Tagged: maxkeiser

Blackstone, BlackRock or a Public Bank? Putting California’s Funds to Work

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California has over $700 billion parked in private banks earning minimal interest, private equity funds that contributed to the affordable housing crisis, or shadow banks of the sort that caused the banking collapse of 2008. These funds, or some of them, could be transferred to an infrastructure bank that generated credit for the state – while the funds remained safely on deposit in the bank.

California needs over $700 billion in infrastructure during the next decade. Where will this money come from? The $1.5 trillion infrastructure initiative unveiled by President Trump in February 2018 includes only $200 billion in federal funding, and less than that after factoring in the billions in tax cuts in infrastructure-related projects. The rest is to come from cities, states, private investors and public-private partnerships (PPPs) one. And since city and state coffers are depleted, that chiefly means private investors and PPPs, which have a shady history at best.

A 2011 report by the Brookings Institution found that “in practice [PPPs] have been dogged by contract design problems, waste, and unrealistic expectations.” In their 2015 report “Why Public-Private Partnerships Don’t Work,” Public Services International stated that “experience over the last 15 years shows that PPPs are an expensive and inefficient way of financing infrastructure and divert government spending away from other public services. They conceal public borrowing, while providing long-term state guarantees for profits to private companies.” They also divert public money away from the neediest infrastructure projects, which may not deliver sizable returns, in favor of those big-ticket items that will deliver hefty profits to investors. A March 2017 report by the Economic Policy Institute titled “No Free Bridge” also highlighted the substantial costs and risks involved in public-private partnerships and other “innovative” financing of infrastructure.

Meanwhile, California is far from broke. It has over well over $700 billion in funds of various sorts tucked around the state, including $500 billion in CalPERS and CalSTRS, the state’s massive public pension funds. These pools of money are restricted in how they can be spent and are either sitting in banks drawing a modest interest or invested with Wall Street asset managers and private equity funds that are not obligated to invest the money in California and are not safe. For fiscal year 2009, CalPERS and CalSTRS reported almost $100 billion in losses from investments gone awry.

In 2017, CalSTRS allocated $6.1 billion to private equity funds, real estate managers, and co-investments, including $400 million to a real estate fund managed by Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, and $200 million to BlackRock, the world’s largest “shadow bank.” CalPERS is now in talks with BlackRock over management of its $26 billion private equity fund, with discretion to invest that money as it sees fit.

“Private equity” is a rebranding of the term “leveraged buyout,” the purchase of companies with loans which then must be paid back by the company, typically at the expense of jobs and pensions. Private equity investments may include real estate, energy, and investment in public infrastructure projects as part of a privatization initiative. Blackstone is notorious for buying up distressed properties after the housing market collapsed. It is now the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the US. Its rental practices have drawn fire from tenant advocates in San Francisco and elsewhere, who have called it a Wall Street absentee slumlord that charges excessive rents, contributing to the affordable housing crisis; and pension funds largely contributed the money for Blackstone’s purchases.

BlackRock, an offshoot of Blackstone, now has $6 trillion in assets under management, making it larger than the world’s largest bank (which is in China). Die Zeit journalist Heike Buchter, who has written a book in German on it, calls BlackRock the “most powerful institution in the financial system” and “the most powerful company in the world” – the “secret power.” Yet despite its size and global power, BlackRock, along with Blackstone and other shadow banking institutions, managed to escape regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act. Blackstone CEO Larry Fink, who has cozy relationships with government officials according to journalist David Dayen, pushed hard to successfully resist the designation of asset managers as systemically important financial institutions, which would have subjected them to additional regulation such as larger capital requirements.

The proposed move to hand CalPERS’ private equity fund to BlackRock is highly controversial, since it would cost the state substantial sums in fees (management fees took 14% of private equity profits in 2016), and BlackRock gives no guarantees. In 2009, it defaulted on a New York real estate project that left CalPERS $500 million in the hole. There are also potential conflicts of interest, since BlackRock or its managers have controlling interests in companies that could be steered into deals with the state. In 2015, the company was fined $12 million by the SEC for that sort of conflict; and in 2015, it was fined $3.5 million for providing flawed data to German regulators. BlackRock also puts clients’ money into equities, investing it in companies like oil company Exxon and food and beverage company Nestle, companies which have been criticized for not serving California’s interests and exploiting state resources.

California public entities also have $2.8 billion in CalTRUST, a fund managed by BlackRock. The CalTRUST government fund is a money market fund, of the sort that triggered the 2008 market collapse when the Reserve Primary Fund “broke the buck” on September 15, 2008. The CalTRUST website states:

You could lose money by investing in the Fund. Although the Fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it cannot guarantee it will do so. An investment in the Fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. The Fund’s sponsor has no legal obligation to provide financial support to the Fund, and you should not expect that the sponsor will provide financial support to the Fund at any time.

