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The One Rate That Is Not Only Not Going Down, But Is At A 13-Year High

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 15:48

With 77 million Americans having debt past due and the average household owing more than $15,000 in credit card debt, it appears the Fed's supposed plan to 'help Main Street' is not working so well. As the following chart from NewEdge's Brad Wishak shows, despite Fed Funds at practically zero, US credit card variable interest rates continue to rise - now at their highest since July 2001.

 

 

h/t Brad Wishak at NewEdge








I’m Shocked! Shocked!

Mises Canada - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 15:28

From today’s Open Europe news summary:

In its quarterly report, the Greek Parliament’s State Budget Office has warned that Greece will require a third bailout package to avoid a default, and that despite capital injections, the problems of the country’s banks has not been resolved yet, reports Kathimerini. Kathimerini Kathimerini 2 Greece will “need” a third bailout, and a fourth bailout, and a fifth bailout, ad infinitum until the EU has had enough.  As long as Greece can get more money from the EU, it will never adopt the reforms needed to stand on its own. Such are the wages of socialism everywhere, whether pertaining to the individual or entire nations.

Bonds & Peso Slide As Fernandez Slams Holdouts For "True Aggression Against Argentina"

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 15:21

With hours to go until Argentina's grace period runs out and default occurs, investors are less than frantically selling Argentine bonds and pesos. They are lower but do not appear in full panic mode as we presume investors cling to hope that Argentina folds and pays off the holdouts (though there has been no sign of that so far). ARG 2033 bonds are down 3 points to 81 and the black-market peso is modestly weaker at 13.0 (near its record lows). Argentine CDS tightened modestly (as BofA warns the facts surrounding Argentina’s bond payments continue to be unique and deciding if CDS are triggered could take longer than expected) but 1Y CDS are holding at 4600bps (equivalent) - a 52% probability of default. Paul singer continues to defend himself (and the holdouts) from claims they are "dangerous fundamentalists" hell-bent on making it impossible for foreign sovereigns to restructure their debts.

Bonds are dropping but not in panic mode yet as CDS are priced for around a 52% probability of default.

 

Argentine President Cristine Fernandez speaks:

  • *ARGENTINA HAS PAID DEBT ON TIME WITHOUT MARKET ACCESS:FERNANDEZ
  • *ARGENTINE DEBT-TO-GDP RATIO AMONG LOWEST IN WORLD: FERNANDEZ
  • *HOLDOUTS UNDERTAKING TRUE AGRESSION AGAINST ARGENTINA:FERNANDEZ
  • *FERNANDEZ SAYS JUDGE GRIESA HASN'T BEEN NEUTRAL IN BOND CASE
  • *ARGENTINA REITERATES WILL TO PAY 100% OF CREDITORS: FERNANDEZ
  • *FERNANDEZ SAYS HOLDOUTS SHOULD ACCEPT PREVIOUS SWAP TERMS

But Elliott's Paul Singer defends himself and the holdouts...

As of this writing, the U.S. Supreme Court’s final rulings on two cases pitting our subsidiary, NML Capital, against Argentina have generated more than 500 news articles. In addition to provoking an endless array of bad plays on the phrase, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina,” the flood of coverage has occasioned quite a bit of commentary about Elliott. According to some, we are a positive force in the markets, because “credit markets function better when the rule of law is upheld” (New York Times, June 26). According to others, we are “dangerous fundamentalists” hell-bent on making it impossible for foreign sovereigns to restructure their debts (Foreign Affairs, June 24).

 

Elliott does not seek such publicity. Obviously, our lives would be easier if the press cared less about this particular position and/or similar positions that attract attention. The Economist ran a piece rebutting the silly and hyperbolic claim that our case will encourage lots of other investors to follow our lead, dryly noting that “There are easier ways to make money.” We think most other investors would certainly agree. As we have noted, one of the reasons that we continue to see attractive opportunities, even in the current yield-hungry environment, is that complex, labor-intensive situations are not everyone’s cup of tea.

 

While many journalists and commentators often badly misunderstand what Elliott is all about, we understand that this publicity is occasionally the cost of adhering to our philosophy, which is to seek truly uncorrelated positions in which the key determinants of unlocking value are our own creativity and hard work. Once we are in these positions, we see them through and try to achieve the best return possible. That commitment is especially strong when we indisputably have the rule of law on our side.

 

More than once during the Argentina saga, we have been erroneously described as a fund that goes out of its way to seek out litigation. That description is false – litigation is uncertain, expensive, difficult and time-consuming. It is a last resort to which we only turn when a dispute becomes impossible to resolve through negotiations, as has been the case for many years with respect to Argentina due to the Argentine government’s refusal to negotiate with us. However, if we must litigate in the course of enforcing our contractual rights, then we will not shy away from it. And if publicity is also a part of that equation, then so be it.

The IMF just gave Argentina the kiss of death...

  • *IMF SEES NO BROAD CONSEQUENCES OF ARGENTINA POTENTIAL DEFAULT

As BofA warns this may not be simple

  • *DETERMINING ARGENTINE CDS CREDIT EVENT WOULD BE LENGTHY: BOFA
  • *DEFINING EVENT OF A DEFAULT FOR ARGENTINA NOT CLEAR-CUT: BOFA

Determining whether Argentina’s failure to reach a settlement with holdout creditors tomorrow will trigger a default on bonds and credit-default swaps isn’t clear cut, according to Bank of America Corp.

“To make the determination on whether a default had occurred, a process that would normally take around a day, could take much longer,” Jane Brauer, a New York-based strategist at the bank, wrote. “We expect that Argentina will continue to claim that it paid in full and on time, even though it was fully aware, at the time of deposit, that the recipient trustee would likely hold the funds.








NY Regulator Demands Government Monitors "Inside" Barclays And Deutsche Bank

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 14:51

With the NY Fed already warning of "significant operational risk," and former Fed officials proclaiming Deutsche Bank is "horribly under-capitalized," along with Barclays 'dark pool' and gold manipulations, it is perhaps not a total surprise that, as WSJ reports, New York's banking regulator is pushing to install government monitors inside the U.S. offices of Deutsche Bank and Barclays as part of an intensifying investigation into possible manipulation in the foreign-exchange market. These two banks were selected because they had the 'greatest potential problems' based on a preliminary investigation.

 

As WSJ reports,

New York's banking regulator is pushing to install government monitors inside the U.S. offices of Deutsche Bank and Barclays as part of an intensifying investigation into possible manipulation in the foreign-exchange market, according to people familiar with the probe.

 

The state's Department of Financial Services notified lawyers for the two European banks earlier this month that it wanted to install a monitor inside each firm, based on preliminary findings in the agency's six-month currencies-market probe, these people said. Negotiations are continuing over the details of the monitors' appointments, but New York investigators expect to reach an agreement soon.

 

The regulatory agency has selected Deutsche Bank and Barclays for extra scrutiny partly because the records it has collected so far from more than a dozen banks under its supervision point to the greatest potential problems at those two banks, the people said. Plus, Deutsche Bank and Barclays are among the dominant players in the vast foreign-exchange market, so investigators hope a close-up view into their businesses will help them observe other players and trading patterns, the people said.

