Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Yesterday we reported that the ECB has begun contemplating the death of the €500 EURO note, a fate which is now virtually assured for the one banknote which not only makes up 30% of the total European paper currency in circulation by value, but provides the best, most cost-efficient alternative (in terms of sheer bulk and storage costs) to Europe's tax on money known as NIRP.
That also explains why Mario Draghi is so intent on eradicating it first, then the €200 bill, then the €100 bill, and so on.
We also noted that according to a Bank of America analysis, the scrapping of the largest denominated European note "would be negative for the currency", to which we said that BofA is right, unless of course, in this global race to the bottom, first the SNB "scraps" the CHF1000 bill, and then the Federal Reserve follows suit and listens to Harvard "scholar" and former Standard Chartered CEO Peter Sands who just last week said the US should ban the $100 note as it would "deter tax evasion, financial crime, terrorism and corruption."
Well, not even 24 hours later, and another Harvard "scholar" and Fed chairman wannabe, Larry Summers, has just released an oped in the left-leaning AmazonWashington Post, titled "It’s time to kill the $100 bill" in which he makes it clear that the pursuit of paper money is only just starting. Not surprisingly, just like in Europe, the argument is that killing the Benjamins would somehow eradicate crime, saying that "a moratorium on printing new high denomination notes would make the world a better place."
Yes, for central bankers, as all this modest proposal will do is make it that much easier to unleash NIRP, because recall that of the $1.4 trillion in total U.S. currency in circulation, $1.1 trillion is in the form of $100 bills. Eliminate those, and suddenly there is nowhere to hide from those trillions in negative interest rate "yielding" bank deposits.
So with one regulation, the Fed - if it listens to this Harvard charlatan, and it surely will as more and more "academics" get on board with the idea to scrap paper money - could eliminate the value of 78% of all currency in circulation, which in effect would achieve practically the entire goal of destroying the one paper alternative to digital NIRP rates, in the form of paper currency.
That said, it would still leave gold as an alternative to collapsing monetary system, but by then there will surely be a redux of Executive Order 6102 banning the possession of physical gold and demanding its return to the US government.
Here is Summers' first shot across the bow in the upcoming war against U.S. paper currency, first posted in the WaPo:
It’s time to kill the $100 bill
Harvard's Mossavar Rahmani Center for Business and Government, which I am privileged to direct, has just issued an important paper by senior fellow Peter Sands and a group of student collaborators. The paper makes a compelling case for stopping the issuance of high denomination notes like the 500 euro note and $100 bill or even withdrawing them from circulation.
I remember that when the euro was being designed in the late 1990s, I argued with my European G7 colleagues that skirmishing over seigniorage by issuing a 500 euro note was highly irresponsible and mostly would be a boon to corruption and crime. Since the crime and corruption in significant part would happen outside European borders, I suggested that, to paraphrase John Connally, it was their currency, but would be everyone’s problem. And I made clear that in the context of an international agreement, the U.S. would consider policy regarding the $100 bill. But because the Germans were committed to having a high denomination note, the issue was never seriously debated in international forums.
The fact that — as Sands points out — in certain circles the 500 euro note is known as the “Bin Laden” confirms the arguments against it. Sands’ extensive analysis is totally convincing on the linkage between high denomination notes and crime. He is surely right that illicit activities are facilitated when a million dollars weighs 2.2 pounds as with the 500 euro note rather than more than 50 pounds as would be the case if the $20 bill was the high denomination note. And he is equally correct in arguing that technology is obviating whatever need there may ever have been for high denomination notes in legal commerce.
What should happen next? I’d guess the idea of removing existing notes is a step too far. But a moratorium on printing new high denomination notes would make the world a better place. In terms of unilateral steps, the most important actor by far is the European Union. The €500 is almost six times as valuable as the $100. Some actors in Europe, notably the European Commission, have shown sympathy for the idea and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has shown interest as well. If Europe moved, pressure could likely be brought on others, notably Switzerland.
I confess to not being surprised that resistance within the ECB is coming out of Luxembourg, with its long and unsavory tradition of giving comfort to tax evaders, money launderers, and other proponents of bank secrecy and where 20 times as much cash is printed, relative to gross domestic, compared to other European countries.
These are difficult times in Europe with the refugee crisis, economic weakness, security issues and the rise of populist movements. There are real limits on what it can do to address global problems. But here is a step that will represent a global contribution with only the tiniest impact on legitimate commerce or on government budgets. It may not be a free lunch, but it is a very cheap lunch.
