US Mint Releases New Fort Knox ‘Audit Documentation’. The First Critical Observations.

In response to a FOIA request the US Mint has finally released reports drafted from 1993 through 2008 related to the physical audits of the US official gold reserves. However, the documents released are incomplete and reveal the audit procedures have not been executed proficiently. Moreover, because the Mint could not honor its promises in full the costs ($3,144.96 US dollars) of the FOIA request have been refunded.
Thanks to my readers that donated to the crowdfunding campaign I’ve been able to force the US Mint through a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request to hand over documents related to the physical audits of the US official gold reserves stored at the Mint; also referred to as Deep Storage gold. Although the PDF-package digitally sent to me is redacted, incomplete, includes pages copied twice and materials I didn’t ask for, it’s the closest thing that I’ve ever seen to physical audit documentation of gold at Fort Knox and the other Mint depositories drafted in between 1993 and 2008.
What is worrying is that the reports now in my possession reveal the audit procedures have not competently been executed. Combine that with the fact the documents are incomplete and redacted, and the result is suspicion of fraud. In this blog post we’ll have a first critical look at the reports and the problems to be found within.
This post is a sequel to A First Glance At US Official Gold Reserves Audits, Second Thoughts On US Official Gold Reserves Audits, US Government Lost 7 Fort Knox Gold Audit Reports, The Power Of The Gold Community: Crowdfunding For FOIA Request Fort Knox Audit Documents Completes Within 24 Hours, Dear US Mint, We Gave You The FOIA Funds, Now Give Us The Fort Knox Audit Documents! Also related are Where Did The Gold In Fort Knox Come From? and Former US Mint Director Clueless On Gold In Fort Knox.

This post was published at Bullion Star on 26 Feb 2017.

Retail Apocalypse Gains Momentum As David Stockman Warns ‘Everything Will Grind To A Halt’ After March 15th

J. C. Penney and Family Christian Stores are the latest retail giants to announce widespread store closings. As you will see below, J. C. Penney plans to close between 130 and 140 stores, and Family Christian is closing all of their 240 stores. In recent months the stock market has been absolutely soaring, and so most people have simply assumed that the ‘real economy’ must be doing well. But that is not the case at all. In fact, the retail apocalypse that I have been documenting for quite some time appears to be gaining momentum.
J. C. Penney is not in as rough shape as Sears is just yet, but it is definitely on a similar trajectory. In the end, they are both headed for bankruptcy. That is why it wasn’t too much of a surprise when J. C. Penney announced that they are getting rid of about 6,000 workers and closing at least 130 stores…
J. C. Penney (JCP) plans to close 130 to 140 stores and offer buyouts to 6,000 workers as the department-store industry sags in competition with online sellers and nimble niche retailers.
The company said Friday that it would shutter 13% to 14% of its locations and introduce new goods and services aimed at the shifting preferences of its customer base.

This post was published at The Economic Collapse Blog on February 26th, 2017.

Intellectual Intolerance – Stunning Speech From Stanford University Provost Exposes “The Threat From Within”

In a remarkable – for its honesty and frankness – statement on the intellectual rot within America’s Ivory Towers, Stanford University Provost John Etchemendy lay bare the challenges that higher education face in the coming, increasingly divisive, years.
The Threat From Within Universities are a fundamental force of good in the world. At their best, they mine knowledge and understanding, wisdom and insight, and then freely distribute these treasures to society at large. Theirs is not a monopoly on this undertaking, but in the concentration of effort and single-mindedness of purpose, they are truly unique institutions. If Aristotle is right that what defines a human is rationality, then they are the most distinctive, perhaps the pinnacle, of human endeavors.
I share this thought to remind us all why we do what we do – why we care so much about Stanford and what it represents. But I also say it to voice a concern. Universities are under attack, both from outside and from within.
The threat from outside is apparent. Potential cuts in federal funding would diminish our research enterprise and our ability to fund graduate education. Taxing endowments would limit the support we can give to faculty and the services we can provide our students. Indiscriminate travel restrictions would impede the free exchange of ideas and scholars. All of these threats have intensified in recent years – and recent months have given them a reality that is hard to ignore.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

