A Repo Implosion
by MIKE WHITNEY
President Barack Obama is determined to prevail in his battle with GOP congressional leaders on the debt ceiling issue, but not for the reasons stated in the media. Obama is less concerned with the prospect of higher interest rates and frustrated bondholders than he is with the big Wall Street banks who would be thrust back into crisis if there is no resolution before October 17. Absent a debt ceiling deal, the repurchase market–known as repo–would undergo another deep-freeze as it did in 2008 when Lehman Brothers defaulted triggering a run on the Reserve Primary Fundrepurchase market which had been exposed to Lehman’s short-term debt. The frenzied selloff sparked a widespread panic across global financial markets pushing the system to the brink of collapse and forcing the Federal Reserve to backstop regulated and unregulated financial institutions with more than $11 trillion in loans and other obligations. The same tragedy will play out again, if congress fails lift the ceiling and reinforce the present value of US debt.
Repo is at the heart of the shadow banking system, that opaque off-balance sheet underworld where maturity transformation and other risky banking activities take place beyond the watchful eye of government regulators. It is where banks exchange collateralized securities for short-term loans from investors, mainly large financial institutions. The banks use these loans to fund their other investments boosting their leverage many times over to maximize their profits. The so called congressional reforms, like Dodd Frank, which were ratified after the crisis, have done nothing to change the basic structure of the market or to reign in excessive risk-taking by undercapitalized speculators. The system is as wobbly and crisis-prone ever, as the debt ceiling fiasco suggests. The situation speaks to the impressive power of the bank cartel and their army of lawyers and lobbyists. They own Capital Hill, the White House, and most of the judges in the country. The system remains the same, because that’s the way the like it.
US Treasuries provide the bulk of collateral the banks use in acquiring their short-term funding. If the US defaults on its debt, the value that collateral would fall precipitously leaving much of the banking system either underwater or dangerously undercapitalized. The wholesale funding market would grind to a halt, and interbank lending would slow to a crawl. The financial system would suffer its second major heart attack in less than a decade. This is from American Banker:
As banking policy analyst Karen Shaw Petrou describes it, Treasury obligations are the “water” in the financial system’s plumbing.
“They’re the global reserve currency and they are perceived to be the most secure thing you can own,” said Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics. “That is why it is pledged as collateral. … The very biggest banks fear that a debt ceiling breach breaks the pipes.”….
Rob Toomey, managing director and associate general counsel at the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, said institutions are concerned about whether Treasury bonds that default are no longer transferable between market participants.
“Essentially, whatever the size is of the obligation that Treasury is unable to pay, that kind of liquidity would just disappear from the market for whatever time the payment is not made,” Toomey said.”
By some estimates, the amount of liquidity that would be drained from the system immediately following a default would be roughly $600 billion, enough to require emergency action by either the Fed or the US Treasury. Despite post-crisis legislation that forbids future bailouts, the government would surely ride to rescue committing taxpayer revenues once again to save Wall Street.
Keep in mind, the US government does not have to default on its debt to trigger a panic in the credit markets. Changing expectations can easily produce the same result. If the holders of US Treasuries (USTs) begin to doubt that the debt ceiling issue will be resolved, then they’ll sell their bonds prematurely to avoid greater losses. That, in turn, will push up interest rates which will strangle the recovery, slow growth, and throw a wrench in the repo market credit engine. We saw an example of how this works in late May when the Fed announced its decision to scale-back its asset purchase. The fact that the Fed continued to buy the same amount of USTs and mortgage-backed securities (MBS) didn’t stem the selloff. Long-term rates went up anyway. Why? Because expectations changed and the market reset prices. That same phenom could happen now, in fact, it is happening now. The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that “Fidelity Investments, the largest manager of money market funds… had sold all of its holdings of US Treasury bills due to mature towards the end of October as a “precautionary measure.”
This is what happens when people start to doubt that US Treasuries will be liquid cash equivalents in the future. They ditch them. And when they ditch them, rates go up and the economy slips into low gear. (Note: “China and Japan together hold more than $2.4 trillion in U.S. Treasuries” Bloomberg)
Now the media has been trying to soft-peddle the implications of the debt ceiling standoff by saying, “No one thinks that holders of USTs won’t get repaid.”
While this is true, it’s also irrelevant. The reason that USTs are the gold standard of financial assets, is because they are considered risk-free and liquid. That’s it. If you have to wait to get your money, then the asset you purchased is not completely liquid, right?
And if there is some doubt, however small, that you will not be repaid in full, then the asset is not really risk free, right?
This is what the Fidelity flap is all about. It’s about the erosion of confidence in US debt. It’s about that sliver of doubt that has entered the minds of investors and changed their behavior. This is a significant development because it means that people in positions of power are now questioning the stewardship of the present system. And that trend is going to intensify when the Fed begins to reduce its asset purchases later in the year, because winding down QE will precipitate more capital flight, more currency volatility and more emerging market runaway inflation. That’s going to lead to more chin scratching, more grousing and more resistance to US stewardship of the system. None of this bodes well for Washington’s imperial aspirations or for the world’s reserve currency, both of which appear to be living on borrowed time.
The media has done a poor job of explaining what’s really at stake. While, it’s true that higher interest rates would make consumer loans more expensive and put the kibosh on the housing recovery, that’s not what the media cares about. Not really. What they care about is the looming massacre in shadow banking where USTs are used as collateral to secure short-term loans by the banks so they can increase their leverage by many orders of magnitude. In other words, the banks are using USTs to borrow gobs of money from money markets and financial institutions so they can finance their other dodgy investments, derivatives contracts and ancillary casino-type operations. If there’s a default, the banks will have to come up with more capital for their scams that are leveraged at 40 or 50 to 1. This systemwide margin call would trigger a deflationary spiral that would domino through the entire system unless the Fed stepped in and, once again, provided a giant backstop in the form of blank check support. Here’s how Tim Fernholz sums it up over at Daily Finance:
“…Many informed people are worried” (about) “A freeze in the tri-party repo market, akin to the cascade of troubles that followed the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy in 2008.”….