Even better than unilateral measures in Europe would be a global agreement to stop issuing notes worth more than say $50 or $100. Such an agreement would be as significant as anything else the G7 or G20 has done in years. China, which is hosting the next G-20 in September, has made attacking corruption a central part of its economic and political strategy. More generally, at a time when such a demonstration is very much needed, a global agreement to stop issuing high denomination notes would also show that the global financial groupings can stand up against “big money” and for the interests of ordinary citizens.
Credit to Zero Hedge
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Dark naked figures dancing around a fire and a powerful Greek god presided over the unveiling of six explicit UN postage stamps to promote homosexuality, transexuality, and gay parenting at UN headquarters last week.
The UN stamps depict male and female same-sex couples kissing and embracing, a homosexual coming out of a closet, a gay couple carrying a girl on their shoulders, and a human butterfly figure representing a transsexual.
They were unveiled in the atrium of the General Assembly Hall before a massive painting of naked figures swaying around a fire and a nude statue of Poseidon with outstretched arm, gifts of Mexico and Greece—a location likely chosen for its suggestive qualities, as events are not normally held there.
UN artist Sergio Baradat who created the stamps in a colorful but static geometric rendition of the art deco style said he strived for the “beautiful, elegant, and loving.” He got emotional as he let the crowd understand that he identifies as LGBT and it was revealed that he originally had the idea of the stamps.
Thirty-three vocalists of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus sang pop songs and love tunes from musicals at the event.
“Thank you for filling the UN with the music of love,” said Charles Radcliffe, head of the controversial LGBT Free and Equal Campaign, which the stamps commemorate.
The normally phlegmatic UN bureaucrat appeared tense, despite the enthusiastic crowd.
Nearly half of all UN member states unsuccessfully sought to prevent the issuance of the stamps on the eve of their unveiling. Three powerful UN blocs, totaling 86 countries, sent letters to Radcliff’s boss, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, including the Organization for Islamic Cooperation representing 57 UN member states.
The 54-member African Group denounced the event for “undermining the respected flagship of the UN” and “associating it with issues that do not enjoy universal consensus.”
And, the Group of Friends of the Family, numbering 24 countries and spearheaded by Belarus, Egypt, and Qatar, criticized the secretariat for promoting a “deeply controversial agenda” that “thwarts unity, dialogue, and mutual respect.”
Nigeria also issued a stern reprimand ahead of the unveiling in the course of the ongoing Commission on Social Development.
The three coalitions followed up with the secretariat this week after Ban Ki-moon failed to even acknowledge receipt of their letters.
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“Why focus on LGBT?” Radcliffe asked at the event, challenging member states that questioned the appropriateness of the stamps and the event.
He answered by pointing to 76 countries that penalize sodomy. “Everyday the UN is working to get these laws repealed,” he said. He also claimed that every year hundreds of people who identify as LGBT die and thousands are hurt.
A Reuters UN correspondent who also spoke at the unveiling asked, “Who would have thought we could get so excited about stamps in the digital age?” She encouraged all in attendance to purchase stamps and “spread the message.”
The stamps capture the efforts of the “Free and Equal Campaign” a unilateral initiative of the UN Secretary General’s human rights bureaucracy that promotes a right to engage in sodomy, same-sex marriage, homosexual adoption, and other LGBT rights.
Since its launch in 2012 it has yet to garner substantial support from the full membership of the United Nations. No UN treaty includes LGBT rights or protects homosexual conduct explicitly or implicitly.
Credit to lifesitenews.com
Did you know that there are more than 1.8 trillion dollars worth of junk bonds outstanding in the United States alone? With interest rates at record lows all over the world in recent years, investors that were starving for a decent return poured hundreds of billions of dollars into high yield debt (also known as junk bonds). This created a giant bubble, but at first everything seemed to be going fine. Defaults were very low and most investors were seeing a nice return. But then the price of oil started crashing and the global economy began to slow down significantly.
Energy company debt makes up somewhere between 15 and 20 percent of the junk bond market, and the credit rating downgrades for that sector are coming fast and furious. But it isn’t just the energy industry that is seeing a massive wave of defaults, debt restructurings and bankruptcy filings. Just like with subprime mortgages in 2008, investors are starting to wake up and realize that the paper that they are holding is not worth a whole lot. So now investors are rushing for the exits and we are starting to see panic on a level that we have not witnessed since the last financial crisis.
Just look at what has been happening in recent days. Investors took nearly 500 million dollars out of the largest junk bond ETF (iShares HYG) last week alone. The following chart shows that HYG has now fallen to the lowest level that it has been since the last financial crisis…
During the last financial crisis, junk bonds starting crashing well before stocks did. In fact, many consider junk bonds to be a sort of “early warning system” for stocks. For many analysts, when you see high yield debt collapse that is a huge warning sign that you need to get out of stocks as soon as possible.
