Just In: Acquittal – Real Fraudsters were the Banksters!

Real estate flippers avoided criminal conviction because they argued, and persuaded the jurors, that the REAL criminals were the banksters!! No way!!!
‘In an unprecedented trial, four people charged with mortgage fraud were acquitted Friday by a jury in Sacramento federal court after defense attorneys argued the real culprits are the so-called victim lenders.’ Let’s do a little background.
We all know of the real estate boom, and bust, particularly in California, and specifically localized in massive numbers in California’s Central Valley. Essentially, some of us have correctly pointed out that the root cause of the onset of the bubble, were criminal bankers, beginning withBlythe Masters of JPMorgan, who conjured up the scheme of securitized finance for home mortgages. The scheme was simple: the big banks would write loans, using investor money, and none of the banks’ own money. Once the loans were made, the banks would in turn package a thousand loans or so, and bundle them up, then sell them as a whole to investors, as a security. Investors getting first dibs at repayment streams [upper tranches] were paid less interest, than investors who were last to be paid [lower tranches]. The whole theory was that out of the pool of the thousand home loans, not all would default and go bad. Since in the aggregate, most of the loan payments would be paid on time, then those investors at the upper tranches were not risking non-payment as compared to the investors and the lower tranches. The interest rates were balanced against this risk, and the securities were marketed and sold off to investors.
The problem, though, crystal clear to anyone with a brain, from the inception of the whole scheme, is in the incentive structure of the whole mess.
Not a single participant in the scheme had a single incentive to scrutinize the deal. The prospective home loan applicant, wanted a home, and inflated the income and other figures on the application. None of the bankers cared about the fake applications, because the bankers were only going to bundle the loans and sell them off, having no skin in the game and having massive incentives to get more and more loans bundled regardless of the underwriting standards or risk of default.
The investors at the upper tranches cared not. They were guaranteed first payment from the income stream. Their risk of loss was near zero. The lower tranch investors cared not either, as they were getting astronomically high rates of return, and on balance, the risk to them of defaulting payment streams was outweighed by the lucrative returns, much like unsecured credit cards. They figured there would be defaults, but the high interest rates made it, on balance, perfectly acceptable.

This post was published at TF Metals Report on August 27, 2014.

The Five Cities Most At Risk For The Next Big Earthquake

Damages from the earthquake that hit the San Francisco area this weekend are estimated to be as high as $4 billion. For many cities around the world, particularly coastal cities situated on the geologically active Ring of Fire, an earthquake could be catastrophically destructive. Bloomberg looks at the five cities that are most vulnerable to earthquakes.
Don’t get too excited about what happened on Sunday. Scientists assure us that it is only a matter of time before “the Big One” hits California.
In fact, the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that hit northern California on Sunday was not even the largest earthquake along the Ring of Fire this weekend. According to the U. S. Geological Survey, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the area around Valparaiso, Chile on Saturday and a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck Peru on Sunday.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/27/2014.

CBO “Revises” Its 2014 GDP Forecast, Hilarity Ensues (As Always)

The gross, in fact epic, incompetence of the Congressional Budget Office when it comes to doing its onlyjob, forecasting the future state of the US economy, has previously been extensively documented here (andhere and here and here). This incompetence is in the spotlight once again this morning with the CBO’s release of its latest forecast revision of its original February 2014 projection.
And while every aspect of the revised projection has changed, in an adverse direction of course, the punchline is the chart below: the CBO’s revised projection for 2014 GDP. It’s one of those “no comment necessary” visuals.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/27/2014.

China’s Housing Bubble Has Popped

Those trusting souls who arrived late to the biggest housing bubble in history have lost a lot of money. They are going to lose a lot more.
It’s here at last. Pop.
Writes MarketWatch:
In one case, scores of property owners surrounded a Shanghai sales office of Greentown China Holdings Ltd. 3900, 8.58% GTWCF, -33.19% to protest the developer’s 25% cut to prices within a five-day period, according to a report on the NetEase NTES, 0.67% news portal site 163.com.

This post was published at Tea Party Economist on August 27, 2014.

