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What Could Possibly Go wrong?

IMG Auteur
Published : February 15th, 2017
1534 words - Reading time : 3 - 6 minutes
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Category : Opinions and Analysis

It’s been more than three months since the “Dow Jones Propaganda Average” declined more than 1% in a day, and a year since a 5% correction – BrExit, Trump, and all.  According to “soft data” surveys like “consumer sentiment,” Americans have never been more “bullish.”  Moreover, equity valuations are at all-time highs – despite six straight quarters of declining year-over-year earnings; the weakest “hard data” since the 2008 financial crisis; a surging dollar that is destroying America’s competitiveness – to the point that the President himself is complaining, and accusing our leading allies of currency manipulation; whilst bonds are as well, despite all-time high, parabolically spiraling debt; a five-year high in (government-reported!) inflation, both here and overseas; and consensus estimates that the Fed will raise rates further.

Throw in the fact that U.S. home prices just eclipsed the 2006 real estate bubble top; taking rents to all-time highs as well – at a time when American consumers have never had less savings; whilst labor participation, real wages, and median household incomes are at multi-decade lows; and new home sales and mortgage/refinancing applications are at Lehman crisis lows; and we’re talking about some of the largest, most unprecedented bubbles in U.S. history.  Oh, and did I mention that amidst all these terrifying trends; and unprecedented “economic policy uncertainty,” featuring a highly polarizing President, who seeks to explode the national deficit with reckless fiscal stimulus whilst a potentially historic debt ceiling crisis stares him in the face; Wall Street expects corporate earnings to rise by 40% over the next two years!

And it’s no different overseas – where crashing currencies (due to said “surging dollar”) have caused inflation rates to skyrocket, and global trade to implode; which I assure you, won’t be helped any if Donald Trump gets his wish to launch the most aggressive trade wars since the Great Depression.  As I showed yesterday, “emerging market” debt-to-GDP has risen from 210% to 430% in just the past five years alone (no, that’s not a typo); and the more the dollar rises, the more difficult such debt will be to service.  Let alone, if interest rates rise with it.  And yet, emerging market credit default swaps are trading at the same levels as five years ago, as if default risk hasn’t increased one iota – whilst its equity markets, like ours, have never been more overvalued, or “overbought.”

As we learned just yesterday, the undisputed king of the emerging markets, China, has not only increased its debt at a pace that puts even the U.S. to shame (having doubled the national debt during Bush’s reign, and doubled it again under Obama), but actually added a record $540 billion in January alone, whilst seeing more than a quarter of its currency reserves drained, and its currency devalued another 5%.  Not to mention, as much of this debt was created in its opaque “shadow banking” system, like the derivatives that destroyed AIG; Fannie Mae; and nearly the entire global economy nine years ago.  Which, I might add, are far larger in usage now, than they were then.

As is the case in Italy, whose banking crisis did not “go away” when its fourth largest bank, Monte dei Paschi, was nationalized in December.  Let alone, in light of the derivatives scandal uncovered this week, showing how the Bank of Italy had more than €35 billion of undisclosed derivative losses on its books at the end of 2015, from toxic contracts that should never have been entered into – many of them, when Mario Draghi was its President.  And Germany, whose banks not only have the largest exposure to the imploding shipping trade, but the collapsing nation of Greece; which itself, just hired none other than the Rothschilds to help it “restructure” its unpayable debts, as it prepares for the GrExit that MUST mathematically occur.  This, as Spain’s “big three” banks issued more debt in January than in any month in the nation’s history – kick-starting what will be an historic, two-year European bank borrowing binge, as it seeks to raise roughly €310 billion by the 2019 deadline, to fill the liquidity gap the European Banking Authority deems their reserves to be lacking.    Which, I might add, are predominantly in the form of a new type of financial engineering monstrosity known as the “senior non-preferred” bond – which enables the bank, if it gets into trouble, to bail bondholders in.

And then there’s those pesky European elections – starting with Holland next month, France two months later, and Germany in September.  Not to mention, the yet-to-be-scheduled Italian elections sometime this summer, and final Catalonian secession vote that will likely be held “by September.”  You know, that “little” issue that just happens to be global money managers’ top perceived risk factor of 2017.