In 2008, more than a third of that collateral was mortgage-backed securities. When Lehman went bankrupt, its lenders began a “fire sale” of the securities it used as collateral, which drove down the value of other mortgage-backed securities, which led to more fire sales. This dynamic would eventually lead to a freeze in the repo markets, which, at the time, provided $2.6 trillion in funding to the banks each day…..
Today, most of the collateral in use is U.S. Treasuries and “agency securities” — mortgage-backed securities guaranteed by the U.S. government:
… if the ugly day of a default comes, lenders may simply stop accepting U.S. debt as collateral. That will have the effect of sucking some $600 billion in liquidity out of the banking system. Unable to get funding for Treasurys, securities dealers would be pressured to sell them-or other assets-to find new funding, creating a fire sale dynamic…..
And, of course, this scenario is only about how the Treasurys work in the repo markets. U.S. debt is used as collateral for derivatives swaps and numerous other transactions; if they are suddenly worth less than expected, lenders can be expected to demand more collateral up front, putting even more pressure on the financial system. That’s why pressure is building to raise the ceiling before the world’s largest economy enters a scenario with so much uncertainty.”
Repeat: “That’s why pressure is building to raise the ceiling before the world’s largest economy enters a scenario with so much uncertainty”.
So the Obama team isn’t worried that Joe Homeowner won’t be able to refi his mortgage or that the economy might slip back into recession. They just don’t want to see Wall Street take it in the shorts again. That’s what this is all about, the banks. Because the banks are still up-to-their-eyeballs in red ink. Because they still don’t have enough capital to stay solvent if the wind shifts. Because all the Dodd Frank reforms are pure, unalloyed bullsh** that haven’t fixed a bloody thing. Because the risks of another panic are as great as ever because the system is the same teetering, unregulated cesspit it was before. Because the banks are still financing their sketchy Ponzi operations with OPM (other people’s money), only now, the Fed’s over-bloated balance sheet is being used to prop up this broken, crooked system instead of the trillions of dollars that was extracted from credulous investors on subprime mortgages, liars loans and other, equally-fraudulent debt instruments.
Can you see that?
This is why the media is pushing so hard to end the debt ceiling standoff; to preserve this mountainous stinkpile of larceny, greed and corruption run by a criminal bank Mafia and their political lackeys on Capital Hill. That’s what this is all about.
How the gold price could double overnight in a major US dollar devaluation crisis
Posted on 06 October 2013 Arabian Financial News
With the US Government shutdown last week weakening the US dollar across the board in global currency markets it is only too easy to read the relatively lacklustre performance of gold wrongly. For in a major US dollar devaluation crisis, like the one that would follow a failure to raise the debt ceiling on October 17th, gold would be king.
It’s a scenario played out perfectly in the penultimate chapter of hedge fund manager Jim Rickards book, ‘Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis’. He envisages a series of ‘black swan’ events that trigger a loss of confidence in the US dollar precipitating a rush to get out of the greenback.
The last issue of our sister ArabianMoney investment newsletter has the full story. It ends with a ‘tsunami’ of dollar selling by traders in a mass panic and a switch to safe haven assets. Then the Fed responds with massive bond buying to force back the wave of selling.
However, the crucial difference between this crash and others is that the market then questions the Fed’s staying power and the dollar collapse continues. It is at this point that gold doubles in price overnight.
The US President is then left with no alternative but to take charge under the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act. He nationalizes all gold held on US soil and suspends bond trading to halt the dollar’s fall. A bipartisan commission is appointed with 30 days to sort out what to do next.
Basically the US dollar has to be reissued and reset to a new value based on a much higher price of gold. If this all sounds far-fetched then it is. But so was the subprime mortgage crisis before it actually struck and yet it happened.
This correspondent can recall how HSBC chairman Sir John Bond saw the US economy as ‘fundamentally sound’ when I interviewed him just two years before this iceberg hit the Titanic .
The unsinkable can sink, and so could the US dollar, just as HSBC was the biggest loser in the subprime crisis (although the bank did not sink because its compartments held and it managed to right itself without a government bailout).
Other currencies in over-indebted economies have suffered this fate in the past. However, as Jim Rickards points out in his book the US still has a final card to play in the global currency wars as it has 57 per cent of the world’s gold reserves within its boundaries and so would command any new global monetary system as it did the old. To that extent it would not be different this time around.
But the gold price would be reset permanently higher, and $7,500-10,000 an ounce in old dollars is Mr. Rickards best estimate.
About That US Recession…
by Tyler Durden
Whenever the annual change in core capex, also known as Non-Defense Capital Goods excluding Aircraft shipments goes negative, the US has traditionally entered a recession. Where is this number now: +0.8%, and declining fast. Feeling lucky?
Of course, in no other previous recession, was the US Fed holding $3.5 trillion in securities and increasing at a pace of $85 billion per month.
Source: Dept of Commerce
Federal Reserve’s Attack on Gold & Silver A Warning Sign All Patriots Should Heed
April 24, 2013
By Paul Craig Roberts
For Americans, financial and economic Armageddon might be close at hand. The evidence for this conclusion is the concerted effort by the Federal Reserve and its dependent financial institutions to scare people away from gold and silver by driving down their prices.