The Unprecedented Failure to Regulate Citigroup Continues

Yesterday, Wall Street’s self-regulator, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), charged Citigroup with cheating its customers out of fair prices on preferred stock trades – 22,000 times. Citigroup was fined a meager $1.85 million, ordered to pay $638,000 in restitution, allowed to neither deny or admit the charges, and sent on its merry way to loot the next unwary investor.
Why do we believe there will be more charges of malfeasance in Citigroup’s future? Because it is an unrepentant recidivist. Yesterday’s FINRA fine was the 408th fine that FINRA has levied against Citigroup Global Markets or its predecessor, Smith Barney, for trading violations, market manipulations or failure to supervise its traders or brokers.
And that’s just FINRA – the light-handed disciplinarian with industry ties. Citigroup has kept other Federal regulators, including the U. S. Justice Department, very busy as well.
It is now six years since Citigroup’s serial history of rogue conduct rendered it insolvent. Under the law, the U. S. government is not allowed to prop up insolvent banks with taxpayer money. But from 2007 to 2010, in the largest bank bailout in history, over $2.3 trillion was lavished on the serial recidivist Citigroup.
Citigroup received $25 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds on October 28, 2008. Less than a month later, Citigroup had blown through those bailout funds and required another $20 billion TARP infusion. But its situation was so wobbly that the government had to simultaneously provide another $306 billion in asset guarantees.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on August 27, 2014.

No Bubble At All: Jessica Alba’s Diaper-Delivery Startup Is Valued At $1 Billion, Prepares For IPO

While today even the pundits are aghast at the latest Snapchat valuation round, which according to the WSJ has Kleiner Perkins inject a laughable $20 million into the private-parts photography service, boosting its valuation to a whopping $10 billion in a clear windowdressing mark-up round, up from $800 million a year ago, even as the actual equity invested into the company is a paltry $160 million or under 2% of said valuation, the true indicator of just how bubbly the second coming of the dot com era has become comes courtesy of none other than Jessica Alba’s, yes the actress, own startup: a company launched in 2012 and which makes “non-toxic” diapers (as opposed to toxic diapers?), called the Honest Co., has raised $70 million at a valuation just shy of $1 billion in preparation for an IPO.
Ridiculous? Well of course, but at least unlike Snapchat which still has zero revenue, there actually are idiots who will pay a premium to subscribe to hemp diapers, and the company does in fact have some revenue: “since launching in 2012 with its non-toxic diapers and other natural baby products, the California-based startup has grown quickly by blending its environmentally sensitive products with a social mission. Annual revenue is tracking to hit north of $150 million in 2014, or three times the revenue of 2013, according to Mr. Lee. Roughly 80% of Honest revenue is from customers who subscribe to a monthly service delivering diapers and other consumable products on a recurring basis.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/27/2014.

Get Back To Work Mr. Hollande; French Jobseekers Surge To Record High

Despite all the ‘promises’ French joblessness has risen every month since April 2011… July’s jump is the 2nd biggest sinmce April 2013 and at 3.424 million is a fresh record high. One can only hope (though good luck with that) that the new cabinet – same as the old cabinet – will turn things around. With 80% of French people believing that Hollande cannot fix the economy, we suspect things get worse before better…
French ministers are piling the pressure on Draghi to do something…
*VALLS SAYS NEW FRENCH GOVT STANDS FOR ECONOMIC CLAIRITY *VALLS ECB NEEDS TO GO FURTHER IN FIGHTING INFLATION *VALLS SAYS NEW FRENCH GOVT STANDS FOR ECONOMIC CLAIRITY *VALLS SAYS LOW INFLATION THREATENS EUROPEAN PROJECT Charts: Bloomberg

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/27/2014.

Art Cashin Warns Bulls: “History” Not On Their Side

Yesterday, the venerable Art Cashin had 12 simple words of wisdom for ‘traders’. Today he has a more direct warning for those watching the levitation and counting their ‘wealth effect’ gains…
“Unfortunately, history gives us a kind of muted picture of it, that if you have high volume, you get follow-through very easily. If you have low volume and you go into September, we’ve only had big carry-through a few times,”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/27/2014.