We’re talking about the continent’s largest nations in revolt – with one, France, promising to exit the Euro currency as soon as possible, if Marine Le Pen is elected.  To that end, consider that while the Mainstream Media, as was the case with both the BrExit referendum and Donald Trump candidacy, considers Marine LePen to have “no chance” to win, her current “betting line” odds, at 32%, are more than double what the BrExit and Donald Trump odds were at this time.  Frankly, I think France’s political, economic, and financial troubles are far worse than the UK’s; and thus, believe Le Pen will not only win, but do so decisively.  And as well, the equally violently anti-Euro Geert Wilders in Holland – who’s all but guaranteed to win, with current election odds being a Secretariat-like 1:6!  And if you don’t believe me – even though I was one of the few to predict both the BrExit and Trump victories – listen to this scathing address to European Parliament, by the father of the European Revolution, Nigel Farage.

We have the most tenuous “Cartel” positions imaginable – starting with the soon-to-be-dead oil Cartel, OPEC; and its new, U.S. government-led partner, the “oil PPT”; whose fraudulent “production cut” is rapidly losing its price manipulating power, as OPEC and “NOPEC” participants cheat, and those not part of the agreement ramp up production at historic rates.  To wit, yesterday’s third straight week of massive U.S. inventory builds, enabling U.S. crude inventories to surpass last year’s record levels – in line with the record levels U.S. gasoline inventories hit last week.  This, as production levels and rig counts continue to surge – to the point that the IEA last week projected massive production growth in 2018, amidst a demand decline (to five-year lows) that Goldman Sachs itself was “stunned” by, as such weakness typically only occurs during recessions.  That, and a secular trend toward less driving and increased fuel efficiency, which will only destroy demand further, as part of the “shocking new world order” I discussed last month – in which millions of jobs from “traditional” sources are eliminated by technology; yielding an historic unemployment problem, in a world already careening towards communism.  Heck, Warren Buffett sold all of his Wal-Mart stock last quarter – as clearly, the far less labor-intensive Amazon.com is eating its lunch.

And then there’s the gold Cartel – which, as Bix Weir describes in this must listen podcast, has gone berserk in its quest to suppress the “canary in the coal mine” that is the tiny, loudly ticking time bomb that is the paper silver market.  This, in a year in which unequivocally, the physical gold and silver markets both experienced record global demand; and both saw their production levels peak – likely, for years to come.

We have the “walking policy error” itself, the Federal Reserve; which yesterday, dug its soon-to-be-fatal hole deeper on Capitol Hill, when Whirlybird Janet, as usual, said essentially nothing incremental, but created an algo and PPT/Cartel trading frenzy by espousing vague Fedspeak claptrap that “waiting too long to raise rates would be unwise.”  This, as she simultaneously reiterated Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer’s equally ambiguous comments of the day before, that America’s economic outlook is highly uncertain, given the aforementioned, historic “economic policy uncertainty” surrounding the Trump Administration.

Which of course, caused the Dow to rise in typical “dead ringer” fashion; and gold and silver to be capped and attacked via the same “12:00 cap of last resort” algorithm as always – the latter, just as it again attempted to breach its 200 day moving average of $17.95/oz.  And by the way, do you know what the peak yield was on the benchmark 10-year yield, before again backing down?  Yep, exactly 2.50%.  But hey, Goldman’s Chief Economist, “ Hatzius,” who’s been as wrong about his incessant prediction of Fed rate hikes as Janet Yellen herself, raised his “March rate hike odds” from…wait for it…15% to 20%, in perhaps the most useless “research report” ever.  Thus, I ask facetiously, how can one not assume the economy is surging; financial markets will rise forever; and nothing could possibly go wrong?

Thus, my friends, I’d like to conclude with two simple questions.  One, do you think it’s possible – if not probable – that something will “go wrong?”  And two; if you’re harboring even the slightest concerns of such, what is keeping you from protecting yourself?

Data and Statistics for these countries : China | France | Georgia | Germany | Greece | Italy | Spain | All
Gold and Silver Prices for these countries : China | France | Georgia | Germany | Greece | Italy | Spain | All
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Andrew Hoffman was a buy-side and sell-side analyst in the United States (including six years as an II-ranked oilfield service analyst at Salomon Smith Barney), but since 2002 his focus has been entirely in the metals markets, principally gold and silver. He recently worked as a consultant to junior mining companies, head of Corporate Development, and VP of Investor Relations for different mining ventures, and is now the Director of Marketing for Miles Franklin, a U.S.-based bullion dealer.
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