Displaying items by tag: Law & the Government

Many have asked me if I believe in austerity measures or the Keynsian approach of spending out of recession. I have stated, time and again, that the question is loaded - hence the answer can never be sufficient. When you are trying to go from your home to the market across town in a crowded urban environment, you cannot make the trip successfully by deciding ahead of time that you are just going to make left turns (austerity? Austrian?) or right turns (stimulus? Keynsian?). You come to an intersection and you make the turn that's necessary to get you where you want to go. It might sound overly simplistic and common, but I'll be damned if common sense is one of the most uncommon things I've come across over the last 7 years or so!

On that note, there does appear to be a misunderstanding on how government finances work as compared to finances in the private sector. The government is not a for profit player that competes directly with those in the private sector, but is instead a universal support network that benefits from the success of the private sector. Hence, the government must work in the best interests of the private sector in order to thrive. This sometimes entails taking the other side of the trade to ensure that a trade can take place. One pundit who has done a good job of explaining this through pretty charts that explain the peculiar situation that we are now in (a balance sheet recession), is Dr. Richard Koo of Nomura Securities. See the FT.com article abstract:

In 2008, Barack Obama told the US people the nation’s economic crisis would take a long time to overcome. In 2012, many of those voters are losing patience, because they have not been told why this recession has lasted so long or why his policies were the correct response. Here is the missing explanation – based on not only the US experience, but also that of Japan and Europe. 


Today, the US private sector is saving a staggering 8 per cent of gross domestic product – at zero interest rates, when households and businesses would ordinarily be borrowing and spending money. But the US is not alone: in Ireland and Japan, the private sector is saving 9 per cent of GDP; in Spain it is saving 7 per cent of GDP; and in the UK, 5 per cent. Interest rates are at record lows in all these countries.

For those who may not get the gravity of this statement, it makes no sense to save money with a negative risk/reward proposition, unless of course the saver does not see it that way. One must save if savings are in deficit, and the risk to invest funds is considered greater than the benefit of having said funds in the first place. We are still attempting to wade through the bursting of a massive bubble, and we are playing defensive - not offensive.  In other words, are Americans seeking return OF capital over return on said capital? We are over-leveraged, and to effectively delever you cannot borrow more money or take the risk of aggressive investments. This is so even if investment capital is being offered at zero interest rates. Mr. Koo illustrates the consequences of such behavior eloquently...

However, if someone is saving money or paying down debt, someone else must be borrowing and spending that money to keep the economy going. In a normal world, it is the role of interest rates to ensure all saved funds are borrowed and spent, with interest rates rising when there are too many borrowers and falling when there are too few. 

But when the private sector as a whole is saving money or paying down debt at zero interest rates, the banks cannot lend the repaid debt or newly deposited savings because interest rates cannot go any lower. This means that, if left unattended, the economy will continuously lose aggregate demand equivalent to the unborrowed savings. In other words, even though repairing balance sheets is the right and responsible thing to do, if everyone tries to do it at the same time a deflationary spiral will result. It was such a deflationary spiral that cost the US 46 per cent of its GDP from 1929 to 1933. 

Those with a debt overhang will not increase their borrowing at any interest rate; nor will there be many lenders, when the lenders themselves have financial problems. This shift from maximising profit to minimising debt explains why near-zero interest rates in the US and EU since 2008 and in Japan since 1995 have failed to produce the expected recoveries in these economies. 

For some reason, the Fed doesn't seem to get what Mr. Koo and BoomBustBloggers do!

With monetary policy largely ineffective and the private sector forced to repair its balance sheet, the only way to avoid a deflationary spiral is for the government to borrow and spend the unborrowed savings in the private sector.

Wait a minute! The EU states are definitely borrowing, but they are not redploying the capital back into the private sector, they are simply bailing out banks! In addition, the banks are not deploying the capital into the private sector, they are simply sitting on it, just as Mr. Koo stated they would in the article excerpt above! So, after trillions of borrowing, there's no surprise why there's just relatively pennies making it into the private sector. What Mr. Koo and many who follow Keynsian economic theories seem to forget to include, is that upon borrowing the money to plunge into the private sector, you have to have a plan for paying said monies back. When you borrow said monies and simply waste them (ex. perpetual dead bank bailouts) you create a truly structural problem. Simply ask Greece, or see How Greece Killed Its Own Banks! and then move on to...

As The Year Comes An End The Ability Of Greece To Kick The Can Mirrors The Chances Of A Man With No Feet

Despite extensive, self-defeating, harsh and punitive austerity measures that have combined with a lack of true economic stimulus, Greece has (to date) failed to achieve Primary Balance. For the non-economists in the audience, primary balance is the elimination of a primary deficit, yet the absence of a primary surplus, ex. the midpoint between deficit and surplus before taking into consideration interest payments.


The primary balance looks at the structural issues a country may have.

Government expenditures have outstripped revenues ever since 2007 and have gotten worse nearly every year since, despite 3 bailouts a restructuring, austerity and a default!


On to Mr. Koo's diatribe... 

Recovery from this type of recession takes time because the flow of current savings must be used to reduce the stock of debt overhang, necessarily a long process when everyone is doing it at the same time. Since one person’s debt is another person’s asset, there is no quick fix: shifting the problem from one part of society to another will solve nothing.

The challenge now is to maintain fiscal stimuli until private sector deleveraging is completed. Any premature attempt to withdraw that stimulus will result in a deflationary implosion – as in the US in 1937, Japan in 1997, and Spain and the UK most recently.

Japan’s attempt in 1997 to reduce its deficit by 3 per cent of GDP – the same size as the “fiscal cliff” now facing the US – led to a horrendous 3 per cent drop in GDP and a 68 per cent increase in the deficit. At that time, Japan’s private sector was saving 6 per cent of GDP at near zero interest rates, just like the US private sector today. It took Japan 10 years to climb out of the hole.