When gold prices hit $1,917.50 an ounce on August 23, 2011, a gain of more than $500 an ounce in less than eight months, capping a rise over a decade from $272 at the end of December 2000, the Federal Reserve panicked. With the United States dollar losing value so rapidly compared to the world standard for money, the Federal Reserve’s policy of printing $1T annually in order to support the impaired balance sheets of banks and to finance the federal deficit was placed in danger. Who could believe the dollar’s exchange rate in relation to other currencies when the dollar was collapsing in value in relation to gold and silver?
The Federal Reserve realized that its massive purchase of bonds in order to keep their prices high (and thus interest rates low) was threatened by the dollar’s rapid loss of value in terms of gold and silver. The Fed was concerned that large holders of U.S. dollars, such as the central banks of China and Japan and the OPEC sovereign investment funds, might join the flight of individual investors away from the dollar, thus ending in the fall of the dollar’s foreign exchange value and thus decline in U.S. bond and stock prices.
Intelligent people could see that the U.S. government could not afford the long and numerous wars that the neoconservatives were engineering or the loss of tax base and consumer income from off-shoring millions of U.S. middle-class jobs for the sake of executive bonuses and shareholder capital gains. They could see what was in the cards, and began exiting the dollar for gold and silver.
Central banks are slower to act. Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates are dependent on U.S. protection and do not want to anger their protector. Japan is a puppet state that is careful in its relationship with its master. China wanted to hold on to the American consumer market for as long as that market existed. It was individuals who began the exit from the U.S. dollar.
When gold topped $1,900, Washington put out the story that gold was a bubble. The presstitute media fell in line with Washington’s propaganda. “Gold looking a bit bubbly” declared CNN Money on August 23, 2011.
The Federal Reserve used its dependent “banks too big to fail” to short the precious metals markets. By selling naked shorts in the paper bullion market against the rising demand for physical possession, the Fed was able to drive the price of gold down to $1,750 and keep it more or less capped there until recently, when a concerted effort on April 2-3 drove gold down to $1,557 and silver, which had approached $50 per ounce in 2011, down to $27.
The Federal Reserve began its April Fool’s assault on gold by sending the word to brokerage houses, which quickly went out to clients, that hedge funds and other large investors were going to unload their gold positions and that clients should get out of the precious metal market prior to these sales. As this inside information was the government’s own strategy, individuals cannot be prosecuted for acting on it. By this operation, the Federal Reserve, a totally corrupt entity, was able to combine individual flight with institutional flight. Bullion prices took a big hit, and bullishness departed from the gold and silver markets. The flow of dollars into bullion, which threatened to become a torrent, was stopped.
For now it seems that the Fed has succeeded in creating wariness among Americans about the virtues of gold and silver, and thus it has extended the time that it can print money to keep the house of cards standing. This time could be short or it could last a couple of years.
For the Russians and Chinese, whose central banks have more dollars than they want, and for the 1.3B Indians in India, the low dollar price for gold that the Federal Reserve has engineered is an opportunity. They see the opportunity that the Fed has given them to purchase gold at $350-$400 an ounce less than two years ago as a gift.
The Fed’s attack on bullion is an act of desperation that, when widely recognized, will doom its policy.
The Fed is creating 1T new dollars per year, but the world is moving away from the use of the dollar for international payments and, thus, as reserve currency. The result is an increase in supply and a decrease in demand. This means a falling exchange value of the dollar, domestic inflation from rising import prices and a rising interest rate and collapsing bond, stock and real estate markets.
The Federal Reserve’s orchestration against bullion cannot ultimately succeed. It is designed to gain time for it to be able to continue financing the federal budget deficit by printing money and also to keep interest rates low and debt prices high in order to support the banks’ balance sheets.
When the Fed can no longer print due to dollar decline which printing would make worse, U.S. bank deposits and pensions could be grabbed in order to finance the federal budget deficit for a couple of more years. Anything to stave off the final catastrophe.
By its obvious and concerted attack on gold and silver, the U.S. government could not give any clearer warning that trouble is approaching. The values of the dollar and of financial assets denominated in dollars are in doubt.
How the Fed Tanked Gold & Silver
By Paul Craig Roberts
I was the first to point out that the Federal Reserve was rigging all markets, not merely bond prices and interest rates, and that the Fed is rigging the bullion market in order to protect the U.S. dollar’s exchange value, which is threatened by the Fed’s quantitative easing. With the Fed adding to the supply of dollars faster than the demand for dollars is increasing, the price or exchange value of the dollar is set up to fall.
A fall in the dollar’s exchange rate would push up import prices and, thereby, domestic inflation, and the Fed would lose control over interest rates. The bond market would collapse and with it the values of debt-related derivatives on the “banks too big to fail” balance sheets. The financial system would be in turmoil and panic would reign.
Rapidly rising bullion prices were an indication of loss of confidence in the dollar and were signaling a drop in the dollar’s exchange rate. The Fed used naked shorts in the paper gold market to offset the price effect of a rising demand for bullion possession. Short sales that drive down the price, trigger stop-loss orders that automatically lead to individual sales of bullion holdings once their loss limits are reached.
According to bullion trader and whistle-blower Andrew Maguire, on Friday, April 12, the Fed’s agents hit the market with 500 tons of naked shorts. Normally, a short is when an investor thinks the price of a stock or commodity is going to fall. He wants to sell the item in advance of the fall, pocket the money, and then buy the item back after it falls in price, thus making money on the short sale. If he doesn’t have the item, he borrows it from someone who does, putting up cash collateral equal to the current market price. Then he sells the item, waits for it to fall in price, buys it back at the lower price and returns it to the owner who returns his collateral. If enough shorts are sold, the result can significantly drive down the market price.
