Author Archives: CRONKITE
“Sharp discounts and earlier hours drew slightly more shoppers into U.S. stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, according to preliminary results from market researcher ShopperTrak LLC, but tight budgets may have weighed on growth.
Foot traffic climbed 2.8% on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the firm said, bumping sales up 2.3% to $12.3 billion over those two days. The jump was more pronounced on Thanksgiving after many chains lengthened their hours or opened their doors for the first time during the holiday.
Black Friday, meanwhile, lost out with traffic dropping 11%, while sales fell 13%, ShopperTrak said, as more customers got a jump on their shopping, in some cases at the expense of their turkey dinner.
ShopperTrak’s estimates provide a sense of how much consumers spent in stores and exclude online sales….”
?U.S. borrowers are increasingly missing payments on home equity lines of credit they took out during the housing bubble, a trend that could deal another blow to the country’s biggest banks.
The loans are a problem now because an increasing number are hitting their 10-year anniversary, at which point borrowers usually must start paying down the principal on the loans as well as the interest they had been paying all along.
For a typical consumer, that shift can translate to their monthly payment more than tripling, a particular burden for the subprime borrowers that often took out these loans. And payments will rise further when the Federal Reserve starts to hike rates, because the loans usually carry floating interest rates.
The number of borrowers missing payments around the 10-year point can double in their eleventh year, data from consumer credit agency Equifax shows. When the loans go bad, banks can lose an eye-popping 90 cents on the dollar, because a home equity line of credit is usually the second mortgage a borrower has. If the bank forecloses, most of the proceeds of the sale pay off the main mortgage, leaving little for the home equity lender.
There are scenarios where everything works out fine. For example, if economic growth picks up, and home prices rise, borrowers may be able to refinance their main mortgage and their home equity lines of credit into a single new fixed-rate loan. Some borrowers would also be able to repay their loans by selling their homes into a strengthening market…..”
A grain of salt might be needed here:
“The following notice and question was sent to the US embassy in Tokyo, Japan two weeks ago:
“A group of influential Asian banking families possesses large amounts of US government bonds, verified as genuine by the BIS, with a face value of many trillions of dollars. These bonds were issued in the 1930’s and 40’s in exchange for Asian gold evacuated to the US during those decades. They would like to cash the bonds and use the money to finance a massive campaign to end poverty and stop environmental destruction. Will the US government support such a plan?”
So far, there has been no reply.
At the same time, detailed information was sent to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan telling him exactly how to enact the release of $700 trillion for the benefit of humanity. There has been no reply from him either.
For this reason, pressure against these two illegal regimes, both selected through fraud, will increase until they agree to this goal. That is why China announced it would stop buying US dollars last week.
It is also why they are increasing military pressure on Japan and the US first by upping the ante over disputed Islands with Japan and second by announcing China will no longer buy US dollars.
The next big move against these regimes is expected to be…”
“Oil prices tumbled on Monday after a groundbreaking agreement aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program eased tensions in the region and raised the prospect of more oil exports from the country.
The preliminary accord, which was struck between Iran and six world powers, offers the Middle East nation $7 billion in relief from economic sanctions.
Iran, a major global oil producer, has seen oil salesslump by 60% from previous sanctions since the beginning of 2012. That has led to an $80 billion loss in revenue, according to the U.S. government.
Although the new deal won’t allow Iran to increase oil sales for six months, it could still pave the way for more supplies to be released to the global market….”
“The U.S. stock market is at all-time highs. Technology stocks have surged, from TwitterTWTR -2.52% to LinkedIn to FacebookFB -1.01%. Even individual investors who doubted the staying power of the rally are now pouring money into stocks.
About the only people gnashing their teeth are short sellers, the investors who make a living betting that stocks will fall in price rather than rise. Short-selling hedge funds are down nearly 15% from the start of this year through October, according to hedge-fund tracker HFR.
Last week was another miserable one for those hedge funds and other grumpy investors who are skeptical of the market’s rise. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose for the seventh week in a row, finishing at 16064.77. On Friday, the S&P 500 closed above 1800 for the first time.
There are few investors dedicated to wagering against stocks. James Chanos of Kynikos Associates runs a hedge fund that largely places short wagers, but there are only 24 other such firms, HFR says. Overall, these shorts manage about $6.3 billion, down from a peak of $7.8 billion in 2008.
But many more investors place bearish bets as part of their overall investing strategy. There are nearly 3,700 “long-short” hedge funds that invest in stocks, managing a total of $686 billion. Lately, these traders have had to adjust their strategies in significant ways to squeeze out returns during the market’s rally, or to just keep themselves going.
