created by central banks.”

The “grand disconnect” is driving up stocks “while the zeal for yield, amidst low interest rates, benefited junk bonds and other low-quality debt.” Wall Street’s blowing a nasty new bubble, repeating the run-up to the 2008 crash.

6. ‘Kaboom ahead,’ an ‘ominous third phase’ of 2008 Meltdown

“Bond guru buying stocks. Sees ‘Kaboom’ Ahead,” shouted the Bloomberg Market headline about Jeffrey Gundlach, CEO of Doubleline Capital. Earlier he predicted the 2008 meltdown. But now he says the real damage is yet to come.

“The first phase of the coming debacle consisted of a 27-year buildup of corporate, personal and sovereign debt. That lasted until 2008.” Then cheap money “finally toppled banks and pushed the global economy into a recession, spurring governments and central banks to spend trillions of dollars to stimulate growth.” Next, an “ominous third phase,” a bigger crash, whose impact will far exceed the damage of 2008.

What’s he buying? Hard assets. Plus “sitting on cash,” waiting to scoop up more at “fire-sale” prices, “it’s worth waiting.”

7. ‘Tick, tick … boom!’ InvestmentNews sees bond crash dead ahead

A few months ago InvestmentNews front page is so powerful you can hear sirens on a flashing, warning in huge bold type: “Tick, tick … boom!” Their readers: 90,000 professional advisers who trust INews forecasts.

This was the biggest warning since 2008: “What will your clients’ portfolios look like when the bond bomb goes off?” Not “if” but “when.” Yes, they expect the bond bomb to explode soon.

Wake up, INews sees extreme dangers for millions of Americans who have “no idea what’s about to happen to them … Tick, tick … boom!”

8. Reagan’s budget director sees an ‘apocalypse … get out now’

Recently David Stockman warned of an economic “apocalypse” dead ahead, “arising from a rogue central bank that has abetted the Wall Street casino, crucified savers on a cross of zero interest rates and fueled a global commodity bubble that erodes Main Street living standards through rising food and energy prices … get out of the markets and hide out in cash.”

Stockman’s not merely warning of a crash ending the bull rally since 2009. This “grand bubble” has been building for 32 years since the Reagan revolution. He’s atoning for a generation of politicians with no moral compass: “Capitalism has morphed into a monopoly ruled by politicians who are serving a wealthy elite. Competition is a joke.”

9. Nouriel Roubini: ‘Prepare for the perfect storm’ in an unstable world

Yes, prepare, prepare, prepare. Roubini told Slate.com: Our world is a game of dominos, any one of which could put in motion a global collapse: “Sooner or later, another ugly fight” over debt, markets will “become spooked” with “a significant amount of drag … on an economy that has grown at barely a 2% rate.”

Scanning the world’s hot-button triggers in the euro zone, China, BRICs, Iran, Middle East, Pakistan, oil markets, Dr. Doom warns, the “drums of actual war will beat harder.” Any one of these trends “alone would be enough to stall the global economy and tip it into recession.”

10. Jeremy Grantham: America’s growth and prosperity ‘gone forever’

Grantham’s GMO firm manages $100 billion. He focused on Richard Gordon’s disturbing research: “Is U.S. Economic Growth Over?” Yes, says Grantham, “the U.S. GDP growth rate … is gone forever.”

For centuries before the Industrial Revolution growth was under 1%. Then the growth trend till “1980 was remarkable: 3.4% a year for a full hundred years,” driving the American dream. “But after 1980 the trend began to slip,” says Grantham,“ by over 1.5% from its peak in the 1960s and nearly 1% from the average of the last 30 years.” By 2100, America’s GDP growth will fall back to where it started before the Industrial Revolution, to an annual rate less than 1%.

Buffett guarantees … Schiff doubles down … Gross sees supernova … Shilling’s grand disconnect … Gundlach’s ominous third phase … Stockman’s apocalypse … InvestmentNews tick, tick, boom … Roubini’s perfect storm … Grantham’s growth gone forever … place your bets at Wall Street’s casinos … the risk’s only 87% … or is it 100%?

Source: MarketWatch

18 Signs That Massive Economic Problems Are Erupting All Over The Planet

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With the “Hindenburg Omen” (reports to indicate a major stock market correction) triggered in the last week a lot of investors are getting a little worried. In the meantime global economic indicators continue to worsen.