Average citizens find it hard to understand why the government should not balance its budget when households and businesses must all do so. It is risky for politicians to explain but, until they make it clear that the economy will implode if everybody is saving and nobody is borrowing, public support for the necessary fiscal stimulus is likely to weaken, as seen during the past four years of the Obama administration.

The US economy is already losing forward momentum as the 2009 fiscal stimulus is allowed to expire. There is no time to waste: the government must take up the private sector’s unborrowed savings, to keep the economy from imploding and to provide income for businesses and households so they can repair their balance sheets. Fiscal consolidation should come only once the private sector has repaired its finances and returned to profit-maximising mode.

I have ventured along these lines several times in the past. Here is the subscription research that I feel is best poised to take advantage of the guaranteed mistakes to be made ahead, simply click your industry/sector for the most recent research (note, non-subscribers will only be able to view free reports, you may click here to subscribe)...

As for whether Mr. Koo is correct in the application of severe austerity when one should be trying to prime the pump....

Greece Is To Pathogen As Cyprus Is To Contagion As Spain Is To Infected...

CNBC reports Greece Austerity Strike Will Hurt GDP Further even as Cyprus Expects Bailout as S&P Cuts Ratings to Junk:

Cyprus said on Wednesday it expected talks to start with lenders on badly needed aid next week, as ratings agency Standard & Poor's pushed it deeper into junk territory, implying domestic political expediency lay behind a delay in clinching a deal. One of the smallest nations in the euro zone, Cyprus sought European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) aid in June after its two largest banks suffered huge losses due to a write-down of Greek debt.

Well, our Contagion Model showed clear paths of the knock on effects of Greek infection, and we haven't even gotten started with the economic pathogen party yet!


Although it seems as if Tyler is being a smart ass, he couldn't be farther from the truth. Reference my piece Lies, Damn Lies, and Sovereign Truths: Why the Euro is Destined to Collapse! concerning the accuracy of the IMF's baseline scenarios...


And back to the ZH post:

....Breakdown of IMF deleveraging forecasts for the three scenarios, of which the realistic one is highlighted:

  • Under weak policies, the withdrawal of foreign investors accelerates to twice the pace seen since 2009. Periphery spreads widen by about one standard deviation above the baseline.

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When is the banking system going reboot? Start listening below at 10:40 to about 12:45 (or the whole thing if you want to hear how the Justice Department should take the bad banks down), then read on...

From American Banker:

'Yet Another Bank': One week after New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a civil case against JPMorgan Chase alleging fraud in how Bear Stearns packaged and sold mortgage-backed securities, Wells Fargo finds itself being sued by the government for nearly a decade's worth of "reckless" mortgage lending. U.S. prosecutors (not affiliated with Schneiderman's mortgage task force, though he has promised more suits are on the way) are seeking "hundreds of millions of dollars" in civil damages from the bank on behalf of the Federal Housing Administration, alleging Wells "made false certifications" about the condition of their mortgage loans so that the government agency would insure them. FHA then had to foot the bill when the bank's alleged "mortgage factory" — Dealbook's interpretation of the complaint — output went belly up. "Yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance," United States attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara said in a (perhaps obvious) statement.

The Times notes the lawsuits are being filed amidst public criticism of the Justice Department's lack of actual criminal action against banks and their executives regarding the housing boom.

Get the f2*k out of here! Really!!!???

Meanwhile, the Post notes the case is particularly problematic for Wells, which "has been hit with a series of civil actions" related to its mortgage business in recent years (and we would add, unlike JPMorgan, can't blame Bear Stearns for its latest problem). The bank is denying the most recent allegations, saying it acted in "good faith and in compliance" with federal rules.

This is what we saw in WFC 5 years ago, before most bothered to take noticw (rerference Doo-Doo bank drill down, part 1 - Wells Fargo - BoomBustBlog):


This stress is real, and is already causing losses in the condo construction and sales markets, retail malls and now office buildings. Please see my primer and series on the Commercial Real Estate Crash and ongoing series of financial shenanigans and excessive debt issues of General Growth Properties for additional information.


Sizeable Real Estate loans exposure in troubled markets:  Wells Fargo had $148 bn loan in 1-4 Family Mortgages (WFC has a high correlation to industry-wide losses) which represented nearly 38% of the banks’ total loan. Out of these loans nearly 51% comprised junior lien mortgage loans (much higher probability of total loss and no recovery)After C&D loans, real estate loans have highest NPAs as proportion of total loans.  In 4Q2007, real estate 1-4 family first mortgage NPAs to total loans stood at nearly 1.91% of total loans with total NPAs of $1.4 bn. In terms of geographic exposure, real estate loans from California and Florida comprised 33% and 4% of total real estate loans (i.e 13% and 2% of WFC’s total loan portfolio).


This research and more  is available to all paying subscribers here, with a full set of charts, tables and graphics: File Icon WFC 1Q10_Review. Pro subscribers can also reference the full forensic report here: WFC Investment Note 22 May 09 - Pro. Retail subscribers should access it through the subscription content link in the main menu, under commercial and investment banks.

As for Jamie's house, as posted on Thursday, 21 June 2012 11:06

Does JPM Stand For "Just Pulling More" Wool Over Analyst's Eyes?