And this makes perfect sense. When financial trouble erupts, it is going to hit more vulnerable companies first usually.
Blue chip companies are typically not in the high yield debt market. Normally, high yield debt is only for companies that have more risk associated with them. And it is risky companies that typically start to crumble the quickest.
Another high yield ETF that I watch very closely is JNK. As you can see, the chart for JNK looks nearly identical to the chart for HYG…
What these charts are telling us is that a new financial crisis began during the second half of last year and that it is now accelerating.
At this point, yields have reached levels that we have not seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The following bit of analysis comes from Wolf Richter…
The average yield of CCC or lower-rated junk bonds hit the 20% mark a week ago. The last time yields had jumped to that level was on September 20, 2008, in the panic after the Lehman bankruptcy, as we pointed out. Today, that average yield is nearly 22%!Today even the average yield spread between those bonds and US Treasuries has breached the 20% mark. Last time this happened was on October 6, 2008, during the post-Lehman panic:At this cost of capital, companies can no longer borrow. Since they’re cash-flow negative, they’ll run out of liquidity sooner or later. When that happens, defaults jump, which blows out spreads even further, which is what happened during the Financial Crisis. The market seizes. Financial chaos ensues.
After junk bonds crashed in 2008, virtually every other kind of investment followed suit.
Just about the only thing that didn’t crash were precious metals. Gold and silver soared, and that is what you would expect to happen during a major financial crisis.
Another thing that I am watching closely is margin debt.
During past financial bubbles, we have seen lots of people borrow lots and lots of money to buy stocks.
If that sounds like a really bad idea, that is because it is a really bad idea.
Whenever margin debt peaks and then starts to decline precipitously, that is a signal that a stock market crash could be imminent. The following chart comes from James Stack…
After looking at that chart, I can’t understand how anyone couldn’t see the pattern.
We keep making the same mistakes, but we never seem to learn from history. In fact, the mainstream media keeps telling us that this new financial crisis “isn’t 2008″ over and over again. Even though the exact same patterns are happening once again, they still believe that this time will somehow be different.
And to a certain extent that is actually true. This current crisis is not going to be the same as the last one. Eventually, it is going to prove to be even worse than the last one once everything is all said and done.
So what should we all be doing? In a recent article entitled “70 Tips That Will Help You Survive What Is Going To Happen To America“, I gave my readers some basic pieces of advice on how to get prepared for what is coming. But not all of them will apply immediately. For example, my wife and I don’t believe that we will need our emergency food next month. But down the road we are absolutely convinced that we will need it.
For the moment, one of the key things is to build up an emergency fund. In my opinion, everyone should have an emergency fund that can cover at least six months of bills and expenses. And now is not the time to go into debt. Instead of buying lots of shiny new toys, now is a time to spend money on practical things that will be needed during the hard times that are coming.
Unfortunately, most people believe what they want to believe, and most people do not want to believe that hard times are coming. They have an extraordinary amount of faith in the system, and they are convinced that this time will be different somehow.
So I wish them the best, but as for me and my family, we are getting prepared.
What about you?
Are you getting prepared?
Credit to End of the American Dream
Months After Welcoming 100,000 Refugees To The U.S. John Kerry Warns Migrants Pose An "Existential Threat" To Europe
Just several months ago, in October, we reported that the now-rattled largest European bank, Deutsche Bank, boosted its forecast for German 2016 GDP to 1.9% from 1.7% saying that "although the external and the financial environment have deteriorated we have lifted our 2016 GDP call... drivers are stronger real consumption growth due to lower oil prices/stronger EUR and the surge in immigration."
Little did DB know that crashing oil and commodity prices would lead to existential concerns about its own viability manifesting in a record blow out in its subordinated DB CDS, a record plunge in its stock price and ever louder comparisons between Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers. As for the boost to German GDP from the influx of refugees, maybe DB had in mind the soaring pepper spray sales following the infamous Cologne New Year's "celebration" events.
But even prior to that, on September 18, in an editorial piece the NYT wrote that "Europe Should See Refugees as a Boon, Not a Burden" and goalseeked its liberal conclusion as follows:
Many European leaders have described the refugees who are risking their lives to get to the Continent as a burden. But there is good reason to believe that these immigrants will contribute more to Europe economically than they will take from it.Numerous studies have found that immigrants bolster growth by increasing the labor force and consumer demand. Rather than being a drain, immigrants generally pay more in taxes than they claim in government benefits. Even a large influx of immigrants does not mean fewer jobs for the existing population, since economies do not have a finite number of jobs. Immigrants often bring skills with them, and some start new businesses, creating jobs for others. The less skilled often take jobs that are hard to fill, like in child care, for example, which allows more parents to work.