CalTRUST is billed as providing local agencies with “a safe, convenient means of maintaining liquidity,” but billionaire investor Carl Icahn says this liquidity is a myth. In a July 2015 debate with Larry Fink on FOX Business Network, Icahn called BlackRock “an extremely dangerous company” because of the prevalence of its exchange-traded fund (ETF) products, which Icahn deemed illiquid. “They sell liquidity,” he said. “There is no liquidity. . . . And that’s what’s going to blow this up.” His concern was the amount of money BlackRock had invested in high-yield ETFs, which he called overpriced. When the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, investors are likely to rush to sell these ETFs; but there will be no market for them, he said. The result could be a run like that triggering the 2008 market collapse.

The Infrastructure Bank Option

There is another alternative. California’s pools of idle funds cannot be spent on infrastructure, but they could be deposited or invested in a publicly-owned bank, where they could form the deposit base for infrastructure loans. California is now the fifth largest economy in the world, trailing only Germany, Japan, China and the United States. Germany, China and other Asian countries are addressing their infrastructure challenges through public infrastructure banks that leverage pools of funds into loans for needed construction.

Besides the China Infrastructure Bank, China has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), whose members include many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia. Both banks are helping to fund China’s trillion dollar “One Belt One Road” infrastructure initiative.

Germany has an infrastructure bank called KfW which is larger than the World Bank, with assets of $600 billion in 2016. Along with the public Sparkassen banks, KfW has funded Germany’s green energy revolution. Renewables generated 41% of the country’s electricity in 2017, up from 6% in 2000, earning the country the title “the world’s first major green energy economy.” Public banks provided over 72% of the financing for this transition.

As for California, it already has an infrastructure bank – the California Infrastructure and Development Bank (IBank), established in 1994. But the IBank is a “bank” in name only. It cannot take deposits or leverage capital into loans. It is also seriously underfunded, since the California Department of Finance returned over half of its allotted funds to the General Fund to repair the state’s budget after the dot.com market collapse. However, the IBank has 20 years’ experience in making prudent infrastructure loans at below municipal bond rates, and its clients are limited to municipal governments and other public entities, making them safe bets underwritten by their local tax bases. The IBank could be expanded to address California’s infrastructure needs, drawing deposits and capital from its many pools of idle funds across the state.

A Better Use for Pension Money

In an illuminating 2017 paper for UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute titled “Funding Public Pensions,” policy consultant Tom Sgouros showed that the push to put pension fund money into risky high-yield investments comes from a misguided application of the accounting rules. The error results from treating governments like private companies that can be liquidated out of existence. He argues that public pension funds can be safely operated on a pay-as-you-go basis, just as they were for 50 years before the 1980s. That accounting change would take the pressure off the pension boards and free up hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds. Some portion of that money could then be deposited in publicly-owned banks, which in turn could generate the low-cost credit needed to fund the infrastructure and services that taxpayers expect from their governments.

Note that these deposits would not be spent. Pension funds, rainy day funds and other pools of government money can provide the liquidity for loans while remaining on deposit in the bank, available for withdrawal on demand by the government depositor. Even mainstream economists now acknowledge that banks do not lend their deposits but actually create deposits when they make loans. The bank borrows as needed to cover withdrawals, but not all funds are withdrawn at once; and a government bank can borrow its own deposits much more cheaply than local governments can borrow on the bond market. Through their own public banks, government entities can thus effectively borrow at bankers’ rates plus operating costs, cutting out middlemen. And unlike borrowing through bonds, which merely recirculate existing funds, borrowing from banks creates new money, which will stimulate economic growth and come back to the state in the form of new taxes and pension premiums. A working paper published by the San Francisco Federal Reserve in 2012 found that one dollar invested in infrastructure generates at least two dollars in GSP (state GDP), and roughly four times more than average during economic downturns.

___________

This article was originally published on Truthdig.com.

Vía Max Keiser https://ift.tt/2kx0XjT

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Blackstone, BlackRock or a Public Bank? Putting California’s Funds to Work

https://ift.tt/eA8V8J

California has over $700 billion parked in private banks earning minimal interest, private equity funds that contributed to the affordable housing crisis, or shadow banks of the sort that caused the banking collapse of 2008. These funds, or some of them, could be transferred to an infrastructure bank that generated credit for the state – while the funds remained safely on deposit in the bank.

California needs over $700 billion in infrastructure during the next decade. Where will this money come from? The $1.5 trillion infrastructure initiative unveiled by President Trump in February 2018 includes only $200 billion in federal funding, and less than that after factoring in the billions in tax cuts in infrastructure-related projects. The rest is to come from cities, states, private investors and public-private partnerships (PPPs) one. And since city and state coffers are depleted, that chiefly means private investors and PPPs, which have a shady history at best.