“Clearly, there’s been a tremendous amount of pain on the short side, and people are giving up on shorting individual stocks,” says Alan Fournier, who runs Pennant Capital Management. The hedge fund manages $6.5 billion, buys and shorts stocks, and is up more than 10% so far this year, according to investors.
Pennant has profited from shorts against BlackBerry Ltd., which has faced pressure on sales, and developer St. Joe Co., which has tussled with short sellers over the value of land holdings.
“Funds that are dedicated to short selling are closing, and others are starting long-only funds,” which buy shares but don’t short them, Mr. Fournier says.
Some bearish investors are exiting short positions more quickly than usual when their bets turn negative, trying to keep losses to a minimum. Others are reducing wagers they had placed against the broader market, to avoid further pain if the rally continues. Some of these investors continue to maintain bearish bets on individual companies they suspect will run into trouble. Still others are shifting to shorting emerging-market stocks and pockets of weakness in the U.S.
In any case, these investors have been licking their wounds.
“Being bearish in the bull market has been, thus far, a mug’s game and a hedge against profits,” says Douglas Kass, who runs hedge fund Seabreeze Partners Management in Palm Beach, Fla., and has been wagering against the market….”
The Fed’s Catch 22 just got catchier. While most attention in the recently released FOMC minutes fell on the return of the taper as a possibility even as soon as December (making the November payrolls report the most important ever, ever, until the next one at least), a less discussed issue was the Fed’s comment that it would consider lowering the Interest on Excess Reserves to zero as a means to offset the implied tightening that would result from the reduction in the monthly flow once QE entered its terminal phase (for however briefly before the plunge in the S&P led to the Untaper). After all, the Fed’s policy book goes, if IOER is raised to tighten conditions, easing it to zero, or negative, should offset “tightening financial conditions”, right? Wrong. As the FT reports leading US banks have warned the Fed that should it lower IOER, they would be forced to start charging depositors.
In other words, just like Europe is already toying with the idea of NIRP (and has been for over a year, if still mostly in the rheotrical and market rumor phase), so the Fed’s IOER cut would also result in a negative rate on deposits which the FT tongue-in-cheekly summarizes “depositors already have to cope with near-zero interest rates, but paying just to leave money in the bank would be highly unusual and unwelcome for companies and households.”
If cutting IOER was as much of an easing move as the Fed believes, banks should be delighted – after all, according to the Fed’s guidelines it would mean that the return on their investments (recall that all US banks slowly but surely became glorified, TBTF prop trading hedge funds since Glass Steagall was repealed, and why the Volcker Rule implementation is virtually guaranteed to never happen) would increase. And yet, they are not:
Executives at two of the top five US banks said a cut in the 0.25 per cent rate of interest on the $2.4tn in reserves they hold at the Fed would lead them to pass on the cost to depositors.
Banks say they may have to charge because taking in deposits is not free: they have to pay premiums of a few basis points to a US government insurance programme.
“Right now you can at least break even from a revenue perspective,” said one executive, adding that a rate cut by the Fed “would turn it into negative revenue – banks would be disincentivised to take deposits and potentially charge for them”.
Other bankers said that a move to negative rates would not only trim margins but could backfire for banks and the system as a whole, as it would incentivise treasury managers to find higher-yielding, riskier assets.
“It’s not as if we are suddenly going to start lending to [small and medium-sized enterprises],” said one. “There really isn’t the level of demand, so the danger is that banks are pushed into riskier assets to find yield.”
All of the above is BS….”
Turn up the volume or use earphones for better listening quality.
“The People’s Bank of China said the country does not benefit any more from increases in its foreign-currency holdings, adding to signs policy makers will rein in dollar purchases that limit the yuan’s appreciation.
“It’s no longer in China’s favor to accumulate foreign-exchange reserves,” Yi Gang, a deputy governor at the central bank, said in a speech organized by China Economists 50 Forum at Tsinghua University yesterday. The monetary authority will “basically” end normal intervention in the currency market and broaden the yuan’s daily trading range, Governor Zhou Xiaochuanwrote in an article in a guidebook explaining reforms outlined last week following a Communist Party meeting. Neither Yi nor Zhou gave a timeframe for any changes.
China’s foreign-exchange reserves surged $166 billion in the third quarter to a record $3.66 trillion, more than triple those of any other country and bigger than the gross domestic product of Germany, Europe’s largest economy. The increase suggested money poured into the nation’s assets even as developing nations from Brazil to India saw an exit of capital because of concern the Federal Reserve will taper stimulus.