A naked short is when the short seller does not have or borrow the item that he shorts, but sells shorts regardless. In the paper gold market, the participants are betting on gold prices and are content with the monetary payment. Therefore, generally, as participants are not interested in taking delivery of the gold, naked shorts do not need to be covered with the physical metal. In other words, with naked shorts, no physical metal is actually sold.
Consider the 500 tons of paper gold sold on April 12. At the beginning gold price that day of about $1,550, that 500 tons comes to $24.8B. Who has that kind of money?
What happens when 500 tons of gold sales are dumped on the market at one time or on one day? It drives the price down. Investors who want to get out of large positions would spread sales out over time so as not to lower their sales proceeds. The sale took gold down by about $73 per ounce. That means the seller or sellers lost up to $73 dollars 16 million times, or $1.2B. [Over the next two days it dropped $200 per ounce. That equals a $3.2B fall.—Ed.]
Who can afford to lose that kind of money? Only a central bank that can print it.
Paul Craig Roberts is a former assistant undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury and former associate editor of The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of many books including The Tyranny of Good Intentions, Alienation and the Soviet Economy, How the Economy Was Lost and others.
- The Assault On Gold – Paul Craig Roberts (paulcraigroberts.org)
Petrogold: Are Russia And China Hoarding Gold Because They Plan To Kill The Petrodollar?
By Michael, on February 12th, 2013
Will oil soon be traded in a currency that is thousands of years old? What would a “gold for oil” system mean for the petrodollar and the U.S. economy? Are Russia and China hoarding massive amounts of gold because they plan to kill the petrodollar? Since the 1970s, the U.S. dollar has been the currency that the international community has used to trade oil around the globe. This has created an overwhelming demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. debt. But what happens when the rest of the globe starts rejecting the increasingly unstable U.S. dollar and figures out that gold can be used as a currency in international trade? The truth is that it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to figure that out. Demand for the U.S. dollar and U.S. debt would fall off the map and there would be a rush into gold unlike anything we have ever seen before. So are Russia and China accumulating unprecedented amounts of gold right now because they eventually plan to cut the legs out from under the petrodollar and they want to gobble up huge stockpiles of gold before the cat is out of the bag? Of course they will never admit this publicly, but there are rumblings out there that this is exactly what is happening.
Not that you can really blame any nation that wants to get into gold right now. News outlets all over the globe are telling us that we are in the midst of a “currency war” as central banks all over the planet race to devalue their currencies.
So why would anyone want to be in paper in such an environment?
And of course the Federal Reserve is one of the biggest offenders. The Fed has been printing money like it is going out of style, and nobody at the Fed or in the U.S. government really seems too concerned that all of this money printing could be endangering the petrodollar.
But the truth is that the Fed is endangering the petrodollar. Just read some foreign news stories about the U.S. dollar. They mock us for our reckless money printing.
In the end, our recklessness will make it very easy for the rest of the world to ditch the U.S. dollar.
At some point, it will happen. In fact, there are persistent rumors that Russia and China actually intend to make it happen.
Many believe that this is the reason both nations have been hoarding so much gold recently.
Just check out how much gold Russia has been accumulating. The following is from a recent Bloomberg article…
When Vladimir Putin says the U.S. is endangering the global economy by abusing its dollar monopoly, he’s not just talking. He’s betting on it.
Not only has Putin made Russia the world’s largest oil producer, he’s also made it the biggest gold buyer. His central bank has added 570 metric tons of the metal in the past decade, a quarter more than runner-up China, according to IMF data compiled by Bloomberg. The added gold is also almost triple the weight of the Statue of Liberty.
“The more gold a country has, the more sovereignty it will have if there’s a cataclysm with the dollar, the euro, the pound or any other reserve currency,” Evgeny Fedorov, a lawmaker for Putin’s United Russia party in the lower house of parliament, said in a telephone interview in Moscow.
And Russia’s gold hoarding appears to have accelerated last year. According to one recent report, Russia added 3.2 million ounces of gold to their reserves in 2012 alone.
But of even greater concern is China. Nobody really knows how much gold China has, because they do not tell us, but all indications point to the fact that Chinese gold hoarding has gone into overdrive. The following is from a Zero Hedge article from a few months ago…
Because while earlier today we were wondering (rhetorically, of course) what China is doing with all that excess trade surplus if it is not recycling it back into Treasurys, now we once again find out that instead of purchasing US paper, Beijing continues to buy non-US gold, in the form of 68 tons in imports from Hong Kong in the month of June. The year to date total (6 months)? 383 tons. In other words, in half a year China, whose official total tally is still a massively underrepresented 1054 tons, has imported more gold than the official gold reserves of Portugal, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, the UK, and so on, and whose YTD imports alone make it the 14th largest holder of gold in the world. Realistically, by now China, which hasn’t provided an honest gold reserve holdings update to the IMF in years, most certainly has more gold than the IMF, and its 2814 tons, itself. Of course, the moment the PBOC does announce its official updated gold stash, a gold price in the mid-$1000 range will be a long gone memory.
As I wrote about the other day, nobody produces more gold than China does, and nobody imports more gold than China does.
Everyone agrees that China seems to have an insatiable appetite for gold, but nobody can agree on exactly how much gold they actually have. One recent estimate put China’s gold reserves at more than 7,000 tons of gold, but it could even be much higher than that. Nobody really knows.
So what are Russia and China up to?
Well, for a long time both nations have expressed displeasure with the fact that the U.S. dollar is the de facto currency of the world. Leaders from both nations have suggested the possibility of adopting a new global reserve currency, but up to this point no real contenders have emerged to dethrone the U.S. dollar.
