• Category Archives Banking
  • Why Profit Is So Important

    In most cultures, profit is seen as the outcome of exploitation of some individuals by some other individuals.
    Hence, anyone who is seen as striving to make profits is regarded as bad news and the enemy of society and must be stopped in time from inflicting damage.
    Profit however, has nothing to do with exploitation – it is about the most efficient use of real funding or real savings.
    Profit as such should be seen as an indicator as it were, with respect to whether real savings are employed in the best possible way, as far as promoting people’s life and wellbeing is concerned.
    If the employment of real savings results in the expansion of the pool of real savings, this could be seen as indicative that this employment was done in a profitable manner.
    Conversely, if there is a decline in the pool of real savings as a result of the particular actions of individuals then this could be seen as indicative of a loss. These actions caused the squandering of real savings.
    Obviously, an expansion in the pool of real savings, which is the heart of economic growth and is manifested through profits, should be regarded as the key factor for raising individuals’ living standards.
    Rather than being condemned, individuals that are instrumental in the expansion of the pool of real wealth, which is manifested in terms of profits, should be praised.

    This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on Dec 27, 2017.


  • Squeezing The Consumer From Both Sides

    The Federal Reserve raised the Federal Funds rate on December 13, 2017, marking the fifth increase over the last two years. Even with interest rates remaining at historically low levels, the Fed’s actions are resulting in greater interest expense for short-term and floating rate borrowers. The effect of this was evident in last week’s Producer Price Inflation (PPI) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Within the report was the following commentary:
    ‘About half of the November rise in the index for final demand services can be traced to prices for loan services (partial), which increased 3.1 percent.’
    While there are many ways in which higher interest rates affect economic activity, the focus of this article is the effect on the consumer. With personal consumption representing about 70% of economic activity, higher interest rates can be a cost or a benefit depending on whether you are a borrower or a saver. For borrowers, as the interest expense of new and existing loans rises, some consumption is typically sacrificed as a higher percentage of budgets are allocated to meeting interest expense. On the flip side, for those with savings, higher interest rates generate more wealth and thus provide a marginal boost to consumption as they have more money to spend.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.


  • The Great Recession 10 Years Later: Lessons We Still Have To Learn

    Ten years ago this month, a recession began in the U. S. that would metastasize into a full-fledged financial crisis. A decade is plenty of time to reflect on what we have learned, what we have fixed, and what remains to be done. High on the agenda should be the utter unpreparedness for what came along.
    The memoirs of key decision-makers convey sincere intentions and in some cases, very adroit maneuvering. But common to them all are apologies that today strike one as rather lame.
    ‘I was surprised by the sudden crisis,’ wrote George W. Bush, ‘My focus had been kitchen-table economic issues like jobs and inflation. I assumed any major credit troubles would have been flagged by the regulators or rating agencies. … We were blindsided by a financial crisis that had been more than a decade in the making.’
    Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Fed wrote, ‘Clearly, many of us at the Fed, including me, underestimated the extent of the housing bubble and the risks it posed.’ He cited psychological factors rather than low interest rates, a ‘tidal wave of foreign money,’ and complacency among decision-makers.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.


  • The Fed Plays the Economy Like an Accordion

    We talk a lot about how central banks serve as the primary force driving the business cycle. When a recession hits, central banks like the Federal Reserve drive interest rates down and launch quantitative easing to stimulate the economy. Once the recovery takes hold, the Fed tightens its monetary policy, raising interest rates and ending QE. When the recovery appears to be in full swing, the central bank shrinks its balance sheet. This sparks the next recession and the cycle repeats itself.
    This is a layman’s explanation of the business cycle. But how do the maneuverings of central banks actually impact the economy? How does this work?
    The Yield Curve Accordion Theory is one way to visually grasp exactly what the Fed and other central banks are doing. Westminster College assistant professor of economics Hal W. Snarr explained this theory in a recent Mises Wire article.
    The yield curve (a plot of interest rates versus the maturities of securities of equal credit quality) is a handy economic and investment tool. It generally slopes upward because investors expect higher returns when their money is tied up for long periods. When the economy is growing robustly, it tends to steepen as more firms break ground on long-term investment projects. For example, firms may decide to build new factories when the economy is rosy. Since these projects take years to complete, firms issue long-term bonds to finance the construction. This increases the supply of long-term bonds along downward-sloping demand, which pushes long-term bond prices down and yields up. The black dots along the black line in the figure below gives the 2004 yield curve. It slopes upward because a robust recovery was underway.

