Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lessons to Be Learned From Dow 36,000

Call it the audacity of cluelessness: Let us congratulate James K. Glassman and Kevin Hassett, the authors of the incredibly money losing advice in their book Dow 36,000, on their 10 year anniversary. The book forecast that lofty number would be obtained in 3 to 5 years; it was published precisely 10 years ago today.

In the ensuing decade since this book (and I use the term lightly) was published, the Dow is still below where it was 10 years ago, rather than tripling in price. The Nasdaq remains more than 60% below its highs of one decade ago.

I tried to read the book as a history lesson, but it was, to be blunt, unreadable. I got through enough to learn the basic argument they made: Stocks have been undervalued for decades, and over the ensuing years, we should expect a dramatic one-time upward adjustment in stock prices. Why? People were about to figure out what only these two geniuses already knew (hubris anyone?). (more)

Federal Reserve Accounts For 50% Of Q2 Treasury Purchases

The degree of intermediation by the Federal Reserve in the issuance of US Treasuries hit a record in Q2, accounting for just under 50% of all net UST issuance absorption. This is a startling number, as the Fed's $164 billion in Q2 Treasury purchases dwarfs the combined foreign/household UST purchases of $101 billion and $29 billion, respectively, over the same time period. In fact, the Fed was a greater factor in UST demand than all three traditional players combined: Foreigners, Households and Primary Dealers, which amounted to a $158 billion in net Q2 purchases.

This dramatic imbalance puts a lot of question marks over how the upcoming hundreds of billions in incremental Treasury purchases will be soaked up, now that QE only has $15 billion of capacity for USTs: with Households lapping up risky assets it is unlikely they will look at Treasuries absent some dramatic downward move in equities, while Foreign purchasers, which many speculate are in a game of Mutual Assured Destruction regarding UST purchases, have in fact been aggressively lowering their purchases of Treasuries (from $159 billion in Q1 to $101 billion in Q2, an almost 40% decline in appetite!). Will the US make these purchases much more attractive come October when QE for USTs ends? And if so, what kind of rates are we talking about? One thing is certain: in terms of priorities of the Federal Reserve, keeping the equity market buoyant, is a distant second to ensuring successful auction after auction well into 2010. After all there is near $9 trillion in budget deficits that need financing over the next 10 years. (more)


Speaking Silver’s Language, By The Mogambo Guru

Everybody knows that I can always be counted on to go ballistic about silver being such a Screaming Freaking Bargain (SFB) because of (according to the most recent Official Mogambo Count (OMC)) more than a dozen very good reasons, which is a lot of reasons, and that at $17-and-change per ounce, silver is loudly saying, “Buy me! Buy me!” although obviously not in the literal sense, nor (perhaps less obviously) in the “voices in my head” sense, which shows I am responding to therapy and why everybody is so pleased with me.

One of the reasons for my bullishness and bullheadedness about silver is the large short position, which is the number of ounces already sold (opening the short position) but which have not been bought yet (closing out the position), which means these shorts are going to get clobbered if they have to cover their short position by buying silver at a higher price than they sold it. (more)

Perfect storm for gold and silver

As gold trades above US$1,000 (HK$7,800) an ounce once again, it has been attracting renewed investor interest.
Many are wondering whether it is too late to enter the fray, or if it's still a good time to gain exposure.
In our view the latter is the case, since the perfect storm of bullish factors for precious metals is just only starting to come together.
It should be reiterated that there appears to be no end in sight for the "quantitative easing" (money-printing) policies of the United States and Europe. (Quantitative easing obviously benefits gold, as it usually foreshadows much higher future inflation.) This is in good part due to the unsustainable budget deficits in most Western countries. (more)

Oil Options Hit Highs as Verleger Predicts 44% Plunge

Oil traders are paying more than ever in the options market to protect against a plunge in crude prices.

The gap between prices of options betting on a decline and those that would profit from a rise in oil widened to a record 10 percentage points, according to five years of data compiled by Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch. Crude stockpiles in the U.S. are 14 percent larger than a year ago and OPEC is pumping 600,000 barrels a day more than the world needs, according to the International Energy Agency.

While the recovery from the first global recession since World War II pushed oil up 62 percent this year to $72.04 a barrel in New York, growth alone isn’t likely to erode the glut by the end of next year because production exceeds demand, data from the Paris-based IEA shows. A drop in prices would penalize companies from Exxon Mobil Corp. to BP Plc and exporters Russia and Saudi Arabia. (more)

Marc Faber on FSN, Sept 19, 2009


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The footage of him speaking on the Senate floor has become something of a cult flick for the particularly wonky progressive. The date was November 4, 1999. Senator Byron Dorgan, in a patterned red tie, sharp dark suit and hair with slightly more color than it has today, was captured only by the cameras of CSPAN2.

"I want to sound a warning call today about this legislation," he declared, swaying ever so slightly right, then left, occasionally punching the air in front of him with a slightly closed fist. "I think this legislation is just fundamentally terrible."

The legislation was the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act (alternatively known as Gramm Leach Bliley), which allowed banks to merge with insurance companies and investment houses. And Dorgan was, at the time, on a proverbial island with his concerns. Only eight senators would vote against the measure -- lionized by its proponents, including senior staff in the Clinton administration and many now staffing President Obama, as the most important breakthrough in the worlds of finance and politics in decades. (more)

1-9 In Debt We Trust _ America Before the Bubble Bursts

"Option" mortgages to explode, officials warn

The federal government and states are girding themselves for the next foreclosure crisis in the country's housing downturn: payment option adjustable rate mortgages that are beginning to reset.

"Payment option ARMs are about to explode," Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said after a Thursday meeting with members of President Barack Obama's administration to discuss ways to combat mortgage scams.

"That's the next round of potential foreclosures in our country," he said.

Option-ARMs are now considered among the riskiest offered during the recent housing boom and have left many borrowers owing more than their homes are worth. These "underwater" mortgages have been a driving force behind rising defaults and mounting foreclosures. (more)

The Ant and The Grasshopper

Two Different Versions! …………….. Two Different Morals!

OLD VERSION: The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.
The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.
CBS, NBC , MSNBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast.
How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?
Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green.’
Acorn stages a demonstration in front of the ant ’s house where the news stations film the group singing, ‘We shall overcome.’ Rev. Jeremiah Wright then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper’s sake.
Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.
Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Actretroactive to the beginning of the summer.
The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar.
The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ants food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around him because he doesn’t maintain it.
The ant has disappeared in the snow.
The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote in 2010.