The following are 18 signs that massive economic problems are erupting all over the planet…

#1 The eurozone is now in the midst of its longest recession ever.  Economic activity in the eurozone has declined for six quarters in a row.

#2 Italy’s economy has now been contracting for seven quarters in a row.

#3 Industrial production in Italy has fallen for 15 months in a row.  It has now fallen to its lowest level in about 25 years.

#4 The number of people that are considered to be “seriously deprived” in Italy has doubled over the past two years.

#5 Consumer confidence in France has just hit a new all-time low.

#6 The number of unemployed workers seeking a job in France has hit a brand new all-time record high.  Many unemployed workers in France are utterly frustrated at this point…

“I’ve sent CVs everywhere, I come to the unemployment agency every day, for 3 or 4 hours to look for work as a truck driver and there’s never anything,” said 42-year old Djamel Sami, who has been unemployed for a year, leaving a job agency in Paris.

#7 Unemployment in the eurozone as a whole has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.2 percent.

#8 Youth unemployment continues to soar to unprecedented heights in Europe.  The following is from an article that was recently posted on the website of the Guardian that detailed how bad things are getting in some of the worst countries…

In Greece, 62.5% of young people are out of work, in Spain it’s 56.4%, then Portugal with 42.5%, and then Italy with 40.5%.

#9 Youth unemployment is being partially blamed for the worst rioting that Sweden has seen in many years.  The following is how the Daily Mail described the riots…

Sweden is reeling after a third night of rioting in largely run-down immigrant areas of the capital Stockholm.In the last 48 hours violence has spread to at least ten suburbs with mobs of youths torching hundreds of cars and clashing with police.

It is Sweden’s worst disorder in years and has shocked the country and provoked a debate on how Sweden is coping with youth unemployment and an influx of immigrants.

#10 An astounding 10 percent of all banking deposits were pulled out of banks in Cyprus during the month of April alone.

#11 Economic growth in India is the slowest that it has been in an entire decade.

#12 Suddenly Australia is experiencing some tremendous economic challenges.  The following quotes are from a recent Zero Hedge article

-“We’re seeing a much sharper contraction in the Australian economy than we’d anticipated four or five months ago”. Coffey MD, John Douglas. The engineering group has seen its shares, which traded above $4 in 2007, hit 10c last week.

-“By 10am, the Fitness First gym in the city is packed full of brokers who’ve had a gutful of sitting at their desk doing nothing – salary cuts are starting and next it will be jobs” Perth broker
-“Oh mate, the funding market is dead. You are now seeing a few deeply discounted rights issues for those that are reaching desperate levels ….. liquidity has completely disappeared” Perth broker

#13 The financial system in Japan is beginning to spin wildly out of control.  The Japanese stock market has now declined about 15 percent from the peak, and many believe that the yen will continue to get weaker and that interest rates in Japan will start to rise significantly.

#14 Global cash flow is declining at a rate not seen since the last recession.  This indicates that we could be headed for a global credit crunch.

#15 Real wages continue to decline in the United States.  Even though we are being told that the U.S. is experiencing an “economy recovery”, real weekly earnings have declined from $297.79 in 2010 to $295.49 in 2011 to $294.83 in 2012.  (The preceding calculation is based on 1982-1984 dollars)

#16 Wall Street is buzzing about the fact that “the Hindenburg Omen” appeared at the end of last week.  So exactly what is “the Hindenburg Omen”?  The following are the criteria that are used to determine whether it has appeared or not…

1. The daily number of NYSE new 52 Week Highs and the daily number of new 52 Week Lows must both be greater than 2.2 percent of total NYSE issues traded that day.

2. The smaller of these numbers is greater than or equal to 69 (68.772 is 2.2% of 3126). This is not a rule but more like a checksum. This condition is a function of the 2.2% of the total issues.

3. That the NYSE 10 Week moving average is rising.4. That the McClellan Oscillator ( a market breadth indicator used to evaluate the rate of money entering or leaving the market and interpretively indicate overbought or oversold conditions of the market)is negative on that same day.5. That new 52 Week Highs cannot be more than twice the new 52 Week Lows (however it is fine for new 52 Week Lows to be more than double new 52 Week Highs).