So for now, the U.S. dollar reigns supreme in international trade. Sadly, even though most Americans greatly benefit from the petrodollar, most of them do not even know what it is. For those that do not fully understand the petrodollar, the following is a good explanation of the petrodollar from a recent article by Christopher Doran…
In a nutshell, any country that wants to purchase oil from an oil producing country has to do so in U.S. dollars. This is a long standing agreement within all oil exporting nations, aka OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. The UK for example, cannot simply buy oil from Saudi Arabia by exchanging British pounds. Instead, the UK must exchange its pounds for U.S. dollars. The major exception at present is, of course, Iran.
This means that every country in the world that imports oil—which is the vast majority of the world’s nations—has to have immense quantities of dollars in reserve. These dollars of course are not hidden under the proverbial national mattress. They are invested. And because they are U.S. dollars, they are invested in U.S. Treasury bills and other interest bearing securities that can be easily converted to purchase dollar-priced commodities like oil. This is what has allowed the U.S. to run up trillions of dollars of debt: the rest of the world simply buys up that debt in the form of U.S. interest bearing securities.
And all of this has worked out very nicely for the United States. It has created a massive demand for U.S. dollars and U.S. debt.
But what would happen if the rest of the world rejected the petrodollar system and adopted a “petrogold” system instead?
A recent article by Jim Willie discussed how a petrogold system might work…
The crux of the non-US$ trade vehicle devised as a USDollar alternative will be the Gold Trade Note. It will enable peer-to-peer payments to be completed from direct account transfers independent of currency, and most importantly, not done through the narrow pipes and channels controlled by the bankers with their omnipresent SWIFT code system among the world of banks. The Gold Trade Note will act much like a Letter of Credit, serve as a short-term bill, and maybe even push aside the near 0% short-term USTreasury Bills that litter the banking landscape. Any bond or bill earning almost no interest is veritable clutter. The zero bound USTreasurys open the door in a big way for replacement by a better vehicle. The new trade notes will involve posted gold as collateral, whose entire system for trade usage will bear a massive gold core that also will include silver and platinum, maybe other precious metals. The idea is to avoid the FOREX systems, to avoid the USDollar, and to avoid the banks as much as possible in a peer-to-peer system that can be executed between parties holding Blackberry devices or simple PC to complete the payments on transactions. If Gold is ignored by the corrupt bankers, then Gold will be the center of the new trade system and the solution in providing a globally accepted USDollar alternative.
And Russia and China would greatly benefit from a petrogold system.
Today, Russia is the number one oil exporter on the planet.
China is the number two consumer of oil in the world, and at this point they are actually importing more oil from Saudi Arabia than the United States is.
Does it make sense that they should remain locked into a system that forces them to use U.S. dollars for all of their oil transactions?
And now Russia even has the number one oil company in the world. The following is from a recent article by Marin Katusa…
Exxon Mobil is no longer the world’s number-one oil producer. As of yesterday, that title belongs to Putin Oil Corp – oh, whoops. I mean the title belongs to Rosneft, Russia’s state-controlled oil company.
Rosneft is buying TNK-BP, which is a vertically integrated oil company co-owned by British oil firm BP and a group of Russian billionaires known as AAR. One of the top-ten privately owned oil producers in the world, in 2010 TNK-BP churned out 1.74 million barrels of oil equivalent per day from its assets in Russia and Ukraine and processed almost half that amount through its refineries.
With TNK-BP in its hands, Rosneft will be in charge of more than 4 million barrels of oil production a day. And who is in charge of Rosneft? None other than Vladimir Putin, Russia’s resource-full president.
And Russian gas giant Gazprom supplies a huge percentage of the natural gas that Europe uses…
Gazprom, the Russian state gas company, already has Europe wrapped around its little finger. Russia supplies 34% of Europe’s gas needs, and when the under-construction South Stream pipeline starts operating, that percentage will increase. As if those developments weren’t enough, yesterday Gazprom offered the highest bid to obtain a stake in the massive Leviathan gas field off Israel’s coast.
Gazprom in control of Europe’s gas, Rosneft in control of its oil. A red hand stretching out from Russia to strangle the supremacy of the West and pave the way for a new world order– one with Russia at the helm.
Russia and China have a tremendous amount of leverage when it comes to energy. What if they got together with a bunch of oil producing nations in the Middle East and decided to set up a system where oil is traded for gold? Would not much of the rest of the world go along with such a system?
Of course if that happened the U.S. financial system would crash. We would no longer be able to export our inflation to the rest of the globe and prices would rise dramatically. Demand for U.S. government debt would go through the floor and interest rates on that debt and on everything else in our economy would skyrocket. Economic activity would grind to a standstill and the financial markets would collapse.
And that would just be for starters.
Most Americans simply don’t understand that Russia and China have the power to collapse the U.S. economy by going to a gold for oil system. All they have to do is pull the trigger.
The other day I wrote an article entitled “Show This To Anyone That Believes That ‘Things Are Getting Better’ In America” which discussed all of the reasons why the U.S. economy is already collapsing. But as bad as things are now, this is nothing compared to what things will be like when the petrodollar dies.
So pay keen attention to anything in the news about Russia or China suggesting that oil should be traded for gold. When Russia and China pull the trigger, things will get messy very quickly.
The U.S. Economy Is Now Dangerously Detached From Reality
by Brandon Smith from Alt-Market
Recently I was asked to give a presentation on the current state of the global economy to a local group of concerned citizens here in Northwest Montana. I was happy to oblige but when composing my bullet points I realized that, in truth, there were no legitimate economic numbers to examine anymore. You see, financial analysts have traditionally used multiple indicators of employment, profit, savings, credit, supply, and demand in their efforts to divine the often obscured facts of our financial system. The problem is, nearly every index we used in the past, every measure of capital flow and industry, is absolutely useless today.