The latest Q2 qualitative observations for JPM are now available for all paying subscribers to download: JPM June 20 2012 Observations. This document contains a few interesting tidbits that, of course, you will get from nowhere else. For instance, did you know that the Q1 2012 financial results have many hidden secrets? We have looked at the Bank’s Q1 2012 financial results and have the following observations:

  • The Bank reported Q1 2012 revenues of $26.7 billion , an increase of $1.5 billion , or 6% , from the prior-year quarter. That sounds decent for a big bank in tough recessionary times, eh? However, the increase was primarily driven by a $1.1 billion benefit from the Washington Mutual bankruptcy settlement. Excluding this benefit, the revenues were almost the same as that in Q1 2011. With flat revenues like these, just imagine what could happen to the bottom line when a multi-billion dollar trading loss occurs.
  • The Bank had booked a loss on fair value adjustment of Mortgage Service Rights (MSR) in Q1 2011 of $1.1 billion. Hey, you know they just don't make those ephemeral, totally contrived 2nd order derivative products like they used to, eh?

Excluding the effect of the MSR loss along with the impact of gain from Washington Mutual bankruptcy, the bank’s Q1 2012 revenues actually decreased compared to Q1 2011.

Combine these secrets, derivative trading (oops, I mean hedging) losses and that bland ZIRP sauce that sucks profits in an increasingly expensive compensation landscape and you'll get one hell of a safe return for your 401k, right Mr Bove, et. al.? 

From the 2009 BoomBustBlog "I told you so" archives...

To wit regarding JP Morgan, on September 18th 2009 I penned the only true Independent Look into JP Morgan that I know of. It went a little something like this:

Click graph to enlarge


Cute graphic above, eh? There is plenty of this in the public preview. When considering the staggering level of derivatives employed by JPM, it is frightening to even consider the fact that the quality of JPM's derivative exposure is even worse than Bear Stearns and Lehman‘s derivative portfolio just prior to their fall. Total net derivative exposure rated below BBB and below for JP Morgan currently stands at 35.4% while the same stood at 17.0% for Bear Stearns (February 2008) and 9.2% for Lehman (May 2008). We all know what happened to Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, don't we??? I warned all about Bear Stearns (Is this the Breaking of the Bear?: On Sunday, 27 January 2008) and Lehman ("Is Lehman really a lemming in disguise?": On February 20th, 2008) months before their collapse by taking a close, unbiased look at their balance sheet. Both of these companies were rated investment grade at the time, just like "you know who". Now, I am not saying JPM is about to collapse, since it is one of the anointed ones chosen by the government and guaranteed not to fail - unlike Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and it is (after all) investment grade rated. Who would you put your faith in, the big ratings agencies or your favorite blogger? Then again, if it acts like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, is it a chicken??? I'll leave the rest up for my readers to decide. 

This public preview is the culmination of several investigative posts that I have made that have led me to look more closely into the big money center banks. It all started with a hunch that JPM wasn't marking their WaMu portfolio acquisition accurately to market prices (see Is JP Morgan Taking Realistic Marks on its WaMu Portfolio Purchase? Doubtful! ), which would very well have rendered them insolvent...

... You can download the public preview here. If you find it to be of interest or insightful, feel free to distribute it (intact) as you wish. JPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis Subscription JPM Public Excerpt of Forensic Analysis Subscription 2009-09-18 00:56:22 488.64 Kb

Recent Articles on JPM

Who Will Be The Next JPM? Simply Review The BoomBustBlog Archives For The Answer

Who Caused JP Morgan's Big Derivative Bust? The Shocker - Ben Bernanke!!!

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Reggie on USA Watchdog


 More on this topic...



Dr. Benjamin Shalom Bernanke, AKA Dr. FrankenFinance, Has ...

Feb 8, 2011 – Dr. Benjamin Shalom Bernanke, AKA Dr. FrankenFinance, Has ... Well my dear BoomBustBlogger, its one part regulatory capture (More on ...

Welcome to the World of Dr. FrankenFinance!

Nov 29, 2007 – Well, The Doctors' FrankenFinance have enabled corporate America (and corporate Europe and Asia as well, I just don't have the time to cover ...


Published in BoomBustBlog

Here's proof, pulled off of the St. Loius Fed's site, and espoused in front of the actual entrance to the NY Fed.

More on the matter...

Bernanke's Lying Through His Teeth and Not A Single Pundit/Analyst/Banker Has Called Him On It!!!

Is The New US Consumer Consumption Bubble Primed To Pop? Yes, There's A Bubble!!!

Recent and related research

Below are three companies that probably will not do well even with Bernanke's machinations. When and if Bernanke fails, look out below.... Click here to subscriber!

Retailer Preliminary Analysis 08/03/2012
Published in BoomBustBlog

No, I didn't even bother to listen to the Bernanke speech! It was a waste of perfectly good hot air. The MSM is all abuzz with the bullshit. A quick Google search for Fed QE3 reveals the cackle...

So, this is the scam story, in a nutshell - Bernanke says he will target the mortgage market to reduce unemployment by pledging to buy $40 billion USD of mortgage securities per month until a demonstrable improvement in the labor force materializes. What the F^ck!!!! So, is it just me or does everyone assume that the most common job in the US is MBS trader? Exactly how direct is the mechanism between MBS purchases and employment? Does anyone truly believe (obviously, from the links above, many actually do) that Bernanke can lift employment by buying mortgage securities? 

Okay, all bullshit aside, this is the skinny. The banks are in trouble again. Actually, they've been in trouble since 2007, but the stress seems to be approaching the acute phase again. The housing scam is once again catching up to this nation's lenders and credit gamblers. The pending downturn in the CS index will prove my point, as will the stress emanating from the inevitable break in Europe. Bernanke has come to save this market and its participants by a) buying the stuff that there is still really no market for, and b) announcing that he will do so indefinitely.

Do I sound conspiratorial? Well, mortgage rates are already at record lows, so what the hell is the purpose of trying to push them even lower, and by force at that? Oh yeah, I forgot... To increase employment. Let's not leave all of those MBS traders to fend for themselves in the unemployment line.