A 2011 report by the Brookings Institution found that “in practice [PPPs] have been dogged by contract design problems, waste, and unrealistic expectations.” In their 2015 report “Why Public-Private Partnerships Don’t Work,” Public Services International stated that “experience over the last 15 years shows that PPPs are an expensive and inefficient way of financing infrastructure and divert government spending away from other public services. They conceal public borrowing, while providing long-term state guarantees for profits to private companies.” They also divert public money away from the neediest infrastructure projects, which may not deliver sizable returns, in favor of those big-ticket items that will deliver hefty profits to investors. A March 2017 report by the Economic Policy Institute titled “No Free Bridge” also highlighted the substantial costs and risks involved in public-private partnerships and other “innovative” financing of infrastructure.

Meanwhile, California is far from broke. It has over well over $700 billion in funds of various sorts tucked around the state, including $500 billion in CalPERS and CalSTRS, the state’s massive public pension funds. These pools of money are restricted in how they can be spent and are either sitting in banks drawing a modest interest or invested with Wall Street asset managers and private equity funds that are not obligated to invest the money in California and are not safe. For fiscal year 2009, CalPERS and CalSTRS reported almost $100 billion in losses from investments gone awry.

In 2017, CalSTRS allocated $6.1 billion to private equity funds, real estate managers, and co-investments, including $400 million to a real estate fund managed by Blackstone Group, the world’s largest private equity firm, and $200 million to BlackRock, the world’s largest “shadow bank.” CalPERS is now in talks with BlackRock over management of its $26 billion private equity fund, with discretion to invest that money as it sees fit.

“Private equity” is a rebranding of the term “leveraged buyout,” the purchase of companies with loans which then must be paid back by the company, typically at the expense of jobs and pensions. Private equity investments may include real estate, energy, and investment in public infrastructure projects as part of a privatization initiative. Blackstone is notorious for buying up distressed properties after the housing market collapsed. It is now the largest owner of single-family rental homes in the US. Its rental practices have drawn fire from tenant advocates in San Francisco and elsewhere, who have called it a Wall Street absentee slumlord that charges excessive rents, contributing to the affordable housing crisis; and pension funds largely contributed the money for Blackstone’s purchases.

BlackRock, an offshoot of Blackstone, now has $6 trillion in assets under management, making it larger than the world’s largest bank (which is in China). Die Zeit journalist Heike Buchter, who has written a book in German on it, calls BlackRock the “most powerful institution in the financial system” and “the most powerful company in the world” – the “secret power.” Yet despite its size and global power, BlackRock, along with Blackstone and other shadow banking institutions, managed to escape regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act. Blackstone CEO Larry Fink, who has cozy relationships with government officials according to journalist David Dayen, pushed hard to successfully resist the designation of asset managers as systemically important financial institutions, which would have subjected them to additional regulation such as larger capital requirements.

The proposed move to hand CalPERS’ private equity fund to BlackRock is highly controversial, since it would cost the state substantial sums in fees (management fees took 14% of private equity profits in 2016), and BlackRock gives no guarantees. In 2009, it defaulted on a New York real estate project that left CalPERS $500 million in the hole. There are also potential conflicts of interest, since BlackRock or its managers have controlling interests in companies that could be steered into deals with the state. In 2015, the company was fined $12 million by the SEC for that sort of conflict; and in 2015, it was fined $3.5 million for providing flawed data to German regulators. BlackRock also puts clients’ money into equities, investing it in companies like oil company Exxon and food and beverage company Nestle, companies which have been criticized for not serving California’s interests and exploiting state resources.

California public entities also have $2.8 billion in CalTRUST, a fund managed by BlackRock. The CalTRUST government fund is a money market fund, of the sort that triggered the 2008 market collapse when the Reserve Primary Fund “broke the buck” on September 15, 2008. The CalTRUST website states:

You could lose money by investing in the Fund. Although the Fund seeks to preserve the value of your investment at $1.00 per share, it cannot guarantee it will do so. An investment in the Fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency. The Fund’s sponsor has no legal obligation to provide financial support to the Fund, and you should not expect that the sponsor will provide financial support to the Fund at any time.

CalTRUST is billed as providing local agencies with “a safe, convenient means of maintaining liquidity,” but billionaire investor Carl Icahn says this liquidity is a myth. In a July 2015 debate with Larry Fink on FOX Business Network, Icahn called BlackRock “an extremely dangerous company” because of the prevalence of its exchange-traded fund (ETF) products, which Icahn deemed illiquid. “They sell liquidity,” he said. “There is no liquidity. . . . And that’s what’s going to blow this up.” His concern was the amount of money BlackRock had invested in high-yield ETFs, which he called overpriced. When the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates, investors are likely to rush to sell these ETFs; but there will be no market for them, he said. The result could be a run like that triggering the 2008 market collapse.

The Infrastructure Bank Option

There is another alternative. California’s pools of idle funds cannot be spent on infrastructure, but they could be deposited or invested in a publicly-owned bank, where they could form the deposit base for infrastructure loans. California is now the fifth largest economy in the world, trailing only Germany, Japan, China and the United States. Germany, China and other Asian countries are addressing their infrastructure challenges through public infrastructure banks that leverage pools of funds into loans for needed construction.