    This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 27, 2017.


  • 2007 All Over Again, Part 7: Borrowers Start Scamming Desperate Lenders

    One of the hallmarks of late-stage bubbles is a shift of power from lenders to borrowers. As asset prices soar and interest rates plunge it becomes harder to generate a decent yield on bonds and other fixed income securities, so people with money to lend (like pension funds and bond mutual funds) are forced to accept ever-less-favorable and therefore far-more-risky terms.
    Recall the liar loans that were popular towards the end of the 2000s housing bubble and you get the idea. Lenders were so desperate for paper to feed the securitization machine that they literally stopped asking mortgage borrowers to prove that they could cover the interest.
    Here we go again, but this time in the market for leveraged buyout loans:
    Yield-Starved Investors Giving In to the Demands of Bond Sellers
    (Wall Street Journal) – Demand for leveraged loans is allowing private-equity firms to water down legal safeguards for investors Hellman & Friedman LLC and other investors sought last month to borrow money in the bond market to finance a takeover.
    The U. S. private-equity firm offered a yield of about 3%, but few of the protections once considered routine.
    Still, the investors bought.

    This post was published at DollarCollapse on DECEMBER 27, 2017.


  • It’s Official: Government Report Says Market Risks are ‘High and Rising’

    During Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s press conference on December 13, she had this to say about financial stability on Wall Street: ‘And I think when we look at other indicators of financial stability risks, there’s nothing flashing red there or possibly even orange. We have a much more resilient, stronger banking system, and we’re not seeing some worrisome buildup in leverage or credit growth at excessive levels.’
    Where does Fed Chair Janet Yellen get her information on financial stability risks to the U. S. financial system? A key source for that information is the Office of Financial Research (OFR), a Federal agency created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010 to keep key government regulators like the Federal Reserve informed on mounting risks.
    On December 5, the OFR released its Annual Report for 2017. It was not nearly as sanguine as Yellen. In fact, it flatly contradicted some of her assertions. The report noted that numerous areas were, literally, flashing red and orange (OFR uses a color-coded warning system) – raising the question as to why Yellen would attempt to downplay those risks to the American people.

    This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on December 27, 2017.


  • To Avoid Liquidation Panic, HNA Assures Deutsche Shareholders It’s A “Long-Term Investor”

    The notoriously acquisitive Chinese conglomerate HNA – which recently had a sharp falling out with Beijing resulting in a margin call “shocksave” – is facing a serious cash crunch in 2018 as nearly a quarter of its $100 billion in debt – a large chunk of which was accumulated during a multi-year buying spree that saw it become a major shareholder in Deutsche Bank, Hilton Worldwide and a large portfolio of international holdings – comes due.
    But even as the company resorted to loaning out shares and entering into arcane derivative financing agreements to finance its debt-service payments, it is quickly finding that traditional avenues of financing are disappearing or becoming too costly.
    Despite being one of China’s largest conglomerates, HNA has been shut out of stock and bond markets as lenders worry about its outsized debt load, forcing the company to pledge some of its core holdings as collateral for short-term loans, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month.
    This has forced the conglomerate to explore other options. To wit, the bank recently pledged some of its Deutsche Bank shares to UBS as collateral for a loan worth roughly $117. It also executed an options strategy known as a collar. This strategy involves purchasing out-of-the-money puts to protect against a large drop in the stock while simultaneously selling out-of-the money calls to offset the cost of the puts.
    On Dec. 20, HNA’s unit entered into a new series of collar transactions with Swiss bank UBS Group AG, and pledged its Deutsche Bank shares to UBS in exchange for a total of 2.36 billion euros (US$2.8 billion) in net financing. It also has a margin loan from UBS and ICBC Standard Chartered PLC. In all, the new total amount of financing was about 99 million euros (US$117.6 million) higher than what was disclosed in a similar filing in May.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 27, 2017.