This is what I would do if I was Fed Chairman and I was serious about lowering unemployment - Which Bernanke is not!

 I would take the Fed's resources and purchase SBA bonds aimed at pumping cash into the small business sector, not the housing sector  which is still trying overcome the ramifications of the last bubble popping.  You see, the SBA guarantees loans to small businesses, a group which represents the single largest contributor to employment this nation has. $40 billion per month in SBA bond purchases which would be used to guarantee loans to business creating a significant multiplier effect of no less than 5x - 7x ~ around a quarter trillion US dollars per MONTH in direct small business and direct employment stimulus is like sparking a live wire in a vat of gasoline with a semtex lid - at least in terms of the potential explosiveness this would have in terms of invigorating the small business sector, hiring and within a very short order, the spiking of employment. Now, I admite that this would be blowing a new bubble, but Bernanke is trying to do this now with housing finance, no? Now I admit, the process would not be that simple, but its a whole of a lot simpler than what Bernanke is trying now - that is unless he's really not trying to boost employment... Hmmmm!!!!

The argument can't be made that the SBA loans are not that liquid either. I query, how liquid is the MBS market now?

Of course, the old Bernanke put - which has morphed and metastasized, and is now the Bernanke CDO cubed with inverse kickers - has lit a fire under the ass of stocks. As usual, fundamentals and common sense take second seat to momentum gambling and non-sense. When does the math return? When things get real ugly. This is why my team and I have been focusing on the sector that has mistakenly been seen as much stronger than it actually is - the retailers and vendors of consumer discretionary products and services!

Is The New US Consumer Consumption Bubble Primed To Pop? Yes, There's A Bubble!!!

Recent and related research

Below are three companies that probably will not do well even with Bernanke's machinations. When and if Bernanke fails, look out below.... Click here to subscriber!

Retailer Preliminary Analysis 08/03/2012
Published in BoomBustBlog

The presidential elections are coming up again. The last 4 years went by very quickly, and as always, we are confronted with BS blown all over the mainstream media. This time (like last time) the focus is on the POTUS and the economy. I fear many lay persons and even some who should know better fail to realize that the president has very little willful control over the economy - at least to the upside. Now, it is possible for a president to wreck the economy. For instance, we had one not too long ago who took it upon himself to start several concurrent wars while cutting taxes at the apex of a cyclical economic peak (aka, bubble about to burst), but that rarely occurs, right?

Generally, the POTUS is either blamed or glorified for things that are largely out of his control. Prominent examples have been:

  • Reagan, whose policies actually sucked but rode a cyclical bull to acclaim...
  • Clinton, whose policies sucked less, but still rode a cyclical bull to acclaim.
  • Carter, the poor bastard... Wrong place at the wrong stagflationary time.
  • And last but not least, Obama - there was no way in hell anyone, regardless of who it was other than the almighty God/Buddha/Allah [fill in the blank] himself could have extricated the country from the mess that Bush contributed to.

To be fair, although I would like to say he (as in George Bush Jr.) made the mess, in all actuality he simply was in office when the bubble burst. His greatest crime (other than being the worst president this country has ever seen - and despite the fact that he was re-elected [or re-appointed if you followed that whole hanging chad thing]) was that he exacerbated the effects of the downfall by squandering our resource cushion in unnecessary wars and tax breaks and failed to invest in the entrepreneurial spirit of American small and medium sized businesses, where ALL of the big business (his constituency) actually came from. 

As an aside, see How Inferior American Education Caused The Credit/Real Estate/Sovereign Debt Bubbles and Why It's Preventing True Recovery for my views on education in America. This video tells a tale as well. Please take note of the comments in the video - here's a tell tale burb, "I'm sure Reggie is well aware why this video only has 3667 views, when it should easily be in the millions...........sad........­.sad...sad...sad.....pray for your children"..

See also:

Is this a brother from another mother???

My highly entrepreneurial and uber-cognitive 11 year old son (my older son is and artistic genius wrapped around a true scientist and my young daughter is a legitimate powerhouse and leader - yes, all three of my children are special and yes I am biased :-)) asked me to sit in on his homework assignment of critiquing the presidential candidate speeches. I explained to my boy that a tertiary (if not primary) labor of the POTUS is to pump BS to the masses. Jobs... Schmobs... As clearly articulated in BS At The BLS Leads To Profitable Short Opportunities As Hopium Smokers Get High Off Of Depreciated Dime Bags Of Manipulated Euphoria! Following up on the premise of that article is our next release in the follow of overpriced and over valued retailers. This time around, we get wet... Subscribers, download - Retailer_Final (801.03 kB 2012-09-11 01:30:21)

Now, back to the original premise - Guess what my 11 year old uncovered in the process...

Reggie Middleton on Obama vs Romney Acceptance Speeches

'Nuff said!

Published in BoomBustBlog

CNBC has as a headline “US Shares Seen Higher on Jobs Data Boost”, a very interesting (and rather bullish) take on the state of affairs given what I see as the actual situation. If you recall, I had a much less sanguine perspective last May, as illustrated in US Employment Hopium Smoking Idealists? An interesting contrast to the MSM title above comes from a much smaller publication (Hawaii News Daily) which ran this story a few days ago:

Attention subscribers: New subscription research is available for download in the consumer discretionary sector - Preliminary Analysis
(Consumer Discretionary)

 Did you know that a smaller percentage of Americans are working today than when the last recession supposedly ended?  But you won't hear about this on the mainstream news.  Instead, the mainstream media obsesses over the highly politicized and highly manipulated "unemployment rate".  The media is buzzing about how "163,000 new jobs" were added in July but the unemployment rate went up to "8.254%".  Sadly, those numbers are quite misleading.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in June 142,415,000 people had jobs in the United States. In July, that number declined to 142,220,000. That means that 195,000 fewer Americans were working in July than in June. But somehow that works out to "163,000 new jobs" in July. “

And another interesting snippet...