Besides the China Infrastructure Bank, China has established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), whose members include many Asian and Middle Eastern countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia. Both banks are helping to fund China’s trillion dollar “One Belt One Road” infrastructure initiative.

Germany has an infrastructure bank called KfW which is larger than the World Bank, with assets of $600 billion in 2016. Along with the public Sparkassen banks, KfW has funded Germany’s green energy revolution. Renewables generated 41% of the country’s electricity in 2017, up from 6% in 2000, earning the country the title “the world’s first major green energy economy.” Public banks provided over 72% of the financing for this transition.

As for California, it already has an infrastructure bank – the California Infrastructure and Development Bank (IBank), established in 1994. But the IBank is a “bank” in name only. It cannot take deposits or leverage capital into loans. It is also seriously underfunded, since the California Department of Finance returned over half of its allotted funds to the General Fund to repair the state’s budget after the dot.com market collapse. However, the IBank has 20 years’ experience in making prudent infrastructure loans at below municipal bond rates, and its clients are limited to municipal governments and other public entities, making them safe bets underwritten by their local tax bases. The IBank could be expanded to address California’s infrastructure needs, drawing deposits and capital from its many pools of idle funds across the state.

A Better Use for Pension Money

In an illuminating 2017 paper for UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute titled “Funding Public Pensions,” policy consultant Tom Sgouros showed that the push to put pension fund money into risky high-yield investments comes from a misguided application of the accounting rules. The error results from treating governments like private companies that can be liquidated out of existence. He argues that public pension funds can be safely operated on a pay-as-you-go basis, just as they were for 50 years before the 1980s. That accounting change would take the pressure off the pension boards and free up hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds. Some portion of that money could then be deposited in publicly-owned banks, which in turn could generate the low-cost credit needed to fund the infrastructure and services that taxpayers expect from their governments.

Note that these deposits would not be spent. Pension funds, rainy day funds and other pools of government money can provide the liquidity for loans while remaining on deposit in the bank, available for withdrawal on demand by the government depositor. Even mainstream economists now acknowledge that banks do not lend their deposits but actually create deposits when they make loans. The bank borrows as needed to cover withdrawals, but not all funds are withdrawn at once; and a government bank can borrow its own deposits much more cheaply than local governments can borrow on the bond market. Through their own public banks, government entities can thus effectively borrow at bankers’ rates plus operating costs, cutting out middlemen. And unlike borrowing through bonds, which merely recirculate existing funds, borrowing from banks creates new money, which will stimulate economic growth and come back to the state in the form of new taxes and pension premiums. A working paper published by the San Francisco Federal Reserve in 2012 found that one dollar invested in infrastructure generates at least two dollars in GSP (state GDP), and roughly four times more than average during economic downturns.

___________

This article was originally published on Truthdig.com.

Vía Max Keiser https://ift.tt/2kx0XjT

America 2018: Dicier by the Day

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If we look beneath the cheery chatter of the financial media and the tiresomely repetitive Russian collusion narrative (that’s unraveling as the Ministry of Propaganda’s machinations are exposed), we find that America in 2018 is dicier by the day.

The more you know about the actual functioning of critical subsystems, the keener your awareness of the system’s fragility, reliance on artifice and an unceasing flow of “free money.” Keynesian economics boils down to a very simple premise: a slowing or stagnant economy can be goosed by distributing plenty of “free money” which can be freely blown on either speculation or goods and services.

The “free money” (either created out of thin air or borrowed into existence at rates of interest so low that they’re less than zero when adjusted for inflation) dumped into speculation gooses assets higher, generating the “wealth effect” beloved by Keynesians, and the “free money” dumped into goods and services gooses consumption, tax revenues, hiring and so on.

The catch is “free money” is never actually free. Creating trillions out of thin air reduces the purchasing power of all existing currency, and pretty soon you’re following Venezuela into “our money has lost all its value” territory.

Borrow trillions into existence and at some point even ludicrously low rates of interest start piling up serious sums of interest due, and the system eventually collapses under the weight of defaults and interest payments that stripmine the economy’s productive capacity.

Every subsystem in America has compensated for structural stagnation and increasing friction by reducing redundancy and buffers. Have you noticed how many airline flights are now delayed by mechanical issues? Nobody keeps spare parts in stock, and servicing is now concentrated in a handful of hubs; there’s no spare aircraft or flight crews available. All the buffers and redundancy have been stripped out to lower costs and maintain profits, lest the management team be fired for missing a quarterly earning target.

If you think America’s healthcare system is functioning wonderfully, you need to hear some unvarnished, frank reports from nurses and doctors who are speaking off the record. Healthcare is increasingly fragile as physicians and nurses bail out by retiring early. A destructive feedback is taking hold in rural America and other under-served “markets”: chronic shortages of physicians and nurses overload the overworked frontline care providers, burning them out as the workloads becomes impossible to manage without leaving widening cracks in care and infrastructure.

