Precisely a year ago, a summary report by Fitch shone the first, if relatively weak, light on the massive Chinese securitization industry which had for years allowed the country to fund its housing bubble without forcing the banks to actually take much if any of the loan risk associated with this unprecedented expansion. At the time of the Fitch report, the securitization discrepancy was not deemed to be excessive and at about RMB 1 trillion in annual issuance it was promptly swept under the rug. Nonetheless the key statement remained: "Fitch believes the vast majority of these transactions are not publicly disclosed by Chinese banks, and few, if any, traces of the loans remain in financial statements." More recently, and long overdue, Moody's took a refresh look at the same problem and on July 4 released a rather disturbing report which found "that the Chinese audit agency could be understating banks' exposures to local governments by as much as RMB 3.5 trillion." At 10% of GDP, the number sure is starting to get larger. Today we present what we believe is the most comprehensive report we have seen to date on the matter of the Chinese "Shadow Banking" industry courtesy of SocGen. For those who enjoy putting things into perspective, SocGen quantifies the total shadow banking system in China to be as large as RMB10 trillion (or 55%, of the Total Social Financing of RBM18 trillion): nearly USD1.5 trillion. While the number is not massive (considering that the most recent corresponding shadow banking number for the US is well higher at about $16 trillion), it keeps increasing as a portion of GDP. Why is this important? Because as SocGen's Wei Yao says, "The currently unsupervised development of the informal financing market delays the intended impact of monetary policy tightening, but adds to the risk of precipitating a liquidity crunch of the entire financial system later." So it this Chinese shadow banking system a potential monetary time bomb, destabilizing the PBOC's efforts at normalization and adding materially to systemic risk? Read on.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
tonight on Time Out Kevin talks with Minister, and patriot Lindsey Williams on current events and what we can expect in the future. Lindsey has a unique advantage in that he was once the chaplin to some very powerful men who have continued to let details out about the elites agenda. Join Kevin for a most interesting night with guest Lindsey Williams
President Obama has been using the debt-ceiling debate and bipartisan calls for deficit reduction to demand higher taxes. With unemployment stuck at 9.2% and a vigorous economic "recovery" appearing more and more elusive, his timing couldn't be worse.
Two problems arise when marginal tax rates are raised. First, as college students learn in Econ 101, higher marginal rates cause real economic harm. The combined marginal rate from all taxes is a vital metric, since it heavily influences incentives in the economy—workers and employers, savers and investors base decisions on after-tax returns. Thus tax rates need to be kept as low as possible, on the broadest possible base, consistent with financing necessary government spending.
Second, as tax rates rise, the tax base shrinks and ultimately, as Art Laffer has long argued, tax rates can become so prohibitive that raising them further reduces revenue—not to mention damaging the economy. That is where U.S. tax rates are headed if we do not control spending soon.
The current top federal rate of 35% is scheduled to rise to 39.6% in 2013 (plus one-to-two points from the phase-out of itemized deductions for singles making above $200,000 and couples earning above $250,000). The payroll tax is 12.4% for Social Security (capped at $106,000), and 2.9% for Medicare (no income cap). While the payroll tax is theoretically split between employers and employees, the employers' share is ultimately shifted to workers in the form of lower wages. (more)
Recently I was surfing the internet and reading some of my favorite writers and thinkers when something dawned on me. I read articles or interviews with the following people - all of whom I respect and enjoy their viewpoints - in approximately the following order:
- Marc Faber, The Gloom, Boom and Doom Report
- Doug Casey - Founder, Casey Research
- Jim Rogers - American investor and author
- Jim Willie - Hat Trick Letter
- Dudley Baker - PreciousMetalsWarrants.com
- Fred Reed - Author
Can you name something which they all have in common?
If you said that they are all top writers or speakers about free markets and/or precious metals you'd be correct. But that isn't their only similarities.
They also all have expatriated from their country of origin. After having read seven articles in a row I realized that every person I was reading has already defected from the USSA or other similar western countries.
Jim Rogers lives in Singapore. Marc Faber lives in Thailand. Doug Casey lives in numerous countries but spends most of his time in Uruguay and Argentina nowadays. Jim Willie in Costa Rica and Dudley Baker and Fred Reed both live in Mexico, as do I.