... the "employment rate" gives a much clearer picture of what is actually going on in the economy.  The employment to population ratio is a measure of the percentage of working age Americans that actually have jobs.  When it goes up that is good.  When it goes down, that is bad.  In July, the employment to population ratio dropped from 58.6 percent to 58.4 percent.  Overall, the percentage of working age Americans that have jobs has now been under 59 percent for 35 months in a row.

The following is a chart of the employment to population ratio in the United States over the past 10 years....

The gray shaded bar in the chart represents the last recession as defined by the Federal Reserve.  As you can see, the percentage of working age Americans with a job dropped sharply from nearly 63 percent at the start of 2008 to a little above 59 percent when the recession ended.

But the "employment rate" kept on dropping even further.

It finally bottomed out at 58.2 percent in December of 2009.

Since that time, it has stayed very steady.  It has not fallen below 58 percent and it has not risen back above 59 percent.

This is very odd, because after ever other recession since World War II this number has always bounced back strongly.

But this has not happened this time.

In essence, it is starting to look like 4 percent of the working age population of the United States has been removed from the workforce permanently.

The good news in all of this is that things have at least not been getting any worse over the last couple of years.  Even though things have been bad, at least we have had a period of relative stability.

The bright guys over at RGE Monitor see it this way:

In July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment report showed payrolls grew by 163,000 after rising by a downward revised figure of 64,000 in June;

This is a stunt designed to create a hopium-induced false sense of euphoria. Let's throw some common sense on this. The Bullshit Labor Statistics report show payrolls grew by 99,000 (yes, that's right! Last months report was revised downward, as it usually is on average). 

May job creation was revised slightly higher. Private payroll rose 172,000 after gaining 73,000 in June, while government payrolls fell 9,000; a piskup in services sector jobs led gains. The household survey showed the unemployment rate at 8.3% as both employment and the labor force dropped, and the broader U-6 unemployment measure increased to 15%...  In late July, initial unemployment claims increased 8,000, while the four-week moving average slightly edged down- in line with the improvement in job creation numbers in the July employment report. However, in July, the Conference Board survey of online job demand showed demand falling by 153,600, after showing modest growth in the second quarter.

So, what's the deal with the general state of the economy? 

U.S. Q2 2012 GDP Growth Falls 25% Amidst the Most Aggressive Fiscal and Monetary Stimulation This Country Has Ever Seen As Durable Goods Expenditure Declines

As per RGE Monitor: According to the advance estimate of Q2 2012 GDP by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), q/q growth was at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 1.5%, after growing at 2% in Q1 2012. The data show a slowdown in the growth rate of real final sales, to 1.2% q/q after rising 2.4% q/q in Q1 2012. The underlying data show a continued weakening in government spending and substantial deceleration in both business fixed structures and fixed residential investment. The data leave U.S. annual growth in 2011 at 1.8%. Clearly, the painfully slow recovery has been insufficient to heal the labor market.

U.S. Consumers: Confidence Continues to Decline in July; Personal Finances and Job Market View Pessimistic

The Reuters/University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment index in July declined for the second consecutive month, with the index falling to 72.3 from 73.2 in June, but up from 72.0 in the early-July preliminary survey (its lowest level since December 2011, from 73.2 in June 2012). While sentiment around current conditions improved in the July survey, expectations dipped and consumers’ assessment of the labor market and personal finances were negative. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index in June fell further to 62.0 from 64.4 from May, registering a decline in the expectations index and painting a mixed picture about the labor market.

U.S. Consumption: Retail Sales Decline for Third Consecutive Month in June

Nominal retail sales in June showed a stronger 0.5% m/m decline, held lower by motor vehicles and parts, building supplies and gasoline spending, while core retail sales—excluding gasoline, autos and building supplies—dipped 0.1% m/m. 

 And on the topic of retail...

Although most see and are starting to admit that we have never really left the 2008 recession, share prices have been called "Cheap" by many "so-called" financial experts despite the S&P flirting with an all time high and Europe preparing to plunge the world back into a concerted global recession (again). Think about the gigantic swath of the S&P that exhibited negative revenue growth but whose shares still rose on higher earnings. They are being rewarded for bringing LESS money into the door. Combining the increasing weakness of the US consumer with the increasing revenue weakness of the US corporation and the upcoming (nearly guaranteed) defalationary shock out of Europa and near all time highs in the stock markets, and you have a recipe for a put parade, no???!!!

I had the BoomBustBlog team carry out a scan of consumer discretionary companies in 'Retail' industries. We started with 102 stocks and whittled them down to 17 based on revenue, operating profit and net profit trend. We also looked at their P/E mutliple, business model and a couple of other more subjective aspects such as analyst expecatation and YTD performance. The same was performed for consumer discretionary companies in the 'Consumer Durable' category. We have one very strong candidate for the consumer/retail short of the year crown, and subscribers (click here to subscribe) can download the preliminary here File Icon Preliminary Analysis
(Consumer Discretionary)

In the meantime and in between time, here are examples of companies that made it to the shortlist but failed to get the crown!

Abercrombie & Fitch and Aeropostale. Two mall stocks and you know how I feel about those malls as Europe pops...


By the way, these are two popular mall stores, and you know how I feel about those malls as Europe pops...

PEI 2nd Quarter Earnings Review - Why Aren't Analysts Asking The Hard, Or Even The Obvious Questions???

Much Of The Developed World Prints Today, But Where's The Wealth? Real Value Of Risk Assets Continue To Plunge!