 

A Barclays spokesman declined to comment; the U.K. bank previously has said it is cooperating with authorities. A Deutsche Bank spokesman said it is cooperating with investigators "and will take disciplinary action with regards to individuals if merited."

 

...

 

Deutsche Bank and Barclays are among more than 10 banks that have fired or suspended dozens of senior executives, traders and others staff in connection with civil and criminal foreign-exchange probes in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere.

 

...

 

The New York regulator envisions wide-ranging investigative roles for its monitors inside Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to the people close to the probe. The monitors' powers will include interviewing bank employees, clients and business partners, observing trading practices and compliance, and reviewing more records beyond what the banks already have supplied.

We are sure they will greeted on the floor with open arms...

*  *  *

And don't forget the elephant in the room...

 

And Barclays headache...

 








The "Most Significant Danger" According To Elliott's Paul Singer

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 14:27

While we have 'joked' about it in the past, Elliott Management's Paul Singer believes "there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence" - an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

 

 

Did someone EMP the 9th floor at Liberty 33?

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) June 24, 2014

Did someone launch an EMP next to the BATS New Jersey exchange? Spoos now decidedly ungreen

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) April 3, 2014

 

Not a laughing matter....

Exceprted from Elliott Management's latest letter from Paul Singer,

EMP: THE MOST SIGNIFICANT DANGER

While these pages are typically overflowing with scary or depressing scenarios, there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence. Even nuclear war is a relatively localized issue, except in its most extreme form. And the threat from asteroids can (possibly) be mitigated.

The risks associated with electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, represent another story entirely. It can occur naturally, from solar storms that send “coronal mass ejections,” which are massive energetic bursts of solar wind, tens of millions of miles in a mere few hours. Or it can be artificial, produced by a high-altitude (at least 15 miles) explosion of relatively low-yield (even Hiroshima-strength) nuclear weapons.

Different initiators of EMP have different pulses and different effects. But the bottom line is that EMP fries electronic devices, including parts of electric grids. In 1859, a particularly strong solar disturbance (the “Carrington Event”) caused disruption to the nascent telegraph network. It happened again with similar disruptions in 1921, before our modern power grid came into existence. A NASA study concluded these events have typically occurred around once per century. A repeat of the Carrington Event today would cause a massive disruption to the electric grid, possibly shutting it down entirely for months or longer, with unimaginable consequences.

Only two years ago, the sun let loose with a Carrington-magnitude burst, but the position of the earth at the time prevented the burst from hitting it. The chances of additional events of such magnitude may be far greater than most people think.

The artificial version of EMP, a kind of nuclear attack, would require between one and three high-altitude nuclear explosions to create its effect across all of North America. It would not cause any blast or radiation damage, but such an attack would have consequences even more catastrophic than a severe solar storm. It could not only bring down the grid, but also lay down a very intense, very fast pulse across the continent, damaging or destroying electronic switches, devices, computers and transformers across America.

There is no way to stop a naturally occurring EMP, and nuclear proliferation, combined with advances in weapons delivery systems, make the artificial version a distinct possibility, so the dangers are very real.

What can be done about this risk? Critical elements of the power grid and essential electronic devices can be hardened. Spare parts can be stockpiled for other, less critical hardware. Procedures can be developed as part of emergency preparedness so that the relevant government agencies and emergency response NGOs are ready to respond quickly and effectively to an episode large or small.

Why are we writing about EMP? Because in any analysis of societal risk, EMP stands all by itself. Congressional committees are studying this problem, and federal legislation is laboriously working its way through the process. We think that raising people’s consciousness about what should be an effort by both parties to make the country (and the world) safer from this kind of event is a good thing to do.








Strong 5 Year Bond Auction Has Record Low Dealer Takedown, Directs Surge

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 14:11

If yesterday's 2 Year bond auction was a snoozer, today's 5 Year was anything but. First, the pricing was solid, and while the high yeild of 1.72 was the highest since May 2011, it stopped 1.2 bps through the 1.732% When Issued. The Bid to Cover was also solid, rising from 2.74 to 2.81, the highest since March and now appears to have decisively broken the downtrend in BTCs seen through the end of 2013. The most notable features of today's auction however were the internals, where we saw the Direct takedown soar from 9.3% to 25.9%, the second highest on record and only lower than the 30.4% in December 2012. And while Indirects were again flat like in yesterday's auction at 48.2%, it was the Dealers who had to make space, and the resulting Dealer allotment of 25.9% was far lower than the 38.2% in June, and the lowest in auction history.

So yet again: if many at the Fed are expecting 2%, 3% and even 5% Fed Funds rates in 2016, the 5 Year auction begs to differ, and either someone is very wrong or in the coming two years the curve will steepen so much the only debate will be whether it is a double dip recession or outright depression.


Canadian Doctor Quarantines Himself Over Ebola Fears After Returning From Liberia

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 13:50

Earlier today we wondered, rhetorically, if the CDC was wrong when it stated, with confidence, that there is "little risk" for the Ebola virus to leave the African continent, and cross the Atlantic, landing in North America. We may have gotten the official refutation less than 6 hours later, when moments ago Canada's CTV reported that a Canadian doctor is in self-imposed quarantine after spending nearly a month in West Africa treating patients in the deadly Ebola outbreak that has claimed nearly 700 lives. "Dr. Azaria Marthyman of Victoria, B.C. was among a handful of Canadian health-care workers who traveled to Liberia, where the Ebola epidemic is currently raging. He was part of a North American team from the Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse." This is the same charity organization whose two US citizen members were previously reported to have caught the virus.

Dr. Azaria Marthyman of Victoria, B.C. is seen putting on protective
gear before treating Ebola patients in Liberia.

Dr. Marthyman worked at the agency’s facility in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, before returning to Canada last Saturday. While he has not tested positive for the disease, he has quarantined himself as a precaution.

And immediately, the attempt to spin this as good news emerges: "Azaria is symptom-free right now and there is no chance of being contagious with Ebola if you are not exhibiting symptoms," Melissa Strickland, a spokesperson for Samaritan’s Purse, told CTV Vancouver Island.

That last statement may be worth a #timestamp, especially considering that one of Marthyman’s colleagues with Samaritan’s Purse, Dr. Kent Brantly, is confirmed infected. The 33-year-old married father of two children is undergoing intensive treatment for the disease, but has been able to speak with doctors and work on his computer.

From CTV:

Health care workers undergo rigorous decontamination processes to avoid infection.

 

“It takes about 45 minutes to suit up before going into the isolation area,” Marthyman said by telephone.

 

His journey to West Africa is not his first to an area ravaged by disease or disaster. Last year, he travelled to the Philippines to provide medical care to victims of Typhoon Haiyan. In 2010, he joined a medical team that treated patients affected by a cholera epidemic in Haiti.

 

In an interview prior to his trip to Haiti, the father of seven shared why he risks his life to help others.

 

“We have this slogan at home that we always say at the table, and it’s ‘do your share and let the love go around,’” Marthyman said.

We congratulate Dr. Marthyman for doing the right thing, and we certainly hope that all of his Ebola tests turn out negative.