Frexit Fears Mount As European ‘VIX’ Spike Signals No ‘Pre-Brexit Complacency’

The pre-Brexit complacency – echoed by the polls, the media, and the establishment – is absolutely not being repeated ahead of France’s looming election. While bond spreads have blown out, investor fear in the European equity options market is considerably worse than pre-Brexit.
As Bloomberg’s Tanvir Sandhu notes, the spread between April and May Europe stock volatility futures has climbed on French election risks…
And is starting to outstrip the rally seen in the equivalent contracts heading into the U. K.’s EU referendum.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

Gundlach: Ignore Stocks, “There Is A Stealth Flight To Safety Going On”

Bond mkt is flashing warning signal on Trump reflation trade. Dow hit fresh record while 10y ylds at multimonth lows pic.twitter.com/VCH45KCqAC
— Holger Zschaepitz (@Schuldensuehner) February 26, 2017

Not only is the Trump rally over, but stocks are the last to get the memo. That’s the current market summary according to DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach who told Reuters that “there is a stealth flight to safety going on.”
Among key indicators, Gundlach pointed to German Bunds and especially Schatz (2Yr), noting that “German bond yields are leading the way down,” adding that “Gold is rising.” He also warned that “speculators remain massively short bonds and the market is going to squeeze them out.”
As we showed last Friday, the yield on German Schatz plunged to a record -0.96%. Earlier that day, Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid said “I’ve no idea why Bunds are rallying so hard at the moment.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

2017 Economic Headwinds: Housing Bubbles Popping up and Just Plain Popping Everywhere

As we enter 2017, housing bubbles are showing signs of bursting all over the world. I know I’ve been promising I would lay out the economic headwinds for 2017, but 2017’s headwinds are building so fast and furious that I’m having to break that promised article out into several articles, as I’m accumulating material faster than I have time to cover.
I’m going to start with the housing bubbles that are now extremely evident in the US, Canada and Australia, noting that housing is also insane in its own weird way in China again and in many other parts of the world. The point I want to make is that, with housing bubbles now at the peak of popping in several parts of the world, this coming housing market collapse could make the US housing market crash of 2007-2009 look like the warm-up act, and housing is just one area of the global economy that is showing signs of high peril.
A 2017 housing bubble collapse in the US may be in the cards
As I wrote in ‘The Inevitability of Economic Collapse,’ the whole US economy is a house of cards, but particularly the US housing economy where we have done everything we possibly can to pile up a potential housing collapse as precariously as we did last time around just so we can watch it all fall down again.
The hard push to get back to where we were in 2006 has been on for about seven years. In the past few months, housing has been on its fastest tear in the US with the number of new permits being issued for construction in 2017 particularly leaping up like a spring lamb, and that’s with prices that are now generally higher than they were at their peak in 2006. We are showing all the same evidence of an irrational market that we showed going into the Great Recession:
That peak was only attained because of lax credit, which made an expanding number of purchases possible after prices went beyond what people could afford. Since wages in real terms (having only recently started to rise in a few industries) are not any better than they were back in the housing crash of ’07-’09 , today’s higher prices are actually less sustainable without dangerously lax loan terms than they were back then.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 26 February 2017.