As for education: virtually every school district is screaming for more money while its budget is increasingly devoted to soaring pension contributions. The same can be said for many public agencies and institutions. The unwelcome reality is there isn’t enough money in the Universe to fund all the pension obligations and increase funding to meet the demands for more of everything– unless you just create vast sums out of thin air, in which case you follow Venezuela down the monetary black hole to the point that 1 million units of central bank/government-issued “money” equals one loaf of bread.

Public services are stripmined to meet pension obligations, and this zero-sum reality will only become more apparent as the excesses of speculation, debt, malinvestment and asset bubbles decay into the inevitable business-cycle recession–a recession that will be made worse by the issuance of more “free money,” as the increasing reliance on the marginal speculator and borrower will hasten the avalanche of defaults and malinvestments that will bring down the entire house of cards.

As the tent cities of the homeless proliferate, cities and counties are finding their revenues are devoted to pension obligations, leaving less and less to education, filling potholes, addressing the homeless crisis, the opioid crisis, etc. When the “everything bubble” pops and assets crater, the impossibility of fulfilling promises made in “good times” will be apparent to all but those demanding “their fair share.”

About that “cheap abundant energy” provided by fracking: it’s only cheap if we overlook the $250 billion in losses racked up by the sector, and it’s only abundant if we ignore the rapid depletion of the majority of wells.

We’re supposed to take Facebook’s ease in brushing off its blatant exploitation of users’ data as proof all is well in social-media-land, but the reality is sobering: America’s devotion to Facebook is evidence of the populace’s desperate yearning for a connection, any connection, no matter how thin or artificial, to a sense of community in a society stripped of authentic community by the dominance of maximizing profit (Facebook, Amazon and Google’s raison d’etre) and centralized power.

This chart of total debt reveals the system’s profound fragility–a fragility the Powers That Be are trying to mask with a tsunami of artifice: the system is now so dependent on the heroin hit of “free money” that even the slightest pause in credit growth will collapse the entire global financial system. This is why central banks have created trillions out of thin air–TINA: there is no alternative:

Between the ceaseless Ministry of Propaganda hysteria, the childish fantasy of super-hero films (we’re gonna be saved by somebody, no effort on our own behalf required) and the disgorging of zero-credibility economic statistics, the distractions are 24/7. But scrape all this putrid excrescence off and we’re left with a non-fantasy reality: everything is getting dicier by the day. 

My new book Money and Work Unchained is $9.95 for the Kindle ebook and $20 for the print edition.

Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

Vía Max Keiser https://ift.tt/2GTzOjT

Trump CancelsHistoric Summit, Gold Back Above $1300….”Silver getting ready to Breakout”

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Trump CancelsHistoric Summit, Gold Back Above $1300….”Silver getting ready to Breakout”

  • Trump Cancels Historic Summit with North Korea
  • US 10-Year Falls Below 3%, Gold Jumps Back Above $1300
  • Latest FOMC Minutes, “Inflation Overshoot could be Helpful”
  • Turkey hikes rates, Lira falls, true inflation near 40%
  • Italy plan outright ‘Money Printing’ with ‘Mini-Bots’
  • Silver Trading in $1 range, Pressure Building for a Breakout

Weekly report by Daniel March

 

Gold and silver both ended the week up 0.93% and 0.61%, with ‘risk off’ sentiment dominating the marketplace. On Thursday, Trump cancelled the upcoming meeting with North Korea, citing the recent ‘anger and hostilities’ in recent statements as the reason for the withdrawal. US Yields tumbled on the news (back below 3%)with the precious metals complex benefiting from the safe-haven buying, and gold jumping back above $1300.

In EUR gold ended up 1.9% at €1,117.73, and in GBP up 2.15% at £978.90, quickly closing in on the £1,000 per ounce level (see below)

On economic data, New and ExistingHome Sales for April came in less than expected, with New Sales reporting 662k vs 680k, and Retail Sales reporting 546k vs 556k. Perhaps the weaker data a sign higher rates in the US are starting to deter buyers. Jobless claims in the US rose for the 2nd straight week, with 14,000 more people filling for unemployment insurance. The only data point to buck the trend was the Core Durable Orders rising 0.9% vs 0.5%. However, when you strip out defence spending, capital orders actually fell last month.

With the data clearly pointing to a slowing economy, it was interesting to note the latest FOMC Minutes. In the statement released on Wednesday, the Fed noted a ‘modest inflation overshoot could be helpful’, and more importantly that ‘it may soon to change forward guidance’.Given these admissions, is the Fed giving the best hint yet that they are willing to stoke inflation in an attempt to revive a faltering economy?

As I have reported before(see link)with a relatively high US 10-Year Yield (when compared to other G10 countries) and a strong US dollar, at some point the divergence will become too great, and the Fed will be forced to realign to a more accommodative global policy.