Is Hong Kong-US Dollar Link About To End? HKMA Buys $715 Million To Support Peg

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 13:28

Yesterday saw something quite unusual in the New York trading session. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority bought $715 million (selling HKD) in the FX markets to manage its currency peg, injecting the money into the banking system (and expanding its balance sheet) to prevent HKD from rising above its permitted range. HKMA projects its balance sheet to grow to the end of July, but as Simon Black (of Sovereign Man blog) notes, this could well be the start of a bigger shift - an end to the US Dollar peg..."The US is no longer the undisputed superpower it once was. The US dollar is dragging them down. Hong Kong is easily strong enough to stand on its own."

 

HKMA's balance sheet is surging - HKD demand pressuring peg, thus buying USD (and selling HKD) to manage peg...

 

Is this the beginning of the end of the HKD peg to the US Dollar? (via Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog)

It was a different world in 1983.

 

Michael Jackson invented the Moonwalk. Return of the Jedi opened in theaters across the world. IBM released its most advanced personal computer yet– the XT, with a standard 10 megabyte hard drive.

 

And after nearly a decade of eratic swings and collapses, the Hong Kong government pegged its currency (the Hong Kong dollar) to the US dollar at a rate of 7.80 HKD per USD.

 

This was a big move for Hong Kong. The Hong Kong dollar had originally been backed by silver until 1935 when, facing a shortage of precious metals, they pegged it to the British pound.

 

This made sense in 1935 as the British pound sterling was still (barely) the world’s top reserve currency.

 

But things changed. In 1972, Hong Kong broke from the pound and adopted a new peg to the US dollar.

 

This didn’t last either. After just two years, the US government’s rising debt and inflation forced Hong Kong to abandon the US dollar peg.

 

At that point Hong Kong was well-known and stable… so why bother pegging the currency at all? The HKD floated freely in the marketplace, just like any other currency.

 

It went well for them at first. But by the early 1980s, the Hong Kong dollar had become much weaker due to jitters over the island’s reunification with China.

 

Finally, in 1983, they re-established a peg with the US dollar. And at the time, this probably made a lot of sense.

 

In 1983, Fed Chairman Paul Volker had established tremendous international credibility, both for the US dollar as well as the Federal Reserve. And most of all, Hong Kong was in need of a strong anchor.

 

But 31 years later the world is entirely different.

 

Michael Jackson is no longer with us. The world has sat through three completely lame Star Wars prequel movies. Even the cheapest mobile phone has more storage capacity than the IBM XT.

 

And both the Fed’s and America’s credibility have waned.

 

Today Hong Kong is one of the world’s richest economies. When compared with the US, nearly every objective fundamental about Hong Kong’s economy is stronger.

 

Its fiscal balances are higher. The government runs a budget surplus. Government debt is a rounding error. It’s a night and day difference. There’s no reason why these two currencies should be linked.

 

Theoretically, Hong Kong’s currency should be much stronger than the peg allows. But its purchasing power is being artificially supressed.

 

This means that residents of Hong Kong pay more for products and services than they should, including basic staples like food (90% of which is imported).

 

But after three decades, things are starting to get interesting.

 

Just recently the Hong Kong dollar hit the upper limit of its allowable range– exactly 7.7500. And the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has had to spend billions of dollars to defend the peg.

 

The reasons are unclear, though it’s entirely possible that investors are attacking the peg, similar to what happened to the pound back in the 1990s. We could be in the early stages of such an assault.

 

Even if not, it’s time for a change.

 

These currency pegs are not set in stone; Hong Kong has changed its own peg several times. And the basic fundamentals which led them to the US dollar in 1983 have changed completely.

 

The US is no longer the undisputed superpower it once was. The US dollar is dragging them down. Hong Kong is easily strong enough to stand on its own.

 

Bottom line, there’s no longer any benefit in maintaining the peg. Yet the costs (inflation, asset bubbles) are too high. This will eventually right itself.

 

For the last several years, we’ve been recommending that our readers hold Hong Kong dollars– especially if you normally hold US dollars.

 

The currency is still pegged to a very narrow band, so the most it would fluctuate is 1.27%.

 

But if the Hong Kong government revalues the Hong Kong dollar, the gain could easily be 30% or more if they simply revalue to the level of the renminbi.

 

Given the limited downside risk, this is a very safe bet to make.

 

The best way to do it? Open a bank account in Asia.

*  *  *

Between China unveiling stealth QE, the strengthening of CNY and now the upward pressure on HKD, something is afoot under the surface as The Fed nears the end of QE.








Our Totalitarian Future: “Vicious Resource Wars, Violent Upheaval and Starvation for Millions”

SHTF Plan - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 13:25

This article has been contributed by James Quinn of The Burning Platform. This is Part 1 of the series.

Our Totalitarian Future (Part 1)
By James Quinn

“On the first Christmas Day the population of our planet was about two hundred and fifty millions — less than half the population of modern China. Sixteen cen­turies later, when the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plym­outh Rock, human numbers had climbed to a little more than five hundred millions. By the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, world pop­ulation had passed the seven hundred million mark. In 1931, when I was writing Brave New World, it stood at just under two billions. Today, only twenty-seven years later, there are two billion eight hundred million of us. And tomorrow — what?” -
Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958

 

As the world explodes in violence, war, riots, and uprisings, it is challenging to step back and examine the bigger picture. With airliners being shot down over the Ukraine, missiles flying between Israel and Gaza, ongoing civil war in Syria, Iraq falling apart as ISIS gains ground, dictatorship crackdown in Egypt, Turkey on the verge of revolution, Iran gaining control of Iraq, Saudi Arabia fomenting violence, Africa dissolving into chaos, South America imploding and sending their children across our purposely porous southern border, Mexico under the control of drug lords, China experiencing a slow motion real estate collapse, Japan experiencing their third decade of Keynesian failure, facing a demographic nightmare scenario while being slowly poisoned by radiation, and Chinese-Japanese relations moving towards World War II levels, it is easy to get lost in the day to day minutia of history in the making.

Why is this happening at this point in history? Why is the average American economically worse off today than they were at the height of the economic crisis in 2009? Why is the Cold War returning with a vengeance? Why is the Federal Reserve still employing emergency monetary policies when we are supposedly five years into a recovery and the stock market has attained record highs? Why do the ECB and European politicians continue to paper over the insolvency of their banks and governments? Why did the U.S. support the ouster of a dictator we supported for decades in Egypt and then support the elevation of a new dictator after we didn’t like the policies of the democratically elected president? Why did the U.S. eliminate the leader of Libya and allow the country to descend into anarchy and civil war? Why did the U.S. fund and provoke a revolutionary overthrow of a democratically elected leader in the Ukraine? Why did the U.S. fund and arm Al Qaeda associated rebels in Syria who are now fighting our supposed allies in Iraq? Why has the U.S. been occupying Afghanistan for the last thirteen years with the result being a Taliban that is stronger than ever? Why are the BRIC countries forming a monetary union to challenge USD domination? Why is the U.S. attempting to provoke Russia into a conflict with NATO?