IMF: Risk of Another Housing Crash

The International Monetary Fund is warning that the world is at risk of ‘another devastating housing crash.’
This is true for instance for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Norway and Sweden,’ he said.
In the wake of the global recession central bankers have cut interest rates to record lows, pushing house prices to a level that the IMF regards as a significant risk to economies as diverse as Hong Kong and Israel.
In Canada, for example, house prices are 33 per cent above their long-run average in relation to incomes and 87 per cent above their long-run average compared with rents. The figures for the UK are 27 per cent relative to incomes and 38 per cent relative to rents.

This post was published at Mises Canada on August 27th, 2014.

The First Rand Gold Bond Deal Is Old Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

It’s a gold hypothecation Ponzi Scheme of the highest order. The world’s first gold corporate bond deal – issued by South Africa’s FirstRand Bank (Rand Merchant Bank) is a scam. Investor beware.
In my curiosity to confirm my suspicion that this deal was nothing but a paper Ponzi Scheme designed to redirect investor money that otherwise might have been used to buy and take delivery of actual Krugerrand gold coins into a fiat paper fraud deal, I contacted representatives of First Rand to get a term sheet so I could see how the deal was structured. Here’s an outline of what I found and it confirms my suspicions (I’ve linked the term sheet and product pimp sheet below):
1) The investor ‘buys’ Krugerrands from First Rand (Rand Merchant Bank) – technically, First Rand does not send you any coins or transfer ownership title of the coins to you. Instead…

This post was published at Investment Research Dynamics on August 27, 2014.

All Great World Events Happen Twice, Once As Tragedy And Secondly As A Farce!

Karl Marx once said, ‘Hegel remarked somewhere that all great, world-historical facts and personages occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce!’
Georg Hegel was a German idealist and philosopher and although I do not accept Marxist ideals I recognize the truth of his statement in the reality of our world today. Will it be another war followed by depression or a depression followed by a war, another Christian Crusade to insure our public safety and solve the unemployment problem? The populace, who must be distracted, will once again be called upon to fight a war, economic in nature, brought on by greed of a few who lack principles, integrity, honesty and competence. It will be a farce!
Our dollar states, ‘In God We Trust’ yet today our government hardly espouses this belief in their actions or behavior and therefore, why should you? I am not saying to not trust in God, what I am saying is DO NOT trust in the dollar of the United States of America Corporation as a unit of wealth to store the fruits of your labor in. The dollar is but a tool of exchange to pay for goods and services of value. Tomorrow, maybe not so!
The money you have in ASSETS in your bank account is your banks liabilities which they in turn loan out. Today all asset accounts are but virtual numbers on your computer screen or paper account summary at your bank or investment firm. Actually, an imaginary digit is our monetary unit today. These cyber accounts can in essence be deleted or partially deleted at the will of our banking authorities per their FDIC regulation or publicized cyber attack.

This post was published at Gold-Eagle on August 27, 2014.

Gold proving far more resilient than the bears predicted this month

Despite everything that’s been thrown gold’s way, the precious metal has managed to hold its own, falling only slightly below the key $1,300 per ounce level, and looking to end August about perfectly flat.
Many argue that the downside for gold could be limited, given that few are interested in shorting an asset that could zoom higher if those tense situations heat up. Ukraine is looking hotter by the day…

This post was published at Arabian Money on 27 August 2014.

Europe: Stagnation, Default, Or Devaluation

Last week’s Jackson Hole meeting helped to highlight a simple reality: unlike other parts of the world, the eurozone remains mired in a deflationary bust six years after the 2008 financial crisis. The only official solutions to this bust seem to be a) to print more money and b) to expand government debt. Meanwhile, Europe’s already high (and rising) government debt levels and large budget deficits raise the question whether we should worry about ‘debt thresholds’, past which increasing deficits, and hence growing sovereign debt, no longer add to growth? Such a constraint could come from one of at least two sources:

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/26/2014.

Treasury Curve Collapse Signals Multiple Expansion Exuberance Is Over

Thanks to buybacks, multiple expansion has been the driver of equity market strength as non-economic actors know one thing – buying stocks at record highs pays better than ‘investing’ in Capex or growth. However, the Treasury market’s yield curve is sending a message loud and clear that multiple-expansion is due to end. As Wells Fargo’s Gina Martin Adams notes, “Index P/E is likely to fall,” as the spread between 10Y and 2Y yields compresses.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/26/2014.