In other markets this week, Crude Oil was one of the worst performers, ending down almost 5% on reports from Opecof plans to boost production. While the industrial metals of platinum, palladium and copper all ended higher (around 1-2%), which was strange given the stronger Dollar Index (up 0.6%), and the weaker than expected economic data. Such a move in the industrial complex questions whether we are heading into a late cycle growth period, similar to the late 1970’s, where commodities move higher, despite the data, stocking inflation along the way.

Click here to read full story on GoldCore.com.

 

Listen on SoundCloud , Blubrry & iTunesWatch on YouTube below

Vía Max Keiser https://ift.tt/2Lxzknt

Trump CancelsHistoric Summit, Gold Back Above $1300….”Silver getting ready to Breakout”

https://ift.tt/2IPHmGr

Trump CancelsHistoric Summit, Gold Back Above $1300….”Silver getting ready to Breakout”

  • Trump Cancels Historic Summit with North Korea
  • US 10-Year Falls Below 3%, Gold Jumps Back Above $1300
  • Latest FOMC Minutes, “Inflation Overshoot could be Helpful”
  • Turkey hikes rates, Lira falls, true inflation near 40%
  • Italy plan outright ‘Money Printing’ with ‘Mini-Bots’
  • Silver Trading in $1 range, Pressure Building for a Breakout

Weekly report by Daniel March

 

Gold and silver both ended the week up 0.93% and 0.61%, with ‘risk off’ sentiment dominating the marketplace. On Thursday, Trump cancelled the upcoming meeting with North Korea, citing the recent ‘anger and hostilities’ in recent statements as the reason for the withdrawal. US Yields tumbled on the news (back below 3%)with the precious metals complex benefiting from the safe-haven buying, and gold jumping back above $1300.

In EUR gold ended up 1.9% at €1,117.73, and in GBP up 2.15% at £978.90, quickly closing in on the £1,000 per ounce level (see below)

On economic data, New and ExistingHome Sales for April came in less than expected, with New Sales reporting 662k vs 680k, and Retail Sales reporting 546k vs 556k. Perhaps the weaker data a sign higher rates in the US are starting to deter buyers. Jobless claims in the US rose for the 2nd straight week, with 14,000 more people filling for unemployment insurance. The only data point to buck the trend was the Core Durable Orders rising 0.9% vs 0.5%. However, when you strip out defence spending, capital orders actually fell last month.

With the data clearly pointing to a slowing economy, it was interesting to note the latest FOMC Minutes. In the statement released on Wednesday, the Fed noted a ‘modest inflation overshoot could be helpful’, and more importantly that ‘it may soon to change forward guidance’.Given these admissions, is the Fed giving the best hint yet that they are willing to stoke inflation in an attempt to revive a faltering economy?

As I have reported before(see link)with a relatively high US 10-Year Yield (when compared to other G10 countries) and a strong US dollar, at some point the divergence will become too great, and the Fed will be forced to realign to a more accommodative global policy.

In other markets this week, Crude Oil was one of the worst performers, ending down almost 5% on reports from Opecof plans to boost production. While the industrial metals of platinum, palladium and copper all ended higher (around 1-2%), which was strange given the stronger Dollar Index (up 0.6%), and the weaker than expected economic data. Such a move in the industrial complex questions whether we are heading into a late cycle growth period, similar to the late 1970’s, where commodities move higher, despite the data, stocking inflation along the way.

Click here to read full story on GoldCore.com.

 

Listen on SoundCloud , Blubrry & iTunesWatch on YouTube below

Vía Max Keiser https://ift.tt/2Lxzknt

Gold Surges To Record In Turkey and Other Emerging Markets as Currencies Collapse

https://ift.tt/2KTCGzI

  • Turkey’s election angst, geopolitical risk and collapse of the lira is driving up demand for gold
  • Turkish lira has collapsed versus gold and now the lowest on record (see chart)
  • Significant demand for gold coins in Turkey and central bank has repatriated gold and added to gold reserves
  • “Having the gold physically at home allows countries to feel like they are in control of their reserves” Dr Brian Lucey
  • Gold acting as a hedge and has been “expensive” not to own gold in Turkey, Syria, Venezuela, Argentina, Angola, Russia and many other countries in the Middle East, Asia, South America, Africa and Europe (see table of worst performing currencies in 2018 including the Swedish krona)

With just a month until elections, shopkeepers at Turkey’s biggest bazaar say they’re seeing a jump in demand for gold coins.

“Turkish people have an interesting behavior — they buy gold when the prices are rising, they think it’s gonna rise more,” said Gokhan Karakan, 32, who runs a gold exchange office in the heart of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. “People think there is a trend here and choose to buy gold until uncertainty is out of the way.”