  • The Integrated Non-USD Platforms

    The many new integrated non-USD platforms devised and constructed by China finally have critical mass. They threaten the King Dollar as global currency reserve. Clearly, the USDollar cannot be displaced in trade and banking without a viable replacement for widespread daily usage. Two years ago, critics could not point to a viable integrated system outside the USD realm. Now they can. The integration of commercial, construction, financial, transaction, investment, and even security systems can finally be described as having critical mass in displacing the USDollar. The King Dollar faces competition of a very real nature. The Jackass has promoted a major theme in the last several months, that of the Dual Universe. At first the USGovt will admit that it cannot fight the non-USD movement globally. To do so with forceful means would involve sanctions against multiple nations, and a war with both Russia & China. Their value together is formidable in halting the financial battles from becoming a global war. The United States prefers to invade and destroy indefensible nations like Libya, Iraq, Ukraine, Syria, and by proxy Yemen. The USMilitary appears formidable against undeveloped nations, seeking to destroy their infra-structure and their entire economies, in pursuit of the common Langley theme of destabilization. In the process, the USMilitary since the Korean War has killed 25 million civilians, a figure receiving increased publicity. The Eastern nations and the opponents to US financial hegemony will not tolerate the abuse any longer. They have been organizing on a massive scale in the last several years. Ironically, the absent stability can be seen in the United States after coming full circle. The deep division of good versus evil, of honest versus corrupt, of renewed development versus endless war, has come to light front and center within numerous important USGovt offices and agencies.
    The shape of the US nation will change with the loss of the USDollar’s status as global currency reserve. The starting point for the global resistance against the King Dollar was 9/11 and the onset of the War on Terror. It has been more aptly described as a war of terror waged by the USGovt as a smokescreen for global narcotics monopoly and tighter control of USD movements. Then later, following the Lehman failure (killjob by JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs) and the installation of the Zero Interest Rate Policy and Quantitative Easing as fixed monetary policies, the community of nations has been objecting fiercely. The zero bound on rates greatly distorted all asset valuations and financial markets. The hyper monetary inflation works to destroy capital in recognized steps. These (ZIRP & QE) are last ditch desperation policies designed to enable much larger liquidity for the insolvent banking structures. Without them, the big US banks would suffer failure. They also provide cover for the amplified relief efforts directed at the multi-$trillion derivative mountain. In no way, can the global tolerate unbridled monetary inflation which undermines the global banking reserves.

    This post was published at GoldSeek on 26 December 2017.


  • Stockman: US Fiscal Path Will Rattle the Rafters of the Casino

    As we’ve reported, the US government is spending money like a drunken sailor. But nobody really seems to care.
    Since Nov. 8, the US national debt has risen $1 trillion. Meanwhile, the Russell 2000 (a small-cap stock market index) has risen by 30%. Former Reagan budget director David Stockman said this makes no sense in a rational world, and he thinks the FY 2019 is going to sink the casino.
    In a rational world operating with honest financial markets those two results would not be found in even remotely the same zip code; and especially not in month #102 of a tired economic expansion and at the inception of an epochal pivot by the Fed to QT (quantitative tightening) on a scale never before imagined.’
    Stockman is referring to economic tightening recently launched by the Federal Reserve. It’s not only the increasing interest rates. By next April the Fed will be shrinking its balance sheet at an annual rate of $360 billion and by $600 billion per year as of next October. By the end of 2020, the Fed will have dumped $2 trillion of bonds from its books. Stockman puts this into perspective.

    This post was published at Schiffgold on DECEMBER 26, 2017.


  • Yes, governments CAN go bankrupt. And no, it’s NOT impossible…

    [Editor’s Note: As we’re coming up on the end of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to republish some of our most popular articles. Today’s was originally published on March 13, 2017]
    In the year 1517, one of the most important innovations in financial history was invented in Amsterdam: the government bond.
    It was a pretty revolutionary concept.
    Governments had been borrowing money for thousands of years… quite often at the point of a sword.
    Italian city-states like Venice and Florence had been famously demanding ‘forced loans’ from their wealthy citizens for centuries.

    This post was published at Sovereign Man on December 26, 2017.