The next article I happened to come across was this story regarding Jesse Ventura entitled, "Ventura Threatens to Vacate US Over TSA Groping". Ventura already spends much of the year in Mexico but is saying that if his case against the TSA is thrown out of court he will expatriate permanently.
It is interesting, also, where many of these like-minded people are going. They've all gone to either Latin America or Asia. In this blog I've stated many times how I believe those two areas are the places to be for the future.
Life is Better Almost Anywhere Else
There are not many countries in the world more oppressive of liberties than the US. Countries like North Korea, Cuba, Myanmar and Belarus are the type of countries that are actually worse than the US, but most places are better, certainly in terms of lifestyle.
The US is a police state. Nothing is legal in the US anymore. Today, the city of Philadelphia even announced that they are going to "crack down" on people who walk while typing on their cell phones. Yes, you heard that correct, you can now be confronted by a policeman for walking infractions!
If you've lived your whole life in the US and never really visited any foreign countries you are practically the equivalent of someone who lives in North Korea. Most of the information you have received is from the controlled media feeding you propaganda and if you do go to a country like Argentina, Mexico or countless others, you will be shocked at what you are allowed to do.
And, because there aren't millions of different rules, regulations, taxes and laws being enforced at all times you will be amazed at just how nice life can be! You might not even need to take Prozac or gulp down greasy fast food and sugary sodas just to get you through your day.
Just like in Ayn Rand's great book, Atlas Shrugged, many of the US and western world's brightest and most industrious are leaving at a rapidly increasing rate. And, just like in the book, at least some of them are gravitating to the same enclave, in northern Argentina.
It is the brainchild of Doug Casey and an amazing place. I will be returning from November 1-13 this year for their bi-annual event. If you have the interest or ability it is something I highly recommend checking out. You can get more information here.
If that is too far from home or too expensive the cheaper version in Mexico is here in Acapulco: http://acacondos.com.
Time is Running Out to Escape
Since 2009 we've been in the eye of the hurricane. The Federal Reserve printed an unprecedented amount of new dollars to buy a few more years of perceived prosperity but now the bill is coming due. As early as August 2 we could see the US Government default on its debt - an event that would have massive repercussions and would quickly lead to depression conditions never before seen in the US. And, if they do raise the debt ceiling it will usher in something even worse - hyperinflation and a complete collapse of the basis of US society.
In either case there will be millions impoverished and thrown into the streets along with a massive increase in violent crime, riots, famines and chaos.
We are about to hit the trailing wall of the hurricane - it will happen this year or, at the very latest, in 2012. Once things start to collapse it will happen at speeds that will shock the world. When it happens you will not want to be in a major population center inside the US.
It will be exponentially worse than 2008 and the 1930s Great Depression. This is the big one.
Make a note of how many of the people who correctly saw this crisis coming also have already packed up and left - and look to do the same.
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The Continental Currency Default of 1779
The Default on Continental Domestic Loans
The Greenback Default of 1862
The Liberty Bond Default of 1934
The Momentary Default of 1979
What Will Happen in August of 2011?In this event, it is unlikely a default will occur. Historically, governments prioritize debt service above all other expenses. If the expansion of funds via debt becomes impossible, the Treasury will cease paying other expenses first, starting with "nonessential" discretionary expenditures, and then move on to mandatory expenditures and entitlements as a last resort.
Copper slightly disappointed investors, ending the first half of the year with a decline of 3.50 percent. Worries about global inflation and, more specifically, the potential slowing of China’s economy weighed on copper’s price. The red metal rose 5 percent quickly in the new year, but similar to zinc, lead, palladium and platinum prices, declined sharply at the beginning of May.
Since the end of June, copper has been slowly inching its way up, with the past three weeks having produced positive results. Part of this rise is due to reduced supply issues. Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, has been plagued by power outages, strikes, accidents and heavy rains. Reuters recently reported that a “once in a half century winter storm” caused more than 12 mines to slow or stop operations after the open pit roads became too slippery in the South American country that mines about one-fifth of the world’s copper.