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Yesterday, I posted The Difference Between Money and Wealth and Why You Can Easily Print One But Must Actually Create The Other, and as if on cue, global inkjet nozzles 'round the world started whizzing - to wit:

Why such rampant printing? The whole world's afraid Europe's impending implosion will engulf global economies. They very well shoud be, this was quite evident 3 years ago (Pan-European sovereign debt crisis) and the can kicking is nearing the end of its useful cycle... ECB's Draghi: We See Now a Weakening of Growth in Whole Euro Area

Here's the secret that BoomBustBlog subscribers know yet seems to be lost on much of the European powers that be: cutting rates and printing will absolutely NOT prevent the nuclear winter in Real Assets. Since loans behind real assets are anywhere between a vast chunk and the majority of bank loans, when this thing goes the European banking system goes with it. This will manifest itself stateside (see sidebox), but the Europeans will get hit harder, at least initially... The reason? Well, it doesn't really matter how low interest rates are - if banks don't lend, borrows will not gain access to capital. Banks are too weak and skittish to lend despite "so-called" record profits, billions in bonuses and compensation, and trillions in bailouts. I repeat, and I repeat again, the only solution is to let the insolvent fail.

The REIT analysis referred to in the chart can be found here forsubscribers (the property by property valuations are for Professional/Institutional subscribers only):

I have just revisited the performance of this company (last update was at least a quarter ago). If my paid subscribers recall, we valued the company at rougly 10% of its current market price (see File Icon Cashflows and Debt Preliminary Analysis), with a variety of scenarios to be played out that may affect said valuation. This was based on valuation of key properties of the company, which together accounted 78% of the total portfolio in value terms.

Since then the company has released its full year 2012 results and 1Q2012 quarterly performance. There is no visible improvement in the performance of the company. The company is struggling to handle massive leverage, industry average defying LTVs, proportionately large debt liabilities coming due - the bulk of which is expected to face the music sometime in 2012 in view of upcoming liabilities of over nearly $700 million during the remainder of the year.

Reference the quite informative post from which the graphics below were excerpted: Watch As Near Free Money To Banks Fails To Prevent Nuclear Winter For European CRE



 So are there any concrete examples of all of this Reggie style pontification? If course there is. Do you see that chart above where the tiny country of the Netherlands is one of the largest per capita contributors to these bailouts? Well, you don't think all of the expenditure (to be) is free do you? Here are some screenshots of a prominent Dutch property company, on its way down the tubes - subscribers reference (click here to subscribe):






Fastforward to today, and NIEUWE STEEN INVESTMENTS N.V. - NSI (one of our shortlisted REIT) suffered the most due to revaluation of their Dutch office portfolio. It therefore witnessed 26% decline in last 4 months.


NSI is simply a microcosm of what's to come for many larger real asset investors. I have warned that the Dutch, with what many consider to be a strong and relatively stable economy, was not immune to the European contagion, reference Are The Ultra Conservative Dutch Immune To Pan-European Economic Contagion...





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Many lay persons are misled by terms such as money printing. This misdirection is easily understood and stems from a basic misunderstanding of what money is, versus actual economic value. Let's assume we have a pie called the EU (or US?), with a 1 trillion euros of economic value. This is the European economic pie. The EU get's in trouble and the banks start to run out of money. Now, the fact of the matter is that those same banks failed to make incremental gains to their actual economic value (true profit) and everyone who's paying attention knows it, hence they faced a problem getting funding. So, they go crying to the central bank, who basically printed euros through various mechanisms in order to push new and additional little pieces of digital paper throughout the system. This is what the layperson sees as money appearing out of nowhere at the behest of the financial bailout gods of the governmental powers that be.

The problem with this viewpoint is that the money appeared out of nowhere, but said money was not backed by actual economic capital. Hence more euros (or dollars) are available in the system, but each of those euros/dollars are simply worth that much less.

This is not economic progress boys and girls. What we need to move forward is to bake bigger pies, not cut the existing and steadily shrinking economic pies into more pieces!!!

Economic pie 

Published in BoomBustBlog

Today's lead story on Bloomberg and the primary theme throughout the financial MSM is Merkel’s Isolation Deepens As Draghi Criticizes Strategy. This is general pressure to force Merkel to succumb to extreme short term thinking that will most assuredely bring the EU to its knees and potentially end the hegemony of what use to be the European empire - that is unless... You know.... This time is different! Yes, these are strong words, strong words are necessry for a dire situation. Let's consder this a massive economic changing of the guard, shall we. And as such, these occurrences portend the potential for MASSIVE speculative investment gains as those financial bastions of faux capitalism come toppling down amidst massive short positiions that the majority simply didn't have the foresight, temerity (or balls) to impliement and hold on to. At the end of this article, I will review FIRE sector (see Reggie Middleton Sets CNBC on FIRE!!! and First I set CNBC on F.I.R.E., Now It Appears I've Set and Greece Is Trying To Convince Portugal To Make F.I.R.E. Hot!!!) entities that I feel are primed to pop as this plays out, yet are not priced accordingly.

On Thursday, 29 September 2011 I penned Sophisticated Ignorance Or Just A Very, Very Short Term Memory? Foolish Talk of German Bailouts Once Again, wherein I queried:

"If I were able to show in this article that it really ISN'T different this time, would it change any decision maker's path or actions? We all know the answer to that question. Time to get those outlier event short positions ready, it's going to be a rough ride!!! A complete recap of recent events..."

This is a very important post, for it will lay out the outline of the impetus behind the 450+% gains I achieced in 2008/9. As queried in the afore-linked article, "So, at what point do we ever learn the basic lesson that "You can't solve an indebted nation's debt problems with more debt"?" 