Why is the U.S. government collecting every electronic communication made by every American? Why is the U.S. government spying on world leader allies? Why is the U.S. government providing military equipment to local police forces? Why is the U.S. military conducting training exercises within U.S. cities? Why is the U.S. government attempting to restrict Second Amendment rights? Why is the U.S. government attempting to control and lockdown the internet? Why has the U.S. government chosen to treat the Fourth Amendment as if it is obsolete? Why is the national debt still rising by $750 billion per year ($2 billion per day) if the economy is back to normal? Why have 12 million working age Americans left the workforce since the economic recovery began? How could the unemployment rate be back at 2008 levels when there are 14 million more working age Americans and the same number employed as in 2008? Why are there 13 million more people on food stamps today than there were at the start of the economic recovery in 2009? Why have home prices risen by 25% since 2012 when mortgage applications have been at fourteen year lows? Why are Wall Street profits and bonuses at record highs while the real median household income stagnates at 1998 levels?

Why do 98% of incumbent politicians get re-elected when congressional approval levels are lower than whale shit? Why are oil prices four times higher than they were in 2003 if the U.S. is supposedly on the verge of energy independence? Why do the corporate controlled mainstream media choose to entertain and regurgitate government propaganda rather than inform, investigate and seek the truth? Why do corporations and shadowy billionaires control the politicians, media, judges, and financial system in their ravenous quest for more riches? Why has the public allowed a privately owned bank to control our currency and inflate away 96% of its value in 100 years? Why have American parents allowed their children to be programmed and dumbed down by government run public schools? Why have Americans allowed themselves to be lured into debt in an effort to appear wealthy and successful? Why have Americans permitted their brains to atrophy through massive doses of social media, reality TV, iGadget addiction, and a cultural environment of techno-narcissism? Why have Americans lost their desire to read, think critically, question authority, act responsibly, defer gratification, and care about future generations? Why have Americans sacrificed their freedoms, liberties and rights for the false expectation of safety and security? Why will we pay dearly for our delusional, materialistic, debt financed idiocy? – Because we never learn the lessons of history.

There are so many questions and no truthful answers forthcoming from those who pass for leaders in this increasingly totalitarian world. Our willful ignorance, apathy, hubris and arrogance will have consequences. Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. The cyclicality of history guarantees a further deepening of this Crisis. The world has evolved from totalitarian hegemony to republican liberty and regressed back to totalitarianism throughout the centuries. Anyone honestly assessing the current state of the world and our country would unequivocally conclude we have regressed back towards a totalitarian regime where a small cabal of powerful oligarchs believes they can control and manipulate the masses in their gluttonous desire for treasure. Aldous Huxley foretold all the indicators of a world descending into totalitarianism due to overpopulation, propaganda, brainwashing, consumerism, and dumbing down of a distracted populace in his 1958 reassessment of his 1931 novel Brave New World.

Is There a Limit?

“At the rate of increase prevailing between the birth of Christ and the death of Queen Elizabeth I, it took sixteen centuries for the population of the earth to double. At the present rate it will double in less than half a century. And this fantastically rapid doubling of our numbers will be taking place on a planet whose most desirable and pro­ductive areas are already densely populated, whose soils are being eroded by the frantic efforts of bad farmers to raise more food, and whose easily available mineral capital is being squandered with the reckless extravagance of a drunken sailor getting rid of his accumulated pay.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958

Demographics are easy to extrapolate and arrive at an accurate prediction, as long as the existing conditions and trends remain relatively constant. Huxley was accurate in his doubling prediction. The world population was 2.9 billion in 1958. It only took 39 years to double again to 5.8 billion in 1997. It has grown by 24% in the last 17 years to the current level of 7.2 billion. According to United Nations projections, world population is projected to reach 9.6 billion in 2050. The fact that it would take approximately 70 years for the world’s population to double from the 1997 level reveals a slowing growth rate, as the death rate in many developed countries surpasses their birth rate. The population of the U.S. grew from 175 million in 1958 to 320 million today, an 83% increase in 56 years.

The rapid population growth over the last century from approximately 1.8 billion in 1914, despite two horrific world wars, is attributable to cheap, easy to access oil and advances in medical technology made possible by access to cheap oil. The projection of 9.6 billion in 2050 is based upon an assumption the world’s energy, food and water resources can sustain that many people, no world wars kill a few hundred million people, no incurable diseases spread across the globe and there is no catastrophic geologic, climate, or planetary events. I’ll take the under on the 9.6 billion.

Anyone viewing the increasingly violent world situation without bias can already see the strain that overpopulation has created. Today, six countries contain half the world’s population.

A cursory examination of population trends around the world provides a frightening glimpse into a totalitarian future marked by vicious resource wars, violent upheaval and starvation for millions. India, a country one third the size of the United States, has four times the population of the United States. A vast swath of the population lives in poverty and squalor. India contains the largest concentration (25%) of people living below the World Bank’s international poverty line of $1.25 per day. According to the U.N. India is expected to add 400 million people to its cities by 2050. Its capital city Delhi already ranks as the second largest in the world, with 25 million inhabitants. The city has more than doubled in size since 1990. The assumptions in these U.N. projections are flawed. Without rapidly expanding economic growth, capital formation and energy resources, the ability to employ, house, feed, clothe, transport, and sustain 400 million more people will be impossible. Disease, starvation, civil unrest, war and a totalitarian government would be the result. With its mortal enemy Pakistan, already the sixth most populated country in the world, jamming 182 million people into an area one quarter the size of India and one twelfth the size of the U.S. and growing faster than India, war over resources and space will be inevitable. And both countries have nuclear arms.

More than half the globe’s inhabitants now live in urban areas, with China, India and Nigeria forecast to see the most urban growth over the next 30 years. Twenty-four years ago, there were 10 megacities with populations pushing above the 10 million mark. Today, there are 28 megacities with areas of developing nations seeing faster growth: 16 in Asia, 4 in Latin America, 3 in Africa, 3 in Europe and 2 in North America. The world is expected to have 41 sprawling megacities over the next few decades with developing nations representing the majority of that growth. Today, Tokyo, with 38 million people, is the largest in the world, followed by New Delhi, Jakarta, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing, Manila, and Karachi – all exceeding 20 million people.

To highlight the rapid population growth of the developing world, the New York metropolitan area containing 18 million people was ranked as the third largest urban area in the world in 1990. Today it is ranked ninth and is expected to be ranked fourteenth by 2030. The U.S. had the fewest births since 1998 last year at 3.95 million. We also had the highest recorded deaths in history at 2.54 million.  The fertility rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is now 83.1 births per 1,000 women, a record low. That combination created a gap in births over deaths that is the lowest it has been in 35 years.

This is the plight of the developed world (U.S., Europe, Japan) and even China (due to one child policy). According to the U.N. report, the population of developed regions will remain largely unchanged at around 1.3 billion from now until 2050. In contrast, the 49 least developed countries are projected to double in size from around 900 million people in 2013 to 1.8 billion in 2050. The rapid growth of desperately poor third world countries like Nigeria, Afghanistan, Niger, Congo, Ethiopia, and Uganda will create tremendous strain on their economic, political, social, and infrastructural systems. Nigeria’s population is projected to surpass the U.S. by 2050. Japan, Europe and Russia are in demographic death spirals. China is neutral, and the U.S. is expected to grow by another 89 million people. I wonder how many of them the BLS will classify as not in the labor force.