The election of Ollanta Humala in Peru–the second-largest producer of copper–has also been a drag on copper prices as investors debate the probability of Humala electing a mining friendly cabinet. As I discussed in “Is Peru’s Humala Jekyll or Hyde for Mining?,” investors have worried the president-elect could retract policies that encourage mining investment and help grow their economy.
The announcement came this week that Humala will appoint Luis Miguel Castilla, Peru’s former deputy finance minister, as the new finance minister. Carlos Herrera will lead the mines and energy ministry. However, according to the Financial Times, it is still not clear whether Humala will increase the corporate tax rate paid by miners and enforce tighter state controls. The actions of this leader will have an influence on the direction of copper prices for the remainder of the year.
In terms of demand, copper is a necessary ingredient for numerous building projects. Electrical power cables, electrical equipment, automobile radiators, cooling and refrigeration tubing, heat exchangers and water pipes all require copper. With all the construction and infrastructure building in China over the past several years, it’s not surprising that this country is the No. 1 world consumer of copper. It’s estimated that China accounted for nearly 40 percent of global copper consumption last year.
Because of this large demand, similar to our outlook for oil, copper prices hinge on China’s ongoing development. While some have begun to wonder about the health of the country’s continuing growth and development, Macquarie Research believes that “real demand in the country remains robust.”
Take developer activity, for example, which Macquarie says has been a huge driver of construction growth in 2011. The media has focused its attention on ghost cities and lagging sales of property in China. Yet Macquarie thinks it’s important to consider the property sales across all different sizes of cities. In its Commodities Comment, subtitled “Chinese social house – another reason to buy copper and iron ore,” Macquarie acknowledges a weakness in property transactions in China’s larger cities. This was due to the government restricting investment demand to slow growth. However, these larger cities only account for 20 percent of the total market, says Macquarie.
Conversely, many smaller cities, such as Anquing, Guizhou, Luzhou, Mudanjiang, and Shijiazhuang, have had double-digit year-over-year growth in unit sales so far this year. In the case of Hohhot, the capital city of Inner Mongolia, sales growth has tripled. Government investment has led to urban space increasing from 80 square kilometers in 2000 to 150 square kilometers last year, according to the city’s government website. Hohhot, which means “green city” in Mongolian, has grown to more than 2 million people and has become a hub for agriculture and manufacturing.
Most importantly, Macquarie says the tremendous sales activity in these smaller cities indicates “there has been enough cash to keep construction activity going.”
In addition, China’s social housing project should drive incremental demand for copper. Macquarie indicated that China is “aiming for 10 million social housing units, up from 5.8 million in 2010.” The country has built only 3.4 million units so far this year, but based on China’s habit of exceeding its objectives, Macquarie thinks the target will be met.
Even if the naysayers think China’s growth will slow because of the government’s monetary policy restrictions, there’s consensus among research experts that the country’s inventory of copper is getting low. Goldman Sachs’ discussion of the copper market indicated that in the second half of 2011, the “winding down of destocking will lead to a stronger Chinese pull on global supply.” China seems to have no choice but to go back to the market for copper, if only to replenish its supply.
Tom Kendall, Credit Suisse’s vice president for commodities research, agrees. In a Mineweb interview on copper’s fundamentals and expectations of further growth, Kendall stated he has seen a “very sizeable drawdown” in Chinese copper inventories this year. He goes on to say, “some point in time, they will get to a point at which they have run down inventory levels to an uncomfortably low level and then there is no alternative to coming back to the international market.”
Portfolio Manager Evan Smith agrees that copper’s pricing looks promising. China is nearing the end of its tightening policies and has shown that its debt is under control based on released results of the country’s comprehensive debt audit. For the Global Resources Fund (PSPFX), he has been incorporating these macro thoughts into the team’s models to identify stocks with superior growth and value metrics that he believes could benefit the most.
Yes, there was some concern, but, as The New York Times reported on June 25th, “Two years into the official recovery, the economy is still behaving like a plane taxiing indefinitely on the runway. Few economists are predicting an out-and-out return to recession … analysts generally expect the economy to pick up in the second half.”
The economists were forecasting strong job growth for June. But two weeks later, when the numbers came in, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 18,000 jobs had been created – not the 125,000 jobs projected … by those same economists who were also not “predicting an out-and-out return to recession.”