Meet The LMCI – -The Fed’s New Goal-Seeked, 19-Factor Labor Market Regression Rigmarole

In the rush to make QE’s taper and the follow-on ‘forward guidance’ appear more data-related than of due concerns about the structural (and ultimately philosophical) flaws in the economy, the regressionists of the Federal Reserve have come up with more regressions. The problem was always Ben Bernanke’s rather careless benchmarking to the unemployment rate. In fact, based on nothing more than prior regressions the Fed never expected the rate to drop so quickly.
Given that the denominator was the driving force in that forecast error, the Fed had to scramble to explain itself and its almost immediate violation of what looked like an advertised return to a ‘rules regime.’ When even first mentioning taper in May 2013, Bernanke was careful to allude to the crude deconstruction of the official unemployment as anything but definitive about the state of employment and recovery.
So at Jackson Hole last week, Bernanke’s successor introduced the unemployment rate’s successor in the monetary policy framework. Janet Yellen’s speech directly addressed the inconsistency:
As the recovery progresses, assessments of the degree of remaining slack in the labor market need to become more nuanced because of considerable uncertainty about the level of employment consistent with the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate. Indeed, in its 2012 statement on longer-run goals and monetary policy strategy, the FOMC explicitly recognized that factors determining maximum employment ‘may change over time and may not be directly measurable,’ and that assessments of the level of maximum employment ‘are necessarily uncertain and subject to revision.’
Economists inside the Fed (remember, these are statisticians far more than anything resembling experts on the economy) have developed a factor model to determine what Yellen noted above – supposedly they will derive’nuance’ solely from correlations.

This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on August 26, 2014.

Gold Jewelry Demand in India Improves

Those who root for gold root for India. Despite a welcome June rally, it’s been a rocky second quarter for the world’s second-largest consumer of the metal, with demand down 18 percent compared to last year.
But consumer appetite seems to be on the upswing following a tepid July. Gold premiums rose to between $10 and $13 a troy ounce this month, compared to zero last month. Such premiums are good indicators that buyers are willing to spend more on gold jewelry and other forms of bullion.
That premiums have risen also suggests that Indians are making their gold purchases ahead of Diwali, or the Festival of Lights, a traditional time to participate in what I call the Love Trade. This year Diwali begins on October 23.
Other global celebrations and events that trigger the Love Trade include the Indian wedding season, the Chinese New Year, Ramadan and, of course, Christmas.

This post was published at GoldSeek on 26 August 2014.

The Retail Trader Lockout – Today’s ‘Market’ “Issues” Were Worse Than The Flash Crash

For 39 minutes today, as we noted earlier, the US stock “market” broke. As Nanex details, a total of 1,384 symbols were affected as 100s of stocks trade with crossed NBBOs, practically eliminating any chance for retail traders to transact. Options market were frantic, volatility swung around like a Ukrainian border-patrol agent, and yet the US equity indices limped ever higher. For those who fear ‘the big one’, for those who understand market liquidity, for those who got a glimpse of what happens when large crowds meet small doors in the high-yield credit market, today’s “broken” market was a cold hard lesson that few ‘moms and pops’ would have noticed… but from the perspective of ‘ability to trade’ – today’s market was worse than the Nasdaq Blackout and the Flash Crash… Hedge accordingly.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/26/2014.

China Industrial Commodities Collapse As Sentiment Tumbles To 15-Month Lows

Unlike the QE-lite-driven exuberance in Chinese stocks of the last few weeks (which faded dramatically overnight), China’s industrial commodities (with near-record inventories) and seeing prices collapse. This may shock some who espy PMIs and government-created trade data and proclaim, China is fixed. In fact, as JPMorgan’s China Sentiment Index (JSI)shows, things are anything but bright as it fell to the lowest since June last year (at 48.3 in August). Sales and margins are tumbling – despite supposedly lower input costs. Lastly, those focused on spot Yuan movements (strength in recent weeks) have suggested this also confirms China strength – inflows – but looking out 12-months shows the market is expecting a dramatic devaluation from current levels in the Chinese currency is coming.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on 08/26/2014.