When the Hindenburg Omen makes an appearance, it supposedly means that the U.S. stock market is likely to experience a serious decline within the next 40 days.

#17 As I wrote about the other day, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.  That means that lots of “smart money” has been getting out of the market and lots of “dumb money” has been pouring in.

#18 Margin debt on the New York Stock Exchange has set a new all-time high.  The following is from a recent Market Oracle article

Margin debt—that’s the amount of money borrowed to purchase stocks—on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) reached its all-time high in April. Margin debt on the NYSE registered at $384.3 billion as the key stock indices hit new record-highs. (Source: New York Stock Exchange web site, last accessed May 29, 2013.)

The highest margin debt ever reached prior to this was in July of 2007, when it stood just above $381.0 billion. At that time, just like today, the key stock indices were near their peaks and “buy now before it’s too late” was the prominent theme of the day

Whenever margin debt spikes like this, a stock market crash almost always follows.  If you doubt this, just check out the chart in this article.

Wall Street has had a good couple of years, but it has been a “false prosperity” that has been pumped up by reckless money printing by the Federal Reserve.  Just like all of the other stock market bubbles that we have seen in recent years, this one is going to burst too.  And as Marc Faber recently pointed out, this bubble has been particularly beneficial to the wealthy…

The Fed has been flooding the system with money. The problem is the money doesn’t flow into the system evenly. It doesn’t increase economic activity and asset prices in concert. Instead, it creates dangerous excesses in countries and asset classes. Money-printing fueled the colossal stock-market bubble of 1999-2000, when the Nasdaq more than doubled, becoming disconnected from economic reality. It fueled the housing bubble, which burst in 2008, and the commodities bubble. Now money is flowing into the high-end asset market – things like stocks, bonds, art, wine, jewelry, and luxury real estate.

Money-printing boosts the economy of the people closest to the money flow. But it doesn’t help the worker in Detroit, or the vast majority of the middle class. It leads to a widening wealth gap. The majority loses, and the minority wins.

The fact that the U.S. stock market has set new all-time record high after new all-time record high in recent months means very little.  At this point, the stock market has become completely divorced from economic reality.  When this current bubble bursts, the adjustment is going to be very painful.  Wall Street will likely whine and complain and ask for more bailouts, but they may find that authorities are not nearly as sympathetic this time.

Much of the rest of the world is already experiencing the next major wave of the economic collapse.  Reckless money printing by the Fed and reckless borrowing and spending by the federal government may have delayed the inevitable in the United States for a little while, but those measures have also made our long-term problems even worse.

There was one piece of advice that Ben Bernanke included in his commencement speech to students at Princeton recently that I thought was particularly ironic…

“Don’t be afraid to let the drama play out.”

Will he take his own advice when the next great financial crisis strikes the United States?

That seems very unlikely.

Unfortunately, things are not going to be so easy to fix this next time.

What happened back in 2008 was just a preview.

What is coming next is going to absolutely shock the world.

Source: theeconomiccollapseblog.com

Stock Market Exit Up Ahead

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Is it time to exit the stock market now? Soros has dumped 80% of his stock holdings. Well smart money seems to think so. The relationship between earnings and the stock prices suggest that the DOW should be over 200 points lower so maybe it time for and adjustment.

If wonderful times are ahead for U.S. financial markets, then why is so much of the smart money heading for the exits?  Does it make sense for insiders to be getting out of stocks and real estate if prices are just going to continue to go up?  The Dow is up about 17 percent so far this year, and it just keeps setting new record high after new record high.  U.S. home prices have risen about 11 percent from a year ago, and some analysts are projecting that we are on the verge of a brand new housing boom.  Why would the smart money want to leave the party when it is just getting started?  Well, of course the truth is that the “smart money” is regarded as being smart because they usually make better decisions than other people do.  And right now the smart money is screaming that it is time to get out of the markets.  For example, the SentimenTrader Smart/Dumb Money Index is now the lowest that it has been in more than two years.  The smart money is busy selling even as the dumb money is busy buying.  So precisely what does the smart money expect to happen?  Are they anticipating a market “correction” or something bigger than that?