What are the implications to mankind of the world adding another billion people in the next twelve years, primarily in the poorest countries of Asia, Africa and South America? What does the world think of the U.S., which constitutes 4.4% of the world’s population, but consumes 20% of the world’s oil production and 24% of the world’s food? Will there be consequences to having the 85 richest people on earth accumulating as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion, with 1.2 billion surviving on less than $1.25 per day? Can a planet with finite amount of easily accessible financially viable extractable resources support an ever increasing number of people? Is there a limit to growth? I believe these questions will be answered in the next fifteen years as the dire consequences play out in civil strife, resource wars, totalitarian regimes, and societal collapse. Fourth Turning Crisis cycles always sweep away the existing social order and replace it with something new. It could be better or far worse.

Impact of Over-Population

“The problem of rapidly increasing numbers in relation to natural resources, to social stability and to the well-being of individuals — this is now the central problem of mankind; and it will remain the central problem certainly for another century, and perhaps for several centuries thereafter. Unsolved, that problem will render insoluble all our other problems. Worse still, it will create conditions in which individual free­dom and the social decencies of the democratic way of life will become impossible, almost unthinkable. Not all dictatorships arise in the same way. There are many roads to Brave New World; but perhaps the straightest and the broadest of them is the road we are travel­ing today, the road that leads through gigantic num­bers and accelerating increases.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958

The turmoil roiling the world today is a function of Huxley’s supposition that over-population pushes societies towards centralization and ultimately totalitarianism. The relentless growth in the world’s population, not matched by growth in energy resources, water, food, and living space, results in increasing tension, anger, economic decline, government dependency, war and ultimately totalitarianism. Huxley believed politicians and governments would increasingly resort to propaganda and misinformation to mislead citizens as the problems worsened and freedoms were revoked. Could this recent statement by our commander and chief of propaganda have made Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels any prouder?

“The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed then it’s ever been. It is more educated than it’s ever been.”

I’m sure the people living in Gaza, the Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Thailand, Turkey, Africa and American urban ghettos would concur with Obama’s less violent than ever mantra.

Disease (Cholera, Malaria, Hepatitis, Aids, Tuberculosis, Ebola, Plague, SARS) and malnutrition beset third world countries, while the U.S. obesity epidemic caused by consumption of corporate processed food peddled to the masses through diabolical marketing methods enriches the mega-corporate food companies, as well as the corporate sick care complex. Religious wars and culture wars rage across the world as intolerance for others beliefs reaches all-time highs. After three decades of government controlled public education they have succeeded in dumbing down the masses through social engineering, propaganda, and promoting equality over excellence. Obama should stop trying to think and stick to what he does best – golf and fundraising. After reading his drivel, I’m reminded of a far more pertinent quote from Huxley:

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

The chart below details the fact that 12% of the world’s population in countries producing 9% of the world’s oil are currently in a state of war. The violence, war, and civil unrest roiling the Ukraine, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan are a direct result of U.S. meddling, instigation, and provocation. The U.S. government funds dictators (Hussein, Mubarak, Assad, Gaddafi) until they no longer serve their interests, engineer the overthrow of democratically elected leaders in countries (Iran, Egypt, Ukraine) that don’t toe the line, and dole out billions in military aid and arms to countries around the world in an effort to make them do our dirty work and enrich the military industrial complex. The true motivation behind most of the violence, intrigue and war is the U.S. need to maintain the U.S. petro-dollar hegemony and to control the flow of oil and natural gas throughout the world. The ruling oligarchy’s power, influence, and wealth are dependent upon dictating currency valuations and flow of oil and gas from foreign fiefdoms.

In Huxley’s 1931 Brave New World fable the world’s population is maintained at an optimum level (just under 2 billion) calculated by those in control. This is done through technology and biological manipulation. Procreation through sexual intercourse is prohibited. Creation of the desired number of people in each class is scientifically determined and the classes are conditioned from birth to fulfill their roles in society. When Huxley reassessed his novel in 1958’s Brave New World Revisited he didn’t argue for an optimum level of population. He simply hypothesized a close correlation between too many people, multiplying too rapidly, and the formulation of authoritarian philosophies and rise of totalitarian sys­tems of government.

The introduction of penicillin, DDT, and clean water into even the poorest countries on the planet had the effect of rapidly decreasing death rates around the globe. Meanwhile, birth rates continued to increase due to religious, social and cultural taboos surrounding birth control and the illiteracy and ignorance of those in the poorest regions of the world. The ultimate result has been an explosion in population growth in the developing world, least able to sustain that growth. Huxley just uses common sense in concluding that as an ever growing population presses more heavily upon accessible resources, the economic position of the society undergoing this ordeal becomes ever more precarious.

It essentially comes down to the laws of economics. Most of the developing world is economic basket cases. They cannot produce food, consumer goods, housing, schools, infrastructure, teachers, managers, scientists or educated workers at the same rate as their population growth. Therefore, it is impossible to improve the wretched conditions of the vast majority, as they wallow in squalor. Unless a country can produce more than it consumes, it cannot generate the surplus capital needed to invest in machinery, agricultural production, manufacturing facilities, and education. The rapidly growing population sinks further into poverty and despair. Huxley grasps the nefarious implications for freedom and liberty as over-population wreaks havoc around the globe:

“Whenever the economic life of a nation becomes pre­carious, the central government is forced to assume additional responsibilities for the general welfare. It must work out elaborate plans for dealing with a criti­cal situation; it must impose ever greater restrictions upon the activities of its subjects; and if, as is very likely, worsening economic conditions result in polit­ical unrest, or open rebellion, the central government must intervene to preserve public order and its own authority. More and more power is thus concentrated in the hands of the executives and their bureaucratic managers.”– Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited – 1958

Despots, dictators, and power hungry presidents arise in an atmosphere of fear, scarce resources, hopelessness, and misery. As the power of the central government grows the freedoms, liberties and rights of the people are diminished and ultimately relinquished.

In Part Two, I will examine our relentless path towards totalitarianism and war.

This article has been contributed by James Quinn of The Burning Platform.

Why China Couldn't Care Less About Its Stock Market

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:59

Following the latest liquidity injections by the PBOC (set to make 2014 the biggest credit creation year since Lehman), countless bailouts of insolvent companies by Beijing and local governments despite promises there would be no bailouts, and what some have dubbed is an actual Chinese QE, all making it quite clear that China was clearly not serious when it threatened to burst the housing bubble (it hoped it could do a "controlled landing"; it failed which means full steam ahead onto the inevitable NPL collapse), Chinese stocks have clearly responded by jumping higher with the Shanghai Composite spiking to its highest in 7 months.

This in turn has brought the permabullish Chinese penguins out of hiding, who, having been wrong on the Shanghai Composite for 6 years, now see a sudden resurgence in the Chinese stock market. Their thinking is predictable: like the US stock market is to the Fed's "wealth effect", so China's would be to the PBOC, right?