The left-wing push for sympathy even prompted US Secretary of State to announce, just two days later that the United States would significantly increase the number of worldwide migrants it takes in over the next two years.
The U.S. will accept 85,000 refugees from around the world next year, up from 70,000, and that total would rise to 100,000 in 2017, Kerry said at news conference with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier after they discussed the mass migration of Syrians fleeing their civil war.
This followed a prior commitment from the White House to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the coming year.
Those plans are likely dead and buried now, following the latest U-turn in U.S. policy, which brings us to evens from this weekend, when the same John Kerry, speaking at the Munich Security Conference, praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for showing "great courage in helping so many who need so much" and European communities who are taking in those fleeing the violence and "rejecting intolerance and racism" within their societies.
However it was here, that for the first time Kerry uttered a warning which until recently would have been branded as borderline xenophobic by the same abovementioned left-wing media, when Kerry warned that the mass influx of refugees and other migrants into Europe spells a "near existential threat" to the continent.
"We are facing the gravest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II," he said at the conference. "The United States understands the near existential nature of this threat to the politics and fabric of life in Europe," he told the meeting as reported by The Local.
The core problem is well-known: Europe has been deeply split by how to handle the mass influx of people fleeing war-torn Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries. Germany has taken over 1.1 million refugees last year, while Italy and Greece have been overwhelmed as the main arrival points from the Middle East and Africa. The result is a collapse in Merkel's until recently unshakable popularity and loud whispers that Merkel political career may not last too long if the refugee problem is not promptly addressed.
Sweden and Austria have also taken in large numbers, but many EU members, especially in the east, have been deeply reluctant to open their doors.
So what does Kerry believe now? Kerry said about the refugee influx: "We are not saying, 'This is your problem, not ours'. This is our problem. And that is why we are joining now and enforcing a NATO mission to close off a key access route," he said of an alliance naval surveillance mission off Turkey and Greece."And we will join you in other ways to stem this tide because of the potential of its damage to the fabric of a united Europe," he added.
Which is not to say he is incorrect: after all none other than the architect of Europe's "open society" George Soros, now openly warns about the collapse of the EU if the refugee influx, something he himself has been advocating, is not fixed. Here is a brief excerpt of an interview between George Soros and Gregor Peter Schmitz of the German magazine WirtschaftsWoche.
Schmitz: You have been so involved in promoting the principles of open society and supporting democratic change in Eastern Europe. Why is there so much opposition and resentment toward refugees there?Soros: Because the principles of an open society don’t have strong roots in that part of the world. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is promoting the principles of Hungarian and Christian identity. Combining national identity with religion is a powerful mix. And Orbán is not alone. The leader of the newly elected ruling party in Poland, Jaros?aw Kaczy?ski, is taking a similar approach. He is not as intelligent as Orbán, but he is a canny politician and he chose migration as the central issue of his campaign. Poland is one of the most ethnically and religiously homogeneous countries in Europe. A Muslim immigrant in Catholic Poland is the embodiment of the Other. Kaczy?ski was successful in painting him as the devil.Soros' solution? Money, of course. "My foundations do not engage only in advocacy; they seek to make a positive contribution on the ground. We established a foundation in Greece, Solidarity Now, in 2013. We could clearly foresee that Greece in its impoverished state would have difficulty taking care of the large number of refugees that are stuck there."Schmitz: Where would the money for your plan come from?Soros: It would be impossible for the EU to finance this expenditure out of its current budget. It could, however, raise these funds by issuing long-term bonds using its largely untapped AAA borrowing capacity. The burden of servicing the bonds could be equitably distributed between member states that accept refugees and those that refuse to do so or impose special restrictions. Needless to say, that is where I remain at odds with Chancellor Merkel.
In other words, Soros advocates adding cultural diversity injury to even more debt in an already insolvent European continent - debt which hedge funds could trade and profit from when the time for yet another bailout comes - to fix a problem that would not have been there had Merkel not listened to the likes of Soros, and the NYT editorial board, whose only advocacy of liberal ideals was merely a placeholder to promote their own selfish agendas.
As for Kerry, we find it ironic that the person now warning about refugees posing "a near existential threat" to an entire continent, was just five months ago so very eager to welcome 100,000 Syrian refugees to the US. We wonder if his policy on accepting those same refugees with open arms has changed as of this moment... and who gets to profit this time?
Credit to Zero Hedge