We now live in an entirely fabricated fiscal environment. Every aspect of it is filtered, muddled, molded, and manipulated before our eyes ever get to study the stats. The metaphor may be overused, but our economic system has become an absolute “matrix”. All that we see and hear has been homogenized and all truth has been sterilized away. There is nothing to investigate anymore. It is like awaking in the middle of a vast and hallucinatory live action theater production, complete with performers, props, and sound effects, all designed to confuse us and do us harm. In the end, trying to make sense of the illusion is a waste of time. All we can do is look for the exits…
There is some tangible reality out there, but it is difficult to find, and there are few if any mainstream numbers to verify. One has to remember always that the fundamental world of money and trade revolves around real people and real circumstances. No matter how corrupt our economic system is, as long as there are human beings, there will always be supply and demand that cannot be hidden. We have to look past the “official numbers” and look at the roots of trade. Where has demand fallen? Where has supply diminished? Where are the tangible goods and needs and how have they changed?
Let’s first start with the mainstream version of our system, looking at each aspect of the economy that no longer represents the truth of our situation…
Employment, Savings, And Debt
Much of this information is old news to those of us in the Liberty Movement, who tracked the progress of the global collapse long before the general public even knew of its existence. However, it is useful to take a step back and look at the basic picture every once in a while.
According to numbers issued by the Department of Labor, weekly unemployment reports have dropped to a five year low, and the overall employment rate is holding at 7.9%. This would seem to be a vast improvement over the dreadful bloodletting in the system only a few years ago. Has the private Federal Reserve and the Obama Administration really done it? Have they turned back the tide on the greatest fiscal crisis the U.S. has seen since the Depression?
No. They haven’t.
They have only changed how the data is disseminated to the public. In order to understand how the employment statistics con is being engineered, it is important to understand the difference between “Adjusted” and “Unadjusted” numbers.
Labor Department data is “seasonally adjusted”, using a series of statistical assumptions including something called “Trend Cycle Analysis”. Trend Cycle Analysis is, basically, a sham, but a sham put together in a very complex and confusing manner. If you ask a mainstream economist what it is, you’ll likely get a three hour long dissertation filled with financial babble and very little concrete explanation. So let me break it down as simply as I can…
Imagine that you are going to estimate how much profit you plan to make in a particular month, but you don’t just consider your current pay rate and pop it into a calculator; you also throw in the possibility of a few pay raises, an inheritance from a grandma who might kick the bucket, and, your exaggerated expectations of the entire year’s profit on top of that. You may also take into account future bad weather, a mugging, a nuclear war….whatever. All hypothetical situations not based in reality. Basically, you decide that a particular trend in your income is inevitable, then, mold your statistical analysis around that assumption.
When your real profit numbers come in (the unadjusted numbers) and they do not meet your expectations, you simply change them according to what you believe SHOULD have happened. If you insist that your profits are going to go up for the year, and they go down for a couple months instead, you change the variables you use to calculate the statistical average so that the results match your expectations, assuming that it will all balance out in the end.
Now, this sounds utterly insane for the common person out there trying to make a living. If you ran your household this way, without accepting the cold hard unadjusted numbers in front of you, you’d find yourself broke and on the street in no time. Unfortunately this is EXACTLY how our government handles most financial data; by coming to a final conclusion before hand, and then forcing the numbers to fit that conclusion.
This is why in February of 2013, “adjusted” first week unemployment rate was reported at 366,000 – a 5000 person drop from the week before. A seeming improvement in the trend. But, unadjusted numbers came in at 386,176 – a 16,000 person spike from the week before. When one examines real unemployment numbers, he finds that the divergence between the adjusted and unadjusted statistics is growing larger with each passing quarter. That is to say, the contradiction is becoming so blatant between the hard numbers and the Labor Department’s fantasy numbers that one must question whether or not the government is lying to us outright about the state of the economy (hint – they are lying).
These same methods are used by the government to calculate progress in the housing market, disposable income, etc.
The claim of “recovery” in the jobs market simply doesn’t jive with other indicators, like 2012 Christmas retail, which had the worst showing since the crash in 2008 (and these are still mainstream numbers!):
Average household savings continue to scrape the bottom of the barrel, indicating that the public is not spending or withholding cash. They are simply broke:
And the overall GDP of the U.S. contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012 for the first time in three years (again, according to official numbers, meaning the reality is much worse):
The downturn in consumption and industry also seems to be supported by the Baltic Dry Index, a measure of global shipping and rates. The BDI has fallen to near historic lows THREE TIMES in the past year, which to my knowledge, has never happened before. In the past, the BDI has been a strong prophetic indicator of future market volatility. Usually, around a year after a severe decline in the index, a dangerous economic event takes place. The BDI made its first sharp drop to all time lows at the end of January 2012, exactly a year ago.
U.S. household debt was recently reported to have fallen to a 29 year low, but the ratio used by the Federal Reserve applies a statistic for disposable income that is derived from the Trend Cycle boondoggle method. While markets cheer, the truth is, the only reason household debt obligations have fallen at all is because bank lending and credit issuance remains frozen. Consumer debt falls when there is no money to borrow. In fact, the Federal Reserve actually pays large banks NOT to lend to the public; an activity which was exposed by Dennis Kucinich in 2009 on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. An activity that continued through 2012:
Keep in mind, one of the primary arguments the Federal Reserve used when promoting the bailout concept was that it would “free up credit markets” so that lending could pick up again and fuel a recovery, and yet, at the same time, they were paying banks to NOT lend.
Meanwhile, the supposed job recovery has produced an astonishing increase in welfare recipients in the U.S., including a record 46 million Americans on foodstamps (approximately 15% of our population):
If we are to apply any “trend” to our calculations on overall economic health, then we should include the extreme level of government handouts, and poverty levels which are now at all time highs. The facts are undeniable; the number of people who have much less than they did in 2008 has grown. How then could the U.S. be considered “in recovery”?