  • The Yield Curve Accordion Theory

    The yield curve (a plot of interest rates versus the maturities of securities of equal credit quality) is a handy economic and investment tool. It generally slopes upward because investors expect higher returns when their money is tied up for long periods. When the economy is growing robustly, it tends to steepen as more firms break ground on long-term investment projects. For example, firms may decide to build new factories when the economy is rosy. Since these projects take years to complete, firms issue long-term bonds to finance the construction. This increases the supply of long-term bonds along downward-sloping demand, which pushes long-term bond prices down and yields up. The black dots along the black line in the figure below gives the 2004 yield curve. It slopes upward because a robust recovery was underway.
    ***
    Yield curves flatten out when investors believe a recession is looming. This results from the demand for long-term bonds rising as investor confidence wanes. As demand shifts out along upward sloping supply, long-term bond prices rise and yields fall. On the other end of the yield curve, short-term bond rates rise. This is a result of investors demanding fewer short-term securities and more long-term securities. In response, suppliers of short-term securities lower prices to attract investors. The black dots along the red line in the above figure gives the 2007 yield curve. It is flat because the Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 was just around the bend.

    This post was published at Ludwig von Mises Institute on December 26, 2017.


  • Kushner’s Records At Deutsche Bank Subpoenaed As Mueller Avoids Trump

    As it turns out, President Trump’s legal team was telling the truth when it said that Special Counsel Robert Mueller hadn’t subpoenaed financial records related to the president’s business activities from German lender Deutsche Bank, contrary to Bloomberg reporting.
    On Friday, the New York Times reported that Deutsche Bank had received a subpoena for records on accounts linked to the Kushner Companies, the family real-estate empire of Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. This contradicts reports by both German and US media organizations dating back to July which insinuated that Mueller had been digging into Trump’s multi-decade career in real estate. Even after his infamous bankruptcies in the 1990s, Trump managed to maintain a functioning lending relationship with Deutsche, which has lent him and his businesses hundreds of millions of dollars over the years.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.


  • US Consumers Tap Out: Personal Savings Rate Plunges To 10 Year Low While Americans Splurge

    The latest confirmation that the US consumer is now effectively tapped out came moments ago when the Dept of Commerce reported that in November, Personal Income rose by a lower than expected 0.3% (exp. 0.4%), while US consumers continued to splurge at an accelerated rate, with personal spending rising 0.6%, above the 0.5% expected, as Americans decided to splurge on holiday products and services.
    A way of visualizing the historical change in income, spending – and savings – is the next chart below:

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.


  • New Home Sales Explode Higher: Biggest Monthly Jump In 25 Years

    Earlier we discussed that US personal savings tumbled to the lowest since 2007, and now we can also conclude that one of the things Americans splurged on last month was New Homes, because according to the Census on Friday morning, new home sales in November soared by a near record 109K to 733,000 from a downward revised 624,000 in October (from 685,000 previously).

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 22, 2017.


  • Americans have no savings and with very good reason: housing, education, and health care have seen extraordinary inflation while wages are stagnant.

    It has now become a daily ritual in which story after story of broke Americans plaster the web. Yet somehow on the mainstream press, very little is discussed about this topic. Americans are largely broke because inflation is vey real. Housing, education, and health care costs have soared out of control while wages have remained stagnant. The way Americans continue to pay for these items is by going into loan shark levels of debt. There used to be a pretense that ‘we’ actually cared about having a middle class but that is now thrown out the window. At this point, we are in a full on sprint towards low wage capitalism. Many people live on a paycheck to paycheck diet and are berated about saving more for retirement. The reality is, the new retirement model is working until you die.
    In the land of no savings
    Sunday morning, I wake up and take a stroll through the neighborhood. ‘Did you hear about Bitcoin? Wild right?’ I’m asked by a stranger at the park. ‘Sure seems wild. You own any?’ To which I get the following response, ‘I wish I had some money to even invest!’ I think we live in a world where most Americans are merely spectators to the wild gyrations of the market. They hear about investments too late or mistake speculation with actual investing.

    This post was published at MyBudget360 on December 21, 2017.


  • Credit Card Debt Suddenly Surges 18% As U.S. Consumers “Pre-Spend” Tax Relief Savings

    With Republicans in Washington D. C. on the verge of passing their first major piece of legislation in the form of comprehensive tax cuts that will allow Americans across the income spectrum to keep a little more of their hard earned cash in 2018, it appears as though eager U. S. consumers may have already “pre-spent” their savings on their credit cards.
    As the folks at Gluskin Sheff point out, 13-week annualized credit card balances in the U. S. have gone completely vertical in the last few months of 2017 which should make for some great Christmas gifts for little Johnny and Susie…gifts that will undoubtedly find themselves tucked away in a dark closet, never to be seen again, by mid January.

    This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2017.