Yi, who is also head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, said in the speech that the yuan’s appreciation benefits more people in China than it hurts.
His comments are “consistent with the plans to increase therenminbi’s flexibility so they become less interventionist,”Sacha Tihanyi, senior currency strategist at Scotiabank in Hong Kong, said by phone today. The central bank may widen the yuan’s trading band in “the coming few months,” he added.
The yuan’s spot rate is allowed to diverge a maximum 1 percent on either side of a daily reference rate set by the People’s Bank of China. The trading range was doubled in April 2012, after being expanded from 0.3 percent in May 2007. The band could be widened to 2 percent, Hong Kong Apple Daily reported today, citing an interview with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s former chief executive Joseph Yam.
Capital inflows into China accelerated in October, official data suggest. Yuan positions at the nation’s financial institutions accumulated from foreign-exchange purchases, a gauge of capital flows, climbed 441.6 billion yuan ($72 billion), the most since January….”
“With the US shale revolution set to make America the largest exporter of crude, however briefly, the influence of Saudi oil is rapidly declining. This has been felt most recently in the cold shoulder the US gave Saudi Arabia and Qatar first over the Syrian debacle, and subsequently in its overtures to break the ice with Iran over the stern objections of Israel and the Saudi lobby (for a good example of this the most recentsoundbites by Prince bin Talal ). But despite the shifting commodity winds and the superficial political jawboning, the reality is that nothing threatens the US dollar’s hegemony in what many claim is the biggest pillar of the currency’s reserve status - the petrodollar, which literally makes the USD the only currency in which energy-strapped countries can transact in to purchase energy. This may be changing soon following news that the Shanghai Futures Exchange could price its crude oil futures contract in yuan, its chairman said on Thursday, adding that the bourse is speeding up preparatory work to secure regulatory approvals.
In doing so China is effectively lobbing the first shot across the bow of the Petrodollar system, and more importantly, the key support of the USD in the international arena.
This would be in keeping with China’s strategy to import about 100 tons of gross gold each and every month….”
“$8.5 TRILLION IN TAXPAYER MONEY DOLED OUT BY CONGRESS TO THE
PENTAGON SINCE 1996 … HAS NEVER BEEN ACCOUNTED FOR
Military Waste and Fraud Are the Main Cause of Our Problems
We’ve repeatedly documented that military waste and fraud are the core problemswith the U.S. economy.
But it goes far beyond actual fighting. We could easily slash the military and security budget without reducing our national security.
For example, homeland security agencies wasted money on seminars like “Did Jesus Die for Klingons Too?” and training for a “zombie apocalypse” instead of actually focusing on anti-terror efforts…..”
“Tis the season for holiday spirit: Yule logs, egg nog, festive lights and exchanging gifts with loved ones. If you work for McDonald’s, though, be sure to save those receipts.
McDonald’s McResource Line, a dedicated website run by the world’s largest fast-food chain to provide its 1.8 million employees with financial and health-related tips, offers a full page of advice for “Digging Out From Holiday Debt.” Among their helpful holiday tips: “Selling some of your unwanted possessions on eBay or Craigslist could bring in some quick cash.”
Elsewhere on the site, McDonald’s encourages its employees to break apart food when they eat meals, as “breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.” And if they are struggling to stock their shelves with food in the first place, the company offers assistance for workers applying for food stamps.
McDonald’s corporate officers have a history of offering questionable advice to their low-wage workers. Four months ago, the company partnered with Visa to distribute a sample “budget.” In it, the chain suggested that workers needn’t pay for such frivolous expenses like their heating bills, and factored in a monthly rent of $600. To workers living in New York City (home of 350+ stores) and other expensive metropolises, that number is almost comical….”
“Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said on Tuesday the Fed will maintain ultra-easy U.S. monetary policy for as long as needed and will only begin to taper bond buying once it is assured that labor market improvements would continue.
In a speech to the National Economists Club that echoed dovish comments by his nominated successor, Janet Yellen, Bernanke also said that while the economy had made significant progress, it was still far from where officials wanted it to be.
“The FOMC remains committed to maintaining highly accommodative policies for as long as they are needed,” he said in prepared remarks, referring to the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee.
“I agree with the sentiment, expressed by my colleague Janet Yellen at her testimony last week, that the surest path to a more normal approach to monetary policy is to do all we can today to promote a more robust recovery,” he said….”
“The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index broke above 1,800 Monday, and it’s only a matter of time before it reaches 2,000, experts say.
The Dow Jones Industrial Index also breached a round number Monday — 16,000. The Dow closed at 15,967 Tuesday, while the S&P 500 finished at 1,788.