Wrong.

The reason: while in the US the bulk of America's $67 trillion in household wealth is in financial assets, read the S&P 500, with only 28% of wealth invested in real estate (according to the latest Flow of Funds reports), in China the wealth distribution is a mirror image, with a negligible amount of wealth invested in stocks and the bulk of household wealth invested in real estate. By bulk we mean a whopping 75%!

From Xinhua:

About one percent of Chinese households own one-third of the nation's wealth, raising concerns about income inequality in the world's most populous country, according to a study by Peking University.

 

Chinese households on average had a net worth of 439,000 yuan (about 71,000 U.S. dollars) in 2012, up 17 percent from the 2010 level, the university's Institute of Social Science Survey said Friday in its latest report on China's livelihood development.

 

However, income inequality rose rapidly during the period, the report said, as the top one percent of Chinese households held more than one-third of the nation's wealth, while 25 percent of households at the bottom owned only 10 percent of the country's property value.

 

The researchers based their main analysis on 2012 data from the China Family Panel Studies, a large-scale survey project conducted by the institute.

 

The report showed about 74.7 percent of Chinese household wealth came from owning real estate.

Which confirms what we have been saying for years namely that "to China housing is like the stock market to the US: both mission-critical bubbles designed to give a sense of comfort and boost the "wealth effect"."

The allocation of household wealth to real estate is shown in the chart below, but the message is clear: when it comes to chasing China's latest and greatest bubble reflation, focus on real estate; nobody cares about Chinese stocks.








This Will End In Tears For The West As Gold & Silver Soar

King World News - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:57
Today an acclaimed money manager told King World News that the current scenario is going to end in tears for the West, and a mania in the gold and silver markets. Stephen Leeb also a study that was put together for Congress that is very alarming.

Our Marginal Economy

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:29

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

Before you jump on the Bull market bandwagon of "don't fight the Fed," perhaps you should take a look at the quality of the debt the Fed has enabled and the diminishing returns on all that debt.

The mainstream media is delighted to highlight positive economic data, but nobody ever asks about the quality of the borrowers who are behind the rosy numbers. Behind the rosy numbers, sales and profits are increasingly dependent on marginal buyers and borrowers: those buying on credit who would not qualify to borrow money in a system ruled by prudent risk-management.

These marginal borrower/buyers are last on, first off: they qualify for loans at the end of a credit expansion, when lenders throw caution to the winds to reap the profits from issuing new mortgages, auto loans, student loans, credit cards, etc. to marginal borrowers.

These marginal borrowers are the first to default, because they have insufficient income and collateral to support their loans.

This rising dependence on marginal borrowers/buyers leads to an economy of diminishing returns: ever-rising rates of debt expansion are required to generate ever-declining rates of expansion of sales, profits, GDP, etc.

The waterfall decline of the quality of debt-based sales is masked by the rosy headline numbers. Auto sales are soaring; nice, but does anyone ask how many of those vehicles were sold to marginal buyers, the kind of borrowers who are one paycheck away from insolvency and default?

How many issuers of junk bonds are one recession away from insolvency and default?

Let's look at a few examples of diminishing returns/dependence on rising debt for marginal returns. Once again, we must keep in mind the quality of the debt and the borrowers is not revealed in rosy headline numbers.

Anecdotally, I see plenty of people who defaulted/declared bankruptcy in previous downturns who are once again in hock to the hilt, and they know the drill: borrow and spend as much as you can, because all you have to do is stop paying.

Yes, your credit score will be lousy for a few years, but lenders and retailers are so desperate for sales that you won't have to wait long to start getting a flood of credit card offers in your mailbox. After all, anyone with a pulse can buy a car now.

Here's total credit and GDP: this screams "diminishing returns":

The Fed's "free-money for financiers" balance sheet and the S&P 500: once again, this screams "diminishing returns:"

Money velocity: diminishing returns:

Small biz: fading at the margins:

Federal student loans: this fairly screams, "go ahead and default, there is literally no risk management here":

The return on a college degree? Diminishing faster than you can say "default":

Labor participation and real median income: diminishing returns on all the outlandish money pumping and Federal deficit spending:

Fulltime employment: going nowhere after 5+ years of unprecedented expansion of central bank "free money for financiers" and Federal debt:

Real household income: declining for all but the top 5%:

Household income has declined significantly in real terms: Five Decades of Middle Class Wages (Doug Short).

Federal Reserve "free money for financiers" has greatly expanded wealth inequality:

So before you jump on the Bull market bandwagon of "don't fight the Fed," perhaps you should take a look at the quality of the debt the Fed has enabled and the diminishing returns on all that debt.








EU Announces New Washington-Pleasing, Russia-Wristslap Sanctions

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 12:05

After unleashing a 10-page report of the death and destructive economic impact they could have on Russia via sanctions, the European leaders have agreed to issue travel bans, some asset-freezes, and trade curbs on various new individuals and business entities. The Goldilocks sanctions... just enough to please Washington, not enough to infuriate Putin into 'boomerangs'.

  • *EU AMBASSADORS’ MEETING ON RUSSIA SANCTIONS REACHES DEAL: FT

Via DPA,

EU ambassadors have reached agreement on a new round of travel bans and asset freezes in response to the crisis in Ukraine, diplomats say.

*  *  *

The sanctions...

  • *EU AGREES CURBS ON RUSSIAN BANKS, EXPORT OF SOME TECHNOLOGY
  • *EU TO RESTRICT EXPORT OF EQUIPMENT FOR RUSSIAN OIL PRODUCTION
  • *EU TO CURB STATE-OWNED RUSSIAN BANKS' ACCESS TO CAPITAL MARKETS
  • *EU TO IMPOSE EMBARGO ON FUTURE ARMS SALES TO RUSSIA
  • *EU TO CURB SALE OF 'DUAL-USE' MACHINERY, ELECTRONICS TO RUSSIA
  • *SANCTIONS WILL BE REVIEWED AFTER 3 MONTHS: EU DIPLOMAT

But...

  • *AIDE SAYS U.S. HAS APPROVED EXPORTS OF DUAL-USE GOODS TO RUSSIA
  • *COMMERCE AIDE SAYS U.S. HASN'T REVOKED RUSSIA EXPORT LICENSES
  • *U.S. GOODS APPROVED FOR EXPORT HAVE MILITARY APPLICATIONS

I.e. the rockets for US military satellites

*  *  *

Just as we predicted.

*  *  *

Is it any wonder European leaders are all talk since the potential for blow back is so much larger compared to Washington...