On Friday afternoon, at the Grand Bazaar — one of the world’s oldest covered markets — shopkeepers said more customers were buying gold, instead of selling it, in hopes that the metal will keep its worth as the value of the lira plunges.

Gold priced in lira is more “expensive” than ever, but that’s not deterring buyers, who are looking for a safe haven.

“Turkish people love gold,” said Tekin Firat, 30, who owns and runs a gold store the bazaar. “People think that it will never lose in the long run.”

Citizens are buying up gold as the lira plunges in latest currency crisis. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s about to launch a re-election campaign that may provide the toughest electoral test of his 15 years in power, is an outspoken advocate of cheap money. He’s up against investors demanding higher returns to fund an economy beset by inflation and a swollen current account deficit.

Gold has a special importance in Turkey. The country is to home the ancient kingdom of Lydia, where the earliest known gold coinage originated in the 7th century B.C.

Turkey imported 118 metric tons of bullion, worth $5 billion at today’s prices, in first four months of this year, the most over that period, according to data going back to 1995 from the Istanbul Gold Exchange. Last year, imports reached a record.

Click here to read full story on GoldCore.com.

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Gold Is Rare and Valuable – 11 Must See Gold Visualisations

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Since Ancient times, gold has served a very unique function in society.

Gold is extremely rare, impossible to create out of “thin air”, easily identifiable, malleable, and it does not tarnish. By nature of these properties, gold has been highly valued throughout history for every tiny ounce of weight. That’s why it’s been used by people for centuries as a monetary metal, a symbol of wealth, and a store of value.

Visualizing Gold’s Value and Rarity

With all that value coming from such a small package, sometimes it is hard to put gold’s immense worth into context.

The following 11 images help to capture this about gold, putting things into better perspective.

1. The U.S. median income, as a gold cube, easily fits in the palm of your hand.

U.S. Median Income as a Gold Cube

 Click here to read full story on GoldCore.com.

 

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The Next Recession Will Be Devastatingly Non-Linear

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Linear correlations are intuitive: if GDP declines 2% in the next recession, and employment declines 2%, we get it: the scale and size of the decline aligns. In a linear correlation, we’d expect sales to drop by about 2%, businesses closing their doors to increase by about 2%, profits to notch down by about 2%, lending contracts by around 2% and so on.

But the effects of the next recession won’t be linear–they will be non-linear, and far more devastating than whatever modest GDP decline is registered. To paraphrase William Gibson’s insightful observation that “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed”the recession is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed– and its effects will be enormously asymmetric.

Non-linear effects can be extremely asymmetric. Thus an apparently mild decline of 2% in GDP might trigger a 50% rise in the number of small businesses closing, a 50% collapse in new mortgages issued and a 10% increase in unemployment.

Richard Bonugli of Financial Repression Authority alerted me to the non-linear dynamic of the coming slowdown. I recently recorded a podcast with Richard on one sector that will cascade in a series of non-linear avalanches once the current asset bubbles pop and the current central-bank-created “recovery” falters under its staggering weight of debt, malinvestment and speculative excess.

The Intensifying Pension Crisis (37-minute podcast)

The core dynamic of the next recession is the unwind of all the extremes:extremes in debt expansion, in leverage, in the explosion of debt taken on by marginal borrowers, in malinvestment, in debt-fueled speculation, in emerging market debt denominated in US dollars, in financial repression, in political corruption–the list of extremes that have stretched the system to the breaking point is almost endless.

Public-sector pensions are just the tip of the iceberg. What happens when the gains in equities and bonds that have nurtured the illusion that public-sector pension funds are solvent and can be funded by further tax increases reverse into losses?

Pushing taxes high enough to fund soaring public pension obligations will spark taxpayer revolts as the tax increases will be monumental once the delusion of solvency is stripped away in the upcoming recession.

The entire status quo rests on the marginal borrower/buyer. All the demand for pretty much anything has been brought forward by the central banks’ repression of interest rates and the relentless goosing of liquidity: anyone who can fog a mirror can buy a vehicle on credit, get a mortgage guaranteed by a federal agency, or pile up credit card and student loan debts.

Those with stock portfolios can gamble with margin debt; those with access to central bank credit can borrow billions to fund stock buy-backs or the purchase of competitors, the better to establish a cartel or quasi-monopoly.

What’s not visible in all the cheery statistics is how many enterprises and households are barely keeping their heads above water as inflation shreds the purchasing power of their net incomes. Inflation is supposedly tame, but once again, following Gibson’s aphorism, inflation is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

While employees with employer-paid health insurance are dumbstruck by $50 or $100 increases in their monthly co-pays, those of us who are paying the unsubsidized “real cost of health insurance” are being crushed by increases in the hundreds of dollars per month.

The number of cafes, restaurants and other small businesses with high fixed costs that will close as soon as sales falter is monumental. Add up soaring healthcare premiums, increases in minimum wages, higher taxes and junk fees and rising rents, and you have a steadily expanding burden that is absolutely toxic to small businesses.