Accordingly, without missing a beat, the Times changed its tune – writing new words to replace the old words they would never be forced to eat:
Recovery Starting to Stall
Defying Economists Forecast for Hiring,
Unemployment Creeps Up to 9.2%
“Employment!” More than factory orders, GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, durable goods … employment was the one big number that counted. There was no way to spin the consequences of 18,000 mostly low paying health care and hospitality jobs into the hopeful message implied by the 125,000 jobs forecast by most economists.
The equation was simple; the more people out of work, the less they consume. And in the United States, where consumer spending accounts for an estimated 70 percent of the GDP, without increased consumer spending, the economy was again recession bound.
Virtually overnight, one dire employment report unraveled two years’ worth of government spin and media complicity. In April 2010, Vice President Joseph Biden promised, “we're going to be creating between 250,000 jobs a month and 500,000 jobs a month." And in August 2010, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner declared that the “actions we took at its height [of the crisis] to stimulate the economy helped arrest the freefall, preventing an even deeper collapse and putting the economy on the road to recovery.”
But almost a year later, talking on “Meet the Press,” two days after the devastating employment data was released, the new, revised Geithner forecast was, “Oh, I think it’s [the recovery] going to take a long time still. This is a very tough economy. And I think for a lot of people it’s going to be – it’s going to feel very hard, harder than anything they’ve experienced in their lifetime now, for some time to come.”
Like the Biden boast long-buried and un-exhumed, the Geithner statement, a direct contradiction of his former projection went unchallenged, given the usual free pass by the “Meet the Press” Presstitutes.
There was, and is, no “return to recession.” As The Trends Research Institute had been forecasting since the onset of the Great Recession and the “Panic of ’08,” all those "bold actions" proudly cited by Geithner were no more than financial Prozac – multi-trillion-dollar band aids, palliatives, placebos and cover-ups packaged as TARP, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, QE2, and so on. At best, the “bold actions” merely guided the Great Recession into a brief remission, and that is all.
Global Ponzi It was a cover-up, not a recovery. And while the US may have been the first, it was not the only nation to try to fraudulently finagle its way out of a crisis and into prosperity. Like the US bailouts, the Greek survival package – praised as an important stopgap success only last week – has neither guaranteed keeping the Greek banking system afloat nor guaranteed it won’t default.
Now Italy has caught the contagion. Fattest of the PIIGS (acronym for Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) – the eurozone’s third largest economy – with its 120 percent public debt to GDP ratio, Italy is bleeding red ink all over its balance sheet. Borrowing more to service its debt load and imposing draconian austerity measures to reign in government spending will, at best, provide a respite from the financial crisis … or, at worst, foment a revolution. (See, “Off With Their Heads, 2.0, Trends Journal, Autumn 2010)
Then there’s China, who panicked when the “Panic of 08” blew out their export driven economy, and, like the West, used cheap credit and huge stimulus packages to prevent a major economic contraction. While China’s crisis differs from the West’s in that it has large currency reserves and its debt is homegrown and home-loaned, it’s still debt and has to be repaid.
And unlike the West, which pumped trillions into just keeping its economies afloat, the Chinese multi-trillion yuan infusions have created an immense, ready-to-pop property bubble. But this time, like the West, there will be no available fiscal or monetary government policies to re-inflate their faltering economy.
And as goes the US, Europe and China – so goes the rest of the world. From India to Israel, Brazil to Bangladesh, Chile to Russia, no nation will escape the economic fallout and few will escape the political consequences.
Yet, despite the widely available economic facts and the ample evidence of faulty forecasts and failed government policies, the mainstream media continues to sell the public the big lie. By providing cover for the politicians and financiers, the Presstitutes of the world – with their stable of “well respected” pundits – are accomplices in promoting the egregiously transparent cover-up as a “recovery.”
Trendpost: After descending to $1,480 less than two weeks ago, as this is written, gold is flirting with $1,600. We see this surge as a recognition of the greater financial and socioeconomic collapse we have been forecasting since the onset of the “Panic of ’08.” We hold to our forecast of “Gold $2,000,” and depending on how the coming crisis unfolds and the responses to it made by governments and central banks, $2,000 may prove but a temporary ceiling before climbing higher.