 

*  *  *

Meanwhile, Russia is 'trying'

  • *LAVROV URGED KERRY TO PUSH UKRAINE GOVT FOR CEASE-FIRE
  • *LAVROV, KERRY DISCUSSED ARMS CONTROL, UKRAINE, MIDDLE EAST
  • *LAVROV, KERRY AGREE ON NEED FOR CEASE-FIRE NEAR MH17 CRASH SITE

And Kerry's response:

  • *KERRY: RUSSIA SHOWS `NO SHRED OF EVIDENCE' OF BACKING CEASEFIRE
  • *KERRY: U.S. WILL IMPOSE WIDER SANCTIONS ON RUSSIA IF NO CHANGE







Behold The New Normal Definition Of "Confidence"

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 11:43

While headlines are flashing red about how exuberant the consumer is, there appears to be some 'new normal' oddness under the covers. Projecting this positive news into the future (as every talking-head is) does not add up with the fact that "plans to buy a car" and "plans to buy a major appliance" both tumbled in July. But the biggest problem for the 'recovery', "plans to buy a home" collapsed to its lowest since Feb 2013... welcome to the new normal definition of confidence.

 

 

Is it any wonder when 77 million Americans have debt past due...!

 

Chart: Bloomberg








Boots on the ground in Ukraine: I needed to see this for myself

Simon Black - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 11:39

July 29, 2014
Kharkiv, Ukraine

Looking back over the past ten years, I can’t even begin to describe all the experiences I’ve had in Ukraine.

For a while, I actually owned a business based here. I’ve been travelling here frequently for years. I still have many friends here. Some of our employees are based here. And Kiev is one of the cities in the world that I know best.

Yet even after all of that, I still can’t make heads or tails of this place.

Consider this: by 2004, people in Ukraine were desperate from economic hardship and de facto mafia rule.

They held a runoff election in November of that year– an illusion of choice– between Viktor Yanukovich and Viktor Yushenko. Yushenko was viewed as the breath of fresh air. The ‘change’ candidate.

And when it became clear that Yanukovich had rigged the election in his favor, people went out into the streets to demand change.

They called it the Orange Revolution. And it ended after two months of bloodshed when Yushenko, the ‘good guy’ was finally sworn in as president. Happy days were to follow. Hope and change, all that jazz.

Fast forward a few years.

By 2010, Yushenko had proven himself to be an utter disappointment. Corrupt. Incompetent. Out of touch. When he ran for re-election that year, President Yushenko garnered a pitiful 5% of the vote.

This is amazing when you think about it: the candidate that the people of Ukraine went out into the streets and spilled their blood for received just 5% of the votes in his re-election.

So who did the people elect that year? Viktor Yanukovich… the very person they had fought against in 2005.

Yanukovich was a known criminal. Literally, a convicted felon. Ukrainians spilled their blood fighting against him in 2004… then elected him President in 2010.

Unsurprisingly Mr. Yanukovich spent the next several years pillaging the country of every possible resource for his own benefit. And a few years later– revolution #2.

People went back out in the streets to fight against government forces and oust Yanukovich. Since then, the currency has tanked. Banks are nearly insolvent. GDP is falling. And there’s insurrection in the East.

Now they have a new President– a chocolate billionaire who formerly sat on the executive council of the Ukrainian central bank. And he’s mobilizing the entire country to fight the rebels, fight the Russians.

People are forced into serving in the very same government forces they were fighting against just months ago, all to re-annex a region of the country that isn’t even of Ukrainian ethnicity.

The entire world is getting involved now. With the downing of MH-17, it has become impossible to stay neutral… and the US in particular is doing everything it can to escalate the situation.

Actions have consequences.

And just as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand 100 years ago led politicians to make a series of pitiful, short-sighted decisions that led the world into the most destructive war it had ever seen, today’s ‘leaders’ are raising the stakes towards an even more destructive kind of war.

This new kind of war is fought with bits and bonds rather than steel. But it’s one that affects almost everyone on the planet.

Change is very clearly afoot. And it’s time to start paying very close attention to the canary in the coalmine.

Just as I was in Iraq a few weeks ago to see the ISIS mess for myself, I had to come back to Ukraine and see what’s happening with my own eyes.

Join me in our newest podcast episode to explore this further– what to watch out for, how it may unfold, and what you can do about it:

http://www.sovereignman.com/podcast/013-making-sense-of-ukraine-boots-on-the-ground-report-14788/

Deadbeat Nation: A Shocking 77 Million Americans Face Debt Collectors

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 11:27

We have been warning for years that as a result of the Fed's disastrous policies, America's middle class is being disintegrated and US adults are surviving only thanks to insurmountable debtloads. But not even we had an appreciation of how serious the problem truly was. We now know, and it is a shocker: according to new research by the Urban Institute, about 77 million Americans have a debt in collections.

The breakdown by region:

As the Washington Post reports, that amounts to 35 percent of consumers with credit files or data reported to a major credit bureau, according to the study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute and Encore Capital Group's Consumer Credit Research Institute. "It’s a stunning number," said Caroline Ratcliffe, senior fellow at the Urban Institute and author of the report. "And it threads through nearly all communities."

More:

The report analyzed 2013 credit data from TransUnion to calculate how many Americans were falling behind on their bills. It looked at how many people had non-mortgage bills, such as credit card bills, child support payments and medical bills, that are so past due that the account has since been closed and placed in collections.

 

Researchers relied on a random sample of 7 million people with data reported to the credit bureaus in 2013 to estimate what share of the 220 million Americans with credit files have debts in collection. About 22 million low-income adults who did not have credit files were not represented in the study.

While we understand why someone owing tens if not hundreds of thousands can just do what the US government does so well, and simply decide to stop paying their debt (if unlike the government, without the option to roll it), what is scary is that there are people who are in collection on amount as tiny as $25.

The debts sent to collections ranged from $25 on the low end and to more than $125,000 on the high end. Many consumers were burned for relatively small amounts -- about 10 percent of the debts were smaller than $125, Ratcliffe says. But the median debt, $1,350, is still pretty substantial, she adds.

The geographic breakdown is not surprising, headed by the state that hosts Las Vegas, where an unprecedented 47% of all consumers have debt in some stage of collection.

Nevada was hit the hardest, with 47 percent of consumers with a credit file showing a debt in collections -- a mark researchers said may stem from the housing crisis when people struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments may have fallen behind on other financial obligations.

It's not just Nevada. It's, well, everywhere else too:

In 12 states, including the District of Columbia, more than 40 percent of residents with a credit file have a bill in collections. That includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia.

But how is it possible that tens of millions of Americans are in such dire straits? After all, banks have been reporting better delinquency data for years. The answer: the study found that the share of people with debt past due, meaning they are at least 30 days late with payment on a non-mortgage debt, was much smaller: 1 in 20 people. That includes people who are late with credit card bills, student loan payments and auto loans. The majority of those people, 79 percent, also had debt in collections. However, because certain bills, such as medical bills and parking tickets, may not show up on a person's credit score until they are sent to collections, the total share of people falling behind on their bills may actually be much higher.

The flowchart:

 

And the breakdown by state: the stunner, again, is that the share of Americans with debt in collections is 7 times greater than those with merely debt past due:

The report's punchline, via AP:

The Urban Institute's Ratcliffe said that stagnant incomes are key to why some parts of the country are struggling to repay their debt.

 

Wages have barely kept up with inflation during the five-year recovery, according to Labor Department figures. And a separate measure by Wells Fargo found that after-tax income fell for the bottom 20 percent of earners during the same period.

But.. recovery? And consumer confidence at 2007 highs? Or did the Conference Board decide to just poll the residents of 15 CPW and 740 Park?