Pound Tumbles On Report Scotland May Hold Second Independence Referendum

As recently as two weeks ago, a repeat Scottish independent referendum seemed improbable.
As Reuters reported on February 10, according to a senior British minister, Britain saw no need for a second Scottish independence referendum and the devolved Scottish government should focus on improving the economy and tacking domestic issues rather than “flirting with secession.”
Meanwhile, an opinion poll published in early February showed support for Scottish independence rose after PM Theresa May proposed making a clean break with the European Union, stoking speculation that Scotland could demand another secession vote. Such a move would present yet another major challenge for the ruling Conservative party as a demand for a second independence referendum from Scotland’s devolved government would throw the United Kingdom into a constitutional crisis just as PM May seeks to negotiate the terms of the Brexit divorce with the EU’s 27 other members.
May had repeatedly said she does not believe there is any need for a second independence vote in Scotland as 55.3% of Scots voted to stay in a 2014 referendum. In that vote, 44.7% of Scots voted for independence.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

Index Investing Unmasked: 96% Of Stocks Are Garbage

Submitted by Daniel Drew via Dark-Bid.com,
Warren Buffett released his annual letter over the weekend, in which he praised Jack Bogle as his “hero” for promoting index investing. The irony is that investors would have been better off buying Berkshire shares. Over the last 10 years, Berkshire stock is up 139% while the S&P 500 is up 71%. The real question is why Buffett just doesn’t tout his own stock rather than promote index investing. He tries to explain himself:
“Charlie and I prefer to see Berkshire shares sell in a fairly narrow range around intrinsic value, neither wishing them to sell at an unwarranted high price – it’s no fun having owners who are disappointed with their purchases – nor one too low.” Buffett is doing something every skilled salesman does: managing expectations. Buffett’s own performance is compared against the S&P 500, and what better way to win that game than by putting a floor under the Berkshire price with the promise of share buybacks and then putting a ceiling on the stock by promoting index investing? The real secret is Buffett is talking his book by not talking it: Rather than tell investors to buy Berkshire at any price, he tells people to invest passively through an index, which leads to the very market inefficiencies that he profits from.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

Stockman Warns: ‘Trump Does Not Yet Understand The Magnitude Of The Problem… It’s Going To Shock The System’

Though many financial pundits make the argument that the U. S. economy is booming as a result of millions of new jobs, a healthy housing market and record stock market levels, former Reagan budget director David Stockman says that the next few months will see fiscal, financial and economic upheaval.
In a recent interview with Greg Hunter’s USA Watchdog, Stockman argues that President Trump’s stimulus packages will be ground to a halt as the U. S. debt ceiling is once again breached in March. The resulting uncertainty could lead to widespread panic on Wall Street.
The trigger, says Stockman, will be a debt ceiling crisis on or around March 15, 2017, which incidentally, just happens to be the same day that the Federal Reserve is supposed to hike interest rates:
In a typical month we have 250 to 300 billion in revenue coming in… that will easily cover the debt service for a month… that will readily cover social security and other critical payments… but when it comes to paying grants to state and local governments, contractors, or the Army Corp of Engineers, or the Pentagon, or a whole range of other activities, if you don’t have the cash you put the bills in the drawer…
I think that is what’s going to shock the system… and it will scare the living bejeezus out of Wall Street and financial markets because then you won’t have a sudden clarification or resolution to the problem.. and that could go on for days and weeks.

This post was published at shtfplan on February 26th, 2017.

Goldman Perplexed By The “Relentless Bull Market”

It has now become a weekly ritual: Goldman warns the market is overvalued and poised for a selloff, market proceeds to ramp to new all time highs.
It was just last weekend when Goldman’s chief equity strategist, David Kostin warned that investors will soon realize they were too optimistic, pointing out that the “S&P 500 has returned 10% since Election Day while consensus 2017E adjusted earnings have been lowered by 1%”, and adding that “we are approaching the point of maximum optimism and S&P 500 will give back recent gains as investors embrace the reality that tax reform is likely to provide a smaller, later tailwind to corporate earnings than originally expected.”
What happened next is familiar: the Dow proceeded to notch five consecutive all time high in the following week, closing at a new record on Friday afternoon.
So has Goldman thrown in the towel? Not at all, and in a note over the weekend, Kostin is now clearly perplexed by what he dubs a “relentless bull market”, is now making not only short-term predictions, but urging Goldman’s clients to “replace long equity positions with calls or sell unlikely upside to fund protection.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 25, 2017.