It’s a no brainer that the S&P 500 should reach 2,000 before the Dow reaches 20,000, as the S&P is 12 percent away from that target, while the Dow is 25 percent away.
In addition, “I think that the recent announcement and the market’s reaction to [Federal Reserve Chair nominee Janet] Yellen’s Q&A on Friday [before Congress] suggest that stimulus is going to be around for longer,” Gina Sanchez, founder of Chantico Global, told CNBC and Yahoo’s Talking Numbers.
“That is going to benefit smaller companies. The S&P has more small componentry to it than the Dow does.”
Richard Ross, global technical strategist at Auerbach Grayson, told Talking Numbers the S&P 500 could reach 2,100….”
“The more things change, the more things stay the same. The Great Depression actually started in 1929, but as you will see below, as late as 1933 the Associated Press was still pumping out lots of news stories with optimistic economic headlines and many Americans still did not believe that we were actually in a depression. And of course we are experiencing a very similar thing today. The United States is in the worst financial shape that it has ever been in, our economic infrastructure is being systematically gutted, and poverty is absolutely exploding. Since the stock market crash of 2008, the Federal Reserve has been wildly printing money and the federal government has been running trillion dollar deficits in a desperate attempt to stabilize things, but in the process they have made our long-term economic problems far worse. It would be hard to overstate how dire our situation is, and yet the mainstream media continues to assure us that everything is just fine and that happy days are here again.
As I have already noted, the mainstream media was doing the exact same thing back during the days of the Great Depression. The following are actual Associated Press headlines from 1933…
And the following is a headline discovery from 1933 that was made by Linda Goin…
I was browsing through old newspapers the other day and discovered a page filled with news about the stock market and banks in the Daily Capital News from Jefferson City, Missouri. The date was March 15, 1933, well into the Great Depression, and the news was cautiously celebratory as a headline read, “Era of Fear is Declared at End Now.”
The Depression-era classic song entitled “Happy Days Are Here Again” was played at the Democratic National Convention in 1932 and it went on to be featured by the Democrats for many years after that. The following is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article about that song…
Today, the song is probably best remembered as the campaign song for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’ssuccessful 1932 presidential campaign. According to TIME magazine, it gained prominence after a spontaneous decision by Roosevelt’s advisers to play it at the 1932 Democratic National Convention, and went on to become the Democratic Party‘s “unofficial theme song for years to come”.
There is only one huge problem.
The election of Roosevelt didn’t end the depression. Years of bitter economic suffering and dust bowl conditions were still ahead. The Great Depression continued all the way up to the start of World War II, and the war years were certainly no picnic for average folks either.
But at least cheery headlines can make people feel better, right?
That is what some believe.
Others believe that giving people false hope is very cruel and that it sets up people for failure.
The following are some actual headlines that were found on mainstream news sites today…
NBC News: “Stocks close near highs; S&P logs 7-day rally”
Wow, those headlines sound great!
So are happy days here again?
In fact, things continue to get even worse in a whole host of ways. Just consider the following statistics…
-According to a brand new Gallup poll that was just released, 20.0% of all Americans did not have enough money to buy food that they or their families needed at some point over the past year. That is just under the record of 20.4% that was set back in November 2008.
-Gallup also found that the ability of American families to meet some of their other most basic needs is near an all-time low…
The Basic Access Index, which includes 13 questions about topics including Americans’ ability to afford food, housing, and healthcare, was 81.4 in August, on par with the all-time low of 81.2 recorded in October 2011.
-More than 90 million working age Americans are considered to be “not in the labor force”.
-The labor force participation rate is the lowest that it has been in 35 years.
-516,000 Americans “left the labor force” last month. That was a brand new all-time record high.
-The number of private sector jobs dropped by 278,000 last month.
-77 percent of the jobs that have been “created” so far this year have been part-time jobs.
-Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.
-Right now, 40 percent of all U.S. workers are making less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.
-The U.S. trade deficit with China has hit a brand new record high.
-The U.S. trade deficit with the EU has hit a brand new record high.
-The number of U.S. households on food stamps is at a brand new record high.
-One of the largest furniture manufacturers in America was just forced into bankruptcy…
The maker of furniture brands such as Thomasville, Broyhill, Lane and Drexel Heritage said Monday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
-Total mortgage activity has dropped to the lowest level that we have seen since October 2008.
Yes, those in the top 1 percent are doing very well for the moment thanks to the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing.
But for most Americans, the last several years have been a continual struggle. The following is a list that comes from one of my previous articles entitled “44 Facts About The Death Of The Middle Class That Every American Should Know“…”