Of course, there is a simple solution to all of the above: instead of being deadbeats, if only these 77 million Americans had BTFD as the the S&P's chief market valuation officer, Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke before her, had advised them, then the US would truly be a crony capitalist-cum-socialist nirvana by now. Sadly, the way it is right now, the US Department of Truth will have to put this record number of deadbeats out of the labor pool (and hook them to the government handouts machine), while pretending that what once used to be known as the economy, and now is nothing but pure propaganda, is getting "better."








Consumer Confidence Explodes Higher To October 2007 Highs

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 11:08

On the heels of UMich confidence tumbling to 4-month lows, the Conference Board's consumer confidence exploded higher to the highest since October 2007. This is the 3rd monthly rise in a row and the biggest beat in 13 months all led by a spike in future expectations to its highest since Feb 2011.

 

3 months up in a row and highest since Oct 2007

 

Still quite a divergence between government and non-government surveys...

 

The last time the conference board confidence diverged this much from UMich confidence was June 2007 and that did not end well...

 

Does this look like a confident set of survey respondents...

Plan To Buy In Next 6 Months:

  • Car 11.6% vs 12.2% in June
  • Home 4.4% vs 5.4% in June (lowest since Feb 2013)
  • Major Appliance 46.5% vs 50.4% in June

But Says Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board:

“Consumer confidence increased for the third consecutive month and is now at its highest level since October 2007 (95.2).

 

Strong job growth helped boost consumers’ assessment of current conditions, while brighter short-term outlooks for the economy and jobs, and to a lesser extent personal income, drove the gain in expectations.

 

Recent improvements in consumer confidence, in particular expectations, suggest the recent strengthening in growth is likely to continue into the second half of this year.”

*  *  *

Odd that she would claim a brighter outlook for personal income... given the reality

 

Charts: Bloomberg








Banco Espirito Santo Plunges: Shareholder Meeting Cancelled Due To "Unexpected Facts"

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 10:47

With all other operating holdcos having already declared bankruptcy, the anxiety over Banco Espirito Santo is growing (despite DE Shaw and Goldman Sachs recommending investors buy the shares). Despite Bank of Portugal reassurance last night that "BES is able to raise capital), the stock is plunging on news of "unexpected facts" this morning...

  • *BANCO ESPIRITO SANTO SAYS SHAREHOLDER MEETING WAS CANCELLED DUE TO "UNEXPECTED FACTS''
  • *BANCO ESPIRITO SANTO FALLS MORE THAN 13% IN LISBON TRADING

Remember, this is systemic (as the Portugues President has warned), and the contagion is potentially global... not "contained."

3 down, 1 to go?

 

But The Bank of Portugal reassured everyone last night...

  • *BANCO ESPIRITO SANTO IS ABLE TO RAISE CAPITAL: BANK OF PORTUGAL
  • *BANK OF PORTUGAL SAYS BES SOLVENCY IS ASSURED

But now this...

  • *BANCO ESPIRITO SANTO SAYS SHAREHOLDER MEETING WAS CANCELLED
  • *BES SAYS MEETING CANCELLED DUE TO ``UNEXPECTED FACTS''
  • *BES SAYS `UNEXPECTED FACTS' INCLUDE ESFG FILING FOR PROTECTION
  • *BES SAYS ESFG AND CREDIT AGRICOLE WITHDRAW PROPOSALS

And the result...

  • *BANCO ESPIRITO SANTO FALLS MORE THAN 13% IN LISBON TRADING

 

 

and this could go global...

 








What San Francisco Housing Reveals About The Fourth Global Liquidity Bubble

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 10:30

A month ago, when we reported on the signal America's "most important housing market" is sending we said the following:

When it comes to critical housing markets in the US, none is more important than San Francisco.

 

Courtesy of its location, not only does it reflect the general Fed-driven liquidity bubble which is the tide rising all housing boats across the US, but due to its proximity to both Silicon Valley and China, it also benefits from two other liquidity bubbles: that of tech, and of course, the Chinese $25 trillion financial debt monster, where since the local housing bubble has burst, local oligarchs have no choice but to dump their cash abroad.

 

It is no surprise that during ever single previous bubble peak, San Francisco home prices managed to post a 20% annual increase, starting with the dot com bubble in the year 2000, the first (not to be confused with the current) housing bubble peaking around 2005, and then the European sovereign debt bubble.

 

Which is why, while today's Case Shiller data was widely disappointing across the board, indicating a significant slowdown in price gains (and on a sequential seasonally adjusted basis, practically a decline), the one market we paid particular attention to was San Francisco. What we found is a red flag for everyone waiting to time the bursting of the latest housing bubble. Because after an unlucky 13 months of posting consecutive 20% Y/Y price gains, the San Francisco bubble appears to have finally burst, posting "just" an 18.2% price increase, the lowest since January of 2013.

 

So, has the global coordinated credit bubble burst?

The answer is still unclear. But what the chart below shows is quite clear: the relentless appreciation in the San Francisco housing market is over, and after rising by 18.2% in April, in May the San Fran market posted a mere 15.4% Y/Y price increase: the lowest since 2012. And while the Fed's liquidity injections continue, if only for a few more months, and the second dot com bubble is clearing raging as the recent ridiculous Zillow-Trulia deal confirmed, it appears that the "?" bubble (as defined) is now well in its deflationary phase. Any attempts to restore the upmove will certainly require trillions more in fresh liquidity.








Case-Shiller Home Prices Tumble Most Since Dec 2011, Miss 2nd Month In A Row

Zerohedge - Tue, 07/29/2014 - 10:06

But it was supposed to be the weather? S&P/Case-Shiller home prices dropped in May and missed expectations for the 2nd month in a row. Against a forecast rise on 0.3%, prices dropped in May by 0.3% - the biggest drop since December 2011. It appears we are going to need more Chinese hot money flow buyers.

 

 

 

The May inflection point in the seasonally adjusted data is quite obvious:

Of note, while in April Case-Shiller reported only 5 cities out of the tracked 20 posting sequential price declines, in May this number has soared to 14. And so the fourth dead cat bounce in housing appears to be over.

Finally, from the report itself:

“Home prices rose at their slowest pace since February of last year,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The 10- and 20-City Composites posted just over 9%, well below expectations. Month-to-month, all cities are posting gains before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment 14 of 20 were lower.

 

“Year-over-year, nine cities – Las Vegas (16.9%), San Francisco (15.4%), Miami (13.2%), San Diego (12.4%), Los Angeles (12.3%), Detroit (11.9%), Atlanta (11.2%), Tampa (10.2%) and Portland (10.0%) – posted double-digit increases in May 2014. The Sun Belt continues to lead with seven of the top eight performing cities. Eighteen of 20 cities had lower year-over-year numbers than last month; San Francisco and San Diego saw their year-over-year figures decelerate by about three percentage points.

 

“Housing has been turning in mixed economic numbers in the last few months. Prices and sales of existing homes have shown improvement while construction and sales of new homes continue to lag. At the same time, the broader economy and especially employment are showing larger improvements and substantial gains.”

Source: Case Shiller








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