AFRICA: The Role of Oxfam, Unicef, Live Aid in the Systematic Destabilization of African Nations

‘One thing that keeps me puzzled, despite having studied finance and economics at the world’s best universities, the following question remains unanswered. Why is it that 5,000 units of our currency is worth one unit of your currency where we are the ones with the actual gold reserves? It’s quite evident that the aid is in fact not coming from the West to Africa but from Africa to the Western world.’
The following in an excerpt from a lecture given by Mallence Bart Williams in 2015 (TEDxBerlin).
Mallence Bart-Williams was born in Cologne, Germany. She is a Sierra Leonean writer and filmmaker and a German fashion designer. She pursued her studies in economics and finance in Paris, Singapore, and Great Britain. She is the founder and creative director of the Freetown-based creative collective FOLORUNSHO, a ‘SHARITY’ (with no financial donations or aide) that she initiated with street kids in Sierra Leone.
‘The Western world depends on Africa in every possible way since alternative resources are scarce out here. So how does the West ensure that the free aid keeps coming? By systematically destabilizing the wealthiest African nations and their systems, and all that backed by huge PR campaigns – leaving the entire world under the impression that Africa is poor and dying and merely surviving on the mercy of the West.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on FEBRUARY 25, 2017.

China! Russia! Nukes! Oh, My!

‘We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world,’ Trump said during his Inauguration speech, ‘but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.’
When Trump was elected as president of the United States, many in Russia cheered. It was feared that the Deep State wanted to put Hillary in – and take Putin out.
One Russian mining company even commemorated his presidency with a collection of $10,000 silver coins. Russian grocery stores were filled with Trump edition sugar cubes, charcoal and hamburgers.
‘Trump is a huge advantage for Russia,’ Muscovite Gleb Samorukov told USA Today. ‘It’s clear Trump’s willing to figure out some of the problems we have between our two countries.’
According to a survey conducted by the (state-run) Russian research center VTSIOM, a little under half of those surveyed said they would’ve voted for Trump. A third said he would likely go on to become one of the best presidents in history.

This post was published at Laissez Faire on Feb 24, 2017.

THE FED IS CLUELESS | David Morgan

The following video was published by FinanceAndLiberty.com on Feb 26, 2017
Silver expert David Morgan is bullish on both silver and gold. In the short term, Morgan is more bullish on gold. But in the long term, Morgan sees silver outperforming gold three or four to one.
Morgan warns of a future stock market crash. As the stock market keeps hitting all time highs, ‘the strong hands are selling to the weak hands.’ At some point, the insiders will go short, Morgan says, and the weak hands will be left holding the bag.
The bond market has peaked, Morgan says, and the Federal Reserve is ‘frightened.’ What’s coming? He thinks the Fed has to rate interest rates.

Mnuchin Manages Expectations On Tax Reform; Warns Trump “Not Touching” Entitlements

‘Good cop’ Mnuchin appeared to play expectations-manager this morning in an interview with FOX’s Maria Bartiromo. After confirming the Trump administration is “not touching” entitlement programs, and having said this week that tax reform is expected by August, he appeared to walk back that hype by saying that President Trump “will be touching on tax reform” during his speech to Congress this week, which Reuters notes, is not an official “State of the Union” address.
On Thursday, Mnuchin promised tax reform before August…


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

Stockman: “After March 15 Everything Will Grind To A Halt”