National Debt And The Fiat Lie
With the Dow Index hovering near highs of 14,000 our system truly looks to be on a rocket ship to pre-2008 money market bliss. In a mere five years we have returned to equity spikes that stagger the mind and the wallet. At least, that’s how it all appears…
What needs to be taken into account, though, is the amount of fiat money being created by the Federal Reserve, and how much of that printed pixie dust currency is fueling our magical flight to Neverland. Since 2008, our official national debt has increased from $10 trillion to $16.4 trillion, and some estimate $17 trillion to $18 trillion by the end of 2013 (unless, of course, a collapse occurs). Which means our national debt, which took decades to reach the $10 trillion mark, will have nearly doubled in only six years!
So, what has a doubling of our national debt in such a short span of time bought us? Well, credit markets remain frozen, property markets remain stagnant, poverty is at historic levels, welfare recipients are at epic highs, and consumer activity and GDP is back at 2008 lows. Where did all that printed money go? Where was it spent? To answer that question, we only need to find what area of the economy has seen the most positive (or fantastical) activity. What sector is seeing a massive boost while the rest tumbles?
I suggest that a large portion of QE1 through QE3 has gone to prop up the stock market, and nothing else. I suggest that American taxpayers are fronting the bill for the equities bonanza we see today. I suggest that the Dow is being used as a Red Herring to distract the populous for as long as possible while real assets are being snapped up and hoarded by international banks and foreign entities. I suggest that we are being leached dry and that the parasites are almost ready to move on…
When will it all end? Perhaps sooner than many people think. The decision by D.C. to delay talks on the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” until March may not be coincidence. Extensive cuts in federal spending are absolutely necessary and cannot be dismissed forever, but, because the last vestiges of our system that still operate do so through government money, such cuts will cause immediate damage to the economy, including possible default and dollar devaluation. Refusal to make cuts will result in credit downgrades, currency inflation, and a loss of the greenback’s world reserve status. There is no “right” way out of this quandary.
When this collapse is initiated, it would certainly behoove all parties involved, including central banks, international banks, and criminal politicians, to have a scapegoat handy for the citizenry to direct their rage at.
Event Horizon Economics
An “Event Horizon” in physics is a moment or singularity in spacetime at which a gravitational pull becomes so great that there is no way to escape it. It is a point of no return. I believe America’s economy has reached its own Event Horizon. Our system is now entirely fiat driven, with very little or no true economy left. Without constant injections from the Fed, and perpetually low interest rates, the country would implode tomorrow. This is not recovery. Actually, I’m not sure what to call it.
Today, independent economic analysts cannot look to the numbers to determine future trends. Most are fake, and the rest are ugly, and I’m not sure much else can be said in their regard. Instead, we must now look to events, rather than statistics, because our country has been maneuvered into a position of utmost frailty. Like an avalanche shelf waiting for that perfectly timed disturbance to trigger its roaring collapse. All that is needed is a macro-crisis, and it is no great feat for such a thing to be created in our tension filled global environment.
War in Syria and Iran leading to a tripling of energy prices. Sanctions and strife with North Korea leading to Chinese economic retribution. Conflict between China and Japan, again leading to Chinese economic warfare and perhaps real warfare. An opportune “cyber attack” which could be used as an excuse for a market crash and even an internet shutdown. A “political impasse” between Reps and Dems which leads to a default of U.S. credit. Any one of these catastrophes could easily occur (with a little nudge from some well placed people) and feed a wider global tragedy. The important thing to remember is that while this event will be blamed for the breakdown, it was international banks, the Federal Reserve, and elements of our own government that made the domino effect possible. They put the pieces in place. The act that knocks them over is secondary.
I have spent the past seven years writing about “potential” threats to our overall system, but these dangers were always just beyond our sight. Just around the corner. Today, it is as if the journey is over, and all those threats have materialized right before my eyes as real, and imminent. I am watching that which I warned of come to fruition, and this is certainly not a pleasant thing. What is valuable, though, is what we have all done in the Liberty Movement with the time that we had. From when I began writing for the movement until now, I have seen an overwhelming increase in public awareness. It may not be obvious to newer activists, but it is there all the same. While we still face disparaging odds, and millions upon millions of oblivious bystanders, there is, amidst these darker moments, a steadfast community of free men and women forming. I have full faith in the future. Much more so than I ever did before. Our economy may be detached from reality, but our endeavors as individuals will not be. Our resolve will be the great game changer. Not fiscal calamity.
- ECONOMIC COLLAPSE: The U.S. Economy Is Now Dangerously Detached From Reality (secretsofthefed.com)
- The U.S. Economy Is Now Dangerously Detached From Reality (thedailysheeple.com)
- John Williams: How To Survive The Illusion Of Recovery (etfdailynews.com)
- Obama: Jobs Destroyer (veteranstoday.com)
- Shocking numbers show media lying to you about unemployment (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
A Brief History Of U.S. Dollar Debasement
January 8, 2013 by David Ziffer
On the 100th anniversary of the creation of the Federal Reserve, it seems fitting that we should present a brief history of US dollar debasement:
1787: U.S. Constitution ratified. “No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.”
1792: U.S. Coinage Act ratified. Our first Coinage Act establishes a uniform standard of gold and silver content of U.S. coins, paving the way for over a century of trust in the U.S. dollar that will ultimately catapult the U.S. to world economic supremacy.