The original "Sophisticated Ignorance" post was made in response to Germany being lauded for voting to nearly double the size of the then largest EU bailout fund ever...  

German lawmakers approved by a wide margin legislation to boost the scope and size of the euro zone's rescue fund, in a major step toward tackling the bloc's sovereign-debt crisis.

Lawmakers passed the reform of the European Financial Stability Facility with 523 'yes' votes, while 85 lawmakers voted 'no' and three abstained. The vote was seen as a test of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right coalition.

All 17 euro-zone governments have to approve the expansion, which will boost the fund’s lending capacity to €440 billion ($595.94 billion) from €250 billion and expand its powers to allow it to extend credit lines to banks and buy bonds on the secondary market.

To conitnue to quote from "Sophisticated Ignorance"...

This was the problem that I had with Paulson's original TARP idea. It just won't work because it doesn't solve the problem. Instead, it attempts to conceal the problem in fashion that pretends it never existed. Let's walk through this so a 5 year old can understand it.

Of course EU governments will try to bail out their banks again. The issue is that the bailout is not the question, neither is the success of said bailouts (this is rather a trick question, since the soveriegn states simply cannot afford to bailout their banks any more than a 100 lbs man can lift a 400lbs man). The fact of the matter at hand is that they simply can't afford to bail them out. The banking system is just too big. 


As BoomBustBlog's above average prescience (see Pan-European sovereign debt crisis) and Reinhart and Rogoff, of This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly have clearly demonstrated, the source of the sovereigns debt problems is related DIRECTLY to the attempt to bailout insolvent banks, taking private sector losses upon public balance sheets, and eventually bankrupting the public state while doing nothing to fix the problems of the private banks, and ulitimately witnessing the private banks fail anyway.

I have predicted FIRE sector (including banks) failure at a commendable rate (see Did Reggie Middleton, a Blogger at BoomBustBlog, Best Wall

Subscribers, please reference the following documents analyzing the FIRE companies we see at risk as a result of the following circumstances.

We have reviewed the finance portion extensively throughout 2011. See Commercial & Investment Banks section of the subscription content area. This is the latest bank who we feel will suffere significant if the feces hits the fan blades  Bank Haircuts, Derivative Risks and Valuation.

I have also detailed the risks in commercial real estate in the Dutch markets, see

Now available for download to all paying subscribers is a US REIT headed for distress -  US Commercial REIT Distress Overview
(Commercial Real Estate)
. Professional and institutional subscribers will have an addendum published with additional companies that just missed the shortlist, but may see problems in the near to medium term.

Streets Best of the Best?). It's not rocket science, though. It's simply (and actually quite simple, since my 10 year old can do it) math, coupled with a pliable understanding of human nature couped in grasp of history. Listen, it was the (attempted) bailing out of the banking system that got these countries in this situation to begin with. Bailing out the banks just two years later??? Do you really thing that will help the sovereign debt situation or hurt it? If the bailout goes through, you eat the small losses (relative to the big gains that BoomBustBlog delivered subscribers) and roll your gains directly into bearish positions on the bailing sovereigns. It's really just that simple. Don't believe me, let's look at history, and remember that that is Germany being referenced in the graphic below, G-E-R-M-A-N-Y!!!


On that note and after a quick education on how this time is no diffeent than any other time in the past 800 years, let's revisist today's MSM headline, ala Bloomberg... 


Merkel’s Isolation Deepens As Draghi Criticizes Strategy 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was besieged by critics for letting the euro crisis smolder, with the leaders of Italy and the European Central Bank demanding bolder steps to stabilize the 17-nation economy.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and ECB President Mario Draghi pushed Germany to give up its opposition to direct euro- area aid for struggling banks. Monti further antagonized Germany by urging a roadmap to common borrowing.

Calling himself a devotee of German-style budgetary rigor, Monti told a Brussels conference yesterday that Merkel’s vision of a stable economy “risks being undermined because of lack of promptness in setting up the necessary instruments to limit the contagion.”

And therein lies the rub. You see, creating a direct conduit to zombie banks from teh ECB and bailout mechanisms will not limit contagion, it will materially exacerbate it by allowing the financial pathogens direct access to the mothership - the ECB! Look at the history of the western world for over 800 years. THE BAD BANK BAILOUT IDEALOGY SIMPLY HAS NOT WORKED, EVER!!!

Financial markets offered a snapshot of Europe’s stresses after more than two years of crisis, with the euro close to its weakest in two years against the dollar. German two-year note yields fell below zero today as investors paid for shelter from the market mayhem afflicting Italy and Spain.

“Countries that are at the core of the system and which have had the huge merit of instilling the culture of stability to the European Union in the first place, most notably Germany, should really reflect deeply but quickly,” Monti said via video link to the Brussels conference. “Europe should really accelerate the efforts, as the European Commission is doing, in order to limit the contagion.”

Oh yeah, I've commented on this in the past as well. What happens to a net export nation's economy when all of its export partners are in recession, depression, war and socio-political unrest while the banking system unfolds around them? The Biggest Threat To The 2012 Economy Is??? Not What Wall Street Is Telling You...

As Germany goes, so does the insurance industry's magically levitating FI porfolio. You see, German gains offset periphery losses. What happens when everyone realizes Gemany may be in the penthouse suite, but still resides in the same overindebted roach motel?

European banks are (in addition to borrowing on a secured basis from those customers they usually lend to) also paying insurers and pension funds to take their illiquid bonds in exchange for better quality ones, in a desperate bid to secure much-needed cash from the ECB, which only provides cash against collateral. This may not be as safe a measure as it sounds. Below is a sensitivity analysis of Generali's (a highly leveraged Italian insurer, subscribers see File Icon Exposure of European insurers to PIIGS) sovereign debt holdings.