Two weeks after David Stockman warned that “the market is apparently pricing in a huge Trump stimulus. But if you just look at the real world out there, the only thing that’s going to happen is a fiscal bloodbath and a White House train wreck like never before in U. S. history” and exclaimed that, when looking at markets, “what’s going on today is complete insanity” he is back with another interview, this time with Greg Hunter of USAWatchdog in which he, once again warns, that a giant fiscal bloodbatch is coming soon, and urges listeners to pay especially close attention to the March 15, 2017 debt ceiling deadling, at which point everything could “grind to a halt.”
As Greg Hunter writes, former Reagan Administration White House Budget Director David Stockman says financial pain is a mathematical certainty. Stockman explains, ‘I think we are likely to have more of a fiscal bloodbath rather than fiscal stimulus. Unfortunately for Donald Trump, not only did the public vote the establishment out, they left on his doorstep the inheritance of 30 years of debt build-up and a fiscal policy that’s been really reckless in the extreme. People would like to think he’s the second coming of Ronald Reagan and we are going to have morning in America. Unfortunately, I don’t think it looks that promising because Trump is inheriting a mess that pales into insignificance what we had to deal with in January of 1981 when I joined the Reagan White House as Budget Director.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

Ten Economic Ideas That Reduce Your Wealth

Our country is beset by a large number of economic myths that distort public thinking on important problems and lead us to accept unsound and dangerous government policies. Here are ten of the most dangerous of these myths and an analysis of what is wrong with them.
Myth #1
Deficits are the cause of inflation; deficits have nothing to do with inflation.
In recent decades we always have had federal deficits. The invariable response of the party out of power, whichever it may be, is to denounce those deficits as being the cause of our chronic inflation. And the invariable response of whatever party is in power has been to claim that deficits have nothing to do with inflation. Both opposing statements are myths.
Deficits mean that the federal government is spending more than it is taking in taxes. Those deficits can be financed in two ways. If they are financed by selling Treasury bonds to the public, then the deficits are not inflationary. No new money is created; people and institutions simply draw down their bank deposits to pay for the bonds, and the Treasury spends that money. Money has simply been transferred from the public to the Treasury, and then the money is spent on other members of the public.
On the other hand, the deficit may be financed by selling bonds to the banking system. If that occurs, the banks create new money by creating new bank deposits and using them to buy the bonds. The new money, in the form of bank deposits, is then spent by the Treasury, and thereby enters permanently into the spending stream of the economy, raising prices and causing inflation. By a complex process, the Federal Reserve enables the banks to create the new money by generating bank reserves of one-tenth that amount. Thus, if banks are to buy $100 billion of new bonds to finance the deficit, the Fed buys approximately $10 billion of old treasury bonds. This purchase increases bank reserves by $10 billion, allowing the banks to pyramid the creation of new bank deposits or money by ten times that amount. In short, the government and the banking system it controls in effect “print” new money to pay for the federal deficit.
Thus, deficits are inflationary to the extent that they are financed by the banking system; they are not inflationary to the extent they are underwritten by the public.

This post was published at Gary North on February 25, 2017.

Most Illegal Immigrants Live In America’s Metropolitan Areas

Having exposed $27 Billion reasons why a number of America’s city officials are up in arms over President Trump’s sanctuary city defunding decision, we thought it worth investigating just where the most illegal (or undocumented or unauthorized – pick your politically correct term) immigrants reside in America.
Across America, there are over 300 governmental jurisdictions claiming “sanctuary status.” Of those governments, there are 106 cities, while the rest are states, counties or other units of government.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 25, 2017.

In The Market For An Oil Tanker? You Can Buy It On The Chinese Ebay

Online marketplaces are just for buying and selling the everyday consumer goods anymore – think bigger: The Chinese government has just auctioned off a nearly US$12-million oil tanker on Taobao, its version of eBay or Alibaba.
A Maltese company just purchased an $11.8 million oil tanker from the Chinese online sales website Taobao, according to the Xinhua news service.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 26, 2017.

Continued Metals Strength

We saw some volatility come into stocks this past week after the slow solid grin higher we’ve been enjoying since early November.
I do not think this is a top, rather, a little shakeout, or shake and bake.
Volatility comes on the upside and downside so we should see some more explosive moves to the upside after this little correction, if you can call it that.
The metals continue to show strength even while some miners were flashing weakness mid-week, which had me a bit worried, but gold continues to act great.

This post was published at GoldSeek on Sunday, 26 February 2017.