1861: Greenbacks and Greybacks: In desperation and in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, both the north and south issue paper currency with no gold or silver backing. Following the war, the U.S. returns to its constitutional roots, ceasing production of Greenbacks and making efforts to retire them as the U.S. returns to the gold standard. A first-class postage stamp (introduced in 1863) costs two cents.
1913: Creation of the Fed: In the belief that a central bank will prevent future economic panics, the U.S. government forms a banking cartel called the Federal Reserve, a rather facetious name given that the Fed is not federal and it maintains no reserves. In so doing our government ignores the warning of Thomas Jefferson:
If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered.
The stage is now set for the collapse of the dollar. A first-class postage stamp still costs two cents.
1934: Gold Reserve Act: After 23 years of dollar debasement by the Fed, Franklin Roosevelt is forced to acknowledge the growing disparity between the century-old fixed price of gold ($20.67/oz.) and its market price. The rift is made painfully obvious by the outflow of U.S. gold into the coffers of foreign nations redeeming dollars for gold at the stated fixed price. In direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, Roosevelt and Congress not only remove gold from circulation but prohibit ownership of gold by U.S. citizens. With the stroke of a pen the dollar is devalued from $20.67/oz. to $35/oz. Despite massive improvements in delivery efficiency, a first-class postage stamp now costs three cents.
1944: Bretton Woods: In the belief that the world requires a unified monetary standard in order to eliminate trade wars that ultimately lead to shooting wars, leading nations establish a dollar-based monetary system in which currencies are valued in terms of the U.S. dollar, which still claims to be gold-backed. This unwarranted trust ironically gives the U.S. yet more license and incentive to continue its debasement, since the world’s citizens now accept newly printed dollars with the mistaken notion that they can be redeemed for a fixed amount of gold. A first-class postage stamp still costs three cents.
1965: Second Coinage Act. In order to finance two very expensive initiatives (the Vietnam War and moon walking) and in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, Lyndon Johnson signs a new Coinage Act that removes all silver content from U.S. coins. In so doing he provides the following advice to the public, explicitly promising future federal precious metals market manipulation:
If anybody has any idea of hoarding our silver coins, let me say this. Treasury has a lot of silver on hand, and it can be, and it will be used to keep the price of silver in line with its value in our present silver coin. There will be no profit in holding them out of circulation for the value of their silver content. The new coins are not going to have a scarcity value either. The mint is geared to get into production quickly and to do it on a massive scale. We expect to produce not less than 3 1/2 billions of the new coins in the next year, and, if necessary, twice that amount in the following 12 months.
In this same speech Johnson states that scarcity of silver is the motivation for the change. Despite incredible improvements in delivery efficiency that should have dropped the price astronomically, a first-class postage stamp now costs five cents.
1971-75: Petrodollars replace the gold standard: In a repetition of the 1934 crisis, the U.S. gold supply is being decimated by foreign governments redeeming dollars for gold at the stated fixed price ($35/oz.), a completely untenable ratio after thirty more years of dollar debasement by the Fed. In direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, Richard Nixon and the Congress once again stop the outflow, but this time rather than set a new unmaintainable fixed rate they simply eliminate the fixed dollar/gold ratio. Realizing that the collapse of the gold standard will dramatically reduce demand for dollars worldwide, Nixon strikes a deal with OPEC: trade oil in dollars only in return for perpetual U.S. military support. By 1974 gold is irrelevant to the U.S. hegemony, and so as his final act of the year Gerald Ford signs a bill that once again allows U.S. citizens to own gold. The first-class postage stamp now costs ten cents.
2000: Iraq threatens the petrodollar: Shortly after the creation of the Euro, Saddam Hussein makes Iraq the first major oil exporting country to sell oil in a currency other than the dollar, thereby threatening the global petrodollar arrangement. Citing this “weapon of mass destruction” while misleading the public into a preposterous belief that he is really referring to conventional weapons that could somehow threaten the U.S., George W. Bush reacts swiftly by invading in 2003 and quickly reverting Iraq to dollar sales. To make our point exceptionally clear to world leaders, the U.S. (using proxies) hunts down Hussein and executes him in 2006. The first-class postage stamp now costs 33 cents.
2008: Beginning of the end: Under Barack Obama, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke begins a series of bailouts of banks (that are presumably Fed members) and of U.S. debt (both mortgage-backed securities and U.S. Treasurys). The first-class postage stamp now sells for 42 cents.
2013: 100th Anniversary: The master of dollar-printing is 100 years old. The Fed marks its birthday by engaging in the largest debt purchase program in history ($40 billion of mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion of Treasurys per month). Awaiting the collapse of the petrodollar arrangement and the subsequent radical reduction in the purchasing power of the dollar, the price of gold is bid up to over $1600 per ounce. And despite the fact that humans now expend a tiny fraction of the effort to deliver a letter in 2013 compared to what was required in 1863, the price of a first-class stamp is now 46 cents.
Technically the U.S. left the gold standard in 1971, but in reality we abandoned it in 1913 with the creation of the Fed. The two publicly visible gold-standard slippages of the past century (FDR’s repricing and Nixon’s cancellation) were merely necessary adjustments following decades of gradually increasing gold-price inconsistency caused by continuous inflation. Given this, it seems hard to imagine that the Fed was created for any purpose other to create this inflation, i.e. to effectively raise our taxes under the table.
This has enormous implications for today’s long-term investor. Our most constant and predictable financial reality is the continued inflationary policy of the Fed. Given this, and assuming the U.S. is unlikely to pull another rabbit out of the global hat as Nixon and Ford did with the petrodollar in the early 70s, the dollar will almost certainly continue losing purchasing power indefinitely, in terms of both commodities and other currencies. And when the oil-producing nations finally agree to accept payment in currencies other than the dollar, expect a precipitous drop. Invest accordingly.