As you can see, Generali is highly leveraged into PIIGS debt, with 400% of its tangible equity exposed. Despite such leveraged exposure, I calculate (off the cuff, not an in depth analysis) that it took a 10% hit to Tangible Equity. Now, that's a lot, but one would assume that it would have been much worse. What saved it? Diversification into Geman bunds, whose yield went negative, thus throwing off a 14% return. Not bad for alleged AAA fixed income. But let's face it, Germany lives in the same roach motel as the rest of the profligate EU, they just rent the penthouse suite! Remember, Germany is not in recession after a rip roaring bull run in its bonds, and I presume the recession should get much deeper since as a net exporter it has to faces its trading partners going broke. Below you see what happens if the bund returns were simply run along the historical trend line (with not extreme bullishness of the last year).


Companies such as Generali would instantly lose a third of their tangible equity. This is quite conservative, since the profligate states bonds would probably collapse unless the spreads shrink, which is highly doubtful. Below you see what would happen if bunds were to take a 10% loss.


That's right, a 10% loss in bunds translates into a near 50% loss in tangible equity to this insurer, which would realistically be 60% plus as the rest of the EU portfolio will compress in solidarity. Combine this with the fact that insurers operating results are facing historically unprecedented stress (see You Can Rest Assured That The Insurance Industry Is In For Guaranteed Losses!) and it's not hard to imagine marginal insurers seeing equity totally wiped out. The same situation is evident in banks and pension funds as well as real estate entities dependent on financing in the near to medium term - basically, the entire FIRE sector in both European and US markets (that's right, don't believe those who say the US banks have decoupled from Europe).


If you ddin't put your short on Generali back in 2010 when I first brought it to subscriber's attention, then it's too late now. It's not too late to jump on our latest insurance industry subject, though. The last forensic report was centered around an insurer - see You Can Rest Assured That The Insurance Industry Is In For Guaranteed Losses! and Our Next Forensic Analysis Subject Is In The Insurance Industry. The actual report is available here:

Bank runs are invevitable! 

As excerpted from our professional series File Icon Bank Run Liquidity Candidate Forensic Opinion:


This is how that document started off. Even if we were to disregard BNP's most serious liquidity and ALM mismatch issues, we still need to address the topic above. Now, if you were to employ the free BNP bank run models that I made available in the post "The BoomBustBlog BNP Paribas "Run On The Bank" Model Available for Download"" (click the link to download your own copy of the bank run model, whether your a simple BoomBustBlog follower or a paid subscriber) you would know that the odds are that BNP's bond portfolio would probably take a much bigger hit than that conservatively quoted above.  Here I demonstrated what more realistic numbers would look like in said model... image008image008

Yes, European bank runs are inevitable, but the causes of the bank runs are not. That's the problem. Instead of addressing the root causes of the bank runs, EU decision makers opt to throw more paper money into a gaping furnace to be burned as fast as it can be shoveled. 

Since the problems have not been cured, they're literally guaranteed to come back and bite ass. Guaranteed! So, as suggested earlier on, download your appropriate BoomBustBlog BNP Paribas "Run On The Bank" Models (they range from free up to institutional), read the balance of this article for perspective, then populate the assumptions and inputs with what you feel is realistic. I'm sure you will come up with conclusions similar to ours. Below is sample output from the professional level model (BNP Exposures - Professional Subscriber Download Version) that simulates the bank run that the news clippings below appear to be describing in detail...(Click to enlarge to printer quality)


A detailed and accurate picture of what is happening...

  1. Now That European Bank Run Contagion Has Started Skipping Across That Big Pond... US Bank Risk Stands Woefully Underappreciated!!!
  2. The BoomBustBlog BNP Paribas "Run On The Bank" Model Available for Download
  3. BNP Bust Up: Yet Another Reason Why BNP Paribas Is Still Ripe For Implosion!
  4. Most Headlines Now Show French Bank Run Has Started, And It's Happening Just As Our Research Anticipated
  5. I Will Fly In The Face Of Common Wisdom & Walk Through A Run On BNP On International Television
  6. And The European Bank Run Continues...

A step by step tutorial on exactly how it will happen....

Stacy Summary: We interview Reggie Middleton about a run on French banks. I notice today that Pimco’s El-Erian is also talking about a run on French banks. He must have watched the Keiser Report when it aired from late last night PDT. We know you’re taking our shtick Mr. El-Erian, we’ve got our eye on you!

Go to 13:07 marker in the video, contrast and compare and consider watching the smaller more independent shows for the real scoop every now and then.

For some back ground on the "Kick the Can Triumvirate Three" [BBB Trademark], go to 20:50 in the video and dedicate 5 minutes to it...

My April presentation in Amsterdam as Keynote detailing the inevitable...

Amsterdam's VPRO Backlight and Reggie Middleton on brutal honesty, destructive derivatives and the "overbanked" status of many European sovereign nations

Amsterdam's VPRO Backlight and Reggie Middleton on brutal honesty, destructive derivatives and the "overbanked" status of many European sovereign nations

Again, I believe the next big thing, for when (not if, but when) European banks blow up, is the reverberation through American banks and how it WILL affect us stateside! Subscribers, be sure to be prepared. Puts are already quite costly, but there are other methods if you haven't taken your positions when the research was first released. For those who wish to subscribe, click here.

Note: This bank has members of its peer group who have been identified as at risk, but no one has pulled the covers off of this one as of yet. I think I may blow the whistle. It will be a doozy, and a potentially very profitable one at that since nearly 3/4 of it tangible equity is embroiled in a region that looks like it is about to blow up. As I type this, some of the puts have already doubled in price. I will be releasing additional analysis on this bank this weekend for paying subscribers.


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