The first things to go are marginal employees, overtime, bonuses, benefits, etc.–whatever can be jettisoned in a last-ditch effort to save the company from insolvency. The first bills cash-strapped households will stop paying are credit cards, auto loans and student loans; defaults won’t notch higher by 2%; they’re going to explode higher by 20% and accelerate from there.

Here are a few charts that reveal the extremes that have been reached to maintain the illusion of “recovery” and normalcy: total credit has exploded higher, after a slight decline very nearly brought down the global financial system in 2008-09:

The massive expansion of assets purchased by central banks will eventually be slowed or even unwound, removing the rocket fuel that’s pushed stocks and bonds to the moon:

As governments/central banks borrow/print “money” in increasingly fantastic quantities to keep the illusion of “recovery” alive, the currencies being debauched lose purchasing power. Venezuela is not an outlier; it is the first of many canaries that will be keeling over in the coal mine.

Wide swaths of the economy won’t even notice the recession devastating the rest of the economy, at least at first. Public employees will be immune until their city, county, state or agency runs out of money and can no longer fund its obligations; shareholders of Facebook et al. who cashed out at the top will be doing just fine, booking their $18,000 a night island get-aways, and those few willing to bet on declines in the “everything bubbles” of real estate, stocks and bonds will eventually do well, though the Powers That Be will engineer massive short-covering rallies in a last-ditch effort to mask the systemic rot.

The acceleration of non-linear consequences will surprise the brainwashed, loving-their-servitude mainstream media. The number of small businesses that suddenly close will surprise them; the number of homeowners jingle-mailing their “ownership” (i.e. obligation to pay soaring property taxes) to lenders will surprise them; the number of employees being laid off will surprise them, and the collapse of new credit being issued will surprise them.

Don’t be surprised; be prepared. 

My new book Money and Work Unchained is $9.95 for the Kindle ebook and $20 for the print edition.

Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.

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Gold Looks A Better Investment Than UK Property

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Dominic Frisby of Money Week looks at the historical relationship between UK house prices and gold (including some great charts), and concludes that your money is better off in the yellow metal than bricks and mortar.


Source: Money Week

Today we return to a subject that has been a favourite of mine over the years: UK house prices – but with a twist.

We don’t consider them in the debased, devalued currency that is the pound. Rather, we measure them in the eternal currency that is gold.

What is the use of money?

Money has three functions: to be a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of account.

Sterling functions well as a medium of exchange within the confines of our national borders (though it is less effective overseas).

As a store of value, it’s been awful. Every year it loses purchasing power, and the interest that is paid does not compensate the loss. Real inflation is much higher than the Bank of England’s traditional measures – RPI and latterly CPI – show.

Indeed, sterling has lost more than 95% of its value over the last 100 years, which measures sterling’s purchasing power, shows.

Value of the pound, 1750-2011

(Irony of ironies, this chart – which is based on a range of official inflation measures – comes from a Bank of England paper. The Bank of England is supposed to be sterling’s steward.)

A few years ago, Lloyds Bank showed how sterling had lost more than 90% of its purchasing power in the last 40 years alone, and no doubt over the next 40 years, it will have lost 90% of the purchasing power it has today.

When money loses its purchasing power like this it also means that its value as a unit of account is brought into doubt.

A good unit of account must maintain its value, which sterling does not. As a result, if we want to measure prices over an extended period of time, we must resort to “inflation-adjusted” prices and the like, which are extremely arbitrary.

By way of illustration, let’s start with UK house prices, in sterling, since 1953.

Click here to read full story on GoldCore.com.

 

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The Future of Gold: Next 30 Years For Gold

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Gold 2048: The Next 30 Years For Gold

Gold 2048 is an interesting and comprehensive new report from the World Gold Council which brings together industry-leading experts from across the globe to analyse how the gold market is set to evolve in the next 30 years.

Key insights from authors such as George Magnus, senior economist; Rick Lacaille, Global Chief Investment Officer of State Street Global Advisors; and Michelle Ash, Chief Innovation Officer at Barrick Gold include:

  • What does the future hold for gold?
  • “Gold will be a refuge for people in times of crisis as it has always been” – Magnus
  • The expanding middle class in China and India, combined with broader economic growth, will have a significant impact on gold demand.
  • Use of gold across energy, healthcare and technology is changing rapidly. Gold’s position as a material of choice is expected to continue and evolve over the coming decades.
  • Mobile apps for gold investment, which allow individuals to buy, sell, invest and gift gold will develop rapidly in India and China.
  • Environmental, social and governance issues will play an increasing role in re-shaping mining production methods.
  • The gold mining industry will have to grapple with the challenge of producing similar levels of gold over the next 30 years to match the volume it has historically delivered.

 

Listen on SoundCloud , Blubrry & iTunesWatch on YouTube below

Gold 2048 full report and related reports are published by the World Gold Council (May, 2018) and available to subscribers here

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