Those are very good questions.  Unfortunately, the smart money rarely divulges their secrets, so we can only watch what they do.  And right now a lot of insiders are making some very interesting moves.

For example, George Soros has been dumping almost all of his financial stocks.  The following is from a recent article by Becket Adams

Everyone’s favorite billionaire investor is back in the spotlight, and this time he has a few people wondering what he’s up to.

George Soros has dumped his position with several major banks including JPMorgan Chase, Capitol One, SunTrust, and Morgan Stanley. He has reduced his exposure to Citigroup and decreased his stake in AIG by two-thirds.

In fact, Soros’ financial stock holdings are down by roughly 80 percent, a massive drop from his position just three months ago, according to SNL Financial.

So exactly what is going on?

Why is Soros doing this?

Well, there is certainly a lot to criticize when it comes to Soros, but you can’t really blame him if he is just taking his profits and running.  Financial stocks have been on a tremendous run and that run is going to end at some point.  Smart investors lock in their profits while they still can.

And without a doubt, stocks have become completely divorced from economic reality in recent months.  For example, there is usually a very close relationship between corporate earnings and stock prices.  But as CNBC recently reported, that relationship has totally broken down lately…

That trend disrupted a formerly symbiotic relationship between earnings and stock prices and is indicating that the bluechip average is in for a substantial pullback, according to Tom Kee, who runs the StockTradersDaily investor web site.

“They’ve been moving in tandem since 2009, until recently. Earnings per share for the Dow Jones industrial average have flatlined and the price has taken off,” Kee said. “There is something happening here that defines a bubble.”

At some point there will be a correction.  If the relationship between earnings and stock prices was where it should be, the Dow would be  around 13,500 right now.  That would be a fall of nearly 2,000 points from where it is at the moment.

And we appear to be entering a time when revenues at many corporate giants are actually declining.  As I noted in a previous article, corporate revenues are falling at Wal-Mart, Proctor and Gamble, Starbucks, AT&T, Safeway, American Express and IBM.

Of course a stock market “correction” can turn into a crash very easily.  Financial markets in Japan are already crashing, and many fear that the escalating problems in the third largest economy on the planet will soon spill over into Europe and North America.

And things in Europe just continue to get steadily worse.  In fact, the New York Times is reporting that the European Central Bank is warning that the risk of a “renewed banking crisis” in Europe is rising…

The European Central Bank warned on Wednesday that the euro zone’s slumping economy and a surge in problem loans were raising the risk of a renewed banking crisis, even as overall stress in the region’s financial markets had receded.In a sober assessment of the state of the zone’s financial system, the E.C.B. said that a prolonged recession had made it harder for many borrowers to repay their loans, burdening banks that had still not finished repairing the damage caused by the 2008 financial crisis.

And there are many financial analysts out there that are warning that their cyclical indicators have peaked and that we are on the verge of a fresh global downturn

“We see building evidence of a cyclical downturn,” said Fredrik Nerbrand, HSBC’s global asset guru. “We find it highly troubling that the eurozone is still marred in a recession at the same time as our cyclical indicators appear to have peaked.”

In the United States, a lot of the smart money has also decided that it is time to bail out of the housing market before this latest housing bubble bursts.  The following is one example of this phenomenon that was discussed in a recent Businessweek article

Hedge fund manager Bruce Rose was among the first investors to coax institutional money into the mom and pop business of single-family home rentals, raising $450 million last year from Oaktree Capital Group LLC.Now, with house prices climbing at the fastest pace in seven years and investors swamping the rental market, Rose says it no longer makes sense to be a buyer.

“We just don’t see the returns there that are adequate to incentivize us to continue to invest,” Rose, 55, chief executive officer of Carrington Holding Co. LLC, said in an interview at his Aliso Viejo, California office. “There’s a lot of — bluntly — stupid money that jumped into the trade without any infrastructure, without any real capabilities and a kind of build-it-as-you-go mentality that we think is somewhat irresponsible.”

So what does all of this mean?

Is there a reason why the smart money is suddenly getting out of stocks and real estate?

It could just be that the insiders are simply responding to market dynamics and that many of them are just seeking to lock in their profits.

Or it could be something much more than that.

What do you think?

Why are so many insiders heading for the exits right now?

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