Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Will Inflation Really Hit Us?

Some interesting reading this weekend is this ‘take’ on inflation by Terry Coxon, Editor, The Casey Report

Most of us are gathered at the station, watching for the Inflation Express to come rumbling in. But we’ve been waiting for a while now. Just when should we expect the big locomotive to arrive and start pushing the prices of most things uphill?

We’d all like to know the exact date, of course, but no one can know for sure. Not even a careful reading of the Mayan calendar will help. What we can do is estimate a time range for price inflation to show up, and that alone should have some important implications for investment decisions. (more)

Gold, Silver, Oil, Natural Gas ETF Trading

The past week in gold, silver, oil, natural gas and the broad market wasn’t anything to write home about. We are seeing controlled profit taking which is making the market choppy. Many traders are getting very bearish on the market which is a good thing in my opinion. According to my market internals, sentiment and volume analysis we should get a shake out (sharp dip) which would make traders exit their positions before the market continues higher.

Some trader’s say we are in a bull market, others say we are in a major bear market. Either way the trend is up on the daily and weekly charts and companies are making money. Buying on over sold dips has been very profitable this year. Until I see things drastically change, this is my strategy for the broad market.

Lets take a look at the commodity sector. (more)

Insight: Is China due a reality check?

The United States had 1929, Japan 1989, and south-east Asia 1997. Will China face a similar moment of reckoning a few years from now?

The question is crucial, not just for those investing in Asia today, but for the wider global market. For as investors around the world reel from the recent financial crisis, many have clung to the idea of a Chinese boom, as the one bright spot of hope in an otherwise grim world. The trouble is that history suggests that much of this optimism may be misplaced.

Financial markets have a way of working themselves into a frenzy during rapid economic development, which ends up leading to disaster. It is the ultimate testimony to the gross inefficiency of markets. The problem is the unique mix of extreme optimism and rampant liquidity that occurs during periods of rapid economic development. (more)

Healthcare system wastes up to $800 billion a year

The U.S. healthcare system is just as wasteful as President Barack Obama says it is, and proposed reforms could be paid for by fixing some of the most obvious inefficiencies, preventing mistakes and fighting fraud, according to a Thomson Reuters report released on Monday.

The U.S. healthcare system wastes between $505 billion and $850 billion every year, the report from Robert Kelley, vice president of healthcare analytics at Thomson Reuters, found.

"America's healthcare system is indeed hemorrhaging billions of dollars, and the opportunities to slow the fiscal bleeding are substantial," the report reads. (more)

Morgan Stanley: This Rally Almost Over

According to Morgan Stanley euro analyst Teun Draaisma, we've got just a little bit more rally left, and then a long, low multi-year grind as moneys starts to get tight.

The tightening phase may start in the next quarter or two, Draaisma observes.

“We believe investors need increasingly to consider the implications of monetary and fiscal stimulus withdrawal,” he says.

“We expect the first Fed rate hike in mid-2010, but the tightening turning point could come sooner, for instance through higher oil.” (more)

Food will never be so cheap again

The world's grain stocks have dropped from four to 2.6 months cover since 2000, despite two bumper harvests in North America. China's inventories are at a 30-year low. Asian rice stocks are near danger level.

Yet farm commodities have largely missed out on Bernanke's reflation rally in metals, oil, and everything else. Dylan Grice from Société Générale sees "bargain basement" prices.

Wheat has crashed 70pc from early 2008. Corn has halved. The "Ags" have mostly drifted sideways over the last six months. This divergence within the commodity family is untenable, given the bio-ethanol linkage to oil. (more)

FDIC Bank Failures

After the Billionaires Plundered Alabama Town, Troops Were Called in ... Illegally

One of this year's more disturbing stories that were ignored was the illegal Army occupation of Samson, Alab., in March following a shooting spree that raged across two towns by a disgruntled worker, leaving 11 people dead.

As I wrote at the time, Michael McLendon, 27, went on a killing rampage following years of relentless corporate exploitation and harassment against him, his mother (whom he mercy-killed), and the entire rural Alabama region, which suffered like so many parts of rural America at the hands of billionaire goons like chicken oligarch Bo Pilgrim of Pilgrim's Pride notoriety.

One of the creepiest details to emerge in the shooting rampage were reports that troops from nearby Fort Rucker were brought into Samson and other surrounding areas to patrol the streets. This is a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, every freedom-loving American's worst nightmare. (more)

Back-Door Taxes Hit U.S. With Financing in the Dark

Salvatore Calvanese, the treasurer of Springfield, Massachusetts, for four years, had a ready defense for why he risked $14 million of taxpayer money on collateralized-debt obligations laden with subprime mortgages in 2007.

He didn’t know what he was buying, he says, and trusted the financial professionals who sold them and told him they were safe.

“I thought they were money markets that were just paying more,” Calvanese said in an interview. “Nobody ever used the term ‘CDO,’ and I am not sure I would have known what that was anyway.” (more)

Rate Of Bank Charge Offs Surpasses That Set During Great Depression

Even as the cataclysmic events of last year fade into memory and most pundits are convinced that the government alone can push the country into prosperity, if it only wasn't for that pesky unemployment number that just refuses to cooperate, yet another comparison with the Great Depression emerges, one that shows that the current period is in fact even worse than what occurred in the years after 1930. Moody's has released an analysis which shows that the most recent rate of bank charge offs, which hit $45 billion in the past quarter, and have now reached a total of $116 billion, is at 3.4%, which is substantially higher than the 2.25% hit in 1932, before peaking at at 3.4% rate by 1934. (more)

S&P 500 Overvalued by 40%, Set to Fall, Smithers Says

The U.S. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is about 40 percent overvalued and headed for a drop as central banks pull back on securities purchases that pushed up asset prices, according to economist Andrew Smithers.

Declines are likely because banks will need to sell more shares to raise capital, the economist and president of research firm Smithers & Co. said in an Oct. 23 interview at Bloomberg’s Tokyo office. The closing price on Oct. 23 of 1,079.6 was 40 percent above 771.14, a level last seen in March, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. (more)

The Mortgage Problem Is NOT Over

“This chart shows you it isn’t over yet,” Chris Mayer begins today. Chris, Dan Amoss and Addison Wiggin all made the trip to NYC last week to attend the annual Value Investing Congress. Here’s the bit that caught Chris’ attention, a redux of the famous Credit Suisse chart, courtesy of Whitney Tilson and Glenn Tongue of T2 Partners:

“These helped frame where we are in the mortgage crisis,” adds Chris, “which has been the main shark in the water over the past couple of years. You should know where that shark is and whether or not it is hungry…

“Clearly, it is not yet safe to get back in the water: Years 2010 and 2011 face big resets in so-called Alt-A and Option ARM loans. What this means is more write-downs and more losses for banks and others who hold these mortgages.

“The bounce in home building stocks looks ridiculous in light of what they have to look forward to. The T2 duo actually recommended shorting the home building stocks through the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB)… I like the idea of shorting homebuilders. At the very least, I wouldn’t buy one.”